Two in One: ICP metals data and particle size measured in one shot for lubricant analysis

Helmut Ernstberger, PerkinElmer, Milano, Italy (
Autumn Wassmuth, Perkinelmer, Shelton, Usa
Chady Stephan, Perkinelmer, Woodbridge, Canada

In-service oils and other lubricants are routinely monitored for both elemental composition and for particle load to optimize service lifetime of expensive lubricants and prevent machine failure. In particular, metals data are acquired by ICP-OES whilst particle counters are used to monitor particle size distributions. An increase in the ISO code (ISO 4406) for particle count or change in indicator wear metal concentrations informs maintenance schedules. Traditionally, performing these tests required two separate analysis routines.

Here we present a brand-new hyphenated system, which allows for the first time for both measurements to be acquired in one analysis. This system, which is marketed under the name PerkinElmer LPC 500 (Liquid Particle Counter 500), allows an in-line analysis of particle size by the LPC as the sample solution is en route to the nebulizer of an Avio 500 ICP-OES system. The latter measures elemental composition directly subsequently to particle size analysis.

Data acquisition, processing and reporting for both measurements are handled by one software package, facilitating user interaction. This not only automates a yet frequently manually performed particle size analysis with associated benefits for consistency, reproducibility, and efficiency, but furthermore the approach allows high sample throughput with sample to sample times of 45 seconds using less than one mL of original sample.

Here we describe the system features and present performance data for the new system. Whilst being most interesting to the lubricant service sector, labs in other industry segments with similar analysis needs could also benefit from this innovation.   


Short Biography of Presenting Author

Degree in Chemistry (Vordiplom - with Merit) (1990-1993) at the University of Regensburg, Germany. MSc in Analytical Chemistry (with distinction) at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. PhD in Environmental Chemistry (1994-1999) in the Marine Laboratory Aberdeen, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute & University of Aberdeen studying phosphorus transformation at the land/sea interface.

Post-doctoral Research Associate (1999-2002) in the Department of Environmental Science, Lancaster University, England. At this time, he performed Investigations of trace metal interactions in soils using novel speciation techniques (Diffusive Gradients in Thin films - DGT) and assessment of the hazard posed by toxic metals and metal bioavailability in soils.

Project Engineer for R&D and Environmental Technology (2002 – 2004), Dorfner Anzaplan – Analytical Laboratory and Engineering Consultancy (Germany), responsible for internal and external research projects primarily concerning mineral beneficiation for product development and application tests for various mineral products in the areas high purity quartz, diatomite, and kaolin.

Lecturer, Associate Research Scientist, and Analytical Laboratory Manager in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, USA (2005-2014). Management of the School’s environmental analytical laboratory and staff. Involved in supervision of research projects and on doctoral committees of 3 PhD students. Taught courses in instrumental analysis, aquatic chemistry, environmental chemical analysis and research ethics.

He started at PerkinElmer in 2014 as Senior Scientist, focusing on inorganic speciation for applications development using hyphenated ICP-MS techniques. Still being based at Shelton, CT he subsequently moved into the position of Senior Technical Specialist – Inorganic and Food. In 2016 he transferred to the UK as Application Scientist – ICP-MS. Since 2017 he works out of the Milano, Italy office as Field Application Specialist Inorganic for EMEA Export and Spain/PT.


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