Types of Hydraulic System Lubricants

One way to maximize the lifespan of hydraulic components is the ensure the internal sliding parts are sufficiently lubricated to minimize friction and corrosion. Due to the cost of repair or maintenance, some parts are considered more vital to the overall functioning more so than others; pumps and valves are critical components. Hydraulic fluids serve multiple purposes. The major function is to provide energy transmission throughout the system which enables motion to be accomplished; however, hydraulic fluids are also responsible for lubrication, heat transfer, and contamination control. Which type of lubricant you decide to use is significant as well.

When selecting a hydraulic lubricant, consider the viscosity, base stock, additive package, and seal compatibility. Three common hydraulic fluids are petroleum-based, water-based, and synthetic blends. Petroleum-based fluids are the most widely used in modern hydraulic systems. The properties of this fluid depend mainly on the additives used, the quality of the original crude oil, and the refining process that was performed. Additives include rust and oxidation inhibitors, anti-corrosion agents, demulsifiers, and extreme pressure agents. Petroleum-based fluids are perfect for situations that require low cost, high quality, and a readily available inventory.

Water-based fluids are typically used for fire resistant scenarios because of their high-water content. These fluids can provide suitable lubrication characteristics; however, they need to be closely supervised to avoid malfunctions. Elevated temperatures cause the water in the fluids to naturally evaporate, causing the viscosity to rise. You can add distilled water to the system to correct the imbalance of the fluid and offset any issues. When these fluids are used, be sure to check for compatibility with your pumps, filters, plumbing, fittings, and seals. Water-based fluids are bit more costly than petroleum-based fluids and have lower wear resistance.

Synthetic fluids are usually man-made and offer astounding lubrication characteristics in high pressure, high temperature environments. These advantages include fire-resistance, lower friction, a natural detergency, and thermal stability. The disadvantage to these types of fluid include being more expensive than traditional fluids, they are slightly more toxic, and are often incompatible with standard materials.

Hydraulic fluids help lubricate your hydraulic system and ensure a long lifespan. Be sure to perform regular inspections on your fluid levels to avoid costly repairs.


January 10, 2024

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