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Flow Control My Notes and Calculations

Chapter 7

Flow Control
Objective
Flow control valves are used to regulate the volume of oil supplied to different
areas of hydraulic systems. In this course, you will be given an overview of the two
types of flow control valves, as well as their application and location in a hydraulic
system. This course will help you learn why and where flow control devices should
be used.
Overview
The function of the flow control valve is to reduce the rate of flow in its leg of the
circuit. Flow reduction will result in speed reduction at the actuator. A flow control
valve adds resistance to the circuit, thus increasing pressure, resulting in a partial
bypassing of fluid over the relief valve or a destroking pressure of a compensated
pump. This reduces flow downstream of the flow control valve.

Figure 7.1 The internal workings of a flow control valve

With a fixed volume pump, to reduce flow to the actuator we must bypass a portion
of the fluid over the relief valve. As the needle valve is closed, pressure increases
upstream. As the pressure approaches 1500 psi, the relief valve begins to open,
bypassing a portion of fluid to the reservoir.

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Figure 7.2 A hydraulic system with a needle valve

When flow control is used with a pressure compensated pump, fluid is not pushed
over the relief valve. As pressure approaches the compensator setting of 1500 psi,
the pump will begin to destroke, reducing outward flow.

Figure 7.3 A flow control valve with a pressure compensated pump

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Flow control valves may be fixed (nonadjustable) or adjustable. In addition, they


may also be classified as throttling only or pressure compensated.

Figure 7.4 Schematic drawings for the different types of flow control valves

The amount of flow through an orifice will remain constant as long as the pressure
differential across the orifice does not change. When the pressure differential
changes, the flow changes. Changing load or upstream pressure will change the
pressure drop across the valve.

Figure 7.5 Pressure gauges illustrating the change


in pressure as flow goes through a flow control valve

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Throttling vs. Pressure Compensating (Needle Valves)


Needle valves may be designated as noncompensated flow control or throttling
valves. They are good metering devices as long as the pressure differential across
the valve remains constant.

Figure 7.6 A hydraulic system with a needle valve

A pressure compensated flow control valve is designed to make allowances for


pressure changes before or after the orifice. The pressure compensated flow control
valve symbol adds a pressure arrow to the orifice. With a pressure compensated
flow control valve, the speed of the cylinder does not change with the change in
load.
Meter-In/Meter-Out
Meter-in is the method of placing a flow control valve in such a way that fluid
is restricted to the actuator. In Figure 7.7, the cylinder extends and retracts at an
unrestricted rate when a flow control valve is not present. When a flow control
valve is placed into the circuit, flow will be restricted to the cylinder, slowing the
extend rate of the cylinder. The check valve allows return flow to bypass the flow
control when direction of flow is reversed.

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Figure 7.7 A check valve used for a meter-in application

When the flow control is moved to the other line, as in Figure 7.8, the cylinder
extends at an unrestricted rate. Flow can be restricted to the cylinder so that it will
retract at a reduced rate.

Figure 7.8 A check valve used for a meter in on cylinder retraction

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Flow Control My Notes and Calculations

The advantage to meter-in is that it is very accurate with a positive load. However,
when the load goes over center, the load becomes negative or overrunning. The
load is no longer being controlled by the cylinder. As the load overruns, it causes
the cylinder to cavitate, as in Figure 7.9.

Figure 7.9 Misapplication, where meter-in results in cylinder cavitation

Although meter-in is usually the best placement for controlling a constant speed,
because it also dampens flow and pressure transients, some applications may require
meter-out. To meter-out, simply change the direction that the flow is allowed to
pass through the reverse check. This will cause the fluid to be metered as it leaves
the actuator, which is opposite of meter-in.
An advantage of meter-out is that it will prevent a cylinder from overrunning
and consequently cavitating. A disadvantage of meter-out can be pressure
intensification. This can occur with a substantial differential area ratio between the
rod and piston. When metering-out on the rod side of the cylinder without a load,
the pressure is intensified on the rod side. This may damage the rod seals. Meter-in
and meter-out have advantages and disadvantages. The application must determine
the type of flow control valve placement.

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Figure 7.10 Pressure intensification due to metering-out

DID YOU KNOW?


A pressure compensated flow control valve may also be temperature
compensated as well. Temperature compensation allows for change in fluid
viscosity due to temperature changes in the hydraulic fluid.
Flow control valves, when metering, add resistance to the circuit, which adds
heat and load to the system. Fixed displacement pump circuits must force
excess flow over the relief valve to meter. This creates much more heat than
variable displacement pumps, which partially destroke the pump from the
valve closure, rather than force excess flow over a relief valve.

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Proportional Flow Dividers


Overview
A proportional flow divider is a device that divides flow into two or more flow
parts. By dividing the flow, a single pump can be used to operate multiple circuits
at the same time.
The two types of proportional flow dividers are the spool and the gear or rotary.

