Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Greg R. Luecke

Second Advisor

Brian L. Steward


Low energy efficiency is one of the main detractors of fluid power technology. To ensure the availability and sustainability of energy sources, fluid power technology needs to meet high energy-efficiency and cost standards. This study aims to design, simulate and test a control algorithm that attenuates the detrimental effects of air compressibility on the performance and efficiency of a pneumatic cylinder.

The transmission of power over long distances makes it more difficult for fluid power technology to meet energy-efficiency and cost requirements. Transmitting power over long distances represents a challenge particularly for pneumatics due to the compressibility of air. The compressibility of air transmitted through lengthy tubing decreases the performance and efficiency of pneumatic actuators, mainly affecting their time response and velocity.

The system under analysis was composed of a pneumatic cylinder, two proportional control valves, and connective tubing. The dynamics of the individual components were characterized through experimentation. Nonlinear and linear models for the system were validated through the comparison of simulated and experimental data. The models predicted the system behavior more accurately at 2.5 Hz, when friction effects became negligible, as compared to 1.0 and 0.5 Hz.

A controller was designed using pole/zero cancellation, a control strategy able to mask undesirable dynamics of the system being controlled. Pole/zero cancellation had superior performance in the attenuation of air compressibility effects in comparison to proportional and proportional-derivative (PD) control. System performance and efficiency were assessed in terms of the variation of the length of tubing connecting the pneumatic cylinder and the control valves.

Pole/zero cancellation enabled the cylinder to achieve similar levels of performance for long (3.0 m) tubing as with short (0.55 m) tubing. With a 1.0-Hz sinusoidal input and equal control gains, pole/zero cancellation reduced the tracking error by approximately 30% and 23% in comparison to proportional and PD control, respectively. In terms of efficiency, with the system tracking a 2.5-Hz sinusoidal command, and using equal control gains, pole/zero cancellation increased the cylinder efficiency by approximately 36% and 54% in comparison to proportional and PD control, respectively. In general, pole/zero cancellation increased the system performance and efficiency in comparison to the other control schemes applied.

Copyright Owner

Gabriel Fernando Bravo Palacios



File Format


File Size

318 pages