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Pneumatic and Hydraulic

Actuation Systems

Shilpa Sambhi
Associate Professor
EN Dept

Applications of Hydraulics

Applications of Pneumatics

Hydraulics and Pneumatics is the technology that

deals with the generation, control and transmission of
power using pressurized fluid. This subject is designated as
FLUID POWER, and is world wide accepted.
The word Hydraulics is derived from the Greek
word HYDRO and means Water. This comprised all
things in affiliation with Water.
The word Pneumatics is derived from Latin Word
PNEUMO means Breathing.
It can be said that Fluid Power (meaning
Hydraulics and Pneumatics) is the muscle that moves

Applications in Industry

It jacks up an automobile( Hydraulic jack)

Drills out teeth
Launches space ship
Control submarines
Coal mines
Moves earth ( earth moving equipment like
excavators, bull dozers, borewell drills etc.,
Harvest crops
Machine tools
Material handling equipment

Why Fluid Power ?

Fluid power provides flexible and easy control of variable force,
distance and speed. Fluid power can be varied from a delicate touch of a
few grams to a gigantic force of 36,000 tons or more. It provides
constant torque at speed of nearly 100 km/hr within a few centimeter
or give a creeping speed of a fraction of a cm per minute.
Hydraulic system uses liquids such as petroleum oils, water,
synthetic oils etc. The first hydraulic fluid to be used was water because
it is readily available but it has been replaced by oils.
Pneumatic systems use air as the gas medium because air is
very abundant and can be readily exhausted into the atmosphere.

Fluid flow fundamentals

 The knowledge of the fundamental laws and equations which
govern the flow of fluid is essential for the design of hydraulic
control components and systems.
 The field of fluid mechanics is broken down as follows:
1. Hydrostatics : Mechanics of still fluid. It is the pressure which acts
on the base of container filled with fluid and is dependent on the
height of head of fluid inside the container.
2. Hydrodynamics: It is related to mechanics of moving fluid. It is
concerned with the fluid flow laws and their effective forces.


Mathematically , p=gh
Where = mass density, Kg/m3
h= height of fluid level ( head) in m
p = pressure intensity in bar,
(1 bar = 105 Pascal = 105 N/ m2)
g = acceleration due to gravity, m/ s2

The Hydrostatic Paradox: The pressure intensity at

all points along a horizontal plane remains the same
i.e., p1= p2 = p3


Continuity equation : Matter such as hydraulic oil cannot

be created nor destroyed and since it is incompressible, the
mass rate of flow of fluid into any fixed space is equal to the
mass flow rate of flow out of the fixed space. Thus the mass
flow rate of fluid past all cross section of a tube is equal.

i.e, 1A1v1 = 2A2v2

Since 1 = 2 , A1v1 = A2v2 = Constant

Bernoullis equation :
It states that the total energy of a flow of fluid does not change
as long as energy is not supplied from the outside or transferred to
the outside.
Total energy is made up of :
-- Potential energy
-- Pressure energy, which is dependent on the column of fluid and
on static pressure.
-- Kinetic energy, which is dependent on the velocity of flow and
on back pressure.
Hence, Ptotal = Z + p / g + v2/ 2g
Where Z =elevation
p= Pressure of fluid
v= Velocity of flow
= Density of fluid

Friction and Pressure losses :
If the fluid is still ( no fluid movement) , then pressure is same at all
the point.
If fluid is flowing through the system, heat is created by friction. Thus
part of energy is lost as heat energy, which means loss of pressure.
The amount of friction loss is related to
Length of pipe
Surface roughness of the pipe
Cross sectional area of pipe
Number of pipe bends
Velocity of fluid flow
Viscosity of fluid flow.

Types of flow

Laminar flow : Up to a certain velocity fluid

moves along pipes in layers (Laminar). The
inner most fluid layer travels at the highest
speed. The outer most fluid layer at the pipe
wall does not move.

Turbulent flow: It the velocity of flow is

increased, the type of flow changes at the
critical velocity and becomes turbulent. This
results in an increase of flow resistance and
thus the hydraulic losses increases. Therefore
turbulent flow is not usually desirable.
The critical velocity is not a fixed quantity, it is dependent on
the viscosity of the fluid and on the cross sectional area through
which flow passes.

Reynoldss number (Re)
The type of flow may be roughly determined Using Reynoldss
Re = v* dh /, where v = Velocity of flow m/s, dh = Hydraulic
diameter in m, with circular cross- sections equal to the pipe
internal diameter, and otherwise calculated as dh = 4 * A / U
A = Cross- sectional area, U = Circumference
= Kinematic viscosity in m2 / s and Re crit = 2300
At Re crit the type of flow changes from laminar to turbulent
and vice versa.
Laminar flow occurs for Re < Recrit , and
Turbulent flow occurs for Re> Recrit

Pascals Law

Fluid power technology actually began in 1650 with the discovery of

Pascals Law. Simply this law says that:
Pressure in a fluid at rest is transmitted equally in all
It acts on all surfaces in a direction at right angle to those surfaces.
The amount of pressure in the fluid is equal to the weight force with
respect to the area being acted upon.

Hydraulic force transmission

As pressure distributes equally in all directions, the shape of the container is

irrelevant. If we now pressurize surface A1 with force F1, we create pressure, P
= F1 / A1
Pressure acts on all sides equally and simultaneously. It is therefore equal at
all points. Therefore it acts also on surface A2 The force which can be achieved
F 2 = P A2
Thus F1 / A1 = F2 / A2
Or F2 / F1 = A2 / A1

Hydraulic force transmission

If it is possible to achieve the pressure necessary to overcome the

load F2 (Via surface A2 ) by means of force F1 and surface A1, Then
load F2 can be raised . ( Friction losses need not be taken into
consideration here).
The relationship of the paths S1 and S2 of the two pistons is then
opposite to that of the surface. i.e., S1 / S2 = A2 / A1

Advantages of using Fluid Power

Fluid power provides flexibility in the control of machines
Fluid power provides high forces (torque) with compact size
i.e, high power density.
Stepless regulation of speed
Simple overload protection
Suitable for controlling fast movement and for extremely slow
precision movement.
Fluid power is simple and provides ease of installation and
Fluid power is readily available.
It provides predictable performance.

Major Differences

Elements of
/ Hydraulic

Direction control valve

Directional control valves are one of the most fundamental parts
in hydraulic machinery as well and pneumatic machinery. They allow
fluid flow into different paths from one or more sources. They usually
consist of a spool inside a cylinder which is mechanically or electrically
controlled. The movement of the spool restricts or permits the flow, thus
it controls the fluid flow.

2/2 direction control valve

Ball (seated)

2-way seat type hydraulic DCV

Direction control valve

3/2 direction control valve

Positions/ application of
4/2 DCV

Normally retracted position of


Application of 4/2 DCV:

Lifting of cylinder up & down

Positions in 4/3

of 4/3 DCV

Normally closed
position of 4/3 DCV


Pilot operated valve

Check Valve