What Would Life Be Like Without Hydraulic Systems?

Hydraulic systems are so integrated into our lives that we don’t even notice them any more.  We use hydraulic systems in the building industry, car braking systems, lifts, boats, aeroplane flaps and to rescue people from car accidents.  They make light work of heavy tasks because a small amount of pressure results in a greater force. The most common example of this is how a car braking system works.  Hydraulic braking systems enable even the frailest person to have the power to stop a ten tonne truck with their foot.

Blaise Pascal established his law in the 17th century.  Pascal’s Law states, ‘that a pressure applied to a fluid in a closed container is transmitted equally to every point of the fluid and the walls of the container’. (Source: teachengineering.org).  If you are having trouble getting your head around Pascal’s Law this simple video may help you to understand it better.

Scientists are exploring new ideas similar to hydraulic systems such as electromechanical systems.  The technology is new and has a lot of development to go through before it replaces hydraulic systems.  Until then we are extremely dependant on the labour saving qualities of hydraulics.

How Would We Cope Without Hydraulic Systems?

Driving without a hydraulic brake system would involve a lot more skill and strength of character.  We would have to rely on the handbrake to stop which is less effective than hydraulic brakes. Constantly using the hand brake is likely to destroy the car pretty quickly. Hydraulic systems play a major role in the automotive industry and it is likely we would abandon car production without them.

Lumberjacks use hydraulic systems to fell trees. Without such systems we would not have chainsaws, jackhammers,  lifting equipment and log splitters. They would have to revert back to using axes, handsaws and ropes to chop and transport trees.  Felling trees would be such back-breaking work it is likely deforestation would cease which may be better for the environment in the long run.

Lifting heavy objects would be virtually impossible without using large amounts of heavy equipment to counterbalance and lift heavy objects.  We would have to continue using the pulley and chain system to lift heavy goods. Think about the length of time and manpower needed to build the pyramids and – that is what life would be like today.

Hydraulic systems are used to rescue and safe people in car accidents or on the sea.  The Jaws Of Life are cutting tools used to cut the top off cars to make it easier to get them out.  Lifeboats use hydraulics for launching and lifting them back into the station. Hydraulic systems are used in disability lifts allowing everyone to have equal access to workplaces, shops and museums.

We would be able to cope without hydraulic lifts but life would be a lot harder and it would take longer to do most tasks.  It would be interesting to know what scientist would have invented as an alternative to hydraulic systems if Pascal hadn’t developed his law.

To find out more about our hydraulic systems contact us and we would be happy to offer advice.

How To Clean Hydraulic Cylinders

Hydraulic cylinders are an integral part of a hydraulic system. We rely on hydraulic systems in all aspects of our lives.  We use hydraulic brake systems in our cars and aeroplanes use hydraulic wheel systems to land. Road repair and building construction is quicker and requires less manpower due to hydraulic systems.  Our lives would be considerably slower and inefficient without hydraulics.

The principle behind hydraulics is very simple and explained by Pascal’s Law which states, ‘that when there is an increase in pressure at any point in a confined fluid, there is an equal increase at every other point in the container.’  Hydraulic cylindrs are simple units whic exert a great deal of power. This is why we are able to stop a 29 tonne car using our feet.

Hydraulic cylinders are sealed units made of stainless of mild steel containing a rod, sealent and presurised fluid.  It is extremely important that the seal remains intact otherwise the system will not work properly. Maintaining and assessing the efficiency of hydraulic cylinders prevents them from becoming sluggish and ineffective.

Pascal’s Law

Pascal’s law was named after French mathematician and physist Blaise Pascal in 1647-48.  The simpleset way to demonstrate the law is with two syringes connected by a tube with water in it.  One of the syringes has the plunger down (first) and the other syringe (second) up creating a sealed unit.  You make the plunger on the first syrning go up by pushing down the plunger on the second syringe. If the syringes are of equal size equal the force is equal if the second syringe is bigger the force increases.  

Most school children will be familiar with this experiment and use this simple hydraulic system to power toy cars or make lifts travel through floors in cardboard hotels.  The principle is exactly the same in mechanical hydraulic systems where hydraulic cylinders apply the force. We use Pascal’s Law every day in our cars, rubbish collectors, construction machinery and a wide range of applications.

Keeping Hydraulic Cylinders Clean

Hydraulic cylinders are sealed linear units containing a piston rod, cylinder tube, base, piston, cap, wiper, rod seal,piston seal, rod bearing band, washers and wipers.  It is vitally important to keep the unit air tight and clear of debris. Any dust or dirt in the cylinder will cause considerable damage and incure large costs. Here is a video showing the inside of a hydraulic cylinder.

It is important to maintain hydraulic cylinders by cleaning them to keep them in full working order.  Maintaing the cylinders requires them to be taken a part to be cleaned then put back together correctly.  If they are not reconstructed properly they will not work and the componants may become damaged. This is a complex tax and requires experience and expertise so it is prudent to enlist the services of an engineering company to carry out the procedure.

If you would like to find out more about maintaing and cleaning hydraulic cylinders contact us and we would be happy to discuss your options.

History Of Hydraulic Systems

Hydraulic systems use a method of compressing fluids contained inside a channel or compartment.  The innovative design works through a simple principle that can be demonstrated using syringes, a tube and water.  The main principle behind hydraulics is that it less effort is required to move an object due to the compressed water inside the tube.  Hydraulics are used in construction, technology and in cars.  Hydraulic systems have played a major role in our lives since they were invented and are used in many different applications.

Hydraulic Press

Initially people harnessed the energy of water by using water wheels.  Although effective there was a lot of potential energy lost.  Sir Armstrong Whitworth witnessed this inefficiency in 1785.  He collaborated with his friend, Joseph Bramah, who was already working on a press to invent the hydraulic press ten years later.  Joseph Bramah was awarded a patent for the invention of the hydraulic press in 1795.

Pascal’s Law

The hydraulic press was invented using the principle of Pascal’s Law which states that, ’ A change in the pressure of an enclosed incompressible fluid is conveyed undiminished to every part fluid to the surfaces of the container’.  In other words compressed water can enable a small push to become a big push due to the water pressure in the enclosure.  Hydraulic systems are found in the breaking systems of cars, hydraulic jacks, wheelchair lifts, diggers, hydraulic presses, wing flaps and rudders.

Resurgence Of Hydraulic Systems

When electricity became the next big thing and nobody could get enough of the power of electrons  hydraulic systems went out of favour and were hardly used.  However interest in them reignited in the 21st century – probably when it was realised how much electricity drained the world’s resources.  The resurgence took hold after the second world war and we have been developing and modifying hydraulic power ever since.

Hydraulic Systems All Around

Hydraulic systems are used everywhere and we may not even be aware of it.  Generally anything that requires something to be raised or pushed will have a hydraulic system enabling it to happen.  Hydraulic systems not only make manufacturing and transportation easier, they also allow people who are disabled to get to work through the use of lifts.

Often the most simple ideas are the best and in the case of hydraulic systems, the explanation may be lengthy but we couldn’t live without them.