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Indian Journal of Engineering & Materials Sciences

Vol. 16, February 2009, pp. 7-13

Investigation on the characteristics of a new high frequency three-way

proportional pressure reducing valve in variable valve system
of automobile engine
Jin-rong Liua, Bo Jina*, Ying-jun Xiea, Ying Chena & Zhen-tao Wengb
The State Key Laboratory of Fluid Power Transmission and Control, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China
Ningbo HOYEA Machinery Manufacture Co., Ltd, Ningbo 315131, China
Received 21 April 2008; accepted 6 January 2009

In this study, a new high frequency three way proportional pressure-reducing valve has been developed. By reducing
the turns of the coil and using a high speed current amplifier, the responding time of the proportional solenoid is reduced to
less than 1 ms. The steady and dynamic analyses show that the output pressure is proportional to the coil current and the
dynamic bandwidth can be increased by increasing the coil current. An experimental system is built up and results well
agreed with the theoretical and simulation analyses. The bandwidth of the valve is about 130 Hz at -3dB, which can meet the
demand of automobile engine with maximum speed of 3000 rpm.
Keywords: High frequency, Proportional pressure reducing valve, Variable valve, Proportional amplifier, Simulation

The conventional mechanism of valve in automobile of the valve. Then, based on the mathematical model,
engine is driven by cam. This method is difficult to we analyze the steady-state and dynamic performance
meet the demand for high dynamic quality, of the valve. Finally, we carry out experiments to
economical efficiency and environment protection. verify both the analysis and the desired performances
Some research showed that by using variable valve of the valve.
techniques, engine performance can be improved1.
There are three kinds of variable valve systems Structure and Working Principle
including cam system, electromagnetic system and In this paper, a newly developed pressure-reducing
electro-hydraulic system2. Because the adjustable proportional valve with low cost and high
range of cam system is restricted within narrow limits, frequency is employed in the variable valve system
electromagnetic system and electro-hydraulic system show in Fig. 1.
are showing its potential features in industry Figure 1 shows the schematic diagram of electro-
application. In electro-hydraulic system, there is no hydraulic variable valve system. It is easy to see that
cam3; hence the opening and closing processes of the the opening process of valve in the engine is
valve are controlled by a high-speed electromagnetic proportional to the output pressure of the pressure
valve. The response time and the flow rate are two reducing valve. The working principle of the pressure
contradictory parameters for a high-speed electro- reducing valve is shown in Fig. 2. This is a three way
magnetic valve. Many high speed valves have been proportional pressure reducing valve without return
developed for the control of fuel injection4-7. Because spring. The force generated proportional electro-
the variable valve system requires larger flow rate, magnet is balanced by the hydraulic force acted on the
usually servo valves are employed in the system8-10. left side of the spool. Hence, the output pressure Pc
Due to the high cost of servo valves , therefore many can be controlled by the current of the electromagnet.
lower cost, high speed and large flow rate valves are The maximum working stroke of the valve spool is
developed11-13. 0.6 mm, which is beneficial to obtain good
In this study, a low cost, high frequency performance in dynamic response.
proportional pressure-reducing valve was developed.
First, we introduce the schematic diagram of electro- Steady State Analysis of the Valve
hydraulic variable valve system and working principle In order to analyze the effect of the input current on
_________ the steady-state and dynamic performance, the
*For correspondence (E-mail: mathematical model of the valve was built14-16.

Fig.1 — Schematic diagram of electro-hydraulic variable valve system (1-tank; 2-proportional relief valve; 3-hydraulic pump; 4-
proportional pressure-reducing valve; 5-motor; 6-single-rod hydraulic cylinder; 7-return spring; 8-valve)

(2) and (3), the relationship between output pressure

and solenoid current can be expressed as following:

Ki Ff
Pc = I− … (4)
Av Av

Equation (4) indicates that the output pressure of

valve is proportional to the current and has a dead-
band because of friction.
Dynamic Model of the Valve
The motion equation of the spool can be expressed
Fig. 2 — Working principle of the valve as:
In steady state, the position of engine valve remains d 2 Xv dX v
Fm − M v − Bv − Pc Av = 0 … (5)
unchanged, hence QL=0, the input flow from dt 2
hydraulic power source is used to compensate the
leakage: The force output of the solenoid can be expressed as:

