Design and production of cryogenic poppet valve actuator with electronic control for use in a high altitude long endurance (HALE) drone in an extremely harsh environment.
Ingenium Aerospace was asked to create an electromechanical poppet valve actuator with integral control electronics to operate in the extreme cold temperatures of a cryogenic poppet valve on a HALE UAV system. This effort had an extremely modest budget and very short time to produce. The technical challenges related to temperature were significant, requiring that the actuator body lived in a cold soaked environment below -120 degrees F, while the end of the output shaft sustained a steady state environment of less than -420 degrees F. The on-board control electronics resided in the -120 F ambient environment, making this a particularly harsh environment for electronic survival. These demanding requirements, large temperature extremes and harsh environmental conditions, coupled with a minimal budget and short program timeline created a significant customer challenge.
Ingenium Aerospace created a custom actuation system comprised of a direct current (DC) stepper motor with built-in motion control circuit cards and custom-designed Ingenium hysteresis brake, acme screw and nut output shafting, speed reducing custom gearbox, enclosed within an environmental housing surrounded by a thermal blanket. The material of every component was rigorously selected to satisfy the stringent temperature demands.
Ingenium was able to arrive at a balanced technical and cost solution, ensuring the control electronics could survive under the stringent environmental demands of this application. Utilizing a commercial off the shelf (COTS) electronic package rated to -40 F, and adding a custom Ingenium-designed daughter board, Ingenium regulated a trickle of power to increase the heating inside the unit, allowing the ambient inner temperature of the actuator to maintain a continuous temperature of -40 F.
Results & Outcome
Ingenium Aerospace successfully designed, produced and validated cryogenic poppet valve actuator with electronic control as requested. The unique and custom design approach implemented by Ingenium was instrumental in managing costs while satisfying the harsh environmental requirements of the application.