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Description of a pulsation damper and how it works

A pulsation damper is a vessel with gas inside, normally NITROGEN.

The initial filling or inflating gas pressure inside the dampener is always lower than the circuit pressure.
The inflating gas pressure will be called Po.
In all pulsation dampers there is an element to isolate the gas from the circuit liquid; its main function is to avoid
the gas loss. This piece that separates both fluids is made basically with two materials:
With rubber Nitrile, EPDM, FPM, Butyl, Silicone, etc and thermoplastic usually PTFE.
When the rubber is used the dampener is defined as bladder or bag type and if the PTFE is used the dampener can be
membrane or bellows type according to the separator element form.
The use of one type or another to separate material and form-bladder, membrane or bellows- will depends generally
on the special performances of the circuit such as: the pressure, temperature and the possible corrosive effect that
could be produced by the circuit liquid.

The performance of a pulsation damper in a hydraulic circuit with a dosing or metering pump-with piston or
membrane- is to stabilise the variable and oscillating flow in each revolution of such type of pumps.( we will see later
the characteristics of this types of pumps) The main performance of this pumps is to deliver a constant volume of
liquid during one complete revolution with independence of the circuit resistance or pressure.
When a pulsation damper has been installed the volume supplied by the pump during a complete rotation or work
cycle is divided in two parts; one is going to the circuit needs and the other part goes into the pulsation dampener.
This volume stored into the dampener is returned immediately to the circuit while the pump is in its suction cycle.
To the amount of liquid going into and out of the dampener in each cycle or pump revolution we will call dv.
When dv is introduced into the dampener the gas filled inside will reduce its volume and increase its pressure, the
final gas volume plus the volume of liquid introduced will be equal to the initial gas volume.
The initial gas volume is the total dampener volume or the dampener size. The dampener size is the unknown value to
calculate and that will depend in all cases on the pump performances. To the dampener size we will call Vo
We can establish that : V2 + dv = Vo, ( V2 is the final gas volume)
Each dampener has a constant which depends on the charging gas value and its size ; Po x Vo = constant.
When the dampeners are working is not convenient that all the liquid stored goes out in each cycle keeping the
dampener empty of liquid, this will damage prematurely the bladder or the membrane when the insert fixed on it is
hammered against the dampener internal bottom.
We will have a new formula : V2 + dv + v = Vo
Where v is a non used volume of liquid inside the dampener; as a norm this volume is the 10% of the total
dampener volume the former formula will change to:
V2 + dv + 0,1Vo = Vo; and from this Vo = ( V2 + dv ) / 0,9
The following graph and the figure representing the three states of gas volume inside the dampeners will made more
clear everything exposed above.

This graphs shows ;

At charging gas value Po there is no liquid inside the dampener. The curve cuts the ordinate axis in the point where
corresponds a zero value in the abscissa axis.
The pressure P1 is the gas pressure when the volume v has been introduced into the dampener; the pressure P2
is the value reached by the gas when the additional volume dv is into the dampener .
From this curve we can see that for a fixed dampener size if the value dv increases then the pressure value P2
will also increase, or if we increase the dampener size keeping constant the value dv the final pressure gas value
P2 will be lower.

Pulsation dampers size calculation

The data needed to calculate the dampener size are :

dv = volume of liquid that the dampener must store ( in the different types of pumps described below we will see
the relation between dv and the capacity per revolution of each type of more used pumps )
P1 y P2 are the mini. and maxi. pressure values that are accepted in the circuit.
Lets see an example: If the theoretical or work pressure is Pt and the residual pulsation admitted is
+,- 5% of this pressure, the P1 y P2 values will be ;
P1 = Pt - ( 5/100 ) x Pt, and P2 = Pt + ( 5/100 ) x Pt
Note: The Pt pressure is that created at the outlet port of the pump
Knowing all this data dv ,P1 and P2 we can already calculate the dampener size Vo
From the gases compressed law (we will made some comments about this equality for this application) in isothermal
conditions called Boyle law we have the expression;
Po x Vo = P1 x V1= P2 x V2= Constant. (1)