Figure 7.11 Proportional flow divider schematic

Spool type proportional flow dividers divide the flow into two flow paths. The
input flow is divided proportionally between the two output flow paths. Common
flow divisions are: 30/70, 40/60, and 50/50.
Both output flow paths are pressure compensated, so the flow division will remain
constant even with varying loads and pressures in two circuits.
If the input flow varies, the output flows will vary proportionally. If one of the
output flows is blocked, the divider will block the other output flow.

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The gear type proportional divider can divide the flow into two or more flow paths.
The positive displacement of the gear sections produces a constant division of the
flow, even if the loads and pressures in the output circuits vary.

Figure 7.12 Spool type proportional flow dividers with percent flow labeled

The output flows are proportional to the input. As the input varies, the output
flows will vary proportionately. If one of the output flows becomes blocked, all of
the output flows will be blocked. Pressure intensifies in the circuit that is initially
blocked.
A relief-valve placed in the circuits downstream of a proportional flow divider will
prevent pressure intensification. The relief valve will also keep the flow divider
from blocking flow to other circuits.
Gear type flow dividers can be used to combine return flow in circuits. Most spool
flow dividers are not designed to allow reverse flow through them. There are spool
type combiners and combination divider-combiner units.

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Figure 7.13 Gear type proportional flow divider schematic showing


that with one output blocked, all outputs are blocked.

Spool Functional View


This is a spool type proportional flow divider. These flow dividers consist of a
housing, a spool, and two end caps. The housing has three ports - one inlet port
and two outlet ports. A narrow passage connects the center cavity and each of the

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outlet ports. Inside the housing is the sliding spool with cross-drilled holes in the
center and through the entire length of the spool.
The spool is able to move freely in the housing. Flow from the inlet enters the
center of the spool through the cross-drilled hole. The flow divides and flows to
both ends of the spool. Fluid flows out both ends of the spool, around the ends
of the spool, and out the narrow passages to the outlet ports.

Figure 7.14 Proportional flow divider showing the flow paths

If pressure at outlet two increases, the spool will shift to the left. The spool moves
slightly in response to differences in pressure between the two outlets, resulting in
pressure compensation for both outlet ports. This is accomplished by the opening

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Flow Control My Notes and Calculations

to outlet one being partially closed while the opening to outlet two is opened
slightly more. The flow to both outlets remains constant.
If pressure at outlet one increases, the spool will shift slightly to the right, opening
the passage to port one and slightly closing the opening to outlet port two.
Gear Functional View
The major components of this gear flow divider are the end covers, gear sections,
section dividers, and tie rods.
Flow enters through one end cover and flows through a passage to each of the gear
sections. Fluid pushes against the gear teeth, causing them to rotate in opposite
directions. The fluid between the gear teeth and the housing is carried around to
the opposite side of the gear section. As the teeth mesh, the fluid is pushed out of
each outlet port. The gear sections are connected by a common shaft that causes all
of the sections to rotate at the same speed. The inlet flow is divided proportionally
between each section.

Figure 7.15 Gear type flow divider showing flow paths

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Priortiy Dividers
Overview
A bypass flow control, used as a flow divider, is called a priority flow divider. The
outlet ports will typically be labeled (CF) for controlled flow and (EF) for excess
flow. A priority flow divider is often integral to the port cover of the hydraulic
pump.
When flow to a circuit is critical, a priority flow divider is used to help assure that
the needed flow is available. Common applications are systems with steering or
braking circuits.

Figure 7.16 Priority flow divider built onto a pump with labeled parts

The priority, or controlled flow port, is pressure compensated, but the excess flow
port is not. All input flow first goes to meet the required flow of the controlled

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Flow Control My Notes and Calculations

flow circuit. Flow will remain constant through the controlled flow port as long as
it is at least equal to, or more than, the controlled flow setting. Any extra flow will
exit the excess flow port and can be used in another circuit.
If the excess port is blocked, the flow will remain constant through the controlled
flow port. If the controlled flow port is blocked, all flow will go through the excess
flow port.
Functional View
Figure 7.17 shows a pressure compensated bypass flow control. Bypass flow
controls are often used for priority flow dividing applications.
The primary components of this pressure compensated flow control are the
housing, the main spool with a metering orifice, the spool biasing spring, and a
relief valve.

