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Full text of "NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) 20090002477: Innovative Stemless Valve Eliminates Emissions"

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Innovative Stemless Valve Eliminates Emissions 


Originating Technology/NASA Contribution 

T he past, present, and future of NASA launch and 
space travel technologies are steeped in the icy 
realm of cryogenics. NASA employs cryogenics, 
the science of generating extremely low temperatures 
and the behavior of materials at those temperatures, in 
a variety of fluid management and low-temperature 
applications including vehicle propulsion, high-pressure 
gas supply, life support equipment, food preservation and 
packaging, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and imaging 
devices. Most prominently, cryogenic liquid hydrogen 
fuel is used by the space shuttle as its primary means of 
achieving orbit. 

Looking to the future, NASA’s Constellation Program, 
which is focused on developing next-generation launch 
vehicles for planned trips to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, 
is incorporating cryogenics into the upper stage of the 
Ares I crew launch vehicle, the core stage and Earth depar- 
ture stage of the Ares V cargo launch vehicle, and other 
systems. In support of this work, NASA’s Cryogenic Fluid 
Management (CFM) Project is performing experimental 
and analytical evaluation of several types of propellant 
management systems to enable safe and cost-effective 
exploration missions. The CFM Project is led by Glenn 
Research Center, with support from Marshall Space 
Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Ames Research 
Center, Kennedy Space Center, and Goddard Space 
Flight Center. 

Cryogenic propellants have been favored for their high- 
energy, high-efficiency performance; however, cryogenic 
propellants have not been used in extended-duration 
space missions since they are difficult to maintain in 
their highly dense liquid form at the low temperatures 
common in space and on the Moon. Performance 
requirements for the Earth departure stage, as well as the 
lunar lander descent and ascent stages, point toward the 
use of cryogenic engines and propellants for missions of 
up to 210 days on the surface of the Moon. 


CFM team research is focused on the storage, fluid 
distribution, liquid acquisition, and mass gauging of cold 
propellants. These tasks will reduce the development risk 
and increase the ability of advanced subsystems to store 
and distribute cryogenic propellants required for long- 
term exploration missions. CFM utilizes the development 
of prototype CFM hardware, the creation and use of 
analytical models to predict subsystem performance, and 
the execution of ground-based tests using liquid oxygen, 
liquid hydrogen, and methane to demonstrate the perfor- 
mance, applicability, and reliability of CFM subsystems. 

Partnership 

Big Horn Valve Inc. (BHVI), of Sheridan, Wyoming, 
won a series of Small Business Innovation Research 
(SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer 
(STTR) contracts to explore and develop a revolutionary 
valve technology based on cryogenically proven Venturi 
Off-Set Technology (VOST). In 2001, BHVI first worked 
with Kennedy on an SBIR contract, “New and Innovative 
Valving Technology for Cryogenic Applications.” In 
2003, BHVI’s proposal, “Low-Mass VOST Valve,” was 
selected from a field of 2,696 other entries nationwide to 
receive a Phase I SBIR contract, sponsored by Marshall 
under the Next Generation Launch Technology Program. 
This project developed a low-mass, high-efficiency, leak- 
proof cryogenic valve using composites and exotic metals, 
and had no stem-actuator, few moving parts, with an 
overall cylindrical shape. The valve geometry reduces 
launch vehicle complexity and facilitates assembly and 
testing. This valve also enhances reliability and safety, due 
to the inherent simplicity and leak-proof characteristic of 
the design. 

According to principal investigator Zachary Gray, 
the work with NASA helped BHVI gain ... a lot of 
experience with extreme environments. We gained a lot 
of contacts in the aerospace and cryogenic community. 
By attempting to solve NASA’s unique problems, we have 
greatly simplified the valve design while at the same time 



The quick-disconnect valve is shown here undergoing 
cryogenic testing as part of the Phase II SBIR contract with 
Johnson Space Center. 


demonstrating that VOST worked well from half-inch 
diameters up to a 4-inch diameter.” 

In 2003 and 2006, BHVI continued this work upon 
receipt of a Phase II SBIR award for “Low-Mass VOST 
Valve” from Marshall, and two Phase II SBIR awards 
from Johnson. These projects, “In-Space Cryogenic 
VOST Connect/Disconnect,” and “VOST Flow-Control 
Valve,” demonstrated that VOST cryogenic flow control 
offered precise linear flow control across the entire 
dynamic range, held its position without power, and 
required low actuation energy. This project paved the way 


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A 4-inch valve undergoing cryogenic testing in a tank as part 
of the SBIR work with Marshall Space Flight Center. 

for VOST valve application in future spaceport systems, 
advanced cryocoolers, launch vehicles, and high-pressure 
flow-control valves. 

Product Outcome 

The precise control, inherent simplicity and 
durability, and demonstrated abilities of the VOST 
system afford many commercial applications, including 
petroleum refining, specialty chemical and high-purity 
pharmaceutical production, and the manufacture of 
industrial flow-control valves and food processing 
equipment. The VOST design is a magnetically actuated 
system in which internal magnets are used to close, open, 
and throttle the valve. This innovative stemless design, 
the only one commercially available, is emission-free 
with no external leakage of vapors or fluid and allows for 
superior fluid handling features (such as throttling, low- 
pressure drop, and axial envelope) within a single device 
structure. The VOST system has potential application in 
all valving environments and represents a new concept for 
a tradition-bound industry. 


BHVI enlisted the help of Moog Inc. to develop a pneumatically operated control valve. This photo shows a 4-inch valve 
undergoing cryogenic testing. 


In December 2003, BHVI was selected to exhibit the 
VOST technology at the 2004 World’s Best Technologies 
Showcase, in Dallas, Texas. The 73 exhibitors selected 
came from the Nation’s most advanced research facilities, 
top universities, and entrepreneurs. The technologies 
displayed are considered the best of the best. 

The first commercial MagVOST was installed March 
16, 2006, at Windsor Energy Inc.’s methane coal gas 
field, east of Kaycee, Wyoming. Future applications 
are expected to include in-flight refueling of military 


aircraft and high-volume gas delivery systems such as 
liquefied natural gas (LNG). Big Horn is also exploring 
opportunities that require extreme attention to safety, 
such as with hydrofluoric acid in the petroleum refining 
industry and in the nuclear industry, and received an SBIR 
contract from the U.S. Navy to develop a bi-directional 
VOST valve for use as an isolation valve on ships. ♦♦♦ 

VOST™ and MagVOST™ are trademarks of Big Horn Valve Inc. 


Spinoff 2008 


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