Purdue University Graduate School

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posted on 2022-06-16, 19:32 authored by Xin TianXin Tian

Agricultural tractors make massive use of hydraulic control technology. Being fuel con-sumption a big concern for agricultural applications, tractors typically use the state-of-the-art technology, load-sensing (LS) architecture, to allow good controllability in systems withmultiple actuators while promoting higher energy efficiency. Several variants of LS systemshave been proposed over the years, and research on cost-effective methods to further increasetheir efficiency is of high interest for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the fluidpower community. In this work, several energy-efficient solutions are proposed and demon-strated for the reference agricultural tractor hydraulic system, aiming at reducing the fuelconsumption and increasing the system efficiency, but without affecting the functionalityof the hydraulic control system. More importantly, facing the more stringent regulationson the CO2emission and the rising consciousness of a greener environment in society, bothindustry and academia have investigated the use of electricity as energy carrier and storage.This report also carries out the study on the possibility of electrification of the referencemachine, focusing on the auxiliary hydraulic supply to the planter.

To begin with, the quantification of the energy loss within the hydraulic system representsan important step to drive the development of cost-effective solutions. For this purpose, acombined approach of simulation and experimental testing has been undertaken to character-ize the power distribution in the high-pressure circuit. After learning that the remote controlvalves are responsible for up to 25% of power loss in the system, two different energy-efficientsolutions are proposed on the tractor circuit. Both methods target at lowering the pumpdelivery pressure through incorporating electronic proportional pressure reducing valves (ep-PRVs). To support the development of the technology, the research takes into considerationthe circuit of a 400 hp tractor, simulation and experimental results show that among themain working conditions the solution can reach up to 15.6% power saving over the standardLS system.

Moreover, the primary purpose of a tractor is to providing power to and controllingvarious implements. Most of their mechanical actuation is performed also with the electro-hydraulic fluid power system that is highly power-dense and versatile, but that has a low energy transmission efficiency. A new control approach of the hydraulic supply units thatpower the implement functions through the hydraulic remote is proposed, which switches thetraditional flow control methodology to an impressed pressure methodology. With a 16-rowplanter connected to the tractor understudy, a simulation model of the two vehicles is imple-mented and validated against experiments. Experiments on the proposed solutions appliedto the reference tractor and planter confirmed how an overall 38% efficiency improvementwas achieved during actual tests.

On top of the IPSC strategy, more intelligent control algorithm is explored by proposinga new system architecture to fully incorporate both of the LS pumps with all of the EHRs,to achieve dynamic regrouping control (DRC) or static regrouping control (SRC). The DRCalgorithm determines the best supply configuration to all of the functions with minimumpower loss in time, which eventually leads to 44% power reduction compared to the base-line. On the other hand, the SRC algorithm targets at providing the best planter groupinglayout when connected to the tractor supply to contribute to least throttling losses duringrepresentative planting operations. The restuls from the SRC configuration can serve as asuggestive layout for the OEM when promoting such machines to the market.

Last but not least, different scenarios of both selective purely electrification architectureand selective e-pump supply architecture are considered to discover the potential futuredirection of electrification to follow for the reference machine. From the power saving pointof view, replacing the fertilizer and vacuum hydraulic motors with the electric ones couldlead to 72% power reduction from the engine. However, more study on the cost analysiscould be useful to balance the saving and the cost added in the system.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Andrea Vacca

Additional Committee Member 2

Greg Shaver

Additional Committee Member 3

Dennis Buckmaster

Additional Committee Member 4

Lizhi Shang