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Two New ASTM Proficiency Programs to Be Launched in the Coming Months

by Anne McKlindon

ASTM’s Proficiency Testing Services is offering two significant new Proficiency Testing Programs, one on insulating fluid quality testing and the other on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. ASTM staff member Anne McKlindon describes both programs, which help labs test their own performance and help the sponsoring ASTM committees improve the quality of their testing standards.

Insulating Fluid Quality

The ASTM Proficiency Testing Services will offer a new Proficiency Testing Program on Insulating Fluid Quality Testing to laboratories needing a statistical quality assurance tool that will enable them to improve and maintain a high level of performance by conducting routine ASTM tests on insulating fluid oils by comparing their results with other laboratories worldwide. The program is sponsored by ASTM Committee D27 on Electrical Insulating Liquids and Gases. Test information generated through the program will be utilized by Committee D27 to determine if modifications to ASTM standard tests are warranted.

The new PTP is scheduled to be conducted twice annually and will begin in November. Program participants will receive either a sample of an in-service fluid or a new mineral insulating fluid plus test instructions and data report sheets for each test cycle. Laboratories will then perform the tests normally conducted within their facilities using the specified ASTM methods cited in the program. Single determinations by each laboratory will be required, as the program does not allow the reporting of averages of replicate determinations.

Each participating lab will receive a 1/2-gallon (1.9-litre) can containing either an in-service mineral insulating fluid sample or a new mineral insulating fluid sample for one of the two test cycles conducted during the year. Participation is not contingent upon performing all program tests.

Upon completion of tests, each laboratory will return their test data to ASTM for use in generating statistical summary reports. Reports will contain:

• Coded laboratory test results;
• Statistical analyses of test data;
• Charts plotting test results; and
• Other information.

Laboratories will then receive test results that help them:

• Monitor the strengths and weaknesses of lab performance;
• Periodically compare test results and calculated statistical parameters with those of other laboratories; and
• Compare test data for a given quality parameter with laboratories using different ASTM test methods.

Data submitted to Committee D27 from the ASTM-PTP are coded to maintain lab confidentiality.

The ASTM tests slated to be used in the PTP are:

D 92, Test Method for Flash and Fire Points by Cleveland Open Cup Tester;
D 445, Test Method for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent and Opaque Liquids (the Calculation of Dynamic Viscosity);
D 664, Test Method for Acid Number of Petroleum Products by Potentiometric Titration;
D 877, Test Method for Dielectric Breakdown Voltage of Insulating Liquids Using Disk Electrodes;
D 924, Test Method for Dissipation Factor (or Power Factor) and Relative Permittivity (Dielectric Constant) of Electrical Insulating Liquids;
D 971, Test Method for Interfacial Tension of Oil Against Water by the Ring Method;
D 974, Test Method for Acid and Base Number by Color-Indicator Titration;
D 1298, Test Method for Density, Relative Density (Specific Gravity), or API Gravity of Crude Petroleum and Liquid Petroleum Products by Hydrometer Method;
D 1500, Test Method for ASTM Color of Petroleum Products (ASTM Color Scale);
D 1533, Test Method for Water in Insulating Liquids by Coulometric Karl Fischer Titration;
D 1816, Test Method for Dielectric Breakdown Voltage of Insulating Oils of Petroleum Origin Using VDE Electrodes;
D 2112, Test Method for Oxidation Stability of Inhibited Mineral Insulating Oil by Pressure Vessel;
D 2668, Test Method for 2,6-di-tert-Butyl-p-Cresol and 2,6-di-tert-Butyl Phenol in Electrical Insulating Oil by Infrared Absorption;
D 4768, Test Method for Analysis of 2,6-Ditertiary-Butyl Para-Cresol and 2,6-Ditertiary-Butyl Phenol in Insulating Liquids by Gas Chromatography; and
D 5837, Test Method for Furanic Compounds in Electrical Insulating Liquids by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

These methods are subject to change. A test for trace metals by inductively coupled plasma will also be used, but no ASTM standard test is available for this product. Labs will describe the method used and report the metals found. Statistics may not be possible on these data.

Registration is now open for the program, which begins in November. The cost is US$170 and the registration deadline is Oct. 15. Laboratories can also register after Oct. 15 for the 2004 test trials in March and September. Contact PTP Services for details (see end of article for registration and contact information). The cost of the 2004 participation is $340 for both trials.

Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final rule effective June 2006 for highway diesel fuels. In response to this, an ASTM Interlaboratory Crosscheck Program on Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel will begin in January 2004 for laboratories to 1) gain experience in measuring the sulfur concentration at the ultra-low levels present in ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD), and 2) to compare their performance versus other participating laboratories using specific ASTM tests for the determination of sulfur. This program is sponsored by ASTM Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants.

The ULSD interlaboratory crosscheck program will provide laboratories with a statistical quality assurance tool, enabling them to compare, improve, and maintain a high level of performance in the use of ASTM sulfur tests on commercial ultra-low sulfur diesel fuels containing 15 parts per million or less sulfur with other laboratories worldwide. Additionally, U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board labs will also be invited to participate.

All program participants will receive a sample (approximately 150 millilitres) of a ULSD monthly, along with a notice on how to access the trial’s specific data report forms and test instructions. Each laboratory will perform the tests that are normally conducted by their facility using the specified ASTM program tests and/or by using performance-based measurement methods. Replicate determinations for each test performed is planned. Laboratories will perform the following tests:

D 2622, Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum Products by Wavelength Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry;
D 3120, Test Method for Trace Quantities of Sulfur in Light Liquid Petroleum Hydrocarbons by Oxidative Microcoulometry;
D 5453, Test Method for Determination of Total Sulfur in Light Hydrocarbons, Motor Fuels and Oils by Ultraviolet Fluorescence;
D 6428, Test Method for Total Sulfur in Liquid Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Their Derivatives by Oxidative Combustion and Electrochemical Detection;
D 6920, Test Method for Total Sulfur in Naphthas, Distillates, Reformulated Gasolines, Diesels, Biodiesels and Motor Fuels by Oxidative Combustion and Electrochemical Detection (Committee D02 replacement for D 6428. Test awaiting ASTM ballot approval.)

Performance-based methods (as approved by EPA) will also be allowed and included in this program. Please note that the program scope of testing is subject to change. Program participation is not contingent upon performing all tests.

The first ULSD interlaboratory crosscheck program is scheduled for January 2004; labs must be registered by Nov. 25 in order to be included in the January test cycle. The cost of registration will be announced shortly. //

ASTM Proficiency Testing Services welcomes laboratories to participate in and learn more about its other 27 PTP/ILCP programs for fuels and lubricants, textiles, plastics, and metals testing. Click on the link above or contact Helen Mahy (phone: 610/832-9683) for specific program registration information.

Copyright 2003, ASTM

Anne McKlindon is coordinator for ASTM’s Proficiency Testing and Interlaboratory Crosscheck Programs.