Oil filtration: A complete guide on this technique!

Oil filtration is a predictive maintenance technique that is gaining importance day by day to improve costs and performance of machines, equipment and fleets. Over time, the most diverse equipment used has become more modern, with increasingly smaller and lighter components. The improvement of these machines made them more precise and productive in their work, thanks to the high geometric precision of their components.

On the other hand, this development has also made machines more likely to be affected by solid contaminants suspended in fluids. Thus, the monitoring and control of these contaminating elements are essential to ensure the smooth functioning of the machines, as well as for their longevity and productivity.

Experts estimate that approximately 80% of equipment failures are caused by fluid contamination. Particles larger than 5 µ (MI) can already generate unwanted occurrences.

Contamination of oils is a serious problem observed in metal parts that come into contact with particles, which generates wear and consequently the appearance of other particles and contaminating elements in the oils, resulting in damage to the system.

In such cases, breakage and wear of components such as cylinders, pumps and valves, discontinuity in machine operations, internal leaks, accelerated aging of the lubricating oils are commonly observed. All of this contributes to the increase in operating costs due to corrective maintenance stops.

The importance of filtration

Cleaning oils is essential for the proper functioning of equipment in industries and other productive activities.

The maintenance and control of contaminants in the machines is intended to ensure the operational performance of this equipment, making it reach its useful life period predicted by its manufacturers. In this context, the role of oil filtration becomes essential. It is a process capable of removing as many impurities as possible.

If the levels of contamination by solids are constantly controlled and kept in safe limits, it is possible to reach levels of reliability, availability of machines and operating systems, in addition to guaranteeing their longer operational life.

Such improvements have a direct impact on the reduction of operating costs with corrective maintenance, since oil filtration is a predictive maintenance process.

The oil filtration also allows the reduction of operational losses in productivity – a direct consequence of the system stoppages for maintenance. In addition, oil filtration prevents component changes without being strictly necessary.

See other benefits of oil filtration:
  • Prevents premature wear of parts;
  • Prevents loss of productivity;
  • Reduces consumption;
  • Avoid unexpected failures;
  • Increases performance;
  • Reduces the oxidation of nozzles, pumps and injection engines;
  • It reduces the chances of stopped machines.


See here the difference between Filtration vs. Microfiltration


Oil filtration: understand the importance

Responsible for containing the particles that hinder the operation of machines, engines and equipment, oil filtration is a fundamental and extremely important process in everyday life.

This is because oil filtration eliminates the presence of solid particles, as well as excess water, which also creates several problems. In this way, oil filtration plays a preventive and corrective control in machines, engines and equipment.

How does oil filtration occur?

Also known as filtration, oil filtration is the process of passing through a permeable porous medium, a fluid in order to retain unwanted particles that are in suspension in it. It should be noted that the filtering capacity of a material depends on 3 attributes:

  • Fluid pressure over the filter material area;
  • Resistance of the filter material to the passage of the fluid;
  • Resistance of the generated residue (filter cake).
When the contamination is excessive it is possible to easily check:


There are two main types of filters: the first is the surface filter, which is made of paper or fabric impregnated with hydrophobic resin (water repellent), whose permeability range is between 2 and 40 microns. It is usually used in large surface areas, as the oil filtration is of low restriction, fine and has free flow.

1 micron is the same as 1 millimeter divided by 1000.

The second type of filter is the depth filter, in which the solid particles are separated mainly by deposition within the pores of the filter medium. This type of filter has a minimum thickness 100 times greater than the size of the particle to be filtered, being able to retain microscopic residues.

How does contamination occur?

No matter how much care is taken in daily life, contamination of the oil is difficult to avoid. It usually occurs due to several factors, such as:

  • Particles generated by internal wear itself;
  • Dust entering the air filter;
  • It occurs during supply, maintenance, or assembly;
  • It occurs because of leaks in the system;
  • During transport, storage or transfer of the new oil.
Oil filtration: cleaning standards

It should be noted that the oil filtration process needs to follow standards that guarantee the cleaning of the fluid. Such standards are regulated by international bodies. Examples are:

  • Standard ISO 4406: is the most widely used standard for measuring oil cleanliness. It is a representation guide, which aims to simplify the particle count report, converting the quantity found per milliliter of the sample analyzed into a code that measures this value. Works with 3 particle size references: 4 micrometers, 6 micrometers and 14 micrometers;
  • Standard NAS 1638: the NAS 1638 standard is considered more practical and assesses the level of contamination by counting particles in 100 ml. For this, it makes use of 5 different size ranges: from 5 to 15 micrometers, from 15 to 25 micrometers, from 25 to 50 micrometers, from 50 to 100 micrometers, or greater than or equal to 100 micrometers.
See here about SAE 4059


What types of oil can be filtered?

