Solenoid valve

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Solenoid valves.

A solenoid valve is an electromechanically operated valve. The valve is controlled by an electric current through a solenoid: in the case of a two-port valve the flow is switched on or off; in the case of a three-port valve, the outflow is switched between the two outlet ports. Multiple solenoid valves can be placed together on a manifold.

Solenoid valves are the most frequently used control elements in fluidics. Their tasks are to shut off, release, dose, distribute or mix fluids. They are found in many application areas. Solenoids offer fast and safe switching, high reliability, long service life, good medium compatibility of the materials used, low control power and compact design.

Besides the plunger-type actuator which is used most frequently, pivoted-armature actuators and rocker actuators are also used.

Contents

Operation

A solenoid valve has two main parts: the solenoid and the valve. The solenoid converts electrical energy into mechanical energy which, in turn, opens or closes the valve mechanically. A direct acting valve has only a small flow circuit, shown within section E of this diagram (this section is mentioned below as a pilot valve). In this example, a diaphragm piloted valve multiplies this small pilot flow, by using it to control the flow through a much larger orifice.

Solenoid valves may use metal seals or rubber seals, and may also have electrical interfaces to allow for easy control. A spring may be used to hold the valve opened (normally open) or closed (normally closed) while the valve is not activated.

A- Input side
B- Diaphragm
C- Pressure chamber
D- Pressure relief passage
E- Solenoid
F- Output side

The diagram to the right shows the design of a basic valve, controlling the flow of water in this example. At the top figure is the valve in its closed state. The water under pressure enters at A. B is an elastic diaphragm and above it is a weak spring pushing it down. The function of this spring is irrelevant for now as the valve would stay closed even without it. The diaphragm has a pinhole through its center which allows a very small amount of water to flow through it. This water fills the cavity C on the other side of the diaphragm so that pressure is equal on both sides of the diaphragm, however the compressed spring supplies a net downward force. The spring is weak and is only able to close the inlet because water pressure is equalized on both sides of the diaphragm.

In the previous configuration the small passage D was blocked by a pin which is the armature of the solenoid E and which is pushed down by a spring. If the solenoid is activated by drawing the pin upwards via magnetic force from the solenoid current, the water in chamber C will flow through this passage D to the output side of the valve. The pressure in chamber C will drop and the incoming pressure will lift the diaphragm thus opening the main valve. Water now flows directly from A to F.

When the solenoid is again deactivated and the passage D is closed again, the spring needs very little force to push the diaphragm down again and the main valve closes. In practice there is often no separate spring, the elastomer diaphragm is molded so that it functions as its own spring, preferring to be in the closed shape.

From this explanation it can be seen that this type of valve relies on a differential of pressure between input and output as the pressure at the input must always be greater than the pressure at the output for it to work. Should the pressure at the output, for any reason, rise above that of the input then the valve would open regardless of the state of the solenoid and pilot valve.

In some solenoid valves the solenoid acts directly on the main valve. Others use a small, complete solenoid valve, known as a pilot, to actuate a larger valve. While the second type is actually a solenoid valve combined with a pneumatically actuated valve, they are sold and packaged as a single unit referred to as a solenoid valve. Piloted valves require much less power to control, but they are noticeably slower. Piloted solenoids usually need full power at all times to open and stay open, where a direct acting solenoid may only need full power for a short period of time to open it, and only low power to hold it.

Production

Solenoid valves are often mass produced in 3 main parts: the core tube, the nucleo and the coil.

deep drawn Core Tube made by Pressteck (Italy)

The core tube[1] is a metal shell that is produced by deep drawing because this process requires considerably less raw material and permits complex designs that integrate solutions (example O-ring seats, formed flanges and closed tube ends ) which reduce the amount of parts per valve .

The nucleo is typically a turned metal part, that slides within the core tube, opening or closing the valve. Its' initial position is normally maintained by a spring.

The coil is a tightly bound copper wire which is wrapped around the core tube and induces the movement of the nucleo.

Types

Many variations are possible on the basic, one way, one solenoid valve described above:

Common uses

Solenoid valves are used in fluid power pneumatic and hydraulic systems, to control cylinders, fluid power motors or larger industrial valves. Automatic irrigation sprinkler systems also use solenoid valves with an automatic controller. Domestic washing machines and dishwashers use solenoid valves to control water entry into the machine. Solenoid valves are used in dentist chairs to control air and water flow. In the paintball industry, solenoid valves are usually referred to simply as "solenoids." They are commonly used to control a larger valve used to control the propellant (usually compressed air or CO2).

Besides controlling the flow of air and fluids, solenoids are used in pharmacology experiments, especially for patch-clamp, which can control the application of agonist or antagonist.[2]

References

  1. ^ Core tube examples. 2012-08-3. http://www.pressteckspa.com/com/index.php/products/industrial. Retrieved 2012-08-3. 
  2. ^ Industrial Valve Resource. 2010-03-18. http://industrialvalveresource.com/category/valves/new-product-releases.html#item1186 Miniature Solenoid Valves for Medical Devices. Retrieved 2010-07-21.