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Tiny 1050 bar Solenoid Gas Valves Target Hydrogen Energy Applications.

With global research increasing and the adoption of hydrogen energy in road vehicles and other applications accelerating, we have developed a timely new 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 we believe all to be the smallest in their class, the cut-off unit is especially notable with its impressive input pressure capability of up to 1050 bar – that’s a clear market-leading performance. And though we designed this Fuel Cell solenoid valve range to address emerging static and mobile applications in H2 energy, they are suitable for any gas applications, including compressed air and compressed natural gas (CNG).

The key to the exceptional high-pressure capability of these valves is an innovative internal design. It balances the high gas pressure around a primary sealed tube. That tube houses the valve that the hydrogen or gas will run through. The pressurised gas is bled either side of the spool, which allows the spool to move freely under simple 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 within that pressurised internal section. Given the tiny dimensions of the valve, that moving mass is very light. The primary body size of our 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 explosionproof ATEX variants of the cut-off, safety shut-off and proportional flow control valves available.

Portable and static applications are governed by different legislation. The latter demands components certified to ATEX/IECEx Zone 2 standards; mobile/portable applications, typically in vehicles governed by the EC79 regulation (EC No. 79/2009 type-approval of hydrogen-powered motor vehicles) do not.

Gas-powered fuel cell systems deploying hydrogen solenoid valves need components with markedly different characteristics in order to store and provide fuel with fuel gas such as hydrogen (H2) or natural gas (CNG), and to manage the compound wastes produced in the energy generation process, namely water (H2O) and nitrogen (N2).

With compact body diameters from 32mm to 40mm, our new control valves are ideally suited to automotive and transportation applications as they require less space for the installation of H2 OTVs (On-Tank Valves). In addition, the 12-Volt operational rating is specifically matched to on-board automotive power systems.

Despite the design goal targeting automotive applications, we have recently enjoyed significant success in the UK with a static hydrogen project where a British firm is developing hydrogen production, storage and refuelling stations.

This is where a new modular design policy implemented across our product ranges has paid off. The policy mandates standardised solenoid actuator body profiles and slip-on coils where practical. Within our extensive actuator portfolio are many ATEX-rated solenoid products, available off-the-shelf.

Consequently, for this 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 immediately meet the stringent criteria and the ATEX/IECEx Zone 2 legislative obligations. The resulting ATEX variants of the new hydrogen solenoid valve range operate perfectly with absolutely no loss of performance.


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