Oil Flushing

Oil Flushing

Extending the life of turbines, engines, and other industrial equipment often boils down to simply ensuring contaminants in your lubricants are below ISO recommended levels. 70% of damage to industrial equipment is caused by degraded lubricants allowing hidden contaminants to wear on machinery internals. Starting with a clean system and keeping the oil clean through regular maintenance are the keys to keeping machinery running for a long time.

RIG’s team of certified technicians offers turnkey High Velocity Oil Flushing (HVOF) services. Lubrication oil systems and hydraulic oil systems can both be cleaned with this service. RIG will provide an engineered flushing plan, onsite technicians, and all required equipment to complete the flush safely and efficiently. A key part of the services includes providing onsite particulate testing equipment as well as independent lab testing to verify contaminant levels. Our comprehensive solutions remove contaminants, correct moisture levels, eliminate varnish, and fully degrease and pickle equipment.

HVOF flushing equipment

GE Turbine HVOF

RIG performed a high velocity hot oil flush of the General Electric turbine at a Power Plant in Indianapolis, IN. Our technicians arrived onsite, completed site specific safety training, and conducted a safety walk down of the work area.  RIG’s high flow filtration skids, filter carts, and hoses arrived to the job site hydrotested, checked for functionality, and free of contamination. Final inspection screens passed API 614 visual cleanliness standards with full verification approved by the customer seven days later.


Mid-Stream Natural Gas Compressor Flush

A new Solar Mars 100 turbine required a lube oil flush for a new cooler at a mid-stream natural gas compressor station. Pickling was not required for this pipeline pre-commissioning project. Screens were periodically inspected until API 614 pipe cleanliness standards were successfully met.


Refinery Gas Compressor Lube Oil Flushing

A lube oil system for a gas compressor at a major refinery had not been cleaned in over 30 years. The unit was down for major maintenance program which created the perfect opportunity to address the ISO cleanliness of the oil system. The RIG team custom engineered and performed a successful reservoir and chemical cleaning coupled with a high velocity hot oil flush (HVOF) to return the system to acceptable ISO and API cleanliness specifications.


Pulp & Paper Plant Cleaning

(Franklin, VA., Valiant, OK, Jay, ME., Ticonderoga, NY, Orange, TX., Savannah, GA.) – Lube oil reservoirs and lube oil headers for multiple International Paper locations across the United States. Drain lines, labyrinth seals, water drains, and glands were cleaned. Oxidation formed from high viscosity oil on slow moving gears and bearings was removed.


RIG’s team of certified technicians provides a comprehensive plan for your flush, based on our 30 years of plant maintenance experience. A typical HVOF flushing project with our team progresses through the following steps:

  1. After preliminary meetings to determine job scope one of RIG’s expert technicians performs a site walk down at your facility. On the site walk the following information will be gathered:
    1. State of your reservoirs, screens, heat exchangers, coolers, and other components.
    2. Appropriate flushing protocols and the required actions to remove contaminants, correct moisture levels, remove varnish, and degrease and pickle equipment as required.
    3. Verification of jumper locations, flushing oil requirements, locations for temporary equipment.
  2. The purpose of this walk down is to allow the creation of a detailed flushing plan which will include:
    1. Engineered optimal flush path, including flow rates and temperatures.
    2. Bill of materials for temporary connections, hoses, and fittings.
    3. Required flushing oil and chemical amounts (if required) including disposal plan.
    4. Target cleanliness levels.
  3. The flushing plan will be sent for your review and approval prior to job execution.
  4. All equipment is shipped to your site and our team arrives to take full responsibility for the flush from jumper hoses, flanges, and filter installation to flushing skid setup.
  5. We inspect flush screens, flushing filters and oil samples; analyze contaminate levels, and gather baseline performance data and compare against ISO cleanliness targets.
  6. During the flush, we ensure total system contaminant removal including: varnish removal, sludge removal, particulate removal, moisture removal, and debris removal.
  7. Our team communicates daily with key stakeholders on the progress of the pre-determined Inspection Test Plan (ITP).
  8. At the completion of the flushing procedure, we provide full documentation of the steps completed, performance improvement documentation, lab test confirmations, and on-going maintenance recommendations.

