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The structure of high-pressure accumulator

High-pressure accumulators are essential components in hydraulic systems, designed to store energy in the form of pressurized fluid. Here is an in-depth look at the structure of high-pressure accumulators:

Main Components

  1. Pressure Vessel (Accumulator Shell)
    • Material: Typically made from high-strength materials such as steel, stainless steel, or composite materials to withstand high pressures.
    • Shape: Generally cylindrical, but can also be spherical.
    • Function: Contains the internal components and withstands the pressure of the stored fluid and gas.
  2. Internal Separator
    • Types:
      • Bladder: A flexible, balloon-like structure made from elastomers.
      • Diaphragm: A flexible membrane that separates the gas and fluid chambers.
      • Piston: A solid, movable barrier that slides within the shell to separate the gas and fluid chambers.
    • Purpose: Separates the gas from the hydraulic fluid to allow efficient energy storage and release.
  3. Gas Chamber
    • Gas Type: Typically nitrogen due to its inert properties.
    • Function: Stores the compressible gas that provides the energy storage capability.
  4. Fluid Chamber
    • Function: Stores the hydraulic fluid that compresses the gas when it enters the accumulator.
  5. Gas Pre-Charge Port
    • Function: Used to pre-charge the accumulator with nitrogen gas to a specific pressure.
    • Components: Includes a valve or fitting to connect to a nitrogen supply.
  6. Fluid Port
    • Function: The entry and exit point for the hydraulic fluid.
    • Design: Equipped with check valves or other control mechanisms to manage fluid flow.
  7. End Caps or Flanges
    • Purpose: Securely seal the ends of the pressure vessel.
    • Design: Often bolted or welded to ensure a strong, leak-proof seal.
  8. Safety Devices
    • Pressure Relief Valves: Prevent over-pressurization by releasing excess pressure.
    • Burst Discs: Act as a fail-safe by rupturing at a specific pressure to protect the system from excessive pressure.

Detailed Breakdown by Accumulator Type

Bladder Accumulators

  • Structure: A bladder made of elastomer inside the pressure vessel.
  • Operation: Hydraulic fluid compresses the nitrogen-filled bladder, storing energy.
  • Maintenance: Bladders are replaceable, facilitating easier maintenance.

Diaphragm Accumulators

  • Structure: A diaphragm separates the gas and fluid sections.
  • Operation: Fluid entering the accumulator compresses the gas on the other side of the diaphragm.
  • Capacity: Typically smaller than bladder accumulators, suitable for smaller systems.

Piston Accumulators

  • Structure: A piston inside the pressure vessel separates the gas and fluid.
  • Operation: The piston moves based on pressure differences, compressing the gas as fluid enters.
  • Capacity and Control: Suitable for high-pressure applications and larger volumes of fluid.

Working Principle

  1. Pre-Charging: The accumulator is pre-charged with nitrogen gas through the gas pre-charge port.
  2. Energy Storage: When hydraulic fluid enters the accumulator through the fluid port, it compresses the gas (by inflating the bladder, flexing the diaphragm, or moving the piston), thus storing energy.
  3. Energy Release: When system pressure drops, the compressed gas expands, pushing the hydraulic fluid back into the system, thereby releasing the stored energy.

Applications

  • Energy Storage: Accumulators store hydraulic energy during low demand and release it during high demand.
  • Shock Absorption: They absorb shocks and pulsations in hydraulic systems, protecting components and improving performance.
  • Pressure Maintenance: Provide a consistent pressure supply in hydraulic circuits.
  • Emergency Power: Supply hydraulic energy during power failures or system malfunctions.

Understanding the structure and functioning of high-pressure accumulators is crucial for their effective application and maintenance in various hydraulic systems. Proper selection and maintenance ensure reliability and safety in their use.

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