The Power of Hydraulics

Friday, February 12, 2016
Levi Woodward, Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Allen, NE
This experiment was constructed to see if piston size would affect the strength of a hydraulic piston as well as the distance it extended.  It also answers the question of whether or not fluids of different densities will affect the efficiency of the piston.  It is hypothesized that hydraulic pistons of a larger surface area will multiply the original force applied but will decrease the distance the piston will extend outward.  Start construction of this project by acquiring medical syringes with the following volumes:  four 12 c.c. syringes, and one each of 35 and 60 c.c.s.  Next attach these three syringes to remaining 12, 35, and 60 c.c. syringes using surgical tubing. Fill each completed piston with 12 c.c.s of water (or later, hydraulic fluid).  Next attach the metal wall plates to the slave piston (the piston that will do the lifting).  Attach the slave piston to the side of a table or in a table vice.  Record how much weight each piston can pick up without sinking back down.  Empty the water in the pistons and replace it with hydraulic fluid.  Then collect data from the pistons again.  After conducting the experiment, the following data was recorded:  The 12 c.c. syringe with water lifted 400 grams, the 35 c.c. syringe lifted 750 grams, and the 60 c.c. syringe lifted 850 grams.  The 12 c.c. syringe with hydraulic fluid lifted 1050 grams, the 35 c.c. syringe lifted 1550 grams, and the 60 c.c. syringe lifted 2300 grams.  It was also discovered that fluid density does not have a noticeable effect in such a small system.  The final finding of note was that efficiency decreased as piston size increased.