Struggles With Static

Over the last decade, users of hydraulic systems noticed a sharp increase in unusual failures and contamination within their equipment, including:

  • Burned and discolored filter elements
  • Rapid oil degradation
  • Prematurely worn, damaged components
  • Electrical arcing outside of the system

The culprit? Electrostatic discharge, also known as ESD, was becoming more frequent within hydraulic equipment. Static buildup is already a known issue, but why was it suddenly happening more often, and to greater extremes?

Behind the ‘Electrifying’ Increase in ESD

Fundamentally, static discharge in a hydraulic system is caused by friction—just like how shuffling across carpet in thick socks allows you to lightly zap someone else with static electricity. Oil may be a lubricant, but there is still some friction between hydraulic fluid and the filter media it passes through, and thus, static buildup can occur.

GIF animation showing visible electrostatic discharge in a filter element during hydraulic operations

In a system with highly conductive hydraulic fluid or oil, this static buildup is more easily absorbed and evenly distributed. This prevents the worst effects of electrostatic discharge. However, environmental standards driving changes in oil composition meant that low conductivity oil was becoming more widespread.

Diagram showing Group I versus Group II and Group III oils. Under Group 1 oils, bullets read: High conductivity, more toxic, less static/ESD, Under Group II and Group III oils, bullets read: Low conductivity, more eco-friendly, more static/ESD.

  • These oils contained aromatics and heavy metals. Due to the presence of heavy metals, Group I oils have high electrical conductivity.
  • However, the heavy metals within Group 1 oils are mostly toxic. Due to this toxicity and the potential threat to the environment, Group 1 oils do not comply with newer, international environmental standards.

  • Group II and III oils contain no toxins or carcinogens, as the toxic heavy metals have been removed.
  • Due to the lack of heavy metals, these oils have much lower electrical conductivity than Group 1 oils.

Between 2012 and 2020, the global market share of Group 1 oils fell by half, from 51% to roughly 26% of hydraulic oils in use. This trend is expected to continue. While moving away from Group I oils is much better for the environment, the proliferation of low conductivity oils led to more electrostatic discharge in hydraulic systems.

Chart comparing Global API Group Oil Market Share between 2012 and 2020. Group I oils decreased from 51% of market share to 26%.

Effects of Electrostatic Discharge on Hydraulic Systems

Electrostatic discharge and static cause a variety of serious issues in hydraulic systems, including:

Image of filter element scorched by ESD/electrostatic discharge
  • Damaged elements. Scorched, degraded filter elements are a hallmark of static buildup in a hydraulic system.
  • Increased contamination. When damaged, filter elements become unable to filter out contamination as intended, and the filter element itself may become a source of contamination as it degrades.
  • Reduced oil and component life. The increase in contamination and compromised filtration drastically reduces oil life and increases component wear.
  • Formation of sludge and varnish. As oil rapidly degrades, varnish is deposited in the system, affecting system function.
  • Fire risk. High amounts of ESD can potentially cause deflagration, or combustion of gas within the hydraulic reservoir.
  • Arcing and discharge outside of the system. In extreme cases, the electrostatic discharge can become so intense that it becomes an electrocution hazard to workers, as well as damaging to surrounding equipment.

Anti-Static Solutions from Schroeder Industries

Anti-Stat Premium and Anti-Stat Media from Schroeder industries are engineered to combat static buildup while providing robust filtration. Because levels of ESD can vary based on factors like fluid type and temperature, two levels of protection are available.

Both offer virtually the same efficiency as Schroeder’s standard, exceptionally powerful microglass media. For superior protection from both typical particulate contamination and the effects of electrostatic discharge, look no further!

NEW: Anti-Stat Premium

Anti-Stat Premium: Supercharged Static-Busting Capabilities For Extreme ESD

  • Specially formulated media dissipates electric charges before they can begin damaging your system
  • Eliminates all static buildup at the source
  • Effective for even the most critical cases of ESD, tackling conductivity values lower than 100 pS/m

Anti-Stat Media

Anti-Stat Media: Reliable, High-Performance Solution For Low to Moderate ESD

  • Specially formulated media dissipates electric charges before they can begin damaging your system
  • Cost-effective option for mid-range ESD scenarios
  • Effective for conductivity values higher than 100 pS/m

Schroeder Anti-Stat: Proven Performance

See how these customers benefited from the static-suppressing characteristics of Anti-Stat Media!

When a paper mill was experiencing a shortened filter element life of just 30 days, Schroeder Industries stepped in to extend the filter life, reduce oil waste, and reduce unscheduled downtime.

A Schroeder expert immediately identified the signs of static discharge in the hydraulic system. As the elements were burned and degraded by the electrostatic buildup, they failed prematurely, forcing the customer to swap out elements much sooner than usual.

Switching to Anti-Stat Media took the shock out of their system, extending their filter life and leading to substantial savings!

Oil Service Life Increased +3 Years

Annual Oil Usage Decreased -951 Gallons

$24.8K Annual Filter & Oil Cost Savings

An automotive plant contacted Schroeder Industries when, after switching to a new hydraulic oil, their oil lifespan dropped by as much as 80%.

The customer’s new oil blend was zinc and ash-free, meaning its conductivity was lower than their previous hydraulic oil. As we’ve discussed, the lower a hydraulic fluid’s conductivity, the more likely static buildup is to occur!

Burn marks and varnish on the customer’s used elements confirmed that electrostatic discharge was building up in the customer’s system. By switching to Anti-Stat Media, the customer was able to get the most out of their oil and more!

Oil Service Life Increased +4 Years

+2.6K Gallons of Oil Saved Per Press, Per Year

+31.7K Gallons of Oil Saved Annually

In Need of Anti-Stat? Ask the Experts!

Contact-Blog-Anti-Stat Premium Introduction

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