Proper regulation of evaporator superheat is essential to ensuring safe and efficient operation of vapor compression cooling systems. Typical mechanical control devices may behave poorly under transient disturbances or as operating conditions vary, degrading system performance. Electronic expansion valves partially alleviate these problems by allowing more sophisticated control approaches, but frequent valve adjustments raise concerns about device longevity. A cascaded control approach to superheat regulation has been shown to provide significant improvements in superheat control, utilizing a hybrid of mechanical (passive) and electronic (active) feedback devices. This paper examines the emulation of a semi-active flow control device using a MEMs based actuator with high bandwidth, few moving parts, and no risk of fatigue failure. Experimental evaluation reveals this to be a comparable approach to the hybrid valve design. Moreover, further examination reveals that actuator characteristics are the limiting factor in achieving similar levels of performance using standard electronic valves.

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