We have
And also

(1) and (2) we obtain

V1 = Vo v,
V1 = 0.9xVo
V2 =V1- dv


v = 0.1xVo

Finally from; (1) (2)(3)and(4) we will obtain

PoxVo=P2xV2 ; 0.9P1xVo=P2x(V1-dv) =P2(0.9Vo-dv)
from the underlined equalities we have the final formula
P2 x dv
Vo= -----------------0.9 ( P2-P1)
This is the theoretical simplified formula to calculate the dampener volume in function of ; dv, P1 and P2.
As we have already said, that the charging gas Po = 0.9P1, this relation between Po and P1 has been taken to avoid
the complete liquid empty from thedampener in each work cycle. Having this extra quantity of liquid v into
the dampener it will compensate the possible variations of gas pressures due to external temperatures variations,
and consequently the theoretical dv calculated could not be introduced or stored into the dampener.
The former formula (1) PoxVo=P1xV1= ------ does not comply in the practice ,because when a volume of gas is
compressed (in a short time) the temperature rises making an extra increase of the pressure and when the gas
expands its pressure drops an extra value because the temperature is reduced-effect refrigeratorThis effect is produced in all the majority of gases, Nitrogen and air included which are the more common used for
charging the dampeners ( the atmospheric air can be used for pressures less than 10 Bar ,and always when there is
not any chemical reaction between the oxygen in the air and the liquid pumped )
The formula (1) will be transformed;
PoxVo=P1xV1= ---------

g= specific heat relation of the gas at constant pressure and volume . For the majority of gases, g = 1.41 .This
constant is also theoretical. In the practice the value that can be taken is g= 1.25
But in order not to complicate the calculation formula of dampener size we will use a new constant(0,8) that will give
the same result.
P2 x dv
Vo= -----------------------( 0.8)x0.9x(P2-P1)
This formula can be used in practice in all applications needed in the industry. The volume calculated with this formula
many times will not be those of one standard manufacturer dampener; except in very exigent applications we can
recommend to use the manufacturer standard lower volume, for cost reasons obviously
Note: we have not consider a possible temperature variation of the fluid or environment. This will change the charging
gas value at 20 (take note that for a 10C of temperature variation the gas pressure will change aprox. a 3%)

Pumps types for mounting pulsation dampers

We will consider the pumps of one, two or three pistons with crankshaft movement because are the more extended
and used and also those that need the dampeners more(for air operated , peristaltic, etc pumps consult the HIDRACAR
SA technical department).
The graphics that we will see below corresponds to this three types of piston pumps and represents the instantaneous
flow during a complete crankshaft revolution .
We have taken the same piston dimensions (diameter x stroke) for the three types of pumps.

If we make attention to this curves we will see how a pulsation dampener works; let us comment the first curve of a
single piston pump :
For this type of pump the use of a dampener is quite necessary because during half revolution of the pump this, does
not give any quantity of liquid to the circuit. Also if the pump does not have a dampener, the diameter of the pipe
must be calculated for the maxi. instantaneous flow, that happens at the piston maxi speed ( in the middle of piston
stroke because the curve is a sinusoid curve ).
With the dampener installed , from the point where it is mounted the flow supplied to the circuit is the mean flow then
the pipe diameter can be reduced by 40% !! and this because the maxi. and this because the maxi. instantaneous
flow is 2.8 times superior to the medium flow. In many cases this reduction of pipe diameter will compensate the cost
of the dampener.
Following the first curve we can see that the dampener stores all the volume over the mean flow line of the total
piston head during the impulse piston stroke, and this volume d1 is returned to the circuit during the suction pump
stroke. As we can see in this type of pump the volume stored by the dampener is the half of the pump head or
capacity per revolution.
Analysing the three curves we see that, when the pump increases the number of pistons the mean flow goes near to
the maxi flow and the dampener stored liquid d1 is reduced . Another data we can obtain observing the three
curves is the flow across the dampener ;this value is reduced when the number of pump pistons are increasing.( that
is valid in this case where all the pistons, in the three pumps have the same diameter, stroke and number of
revolutions per minute)

To summarise ; the more pistons pump has the lower dampener size is and also lower can be the port connection
between the dampener and the circuit
The relation between dv and C is: ( C = the pump capacity per one revolution )
dv = C / 2 For a one single acting piston pump
dv = C / 6
For a two single acting piston pump
dv = C / 18 For a three piston pump
We know that when a volume of gas is reduced its pressures increase ,and the opposite if the volume expands the
pressure decreases .When a dampener is installed in a circuit the pressure will fluctuate
according to the values of the volume of gas inside the dampener ; this pressure variability will be defined by the
technical designer of the circuit or by final customer requirements
The following graphs will help understanding what we have exposed.

The lower curve from the above graphs is those of the circuit pressure with the dampener installed. This curve
depends on the flow variation curve. We have seen that the dampener began to store liquid in the short time when the
pump flow is higher than the mean flow ,point 1 and at point 2, all the dv has been stored into the dampener. For
this the pressure curve is going up from 1 to 2.
We should remember that the area between the instantaneous flow curve and the abscissa axle, represents a volume,
in this case and for a single piston pump is the pump capacity per stroke or per revolution.(flow x time =volume)
We are going to see the meaning of P1,Pt, and P2 in the curve of pressure against time
In all hydraulic circuits the pressure at the pump outlet port is a function of the flow, length and diameter pipe,
viscosity high, internal pipe surface roughness, etc .If the flow is constant along the time , the pressure to pump the
liquid will be also constant and that if there is not any variability in the flow resistance (like filters and others, for
instance) At this constant pressure we will call Pt.
When a circuit must be designed, one ought to take the mean flow and the resistances to calculate the pressure Pt.
We see that from one side the dampener stabilize the flow and for that also the pressure, but in fact the pressure goes
from P1 to P2. This contradiction is because the dampener has to regulate the flow and for that it needs to compress
and expand a gas, and this pressure variations are those that regulate the values accepted for the circuit.
We already have seen that this pressure oscillations can be reduced up to very small values but for that the dampener
will increase its volume.P1 and P2 are the percentage values of Pt that we have already commented before.

