Analysis Test Types

Our ISO 9001:2015  accredited laboratory is equipped to perform a range of oil analysis tests, which are detailed below. If you require additional testing, we can work closely with you to create an analysis test package that best suites your requirements.

Ferrous wear (FW)

Ferrous wear (FW) will quantify the large ferrous content of an oil regardless of particle size and give a value in an arbitrary index scale.

An increase in FW or PQ could indicate:

  • Early component wear
  • Extreme component wear
  • Corrosion debris
  • Damaged filters or filters on by-pass

Elemental Analysis

ICP is element spectroscopy and measures particle in suspension <8 microns. A standard scan analyses wear metals, additives and contaminants such as Iron, Copper, Phosphorus, Silicon etc.

An increase in wear metals can identify:

  • Internal component wear
  • Combining element ratios can identify alloys such as Brass/Bronze
  • A change in additives can identify:
  • Oil mix
  • Oil additive degradation
  • Fuel dilution

An increase in contaminants can identify:

  • Abrasive dirt
  • Coolant
  • Grease


Viscosity is a key indicator in the interpretation of oil analysis data. The standard method used to determine Viscosity is Kinematic Viscosity.

Kinematic viscosity unit of measurement is Centistokes (cSt – mm2/s – distance over time).

A change in Viscosity from the reference or trend could indicate:

  • Fuel dilution
  • Oil mix
  • Emulsification
  • Fluid leaks from adjoining components
  • Oil degradation
  • Grease contamination

Water Determination

Water in oil can be detrimental to the oils chemistry and performance. As little water as 0.1% for gearboxes and 500ppm (0.05%) for chiller compressors can affect the lubrication and corrosion within a unit.

Water is classed as dynamic and exists within oil in different forms:

  • Dissolved
  • Emulsified
  • Free

Sources of water could include:

  • Water ingress/ damaged seals
  • Coolant leak
  • Condensation
  • Blocked breathers

Total Acid Number (TAN)

TAN is a common test to be used in oils which are in use for a significant period of time or that may be subject to high temperatures, such as compressors, hydraulics, engines etc.

A change in TAN from the trend or new oil reference value could indicate:

  • Oil / additive degradation
  • Overheating
  • Oil mix
  • Oxidisation/ acidification

Total Base Number (TBN)

Engine oil additives contain a level of alkaline buffer to absorb acidic by-products created during the combustion process. Conventionally carried out on either high performance engines, gas engines and engines which are subject to a long oil change interval.

A change in TBN from the trend or new oil reference value could indicate:

  • Oil degradation
  • Poor combustion
  • Oil mix

Infrared Spectroscopy

Infrared is a spectroscopy technique.  Infrared looks at the molecular bonding within the oils structure by utilising the fact that each unique bond has a specific IR frequency at which they absorb energy.

A change in Soot, Oxidisation, Nitration and Sulphation from the trend can indicate:

  • Oil / additive degradation
  • Overheating
  • Oil mix
  • Oxidisation/ acidification
  • Poor combustion

Particle Count

Oil cleanliness (in accordance with ISO 4406) is primarily used to determine the severity of particulate contamination in hydraulic oils or filtered systems.

An increase or high level of particulates can indicate:

  • Ingress of dirt/ water
  • Breakdown of seals
  • Component wear
  • Damaged filters or filters on by-pass

Total Insoluble Matter (TIM)

Total insoluble matter is a measure of Soot and oxidation products in engine oils.  The test measures the optical density of the oil.  The results can give an indication of poor combustion and also give a measure of the oils dispersing capabilities (additives in engine oil are designed to disperse soot and prevent coagulation which would reduce lubrication properties and potentially block filters).

An increase in Total insoluble matter could indicate:

  • Overheating
  • Oxidisation
  • Poor combustion

Flash Point

Measuring the flash point is a sensitive test used for fire resistant fluids or to determine the presence of fuel. In piston engines it may be a sign of injection pump wear, blocked injectors or inefficient combustion.

A change in Flash Point could indicate:

  • Fuel Dilution
  • Oil mix
  • Oil degradation

Microbial Analysis

Bacterial growth also produces organic acids as a by-product which can attack internal surfaces, components and seals.  Microbial contamination of certain circulating systems (such as steam turbines or fuel systems) must be kept to a minimum in order to prevent biocidal mats /bacterial sludge’s from forming. These mats can quickly block systems, degrade the oil quality and performance and produce corrosive by-products e.g. Water.

A presence of bacteria could indicate:

  • Contamination of the fluid systems
  • Possible ingress of water

Coolant Analysis

This type of analysis can help identify mechanical issues that can potentially lead to cooling system failures. Utilising two types of test strips, many parameters can be measured, including Freeze point, pH and Nitrites that can determine the condition of your coolant. Along with elemental analysis (ICP), coolant can also help identify any wear / corrosion within the system.

Additional Testing

Our standard suite of tests have been carefully designed, taking into consideration the component type and working environment to ensure the most valuable data is obtained from each lubrication system. Bespoke test suites can be produced as per customer requirements.

For more information, contact us on +44(0)1709 876 712 or email