Optimization of orifice position in particle-excitation valve for proportional flow control
© The Author(s) 2017
Received: 25 May 2017
Accepted: 3 October 2017
Published: 11 October 2017
This paper reports an improvement of the particle-excitation flow control valve. The valve that we have designed in previous reports can control air flow, using particle excitation by piezoelectric resonance, and has the following advantages: small size, lightweight, high response and continuous airflow control. However, in our previous models, the relationship between the driving voltage and the flow quantity was nonlinear. In this report, we improved the valve to realize proportional flow control. The valve consists of the orifice plate, that has some orifices, and steel particles to seal the orifices and piezoelectric transducer. It controls air flow by the voltage applied to the transducer. For proportional flow control, it is important to adjust the orifice position adequately. In this report, we optimized the orifice position, considering resonance condition of the valve. We designed the experimental prototype using a bolt-clamped Langevin type transducer and decided orifice position. And we evaluated its vibration properties and flow-rate characteristics. The experimental results showed that our designed prototype can proportionally control airflow.
KeywordsProportional flow control valve Pneumatic valve Pneumatic actuator PZT Flow control valve
A pneumatic actuation system has many advantages, including lightweight, safety, and low cost. Because pneumatic actuators have compliance, they are widely researched for human support devices [1–5]. Recently, the actuators are examined as the application of artificial muscles and soft actuators [6–10]. However, it is difficult to control pneumatic equipment since air is compressible and has nonlinear characteristics. Therefore, highly controllable devices are in great demand. Many kinds of pneumatic control devices have been researched [11–28]. Especially, piezoelectric (PZT) actuators are widely used [14–22, 24–28] because some of these actuators have high response and large power. Because the strokes of PZT actuators are very small and must be increased, some researches use laminated PZTs [17–19], bimorph structure , motors [20, 21, 24], or displacement amplifier mechanisms [25–28]. Especially for proportional or servo valves, since the stroke of the actuated part is critical, displacement amplifier mechanisms are used. A valve with displacement amplifier mechanisms is heavy and large. We designed flow control valves using particle excitation mechanism whose advantages are small size and high response [29–32]. This control mechanism uses PZT resonance frequency and does not need the displacement amplifier mechanism. In previous report, we demonstrated its basic structure and confirmed that it has potential to provide a large flow rate . We showed new mechanism of the valve using deferent types of particles for stable flow control . We discussed orifice condition of the valve and designed prototype that can control air flow continuously . And we expanded orifices diameter to increase flow quantity and checked responsiveness of the valve . However, the flow conditions of the prototypes were nonlinear. In this report, we proposed a new model of particle-excitation valve that can realize the proportional flow control. For proportional flow control, we optimized the orifice position considering vibration mode. Firstly, we showed the basic mechanism and then specifically explained its design, how the valve makes the flow condition proportional. Secondly, we designed a prototype optimizing the orifice position. To decide orifice position, we used the approximation of orifice deformation shape. Next we showed the designed prototype’s basic characteristics. Finally, we provided the results of a flow rate change experiment and explained the flow rate characteristics.
Proportional mechanism using particle excitation valve
Basic control mechanism of particle excitation
When using the resonance vibration, the frequency is constant. Therefore, from Eq. (2), F 2 is dependent on A, which has the same orifice plate displacement value when the particle is on orifice. The orifice plate displacement is controlled by changing the voltage applied to the transducer. In previous reports, for continuous flow control, we arranged orifices from the center at 0.2-mm intervals [31, 32]. However, in that mechanism, orifice plate deformation condition was not considered and flow condition was non-linear. In this report, we designed a prototype in which the orifice position is optimized with consideration of the orifice deformation condition for proportional control.
We used 0.8 mm diameter particles of stainless steel (density: 7.93 × 103 kg/m3), and each particle mass was 2.13 mg. When the P parameter is 0.4 MPa and r parameter is 0.2 mm, a parameter is 23.6 km/s2. This value is larger than gravity acceleration and gravity effect is ignored when each particle is on orifice.
Configuration of prototype
Orifice position design for proportional flow condition
When the applied pressure is constant and consequently V min and V max are constant, increase of effective cross sectional area changes in proportion to applied voltage, from first orifice opening to final orifice opening.
From these results, the orifice plate’s condition is determined by the innermost and the outermost orifice positions and the orifice numbers. Even though the V min and V max are changed by supplied air pressure, the condition is kept where the flow rate is proportional to the applied voltage because the change rate of V min and V max are same.
Using Eq. (8), orifice position r n is decided by ω(r n ).
The orifice position is determined by the innermost and the outermost orifice positions and the orifice numbers, and the valve’s sectional area changes in proportion to the applied voltage.
Relationship between orifice number and distance from center of orifice plate
Orifice number n (−)
Distance from center of orifice plate r (mm)
Basic characteristics of the prototype
Flow rate characteristics
We explained how to control proportionally the airflow using a particle-excitation valve. This method required the orifice plate deformation shape and the orifice position. In this paper, we designed the experimental prototype using a bolt-clamped Langevin type transducer that can generate the large vibration acceleration at orifice plate. And we designed the orifice position using approximated orifice plate deformation. Next, we also analyzed prototype’s basic characteristics and decided the driving condition. Finally, the prototype’s flow rate control characteristics were evaluated. This control valve can proportionally control the airflow when the acceleration is proportional to the applied voltage and orifice acceleration exceeds the orifice opening condition. These characteristics were stably generated under changing air pressures: 0.4, 0.5, and 0.6 MPa. Additionally, the prototype shows stable flow characteristics when flow rate decreases. We conclude that this mechanism has potential to create proportional valves with many advantages.
DH carried out the main part of the studies and drafted the manuscript. TY and NF joined discussion and evaluated experimental results. KS and TK participated in design of the prototype and experimental method. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 15K21519.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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