A hydraulic oil cooler is a device that prevents the fluid used in a mechanical system from becoming too hot. Heated oil generates excessive friction between the hydraulic fluid and other systems components that causes heat to build up, and this can damage seals, create particulate build-up, and decrease the life span of the system in general. Hydraulic oil coolers are essential in most industrial, mobile and manufacturing settings where hydraulic systems are used.
The primary function of a hydraulic oil cooler is to prevent the fluid in a hydraulic system from overheating, and this can be accomplished by passing the liquid through a coil or core that will dissipate thermal energy into the environment. This cooling feature can also help mitigate problems like cavitation and internal leakage in a hydraulic system due to excessive thermal expansion and contraction of the fluid under pressure.
Most hydraulic oils have a practical temperature limit beyond which they begin to degrade. At high temperatures, the chemical structure of the oil is altered, and it loses its non-compressible properties. The result is that the once-productive hydraulic oil becomes a sludgy, non-functional goop. Cooling systems help to extend the life of hydraulic oils by reducing their maximum operating temperatures, and there are a number of different types of coolers available in the marketplace.
Air or water are used to cool the hydraulic oil in many different types of cooling systems. The most common are air-based units that use a fan to force ambient air across the pipe coils that carry the hydraulic fluid. The fluid is cooled by the air, and the resulting drop in oil temperature helps to improve the system’s efficiency.
There are other types of hydraulic oil coolers that utilize a network of tubes inside a sealed shell. These units are often called “shell-and-tube” coolers, and they use a precise pattern of tubing that is fastened to the end plates that seal each shell end. The oil-carrying tubes are surrounded by a network of baffles that help to extend the path that the oil must travel through to reach the cooling media.
Regardless of the type of hydraulic oil cooler that is chosen, it is important to correctly size the unit for the particular application in question. The actual amount of heat that is generated varies throughout the machine cycle, and changing environmental conditions can impact cooling needs. Computer aided selection software can be helpful in accurately defining the correct cooling requirement for any specific hydraulic application. This information can then be used to choose the appropriate air or water-based hydraulic oil cooler. A properly sized hydraulic oil cooler can help to minimize issues like nuisance shutdowns, leveling problems and hot oil odors. It can also help to prolong the life of the hydraulic elevator equipment. air cooler