We often mention the need and benefits of filtering hydraulic oils, lubricants and fuels. However, there are other types of oils that can also be filtered, such as: vegetable and animal oils, cutting oils, compressor oils, and insulating oils.

1) Filtration in vegetable and animal oil

Just as mineral and synthetic oils benefit from the filtering process, vegetable and animal oils can also go through the same process. Although they are widely used in the food and cosmetics industry (essential oils), the removal of microparticles and moisture can also be of great value for the reconditioning of such oils. This allows a decrease in the volume of disposal and a significant increase in the period of use.

2) Filtration in cutting oils

Cutting oils are special fluids used in the manufacturing of parts and other components. They go through situations of extreme friction and high temperatures to lubricate the cutting tips, which occurs directly in the places of contact with the metal.

Obviously, the activity results in high contamination rates. This causes the metallic residues resulting from the process to accumulate directly in the reservoirs, requiring filtration to guarantee the quality and life of the oil. Oil filtration also helps to preserve the components of the machines and equipment used in the cutting processes.

3) Filtration of compressor oils

The oils used in air compressors are fluids specially developed to lubricate the compression systems. In these systems, the fluids are subjected to very high pressure regimes, which requires additives and special compounds to withstand such conditions.

As with cutting oils, the oil changes involved in these types of equipment are very expensive and, depending on the location and cleaning conditions of the air to be compressed, the changes need to be anticipated due to the large accumulation of dirt and contaminants . The service life of the oil, as well as the service life of machines and equipment, can be extended with the filtering technique.

4) Filtration in insulating oil and compressor oil

Insulating oils are fluids used in industries and companies, such as transformers, circuit breakers, conductors, electric switches, among others.

The oil filtration guarantees the cleaning of the fluid, as well as maintaining its characteristics (viscosity and fluidity point, dielectric and glow capacity). The filtration procedure consists of removing all moisture and solid particles, avoiding the appearance of oxidation and lees.

Permanent oil cleaning extends the life of the fluid and prevents equipment degradation. In addition to saving money, the oil filtration procedure also benefits the environment through the conscious use of natural resources.

Microfiltration: modern and efficient technology that reduces costs

As you can see, oil filtration is a fundamental process for the optimal functioning of engines, equipment and machines in the most diverse areas. In addition, filtration prevents losses, as well as predictive maintenance. However, traditional filtration is not always able to eliminate all oil residues, whether physical or liquid. These microscopic-sized residues cause various damages, which increase over time.

In such cases, microfiltration is positioned as an extremely efficient technology in the oil filtration process.Microfiltration is one of the most modern techniques, which is capable of containing particles that are not eliminated by traditional filtration (which normally only retains large and medium waste).

Microfiltration is efficient for diesel, lubricant and hydraulic oils. The technology eliminates solid waste with pores between 0.1 to 10 micrometers, separating the particles that contaminate the oil. That is, the fine and ultrafine particles up to 2 microns. (A hair has a diameter of 70 microns).

For being efficient for diesel, lubricating and hydraulic oils, microfiltration guarantees the increase of the useful life of the equipment, be it industrial, civil construction, agriculture, or transportation, for example.



Oil filtration also for productive sectors

Ensuring oil quality is important for the most diverse areas. Among them, the productive sectors stand out, which benefit a lot from oil filtration, mainly with regard to predictive maintenance.

1) Oil filtration in construction companies and contractors

Construction and contractor equipment is used in the dirtiest and most rustic environments possible. Surprisingly, such equipment is only equipped with common filters, which work at full flow and which are unable to separate the large amount of particles (and other materials) that contaminate the oil.

Often, with a view to a practical solution, maintenance managers perform filter and oil changes before scheduled. This, of course, increases costs, especially when it comes to large fleets.

The predictive maintenance technique, combined with oil analysis, can improve the performance and protection of equipment, such as: excavators, tractors, loaders, backhoes, compactors, motor graders, among others.

2) Oil filtration for cargo and passenger transportation

Oil filtration prevents the accumulation of contaminants that can wear down the bearings, rings, and cylinder walls of truck engines. Contamination can also contribute to the increase in oil viscosity and the deposit of lees and varnishes on rings and valves.

