Miniature radial piston pump addresses military UAV challenge

The Lee Company recently launched a new range of miniature positive displacement pumps, which feature an innovative radial piston design. We found out more from the company’s Brian Feuerstein.

The 200 Series Pumps are driven by a powerful brushless DC motor and qualified for 1,000 hours of operation, making them particularly suited to the demands of aerospace and other hi-tech applications. 

Feuerstein said: “We just released our first radial piston pump, which uses different technology than most pumps on the market, which are gear pumps. The radial piston pump uses a brush-less DC motor to drive a rotor that during each revolution – because it's offset from the axis of the housing – causes the piston to extend and retract. And based on the variation of the speed of the motor, you can vary the output of the pumping volume.”

Military UAV challenge

This could help address one of the challenges facing  military UAVs.

Feuerstein explained: “The US military is trying to require that a UAV only needs to undego overhaul every 1,000 hours. But one of the limitations is that the pumps are requiring overhaul every 250 hours. The Lee Company has been in the aerospace industry for over 70 years. We have a very high quality rating, and we've qualified our pump to industry standards so that it can last for over 1,000 hours, and solve that issue. “

He added: “The radial piston design is a more efficient design because the pistons are extended out to the housing race. You don't get any losses of fluid from the exterior. And Lee Company's expertise in miniature has allowed us to minimise the distance between the piston and the rotor bore as they extend and retract, so we're not losing efficiency through there. The pump actually has the ability to operate on air for a short period of time, so it can self-prime, which is a key benefit for most of the people in the market. “

Future plans

In future, Feuerstein said the company plans to continue to increase the pressure capabilities and the lifetime of the pumps.

He commented: “The US government is already expressing a need to go from 1,000 to 2,000 hours of operation. We're going to integrate a drive into the motor of the pump to continue to add more and more features.”

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