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Proceedings of the 2008 IEEE/ASME

International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics


July 2 - 5, 2008, Xi'an, China

Control of Bulk Modulus of Oil in Hydraulic Systems*


Jing Wang, Guofang Gong and Huayong Yang
State Key Laboratory of Fluid Power Transmission and Control
Zhejiang University
Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
Wangjing_chsh@163.com
Abstract - In view of requirements for better position
accuracy, response time and stability of hydraulic system, it is
more important than ever to pay attention to bulk modulus of
hydraulic oil. In this paper, the effects of the bulk modulus of
hydraulic oil on system performance and the entrapped air on
bulk modulus have been analyzed. A method of online vacuum
degassing in a sealed system has been used to increase the
effective bulk modulus of hydraulic oil, and a device has been
developed to measure oil bulk modulus online. The experimental
results show that the bulk modulus of hydraulic oil can be
controlled in real system effectively by the method mentioned
above.
Index Terms - Hydraulic system; Bulk modulus of hydraulic
oil; Vacuum degassing; Online measurement

I. INTRODUCTION
Bulk modulus is a very important physical parameter of
hydraulic oil. It can seriously affect hydraulic system
performance in relation to position, power level, response
time, and stability [1]. During the process of dynamic analysis,
modeling and simulation of hydraulic system, it is important
to decide the value of oil bulk modulus reasonably and
accurately. At present, in design and research of hydraulic
system, the bulk modulus of hydraulic oil is usually estimated
as a constant value and has nothing to with the state of system.
Researchers found that the simplification makes the results of
dynamic analysis and simulation very different from practice
[2][3]. As the demand to the power and response time of
hydraulic system increasing, more attention should be paid to
bulk modulus of hydraulic oil. Which factors are related to oil
bulk modulus and how much each affects? How to increase
bulk modulus of hydraulic oil? How to get the value of bulk
modulus of hydraulic oil in real system? Researches have been
done on these questions as follows.
II. INFLUENCE OF OIL BULK MODULUS ON HYDRAULIC
SYSTEM PERFORMANCE
A. Power Loss
Because most fluids are compressible, the oil in an
actuator must be compressed before the cylinder or piston will
move a load. In other words, an amount of oil equal to the
compressed volume must be added to an actuator before a load
will move. Because this process does not do useful work, it is
lost work:
WL = p V
1

where

so:

V =

WL =

V0 p
Be

p 2 V0
Be

Lost power:

PL =

p 2 V0
Be t

where p=change in pressure


V0=initial volume of oil in cylinder
Be=effective bulk modulus of oil
B. Response Time
Before the useful work, the lost work will be done. From
the expression of lost power, we can see that when power is a
constant, the bulk modulus is larger, the response time is
shorter.
C. Position Control
If a cylinder moves a load at a uniform velocity, the
cylinder has momentum that the oil and the system must
absorb when a valve controlling upstream and downstream is
suddenly closed. The downstream oil pressure will rise from
some nominal value to some peak pressure as energy is
absorbed. Assuming the cylinder and hydraulic lines to be
rigid, and a linear rise in pressure, the bulk modulus of oil will
determine peak pressure. Thus, for a specific maximum
pressure, the stiffer the oil, the less energy is absorbed and the
less overshoot. Oil with higher valves of bulk modulus have
less energy absorption and less piston overshoot, which
translates to better position accuracy.
D. Stability
Hydraulic natural frequency:

h =

4 Be A2
Vt m

A low modulus lowers the natural frequency of a system


and reduces the stability of a system.
So, in order to lower the power loss, shorten the response
time, increase the position accuracy and system stability, the
bulk modulus of oil in hydraulic system should be improved.
III. EFFECT OF AIR ON OIL BULK MODULUS
The expression of bulk modulus of oil with entrapped air
is deduced below.

This work is supported by National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of China #50425518 and National Basic Research Program of China
#2007CB714004.

978-1-4244-2495-5/08/$25.00 2008 IEEE.

