| Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Low-Cost, Long-Lasting Valve Seal

This technology is designed to protect against leaks in solenoid, check, manual, and relief valves, as well as disconnects and regulators.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a new, simplified method for installing valve seats that eliminates the need for a swaged assembly process, and the additional hardware and equipment that are typically found in conventional elastomeric valve seat installations. In addition to weight reduction, the fewer hardware components reduces the number of potential failure modes. This technique saves time and installation costs, and results in comparable leakage protection by minimizing acute stress in the seal material.

Beyond aerospace applications, the seat seal technique can also be used in other applications where small instrumentation valve fluid control is required, such as medical equipment.

NASA has used the installation technique on gas-fed, pulsed, electric thrusters for propellants, which require very specific fluid flow operation by quickly opening and closing the valves within short durations of time. The technique is especially advantageous for small instrumentation valves with an orifice of 0.5" or less, where precise fluid control is essential.

The technique simplifies the seat installation process by eliminating the need for unnecessary apparatus such as fasteners and retainers. Multiple seals can be installed simultaneously, saving both time and money.

Testing was conducted on the long-term performance of a solenoid actuated valve with a seat fitted using the new installation technique. The valve was fabricated and tested to determine high-cycle and internal leakage performance for an inductive pulsed plasma thruster (IPPT) application for in-space propulsion. The valve demonstrated the capability to throttle the gas flow rate while maintaining low leakage rates of less than 10-3 standard cubic centimeters per second (sccss) of helium (He) at the beginning of the valve’s lifetime. The IPPT solenoid actuated valve test successfully reached 1 million cycles with desirable leakage performance, which is beyond traditional solenoid valve application requirements. Future design iterations can further enhance the valve’s lifespan and performance.

NASA’s Technology Transfer Program offers commercial licensing agreements to ensure its pioneering research finds secondary uses that benefit the economy, create jobs, and improve quality of life. For more information about licensing, please contact Clark Darty at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 256-544-2728.