Cement truck mixers, haulers and construction equipment operate in dusty conditions with high levels of airborne silica, which is ingested into the engine and accumulates in the lubricating oil. Tribologists have called clearance-sized silica “enemy #1” due to their destructive effect on the engine’s moving parts.
Silica particles are extremely hard -- harder than the metal in a hack-saw blade and harder than the metals used to build engine parts. Silica under pressure can even change surface loading distributions when pressed between the moving parts, causing metal fatigue and surface break-up. The result is increased engine wear, increased oil consumption, and shorter oil life. Engine wear metals in the oil are catalytic and deplete the oil’s additive pack. An additional challenge is that the most harmful sized silica particles (1 - 10mµ) flow through most engine air filters.
One reliable method to protect the engine is to microfilter the lubrication oil to capture and remove clearance-sized silica particles. By removing these highly abrasive silica particles, they will be removed from the oil film and unable to cause more wear by being continuously re-circulated into the moving parts, where they could cause additional friction and wear.
Non-construction vehicles also need protection from clearance-sized silica particles. Silicates are the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust next to oxygen. Silica exists as atmospheric micro-dust. It is especially high in dusty conditions and where coal is burned, producing silicon dioxide particles in fly ash created by the combustion of coal.