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For pure oil:

dp
B
=
dV f
Vf

where B=bulk modulus of pure oil


Vf=volume of pure oil
P=pressure
The result of the equation is:

V f = V f 0e

( p p0 ) / B

where Vf0=volume of pure oil at atmosphere


Consider the process of compression to be adiabatic, the air
entrapped in oil should meet the following equation of state:

p Va 0 Va '
=

p0 Va

0.2
2
10%

where p0=atmospheric pressure


Va0 =total volume of bubbles at atmosphere
Va=dissolved volume of air when pressure changes from
p0 to p
Va=total volume of bubbles under pressure p
=adiabatic index
Total volume of oil with air entrapped under pressure p:

Fig. 1 Tangent bulk modulus of oil with entrapped air changes with pressure.

Secant bulk modulus of oil with entrapped air:

BeS =

V = Va + V f

1/

p
= (Va 0 Va ' ) 0
p

+ V f 0e

( p p0 ) / B

Tangent bulk modulus of oil with entrapped air:

dp
BeT = V
dV

p0

1/

(Va 0 Va ') p0

+ V f 0e

( p p0 ) / B

p p0 ) / B

1 V f 0 ( p p0 ) / B
e
+
p B

1 , the above can be simplified:


1/

V V ' p
1 + a0 a 0
V
p
f0

BeT =
B
1/
B Va 0 Va ' p0
1+

p V f 0 p

10

As bulk modulus of pure oil is much larger than (p-p0), and

e(

Va 0 + V f 0
Va + V f Va 0 V f 0

11

The simulation results are shown in Fig.1. B is set to


1800MPa. The green short dash lines present air content at
atmosphere is 0.2%, and following the direction of the arrow
the dissolution of the bubbles is 0%-90%. The red long dash
lines present air content at atmosphere is 2%, and following
the direction of the arrow the dissolution of the bubbles is 0%90%. The blue continuous lines present air content at
atmosphere is 10%, and following the direction of the arrow
the dissolution of the bubbles is 0%-90%.

( p p0 )

Va 0 + V f 0
1/

p
(Va 0 Va ') 0
p
1+

1/

(Va 0 Va ')

V0
( p p0 )
V V0

+ V f 0e

( p p0 ) / B

( p p0 )
Va 0 V f 0

Va 0
Vf 0
1/

V
V V ' p
1 + a0 a0 a 0
Vf 0
Vf 0 p

( p p0 ) / B

( p p0 )

12

The simulation results are shown in Fig.2. B is set to


1800MPa. The green short dash lines present air content at
atmosphere is 0.05%, and following the direction of the arrow
the dissolution of the bubbles is 0%-99%. The red long dash
lines present air content at atmosphere is 0.1%, and following
the direction of the arrow the dissolution of the bubbles is 0%99%. The blue continuous lines present air content at
atmosphere is 0.2%, and following the direction of the arrow
the dissolution of the bubbles is 0%-99%.
From Fig.1 and Fig.2, we can see that when the pressure
is the same, less the air content at atmosphere, larger the bulk
modulus. More over, when the pressure changes, less the air
content at atmosphere, smaller the changes of bulk modulus
with pressure. Less the air content at atmosphere, smaller the
effect of resolution of bubbles on bulk modulus.
All these show that in order to improve the bulk modulus
of oil in hydraulic systems, air content in oil should be as low
as possible. There are two ways to decrease air content of oil
in hydraulic system. One is that oil should be degassed before
they start to work, and the other is to prevent air entering into
hydraulic systems during the process of work.

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First, the air cylinder pulls the piston of the piston


accumulator moving to the left, and the oil level in the
reservoir descends, so the inside of the reservoir becomes
vacuum.
Then, open the integrated driven ball valve to connect the
reservoir and the vacuum pump. When the pressure in the
reservoir is lower than the oil-gas separation pressure, the
dissolved air separates from oil. After the air is released from
oil, the vacuum pump suctions the air rapidly. Control the
pressure in the reservoir always higher than saturation vapour
pressure of oil to prevent the oil atomizing.
During the process of vacuum degassing pre-treatment,
the pressure-sealed reservoir works as a vacuum vessel. While
in the period of hydraulic system working, the reservoir is
sealed by the integrated driven ball valve and pressurized by
the air cylinder.

