﻿ The Limits of Pressure: What Factors Affect the Maximum Pressure of Liquids, Gases, and Supercritical Fluids - Hydraulic Schematic Troubleshooting

## The Limits of Pressure: What Factors Affect the Maximum Pressure of Liquids, Gases, and Supercritical Fluids

Pressure is the force exerted by a fluid per unit area on a surface. Fluids can be liquids or gases, and they can be used to transmit power in fluid power systems. Fluid power systems are composed of four basic components: reservoir/receiver, pump/compressor, valve, and cylinder/motor. The pump/compressor creates the pressure by forcing the fluid through the system, the valve controls the direction and amount of flow, and the cylinder/motor converts the fluid pressure into mechanical work.

But is there a limit to how much pressure a fluid can generate or withstand? The answer depends on several factors, such as the type of fluid, the design of the system, and the external conditions. In this article, we will explore some of these factors and their implications for fluid power applications.

## Type of fluid

The type of fluid affects the maximum pressure that can be achieved or tolerated in a fluid power system. Generally, liquids are more incompressible than gases, meaning that they do not change their volume significantly when pressure is applied. This makes liquids more suitable for high-pressure applications, as they can transmit more force with less fluid volume. However, liquids also have a higher bulk modulus, which is a measure of how much they resist compression. This means that liquids require more energy to increase their pressure, and they also generate more heat when compressed.

Gases, on the other hand, are more compressible than liquids, meaning that they change their volume significantly when pressure is applied. This makes gases more suitable for low-pressure applications, as they can transmit less force with more fluid volume. However, gases also have a lower bulk modulus, which means that they require less energy to increase their pressure, and they also generate less heat when compressed.

The maximum pressure that a fluid can reach is determined by its critical point, which is the temperature and pressure at which the fluid can no longer be distinguished as a liquid or a gas. Beyond the critical point, the fluid becomes a supercritical fluid, which has properties of both liquids and gases. For example, water has a critical point of 374°C and 22.1 MPa, while air has a critical point of -140.6°C and 3.8 MPa. Therefore, water can reach higher pressures than air before becoming a supercritical fluid.

## Design of the system

The design of the system also affects the maximum pressure that can be achieved or tolerated in a fluid power system. The system must be designed to withstand the internal and external forces that act on it, as well as to prevent leaks, bursts, or failures. The system must also be compatible with the fluid that is used, as different fluids may have different chemical, physical, or thermal properties that may affect the system’s performance or durability.

Some of the design factors that influence the maximum pressure of a fluid power system are:

• The size and shape of the components: The components must be sized and shaped to accommodate the fluid flow and pressure, as well as to minimize friction, turbulence, or cavitation. The components must also be strong enough to resist deformation, fatigue, or rupture under high pressure. For example, larger pipes or hoses can carry more fluid volume, but they also require more material and space, and they may be more prone to bending or buckling. Smaller pipes or hoses can carry less fluid volume, but they also require less material and space, and they may be more resistant to bending or buckling. However, smaller pipes or hoses may also increase the fluid velocity and pressure drop, and they may be more susceptible to clogging or erosion.
• The material and quality of the components: The components must be made of materials that can withstand the fluid pressure, temperature, and corrosion, as well as to provide adequate sealing, lubrication, and insulation. The components must also be of high quality, meaning that they are free of defects, flaws, or impurities that may compromise their strength, reliability, or efficiency. For example, steel is a common material for fluid power components, as it is strong, durable, and resistant to corrosion. However, steel may also be heavy, expensive, or difficult to shape. Plastic is another common material for fluid power components, as it is light, cheap, or easy to shape. However, plastic may also be weak, brittle, or prone to degradation.
• The safety and efficiency of the system: The system must be designed to operate safely and efficiently, meaning that it can deliver the desired output without wasting energy, causing damage, or posing risks. The system must also be equipped with safety devices, such as relief valves, pressure gauges, or filters, that can prevent or mitigate the effects of overpressure, underpressure, or contamination. The system must also be maintained and inspected regularly, to ensure that it is functioning properly and that any problems are detected and corrected before they become serious or irreversible.

## External conditions

The external conditions also affect the maximum pressure that can be achieved or tolerated in a fluid power system. The external conditions refer to the environmental or operational factors that may influence the fluid pressure, such as temperature, altitude, or load. The external conditions may vary depending on the location, time, or purpose of the system, and they may require adjustments or adaptations to the system’s design or operation.

Some of the external factors that influence the maximum pressure of a fluid power system are:

• The temperature of the fluid or the environment: The temperature affects the density, viscosity, and compressibility of the fluid, as well as the expansion, contraction, or stress of the components. Higher temperatures tend to decrease the density and viscosity of the fluid, making it easier to flow and compress. However, higher temperatures also tend to increase the expansion and stress of the components, making them more likely to leak, crack, or fail. Lower temperatures tend to increase the density and viscosity of the fluid, making it harder to flow and compress. However, lower temperatures also tend to decrease the expansion and stress of the components, making them more stable and durable.
• The altitude or pressure of the environment: The altitude or pressure affects the atmospheric pressure, which is the force exerted by the weight of the air on a surface. Higher altitudes or lower pressures tend to decrease the atmospheric pressure, making it easier for the fluid to expand and vaporize. However, lower atmospheric pressure also tends to decrease the boiling point of the fluid, making it more prone to cavitation or boiling. Lower altitudes or higher pressures tend to increase the atmospheric pressure, making it harder for the fluid to expand and vaporize. However, higher atmospheric pressure also tends to increase the boiling point of the fluid, making it more resistant to cavitation or boiling.
• The load or demand of the system: The load or demand affects the amount of work or power that the system needs to produce or consume. Higher loads or demands tend to increase the fluid pressure, as more fluid is required to move or lift the load. However, higher loads or demands also tend to increase the friction, heat, or wear of the system, making it less efficient or durable. Lower loads or demands tend to decrease the fluid pressure, as less fluid is required to move or lift the load. However, lower loads or demands also tend to decrease the speed, responsiveness, or accuracy of the system, making it less effective or precise.