What to Know About Applications of High-Velocity Oil Flushing in Power Plants

Out of many possible ways to maintain equipment reliability and plant efficiency, oil flushing is a unique yet effective method undertaken by many. Flushing out oil at high pressure will wash out contaminants from the equipment and enhance the efficiency of your systems. Statistics say that the oil flushing industry is generating a revenue of 1678 million in 2023 which is expected to rise by 5% over the next 10 years. 

This article will discuss everything you need to know about high-velocity oil flushing in power plants. 

Efficient and reliable operations are crucial for power plants. An important maintenance procedure that helps improve equipment reliability and plant efficiency is high-velocity oil flushing (HVOF). This process circulates oil at high speeds to remove contaminants and debris from systems. 

Understanding the applications and best practices of HVOF in power plants enables maintenance teams to fully leverage its benefits.

HVOF in Power Plants

High-velocity oil flushing is common in industries like vehicle cleaning, manufacturing, and other similar industries. In short, when there comes a need for cleaning heavy electricals or equipment, people prefer high-velocity oil flushing. This HVOF becomes a vital component for power plant maintenance programs to remove the deposited contaminants. A reliability service like HVOF is required to remove built-up deposits, minute dust particles, and abrasive contaminants from oil systems. The ultimate goal of such a process is to ensure long-term equipment health and reliability. 

The Growing Importance of HVOF in Power Plants

Statistics confirm that HVOF implementation in power plants reduces outages by 75%. This keeps the components well-lubricated and prevents unexpected wear and failures. Maintaining the equipment’s reliability also helps in the overall efficiency and performance of the power plants. 

Contaminated oil causes increased fluid friction, resulting in wasted energy and reduced output. Maintaining clean systems through flushing optimizes thermal performance across plant components.

With equipment in power plants operating under extreme pressures and temperatures, small changes in reliability and efficiency can have major impacts on profitability and the levelized cost of electricity. As a result, HVOF is becoming a priority for leading operators.

The Specific Process Steps Involved in HVOF

To fully utilize its benefits, maintenance teams need to understand the technical process of high-velocity oil flushing:

Pre-flushing preparations

Includes isolating the system by shutting valves, draining the old oil, and setting up flushing equipment like high-speed pumps and filters and all these require proper planning.

Flushing execution 

This involves pumping new, clean oil through the isolated system at controlled velocities exceeding **1.5 m/s**. The high oil speed generates turbulence that dislodges debris from all internal surfaces and components. Precise process control is critical to balance effectiveness and safety during this step.

Post-flushing procedures

Once flushing is complete, the dirty flush oil is removed and disposed of. Teams then inspect components for any remaining contaminants, replace filters, and refill the system with fresh new oil.

While conceptually straightforward, proper execution of HVOF takes skill and precision. Plant maintenance teams should adhere to best practices and protocols to avoid equipment damage or oil waste during the procedure.

Key Applications and Impacts Across Power Plants

Power generation systems contain many different lubrication systems and components that benefit greatly from high-velocity flushing:

Turbine Lube Oil Systems

Flushing turbine oil systems removes oxidation products, coking deposits, carbon residue, and heat exchanger fouling. This maintains optimal viscosity, lubricity, and cleanliness for bearings, gears, and other rotating components. HVOF in turbines also scrubs out abrasive metal particles that can accelerate wear. By keeping oil systems contaminant-free, plants avoid accelerated degradation and ensure long turbine life.

Boiler Feed Pumps

Feed pumps supply highly pressurized water to boilers and encounter cavitation, which leads to erosion. Flushing removes metallic wear particles that further accelerate erosion damage. HVOF also cleans out fibrous insulation debris that can obstruct tight clearances. This helps maintain feed pump efficiency and prevents unplanned downtime.

Hydraulic Systems 

Power plants utilize hydraulic systems that control soot blowers, pulverizer nozzle positioning, valve actuators, and dampers. Various contaminants like dirt, water, and particulate matter can build up in the hydraulic fluid and reservoirs over time. HVOF removes these before they reach critical levels that could lead to valve sticking, seal wear, or total system failure.

Gearbox Oil Flushing 

Gearboxes throughout plants undergo extreme loads and pressures during operation. Metal shavings, dust, and other wear particles in lube oil will lead to premature pitting and surface fatigue between gear teeth. Regular HVOF cleans the oil and helps extend gearbox longevity substantially. This avoids costly premature replacements.

Over 75% of lubrication professionals at power generation facilities rely on high-velocity flushing for both synthetic and mineral-based fluids. This indicates the broad, system-wide applications of HVOF.

While HVOF itself is a mature mechanically-driven process, various technological developments are helping further optimize its effectiveness and value:

Automated flushing

More plants are utilizing automated oil flush systems with programmable controllers. These remove human error and improve process control. Sensors also enable real-time monitoring of flush effectiveness and cleanliness.


New non-toxic, readily biodegradable oil flushing fluids are more environmentally friendly. Closed-loop fluid filtration systems minimize oil waste. Advances in flushing hardware like rotating jet heads also optimize fluid use.

Condition monitoring integration

HVOF is combined with spectrographic oil debris analysis. This allows even more predictive maintenance based on contamination trends, rather than fixed schedules.

Getting ahead of the curve and leveraging developments like these will allow power plants to maximize ROI from HVOF programs into the future.


High-velocity oil flushing has become an indispensable maintenance process for maximizing uptime and efficiency across power generation assets. Applying HVOF properly delivers substantial benefits to reliability, performance, and operations.

Looking ahead, leveraging the latest developments in automation, sustainability, and condition monitoring will help plants continuously improve their flushing strategies. We recommend plant managers meet with their lubrication teams to ensure HVOF programs are optimized based on the expanded insights provided here. Being proactive with high-velocity flushing will keep equipment running like new for decades.