Pulsation dampers mounting opinions

The pump who has the higher relation instant. maxi. Flow/ mean flow is the one single piston pump, and also the
type of pump where dv has a higher value ( liquid going into and out of dampener in each cycle). Therefore in the
next example we will expose this type of pump.
We can say that in 99% of industrial applications if the recommendations that we expose are followed
the dampeners efficiency is guaranteed


Mounting the dampener with its axle lined with the outlet pump axle
The distance between the pump outlet port and the dampener port connection must be as short as
The pipe section from the pump to the dampener ought to be calculated for the maxi. pump Instantaneous flow.
The pipe section from the dampener to the circuit must be calculated according to the mean flow.
the next drawing we will see more clearly all the concepts we have exposed so far.

w = pipe section for the mean flow

W=small length of pipe for the maxi. instantaneous flow
Q = maxi. Instantaneous flow
q = mean flow
L = as short as possible distance between pump and dampener

To show the difference between the inline and derivation connection to the circuit we will remember one mechanical
fluids concept
When a liquid is moving into a tube there are different speed lines .In the centre of the tube the speed is maxi. and
near the internal tube wall the speed is nearly zero ( see next drawing)
If the liquid mean speed increases, the difference is higher between the dynamical pressure,-the pressure measured
in the liquid direction-and the static pressure- the pressure measured perpendicular to the liquid direction-.
We can see that the dampener inline mounting corresponds at the measure of the dynamic pressure, and the
derivation mounting corresponds to the static pressure.

If the dampener is mounted in derivation, at a large distance from the pump and besides with a smaller diameter than
the main circuit pipe, then, the efficiency of the dampener could be reduced a great deal.

Peculiar aplications for the pulsation dampers


All the pulsation dampeners whatever was its form and because its own design, they have internal corners which
are difficult to clean or to eliminate all particles of the product pumped; of course ones more than others.
According to our 26 years of experience the more secure and efficient solution is to use a quick bladder dismantling
system from the inside dampener , and clean separately the bladder and the dampener internal body. This solution for
applications where the charging gas value is lower than 10 Bar and if thedampener can be filled with compressed air,
is the most effective.
The Pulsation dampener application in this type of circuits has different solutions. Also in this case the experience
has shown us that the best solution is as always, the most simple one ,or at least is the solution that requires lower
maintenance, any costs of energy and of course a low price.
Lets have an example. A circuit that must work at an initial pressure of 20 Bar and a final pressure of 200Bar
The dv = 10 c.c. and the residual pulsation accepted, in the case more disadvantage (at 200 bar ) ought to be :+,5%.
The pump is a single piston type and its capacity per stroke is:20 c.c.
To simplify the calculations we will consider that the gas volume variation is at constant temperature isothermal curve
where, P x V = Constant

PoxVo=P2xV2 ,

Po= 0.9x20= 18 bar ,

P2= 200 + 5%=210 bar

P2/Po = Vo/V2 = 210/18 = 11.66 (8)

We will calculate the hypothetical dampener volume for the maxi. pressure of 200 Bar
Vo(200) = (10 x 210) / 0.9 x ( 210 - 190 ) = 116,66 c.c.
This volume is to be equal to V2 from the formula (8), then:

( Vo / 116.6 ) = ( 210 / 18 ) = 11,66


Vo = 116,6 x ( 210 / 18 ) = 1360,33 c.c.

this is in theory the total pulsation dampener volume necessary for this application , but the relation , Vo / V2 can
not be higher than 4 in order not to corrugate too much the bladder and damage it in a short time.
In this case because Vo / V2 is; 1360,33 / 116,66 = 11 nearly 3 times higher than the value of 4 that we
To achieve that the volume bladder does not exceed the relation of 4:1 we will introduce a quantity of liquid inside
the bladder mixed with the gas ( usually the same liquid of the circuit or any other which has not any reaction with the
bladder material or with the circuit liquid )
The volume to be introduced into the bladder VL ( see sketch ) will be calculated
( 1360,3 + VL ) / ( 116,6 + VL ) =< 4 ; and operating , VL = 298 c.c.
Then the total dampener volume needed will be:

1360,3 + 298 = 1658,3 c.c.