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FundamentalsofHydraulicReservoirs
(Unpublished)Hydraulics&Pneumatics
Sun,20120101(Allday)

Whenitcomestoreservoirdesign,biggerisnotnecessarilybetter.Infact,thetrendistoprovidesmaller
reservoirs.
Inadditiontoholdinginreserveenoughfluidtosupplyahydraulicsystem'svaryingneeds,areservoir,
Figure1,provides:
alargesurfaceareatotransferheatfromthefluidtothesurroundingenvironment
enoughvolumetoletreturningfluidslowdownfromahighentrancevelocity.Thisletsheavier
contaminantssettleandentrainedairescape
aphysicalbarrier(baffle)thatseparatesfluidenteringthereservoirfromfluidenteringthepump
suctionline
airspaceabovethefluidtoacceptairthatbubblesoutofthefluid
accesstoremoveusedfluidandcontaminantsfromthesystemandtoaddnewfluid
spaceforhotfluidexpansion,gravitydrainbackfromasystemduringshutdown,andstorageof
largevolumesneededintermittentlyduringpeakperiodsofanoperatingcycle,and
aconvenientsurfacetomountothersystemcomponents,ifpractical.
Thesearethetraditionalrolesofreservoirsnewtrends
maypresentdeviationsfromthenorm.Forexample,new
designsforhydraulicsystemsoftencallforreservoirsthat
aremuchsmallerthanthosebasedontraditionalrulesof
thumb.Becausemostsystemswarrantsomespecial
consideration,itisimportanttoconsultindustry
standardsforminimumguidelines.Recommended
PracticeNFPA/T3.16.2*addressesbasicminimumdesign
andconstructionfeaturesforreservoirs.

Reservoirsizing
Althoughtheconsiderationsjustdiscussedmaybeimportant,thefirstvariabletoresolveis,indeed,
reservoirvolume.Aruleofthumbforsizingahydraulicreservoirsuggeststhatitsvolumeshouldequal
threetimestheratedoutputofthesystem'sfixeddisplacementpumpormeanflowrateofitsvariable
displacementpump.Thismeansasystemusinga5gpmpumpshouldhavea15galreservoir.Therule
suggestsanadequatevolumetoallowthefluidtorestbetweenworkcyclesforheatdissipation,contaminant
settling,anddeaeration.Keepinmindthatthisisonlyaruleofthumbforinitialsizing.Infact,NFPA's
RecommendedPracticestates,"Previously,threetimesthepumpcapacityhadbeenrecommended.Dueto
today'ssystemtechnology,designobjectiveshavechangedforeconomicreasons,suchasspacesaving,
minimizingoilusage,andoverallsystemcostreductions."

