High Speed 3-Way Valve for Switch-Mode Hydraulic Circuits (20150315, Dr. James Van de Ven)

Technology No. 20150315
IP Status: Issued US Patent; Application #: 15/289,461

New Valve Design for Switch-Mode Hydraulic Circuits

A high-speed three-way crank-slider valve can be used in switch-mode hydraulic circuits. Its unique drive mechanism features two valve spools axially driven by crank-slider mechanisms. By phase shifting the two crank links, which are on a common crankshaft, the duty cycle of the valve is adjusted. The two spools split and re-combine flow such that two switching cycles occur per revolution of the crankshaft, achieving peak spool velocities at mid-stroke that result in short valve transition times and reduced viscous friction losses. The valve is compact and inexpensive to build and can be used in a wide variety of fluid power applications, from robotics to industrial to renewable energy.

Minimizes Energy Loss

Unlike electrically actuated valves, the spools of this valve are directly coupled to a crankshaft; therefore, during deceleration the kinetic energy of the valve spool is stored as rotating kinetic energy in the shaft. This deceleration energy, used to accelerate the valve in the opposite direction. As the kinetic energy of decelerating the valve is captured and re-used, the energy loss is minimized, which eliminates the trade-off between high switching speed and energy losses observed in conventional valves.


  • Reduces energy losses (leakage, friction, throttling, and actuation forces)
  • Fast switching frequency (>100 Hz)
  • Fast valve transition (<5% of the switching period)
  • Compact


  • Fluid power/hydraulics
  • Robotics
  • Industrial applications
  • Renewable energy

Phase of Development - Prototype being tested. Operational prototype used in extensive lab testing.

Licensing Terms

MN-IP Try and Buy
Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) Try and Buy – Available to CCEFP member companies
  • Trial period is up to 12 months
  • Trial fee is $0; In place of Try fee, a business plan for the Try period is required
  • No US patent fees during Try period1
  • In place of a conversion fee, a post-Try period business plan is required2
  • First $1M cumulative sales are royalty-free
  • Sublicense freely
  • Royalty rate: 2% of Net Sales
  • Patent(s) expenses paid by licensee
  • Qualified startups: 5% of equity of startup is allocated to University at formation3
  • Transfer fee for transferring license to a third party - $25,000
Please contact us for detailed term sheet for a Try & Buy agreement as well as guidelines for Try1 and post-Try period2 business plans as well as qualified startups3

James Van de Ven, PhD
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
External Link (www.me.umn.edu)

Design of a Crank-Slider Spool Valve for Switch-Mode Circuits with Experimental Validation
University of Minnesota Experts @ Minnesota, Jun 1, 2018, 10.1115/1.4038537
Crank-Slider Spool Valve for Switch-Mode Circuits
ASME/BATH 2015 Symposium on Fluid Power & Motion Control, October 12-14, 2015, FPMC2015-9606
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