The RIG Team takes safety seriously. We work with your plant personnel to coordinate the flush on-site, observe site safety protocols, verify equipment electrical and mechanical lockout, proper tagging, and potential explosion hazards before working with equipment. Contact RIG today to start planning your next flush.

What equipment is required for a lube oil flush?

The process utilizes a high velocity pump, filters, and an oil heater. Each bearing journal is bypassed with a temporary hose and has a strainer placed in the jumper for individual flow path testing. Initially the oil reservoir is hand cleaned, filled with manufacturers specified oil, then circulated using the flush pump through the filters until it meets the cleanliness requirement. Then each journal bearing is flushed to the same degree of cleanliness.

Have you ever serviced a turbine with a HVOF/Lube flush?

We’ve delivered numerous turnkey lube oil flushing services for gas and steam turbines made by:

  • GE
  • Siemens–Westinghouse
  • Dresser–Rand
  • Elliott
  • Kobelco
  • Sulzer
  • Solar Turbines (CAT)
  • And more

How do you know or prove you are achieving the high velocity during lube oil flushing?

The velocity of each flush is based on a pre-generated Reynolds Number (Re). Piping diameter, fluid temperature, linear footage, piping schedule, and viscosity are factored to ensure proper turbulent flow is achieved in each section of piping. At a minimum, a Reynolds Number of >4000 will be generated. After the onsite system walk down, we will create a detailed process that ensures sufficient Reynolds numbers are achieved, and it will be submitted for your review beforehand. Every Pump has a flow Pump Curve that is utilized to determine the actual flow achieved during flushing activities.

What is HVOF Flushing?

HVOF is “High Velocity Hot Oil Flushing” and is a technique used to remove contaminants, correct moisture levels, eliminate varnish and fully degrease and pickle equipment in industrial plants. It can be used on piping, turbines, engines, and other equipment with lubricant/oil systems. By removing these contaminants with HVOF and reconditioning oil, lubricant costs can be lowered, equipment life extended, and costs decreased over time.

How often do you check the screens during flushing procedures?

Once any flush begins, differential pressure is closely monitored within the first minutes of beginning circulation. If we see any spike in pressure, we immediately perform a screen check. If no signs of back pressure are shown, we will run 30 minutes before pulling the first screens. At this point, a decision is made on how often checkpoints will be performed. It is primarily based on system cleanliness, OEM, and customer requirements.

How do you determine the right ISO target cleanliness level?

ISO standards are solely based on OEM standards and customer requirements. If these are not available, our internal standard for lube oil systems is 16/14/11. The primary goal when performing a high velocity hot oil flush is piping cleanliness, so we incorporate the use of API 614 visual standards alongside the ISO cleanliness specifications.

Do you operate the oil flush around the clock? Is it ever unattended?

We provide manpower 24 hours a day until project completion. We structure our schedule to ensure our equipment is continuously monitored during day and night shifts, along with shift changes and lunch breaks.

What do you require from in-plant personnel – what level of interaction?

Our goal is to offer a completely turnkey solution for our customers. After coordinating with our onsite contact, once onsite, our goal is to provide everything needed to get the job done. One of our top priorities is good communication, and you will receive constant updates on our progress. We do require “approval” signatures for certain phases and scope changes of the project to ensure your expectations are met. However, unless otherwise required, we will take care of staging, electrical setup to generator, pipe-fitting/millwright phases, circulation, and rig out.

What are your flushing skid's power requirements?

Our power requirements are typically 480 3-Phase, 70 Amps – 175 Amps.

Do you initially "muck-out" the lube oil reservoir prior to starting the flush?

Based on customer requirements, the system reservoir is cleaned by means of confined space entry. New or used flush fluid is then filtered back into the reservoir to begin the circulation phase.

Do you use your own lube oil or the plant's?

Typically, the customer provides the flushing oil; however, if requested, we can supply, if agreed upon within the planning stages.

How much lube oil (normally/average) is required?

The lube oil flush is generally done with the in-service oil that is already in the reservoir. If new lubricant is being added to the reservoir for flushing, it is recommended that we have enough oil to fill all hard piping and our equipment with an addition of 200 gallons or less to maintain a positive head suction on our equipment to prevent aeration and cavitation of equipment during the flush.

Can you “cleanup” an existing lube system; cleanup by means of particulate filtration and water removal?

