Fundamentals of Hydraulic Fluid Couplings

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    • Mechanical devices that use high rotational force can harm power transmission systems when rotational speed changes rapidly. Heavy machinery often employs the use of hydraulic fluid couplings to prevent this. Hydraulic fluid couplings transmit rotational force between two separate axes and are commonly found in automobiles and large machinery.

    How it Works

    • Hydraulic fluid couplings transfer rotational force from a transmitting axis to a receiving axis. The coupling consists of two toroids -- doughnut-shaped objects -- in a sealed container of hydraulic fluid. One toroid is attached to the driving shaft and spins with the rotational force. The spinning toroid moves the hydraulic fluid around the receiving toroid. The movement of the fluid turns the receiving toroid and thus turns the connected shaft.


    • Although fluid couplings use hydraulic fluid within their construction, the mechanism loses a portion of its force to friction and results in the creation of heat. No fluid coupling can run at 100 percent efficiency. Excessive heat production from poorly maintained couplings can result in damage to the coupling and surrounding systems.


    • Fluid couplings are commonly used in the automobile industry to replace mechanical clutches. The coupling transfers the force from the engine to the transmission to move the vehicle. Torque converters, a type of fluid coupling with additional features, have replaced basic fluid couplings in automobiles. Hydraulic fluid couplings have also found use in marine machinery and heavy industry.

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