In-line Testing of Fuel & Lube Oil
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-044
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-044 TITLE: In-line Testing of Fuel & Lube Oil

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS505, Littoral Combat Ship Fleet Introduction and Sustainment Program Off

OBJECTIVE: The objective is to develop an innovative fuel and lube oil testing system that measures physical and chemical properties of fuel and lube oil with minimal operator interaction.

DESCRIPTION: The ability to effectively test fuel and lube oil onboard is critical to maintaining adequate quality in order to promote healthy equipment life and prevent operating machinery shutdowns. Primary concerns are particulates, water, and microbiological contamination: Particulate contamination can be caused by dirt, rust flakes, catalyst fines, or other foreign matter introduced into the fuel or lube oil. It can be introduced from the source, or from the ship's own storage tanks and piping. Particulates generally settle out of solution and accumulate at the bottom of storage tanks. However, biological contamination and storage stability problems also generate particulates that can stay in suspension.

Some of the specific needs are workload reduction and automation to support reduced number and seniority of manpower required. Total Ownership Cost (TOC) reduction is sought by developing and aiding the insertion of technology to reduce lifecycle and sustainment costs and achieve crew manning requirements.

Currently, fuel quality in the field or onboard a ship is assessed with a series of traditional American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) fuel test procedures using laborious techniques such as the clear and bright test. This test requires sampling from the fuel line, placing the sample in a clean, clear glass and visually inspecting the sample to determine if it is clear and bright. Other tests require a hydrometer, a detector or other special test equipment. A sensor-based device to perform these tests would not only provide significant savings in cost and manpower but also reduce the hazards associated with handling large volumes of fuel samples. It would also provide faster and, in many cases, more-consistent results (Ref 1).

Lube Oil analysis tools include spectrographic analysis which can be used to determine the chemical composition of the oil to indicate both its ability to perform its function and other engine faults which could cause contamination; particle analysis which can be used to identify mechanical wear by detecting and analyzing metal fragments found in oil and determining their likely source by studying their shape and size. Monitoring lube oil condition is currently achieved in two ways: Samples are drawn off and checked using portable equipment and test kits or samples are drawn off and dispatched for on-shore laboratory assessment (Ref 2).

In-line Fuel Oil and Lube Oil sensors have the capability to reduce crew workload and manning, thereby decreasing total ownership cost and increasing program affordability. A by-product of this technology would be increased reliability of the systems using fuel and lube oil.

An innovative automated testing system, which requires minimal calibration and operator oversight, is sought to reduce crew workload. This system should measure physical and chemical properties of fuel and lube oil such as specific gravity, viscosity, flashpoint and presence of particulate matter. The system shall meet all three following requirements: Sensors should report Navy standard or commercial standard values; sensors should not require frequent calibration (such as each change of oil); and sensors should not require high amounts of additional power or modification to existing ship structures to operate.

Currently, sensors being integrated into LCS and other warships fulfilled some but not all of the above three requirements, which is why an innovation is needed.

PHASE I: The company will develop a concept for an In-line Fuel and Lube Oil Testing System that meets the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concept can be feasibly developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan addresses technical risk reduction and provides performance goals and key technical milestones.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and Phase II development plans, the small business will develop a prototype Fuel Oil and Lube Oil Sensor for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Navy requirements for the In-line Fuel and Lube Oil Testing System. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III: The company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The company will develop an In-line Fuel and Lube Oil Testing System according to the Phase II development plan for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Automated Fuel and Lube Oil testing has several commercial applications in the transportation industry, specifically maritime container shipping and could be adapted to any manufacturing process using machines with fuel and lube oil.

1. Johnson, Kevin J. "Evaluating the Predictive Powers of Spectroscopy and Chromatography for Fuel Quality Assessment" Naval Research Laboratory, 2006, pp 727�733

2. Knowles, M. "Condition Management of Marine Lube Oil and the Role of Intelligent Sensor Systems in Diagnostics," 25th International Congress on Condition Monitoring and Diagnostic Engineering Journal of Physics: Conference Series Vol 264, 2012

KEYWORDS: Fuel Oil Quality Assessment; Lube Oil Quality Assessment; Spectroscopy and Chromatography, Condition Based Monitoring; In-line Diagnostic Sensors; Automated In-line sampling; Fuel Oil and Lube Oil Sampling System

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