Lube oil filters in marine engines require frequent cleaning. The use of an ultrasonic cleaner can simplify this process while also providing a quicker and more efficient turnaround.
Lube oil filters are an integral part of boat and ship engines, but they require frequent cleaning in order to ensure they are operating efficiency. Manual cleaning is the most common method for cleaning the filter elements, but there is an alternative that cleans better and extends the time between each element reprocessing. This alternative is ultrasonic cleaning.
Ultrasonic cleaning uses high frequency sound waves in order to create a process called cavitation. On the base of each ultrasonic tank are a number of transducers. Each transducer will contain two piezo ceramic crystal elements which, when subjected to an electrical current, vibrate somewhere in the region of 40,000 times a second. This converts the electrical energy to sound energy which is then transferred through the base of the tank and into the cleaning fluid. As the waves pass through the fluid they cause the formation of microscopic vacuum bubbles. The pressure forces the bubbles to expand until they reach a point where they cannot support their own density causing them to implode: the process of cavitation. The implosions have the effect of creating a scrubbing action within the fluid and it is this which gently lifts off surface contaminants without causing damage to the submerged item. Ultrasonic cleaning is so effective at cleaning intricate items because cavitation will occur anywhere where liquid is present, meaning small channels will be subjected to the same cleaning action as the outer surfaces.
It is because of ultrasonics ability to clean on such a small scale that it is ideal for use when cleaning lube oil filters. Manual cleaning is time consuming and it can be hard to ensure the hidden parts of the filter element are cleaned thoroughly. Ultrasonics does not suffer from this problem.
The cleaning fluid easily penetrates the small gaps in the gauze meaning cavitation reaches every part of the elements surface area resulting in a far deeper clean. With a typical cycle time of between six and ten minutes ultrasonics is far faster than the commonly used manual method and once the cleaning process is completed the element will be the same cleanliness as a new assembly.
On a large ship the timescale between filter cleans is normally between four and six hours. By subjecting the filter elements to an ultrasonic clean this time increases to around twenty to twenty four hours. This represents a significant time saving for those working in the engine room of a ship, freeing their time up to carry out other essential tasks.
Graig Ship Management in Cardiff have been benefiting from this very process since 2003, when a number of ultrasonic cleaners were purchased from Ultrawave Ltd. These units were placed onto the ships and are now the main method of cleaning employed on fitted lube oil filters. Philip Atkinson, Technical Director at Graig, says "There is no doubt in our mind that the use of ultrasonic cleaning tanks on our Lube oil filters has reduced the frequency of manual cleaning substantially. We would certainly recommend them to other owners.
As featured on Blue Sheets Directory, Jan 2006. http://www.bluesheets.co.uk/
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