Available Technology

Non-Collinear Valve Actuation System

The non-collinear arrangement of a primary actuator and return spring system reduces the mass and footprint of traditional valve actuation systems.
The actuator and return spring are connected non-collinearly using a rotably-affixed four bar linkage arm. The non-collinearity of the primary actuating system and return spring system of the NASA actuator allows the system to use a larger stroke while the return spring system experiences significantly less displacement. Therefore, the length and mass of the return spring may be minimized and more efficiently packaged as a smaller actuator. Belleville springs are identified as a useful return spring in the NASA system due to their low cost, small size and weight, and nearly constant force exertion over variable displacement distances.
Patent Abstract: 
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center scientists have invented a novel valve actuator where the primary actuating system and return spring system are arranged non-collinearly. In the past, valve actuators have employed pressure-actuated piston and return spring systems with a linear arrangement that require bulky return springs. The need to reduce the mass of valve actuators for flight systems resulted in NASAs non-collinear valve actuator. The actuator may be used in a variety of applications that will benefit from lighter actuating systems or a smaller system footprint. A prototype of the NASA actuator has been built to regulate the flow of a quarter-turn ball valve. NASA is seeking partners who are interested in co-development or licensure of this novel technology.

Lower mass the NASA actuating system has lower overall actuator mass than other conventional collinear designs.


Chemical plants

Electrical power generating plants, particularly nuclear facilities

Liquid-fuel rocket propulsion

Oil and gas producers and refiners

Water supply and treatment

Iron and steel plants

Patent Number: 
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
Patent Status: 
Patent Issue Date: 
December 23, 2014
Lab Representatives
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