Intelligent Refrigerant Superheat Control System Using MEMS Pressure Sensors and Valves

Freescale Semiconductor and Microstaq are collaborating on the development of an intelligent refrigerant superheat control system that combines Freescale’s microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) pressure sensing, processing and control technology with Microstaq’s revolutionary MEMS silicon expansion valve (SEV). These compatible high-pressure, high-flow solutions are designed to improve HVAC and refrigeration system energy efficiency and reliability, while also enabling predictive system maintenance.

Freescale’s advanced superheat control module is engineered to operate with HCFC and HFC refrigerants including R410A, R407C and R22. Microstaq’s innovative high-pressure, high-flow silicon MEMS valve technology is capable of working with any refrigerant in an extremely compact package. The compact, easy-to-install module is compatible with virtually all air conditioning, heat pump and refrigeration applications.

“Microstaq’s silicon valves measure only 6 X 10 mm and consume a fraction of the power of conventional solenoid or stepper motor designs while providing closed-loop control and higher accuracy,” said Sandeep Kumar, Microstaq’s president and CEO. “Our intelligent MEMS silicon expansion valves will revolutionize the flow control industry in the same way digital light processing (DLP) MEMS changed the display world.”

Freescale’s superheat control module and Microstaq’s high-flow valve technology address the ultra-space and energy conservation needs for the growing HVAC market, which exceeded $10 billion in 2006 and is forecast to approach $13 billion in 2011, according to ARC Advisory Group.

Additionally, Freescale and Microstaq's device combination has versatile features to help meet global air conditioning and refrigeration application requirements:

  • Offers higher energy efficiency for HVAC systems
  • Does not contribute to ozone depletion or global warming
  • Enhances heat pump performance
  • Enables low maintenance and a high level of reliability

Target applications include residential and commercial air conditioning, residential and commercial heat pumps, and commercial and transportation refrigeration.

“This collaboration combines the strengths of two industry leaders to address complex air conditioning and refrigeration challenges through advanced MEMS features that provide a competitive edge in the market,” said Demetre Kondylis, vice president and general manager of Freescale’s Sensor and Actuator Solutions Division. “Freescale’s strengths in other markets, such as medical and industrial, make this product offering a natural extension of Freescale’s strong sensor and controller product portfolio.”

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