2( Ps − Pc ) Fm = e− ts … (6)
Cd wX v = K c Pc … (1) τ s +1
The continuity equation of chamber Vc can be
The force balance equation for valve spool can be expressed as:
expressed as following:
Vc dPc dX v
Q1 − Q2 − QL − Cip Pc = − Av … (7)
Fm − Pc Av − Ff − K f X v = 0 … (2) β e dt dt
The force output of the solenoid can be expressed as:
QL=0 … (8)
Fm = K i I − K y X v … (3)
C W ( X v − U ) 2( Ps − Pc ) / ρ U < X v ≤ X vmax
Q1 =  d
Because the leakage of the valve is very small, from 0 - X vmax ≤ X v ≤ U
Eq. (1), it can be obtained: Xv=0, combine with Eqs … (9)

Fig. 3 — Circuit diagram of the amplifier

C W ( −U − X v ) 2 Pc / ρ − X vmax ≤ X v < −U

Q2 =  d
0 − U ≤ X v ≤ X v max
… (10)
Combine Eqs (5) ~ (7), the dynamic model of the
valve can be obtained.

Design of Solenoid and its Amplifier

The requirements for the solenoid mainly contain
two aspects: (i) it should output enough force to
overcome the hydraulic force and (ii) it should have Fig. 4 — Dynamic response of the current
fast-response. To meet both force and response requirements for
The time constant of the solenoid is the solenoid, smaller turns and larger current must be
used. In this case, N = 100 and I = 8 A.
L To make the solenoid act as quick as possible, a
τ= … (11)
R current feedback PWM amplifier was employed,
whose schematic diagram is shown as Fig. 3.
N2 The operating principle of the proportional
L= … (12)
r amplifier is as follows: (i) the current in the solenoid
is detected and fedback to compare with the input
απ N ( D + d ) signal; (ii) if the current is smaller than desired, the
R= … (13) comparators will turn T1 and T2 on, so the solenoid is
charged, the current begin to increase and (iii) if the
By putting Eqs (12) and (13) into Eq. (11), we can current is greater than desired, the comparators will
obtain: turn T1 and T2 off, the current is discharged from the
feedback resistance Rf, the diode D2, the power
2qN supply E, the ground and the diode D1.
τ= … (14)
απ r ( D + d ) Hence, the current in the solenoid can be controlled
in the loop. By choosing smaller turns, larger currents
Equation (14) indicates that decreasing N can reduce and the use of PWM amplifier, the time constant of
time constant. the solenoid can be reduced significantly. Figure 4

Fig. 5 — Simulation model

Fig. 6 — Simulation result of the pressure of port A with different


Table 1 — Simulation parameters

Parameter Value

N 100
Xv 0.6 mm
Ps 6 MPa
L 1.2 mH
R 1.2 Ω
I 8.7 A
Mv 0.09 kg
U 12 V
Bv 100 N(m/s)
Dv 8 mm

shows the dynamic response of the current in the

Fig. 7 — Simulation results of step response of the valve with
solenoid, the time constant is less than 1 ms. different current

Digital Simulation of the Valve that the output pressure is proportional to the input
A digital simulation model has been build up using current and has a small dead-band, the results agree
AMESim, the model is shown in Fig. 5 and the well with the results of Eq. (3).
simulation parameters are defined in Table 1. Figure 7 shows the simulation results of step
Figure 6 shows the relationship between output response under the different conditions of I is 4 A,
pressure and input current in steady state, it shows 6 A and 8 A.

