Electrical switched-mode DC-DC converters have become ubiquitous in the last decade, primarily driven by their high energy efficiency. Although considerable academic research has been performed on the analogous hydraulic switched-inertance converters, widespread adoption has lagged. This paper presents a comparison of the two technologies, comparing theoretical and practical limits to their performance. First we develop a simple model for the efficiency and specific power capacities of buck and boost converters in the ideal case, so that critical parameters can be identified as well as their physical limitations. We then expand our analysis to include practical effects such as wave propagation, switching losses and operating limits, in an attempt to identify if there are any reasons to continue or discontinue development of the hydraulic switched-inertance converter.

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