The Ultimate Guide to Hydraulic Accumulators

hydraulic station

Hydraulic accumulators are devices that store energy in a hydraulic system using a compressible fluid or gas. They play an important role in many applications by providing an emergency supply of energy, stabilizing pressure, smoothing out pulsations, and aiding in the quick movement of heavy machinery. These accumulators are widely used in construction machinery, mobile equipment, and industrial processes.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about hydraulic accumulators, such as their different types, benefits, how to choose the right accumulator, how to maintain it, their applications, and where you can purchase them.

What is a Hydraulic Accumulator?

A hydraulic accumulator is a device that stores pressurized hydraulic fluid. It consists of a cylinder, a piston, and a fluid reservoir. When the hydraulic system generates excess fluid, the piston in the accumulator compresses a gas or a spring, storing the energy until it is needed. Hydraulic accumulators are commonly used in industrial machinery and vehicles, including cranes, excavators, and tractors.

Different Types of Hydraulic Accumulators

There are several different types of accumulators available. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

One type of hydraulic accumulator is the bladder accumulator. This type uses a rubber bladder to separate the hydraulic fluid from the compressed gas. One advantage of bladder accumulators is that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. However, it may be prone to failure if the bladder becomes damaged or the hydraulic fluid becomes contaminated with debris.

Another type of hydraulic accumulator is the piston accumulator. This type uses a piston to separate the hydraulic fluid from the compressed gas. One advantage of piston accumulators is that it is very efficient, as there is little space between the piston and cylinder wall for the hydraulic fluid to escape. However, it can be more expensive and complex to manufacture and may require more maintenance than other types of accumulators.

A third type of hydraulic accumulator is the diaphragm accumulator. This type uses a flexible diaphragm to separate the hydraulic fluid from the compressed gas. One advantage of diaphragm accumulators is that they are very compact and lightweight, making them ideal for mobile applications. However, it may be more expensive than other types of accumulators and may not be as durable as some other types.

Benefits of Using Hydraulic Accumulators

hydraulic accumulator

There are many benefits to using a hydraulic accumulator in a hydraulic system, including improved system efficiency, reduced wear and tear on components, and increased safety.

Improved System Efficiency

One benefit of using a hydraulic accumulator is improved system efficiency. By storing energy in the accumulator, the hydraulic pump can operate at a lower flow rate, reducing energy consumption and increasing overall system efficiency. Additionally, the accumulator can release energy quickly when needed, providing a burst of power for high-demand applications.

Reduced Wear and Tear

Another benefit of using a hydraulic accumulator is reduced wear and tear on system components. By absorbing pressure surges and reducing hydraulic shock, the accumulator can help prevent damage to pumps, valves, and other system components. This can help extend the life of the system and reduce maintenance costs over time.

Increased Safety

Hydraulic accumulators can also help increase safety in hydraulic systems. By providing a cushioning effect and absorbing shock, the accumulator can help prevent sudden pressure spikes or drops that could cause system failures or accidents. For example, hydraulic accumulators are often used in heavy equipment such as cranes and excavators to prevent sudden drops or jolts that could injure operators or damage equipment.

Applications of Hydraulic Accumulators

Hydraulic accumulators are used in various industries and applications, including construction machinery, mobile equipment, and industrial processes. In construction machinery, they are often used to store energy generated by the engine or pump, which can then be used to power hydraulic functions. This can improve system efficiency and reduce the strain on the engine or pump.

In the automotive industry, hydraulic accumulators are used in suspension systems to absorb shocks and provide a smoother ride. While in the marine industry, they are used to absorb shock in hydraulic steering systems. In the oil and gas industry, hydraulic accumulators are used in blowout preventer systems to provide emergency energy in the event of a well blowout.

Hydraulic accumulators in industrial processes can be used to store energy to aid in the quick movement of heavy machinery. They can also be used to maintain process pressure and compensate for system leaks. In addition, hydraulic accumulators can help improve the system's efficiency and reliability by reducing pressure fluctuations, smoothing out pulsations, and protecting system components from damage caused by shock and pressure spikes.

How Do You Choose the Right Hydraulic Accumulator for Your Application?

Choosing the right hydraulic accumulator is essential to ensure the hydraulic system operates effectively and efficiently. There are several factors that need to be considered when selecting an accumulator for a particular application, including:

  1. Energy storage capacity: The energy storage capacity of the accumulator should be sufficient to meet the requirements of the hydraulic system. This capacity will depend on factors such as the required flow rate, the maximum operating pressure, and the duty cycle of the system.

  2. Type of accumulator: Different types of accumulators have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of which type to use will depend on the specific application. Factors to consider include the required energy storage capacity, the maximum operating pressure, the operating temperature range, and the type of fluid being used.

  3. Operating pressure: The operating pressure of the hydraulic system will determine the maximum pressure rating of the accumulator. It is vital to select an accumulator with a pressure rating that is appropriate for the operating pressure of the system.