Knowing that good oil filtration is necessary for effective engine protection, it is important to have the best system available and in perfect working order. According to the magazine “Fleet Equipment Magazine”, 60% potential causes of wear and tear can be eliminated through an effective filtration system.

3) Oil filtration – Oil prospecting (offshore)

Costs for changing oil on oil platforms vary when the location is on land or offshore. Obviously, it is very expensive to change oil of this species, whatever the environment.

However, when there is a need to make an exchange on a platform in the ocean, extreme care must be taken, as well as careful planning, which involves withdrawal and transportation. On ocean platforms, the two biggest concerns are in relation to water pollution and downtime.

In this type of activity, each minute stopped represents a significant amount of product that is no longer extracted, which will be reflected in lost revenue. Costly overhauls of equipment and engines used in this industry can be frequent when they are operated under extreme demanding conditions, or are simply pushed to their limits by the fact that they are used full time. Filtration maintains the lubricating properties and the additive load of the oil keeping your equipment in full use for longer.

3) Oil filtration on vessels

Marine engines and equipment can operate in very severe situations. In these environments, it is very important that engines and hydraulic systems are able to operate efficiently, in addition to requiring little or no downtime. On land, an oil change is a simple matter, but over water there may be a possibility of oil leakage, not to mention the hassle and costs associated with losing an engine or changing hydraulic oil.

On large vessels, oil changes usually happen in a faster time frame, because the engines are running almost 24 hours a day and even in extreme situations.

4) Oil filtration in industries

Whether in the logistics of cargo in industrial yards or in the operation of production machines and equipment, the industrial sector also needs systems to extract contamination from hydraulic oils, lubricants, thermals and fuels. In general, the more advanced the machinery and equipment technologies, the greater the degree of cleanliness of these oils.

To achieve proper cleaning and monitoring of fluids and fuels, predictive maintenance techniques are recommended: filtration, microfiltration and oil analysis. With them it is possible to extract the contamination and measure the level of cleaning of the fluids and, consequently, improve the performance and increase the useful life of pumps, valves and combustion engines.

5) Oil filtration in mining

Mines are traditionally highly contaminated environments, with little ventilation, which can push even the best oil filtration systems to the limit. Under these conditions, the on-board filtration (by-pass or inline) can offer benefits, guaranteeing the cleaning of the oil 24 hours a day in the mining equipment. This results in less downtime, more equipment availability, and increased service life.

The on-board filtration cleans the hydraulic system, recycling the oil that returns to the tank. The process cleans the system and ensures the availability of your equipment, in addition to maintaining the fast pace of production. Embedded filtration can also be used for fuel oils, preventing saturation of filters, as well as reducing the maintenance of nozzles and injection pumps.

6) Oil filtration in agricultural equipment

See in the video a testimonial about the use of diesel oil filtration in agriculture.

Agriculture is an arduous business, both for people and for equipment. It is essential that the machinery is functional at all times to carry out tasks that require traction and strength, both for planting and harvesting (or even for day-to-day tasks on properties).

Oil filtration of agricultural equipment improves the maintenance cost-effectiveness, increasing the useful life of the oils. It also helps to reduce friction with wear metals, generated by contaminants such as water, rust, dust, fertilizers.

With complete removal of contaminants, oil filtration ensures efficient protection of machinery and equipment, such as: harvesters, tractors, sprayers, among other equipment used in sugar and alcohol plants, farms and rural production.




7) Oil filtration in a forest environment

Agility and strength are characteristics of machines and equipment that operate in a forest environment. To improve the performance of engines and hydraulic systems, oil filtration is recommended. The technique removes moisture and microparticles, optimizing equipment performance.

In addition to improving operational efficiency, oil filtration also decreases fuel consumption, as well as preventing the need to stop maintenance of equipment in the sector, such as: skidders, harvesters, forestry excavators, tractors and other equipment used in the timber and logging industry. cellulose.

8) Oil filtration on military vehicles and equipment

Oil filtration has a strategic benefit when used in combat and military logistics situations. Prevents successive stops for possible maintenance or for changing parts. In a battle context, this means increasing the service life of a vehicle, without the need for exposure of teams responsible for maintenance.

With the increase in the service life of vehicles and equipment (without the need for maintenance and with the decrease in consumption), there may be a strategic differential gain, either in a combat situation or in a humanitarian logistics situation.


Understand the characteristics that differentiate the two methods and apply the best to your operation!

Do not waste time and apply the best oil filtration techniques to your equipment.

Get in touch with one of our experts!

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