NASA requires efficient and lightweight valves for controlling thrusters in spacecrafts. While at Bell Aerospace in the 1960s, Eddie Sturman developed a very efficient valve control actuator that consumed little energy.
His work resulted in five patents and systems extensively used in the space program and probably was one of the energy-saving factors that enabled Apollo 13 to find the additional power it needed to return to Earth. Mr. Sturman saw many non-aerospace uses for the technology and formed Sturman Industries in 1989 to develop commercial applications from Space to Earth. One of the first applications of his technology was in battery and solar-powered automated irrigation systems. Sturman Industries applies digital valves and advanced system designs to various applications requiring fluid control, making them more efficient in terms of energy used, speed, and precision. Projects include fuel injectors, irrigation systems, and hydraulics.
Today the focus of Sturman Industries is to make engines operate more efficiently to reduce fuel consumption and pollution. Sturman’s digital latching valve is being used in more powerful and lower emission commercial diesel engines and will be used in Ford Super Duty pickup trucks in 2003. Emerging technology could lead to a new generation of cam-less engine that uses hydraulic valve actuation to replace the camshaft completely, creating an energy efficient, low emission, I-6 diesel engine.