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Understanding Hydraulic Heat Removal: Sizing Air Heat Exchangers for Efficient Cooling

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on hydraulic heat removal! In this video, we'll explore the calculations required to size an air heat exchanger, using temperature in Fahrenheit and flow rate in gallons per minute (gpm) to remove heat in British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/hr) from a hydraulic circuit. Let's dive into the details of hydraulic cooling!

The Importance of Heat Removal in Hydraulic Systems

Heat generation is inevitable in hydraulic systems due to friction, inefficiencies, and external factors. Excessive heat can degrade fluid quality, reduce system efficiency, and lead to premature component failure. Efficient heat removal is vital for maintaining optimal hydraulic performance and extending the lifespan of hydraulic systems.

Calculating Heat Load

The first step in sizing an air heat exchanger is determining the heat load imposed on the hydraulic system. The heat load can be calculated using the following formula:

Heat Load (BTU/hr) = Flow Rate (gpm) × Temperature Rise (°F) × 500


  • Flow Rate: The volume flow rate of hydraulic fluid in gallons per minute (gpm).
  • Temperature Rise: The increase in fluid temperature as it passes through the hydraulic system, measured in degrees Fahrenheit (°F).

The factor 500 is a constant that represents the specific heat of water and converts flow rate and temperature rise into heat load in BTU/hr.

Selecting an Air Heat Exchanger

Once the heat load is calculated, the next step is selecting an air heat exchanger with sufficient capacity to dissipate the calculated heat load. Factors to consider when selecting an air heat exchanger include:

  • Heat Transfer Rate: The ability of the air heat exchanger to transfer heat from the hydraulic fluid to the surrounding air.
  • Surface Area: The larger the surface area of the heat exchanger, the greater its heat dissipation capacity.
  • Airflow: Sufficient airflow across the heat exchanger is essential for effective heat transfer.
  • Operating Conditions: Consider ambient temperature and airflow restrictions to ensure the heat exchanger operates optimally under all conditions.


Proper heat removal is critical for maintaining the efficiency and longevity of hydraulic systems. By understanding the calculations and considerations involved in sizing an air heat exchanger, engineers and operators can ensure effective cooling and optimal performance of hydraulic circuits. Stay tuned for more insights on hydraulic system maintenance and optimization!

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