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Tiny 1050 bar solenoid gas valve targets hydrogen energy applications

28 August 2019

With global research increasing and the adoption of hydrogen energy in road vehicles and other applications accelerating, Magnet Schultz has developed a timely range of compact solenoid gas valves.

In total, the new range features four valves, with units designed for high pressure cut-off, safety shut-off, proportional flow control and purge/drain applications.

While all are believed to be the smallest in their class, the cut-off unit is especially notable with its input pressure capability of up to 1050 bar.

The key to the high-pressure capability of the valves is an innovative internal design that balances the pressure around a primary sealed tube. That tube houses the valve that the hydrogen will run through. The pressurised gas is bled either side of the spool, which allows the spool to move freely under magnetic control from the separate electric coil, thanks to the negligible pressure differential. In turn, it means that the armature does not need to push against the high gas pressure but can control it by simply moving its own mass. That mass is very light, given the tiny dimensions of the valve: the primary body size of the 1050 bar high pressure cut-off valve is just 32mm diameter.

While mobile applications in automotive fuel cell developments are a predominant target sector for the new range, the valves also address static hydrogen applications with explosion-proof ATEX variants of the cut-off, safety shut-off and proportional flow control valves available. The units are also suitable for compressed natural gas (CNG) and other gas applications.

With compact body diameters from 32mm to 40mm, the control valves are ideally suited to automotive and transportation applications as they require less space for the installation of OTVs (on-tank valves). In addition, the 12-Volt operational rating is specifically matched to automotive on-board power systems.

Despite the design goal targeting automotive applications, Magnet Schultz Ltd has recently enjoyed significant success in the UK with a static hydrogen project where a British firm is developing hydrogen production, storage and refuelling stations. Static and portable applications are governed by different legislation, so static applications demand components certified to ATEX/IECEx Zone 2 standards.

This is where a new modular design policy implemented across Magnet Schultz’s product ranges paid off. The policy mandates standardised body profiles and slip-on coils where practical. Within the company’s actuator portfolio are many ATEX-rated solenoid products, available off-the-shelf. For the UK static hydrogen project, the firm’s engineers were able to quickly deploy a standard ATEX-rated solenoid coil in conjunction with the newly developed hydrogen valve body to meet the stringent criteria and the legislative obligations. The resulting ATEX variants of the new hydrogen valve range operate perfectly with no loss of performance.

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