Whetherornotyouchoosetoadheretothetraditionalruleofthumborfollowthetrendtowardsmaller
reservoirs,beawareofparametersthatmayinfluencethereservoirsizerequired.Forexample,somecircuit
componentssuchaslargeaccumulatorsorcylindersmayinvolvelargevolumesoffluid.Therefore,a
largerreservoirmayhavetobespecifiedsofluidleveldoesnotdropbelowthepumpinletregardlessof
pumpflow.
Systemsexposedtohighambienttemperaturesrequirealargerreservoirunlesstheyincorporateaheat
exchanger.Besuretoconsiderthesubstantialheatthatcanbegeneratedwithinahydraulicsystem.This
heatisgeneratedwhenthehydraulicsystemproducesmorepowerthanisconsumedbytheload.Asystem
operatingforsignificantperiodswithpressurizedfluidpassingoverareliefvalveisacommonexample.
Reservoirsize,therefore,oftenisdeterminedprimarilybythecombinationofhighestfluidtemperature
andhighestambienttemperature.Allelsebeingequal,thesmallerthetemperaturedifferencebetweenthe
two,thelargerthesurfacearea(and,therefore,volume)requiredtodissipateheatfromfluidtothe
surroundingenvironment.Ofcourse,ifambienttemperatureexceedsfluidtemperature,awatercooledor
remotemountedheatexchangerwillbeneededtocoolthefluid.Infact,forapplicationswherespace
conservationisimportant,heatexchangerscanreducereservoirsize(andcost)dramatically.Keepinmind
thatthereservoirmaynotbefullatalltimes,soitmaynotbedissipatingheatthroughitsfullsurfacearea.
Thereservoirshouldcontainadditionalspaceequaltoatleast10%ofitsfluidcapacity.Thisallowsfor
thermalexpansionofthefluidandgravitydrainbackduringshutdown,yetstillprovidesafreefluidsurface
fordeaeration.Inanyevent,NFPA/T3.16.2requiresthatmaximumfluidcapacityofthereservoirbe
markedpermanentlyonitstopplate.
Atrendtowardspecifyingsmallerreservoirhasemergedasameansofreapingeconomicbenefits.Asmaller
reservoirislighter,morecompact,andlessexpensivetomanufactureandmaintainthanoneoftraditional
size.Moreover,asmallerreservoirreducesthetotalamountoffluidthatcanleakfromasystemimportant
fromanenvironmentalstandpoint.
Butspecifyingasmallerreservoirforasystemmustbeaccompaniedbymodificationsthatcompensatefor
thelowervolumeoffluidcontainedinthereservoir.Forexample,becauseasmallerreservoirhasless
surfaceareaforheattransfer,aheatexchangermaybenecessarytomaintainfluidtemperaturewithin
requirements.Also,contaminantswillnothaveasgreatanopportunityforsettling,sohighcapacityfilters
willberequiredtotrapcontaminantsthatwouldotherwisesettleinthesumpofthereservoir.
Perhapsthegreatestchallengetousingasmallerreservoirlieswithremovingairfromthefluid.A
traditionalreservoirprovidestheopportunityforairtoescapefromfluidbeforeitisdrawnintothepump
inlet.Providingtoosmallareservoircouldallowaeratedfluidtobedrawnintothepump.Thiscouldcause
cavitationandeventualdamageorfailureofthepump.Whenspecifyingasmallreservoir,consider
installingaflowdiffuser,whichreducesthevelocityofreturnfluid(typicallyto1ft/sec),helpsprevent
foamingandagitation,andreducespotentialpumpcavitationfromflowdisturbancesattheinlet.Another
techniqueistoinstallascreenatanangleinthereservoir.Thescreencollectssmallbubbles,whichjoinwith
otherstoformlargebubblesthatreadilyrisetothefluid'ssurface.
Perhapsthebestwaytopreventaeratedfluidfrombeingdrawnintothepumpistopreventaerationoffluid
inthefirstplacebypayingcarefulattentiontofluidflowpaths,velocities,andpressureswhendesigningthe
hydraulicsystem.

Designconfigurations

Traditionally,thepump,electricmotor,andothercomponentsofa
hydraulicpowerunitmountontopofarectangularreservoir.The
reservoirtop,therefore,mustbestructurallyrigidenoughtosupport
thesecomponents,maintainalignments,andminimizevibration.An
auxiliaryplatemaybemountedonthereservoir'stoptomeetthese
objectives.Abigadvantageofthisconfigurationisthatitallowseasyaccess
tothepump,motor,andaccessories.
Acurrentdesigntrendhastheelectricmotormountedvertically,withthe
pumpsubmergedinhydraulicfluid,Figure2.Thisconservesspace,
becausethereservoircanbemadedeeperandtakeuplessfloorspacethan
onewithtraditional"bathtub"proportions.Thesubmergedpumpdesign
alsoeliminatesexternalpumpleakage,becauseanyfluidleakingfromthe
pumpflowsdirectlyintothereservoir.Inaddition,thepowerunitis
quieter,becausethehydraulicfluidtendstodamppumpnoise.
Analternateconfigurationpositionsthereservoirabovethepumpandmotor,Figure3.Thisoverhead
configurationprovidestheadvantageofcombiningatmosphericpressureandtheweightofthefluidcolumn
toflood(forcefluidinto)thepumpinlet,whichhelpspreventcavitation.Thereservoir'stopcovercanbe
removedtoserviceinternalcomponentswithoutdisturbingthepumpandmotor.
Theoverheadreservoirmaycauseaproblemwith
gravityreturndrainlines,soanauxiliarypumpmaybe
neededtoroutefluiduptothereservoir.Whennoiseis
aproblem,overheadtanksprovidethemostconvenient
waytoenclosethepumpandelectricmotorwithina
noisesuppressionchamber.
Manyapplicationsusereservoirsthatcombine
characteristicsofthedifferentconfigurations.For
example,anLshapedreservoir,Figure4,combinesthe
advantagesoftopandbasemountedreservoirsa
floodedpumpinletandeasyaccessibilityof
components.
Reservoirscanalsobe
pressurizedtofloodthe
pump.Thispressurecancomefromanexternalsourceorfromtrappedairand
fluidthermalexpansion.Apressurecontrolvalveallowsfilteredairtoenterthe
reservoirwhenthefluidcoolsbutpreventsitsreleaseunlessairinsidereachesa
thresholdpressure.

