Direct pump control of hydraulic systems is more energy efficient than throttle valve based methods to control hydraulic systems. This requires variable displacement pumps that are responsive and capable of electronic control. Such Electronic Displacement Controlled (EDC) pumps tend to be significantly larger, heavier and more expensive than fixed displacement counterparts. In addition, achievable control bandwidths are typically lower than throttle valve based control approaches. We have recently begun a project to achieve the functionality of a variable displacement pump by combining a fixed displacement pump, a pulse width modulated (PWM) on/off valve under closed loop feedback control, and an accumulator. The proposed topology is the hydro-mechanical analog of the DC-DC boost converter in power electronics. Since on/off valves have little loss in either the on or the off state, this approach is potentially more efficient than throttle valve based control approaches. It has the small size/weight and low cost advantages of a fixed displacement pump. Faster response can be expected by eliminating the intervening inertias of the swash plate control system. The pump’s functionalities can also be easily programmed by controlling the PWM on/off valve in different manners. This paper presents some preliminary results from this ongoing research program. While the PWM valve based approach provides desirable features, it also introduces undesirable ripples to the system pressure and flow rate. It is shown that increasing the accumulator pre-charge pressure and the accumulator volume can decrease ripple size at the expense of response time. This apparent trade-off can be alleviated by feedback control to achieve fast response time while keeping ripple small. Feedback control using PWM control must be implemented with care since the conventional “state-space” model may not be valid when the PWM frequency is low. On the other hand, increasing PWM frequency reduces ripple size and enables the system to achieve high control bandwidths.

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