How to prevent hydraulic cylinder cavitation

Cavitation is the formation of vapour bubbles in a flowing liquid. When the bubble rapidly collapses, it produces an intense shock wave that rapidly erodes contact surfaces. If a pump suffers from cavitation, it will be very noisy and suffer from early failure.

Should this take place within a hydraulic system, it can bring about a cascade of harmful issues that can eventually ruin essential (and expensive) components, resulting in system failure. While most people identify cavitation problems with pumps and motors, cavitation can also occur in hydraulic cylinders.

Problems caused by cavitation in a hydraulic cylinder.

Damage to hydraulic components: The air bubbles formed during cavitation can damage hydraulic components such as pumps, valves, and cylinders by erosion or pitting the surfaces they come into contact with.

Noise: Cavitation can generate loud noises, which can be annoying for operators and can potentially damage hearing if exposed to for an extended period of time.

Premature Seal Failure: Cavitation can cause the seals within a hydraulic cylinder to wear, erode, or deteriorate, causing premature seal failure.

High fluid temperatures: Cavitation can cause fluid temperature to rise above 180° F (82° C) which can damage seals and accelerate degradation of the fluid. In turn reduces the service life of the hydraulic system.

Fluid contamination: Cavitation can cause the release of debris and other contaminants into the hydraulic fluid, which can lead to further damage to the system and reduce efficiency.

Preventing Cavitation

Inspect and replace worn components on a regular basis: Regular inspections of the hydraulic cylinder can help identify any worn or damaged components that need to be replaced.

Keep the hydraulic system clean: Clean the hydraulic system on a regular basis to prevent contamination from dirt or other debris. To avoid contamination, it is also critical to use high-quality hydraulic fluid.

Align components properly: Make sure that all hydraulic cylinder components are properly aligned to prevent uneven movement.

Monitor hydraulic pressure: Keeping hydraulic pressure within the recommended range can help prevent excessive pressure.

Remove air from the hydraulic system: Bleed the hydraulic system on a regular basis to ensure that there is no air in it. This will prevent the piston from moving unevenly because of the compressibility of the air.

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