Shapeandconstruction
Thereisnostandardreservoirshape.Geometrically,asquareorarectangularprismhasthelargestheat
transfersurfaceperunitvolume.Acylindricalshape,ontheotherhand,maybemoreeconomicalto
fabricate.Ifthereservoirisshallow,wide,andlong,itmaytakeupmorefloorspacethannecessaryand
doesnottakefulladvantageoftheheattransfersurfaceofthewalls.
Theoretically,becauseheatrises,thereservoirtopholdsthegreatestpotentialforheattransfertothe

atmosphere.However,inparticularlydirtyenvironments,contaminantsoftencollectonthereservoirtop
andactasinsulation.Thisreducestheeffectiveheattransferfromthetopofthereservoir,soreservoir
sidescouldactuallybethemosteffectiveheattransferareainsomeinstances.Ontheotherhand,atalland
narrowgeometryconservesfloorspaceandprovidesalargesurfaceareaforheattransferfromthesides.
Dependingontheapplication,however,thisshapemaynotprovideenoughareaatthetopsurfaceofthe
fluidtoletairescape.
Thereservoirshouldbestrongandrigidenoughtoallowliftingandmovingwhilefull.Appropriatelift
rings,lugs,orforkliftprovisionsshouldbeincluded.

Accessories
Reservoiraccessoriesareusedfor:
strainingnewfluidasitentersasystem
filteringairdrawnintothereservoirashydraulicfluidlevelrisesandfallsduringsystemoperation
indicatingfluidlevelinthereservoir
indicatingfluidtemperature
routingreturnfluidtominimizepotentialpumpcavitationandimproveheattransfer
heatingcoldorlowviscosityfluidstonecessaryoperatingtemperature,and
removingferrouscontaminantparticlesfromthefluid.
Fluidmustbeaddedtothereservoiratstartup,aftercleanout,andtomakeupforlosses.Twofiller
openingsshouldpermitreasonablyrapidfilling(atleast5gpmeach),interceptlargecontaminantparticles
fromthenewfluid,andeithersealwhenclosedorfilterincomingairifventedasabreather.Theopenings
shouldbeonoppositesidesorendsofthereservoir.Metalstrainerscreensof30meshorfinershouldhave
internalmetalguardsandbeattachedsotoolsarenecessaryforremoval.Thefillercovershouldbe
permanentlyattached,andifitdoesnotincludeabreather,aseparatebreathershouldbespecified.In
eithercase,40mairfiltrationshouldbeprovided.
Inadditiontoslowingdownfluidreturningtothereservoir,reducingfoamingandpumpcavitationfrom
flowdisturbancesattheinlet,andprovidingfluidmixingwithoutagitation,flowdiffusersalsoreducenoise
andtheneedforbaffling.Theyareespeciallyeffectiveinsmallreservoirswithhighflowsandindeep
reservoirswithasmallfloorarea.
Afluidlevelindicatorshouldbelocatedateachfiller.Indicatorsshouldhavehighandlowlevelsmarked
againstacontrastingbackgroundtohelpmaintainappropriatefluidlevel.Anelectroniclevelindicatorcan
serveasamoresophisticatedalternative.Thesedevicesuseavarietyofmeanstomeasureliquidlevel.
Transducersproduceacontinuousoutput,andswitchessignalwhenliquidreachesapredeterminedhighor
lowlevel.
FluidtemperaturemeasurementisnotrequiredbytheNFPAstandard,butaselectionofthermometersis
available,manyinthesamehousingasthefluidlevelindicator.(Ifhighfluidtemperatureisacontinuing
problem,theheatsourceinthecircuitshouldbeidentifiedandremoved.)Aswithlevelindicators,avariety
ofelectronictemperatureindicatorsareavailable.
Ineithercase,signalsgeneratedbythesedevicesareroutedtoadisplayorcontrolpaneltoprovide
operatorswithanindicationoffluidstatus.Wiringalevelortemperatureswitchintothemachine'scontrol
canpreventequipmentdamagebyshuttingdownthemachineiffluidreachesadangerouslylowlevelor
hightemperature.