  4. Fluid compatibility: The accumulator must be compatible with the type of fluid being used in the hydraulic system. Factors to consider are the chemical composition of the fluid, its viscosity, and its temperature range.

  5. Size and weight: The size and weight of the accumulator should be appropriate for the application. A larger accumulator may be required for applications with high energy storage requirements, while a smaller and lighter accumulator may be more suitable for mobile applications.

  6. Installation and maintenance requirements: The installation and maintenance requirements of the accumulator should be considered. Factors to consider include the required mounting location, the need for additional components such as valves and fittings, and the recommended maintenance schedule.

  7. Environmental factors: Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and exposure to corrosive substances should be taken into account when selecting an accumulator. For example, if the accumulator will be exposed to high temperatures or corrosive substances, a specialized coating or material may be required.

Aside from these, working with a qualified hydraulic specialist can help ensure that the right accumulator is selected for the specific application and that it is installed and maintained properly to ensure reliable and efficient operation.

Maintaining a Hydraulic Accumulator

safety inspection of equipment

Maintaining a hydraulic accumulator is essential to ensure its reliable and efficient operation. Here are some key steps to follow to maintain a hydraulic accumulator:

  • Regular inspection: Regular inspection of the accumulator is important to identify any signs of wear or damage, such as cracks or leaks. It is recommended to inspect the accumulator at least once every six months.

  • Cleanliness: Keeping the accumulator and the surrounding area clean is important to prevent contamination and ensure that the accumulator operates effectively. Accumulators should be cleaned with a non-abrasive cleaner and dried thoroughly before reinstallation.

  • Hydraulic Fluid level: The hydraulic fluid level in the accumulator should be checked regularly and topped up as necessary. It is important to use the correct type of fluid, as specified by the manufacturer.

  • Hydraulic System Pressure testing: System pressure testing of the accumulator is important to ensure it operates within the specified pressure range. This should be done periodically, using a pressure gauge calibrated to the appropriate pressure range.

  • Replacement of damaged components: If any components of the accumulator are found to be damaged or worn during an inspection, they should be replaced immediately to prevent further damage to the accumulator or the hydraulic system.

  • Proper storage: If the accumulator needs to be stored for an extended period, it should be cleaned and drained of fluid, and stored in a clean and dry location.

Why is it important to maintain a hydraulic accumulator?

  • Safety: Maintaining a hydraulic accumulator ensures that it operates within safe pressure ranges and reduces the risk of accidents or damage to equipment.

  • Reliability: Regular maintenance ensures that the accumulator operates efficiently and reliably, reducing the risk of system failure and downtime.

  • Cost-effectiveness: Proper maintenance can extend the life of the hydraulic accumulator and reduce the need for expensive repairs or replacements.

In addition to the recommended maintenance procedures, it is also important to implement lockout tagout when maintaining hydraulic accumulators. Lockout tagout devices ensure the safety of workers by preventing accidental or unauthorized operation of machinery and equipment. When working on hydraulic accumulators, the risk of injury is high, as they can still contain high-pressure fluid even after the system has been shut off. By using lockout tagout devices, workers can isolate and safely work on hydraulic systems containing accumulators without the risk of injury.

Where to Buy Hydraulic Accumulators?

When it comes to purchasing a hydraulic accumulator, there are several options available. Below are some suggestions on where to buy a hydraulic accumulator:

  1. Hydraulic Equipment Supermarkets - This is a specialized company that offers a wide range of hydraulic equipment, including accumulators. They have a large selection of brands and types of accumulators and knowledgeable staff who can help with selecting the right one for a specific application. They also offer repair and maintenance services for hydraulic equipment.

  2. Online retailers - Many online retailers offer hydraulic accumulators. These retailers offer a convenient way to shop for accumulators from the comfort of your own home or office. However, ensuring that the retailer is reputable and sells genuine products is also important.

  3. Manufacturer websites - Many hydraulic accumulator manufacturers, such as Parker Hannifin and HYDAC, have websites where customers can purchase their products directly. These websites provide detailed information on the different types and sizes of accumulators, as well as technical data and support. Ordering directly from the manufacturer can also ensure that the product is genuine and comes with a warranty.

  4. Local hydraulic equipment suppliers - Local suppliers of hydraulic equipment can offer a personal touch and the ability to see and touch the product before purchasing. These suppliers can also offer advice on selecting the right accumulator for a specific application and can provide support for installation and maintenance.

  5. Auctions and second-hand marketplaces - Hydraulic accumulators can also be purchased from auctions or second-hand marketplaces. However, it is important to exercise caution when purchasing used equipment, as there may be hidden damage or wear that could affect performance and safety.

The choice of where to purchase a hydraulic accumulator depends on factors such as convenience, price, and level of support required. It is crucial to ensure that the retailer or supplier is reputable and sells genuine products and to consider factors such as technical support and warranty when making a purchase.


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Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.