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How do gas struts work?

The basic principle of a gas spring is the same as for a mechanical coil spring; it is a device for storing energy. However, rather than straining the material that makes up the coil spring, a gas spring stores energy by compressing the Nitrogen gas contained inside.

Although it looks similar to a pneumatic or hydraulic cylinder a gas spring differs in that it does not require an external energy source to create movement. A gas spring is a closed system and once manufactured and charged with inert Nitrogen gas no further gas is introduced to the system for it to operate.

With a gas spring the pressure on either side of the piston remains equal whether it’s fully extended or fully closed, this again is different to a hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder that requires a pressure differential across the piston in order to move.

So, if it’s the case, how does it work if no further gas is introduced, and the internal pressure remains equal? The reason the gas strut extends is due to the difference in cross-sectional area of the rod where the gas is unable to exert any pressure. It is the difference between the Nitrogen gas pressure acting on the internal face of the rod, and the atmospheric pressure acting on the external end of the rod that causes it to extend.

As the rod is pushed into the tube the available volume is reduced, gas is compressed and the internal pressure increases, this compression creates the spring like behaviour. An orifice in the piston that is attached to the rod allows the flow of gas across the piston and controls the extension speed.

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