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TransCanada operates one of the most sophisticated pipeline systems in the world with a network of approximately 57 000 km (35 500 miles) of wholly owned and 11 500 km (7000 miles) of partially owned natural gas pipeline, which connects virtually every major natural gas supply basin/market and transports 20 % of the natural gas consumed in North America. This pipeline system operates a fleet of several hundred gas-turbine/turbo-compressor packages, which, in a majority of cases, use phosphate-ester-based lubricants for bearing lubrication. Based on the number of installations, TransCanada is one of the largest users of phosphate-ester lubricants in the world. Phosphate esters have been used in this application because of their excellent fire-resistant and lubrication properties. Mineral-oil-based lubricants, alternatively, used in this application contain rust and oxidation inhibitors. These additives deplete over time, which is one factor that limits their useful operating life. Phosphate-ester lubricants do not generally contain additives and when used in conjunction with effective condition monitoring and maintenance, can have an operating life >20 years. This extraordinarily long operating life offers significant environmental benefits. Since 1958, TransCanada has accumulated over 30 × 106 h operating experience with phosphate-ester lubricants and has developed an extensive fluid management and conditioning program to ensure safe, reliable, and cost effective operation. A historical review of the condition-based fluid monitoring and maintenance programs will be presented with a focus on the evolution of these programs into their current modern and sophisticated forms. The associated reduced environmental footprint and cost savings will be detailed.
phosphate ester, Fuller’s Earth, ion exchange, lubricant maintenance, economic analysis, environmental waste reduction
Dufresne, Peter T.
EPT Research, Calgary, AB