Hydraulics has been around for a very long time. But are you aware of how far it has actually come? You wouldn’t be alone if you responded with no. It is a very technical subject that can be quite difficult to understand, but in this article we want to tell you the story of hydraulics! We want to share with you who discovered hydraulics, what it was originally used for and how hydraulic power got to where it is today.
So why don’t we start at the beginning! Where does the word hydraulic come from?
The word hydraulic originates from the Greek word ‘Hydros’ which means water. Why water? Well, this is because water was the first liquid to be used in the hydraulic system. Today, hydraulics includes the physical behaviour of all liquids, not just water.
What Exactly are Hydraulics?
The evolution of hydraulics would be pointless unless you are actually aware of what hydraulics and hydraulic power is. In a nutshell, hydraulics is an incredible scientific method of providing power and force to make peoples work more efficient and easier.
That sounds like a nice theory, but how does it actually work? Well, it works by compressing fluids that are locked inside a confined compartment. This compression produces a force that can be applied to power machines or systems to help workmen and women across the globe, in a variety of industries with their workloads. Therefore, the power of hydraulics quite simply makes our workloads easier. Today it is used in so many machines that we would see every day, these machines are fundamental in helping our society run a lot more smoothly and efficiently.
Who Came up with the Theory of Hydraulics?
With any theory or method, there is a lot of debate about who the genius is behind it. But today we are going to talk to you about Blaise Pascal. Pascal can be credited as the brains behind hydraulics as he came up with a famous theory that is now the principle of hydraulics. Pascal’s law as it is commonly known, states that a change in pressure at any point in an enclosed fluid at rest is transmitted undiminished to all points in the fluid. This means if you apply a little pressure to fluid in a confined structure it is capable of releasing a force much greater than the pressure that was originally used.
The first person to then take Pascal’s law and use it was a man called Joseph Bramah in the seventeenth century. Bramah, an Englishman built an apparatus based on Pascal’s law, known as Bramah’s press. One of the common uses of the Bramah press back then was to use the apparatus and hydraulic power to pump beer from the cellars into the taps at public houses.
After Bramah’s breakthrough, hydraulic power was used to supply power to operate cranes and other machinery that were found across ports in Britain and Europe.
However, even though hydraulic power was used in the seventeenth century, it was not until early in the twentieth century that we started to see hydraulic power replacing traditional electrical systems. Replacing electrical systems was a huge milestone for hydraulic power and some see it as the rebirth of the hydraulics system.
It is important to note that since Pascal and Bramah’s discovery, several other inventors and engineers have contributed to the theory of hydraulics and have helped improve hydraulics to get it to where it is today.
Hydraulic power took off in a massive way in 1945, when the Second World War was over. This is when we could really start to see machines taking full use of the power hydraulics could offer.
So How do we use Hydraulic Power now?
Hydraulic power is used in many applications that we see every day. We’re sure you would be hugely surprised if we wrote a list. However, hydraulic power is commonly used in the automotive, construction, manufacturing and entertainment industries. 4 incredibly different industries but their common trait is that they all rely on hydraulics.
Thanks to hydraulic power construction workers can now move huge amounts of ground that would previously not have been possible. For example if we take a look at an excavator, it has the ability to easily move and manoeuvre mud weighing around two tonnes. Pretty impressive considering it used to pump beer?
But as we mentioned above, it is not just in the construction industry that make use of this impressive science, we can give you an example of how hydraulic power helps us manage waste in our homes. On a weekly or biweekly basis people around the nation will be taking out their rubbish for bin men to collect. The bin trucks that they then deposit our rubbish into make good use of hydraulic power.
By this point you may be thinking that only huge machines use hydraulic power, but do not be fooled. It’s not only great big machines like bulldozers that use hydraulic power, but mobility scooters and our braking systems in our cars use hydraulics too. Taking a closer look at the mobility scooter, how do you think it moves? Yes you guessed it, hydraulic power is the reason a mobility scooter will move forward.
So what do we seen in the future when it comes to hydraulic power?
Unfortunately, we don’t have the answer to that question at the moment. Technology has already improved the control, techniques and design of hydraulic power systems and we are sure that new technologies will only advance hydraulics even further.
We are excited to wait and see what happens and hopefully you are too now.