In Italy the use of vegetable oils for energy production is widespread and rapidly increasing especially in small power plants. Some studies have investigated long-term engine performance, and have highlighted some problems connected with the use of vegetable oils. In particular the quality of the engine lubricating oil is important. In this paper this quality has been monitored by remaining useful life (RUL) through the level of the antioxidant additive in the lubricating oil. The study was carried out on two electric generators of 350 kW power fueled with refined sunflower and palm oils. The good mathematical relationships found between RUL and engine operating time could be used as reference to optimize the lubricating oil change and to identify the beginning of problems or defects affecting the engine. These possibilities could eliminate the need for scheduled oil changes and save operating costs. This aspect is particularly important for small power plants where maintenance and lubricating oil costs are not negligible.
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