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Fault Analysis: Key Reasons for Diaphragm Failure in Diaphragm-Type Accumulators

Diaphragm-type accumulators are critical components in many hydraulic systems, providing energy storage, shock absorption, and maintaining system pressure. However, diaphragm failure can lead to significant operational disruptions. Understanding the key reasons for diaphragm failure can help in diagnosing issues and implementing preventive measures. Here are the primary causes:

1. Material Fatigue and Wear

Diaphragms in accumulators are typically made from flexible materials like rubber or elastomers. Over time, these materials can degrade due to repeated flexing, leading to fatigue and eventual failure. Factors contributing to material fatigue include:

  • High Cycle Loads: Continuous cycling between compression and decompression stresses the diaphragm.
  • Aging: Natural aging of materials reduces their elasticity and resilience.
  • Chemical Degradation: Exposure to incompatible fluids or environmental conditions can weaken the material.

2. Improper Installation and Handling

Incorrect installation or mishandling during maintenance can damage the diaphragm. Key issues include:

  • Over-tightening: Excessive tightening during installation can stress the diaphragm.
  • Contamination: Introduction of debris or contaminants during assembly can cause wear and punctures.
  • Improper Storage: Storing diaphragms in conditions that cause them to dry out or crack can lead to premature failure.

3. Pressure Spikes and Hydraulic Shocks

Sudden pressure changes and hydraulic shocks can exceed the diaphragm’s design limits, leading to rupture or tearing. Common sources of pressure spikes include:

  • Pump Pulsations: Inadequate damping of pump-induced pulsations can lead to repetitive stress on the diaphragm.
  • Rapid Valve Operations: Quick opening or closing of valves can create pressure surges.
  • System Malfunctions: Equipment failures causing abrupt pressure changes can impact the diaphragm.

4. Temperature Extremes

Diaphragms are sensitive to temperature variations. Extreme temperatures can cause:

  • Thermal Expansion and Contraction: Repeated heating and cooling can lead to cracking or hardening of the diaphragm material.
  • Heat Aging: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures accelerates material degradation.
  • Cold Embrittlement: Low temperatures can make the diaphragm brittle and prone to cracking.

5. Chemical Compatibility

Incompatible fluids can chemically react with the diaphragm material, leading to deterioration. Common issues include:

  • Swelling: Some fluids can cause the diaphragm to swell, losing its mechanical properties.
  • Embrittlement: Chemical reactions can make the diaphragm brittle.
  • Erosion: Aggressive fluids can erode the diaphragm surface, leading to thinning and failure.

6. Mechanical Damage

Mechanical damage during operation or maintenance can puncture or tear the diaphragm. Sources of mechanical damage include:

  • Foreign Objects: Debris in the hydraulic fluid can impact the diaphragm.
  • Sharp Edges: Contact with sharp components during installation or maintenance.
  • Improper Tool Use: Using inappropriate tools for installation or removal can cause damage.

7. Improper Precharge Pressure

Maintaining the correct precharge pressure is crucial for the proper functioning of diaphragm-type accumulators. Incorrect precharge pressure can cause:

  • Excessive Diaphragm Stretching: Too high precharge pressure can overstretch the diaphragm.
  • Insufficient Compression: Too low precharge pressure can lead to insufficient compression and failure under load.

Conclusion

、Regular inspection, proper maintenance, and adhering to manufacturer guidelines are essential to prevent diaphragm failure in diaphragm-type accumulators. By understanding and mitigating these key failure factors, the reliability and lifespan of accumulators can be significantly improved, ensuring smooth and efficient operation of hydraulic systems.

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