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Our most recent blog entries

Dry Bath RPVOT - Why own one when you can own two?

Fri Nov 04 2022, by Ben Hartman, CLS

The dry bath oxidation tester by Tannas. Why own only one when you can own two? We'd love to have five, and maybe we will. This a such a reliable instrument for RPVOT ASTM D2272. One of my favorite purchases since being at MRT Laboratories. It helps us do our jobs better.


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Enjoying our new Karl Fischer Oven for ASTM D6304, Procedure B

Thu Jan 13 2022, by Ben Hartman, CLS

MRT is enjoying our new Karl Fischer oven, the Metrohm 885 (see photo). Eighteen samples on the autosampler tray and ideal for our needs when customers require the most accurate measurement of water contamination in parts per million of heavily additized lubricants. Our main of use of this instrument is for testing engine oils. At MRT we also administer the Crackle test, but it simply isn’t as accurate, and this new instrument is perfect for us. We should have purchas[...]

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Anticipate Alloy Corrosion Potential Using the Voltage Index

Fri Dec 17 2021, by Ben Hartman, CLS

By Michael D. Holloway, 5th Order Industry and Ben Hartman, MRT Laboratories

Entry level chemistry students learn Entropy – how every system is always trying to achieve its most comfortable state of existence. That concept holds true for societies, companies, families, animals, and even molecules and atoms. All things are in a constant state of change. All things are wor[...]

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External Metal Sources: Their Negative Influence on Lubricated Systems

Mon Dec 06 2021, by Ben Hartman, CLS

By Michael D. Holloway, 5th Order Industry and Ben Hartman, MRT Laboratories

The major contributor for component failure is external contamination in the form of sand or soil (dirt). A leading cause for failure is surface wear from abrasive materials. Abrasive materials find their way into a lubricated system through several ways, including contaminated lubricants, unclean application methods, exposed [...]

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Metals from sources other than wear; is it additive chemistry?

Wed Oct 20 2021, by Ben Hartman, CLS

Formulas for lubricating oils can be complex often using several reactive chemicals to achieve various performance goals. The balance and concentration require knowledge of organic and inorganic chemical reactions as well as surface chemistry and metallurgy. The formula for a gear oil is very different compared to a hydraulic fluid. While compressor and turbine oils rely on the performance of the base oil primarily with a low concentration of additives,[...]

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Where is the wear from?

Mon Sep 27 2021, by Ben Hartman, CLS

Where is the wear from?

by Michael D. Holloway of 5th Order Industry and Ben Hartman of MRT Laboratories


There are millions of different machines and countless components that make up these machines. The material fabricating these components are mostly made of metal and the metal is rar[...]

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MRT Laboratories and the Value of Oil Analysis

Thu Sep 16 2021, by Ben Hartman, CLS

MRT Laboratories and the Value of Oil Analysis

By Michael D. Holloway of 5th Order Industry and Ben Hartman of MRT Laboratories


Many companies use oil analysis unfortunately not all companies take full advantage of what oil analysis can provide. The successful oil analysis [...]

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New Argon Tank Installation

Sun Aug 15 2021, by Ben Hartman, CLS

Nice work!, Airgas for a super professional installation of a new argon tank for our ICP. Also, thank you, AG Welding for the fence installation that looks great behind our building. Both companies help make MRT better!

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Microscopic Analysis of Machine Fluid Samples Determines Wear Mode and Severity

Thu Dec 17 2020, by Ben Hartman, CLS

Understand why and how we analyze machine fluid samples from critical equipment, with this short and informative video.

MRT Microscopic Analysis Video


Ben Hartman

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A Better Oil Sampling Equipment List by Using this Information

Wed Nov 11 2020, by Ben Hartman, CLS

A long-time chemical company client in Waggaman, Louisiana shared a spreadsheet copy of their oil sampling equipment list that features very useful detail that I rarely see. The data includes the quality of sampling location and the quality of the most recent sample. I recommend that all of our customers track this level of detail on their oil sampling equipment lists.

Include a sample location grade as well as a most recen[...]

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What is Varnish?

Wed Oct 28 2020, by Sean LeTard, CLS

Varnish occurs when a lubricant degrades and produces by-products, which accumulate in the lube system. These degradation by-products are dissolved in the lubricant until it becomes saturated. Once the lubricant is saturated, these by-products can agglomerate and then adhere on metal surfaces to form varnish. Varnish formation is dependent on factors such as temperature, pressure, flow properties, fluid solvency, and base oil chemistry.

What causes varnish?

The three most common[...]

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Analytical Ferrography: Sample Preparation

Thu Oct 15 2020, by Aaron Payan, CLS

Analytical ferrography (microscopic analysis of a fluid sample) is an invaluable part in the oil analysis toolkit. By analyzing metallic particles present in used oil samples, under a microscope, you can often determine important information on the system such as wear severity, mode, and lubricated component location. Ferrography also allows the analyst to potentially identify contaminants in the oil such as dirt, fibers, or [...]

