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Publication numberUS20050044625 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/920,966
Publication dateMar 3, 2005
Filing dateAug 18, 2004
Priority dateAug 28, 2003
Also published asWO2005024364A2, WO2005024364A3
Publication number10920966, 920966, US 2005/0044625 A1, US 2005/044625 A1, US 20050044625 A1, US 20050044625A1, US 2005044625 A1, US 2005044625A1, US-A1-20050044625, US-A1-2005044625, US2005/0044625A1, US2005/044625A1, US20050044625 A1, US20050044625A1, US2005044625 A1, US2005044625A1
InventorsWilliam Kommers
Original AssigneeKommers William John
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for controlling the temperature of the water in a kitchen sink
US 20050044625 A1
Abstract
Apparatus for use in controlling the temperature of the water in a kitchen sink (including a bathtub and/or other type of sink) for a reasonably extended period of time, without the necessity of adding additional hot water to the basin of the sink itself, to offset the loss of heat in the water as it naturally cools down over time. The invention also applies to the ability to maintain the water in a sink at a cool temperature, as opposed to a warm temperature. The preferred form of the invention provides a temperature controlling apparatus for a kitchen sink that can be integrally incorporated into the design of newly manufactured sink(s), and when activated by the user, automatically maintains the temperature of the water in the basin of a sink at an temperature level determined by the user.
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Claims(27)
1. The method of controlling the temperature of liquid in a kitchen sink, which includes the steps:
a) providing and locating a local heater proximate the wall of the sink, below liquid top surface level which is upwardly exposed, and
b) controlling conductive heat transfer from said heater to liquid in the sink, establishing and maintaining a selected elevated liquid temperature range in the sink, for a selected time interval enabling efficient washing of kitchen ware during said interval and without requiring addition of hot water from a sink faucet during said interval.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein said liquid consists of water.
3. The method of claim 1 including providing heat transfer media circulating to said heater, said controlling effecting controlled heating of said media remotely from said liquid, and outside the sink.
4. The method of claim 3 including providing a media flow control valve in series with media flow ducting, and providing a sink liquid temperature detector proximate a sink wall and operating said detector for assisting in said controlling.
5. The method of claim 4 wherein said heater includes a jacket proximate at least part of the sink wall, and causing the media to flow between the sink wall and jacket.
6. The combination of claim 1 including an edifice central hot water heater, from which hot water flows to said heater, and is then conducted away from the sink.
7. The combination of claim 6 wherein the sink has a cold water feed line, there being ducting operating to conduct water from the edifice heater to said line.
8. The combination of claim 6 wherein the edifice has recirculation hot water system, and there being ducting operating to conduct water form the edifice heater to the sink.
9. The combination of claim 8 including a user interface control valve connected in series with said recirculation hot water system, said control valve being one of the following:
i) adjustable flow control valve
ii) temperature controlled valve to control the temperature of water flowing to the heater.
10. The combination of claim 8 including a user interface control valve has:
i) an inlet connection or connections to both the edifice central heater and to an edifice cold water source
ii) an outlet connection or connections to a spigot that feeds water into the sink, and to the local heater, and to a sink drain or to a return line of the recirculation hot water system.
11. The combination of claim 1 including a control for effecting said controlling, and a temperature sensor connected to such control, a user interface connected to the control, and a source of electric power connected to the control, and a heat transfer medium transferring heat from the heater to the contents of the sink.
12. The combination of claim 1 including the sink having a wall structure in which the local heater is contained.
13. The combination of claim 1 including the sink having a water containing interior in which the local heater placed, and operating to heat the water.
14. The combination of claim 3 including the sink having a water containing interior in which the heater is placed to receive said heat transfer media, for heating the water, and a package outside the sink containing a media heating source and said control, there being media flow ducting extending from said package to the local heater in the sink.
15. The combination of claim 14 including a pump producing rising air bubbles acting to pump the flowable media effecting its circulation between the media heating source in the package and the local heater.
16. The combination of claim 3 including a pump producing rising air bubbles acting to pump the circulating media to flow to the local heater.
17. The combination of claim 1 including the sink, and wherein the heater comprises water flow ducting extending into the sink, and including a heating source in a package outside the sink, said ducting communicating with said heating source to heat water flowing to the sink, there being a utility surface outside the sink supporting said package.
18. The combination of claim 17 including a water flow pump in series with said ducting, the pump located within the sink.
19. The combination of claim 1 including a sink having a water containing interior and a sink wall, the heater located within the sink interior,there being an energy transducer outside the sink, and from which heating energy is transmitted through said wall to the heater.
20. The combination of claim 1 including the sink having a water containing interior, said heater located within the sink interior, there being an energy source also within said interior and coupled in energy transmitting relation with the heater.
21. The combination of claim 13 wherein the sink is portable, and including a fixed basin into which the portable sink is received.
22. The combination of claim 14 wherein the sink is portable, and including a fixed basin into which portable sink is received.
23. The combination of claim 1, including said sink, which is portable, and which is received in or-on a fixed support.
24. The combination of claim 15 wherein the sink is portable, and including a fixed basin into which portable sink is received.
25. The combination of claim 17 including said sink, which is portable, and which is received in or on a fixed support.
26. The combination of claim 1 including said sink having an interior containing liquid to be heated, some local heater received in said interior, there being faucet apparatus associated with the sink to control hot and cold liquid delivery to the sink interior, there being ducting extending from the faucet apparatus to the heater and delivering hot water to the heater, for heat transfer to liquid in the sink, and valve means controlling said delivering.
27. The combination of claim 1 including said sink having a wall, and fastener means connecting one of the following to said wall:
i) said heater
ii) a liquid sensor
iii) a temperature sensor.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This application claims priority from U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/498,459, filed Aug. 28, 2003.

