Definition - What does Hydraulic mean?

Hydraulic refers to the science of using liquids to enable motion. Hydraulic systems are arrangements of pipes, hoses, pumps and other liquid-containing vessels that use the contained liquid to perform work and move objects from one place to another. The liquid used is often a type of oil, but it can be another type of liquid as well.

Hydraulic systems can be used to perform work, but are susceptible to various types of corrosion.

Corrosionpedia explains Hydraulic

A hydraulic system has several key components:

  • The reservoir is a tank where the liquid used to transmit the forces is kept.
  • A pump to move the liquid.
  • Valves to direct the flow or stop the flow of the liquid.
  • Pipes and hoses used to contain the liquid being used to perform work.
  • A driver that works with the pump to move the liquid.
  • An actuator, which is the tool that the fluid is being used to move.
  • There may be other minor components in a hydraulic system.

Hydraulic systems take advantage of the fact that liquids are not compressible. This allows hydraulic systems to give users a way to take advantage of the Work formula:

Work = Force x Distance

For instance, a cylinder with a piston with twice the surface area of another cylinder's piston will cause the smaller piston to move twice the distance of the larger piston if they are hooked together in a hydraulic system. The opposite of this is true as well, which is part of the reason hydraulic systems are excellent at moving very heavy objects.

Hydraulic systems should not be confused with pneumatic systems. Pneumatic systems use liquids that can be compressed, while hydraulic systems use liquids that cannot be compressed.

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