Figure 7.17 Priority flow divider showing flow paths

The metering orifice in the main spool controls the amount of flow to the priority
circuit. The biasing spring holds the spool to the left, blocking the flow path to

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the excess flow port. Fluid entering the inlet is metered through the orifice to the
center of the main spool where it flows to the controlled flow port.
Excess flow trying to pass through the orifice causes the pressure drop to increase.
The upstream pressure pushes the spool to the right, compressing the spring and
opening the passage, allowing the remainder of the flow to exit the excess flow
port. The spring and the spool work together to maintain a constant pressure drop,
resulting in a constant flow across the orifice and diverting excess flow to the
excess flow port.
If pressure in the priority circuit reaches the relief valve setting, the relief valve
opens and diverts the priority flow to the reservoir.
Power Steering
Power steering units are used to assist in the steering of many types of mobile
equipment.
The power steering unit is a fixed displacement rotary metering valve, which is
activated when the steering wheel is turned. Most power steering units are gerotor
or geroller design. Please refer to the motor section of this training manual for a
better understanding of these designs.
Without rotation of the steering wheel, the centering springs hold the position of
the spool and sleeve, and the fluid flow is allowed to pass through the pressure port
to the spool and sleeve and to the tank port of the steering unit.
Rotation of the steering wheel counterclockwise rotates the spool in the sleeve
against the force of the centering springs, allowing fluid flow to pass through the
rotating spool/sleeve valve. Flow is metered through the gerotor section of the
steering unit equal to the displacement of the gerotor and rotational speed of
the steering wheel. The fluid flow is ported to the open side of the gerotor and is
metered to the closed side as the gerotor rotates and flow passes out through the
L port of the steering unit. Fluid returning from the opposite side of the cylinder
is ported through the unit to the tank. High pressure fluid above the setting of the
relief valve is passed through the P port to the T port of the unit and flows
to the reservoir. Fluid flow is routed to the steering cylinder and turns the wheels
to the left.

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Rotation of the steering wheel clockwise reverses the flow path through the unit
and turns the wheels in the opposite direction.

Figure 7.18 Power steering system on a tractor

Pump flow not used in the steering circuit passes through the tank port of the unit
to the reservoir or to other downstream functions through the power beyond port
of the unit, if provisions are made for this option.

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Flow Control Flow Control

SUMMARY 6. When metering-in, always use a pressure


compensated flow control valve.
Priority Flow Dividers
11. A priority flow divider ______.
The function of the flow control valve is to reduce the rate of flow in its leg of a. True
a. is really a bypass flow control
b. False
the hydraulic circuit. valve
Flow reduction will result in speed reduction at the actuator. b. is often integral to the port
7. Metering-in refers to controlling the flow
cover on the pump
Flow control valves may be fixed (meaning nonadjustable) or adjustable. going to the actuator.
c. has control flow that is pressure
a. True
Metering-out will prevent a cylinder from overrunning and consequently compensated
b. False
cavitating. d. All of the above are correct.

A proportional flow divider is a device that divides flow into two or more flow Proportional Flow Dividers 12. If excess flow is blocked in a priority
paths. By dividing the flow, a single pump can be used to operate multiple circuits 8. A proportional flow divider is a device flow divider ______.
at the same time. that divides hydraulic flow into two or a. the flow will stop in the
more paths. controlled flow port
When flow to a circuit is critical, a priority flow divider is used to help assure that
a. True b. flow will remain constant in the
the needed flow is available. Common applications are systems with steering or controlled flow port
braking circuits. b. False
c. controlled flow will open the
Power steering units are used to assist in the steering of many types of mobile 9. Proportional flow divider types, by relief valve and bypass back to
equipment. design, may be ______. the pump inlet
a. spool d. Both a and c are correct.
QUESTIONS b. gear or rotary
13. If the control flow is blocked in a
c. vane
d. Both a and b are correct. priority flow control valve ______.
Flow Control Valves 4. A pressure compensated flow
a. all flow will go through the
control valve creates a constant flow
1. Flow controls are always adjustable. excess flow port
by maintaining a constant pressure 10. Proportional flow dividers are pressure
a. True b. cell flow will go through the
differential across the valve. compensated, which means ______.
b. False relief valve
a. True a. there will always be equal flow to c. no change will occur in flow
b. False both circuits
2. Flow controls are often used to control downstream to the circuit
the speed of an actuator. b. the flow division will always d. flow will remain constant in the
a. True Meter-In/Meter-Out remain constant, regardless of control port
b. False load changes
5. Meter-in should only be used with a c. output flow will not vary,
3. The flow through a throttling valve will
positive load. regardless of input flow Power Steering
a. True d. if one output flow is blocked, it
vary if the differential pressure across 14. Power steering valves incorporate a
b. False will not affect the other
the valve varies. pressure reducing valve to prevent
a. True pressure buildup.
b. False a. True
b. False

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15. Pump flow not used in the steering


circuit ______.
a. passes over the relief valve
b. is reduced from the pressure
reducing valve
c. passes through the tank port
d. may be used for other
downstream functions through
the power beyond port option
e. Both c and d are correct.

16. Rotation of the steering wheel rotates


the spool in sleeve against the force
of the centering springs, passing fluid
through the sleeve valve.
a. True
b. False

17. Most power steering valve units are


______.
a. gear design
b. piston design
c. gerotor or geroler design
d. spool and sleeve design

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