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Diesel Goes Digital to Save Energy, Lower Emissions

Issue: 2004 Category: Environment and Resource Management Category Icon - Energy and Environment
Page: 63-64 Center: NASA Headquarters
State: CO Manufacturer: Sturman Industries
Origin: Apollo Rocket Thrusters
Tech Terms: Actuator, Valve, Diesel, Camshaft, Engines, Emissions
While at Bell Aerospace in the 1960s, Eddie Sturman developed a very efficient valve control actuator that consumed little energy. Sturman's work resulted in multiple patents and systems that were extensively used by NASA, including a valve that helped power the Apollo spacecraft. Sturman's "digital valve" consists of a specially designed spool with a magnetic holding and releasing mechanism on its side and two opposing electromagnetic coils. The magnetic holding and releasing is commanded by sophisticated electronic processors, causing the spool to pass back and forth at tremendous speeds with remarkable precision to ensure accurate control of the pressurized hydraulic fluid that is pumped through the valve's opening. This allows the digital valve to open and shut extremely fast. Additionally, the valve can remain in the desired open/closed position due to magnetism from the component's electromagnetic coils. In effect, it saves energy, provides far greater fuel economy, and generates much less pollution than comparative valves. Sturman formed his own company, Sturman Industries, in 1989 to commercialize the digital valve for non-aerospace use. From the digital valve, Sturman created a Hydraulic Valve Actuation system that provides the flexibility and precision required for clean, practical, and safe "camless" engine technology.
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