A coal-fired power plant typically has several coal mills feeding fluidized coal dust to fire each turbine. The gearboxes these coal mills utilize can have high levels of particulate contamination as fine coal dust passes by shaft seals into the high viscosity gear lubricant.
The challenge was to extend gearbox life to avoid premature rebuilds which can cost over $600,000, not including down time. The plant also wanted to switch to a synthetic oil, so eliminating the need for annual drain and refill intervals was crucial because the synthetic was triple the price of the original oil in service.
The plant had found that mobile filter carts would reduce the contamination level but after removing the cart the contamination quickly returned.
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