Turbine oil fires continue to cause concern. Although not frequent occurrences, a serious fire can have an enormous financial impact. To reduce the risk of hydraulic oil fires in steam turbines, phosphate esters are now widely used, but large volumes of inflammable mineral oil remain in the lubrication system. In order to decrease the fire risk still further, phosphates have also been used in both steam and gas turbines as fire-resistant lubricants. This paper reviews the need for these products and the experience in both trials and commercial operation. It examines the reasons for their slow adoption by industry but also why current market pressures, particularly in Europe, are likely to accelerate their use.
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