Learn About Emerging Technologies at NFPA Quarterly Conferences

Students are welcome to attend NFPA Quarterly Conferences to learn more about emerging technologies in the fluid power industry. The next Quarterly Conference is March 2, 2023 focusing on New Components and System Architectures that Increase Energy Efficiency. Contact the workforce team at workforce@nfpa.com for special student discounts.

At the NFPA’s and Fluid Power Industrial Consortium’s December quarterly conference, speakers from academia and industry spoke about fluids that enhance the performance of hydraulic systems, making them more energy efficient, eco-friendly, and durable.  The fluid power industry recognizes the need to develop energy-efficient hydraulic fluids because of the potential to improve equipment performance, thereby reducing their carbon footprint while enhancing the industry’s economic viability. There is an increased demand for fluid power equipment to meet the infrastructure and food production needs of a growing global population, but at the same time, there is a desire in the industry to reduce our carbon impact.

Developers of enhanced hydraulic fluid understand that end users focus on the total ownership cost, including purchase price, maintenance expenses, and day-to-day operations. While hydraulic fluid manufacturers cannot impact the purchase price of machinery, their enhanced hydraulic fluid can reduce maintenance expenses and improve day-to-day operations, impacting a company’s bottom line.

Performance and sustainability improvements can be realized through enhanced hydraulic fluids. These fluids provide better wear protection than conventional fluids. Hydraulic fluids, on a basic level, function to transmit pressure and act as a lubricant. They must be safe, maintain viscosity, and remain stable. As the hydraulic fluid industry has evolved, the fluid has become more durable and better for the environment, meaning it helps reduce energy consumption, is biodegradable, and is flame resistant. 

The new hydraulic fluid options also have a longer fluid life, reducing costs. It is essential that fluids don’t break down quickly because of the costs associated with replacing the fluid frequently and the potential damage to machinery. What’s more, these new high-performance fluids help reduce machinery’s temperature while also being able to operate in low temperatures.

One of the companies that presented has developed hydraulic fluid with tailored performance polymers, while others have focused on eliminating zinc additives. The tailored performance polymers extend equipment life by reducing operating temperatures while lowering fuel and energy costs because they make the hydraulic system more efficient. These enhanced polymers retain their viscosity better than traditional fluids, which protects existing equipment. All of this leads to greater energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and saving on fuel and utility costs.

Zinc additives are common in hydraulic fluids because of their antioxidant properties. Still, in high-temperature situations, the zinc DTP breaks down and creates a sludge that can damage equipment. New hydraulic fluid without zinc DTP is biodegradable, makes systems more efficient, and is flame-resistant.

Hydraulic fluids are not just commodities. This cutting-edge technology, while available today, is also the subject of ongoing research from companies looking to the future.

Mary Pluta

Leave a Comment