|LaunchPoint’s Magnetic Valve Actuator. Click to enlarge.|
LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. has been awarded a $500,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant (No. IIP-1058556) to continue the development of a novel magnetic valve actuator. Once fully developed, the actuator will enable the implementation of electronically-controlled variable valve timing in camless internal combustion engines.
The advantages of magnetic valve system (MVS) technology originate from the nature of the magnetic spring actuator that provides efficient control of the valve position and speed during valve opening and closing events. The Launchpoint valve actuator is based on the patented magnetic spring technology (US Patent# 7,265,470) originally developed by LaunchPoint for an aerospace application.
A bench-top prototype developed during the Phase I effort demonstrated outstanding performance characteristics. Test results showed that the actuator was able to traverse an 8mm stroke distance in 3 milliseconds with consistent switching trajectories and very soft landings.
The Phase II development effort, led by Principal Investigator Mike Ricci, VP of Engineering, will be aimed at reducing the switching interval even further while improving robustness of the design. During this phase LaunchPoint engineers will design, construct, and test on an experimental engine, a second generation of the magnetic valve actuator integrated into a complete engine subsystem. This Magnetic Valve System (MVS) will comprise the magnetic valve actuator, an integrated sensor, a control unit, and a power amplifier, which together provide electronic control of the valve timing.
Variable valve timing is the Holy Grail of internal combustion control. The advantages of our technology stem from the inherent nature of the nonlinear magnetic spring used as the primary valve actuator. The nonlinear spring provides most of the energy required to open or close the valve while also ensuring a soft landing. The low-power electromagnetic actuator is used only to “throw” or “catch” the valve at the beginning or the end of the stroke.—Dr. Maksim Subbotin, Systems Engineer and Principal Investigator for Phase I
Magnetic valve actuators can be applied to a wide variety of internal combustion engines. Actuators of this type would eliminate the numerous engine components required for a typical camshaft drive, thereby decreasing manufacturing and maintenance costs and increasing reliability.
Magnetic actuators could be designed into new engines as well as retrofitted to existing engines. They could enable implementation of emerging advanced combustion technologies such as Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition and Compressed Air Hybrids. The widespread adoption of these actuators would substantially decrease petroleum usage and the associated production of greenhouse gases and air pollution, the company suggests.
LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. is an engineering services and contract R&D firm with expertise in electromagnetics; control theory; motor and generator design and development; medical device design and development; CFD optimization, and prototyping. LaunchPoint works with government agencies, companies, and entrepreneurs to develop new technologies, secure IP, and procure funds for commercialization efforts.