The Four Primary Supports of Hydraulic Machine Efficiency

The Four Primary Supports of Hydraulic Machine Efficiency

The viscosity of hydrocarbon-based hydraulic fluid exhibits an indirect relationship with temperature, meaning that as temperature increases, the fluid's viscosity decreases, and vice versa. This knowledge is critical as hydraulic fluid plays a pivotal role in any hydraulic system. The ideal hydraulic fluid would possess a viscosity index represented by a horizontal line intercepting the Y-axis at 25 centiStokes. However, such a fluid does not currently exist, and multi-grade hydraulic oils are utilized instead. These oils have a high viscosity index, making their viscosity less susceptible to temperature fluctuations compared to monograde oils.

Fluid viscosity plays a crucial role in achieving and maintaining full-film lubrication. When load and surface speed remain constant but elevated operating temperature causes viscosity to drop below the required level for hydrodynamic film maintenance, boundary lubrication may occur, leading to increased friction and adhesive wear.

In hydraulic systems, there exists a specific viscosity range where fluid friction, mechanical friction, and volumetric losses are optimized, resulting in the highest ratio of output power to input power. However, alterations in hydraulic oil temperature and viscosity can have unintended consequences on fuel consumption and overall system efficiency.

One case study highlights the impact of oil viscosity on fuel consumption. By replacing a fixed-displacement pump with a variable-displacement unit, the hydraulic system's heat-load decreased, resulting in lower operating hydraulic oil temperature and an increase in oil viscosity. This change led to higher fuel consumption due to the added drag on the hydrostatic transmission powering the ground drive. In this scenario, the machine's fuel economy could have been improved by matching the more efficient pump with a fluid of suitable viscosity.

Understanding the Power Efficiency Diamond of a hydraulic machine is essential for machine designers and equipment owners. The diamond considers design efficiency, installed cooling capacity, ambient air temperature, and operating oil viscosity to optimize power consumption and overall system efficiency. Keeping alterations in these variables to a minimum is crucial in maintaining the hydraulic machine's power efficiency. By comprehending and applying the principles of the Power Efficiency Diamond, machine designers and equipment owners can achieve improved performance and reduced operational costs.