Industrial Applications of Fluid Power

Task 1a: (LO 1: 1.1)

A 3/2 spring return operated by a push button actuator and is typically closed during rest. Actuation of the valve occurs by pressing the push button. The valve returns to its normal when the push button is released. This action is enabled by the action of a return spring.

A dual pressure valve, also known as AND function, requires two pressure inputs to give an output. When pressure is applied to one input, the shuttle is pushed to one side, thus blocking any airflow. When pressure is applied from both ends, the shuttle is thus centralized, and air flows through the valve.

A shuttle valve, OR gate, has two inputs and one output. In contrast to the dual-pressure valve which requires two signals for the output to be activated, the shuttle valve only requires one input signal to be applied for the output to be enabled. Activating one of the input signals activates the output signal but at the same time deactivates the other input signal.

A 5/2 solenoid operated directional control valve has two flow positions and five equally spaced ports. The valve is actuated by a solenoid and is utilized to isolate and concurrently bypass a passageway for the fluid to extend or retract a double acting cylinder.

A one-way flow restrictor is employed to alter the speed of mechanism. The valve is connected to a working pressure line, between the last control valve and the cylinder ports. When flow occurs in the reverse direction, the compressed air exerts pressure from the bottom of the diaphragm thus opening it, and air passes through it without throttling.

In a 5/3 pilot operated spring return spring to center directional control valve has all the ports closed. When the spool is on the right, port one is joined to port four, while port two is joined to port three. When the spool is on the left, port one is coupled with port two while port four is joined to port five.

A 5/2 pilot operated directional control valve is pneumatically actuated in a single direction and is returned to rest by the use of spring.

Task 1b: (LO4: 4.1, 4.2 &M2)

            Fluid, gas or liquid that can flow naturally or can be made to flow can be utilized for energy transmission in a fluid power system. Initially, water was used as a medium of transmission and thus all systems using liquids were referred to as hydraulic systems. Apart from water, compressed air is also commonly used. The benefit of suing water and air in fluid power systems is that they are both readily available and can be made to flow through pipes quickly. Pneumatic and hydraulic fluid power are utilized in compressed air brakes in heavy commercial vehicles, pressure regulating valves that prevent the flow of a liquid when it attains a certain pressure and also cable jetting, where telecommunication cables are pushed through ducts by the use of compressed air.

Pneumatics systems are advantageous because they utilize readily available resources, water, and air. Water and air are easy to channel through tubes making the systems cheaper to use. Air can work over a range of temperature and pressure thus making it suitable to be employed in the pressure regulating valves. For the fluid system to be effective, air or water must be passed through a network composed of reservoir, pumps, valves and pipes. The pump will propel the fluid from the source throughout the system to the destination.  The reservoir stores the fluid while the valves regulate the direction and flow. The pipes ensure that the fluid flows at the required pressure. In the above examples, the pipes must be made of a strong material, metal, rubber, or plastic that can withstand the operating pressures (Laguna 2).

Task 1c: (LO4: 4.3)

In the above sketch, the pneumatic cylinder contains the mechanism that powers the device. Air is supplied from the compressor through the solenoid valve which controls the pressure and prevents backflow. When the air gets into the cylinder, the mechanism activates the clamper joints which in turn move the clampers to grab or drop, according to the need of the user. The control unit provides the platform for keying in the parameters required, e.g. the air pressure required. 

Whenever operating machinery in the workshop, safety procedures must be adhered to prevent harm to the operator or damage of the tool being used. The user must have the appropriate PPE to protect them from any harm. Googles, steel-toed boots, leather gloves and aprons are some of the PPE’s to be considered. The compressor must be connected to a valve that regulates the flow. The workshop must be aerated and well lit. Tools must be placed in the appropriate areas to minimize accidents. The tables and work benches should be put at such a height as to be comfortable for the person working on them. All in all, ergonomics should be taken into consideration when designing and installing the device to maximize its output (Xiao, Oo, and Farooq 1).

