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Piezoelectric axial flow microvalve

United States Patent

January 9, 2007
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
National Energy Technology Laboratory - Visit the Technology Transfer Website
This invention is directed to a fuel cell operable with a quantity of fuel and a quantity of an oxidizer to produce electrical power, the fuel cell including a fuel cell body including a labyrinth system structured to permit the fuel and the oxidizer to flow therethrough; at least a first catalyst in fluid communication with the labyrinth; and at least a first microvalve operably disposed within at least a portion of the labyrinth. The microvalve utilizes a deflectable member operable upon the application of a voltage from a voltage source. The microvalve includes an elongated flow channel formed therein and extending substantially longitudinally between the first and second ends to permit substantially longitudinal flow of the fluid therethrough and between the first and second ends; and the deflectable member disposed on the valve body, the deflectable member including at least a first piezoelectric portion that is piezoelectrically operable to deflect the deflectable member between an open position and a closed position upon the application of a voltage, the deflectable member in the closed position being operable to resist the flow of the fluid through the flow channel.
Gemmen; Randall (Morgantown, WV), Thornton; Jimmy (Morgantown, WV), Vipperman; Jeffrey S. (Pittsburgh, PA), Clark; William W. (Wexford, PA)
The United States of America as represented by the United States Department of Energy (Washington, DC), N/A (
10/ 706,477
November 7, 2003
STATEMEMT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to employer/employee agreements between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the inventors and under contracts between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Pittsburgh.