0.05
0.1
0.2

. OIL BULK MODULUS ONLINE MEASUREMENT

Fig. 2 Secant bulk modulus of oil with entrapped air changes with pressure.

. MEASURES OF DEGASSING IN HYDRAULIC SYSTEMS


A. Pressure-sealed Reservoir
The reservoir is sealed, so the air in the atmosphere can
not be entrained to oil in system. The reservoir is pressurized,
so the solubility of gas in oil is increased, less air will separate
out from oil. This is very benefit to increase the effective bulk
modulus of oil and to reduce cavitations erosion. But the
problems of oil supplement and tank pressure control should
be resolved. The methods are not expounded here for the
paper length limits.
B. Online Vacuum Degassing
The principle of the vacuum degassing device is shown in
Fig.3.
5

6
1
7
2

14

15
16

13

(1) Loading cylinder and piston; (2) Check valve;(3) Pressure sensor;
(4) Testing chamber;(5) Displacement sensor;
(6) Two-position four-way directional control valve; (7) Pilot relief valve;
(8) Two-position two-way directional control valve; (9) Direct relief valve;
(10) Two-position two-way directional control poppet valve
(11) Pressure reducing valve; (12) Gas holder; (13) Air cylinder;
(14) Two-position five-way directional control valve;
(15) Rapid escape valve; (16) Pneumatic silencer; (17) Piston accumulator
Fig. 4 Schematic diagram of oil bulk modulus measurement.

1
12

10

10
11

4
6

In order to test the effect of vacuum degassing and to find


out the bulk modulus of oil in system, an online oil bulk
modulus auto-measuring device is designed. Its principle is
shown in Fig.4.

17

(1) Pressure-sealed reservoir; (2) Integrated driven ball valve;


(3) Vacuum meter; (4) Oil-water separator;(5) Vacuum pump and motor;
(6) Two-position five-way directional control valve;
(7) Pressure reducing valve;(8) Air filter; (9) . Pressure gauge;
(10) Air supply; (11) Pressure reducing valve; (12) Gas holder;
(13) Air cylinder; (14) Two-position three-way directional control valve;
(15) Rapid escape valve; (16) Pneumatic silencer;
(17) Piston accumulator
Fig. 3 Schematic diagram of vacuum degassing device.

Base on the definition of bulk modulus. Pressurize oil in


the sealed testing chamber by the piston rod of loading
cylinder. The value of the pressure is controlled by the two
stage pressure control circuit. The volume of the oil in the
testing chamber is changed with the pressure. Using pressure
sensor and displacement sensor to record the change of
pressure and volume of the oil in the testing chamber, compute
the value of the bulk modulus.
The characteristics of the device is that, auto measuring
process, online measurement, circulation of the oil in the
testing chamber before measuring to make sure that the result
presents the actual situation of the oil in system, and the result
not effected by friction force.

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. CONTROL FLOW OF VACUUM DEGASSING PRE-TREATMENT


Before hydraulic systems start to work, vacuum degassing
pre-treatment will be done to control of bulk modulus of oil in
systems. The control flow of the process of vacuum degassing

pre-treatment is shown in Fig.5. The numbers of the


components in Fig. 5 are corresponding to the numbers in
Fig.3.

Fig. 5 Control flow of vacuum degassing pre-treatment

. EXPERIMENT RESEARCH

The experiments were carried out on the hydraulic driven


system of motion simulator of comprehensive test bed for
docking mechanism.

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The picture of the pressure-sealed reserv-oir is shown in


Fig.6, which is used as a vacuum vessel in the process of
vacuum de-gassing pre-treatment.