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Do Companies that Sample Lube oil at the Optimal Location Have the Best Oil Analysis Programs?

Fri Oct 09 2020, by Ben Hartman, CLS

We’ve already started our investigation on whether MRT customers that pull oil samples from the ideal locations receive fewer abnormal alarms on oil analysis reports. We aim to report our findings at the end of the year, and here is our Scientific Method for this research.

Step 1-Question: Do MRT customers that collect samples from downstream of equipment and upstream of filters receive the fewest number of abnormal oil analysis alarms?


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Catastrophic Bearing Failure - A case study In why sampling location is critical to successful oil analysis.

Wed Oct 07 2020, by Ben Hartman, CLS

Last week an MRT customer lost a critical compressor due to unexpected bearing failure. The customer diligently mails in lube oil samples for routine analysis on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Why didn’t the oil analysis detect early stage abnormal bearing wear in advance of this unexpected failure? Isn’t that what oil analysis is for, to catch abnormal wear issues at the earliest stage?

It’s an understatement to say that it’s frustrating when this happens. Together let’s[...]

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How to Think About Your Oil Analysis Results

Thu Aug 27 2020, by Aaron Payan, CLS

The end-result of any laboratory analysis is data.

Sometimes our customers will come to us with questions about their data. It can feel like they are being inundated with esoteric test names, values, and trends, and it isn’t clear what is important to focus on, and what is not.

Ultimately, it is up to the data analyst (one of our

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How much gasoline contamination will significantly alter a lubrication regime?

Thu Aug 13 2020, by Ben Hartman, CLS

In our oil analysis laboratory we tested the effect of gasoline contamination on the viscosity and flash point of a new lubricant and found repeatable results that can be helpful for refining industry clients. We injected gasoline at 0.5%, 1.0%, 2.0%, and 3.0% by weight into new lubricant samples to track the effect on oil viscosity at 40 degrees C (using ASTM D7279) and on flash point (using ASTM D6450, which is closed cup). By using this information our refinin[...]

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Don’t Neglect to Test Your Industrial Glycol-Based Coolants

Fri Jun 12 2020, by Ben Hartman, CLS

For our refining and petrochemical clients, we highly recommend regularly scheduled analysis of your industrial glycol-based coolants. Moving to a semi-annual testing schedule is the goal, which we recommend after confirming that coolant of correct formulation flows through every critical system and that the system is free of corrosive build up.

Case Study: Ten years ago, a major US refiner began coolant analysis at MRT. They were already sending routine oil samples to the lab but had b[...]

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Principles of Lubrication: The Causes and Effects of Wear

Tue May 19 2020, by Aaron Payan, CLS

If you are looking for a concise, accurate, and insightful description of the basics of lubrication – you’re at the right place.

In this article, I want to describe the mechanics of wear, the different types of lubrication regimes, and the steps you need to take to ensure your fluid does its job.

Recent estimates state that equipment wear could cost the US economy as much as $300B per year! This should provide plenty of justification for every operator to pay close attention to th[...]

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Need Oil Analysis During COVID-19? MRT Is Here For You.

Tue May 12 2020, by Aaron Payan, CLS

While many businesses have been able to successfully transition to remote work during COVID-19, for many personnel in critical industries such as power generation, transportation, and manufacturing, this is not a practicable option.

For these operators, the need to maintain equipment up-time is as real as ever.

MRT has been fortunate to, so far, have zero employees affected by COVID-19.

We are playing our part to help curb this illness by incorporating proper social distanci[...]

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Water contamination of oil. How much water is too much?

Mon Apr 06 2020, by Ben Hartman, CLS

The three phases of water in a lubricant are dissolved water, emulsion, and free water. 

In every lubricant the goal is for water to be dissolved. It is abnormal for any lubricant’s appearance to be cloudy (emulsion) or for there to be water drops or a water layer (free water) in the oil. The only exception to this rule is an engine oil that can have a black and translucent appearance but still be suitable for continued use.

We are commonly asked; in any lubricant how much wa[...]

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Severe Particle Contamination of Oil. Is this Abnormal Equipment Wear? What do we do?

Mon Apr 06 2020, by Ben Hartman, CLS

The oil sample in the photo is a from an outboard turbine bearing and the poor appearance raises a red flag. What specifically is the issue? What does the company need to do? What questions should they ask? Is a catastrophic failure imminent? Shutting down the unit is not an option.

By the way, it’s difficult to obtain a good oil sample from this unit. The unit holds very little oil that lubricates a critical bearing. Pulling a sample from the drain is the only option and[...]

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