A novel piezohydraulic aerospace servovalve. Part I: Design and modelling

Dhinesh Sangiah, Andrew R Plummer, Chris Bowen, Paul Guerrier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (SciVal)


Servovalves are compact, accurate, high bandwidth modulating valves widely used in aerospace, defence, industrial and marine applications. However, manufacturing costs are high due to high part count and tight tolerances required, particularly in the first stage of the valve, and due to manual adjustments required as part of the setup process. In this research, a novel servovalve concept is investigated which has the potential to be more cost effective. In particular, for the first time a piezoelectric first stage actuator is developed to move a servovalve spool using the deflector jet principle; this is especially suited to aerospace actuation requirements.
In the new valve the conventional electromagnetic torque motor is replaced by a multi-layer bimorph piezo-actuator. The bimorph deflects a jet of fluid to create a pressure differential across the valve spool; hence the spool moves. A feedback wire is used to facilitate proportional spool position control via mechanical feedback. The bimorph is directly coupled to the feedback wire and is immersed in hydraulic fluid.
A high order nonlinear model of the valve has been developed and used to predict valve static and dynamic characteristics, and is described in this paper. This makes use of stiffness constants derived analytically for the bimorph-feedback wire assembly and cross-referenced to finite element (FE) analysis predictions. The model of the flow force acting on the deflector is an approximation of the force characteristic found from computation fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis. The measured characteristics of the prototype valve are in good agreement with the simulation results, and prove that the operational concept is viable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-389
Number of pages19
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part I: Journal of Systems and Control Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • servovalve
  • piezoelectric actuator
  • deflector jet
  • electrohydraulic servo system


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