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Modeling Power Units

The power unit is perhaps the most prevalent unit in hydraulic systems. Its main function is to supply the required amount of fluid under specified pressure. There is a wide variety of power unit designs varying by the amount and type of pumps, prime movers, valves, tanks, etc. The set of blocks available in the Simscape™ Fluids™ libraries allows you to simulate practically any of these configurations. This section considers basic approaches in simulating power units and examples of typical schematics.

A typical power unit of a hydraulic system, as shown in the following illustration, consists of a fixed-displacement or variable-displacement pump, reservoir, pressure-relief valve, and a prime mover that drives the hydraulic pump.

Typical Hydraulic Power Unit

In developing a model of a power unit, you must reach a compromise between the robustness, speed of simulation, and accuracy, meaning that the model should be as simple as possible to provide acceptable accuracy within the working range of variable parameters.

The first option is to simulate a power unit literally, as it is, reproducing all its components. This approach is illustrated in the Closed-Loop Pump Control with Flexible Drive Shaft example. The power unit consists of a fixed-displacement pump, which is driven by a motor through a compliant transmission, a pressure-relief valve, and a variable orifice, which simulates system fluid consumption. The motor model is represented as a source of angular velocity rotating shaft at 188 rad/s at zero torque. The load on the shaft decreases the velocity with a slip coefficient of 1.2 (rad/s)/Nm. The load on the driving shaft is measured with the torque sensor. The shaft between the motor and the pump is assumed to be compliant and simulated with rotational spring and damper.

The simulation starts with the variable orifice opened, which results in a low system pressure and the maximum flow rate going to the system. The orifice starts closing at 0.5 s, and is closed completely at 3 s. The output pressure builds up until it reaches the pressure setting of the relief valve (75e5 Pa) and is maintained at this level by the valve. At 3 s, the variable orifice starts opening, thus returning system to its initial state.

You can implement a considerably more complex model of a prime mover by following the pattern used in the example. For instance, the shaft can be represented with multiple segments and intermediate bearings. The model of a prime mover can be more comprehensive, accounting for its type (DC or AC electric motor, diesel or gasoline engine), characteristics, control type, and so on. In addition, a complex mechanical transmission driven by a diesel or gasoline internal combustion engine modeled using Simscape Driveline™ software can be combined with the Simscape Fluids model of the hydraulic portion of a power unit.

Depending on your particular application, you may be able to simplify the model of a power unit practically without a loss in accuracy. The main factors to be considered in this process are the driving shaft angular velocity variation magnitude and the system pressure variation range. If the prime mover angular velocity remains practically constant during simulated time or varies insignificantly with respect to its steady-state value, the entire driving shaft subsystem can be replaced with the Ideal Angular Velocity Source block, whose output is set to the steady-state value, as it is shown in the following illustration.

Using the Ideal Angular Velocity Source Block in Modeling Power Units

Furthermore, if pump delivery exceeds the system's fluid requirements at all times, the pump output pressure remains practically constant and close to the pressure setting of the pressure-relief valve. If this assumption is true and acceptable, the entire power unit can be reduced to an ideal Hydraulic Pressure Source block, as shown in the next illustration.

Using the Hydraulic Pressure Source Block in Modeling Power Units

The two previous examples demonstrate that the use of ideal sources is a powerful means of reducing the complexity of models. However, you should exercise extreme caution every time you use an ideal source instead of a real pump. The substitution is possible only if there is an assurance that the controlled parameter (angular velocity in the first example, and pressure in the second example) remains constant. If this is not the case, the power unit represented with an ideal source will generate considerably more power than its simulated physical counterpart, thus making the simulation results incorrect.