SBIR Phase I: Energy Saving Solenoid Valve
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
1005 North Warson Rd, Suite 201, Saint Louis, MO, 63132-2900
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project applies a novel approach to the design of pneumatic solenoid valves to significantly reduce manufacturing energy consumption. In the United States, over 70% of all manufacturing facilities employ compressed air systems with low efficiency, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars. This project proposes to develop a novel plug-and-play solenoid valve design that recycles compressed air via cross-flow from one cylinder chamber to the other, thereby reducing compressed air consumption of the pneumatics by 20-25%. Successful commercialization requires the development of a mechanical and electronic control system technology to prove that this approach applies broadly across applications. This project will focus on designing an internal electronic control system and mechanical housing to realize a plug-and-play replacement. This is a critical requirement in order to allow the replacement of existing valves with no upgrades or changes to hardware or software. The project will deliver an energy-saving valve technology that is reliable, cost-competitive and which can serve a significant portion of the multi-billion dollar worldwide solenoid valve market. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project targets a worldwide pneumatics market of $8.5 billion, driven by the continued growth in manufacturing around the world. The United States represents 16% (or $1.4 billion) of this total, with over 70% of all manufacturing facilities employing pneumatics to process, build, and/or package products. These pneumatic systems consume approximately 1% of the electricity used in the United States. The energy-saving valve is designed as a plug-and-play replacement for existing pneumatic solenoid valves with the benefit of using 20% less compressed air. This reduction can save manufacturers significant energy cost each year with the potential for $400-500 million in annual savings. Domestic manufacturers account for 11.5 million jobs, and economic and business leaders recognize the critical need for change in this sector to stay competitive. According to the 2011 Next Generation Manufacturing Study, sustainability was identified as an important component to manufacturers' strategy to stay competitive. The proposed energy saving valve technology can help U.S. manufacturers achieve their sustainability goals to help keep them competitive.
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