After vacuum
degassing

Before air
entering into
the system
After air
entering into
the system

959
960
962
1075
1072
1073
928
929
930

0.461
0.462
0.465
0.972
0.962
0.966
1.080
1.037
1.051

1.850
1.850
1.853
2.570
2.556
2.562
2.668
2.624
2.678

41.8
41.6
41.7
35.2
35.7
35.9
35.7
35.9
36.1

The method called parallel secant method has been used


to evaluate results. The principle involved may be seen from
Fig.8, which represents a compression curve for oil. The
points 0, A, B and C correspond to pressures of zero, p1, p2 and
p3 (where p3=p1+p2), to relative volume changes of zero, R1, R2
and R3 and to secant bulk modulus of B0, B1, B2 and B3. It
follows from the definition of secant bulk modulus that B3 is
equal to the slope of 0C. The slope of the line AB is denoted

by B3 ; it is termed the parallel secant modulus at pressure p3


because, provided that p1 is small compared with p2, AB is

almost parallel with 0C. Consequently, B3 is a good


approximation to B3.
Fig. 6 Picture of the pressure-sealed reservoir.

Pressure p

The picture of the oil bulk modulus mea-surement device


is shown in Fig.7, which is used to control the process of
vacuum de-gassing pre-treatment.

Fig. 8 Principle of the parallel secant method.

By this method, the secant bulk modulus and the


corresponding pressure of oil in the system can be found with
the data in Tab.1. The evaluating data are given in Tab.2.

Group
No.
1
2
3

Fig. 7 Picture of the oil bulk modulus measurement device.

For the effects of air content at atmosphere and of


resolution of bubbles on bulk modulus are obvious under low
pressure, the experiments were mainly done with the pressure
in testing chamber below 3MPa.
Several groups of testing data are given in Tab.1.

Group
No.
1

Tab.1 testing data of bulk modulus


State
p1
p2
Be
description
(MPa)
(MPa)
(MPa)
Before vacuum
910
0.374
1.781
degassing
906
0.389
1.784
906
0.389
1.793

T
()
42.1
42.9
43.2

Tab.2 evaluating data of secant bulk modulus


State description
p
BeS
(MPa)
(MPa)
Before vacuum degassing
907.3
2.170
After vacuum degassing
960.3
2.314
Before air entering into
1073.3
3.530
the system
929
3.623
After air entering into the
system

T
()
42.7
41.7
35.6
35.9

Found the data in Tab.2 on the Fig.9 of secant bulk


modulus of oil with entrapped air changes with pressure. From
above to below the curves respectively present air content at
atmosphere of 0.1% to 0.2% with incremental change of
0.02%.

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pumped out is not easy to be dissolved and makes the bulk


modulus of oil decreasing instead.
. CONCLUSIONS
1) The analysis of the effect of air on oil bulk modulus
shows that the oil in hydraulic systems should be degassed
before they start to work and prevent air entering into
hydraulic systems during the process of work.
2) The method of vacuum degassing before system works
and reservoir pressurized and sealed when system works,
increases the bulk modulus of oil in system effectively.
3) The designed oil bulk modulus online measuring
device accurately reflects the effect of the vacuum degassing.
Fig. 9 Secant bulk modulus of oil with entrapped air changes with pressure.

From Fig.9, we can see that after a short time of vacuum


degassing about 30 minutes, the air content decreases from
0.13% to 0.12%. After air entering into the system, the air
content increases from 0.2% to 0.14%. These show that air
content in oil affects the bulk modulus apparently. By the
means of vacuum degassing, the air content in oil decreases
and the bulk modulus of oil increases.
There is a point should be noted during the process that
the time of vacuum degassing shouldnt be too short. Other
wise, the dissolved air is separated out from oil rapidly in
vacuum environment and has no enough time to be gathered to
form big bubbles and to be pumped out the system. So if the
process ends in this condition and the pressure changes to be
normal, the air which has been separated out from oil but not

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