Hydraulics A Story of Fluids, Pressure and Power


To put in perspective how powerful hydraulics can be, NASA once used hydraulic pumps with outputs reaching 3050 PSI, or “Pounds Per Square Inch.” If you used that kind of force on brick, but with water, you would permanently damage it. And it goes without saying, there is a reason you see most, if not all, industrial machines using hydraulics. But why? How do they work? Here, you will find the answers to those questions.

Hydraulics in Simplest Terms

If you have ever watched hydraulics operate, you will have noticed that there are several cylindrical pipes used, no less than two. You will have also noticed that as the hydraulic extends, the small pipes retract from the larger tube. Between those two tubes is where the science happens.

Hydraulics take a force and push it to another point. But, between the two tubes is an incompressible fluid, usually oil based. When the force is applied to a second tube, the force, unable to escape, pushes the fluid and multiplying the force. This is why hydraulics are invaluable to heavy machinery and industrial machines because the amount of force needed can be easily handled by hydraulics. Hence, why NASA was right to use hydraulics for their space shuttle operation.

Hydraulic energy is an impressive combination of kinetic energy, potential energy and heat energy. When the liquids are moving, you will have kinetic. The pressure the hydraulics exhibit gives the system its potential energy. And finally, when the tubes resist each other, this generates heat energy.

Hydraulic companies then split their systems into two main forms: hydro-statics and hydrodynamics. Hydraulic companies utilize both for a myriad of reasons. Imagine lifting something heavy, would you go fast? No, you would take your turn. This is reminiscent of hydro-statics where low speeds and high pressure are the name of the game. Contrast that to low pressures but higher speeds, almost like lifting something lightweight; you can move around faster. Hydraulic companies make both to suit another company’s needs.

The Importance of Hydraulic System Repairs

These systems are machines, and machines are susceptible to wear and tear. As one could probably imagine, rubbing to metal cylinders together is going to cause incredible amounts of friction, and not to mention an unsightly sound. Friction is energy after all and where there is friction, there is heat.

This realization presents an issue: lubrication. The oil (usually) between the hydraulic system is when keeps the two from scraping together. In fact, keeping each tube well lubrication is a surefire way of keeping the machine from destroying itself. Failing to do so results and you will have to pay for hydraulic parts for hydraulics restoration and repair.


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