High-precision control valve for corrosive fluids in high-value applications


PZT Valve

Technology abstract

A UK university has developed and patented a miniature proportional control valve that has extremely low leak rate and can be used with corrosive liquids and gases. There are two versions of the valve; one that uses thermal actuation, the other uses PZT. Both variants are covered by the patent. The valves offer very high performance and are ideal for high precision applications with corrosive fluids.

- Private group -

This technology has great potential for transfer and the team has significant experience of transferring space technologies back to Earth

- Helen Rogerson -

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Technology Description

Researchers at the Open University have developed a small, high-precision valve that is ideal for high-pressure, high-value applications. Two variants of the valve have been developed; a thermally-actuated valve that is extremely lightweight, and a larger PZT-actuated version that offers rapid actuation time and a lower power requirement. The technical specifications for the two variants are given below:


Mass (g) 35 2.5
Power (mW) 50 6,000
Leak Rate (mbar.L/s) <1 E-8 <1 E-8
Operational Lifetime (actuations) >50,000 >10,000
Actuation Time (ms) 10 1,500
Differential Pressure (bar) 70+ 70+


Innovations & Advantages

  • Extremely low leak rate (approximately 100 times lower than solenoid valves)
  • Ideal for corrosive fluids (such as hydrogen peroxide) as no rubber or plastic is used in the wetted parts
  • Proportional flow control feature
  • Flight-proven feedback mechanism to provide continuous, regulated flow
  • Highly scalable both in terms of pressure and required fluid flow rates  
  • Significant operational lifetime (number of actuations) 

Further Information

  • The valve is currently being tested for use at pressures of up to 300 bar (required for use with Xenon propellant in satellites)
  • Independent evaluation of the maximum operating pressure is being undertaken (up to 800 bar)

Current and Potential Domains of Application


  • Analytical instruments (GC-MS helium metering)
  • Satellite propulsion systems (HTP)


  • Analytical instruments
  • Hydrogen fuel cells
  • Consumer electronics (coffee machine, battery/fuel system)
  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (using H2 fuel cells or metering in fluid at the high pressures – 700 bar at bottom of ocean)
  • Melting probes controlling (metering) fluid into analytical instruments