Q:

How does hydraulic power work?

A:

Hydraulic power works by applying force at one point to transfer it to another point using an incompressible fluid. The incompressible fluid is usually an oil of some kind.

Keep Learning

Credit: Alexandru Magurean E+ Getty Images

Hydraulic power is almost always used to multiply force. Hydraulic multiplication is as easy as changing the diameter of the cylinder and piston to be smaller than the others. If the larger piston is five times the diameter of the smaller piston, the smaller piston moves five times as much as the larger piston and applies five times as much force, similar to a pulley system. So, if 100 pounds of force is applied to the small piston, you get 500 pounds of force from the large piston.

The brakes on a vehicle are a good example of a hydraulic system. When the brake pedal on a vehicle is pressed, it pushes on a piston in the master cylinder, which then transmits that force to the pistons at all four wheels. The pistons at the four wheels push the brake pads against the rotors, slowing the car down. If it wasn't for hydraulics, it would be impossible to apply enough pressure to stop a vehicle. Hydraulics do not function optimally, however, if there is air in the fluid lines.

Sources:

Related Questions

• A: A rotary vane vacuum pump works by using centrifugal force to turn blades against the circular surface of a cylinder whereby pockets of air are pushed from... Full Answer >
Filed Under:
• A: Steam power works on the principle that heating water to the point of vaporization causes a build-up of pressure, because the vaporized water takes up more... Full Answer >
Filed Under:
• A: Hydraulic cranes work using the concept of transmitting a force from one point to another through a fluid. Fluids, especially liquids, play a vital role in... Full Answer >
Filed Under:
• A: A pulley works by changing the direction that force must be applied to lift an object against gravity. Other, more complex, systems use multiple pulleys to... Full Answer >
Filed Under: