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    Push It To The Limit - Hydraulic Fluids

    Hydraulic fluids are responsible with transferring power through countless industries and applications.  But what goes into creating a performance hydraulic fluid? Afton seeks to answer these questions and provide best-in-class additive technology to meet today and tomorrow's performance needs.  View the Afton Hydraulic Additives ►
     

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WHAT IS A HYDRAULIC FLUID?


Hydraulic fluid, at its most basic definition is the medium responsible for lubrication, heat transfer & contamination control for hydraulic machinery. In a more general sense, it’s the fluid that makes it possible to transfer power and protect the equipment doing so. For hydraulic systems specifically, protection comes in many forms and covers; Anti-Wear, Oxidation & Thermal Stability, Corrosion and.
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WHAT GOES INTO A HYDRAULIC FLUID?

    The final formula of a hydraulic fluid will vary depending on end application & environment.  A good breakdown on general component treat rates is:
     

    Component
    Type Percentage Treat Rate
    Base Oil Group I, II, III,
    (Group IV, V – Top Tier Oil)
    90 - 99%
    Viscosity Index Improver VII 0 - 10%
    Additives Pour Point Depressant
    AntifoamDiluent Oil
    Detergent/Dispersant
    Demulsifier
    Friction Modifier
    Metal Deactivator
    Rust Inhibitor
    Antioxidant
    Antiwear
    0 - 2%

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WHAT ARE HYDRAULIC SPECIFICATIONS?

  There are many specifications in the hydraulic fluid industry and at first glance it can be a little dizzying with all the acronyms and 6 digit numbers. 

The following table breaks down the most common industry & OEM specifications for recommended fluids. 
    Industry SpecsPump OEM Specs
    ASTM D6158 (HH, HL, HM, HV) Bosch Rexroth (RDE 90235)
    DIN 51524 Part II and III (HLP & HVLP)Eaton (Vickers) E-FDGN-TB002-E
    ISO 11158 (HH, HL,HM, HV, HG) Parker Denison (HF-0, HF-1, HF-2) 
    ISO 6743/4 HM and HV
    JCMAS HK-1 (Japan)
    SEB 18 1222
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WHAT HYDRAULIC VISCOSITY IS THE RIGHT VISCOSITY?


There are a few standard ISO grades for hydraulic fluids, so which viscosity is the right one?  The standard viscosity grades are broken down below as, ISO 22 VG, ISO 32 VG, ISO 46 VG, ISO 68 and ISO 100VG +.  The most important selection factor in viscosity selection is the pump type and if there are relevant specifications.  Following that, temperature and operating environment should be considered to make sure the selection fits and delivers expected performance.  The infographic below is a simplified guide to the standard ISO grade varieties. 
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ARE ADDITIVES IMPORTANT? WHAT DO THEY REALLY DO?

 
Yes, additives are important to include in the formulation.  Assuming the end user is concerned with operating & capital expenses.  Without the right combination of additive technology fluid performance will simply not hit the mark.  Like any good recipe, if you forget specific ingredients the flavor can drastically change.  Click here to View the Afton Additive Technology
 

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    Anti-Wear

    Prevents wear under high speed conditions. Both ZDDP and ashless phosphorus componentry are used in antiwear hydraulic oils
     
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    Viscosity Index Improver

    Keeps oil at the right appropriate viscosity over range of temperatures. Rust and Corrosion Inhibitors Prevent corrosion and rust.  
     
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    Foam Inhibitors

    Prevents foam.  These inhibitors generally work by reducing the surface tension between oil and air.
     
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    Demulsifier

    Encourages oil and water separation, simplifying the filtering processes and extending fluid life.
     
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    Antioxidant

    Prevents oxidation in the fluid and increases overall lifetime and cleanliness of operation.  
     
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    Detergent

    Keeps metal surfaces clean by absorbing deposits into solution and increasing operating life cycle. 
     
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    Dispersant

    Disperse soot, varnish, and sludge in the oil. 
     
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    Friction Modifier

    Reduces friction (chatter, squeak); reduces micropitting on metal surfaces. 
     
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    Metal Deactivator

    Prevents yellow metal corrosion on sensitive equipment and surfaces.
     
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    Ashless

    No metals are present in the fluid, promoting environmentally friendly operation in sensitive applications. 
     
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    Zn-Free

    Minimal amount of zinc present (<0.07% wt.) 
     
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    Zn-containing

    The presence of zinc (i.e. Zinc Dialkyl Dithiophosphate (ZDDP))
     
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    WHAT ARE HYDRAULIC FLUID CHALLENGES?

    Hydraulic fluids are expected to deliver reliable performance 24/7 without breaking a sweat, however in the real world there are a few challenges that can present themselves.  The most common of these are:
     
    Power Density
    Energy Efficiency
    Equipment Life
    Environmental Impact
    Contamination & Filterability
     
    A properly formulated and maintained lubricant will withstand a majority of these challenges, but just like in any industrial there is no such thing as a perfect system. 
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    HOW DOES A HYDRAULIC SYSTEM FAIL?

    There are multiple methods that a hydraulic system can fail, and be awaring of each during product development can help prevent poor performance.  The most common failure methods for hydraulic systems are: 
     
    Surface Degradation & Cavitation 
    Mechanical Wear & Abrasion 
    Fatigue
    Adhesion 
    Corrosion & Rust 

    If any combination of these issues are experienced, it can cause varying levels of inefficiencies or ultimately catastrophic failure.  It is vital that the fluid is engineered for the particular environment and operating conditions for the application.  By using the right additive technology you can minimize or even eliminate some of the potential risk. 
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