Yes, RIG offers custom side stream filtration options for in-service units. We have a fleet of filter carts and dehydration units that will reduce particle count to better than 16/14/11 and water to less than 100 ppm by Karl Fischer.

Does your flushing process align with equipment manufacturer’s requirements?

The RIG team has worked with many OEMs domestically and abroad. Our technical expertise takes into account the unit and OEM’s requirements while building the process and procedure. The process is submitted in writing and agreed upon prior to starting flushing activities. Many times, this includes the OEM’s sign off, particularly with commissioning and warranty activities.

GE Turbine HVOF

RIG performed a high velocity hot oil flush of the General Electric turbine at a Power Plant in Indianapolis, IN. Our technicians arrived onsite, completed site specific safety training, and conducted a safety walk down of the work area.  RIG’s high flow filtration skids, filter carts, and hoses arrived to the job site hydrotested, checked for functionality, and free of contamination. Final inspection screens passed API 614 visual cleanliness standards with full verification approved by the customer seven days later.

Mid-Stream Natural Gas Compressor Flush

A new Solar Mars 100 turbine required a lube oil flush for a new cooler at a mid-stream natural gas compressor station. Pickling was not required for this pipeline pre-commissioning project. Screens were periodically inspected until API 614 pipe cleanliness standards were successfully met.

Pulp & Paper Plant Cleaning

(Franklin, VA., Valiant, OK, Jay, ME., Ticonderoga, NY, Orange, TX., Savannah, GA.) – Lube oil reservoirs and lube oil headers for multiple International Paper locations across the United States. Drain lines, labyrinth seals, water drains, and glands were cleaned. Oxidation formed from high viscosity oil on slow moving gears and bearings was removed.

Refinery Gas Compressor Lube Oil Flushing

A lube oil system for a gas compressor at a major refinery had not been cleaned in over 30 years. The unit was down for major maintenance program which created the perfect opportunity to address the ISO cleanliness of the oil system. The RIG team custom engineered and performed a successful reservoir and chemical cleaning coupled with a high velocity hot oil flush (HVOF) to return the system to acceptable ISO and API cleanliness specifications.

RIG’s team of certified technicians provides a comprehensive plan for your flush, based on our 30 years of plant maintenance experience. A typical HVOF flushing project with our team progresses through the following steps:

  1. After preliminary meetings to determine job scope one of RIG’s expert technicians performs a site walk down at your facility. On the site walk the following information will be gathered:
    1. State of your reservoirs, screens, heat exchangers, coolers, and other components.
    2. Appropriate flushing protocols and the required actions to remove contaminants, correct moisture levels, remove varnish, and degrease and pickle equipment as required.
    3. Verification of jumper locations, flushing oil requirements, locations for temporary equipment.
  2. The purpose of this walk down is to allow the creation of a detailed flushing plan which will include:
    1. Engineered optimal flush path, including flow rates and temperatures.
    2. Bill of materials for temporary connections, hoses, and fittings.
    3. Required flushing oil and chemical amounts (if required) including disposal plan.
    4. Target cleanliness levels.
  3. The flushing plan will be sent for your review and approval prior to job execution.
  4. All equipment is shipped to your site and our team arrives to take full responsibility for the flush from jumper hoses, flanges, and filter installation to flushing skid setup.
  5. We inspect flush screens, flushing filters and oil samples; analyze contaminate levels, and gather baseline performance data and compare against ISO cleanliness targets.
  6. During the flush, we ensure total system contaminant removal including: varnish removal, sludge removal, particulate removal, moisture removal, and debris removal.
  7. Our team communicates daily with key stakeholders on the progress of the pre-determined Inspection Test Plan (ITP).
  8. At the completion of the flushing procedure, we provide full documentation of the steps completed, performance improvement documentation, lab test confirmations, and on-going maintenance recommendations.

The RIG Team takes safety seriously. We work with your plant personnel to coordinate the flush on-site, observe site safety protocols, verify equipment electrical and mechanical lockout, proper tagging, and potential explosion hazards before working with equipment. Contact RIG today to start planning your next flush.

What equipment is required for a lube oil flush?

The process utilizes a high velocity pump, filters, and an oil heater. Each bearing journal is bypassed with a temporary hose and has a strainer placed in the jumper for individual flow path testing. Initially the oil reservoir is hand cleaned, filled with manufacturers specified oil, then circulated using the flush pump through the filters until it meets the cleanliness requirement. Then each journal bearing is flushed to the same degree of cleanliness.

