Hydraulics use incompressible fluids to supply very large forces at slower speeds and limited ranges of motion. If the fluid flow rate is kept low enough, many of the effects predicted by Bernoulli’s equation can be avoided. The system uses hydraulic fluid (normally an oil) pressurized by a pump and passed through hoses and valves to drive cylinders. At the heart of the system is a pump that will give pressures up to hundreds or thousands of psi. These are delivered to a cylinder that converts it to a linear force and displacement.

Hydraulic systems normally contain the following components;

1. Hydraulic Fluid

2. An Oil Reservoir

3. A Pump to Move Oil, and Apply Pressure

4. Pressure Lines

5. Control Valves - to regulate fluid flow

6. Piston and Cylinder - to actuate external mechanisms

The hydraulic fluid is often a noncorrosive oil chosen so that it lubricates the components. This is normally stored in a reservoir as shown in Figure 4.6 A Hydraulic Fluid Reservoir. Fluid is drawn from the reservoir to a pump where it is pressurized. This is normally a geared pump so that it may deliver fluid at a high pressure at a constant flow rate. A flow regulator is normally placed at the high pressure outlet from the pump. If fluid is not flowing in other parts of the system this will allow fluid to recirculate back to the reservoir to reduce wear on the pump. The high pressure fluid is delivered to solenoid controlled vales that can switch fluid flow on or off. From the vales fluid will be delivered to the hydraulics at high pressure, or exhausted back to the reservoir.


Figure 4.6 A Hydraulic Fluid Reservoir

Hydraulic systems can be very effective for high power applications, but the use of fluids, and high pressures can make this method awkward, messy, and noisy for other applications.

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