In hydraulic systems, accumulators serve as pressure vessels that are capable of storing and releasing energy within the system as needed, similar in operation to battery chargers. Hydro-pneumatic accumulators are a specific type, taking advantage of compressible nitrogen for the means of storing pressurized fluids. Commonly found in the global fluid power industry, hydro-pneumatic accumulators may serve pulsation dampeners, emergency power sources, thermal expansion, transfer barriers, prefills, noise attenuation, leakage compensators, dispensers, and much more. In general, there are various designs for maintaining the separation of gases and fluids, the primary types being bladder accumulators, diaphragm accumulators, piston accumulators, and float accumulators.
For high-pressure bladder accumulators, chrome-moly steel has widely been in use for more than four decades due to its high tensile strength. To better protect bladder accumulators from various environmental risks such as rust, abrasion, and corrosion, coatings are regularly applied to such assemblies. Phenolic resins are commonly implemented as an internal coating, ensuring that the accumulator has ample chemical resistance and common process fluid resistance. Such resins also assist lubricants, further improving performance. Electro-less nickel plating is also a common coating that may be placed on the exterior and interior of the assembly. Quite cost-effective, such materials maintain strength while ensuring protection against various corrosive materials.
Diaphragm accumulators are a smaller type, often reserved for pulsation dampening where flow rates are low. Due to their design, diaphragm accumulators are not repairable, requiring replacement whenever they fail. With their design and low cost, such hydraulic accumulators may benefit low pressure applications upwards of 3000 psi. With internal coating and external plating, diaphragm accumulators are known for their reliability and simplicity in use.
Piston accumulators consist of an enclosed cylinder with an internal piston, and compressed gas serves to exert pressure on the piston separating gases and hydraulic fluids. This causes the piston to shift, transferring forces through fluids to where they are needed. It is important to note that piston accumulators may cause pulsations in high-pressure applications, those of which may be detrimental to the performance and wellbeing of the system. To avoid such incidents, care should be taken in the placement of the accumulator for ample cushioning. While most hydraulic accumulators require vertical installation with the hydraulic port pointing downward, piston models may be oriented horizontally if the fluid is kept clean.
Float accumulators are the final primary type, originally developed for the means of preventing the mixing of gas and fluids as was seen in non-separated accumulators. With the use of a float and float valve, gas is introduced at the top of the bottle and separated from fluids. Generally, float accumulators are used as an alternative to bladder accumulators in the case that temperatures are outside of safe operational conditions. While float type accumulators may vary in their sizing, most remain under 35 gallons.
Once a hydraulic accumulator type has been chosen, it is important to utilize the right industrial fasteners and industrial supplies. Generally, fasteners should be chosen based on their compatibility with assembly materials, environmental conditions, and other various factors. It is also useful to take advantage of standardized industrial supplies for increased reliability.
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