A leading automotive manufacturer struggled with the release of a new engine technology. They required an immediate solution to protect the launch date and their reputation.

The Challenge

More stringent regulations have led many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to implement gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, which provide improved fuel economy, reduce emissions, and increase power. A leading OEM found they had pressure pulsations in the low-pressure fuel line, upstream of the single- piston high-pressure pump. Under certain driving conditions these pulsations created noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) issues for the customer and fatigue wear issues in the low-pressure fuel system. The issues—identified 10 months prior to the planned vehicle launch—could lead to significant schedule delays. The OEM tried 23 potential solutions that did not work, and the product launch was in jeopardy.

The Lee engineering team met with the OEM to discuss the problem, the system layout, mounting options, and the high-level performance requirements. The OEM was looking for a component that would dampen pressure spikes returning to the tank, provide a thermal relief function, have a negligible effect on free flow to the high- pressure pump, and fit within their system.

Flow Control Automotive Case Study-2

The Solution

In less than one week, Lee engineers designed, built, and delivered a unique potential solution to the OEM. Testing confirmed that the fuel line check valve solved their performance problems. The new solution reduced the pressure pulsations by up to 90%, fit within their existing fuel line, and met all other performance requirements. Over the next six months, The Lee Company designed and fabricated a completely new production line, supplied Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) parts, and started production. The Lee Company was able to quickly transition from initial design concept, through validation, and into production; this helped the OEM launch the vehicle on schedule and safeguard their reputation.

The solution that The Lee Company provided for dampening the pressure spikes is a multi-function valve that combines the performance of a check valve, a pressure dampening restrictor, and a thermal relief function. It is easy to install and doesn’t require customized mounting equipment or add potential external leak paths within the fuel system. This innovative valve can be added to the fuel system to dampen residual pressure pulsations discharged from the high-pressure pump and it virtually eliminates NVH and fatigue wear on the low-pressure pump.

Since this initial application, The Lee Company’s fuel line check valve has been used by multiple OEMs across the globe. Designs are available for a variety of standard fuel hose materials and sizes. This valve is a reliable solution to any pressure dampening application. There are over 35 million currently in use.

The fuel line check valve continues The Lee Company’s mission to design and build state-of-the-art products that exceed customers’ expectations for utility, performance, and quality. The Lee Company acts as an engineering partner and problem solver for customers. The ultimate goal is zero defects and satisfied customers.

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