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Hydraulic Systems - Cylinder Pressure Intensification ben lee

If you’re in a situation where you need to determine the integrity of a piston seal in a cylinder, then you will be required to intensify the pressure inside that cylinder. Those that are well experienced and have deep knowledge of such tasks, will find that it’s a fairly safe test to run, however, if you don’t then it can be very dangerous.

What contributes to making this test a dangerous activity? It’s down to the imbalance of the force produced by the rod sides and the piston. Force is the result of product X area. So if the cylinder’s rod side has 50% of the area of the piston side, then it’s going to produce 50% of the force of the piston side but with the equal pressure. If the pressure on the piston side goes to 2000 PSI then the rod side will be forced to produce 4000 PSI for an equal force. A force of this intensity produced in a cylinder that is rated for 2000 PSI can have catastrophic consequences.

On occasion, if the conditions are cold, there might even be a blockage sat between the tank and the rod side of the cylinder. As a result of the oil not being able to flow due to cold weather, this can increase the pressure to be far too much for the design. It will result in the gland blowing out of the hydraulic cylinder.

This can be a potentially dangerous situation. Without carefully considering what the result might be of increasing pressure in a double-acting hydraulic cylinder, it can result in a very costly error. Something that can not only cost downtime but finances and possibly be physically dangerous to operators.

In summary, beware of the dangers of pressure intensification in cylinders. No job is worth doing if you aren’t kept safe and protected. Any person who is responsible for the safe running of hydraulic systems should take relevant training. 

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