The effects of solid contamination in hydraulic fluids on axial piston pumps

  • R.H. Atkinson

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The fluids used in hydraulic systems inevitably contain large numbers of small, solid particles, a phenomenon known as 'fluid contamination'. Particles enter a hydraulic system from the environment, and are generated within it by processes of wear. At the same time, particles are removed from the system fluid by sedimentation and in hydraulic filters. This thesis considers the problems caused by fluid contamination, as they affect a manufacturer of axial piston pumps. The specific project aim was to investigate methods of predicting or determining the effects of fluid contamination on this type of pump. The thesis starts with a theoretical analysis of the contaminated lubrication of a slipper-pad bearing. Statistical methods are used to develop a model of the blocking, by particles, of the control capillaries used in such bearings. The results obtained are compared to published, experimental data. Poor correlation between theory and practice suggests that more research is required in this area before such theoretical analysis can be used in industry. Accelerated wear tests have been developed in the U.S.A. in an attempt to predict pump life when operating on contaminated fluids. An analysis of such tests shows that reliability data can only be obtained from extensive test programmes. The value of contamination testing is suggested to be in determining failure modes, and in identifying those pump components which are susceptible to the effects of contamination. A suitable test is described, and the results of a series of tests on axial piston pumps are presented and discussed. The thesis concludes that pump reliability data can only be obtained from field experience. The level of confidence which can be placed in results from normal laboratory testing is shown to be too low for the data to be of real value. Recommendations are therefore given for the ways in which service data should be collected and analysed.
    Date of AwardOct 1979
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorK. Foster (Supervisor), G. A. Montgomerie (Supervisor) & T. F. J. Quinn (Supervisor)


    • contamination
    • hydraulics
    • pumps
    • reliability
    • testing

    Cite this