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11Jan

About Hydraulic Fluids

What You Need to Know About Hydraulic Fluids

When it comes to getting the best from hydraulic tools, their performance and longevity rely heavily on the quality of hydraulic fluid. Fluid that is both pure and of the right consistency will make the difference between a fully productive business and a sorry looking turnover.

In this blog post we look what will deliver best results from your choice of hydraulic oils.

It’s a fact that hydraulic systems work by transmitting force using an incompressible fluid. However, the type of application that is being used will have different needs for speed, pressure and in some cases electrical properties.

A key benefit of using fluid over the air used in pneumatics is the lubrication offered by it. A thicker oil may produce better results than perhaps a thinner oil that may develop a foaming behaviour when used under high pressure or speed.

Another key area to consider is the temperature that oil will used at. Fluids have the ability to dissipate heat whilst working as a deliverer of power. The negative of this is that when fluid builds up too much heat it can lead to the development of vapour in the hydraulics system. This can lead to system failure – not something that is wanted with a braking system for example. This is the reason that large trucks and other heavy vehicles use air braking.

Although water was used for the early hydraulic systems, most hydraulic fluid is now oil as it offers better lubricant properties in addition to being able to operate at higher temperatures. Other fluids in use include esters or glycols. More recently many manufacturers have been making fluids that are far more environmentally friendly and biodegradable. For example, vegetable oils. This is particularly popular in industries such as agriculture and around water tables that could threaten the safety of human consumption products.

A few blog posts ago we mentioned the “Jaws of Life” which are used by first response medical responders to cut away road crash vehicles to release victims. In this type of application, phosphate-ester fluid is used. Not only is it non-flammable but it has a high resistance to electricity.

If you work in an industry that needs a different solution than what’s available, it’s possible to mix fluids, however this is an area that needs experience and deep knowledge. Knowing how these mixtures will react and how they will perform under certain situations is essential.

Whatever your hydraulic system is, be careful about using the right fluid. It will make all the difference with the performance of your tool, but it could also affect health and safety considerations.

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