NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a set of unique magnetostrictive (MS) technologies for utilization in pressure regulation and valve systems. By combining MS-based sensors with a newly designed MS-based valve, Marshall has developed an advanced MS regulator. This innovative approach provides both a regulator and a valve with rapid response times. In addition, the components are lightweight, compact, highly precise, and can operate over a wide range of temperatures and pressures. A prototype of the MS valve has been developed and NASA is seeking partners for licensure of this novel technology.
Magnetostrictive materials used in valves developed at Marshall allow the valve to be opened and closed via application of a magnetic field to the outside of the valve envelope. This process contains all moving parts inside the pressure shell, eliminating the need for feedthroughs or mechanical seals. Marshall’s valve concept moves the valve coil outside a fluid boundary, keeping the coil from contacting the fluid under flow. This concept features a small valve design no greater than 1/16 OD, and accommodates a digital design whereby multiple elements are used to accommodate larger throughput needs. This results in a highly effective, redundant valve system.
Building on this concept, Marshall’s MS regulator is comprised of the MS valve element, an MS-based pressure transducer, and a servo-circuit to control the current to the valve coil. This all-electric design enables highly accurate and highly reactive regulation. As the current changes, the magnetic field strength adjusts, causing the valve poppet to reposition, bringing the pressure back to the setpoint.
The regulator system offers precise operation with response times up to an order of magnitude faster than current technologies. By using fewer moving parts and no external or dynamic seals, friction, wear, and leaks are reduced and reliability is increased. The novel design allows alternate parallel pathways to be implemented for increased redundancy, and is also self-adjusting, continuously sensing conditions to maintain precise control and reduce setpoint drift.
Potential applications include use in pressure-fed rocket propulsion systems, aircraft engines, automotive fuel systems, oil-flow control in industrial systems, air and gas compressors, steam turbines, power recovery, power-generating equipment, biomedical device implants requiring pressure/flow control, and drug metering systems.