Have you ever serviced a turbine with a HVOF/Lube flush?

We’ve delivered numerous turnkey lube oil flushing services for gas and steam turbines made by:

  • GE
  • Siemens–Westinghouse
  • Dresser–Rand
  • Elliott
  • Kobelco
  • Sulzer
  • Solar Turbines (CAT)
  • And more

How do you know or prove you are achieving the high velocity during lube oil flushing?

The velocity of each flush is based on a pre-generated Reynolds Number (Re). Piping diameter, fluid temperature, linear footage, piping schedule, and viscosity are factored to ensure proper turbulent flow is achieved in each section of piping. At a minimum, a Reynolds Number of >4000 will be generated. After the onsite system walk down, we will create a detailed process that ensures sufficient Reynolds numbers are achieved, and it will be submitted for your review beforehand. Every Pump has a flow Pump Curve that is utilized to determine the actual flow achieved during flushing activities.

What is HVOF Flushing?

HVOF is “High Velocity Hot Oil Flushing” and is a technique used to remove contaminants, correct moisture levels, eliminate varnish and fully degrease and pickle equipment in industrial plants. It can be used on piping, turbines, engines, and other equipment with lubricant/oil systems. By removing these contaminants with HVOF and reconditioning oil, lubricant costs can be lowered, equipment life extended, and costs decreased over time.

How often do you check the screens during flushing procedures?

Once any flush begins, differential pressure is closely monitored within the first minutes of beginning circulation. If we see any spike in pressure, we immediately perform a screen check. If no signs of back pressure are shown, we will run 30 minutes before pulling the first screens. At this point, a decision is made on how often checkpoints will be performed. It is primarily based on system cleanliness, OEM, and customer requirements.

How do you determine the right ISO target cleanliness level?

ISO standards are solely based on OEM standards and customer requirements. If these are not available, our internal standard for lube oil systems is 16/14/11. The primary goal when performing a high velocity hot oil flush is piping cleanliness, so we incorporate the use of API 614 visual standards alongside the ISO cleanliness specifications.

Do you operate the oil flush around the clock? Is it ever unattended?

We provide manpower 24 hours a day until project completion. We structure our schedule to ensure our equipment is continuously monitored during day and night shifts, along with shift changes and lunch breaks.

What do you require from in-plat personnel - what level of interaction?

Our goal is to offer a completely turnkey solution for our customers. After coordinating with our onsite contact, once onsite, our goal is to provide everything needed to get the job done. One of our top priorities is good communication, and you will receive constant updates on our progress. We do require “approval” signatures for certain phases and scope changes of the project to ensure your expectations are met. However, unless otherwise required, we will take care of staging, electrical setup to generator, pipe-fitting/millwright phases, circulation, and rig out.

What are your flushing skid’s power requirements?

Our power requirements are typically 480 3-Phase, 70 Amps – 175 Amps.

Do you initially “muck-out” the lube oil reservoir prior to starting the flush?

Based on customer requirements, the system reservoir is cleaned by means of confined space entry. New or used flush fluid is then filtered back into the reservoir to begin the circulation phase.

Do you use your own lube oil or the plant's?

Typically, the customer provides the flushing oil; however, if requested, we can supply, if agreed upon within the planning stages.

How much lube oil (normally/average) is required?

The lube oil flush is generally done with the in-service oil that is already in the reservoir. If new lubricant is being added to the reservoir for flushing, it is recommended that we have enough oil to fill all hard piping and our equipment with an addition of 200 gallons or less to maintain a positive head suction on our equipment to prevent aeration and cavitation of equipment during the flush.

Can you “cleanup” an existing lube system; cleanup by means of particulate filtration and water removal

Yes, RIG offers custom side stream filtration options for in-service units. We have a fleet of filter carts and dehydration units that will reduce particle count to better than 16/14/11 and water to less than 100 ppm by Karl Fischer.

Does your flushing process align with equipment manufacturer’s requirements?

The RIG team has worked with many OEMs domestically and abroad. Our technical expertise takes into account the unit and OEM’s requirements while building the process and procedure. The process is submitted in writing and agreed upon prior to starting flushing activities. Many times, this includes the OEM’s sign off, particularly with commissioning and warranty activities.

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