Magnetic Valve System for Variable Valve Timing of Camless Engines to Reduce Emissions and Improve Fuel Economy

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A novel magnetic valve system being developed at LaunchPoint Technologies could be the enabling technology for electronically-controlled variable valve timing in advanced internal combustion engines.

Variable valve timing is the Holy Grail of internal combustion control

LaunchPoint Technologies, Inc. (LaunchPoint) has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovations Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to design and test a new magnetic valve actuator that will enable the reliable and cost-effective implementation of variable valve timing in camless internal combustion engines. Although desirable for its demonstrated improvements in fuel-efficiency, torque, and emissions reductions, variable valve timing has remained an elusive technology. Currently, available variable valve timing mechanisms are either too costly to implement on conventional vehicles or far less effective and robust than desired. The goal of the proposed project is to demonstrate a compact, linear-motion actuator capable of driving a typical engine valve.

During the Phase I development effort, LaunchPoint will design, prototype, and test the proposed actuator using the magnetic spring technology originally developed for a high-speed switching mechanism in a space application.

"Variable valve timing is the Holy Grail of internal combustion control," explains Dr. Maksim Subbotin, Systems Engineer and Principal Investigator for the project. "The advantages of our technology lie in 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.

Variable valve timing technology has demonstrated a fuel efficiency improvement of up to 20 percent, torque improvement of 5 to 13 percent, emission reductions of up to 10 percent in hydrocarbons, and 40 to 60 percent in NOx for conventional spark ignition (SI) and compression ignition engines. The demonstrated improvements are even more dramatic for innovative Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engines and Compressed Air Hybrid engines. For example, the NOx reduction is predicted to be two orders of magnitude lower in comparison to a conventional SI engine with almost zero particulate matter emissions.

Valves of this type could be applied to a wide variety of internal combustion engines. A magnetic valve actuator would eliminate the numerous engine components required for a typical camshaft drive, in turn, decreasing manufacturing and maintenance costs and increasing reliability. Magnetic valves could be designed into new engines and retrofitted to existing engines. The widespread adoption of these valves would substantially decrease petroleum usage and the associated production of greenhouse gases and air pollution, while also promoting energy independence.

About LaunchPoint Technologies:
LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. is an engineering services and design firm that specializes in technology and product development. We have extensive experience in motor/generator design and development, medical device design and development, and maglev technologies. Our staff includes product and system designers, physicists, and engineers from a wide array of disciplines. As 'Venture Engineers' we invest our engineering expertise in proof-of-concept modeling and prototype design, secure IP, and assist with grant-writing and/or venture capital solicitation. For more information, please visit our website at launchpnt.com, or call 805-683-9659, ext. 219.

Media Contact:
Maksim Subbotin, Ph.D.
LaunchPoint Technologies, Inc.
5735 Hollister Ave., Suite B
Goleta, CA 93117
805-683-9659, ext. 237

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Maksim Subbotin
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