Hydraulics plays a pivotal role in a wide range of applications in a wide variety of industries. Early uses of water power date back to ancient Egypt where irrigation was used since the 6th millennium BC. The most daring of innovations was in Ancient Rome, when public water supplies, powered windmills, and hydraulic mining was coined.
In the UK, city-wide hydraulic power networks were developed in the 19th century. These operated machinery, lifts, cranes, plus much more. Today, hydraulics is used for a wide variety of different things, and there have been some significant developments in recent years which offer a tantalising glimpse into the future of hydraulics technology.
Hydraulic hybrid research
As traditional fuel sources for vehicles begin to run out and the Government sets vehicle manufacturers CO2 targets, vehicle manufacturers are investing millions of pounds into the development of next-generation vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen, solar power, and even hydraulics.
Hydraulic hybrid research is being carried out on vehicles right now to figure out whether or not a vehicle powered by hydraulics would be a suitable alternative to a petrol-powered vehicle. HHVs, or hydraulic hybrid vehicles, use two sources of power to drive the wheels - a regular internal combustion engine and a hydraulic motor which powers the wheels. The internal combustion engines serves to boost vehicle range however it will be hydraulics which actually get the car moving. Thus, CO2 emissions could be cut dramatically versus a car with just an internal combustion engine.
More information about hydraulic hybrid research can be found at Epa.gov.
Smart hose hydraulics
Within the hydraulics industry one thing is for certain - hose failure can cripple any application and be very costly and dangerous. This can lead to unscheduled application downtime, environmental complications, plus much more. So, wouldn't it be great if hoses were smarter?
Sentry Services has developed Sentry ID, a solution for monitoring a wide range of applications both critical or otherwise. It tags and tracks hoses using sensors in the hoses that gauge hose materials, whether or not the hose is healthy or not. Thus, it provides a safety net for hoses and gives the user the means to build a history and a means for future planning.
Currently, this technology is available for use with factory-made assemblies with straight JIC swivel fittings in 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-in. sizes of two-wire braid hose, according to hydraulicspneumatics.com.
Sensors within hydraulics are nothing new, however the ability for a user to monitor hoses and other critical application components is extremely valuable.