Simulation of a high frequency on/off valve actuated by a piezo-ring stack for digital hydraulics

Paolo Tamburrano, Pietro De Palma, Andrew R. Plummer, Elia Distaso, Francesco Sciatti, Riccardo Amirante

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Despite being widely used in several applications, commercially available spool valves, both servovalves and proportional valves, are inefficient components because they cause high power consumption due to the large pressure drops across the metering orifices. A recent research field aims at substituting spool valves with on/off valves having high switching frequency (changing state between open and closed in a few milliseconds or less) and producing low pressure drops, in order to make the so-called digital hydraulics possible. In spite of the advantages that it could provide, digital hydraulics does not have significative industrial applications yet, because of the difficulty in manufacturing such high frequency on/off valves. Hence, this paper performs a feasibility study of an on/off poppet-type valve actuated directly by a commercially available ring stack, which is a multilayer piezo-actuator capable of generating very high actuation forces needed for this application. Modulation of the average flow can be achieved by changing the duty cycle of the pulse width modulation (PWM) signal driving the piezostack. An inertance tube could also be used to smooth flow pulsation. The simulations obtained using a detailed Simulink model show that high switching frequency and very effective flow modulation can be obtained with this valve architecture along with low pressure drops and high flow rates, thus making it potentially suitable for digital hydraulics. The disadvantages of this single stage architecture are the large dimensions of the piezo stacks, and the high current generated because of both the high capacitance of the piezo stack and the high frequency switching. However, large-scale production of these components could help to reduce the costs, and the simulations show that limiting the maximum current to 10 A still provides good regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number05008
JournalE3S Web of Conferences
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2021
Event76th Italian National Congress, ATI 2021 - Rome, Italy
Duration: 15 Sept 202117 Sept 2021


  • digital hydraulics
  • ON/OFF valves
  • PWM
  • ring stack

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Energy
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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