Lubrication of large two stroke marine diesel engines typically is performed by specially blended lubricants with high CaCO3 concentration in order to prevent sulphuric acid corrosion. The feed rate of lubricant, which is injected into the engine, is strictly related to neutralization reaction of sulphuric acid. At the state of the art, its amount is established following a function of engine load and sulphur content of fuel oil, but regardless the stoichiometric quantity needed to neutralize acid corrosion effects. As result of this lubrication strategy, feed rate of lubricant often results higher than the minimum stoichiometric quantity, yielding unnecessary costs, but sometimes feed rate of lubricant and its content of CaCO3 cannot be enough to completely neutralize sulphuric acid, producing corrosion. Taking into account that concentration of CaCO3 within lube oil can be estimated by measuring refractive index, this work aimed to study SPR sensors, capable to measure in real time small variation of lubricant optical properties, in order to adjust lubricant feed rate, according to the real needs of neutralization. Therefore, a numerical optimization of SPR sensors for lube oil characterization has been carried out, analysing several cases, different for laser source, optical prism and thickness of 3 metal film layers. Mathematical results allowed to find the best sensor in terms of sensitivity. This work is the first step towards the development of a semi-closed loop lubrication control system.
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