Fluid Handling Systems

As a mechanical engineering graduate you must know that a key element in fluid systems is the transmitting means of power from one location to another.

Now to construct a hydraulic or pneumatic system needs a design or selection of various components, and also determine how they will interact. Most overlooked point is that the fluid, and the means of moving it from one location to another, are essential in any fluid-power system.

As the functions of hydraulic fluid are very basic; to transmit power efficiently and lubricate moving parts, with low maintenance it is often ignored. But if you use the wrong fluid, or do not maintain it properly, it could even destroy a system. As polluted air can foul the compressors, jam valves, and ruin an instrument.

In addition to fluids, the various ways that transmit fluid like hose, tubing and connectors and also the components that keep the fluid in good working condition like filters, heat exchangers, lubricators, and dryers are very essential ingredients of fluid-power systems.


Hydrocarbons conventionally have been the main choice for hydraulic work. This remains popular where there is no fear of fire, no possibilities of, no wider temperature variations, and no environmental problems or concerns.

Fire protection might dictate choice of a nonpetroleum fluid, mainly when a broken hydraulic line could spray fluid into an ignition source. Work environment might suggest a nonhydrocarbon fluid where a hydrocarbon fluid that could spoil food-related products or pollute a river.

Hydraulic fluid must be looked for general compatibility with the system. Fluids are of five types from point of view of evaluation: premium antiwear, standard antiwear, rust and oxidation-inhibited nonantiwear, water-based, and phosphate esters.

Premium antiwear are recommended for systems that use both piston and vane equipments. The fluids allow the operation at full catalogue rating with maximum life shell.

Standard antiwear are comparatively lesser stable than the premium fluids as they contain more additives. The fluids could be used with piston pumps, but speed limit must be upto 1,800 rpm and pressure ~ 3,000 psi.

Vane equipment, on the other hand, could be used at maximum catalogue ratings with maximum life shell.

Nonantiwear, rust and oxidation-inhibited fluids are also divided into stable and less-stable types. The stable fluids, like turbine oils, are more preferable for piston equipments. The fluids permit operation at full catalogue ratings with maximum life shell.

These fluids could be used with well designed vane equipment but at lower ratings and life.

The lesser stable class of these fluids includes tractor and transmission fluids. They are most suitable for use in piston equipment at full catalogue rating, but life shell is difficult to ascertain.

Water-based fluids are invert emulsions and water glycols. Piston pumps operate well on these fluids but have certain disadvantages. For example, absolute inlet pressure must be about 25% higher than with petroleum-based fluids, and minimum inlet pressure ~13 psia.

Only specially designed vane pumps could be used with these fluids. Again, absolute inlet pressure must be 25% higher than with petroleum-based fluids, and minimum inlet pressure is 13 psia.

Phosphate esters could be used with piston and vane equipment at full catalogue ratings. But, absolute inlet pressure must be about 35% higher than hydrocarbon fluids. Viton-A seals are suitable with most phosphate esters; but, some of these fluids need EPR seals.

So now we conclude the discussion.

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