Hydraulic Drive for max efficiency

Discussion in 'Hybrid' started by Owly, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. Owly
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Montana USA

    Owly Junior Member

    Hydraulic drive seems to have a bad name when it comes to efficiency.... This is mainly due to the way they have been built, rather than inherent inefficiency. Potentially far more efficient that hybrid electric, not to mention more reliable. Typical hydraulic drives use either variable displacement pumps or control valves. Neither are necessary. Engine RPM can control output just as with as mechanical drive. The most efficient pumps and motors are vane type, and the optimum system should have large lines (oversize), and as short as possible. Preferably the reversing should take place at the prop, through gears or variable pitch, or a simple flow reversing valve that provides no convoluted and restrictive flow path. This means a single pressure line, and a large low pressure return. Hydrostatic systems recycle fluid in a more or less closed loop, sending a portion to a cooler and replacing it from a charge pump. This added complexity has it's benefits, but is not worth the complexity. For a marine application simple is best. At 85% efficiency or more, vane pumps and motors exceed the efficiency that can be achieved by a motor/generator system, and eliminate the problems inherent in electrical systems in a salt environment.
    I am admittedly biased toward diesel hydraulic, based on many years working with hydraulics and designing systems.... But I also have worked extensively with electrical systems in that time, and I find hydraulics inherently more robust in a harsh environment so long as the working fluid is kept clean and free of contamination.
    I feel that electric drive has a long way to go. Efficiency has greatly improved with the better quality brushless dc motors, but the main benefit of electric is the ability to use stored energy from batteries, and as yet, battery technology does not seem "up to the mark".

    H.W.
     
  2. JamesG123
    Joined: Mar 2015
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    JamesG123 Senior Member

    Energy losses ("efficiency") come from transitions from one form to another. The more you have the less efficient it is. Be it from converting the liner motion of pistons into rotary motion of a shaft thru a gearbox to converting the stored electrons in a chemical mixture into magnetic fields to spin a shaft. Hydraulic is just a means of transmission, but one that has many more transitions (power source > pump > lines > motor > output).

    Each system has its advantages and disadvantages and places where they are more applicable than others. If hydraulic drive were more reliable or efficient in practice, it would be in wide spread use today.
     
  3. Owly
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Owly Junior Member

    Of course it's just a means of transmission of power..... Hydraulics as a drive system unfortunately have been poorly implemented in many if not most cases of marine application. In the application I'm looking at, a small sailing catamaran, it could offer many benefits that would outweigh it's disadvantages. Most significantly it could offer two "outboards" that would be driven by a single reliable and efficient diesel, and could be completely lifted clear of the water when not needed, without the need of a nacelle, etc, and could be submerged to an efficient depth. They could operate on a "common rail", merely restricting flow to one or the other pressure supply lines after they split off from the common rail for steering. The actual drives could be fairly light and compact compared to outboards, and the diesel could serve other functions such as operating the watermaker, charging batteries, etc, with the pump declutched. I'm talking of course about a sailboat, so this isn't a "primary drive". In this case 20 or so total horsepower as per outboard ratings is sufficient. Of course most sailors are really motorsailors.......... What makes sense for one person, does not necessarily make sense for someone else's needs.

    I seen "similar threads" listed that didn't come up when I did a search..... I'll be checking them out.

    H.W.
     
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Do you have examples to justify that
    ?
     
  5. Owly
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Owly Junior Member

    Unfortunately that opinion is based on accounts I have read over time, including descriptions of what sort of components were used ..... against my own experience working with hydraulics. It's something that interests me, so I read everything I can find, and that is the conclusion I've reached.............. The goals vary, and efficiency while it is a high priority .... an overriding one... to me, may not be in other cases. Distance and line size are hugely important to hydraulic efficiency. The greater the distance, the greater the line size need be. The efficiency of different pump and motor types is quite different. Variable displacement piston pumps as used in hydrostatic systems are elegant, but complex and not extremely efficient. Valving can create efficiency problems by forcing the fluid to flow through a convoluted path, restricting flow, or creating pressure drops. Anybody can hang a pump and motor together and make it work with minimal engineering expertise, but making work efficiently and well is another story. I see "engineered" hydraulic systems that are sloppy or even deeply flawed. "Poorly implemented" is a term I would apply to many factory built hydraulic systems used in industry. I've been working with hydraulics for almost 40 years........... But the short answer is NO ....... I can't cite specific examples to satisfy your demand.

    H.W.
     

  6. JamesG123
    Joined: Mar 2015
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    JamesG123 Senior Member

    "Poorly Implemented" usually means some design factors that aren't readily apparent to the end-user/operator. Either design compromises for "good enough" performance across a range of power through-put and amounts of neglect and abuse, or good old unit cost reduction.

    I do like you idea though, even though I am not really a fan of hydraulic systems. It will be an interesting experiment.
     
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