            A pneumatic accumulator is a storage reservoir whereby a non-compressible fluid is stored under pressure exerted by an external force. The accumulator enables the system to overcome extremes of demand by the use of a less powerful pump. The hydraulic reservoir is utilized for the storage of the fluid that will be used to power the hydraulic system. The fluid moves around the system with the assistance of a fluid power pump which gives it the necessary kinetic energy. The energy contained in the fluid is used to power the fluid power motor, which then generates electric power or motion (Jung, Hwang, and Kim 76).

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Physics around Us


The word physics is taken by scientist as synonymous to nature. It involves the study of matter as well as its motion and behavior in space and time. It is related to energy and force. In science, a principle is defined as a fundamental law or truth from which others laws are derived. In science, such principles govern nature and can be used to explain occurrences/ observations in our day to day life. Such occurrences/observations range from household, environmental, agriculture, infrastructure, transport, and energy among others. They also explain how various equipment and machinery work and the reason for their design.

One of my observations is the breaking system of an automobile. In this case, we assume that the car is in good condition. (Owen) When the driver steps on the brakes pedal/lever, the car stops without some wheels stopping before the others. This is proved so by the fact that it does not turn or skid when stopped. From this we can deduct that when driver steps on the brakes pedal, it is like he steps on four pedals each one representing each one of the four wheels at the same time. The four wheels stops at the same time.

The system uses an incompressible fluid for the transmission of force from the pedal to the wheels. Basically the system comprises of a pedal, the return springs, the master cylinder, fluid pipes, slave cylinders, brake shoes and drum.

Modern systems have added components like boosters and brake pads replacing the shoe. They improve the efficiency, reliability and durability of the system but all in all both modern and simple systems apply the same ideal breaking system or one that is not malfunctioning should have an incompressible fluid. It is mostly a liquid that does not have air bubbles or in other words what is referred to as cavitation. The fluid should also occupy the whole space in the connecting pipes. This arrangement of fluid filled pipes is referred to as hydraulics. The fluid is referred to as hydraulic fluid. Apart from transmitting force, the hydraulic fluid also multiplies the force since the force required to stop a car or else a truck is much greater than the force applied on the pedal.

When one presses the brakes pedal, the force is transmitted to the master cylinder. It is then transmitted to the four slave cylinders at each of the four wheels(Owen).The force forces the piston of the slave cylinder to push the brake shoes to the drum. The friction between the shoe and the drum forces the drum to stop rotating thereby stopping the wheel and so is the car. Friction is the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another.

Multiplication of force and equal distribution is achieved using the principle of transmission of fluid pressure. It was first enunciated by a French scientist, Braise Pascal. It postulates that a “pressure change occurring anywhere in a confined incompressible fluid is transmitted throughout the fluid such that the same changes occur everywhere”.(Durfee etal). According to Pascal, pressure at a point in a fluid at rest is the same in all directions. Pressure is force per unit area. It is measured in bars or in Newton per square meters. From the definition it is evident that when a change in force and area occurs, pressure will remain constant. Thus,

P=F/A where P=Pressure, F=Force, A=Area.

Considering that pressure is constant, force is directly proportional to cross section area(Durfee etal) The smaller the area, the higher the force. In the case of a car, the diameter of the tube from the pedal to the master cylinder is almost the same size as the diameter of the tube from the master cylinder to the wheels. This is so since the system also used the distance moved by the force to compensate for the drastic difference between the two forces.

Work input = work output

Work done = force x distance

Therefore: F1D1 = F2D2

This means that the distance moved by the force on the pedal is higher than the distance moved by force from the shoe original point to the drum. On the other hand, the force on the pedal is much less than the force on the drum.

Pascal’s principle is also used in other hydraulic machines and equipment. For example a car jack, hydraulic press, hydraulic lifts etc.

In hydraulic press, the piston area is smaller than the ram area. Consequently, the piston is observed to moves at a longer distance than the pressing plate.(Durfeeet al) The force on the piston is much less than the force on the load. A price has to be paid by exerting a smaller input force through a larger distance. The force in the smaller cylinder is through a long distance is traded to a larger force exerted on the large cylinder through a small distance.


Science plays a big role in explanation of what we see and why matter behaves the way it does. Through research, scientists have solved many problems that would otherwise be affecting us on daily basis.

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