From these figures, the following conclusions can increases with the increase of input current. This
be drawn: (i) there is a delay time between the input phenomenon coincides with Fig. 6, i.e., the larger
signal and the output pressure, which is because of the force moves the spool quicker, hence increase the
overlap of the valve spool; (ii) the delay time will dynamic response. In real applications, this character
decrease with the increases of the input current. will help increase the dynamic response of engine
Because the overlap is a constant value, when the valve; (ii) the overshot of pressure increases with the
current increases the force output will increase, the increase of current; and (iii) the system’s damping is
spool can move faster to overcome the overlap, and low, because the shut off of load.
the overshot increase too. In the real application, the
delay time can be compensated by software ; and Experimental System
(iii) the output pressure is a little bit lack of damping, An experiment system is employed to testify the
this is because the load is cut off (QL=0). In real pressure reducing valve. The block diagram of the
application, the damping will increase significantly. experimental bench is shown in Fig. 9.
From Fig. 8, we can come to the following The experimental bench consists of a low-
conclusions: (i) the cut-off frequency at -3db frequency signal generator, a proportional relief
valve, the PWM amplifier, a pump, a motor, and the
proportional pressure-reducing valve to be tested, a
pressure transducer and an oscilloscope. The output
pressure is measured by the pressure transducer. The
oscilloscope is used to display and store the signals.

Results and Discussion

The steady state and dynamic experiment results
are shown in Figs10-12.
These experimental results coincide with the
theoretical analyses and digital simulation. The output
pressure has a dead-band and a hysteresis less than
3%. The dynamic response will increase when the
input current increases.
Fig.8 — Simulation results of frequency responding with different
current Conclusions
In this paper, a high-frequency three-port
proportional pressure-reducing valve is developed,
whose features are studied by the means of theoretical
analysis, digital simulation and experiments. The
following conclusions may be drawn from this study:

Fig. 9 — Block diagram of the experimental bench (1-oil filter;

2-proportional relief valve; 3-motor; 4-pump; 5-tank; 6-low
frequency signal generator; 7-amplifier; 8-proportional pressure-
reducing valve; 9-pressure transducer; 10-pressure gauge; Fig. 10 — Experimental result of output pressure with different
11- oscilloscope) current

Fig. 12 — Experimental result of frequency response with

different current

(v) The cut-off frequency is about 130 Hz with a 8

A input current. It can meet the demand for
automobile engine with maximum speed of 3000
(vi) Digital simulation results agree well with the
experimental results, which validates the
mathematical model. Consequently, the model
can be used for optimizing the valve
performance in the future.
This paper is supported by the Nature Science
Foundation of Zhejiang Province, China. Project
Number: Z106543

Pc = pressure of port A
I = input current
Xv = spool displacement
Fm = solenoid force
Ki = current-force gain
Ky = displacement-force gain
QL = load flow
Kc = leakage coefficient
Fig. 11 — Experimental results of step response with different Cd = flow coefficient
current w = port width
Ps = system pressure
(i) The output pressure is proportional to the input Kf = steady flow force stiffness
current. Hence, the engine valve lift can be Av = orifice area
changed by varying the input current. Ff = friction force
K = the gain
(ii) The output pressure has a small hysteresis less N = number of turns
than 3%. L = coil inductance
(iii) The valve is lack of damping with the cut off of R = coil resistance
the load. τ = time constant
r = the reluctance
(iv) The dynamic response speed increases with D = outer diameter of the coil
increase in input current, which can help the d = internal diameter of the coil
engine valve act faster with large input. q = sectional area of the wire

ρ = density of oil 5 Lauvin P, Loffler A, Schmitt A, Zimmermann W & Fuchs

Mv = mass of spool W, SAE 911819.
Bv = viscous damping coefficient 6 Seilly A H, Colenoid, SAE 810462.
U = valve overlap 7 Takeo K, SAE 850373.
βe = oil bulk modulus 8 Allen J & Law D, SAE 2002-01-1109.
Vc = control volume 9 Law D, Kemp D, Allen J, Kirkpatrick, G & Copland T, SAE
Cip = inner leakage coefficient 2001-01-0251.
Q1 = flow from P to A 10 Aaltonen J, Huhtala K & Vilenius M, SAE 2002-01-1282.
Q2 = flow from A to T 11 Cui P, Burton R T & Ukrainetz P R, SAE 911815.
Xvmax = maximum spool displacement 12 Shi Y P, Liu C W & Zhang Y Z, Chin J Mech Eng, 40
α = the resistivity (2004) 195.
13 Zhou F Z, Li L Q, Liu Z W & Ren D Z, Chin J Mech Eng, 34
(1998) 101.
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