Camcon

Inventors of BAT

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Binary Actuation Technology

Like most profound ideas, the underlying principle for Binary Actuation Technology (BAT) is simple and has wide ranging applications across many industries. Camcon Oil has been established to develop products based on this proprietary actuator concept purely for the Oil and Gas sector.

There are many possible applications for actuators with this unique set of properties in the energy industry - especially when you realise the concept is entirely scalable from micro to mini to macro actuators. More detail of products and product roadmaps can be found elsewhere on this website. In this article, we will explain the basic underlying concept which, we hope will bring you to an "ah-ha" moment when you understand the significance of what we have.

Basic Properties

A BAT actuator will have a combination of some or all of the following feature set - depending on specific design:

  • High Switching Speed
  • Low Switching Power
  • Zero Holding Power
  • Very long Life & high reliability
  • High Power Density
  • Simple materials and design

These features can obviously be tuned according to needs of a particular application - in the Intelligent Gas Lift tool for example, low power consumption and reliable operation are key parameters and have been the focus of the actuator design enabling this tool.

How BAT works

Base architecture

Actuator components – simple, low cost combined with simple design for low set up costs and low piece part cost.


Intrinsically Bistable

Actuator intrinsically has 2 stable positions where it will lock with zero power required to hold position.

In the stable position, the actuator is locked in place by the magnetic circuit formed by the permanent magnet and the steel case. Locking force of the actuator is the difference between the magnetic clamping force and the spring force trying to push it away. No external power is required.

Switching the Valve

To change the actuator force, we need to break the magnet clamp. This is done using a pulse of magnetism from the electromagnets (a quick injection of current) with opposite polarity to the permanent magnet. The coils at the other end are also energised, attracting the permanent magnet towards them. The stored spring force accelerates the magnet away from its lock position and the electromagnet boosts this acceleration

Actuator in transition showing forces moving it from stable position. Electromagnetism provided by a drive pulse breaks the magnetic lock and accelerates the pole piece towards its new state.


Diagram showing drive current and voltage vs actuator position in transition between states. The valve is switched twice in this example, and so ends up back at its original state.


In transition, the actuator position can be controlled by balancing the forces between permanent and electromagnets against the springs. Un-checked the actuator will be driven by the spring/electromagnet acceleration to a realm where the magnet circuit on the left hand end draws the permanent magnet into contact with the bobbin at that end. The spring is compressed during this action, absorbing actuator inertia and storing it as potential energy to be released next time the actuator is fired. This ensures a “soft landing” for the magnet, eliminating wear and giving long life

Actuator forces in transition phase. By controlling the electromagnet current, the position and velocity of the actuator can be controlled if required for application. Normal operation is a fast transition from open to closed.

Actuator velocities in transition phase showing soft landing profile, compared to solenoid.

In the second stable position, the actuator is locked in place by the magnetic circuit formed by the permanent magnet and the steel case. Locking force of the actuator is the difference between the magnetic clamping force and the spring force trying to push it away, no power is required to maintain the locked position, so no heat is produced or power dissipated.

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