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Remotely Operated, UHV and Cryogenic Valve Actuator

March 5, 2018

DSM has recently completed the second phase of an SBIR effort to develop reliable, low cost cryogenic actuators. Three prototypes, Delta, Beta, and Gamma, were designed and manufactured.

Abstract of Problem

Fluid handling applications in cryogenic and extreme environments require reliable actuation technology. A novel EM hammer drive technology has been developed by DSM for use in cryo-propellant fuel storage and regulation valves/devices. In addition to high force, the new drive technology offers potential advantages for miniaturization, heat load reduction, and lower cost than traditional electromagnetic and piezoelectric actuators. In the second phase of this SBIR effort, DSM has taken this technology and implemented its functionality into usable actuators. The end goal is for the actuators to operate from approximately 4 K to 400 K and to provide very low or no out gassing as well as operational capabilities in hard vacuum. The technology will be used in cryo fluid management, pressure and flow control, and driving operational equipment and instruments.

Cryogenic and ultra-high vacuum compatible valve actuator

Project Highlights

  • Force range up to 250 lbf verified
  • Unlimited stroke length
  • Up to 0.5 in/s velocity
  • Resolution at a micron level
  • Endurance testing confirmed >1000 cycles of life

Project Overview

During this research effort, DSM fabricated three prototypes; each a different size. Each prototype included its own set of closed loop electronics.  The technology has been validated down to temperatures of liquid nitrogen, approximately 77 K.  Furthermore, the largest of the three prototypes was successfully mounted and tested on a prototype NASA valve.

The specs of the largest prototype, mounted to a valve, can be seen in the table.  The actuator boasts impressive output velocities relative to load and operating temperature, making it a very competitive cryogenically rated actuator for its size. Although this technology is still in development, it has shown promising results in testing. The actuator has output precision as accurate as approximately 0.002″.  This can be adjusted and the motor is capable of a higher output velocity if a less accurate output position is desired.

If you are interested in the development of this technology, please contact us.

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