The heritage of Binary Actuation Technology

Since its invention, the Camcon Binary Actuation Technology (BAT) has been applied to an array of industry challenges and resulted in major breakthroughs across different markets. But what is its secret?

Below, inventor Wladyslaw Wygnanski – originally an academic from Warsaw Poland; sheds light on its invention and the road to achieving success with his patented BAT and why he believes success can be transferred to healthcare and the life science industries.

By Wladyslaw Wygnanski

Inventing BAT didn’t start with Camcon Medical – it all began with fog horns on the English Channel. I received a request over 20 years ago from the marine industry asking if I could create an energy efficient sound source for fog horns anchored at sea. Finding a reliable energy supply on warning navigation buoys can prove difficult, with the main source of energy being solar.

I discovered the only way to generate a loud audio signal with high energy efficiency for the fast responding pneumatic horn valve mechanism was with an internal energy recycling concept. This became the principle at the heart of BAT and once developed, studies of the sound source using this system demonstrated an energy efficiency increase from 3% for a typical loudspeaker to 49% – an incredible achievement.

With the technology discovered and patented, I then further experimented with BAT to help reduce the noise from jet engines on planes. I was surprised to learn that the largest source of noise in jet planes is caused a few metres behind the plane itself when the hot gas emissions from the engine mix with the cold air in the atmosphere. Alongside the European aviation consortium, including Rolls Royce, Airbus, Snecma and other prominent companies, we performed various experiments with BAT valves applied to key parts of the plane to help promote earlier mixing of the hot and cold gases to reduce noise levels. Whilst these experiments did prove promising we could not pursue these opportunities due to significant regulatory and safety challenges within the aviation industry.

BAT’s commercial viability

By now, interest in BAT from a range of industries started to gain pace, including one fascinating request from NASA to control the flow of liquid nitrogen for space crafts. However, the Camcon Binary Actuator needed to become commercially viable. With advice from industry experts, and support from Shell, I made a pre-meditated decision to initially target the oil and gas industry.

Oil and gas are often drilled for in deep remote ocean locations. To ensure a constant flow of oil from the ground to the surface, a certain pressure or density difference has to be maintained. The traditional way of achieving this was to introduce gas bubbles in the tube to help balance the pressure and control the upward flow to the surface. This process is known as the ‘Gas Lift Technique’ but the amount of gas injected at the bottom of the tube has to be precisely controlled. If too much gas is injected the bubbles rise and the hydrostatic pressure in the tube drops so the bubble size gets bigger, which can cause tube blockage and reduce oil production. Traditional methods require mechanical intervention to adjust the gas injection while production is halted resulting in a huge loss of profits. The BAT based digitally controlled gas injection system requires just a one click of a switch on a board in the Control Room.

Based on the zero-current stable position and minimal switching energy, due to the internal energy recycling and storage characteristics of BAT, we were able to introduce Camcon Binary Actuator valves to these tubes, which can be remotely controlled with limited direct electrical supply for optimised control of the gas injection and secure maximum production in various flow conditions.

With its simplicity and low manufacturing cost, the Camcon Binary Actuator became highly attractive to numerous companies in the automotive industry for use in anti-locking brake systems for trucks, digitally driven camshaft-less engine valves and parking brakes. Learning about the science behind these types of mechanisms was fascinating to me – energy efficiency, safety and pollution reduction in cars are parameters that BAT has successfully improved.

BAT in healthcare

Another exciting, more recent request came from the Air Ambulance Service. They asked if BAT could be used to extend the time-of-usage of their helicopter oxygen supply for patients which is a limiting factor on the length of time the helicopter can remain in the air and, therefore, the distance they can cover.

This has paved the way for Camcon Medical and its first medical device venture into oxygen delivery, providing clear and substantial benefits for patients who require oxygen supply. The device, which is currently at prototype stage, has three key components; recognition and monitoring of breathing pattern, a recently invented silent binary actuation valve and a feedback loop to control oxygen flow to automatically maintain the oxygen saturation based on the patient’s requirements.

The secret to BAT’s years of success is its simplicity and the fact that the concept can be tailored to different industries. Keeping an open mind will be an important part of Camcon Medical’s strategy, as we look to further expand from current medical device applications outside of the human body, to implantable devices and precision dosing. As with other ventures, I want to collaborate with partners within the different industries so that we can modify BAT to help improve treatments and diagnostics across all specialities.

The Evolution of BAT

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