Aftershutdown,orwhenthereservoirisexposedtocoldertemperatures,thefluidmaybetoocoldfor
immediateoperation.Coldfluidmaybecomeviscousorthickenoughtopreventitfrombeingdrawninto
thepump,causingpumpcavitationorotherproblemsthatcandamagecomponentsorcausesystem
malfunctions.Athermostaticallycontrolledheatertowarmfluiduntilitsviscositybecomescompatiblewith
thesystemsolvesthisproblem.Again,bywiringthisthermostatintothesystemcontrol,machineoperation
canbepreventeduntilfluidreachesaminimumtemperature.
Magnetscanbeplacedinthereservoirtocaptureandremovemetallicparticlesfromthefluidstream.Fluid
returningtothereservoirshouldberoutedpastintankmagnetstocollectasmanyferrousparticlesas
possible.Magnetsshouldbecheckedperiodicallyandcleanedtoensurecontinuedmaximumperformance.
Althoughhydraulicfiltersareusuallynotconsideredreservoiraccessories,almostallpumpinletstrainers
arelocatedwithinthereservoir,andmanyotherfiltersmountonorthroughreservoirsurfaces.Becausethe
inletstrainerisoutofsight,apressuregagewillhelpindicatewhencleaningisnecessary.

Integralreservoirs
Insomesystems,thehydraulicreservoirisbuiltasanintegralpartoftheequipmentitserves.Becauseof
thediversityofdesignsandspecialdesignpractices,integralreservoirsarenotaddressedinthe
NFPA/ANSIstandard.Theyareusedmostoftenwithmobileequipment,andtheirplacementoftenisan
afterthought,whichnecessitatescustomdesignedshapesforirregularareas.
Anumberofpotentialproblemsexistwithintegralreservoirsthatrequirespecialconsideration.These
include:
availablespacemaylimitsize.Becauseheattransfercapacityisafunctionofsize,externaloilcoolers
orheatexchangersmaybeneeded
irregularshapemayrequirespecialbafflingtoproperlyroutefluid
surroundingequipmentmaylimitconvectionalheattransfer
serviceaccessibilitymaybepoor,and
specialheatshieldingmaybeneededtoisolatecomponentsortheoperatorfromreservoirheat.

Reservoirsformobileequipment
Mobilehydraulicreservoirsareexpectedtoperformthesame
functionsastheirindustrialcounterpartsbutusuallyundermore
adverseandlesspredictableoperatingconditions.Machinemotion
(whichmakescomplexbafflingsystemsnecessarytopreventfluid
sloshing)andextremeambienttemperaturesarejusttwoexamplesof
thespecialproblemsdesignersofhydraulicsystemsformobile
equipmentface.
Sizeandweightlimitationsmayrequiremobileequipmenttooperate
withreservoirsassmallasthevolumeapumpdischargesinaminute.
Thisisroughlyathirdthesizeofareservoirtraditionallyusedinan
industrialapplication.Thespaceandshapelimitationsmobileequipmentplacesonreservoirsrequiresthat
theyoftenbecustomdesigned.Cost,size,andweightmustbeminimized,whilestillmaintainingadequate
performanceandefficiency.

Internalorexternalfilters?

