CCEFP Researchers Evolve High Performance MR Valve Actuation

Achievement date: 

Researchers at the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) at the University of Minnesota have developed and tested a novel, high-speed valve actuation system that is capable of proportional and bi-directional operation.


The innovative valve actuation system shows especial promise for applications requiring large flow rate valves. CCEFP’s proof-of-concept actuator uses magnetorheological (MR) fluid as the coupler between the rotary and translational pieces. It can be used to actuate poppet or spool type valves and does not require a pilot pressure source. Multiple actuators and valves can be compactly stacked on a single rotating shaft. With an improved coil design, the valve will afford a faster response while using less power per switch.


A simulation model for the MR valve actuation system accurately predicted the measured response. In testing, the new MR valve actuation system experimentally achieved a 1.5 millimeter (mm) stroke in 4.5 milliseconds (ms)—equivalent to the design target of 100 Liters per minute (L/min) at five barometers (@5bar). The system also scales favorably—achieving a 7 mm stroke in 10ms—enabling the actuator to be used in large flow rate valves. The validated model is being used to optimize the design.