High-speed valve hits the road

A prototype camless engine based on Camcon’s binary actuator system is to be developed, after the company agreed to license its technology to automotive supplier Powertrain.

The Birmingham engine and transmission maker will use the actuator technology to build a pre-production engine prototype with Intelligent Valve Actuation (IVA), following an 18-month joint research programme at Camcon’s Cambridge laboratories. The prototype is expected to be built in around a year’s time, with a production version ready in three to five years.

The technology will allow each of the engine valves to be independently controlled, so the engine’s combustion can be optimised, improving its performance and fuel efficiency, and reducing emissions.

Camcon’s actuators consist of a sprung armature held in place by two magnets. A short electrical pulse disrupts the magnetic field, causing the armature to switch from one position to another, opening or closing the valve. Unlike alternative electro-magnetic valve control technologies, the natural position for the system is either open or closed, meaning it consumes very little power in operation, said Alan Warburton, engineering director of Powertrain.

‘The time it takes for a valve to open or close are very short periods in an engine cycle, and that is the only time we use any power. We drive the valve open, then it ceases to use power when the valve is in its open position, and then we drive the valve closed.’

The device can also be used as a generator, allowing energy to be recovered and put back into the engine to help keep power consumption low.

As well as engine management, Camcon’s binary actuator technology also has applications in a number of other industries where flow needs to be controlled accurately, such as, pneumatic, robotic, medical, and oil.

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