Returnfiltersareoftenplacedinsidethetanktosavespaceandtoprovideintegraldiffusion.Oneadvantage
ofintankreturnfiltrationisthatfillingthetankthroughthefilterhelpsensuresystemcleanliness.
However,besurecontaminantscannotfallintothereservoirwhenareturnfilterelementischanged.
Placingfilterswithinthetankprovidesaneatdesignbutmaypromotecontaminatinganareathatisdifficult
tokeepclean.Whilemoredifficulttoplumb,externalreturnfilterskeepcontaminationoutsidethetank,
andtheyaremoreeasilyaccessibleforservicing.
Magnetsshouldbeplacedinthereservoirtotrapferrousparticles.Damsandsuctionstrainersalsocanbe
addedtoincreasetheeffectivenessofthereservoirasacontaminantcontroller.Particledams,placed
betweenthereturnandsuctionareasofthetank,helpcontainheavierparticlesthatmayhavebypassedthe
returnfilters.Damscommonlyconsistofanangleplatethatextendsacrossthefloorofthetank.Thedam
shouldbehighenoughtocontainparticlesuntilthereservoirisroutinelycleanedbutlowenoughtoprevent
fluidfromhavingtocascadeoverit.Damsalsoprovideidealmountingsurfacesformagnets.
Locatingapumpatorabovefluidlevelandfarawayfromthetank(moretherulethantheexceptionwith
mobileequipment)usuallyprohibitstheuseofpumpinletfilters.Suctionstrainersorfiltersshouldbe
consideredasaformoflastchancepumpprotectionwhenpositivepumpinletconditionscanbeprovided
aswithachargepumporpressurizedreservoir.Payattentiontofluidtemperature(especiallyduring
startup)whensizingsuctionfiltersifequipmentwilloperateincoldclimatesandpumpscannotbe
disengagedduringstartup.

Ventedorpressurizedreservoir?
Animportantdesignconsiderationiswhethertospecifyaventedorpressurizedreservoir.Themajor
decidingfactorsarethelocationandinletrequirementsofthepumps.Thefluidlevelofthereservoirin
manymobileapplicationsisbelowthepumpinlet.Atbest,ifthereisvacuumatthepumpinlet,thepump
mayhavetobederated.Ifinletlinelossesaregreatenough,cavitationwilloccur.Inthesecases,
pressurizingthereservoirwillhelpmaintainpumpperformance.
Anyofthreemethodscanbeusedtopressurizeareservoironmostmobileequipment:
1.Useregulatedcompressedairfromamachine'spneumaticsystemthemosteffectivemethodif
available.
2.Traptheairwithinthereservoirclearancevolume(abovethefluid)anddependonthermalexpansionof
thefluidtocompressthisair,andthuspressurizethereservoir.Areservoirpressurecapholdspressure
withinthetankandrelievesexcesspressure.
3.Tappressurizedairfromthescavengepumpofatwocycledieselengine.
Withpressurizedreservoirs,considerationmustbegiventocalculatestressesonreservoirwalls,because
evenlowpressurescanexertsubstantialloads.Forexample,aninternalpressureofonly3psiappliesa
forceof1,800lbona20by30in.wall.Thisforce,combinedwithweightofhydraulicfluid,plusGforces
involvedinmobileequipment,canproducestresseshighenoughtoactuallyworkhardenametalreservoir.
Workhardeningmakesthemetalmorebrittle,whicheventuallywillcauseleakagewhenthemetalis
exposedtocontinuedstress.
Wallstressesshouldalsobecalculatedforventedreservoirs.Highstressesdevelopquicklyinlargeareasof
flatplate.Andagain,weightofthefluidcancauselargedeflections.Furthermore,mountingperipheral
equipment,suchasladders,toareservoirincreasestheneedtospecifystiffeningmembersandthicker

plate.

Cleaningandmaintenance
Reservoirservicingmustalsobetakenintoaccount.Theremustbeprovisionstodrainbothreturnand
suctionareasofthetank,especiallyifadamisinstalledtoseparatethem.Pipecouplingsoftenareused,but
SAEOringportsprovidebettersealing.Valvingshouldalsobeprovidedtocloseoffinletlineswhen
replacingpumpsorothercomponentsthataremountedbelowfluidlevel.
Thisisoftenwishfulthinking,butaccessshouldbeprovidedforcleaningandmaintainingtheinteriorofthe
tank.Ideally,hatchesshouldbelargeenoughtoprovideenoughroomforservicepersonneltomaneuver
cleaningtools.Thereshouldalsobemeansforlightingeachportionofthetankforinspection.
*TheindustrystandardforhydraulicreservoirsiscontainedinANSI/(NFPA)T3.16.2R11997(R2005)
HydraulicfluidpowerDesignforNonintegralIndustrialReservoirs,whichisavailablefromthe
NationalFluidPowerAssn.Clickhereformoreinformation,orcontactNFPA,Milwaukee,at
(414)7783344,oremailnfpa@nfpa.com.
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SourceURL:
http://hydraulicspneumatics.com/200/TechZone/ReservoirsAcces/Article/False/6448/TechZone
ReservoirsAcces