A hydraulic system is a technology that uses pressurized fluid to transfer energy. Theoretically, the fluid should be incompressible and the fluid path flexible. This system is used because it is simple and has high power density. Few components can do complex tasks with a significant degree of safety. Joseph Bramah invented the hydraulic system.
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The hydraulic system consists of three main part. The first part is a generator, for example, a hydraulic pump. The part consists of motors, valves and pips to control the system. Lastly, we have actuators such as a hydraulic cylinder which are responsible for driving the machine.
The basis of a hydraulic system is Pascal’s law. The law states that pressure applied on confined incompressible fluid transmit to other parts with no loss with equal force on all areas of confining walls and perpendicular to the walls. The size of the piston is proportional to the force. However, this law enables building transmission with a certain ratio. This means that a small torque can be transmitted to a large force. The ratio of transmission can be changed by throttling hydraulic fluid between generator and motor or by using motors and pumps with adjustable volume.
Incompressible fluid transmits force from one point to another. In the process, the force is almost multiplied. A simple hydraulic system consists of two pistons which fit on two cylinders and connected with a fluid-filled pipe. If you apply force on one piston, the force is transmitted through a fluid in the pipe the other piston. The fluid is very efficient since it is incompressible. Hydraulic systems pipes can take any shape and length. This allows it to pass through all sorts of components. It can also fork such that one master cylinder drives multiple slave cylinder.
The main use for a hydraulic system is when high power density is required.
Vehicles use hydraulic systems to perform an important function. In the brake system uses hydraulic pressure to stop the car. When force is applied on the brake pedal the piston and the master cylinder is pushed. Each wheel has a slave piston which actuates to press brake pads against the rotor hence stopping the car.
Similarly, some vehicles have hydraulic suspensions. The action of the wheel pumps hydraulic fluid from one chamber through a damper valve to another. This type of suspension uses independent dampers the wheels of the vehicle.
The hydraulic system faces stiff competition from electric drive systems. However, hydraulic systems have a high power density. Hydraulic drive mass is way smaller than that of electric drive.
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