The present invention relates generally to a kitchen sink and more specifically it relates to an apparatus to be used for controlling the temperature of the water in a kitchen sink (including a bath tub and/or other types of sinks) for some reasonably extended period of time, without the necessity of adding additional hot water to the basin of the sink itself to offset the loss of heat in the water as it naturally cools down over time. It can be appreciated that the invention also applies to the ability to maintain the water in a sink at a cool temperature, as opposed to a warm temperature.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Typically, kitchen sinks are comprised of one or more stationary basins, each connected to a drain, and usually a hot and cold water supply for washing food items and cooking utensils, and draining the liquid contents of the basin of the sink into a plumbing system connected to a sanitary sewer or other waste water system.

In current practice, if a user of an existing kitchen sink fills the basin of a sink with warm-to-hot water for the purpose of washing dishes, the user will observe that, over time, the temperature of the water in the sink will slowly cool down to an undesirably low temperature level. The temperature of the water in the sink falls as heat is lost by thermal transmission through the bottom and sides or walls of the sink, and from the upper surface of the water at the air/water interface. Introducing cool or cold dishes and utensils into the warm water also contributes to lowering the temperature of the water. In present practice, one method of restoring the temperature of the water in the sink to the previous, desired warm-to-hot temperature level is to introduce additional hot water into the sink, which may also involve draining off some or all of the low temperature water and then adding additional heated water. This practice is cumbersome and wastes water and/or detergent.

It can be appreciated by the reader that the reverse is the case if the user of the sink wishes to maintain cold water in the sink, and in such a situation, the user may introduce ice cubes into the water to lower its temperature. In such case, it can be observed that over time, the cold water will be warmed by heat transmission from the air and surrounding environment into the basin of the sink.

It has long been recognized that sinks as are commonly found in the kitchen are not good insulators of heat, and suffer from the problem of heat transmission loss through the sidewalls and bottom of the basin of the sink. Accordingly, some manufacturers of sink products offer versions of their sinks with various types of insulated exterior coatings which, among other things, are intended to retard the rate of heat transmission through some of the walls of the basin of the sink. However, though these insulated versions of existing sink products may, in some instances, retard the rate of heat loss through the sidewalls and bottom of the basin, they have not proven effective in actually maintaining the temperature of water inside the basin of the sink over any reasonably extended period of time.

And, though manufacturers of sinks offer a wide range of sink styles and models to meet a wide range of customer preferences, none of the manufacturers of this general group of sink products are known to offer a sink with heating and/or cooling capability which would allow the user to heat, cool or maintain the temperature of the water in the sink at a user-specified level as contemplated by the various embodiments of the invention as disclosed herein.

However, numerous examples of “temperature controlled” and/or “temperature controlling” vessels, containers, and appliances exist in the marketplace today. These devices have provision for heating and/or cooling the contents of the appliance or vessel, usually by an integral heating or cooling device or apparatus of some kind, which may or may not be thermostatically controlled. Many examples of this type of heated vessel can be found in the household kitchen such as electric woks, roasters, fry pans, ‘slow cookers’ and water heater/coolers.

While these devices may be suitable for the particular purpose to which they were designed, they are not suitable for controlling the temperature of the water in a kitchen sink for some reasonably extended period of time.

In the bathroom, heated spa bathtubs are commonplace, as are stand-alone products which heat the water in a bathtub spa by the direct heating of water circulated through an external heating element, and/or by introducing heated air streams into the bathtub water, providing an invigorating ‘bubbling action” similar to that of a Jacuzzi with the added benefit of heating the water through the mixing of the heated air with the bathwater.

Additionally, certain specialized “whirlpool baths” do exist and are widely used in sports medicine and orthopedic rehabilitation therapy regimen. The whirlpool bath is essentially a bathtub in which a person can immerse part of all of his body in water or other liquid that is heated or cooled to, and/or maintained at, a pre-selected temperature. Whirlpool baths commonly include provision for Jacuzzi-type circulation of air and water for added therapeutic health benefits. And, as is well known, the so-called “hot tub” or outdoors spa and/or Jacuzzi are in widespread use throughout many parts of the world.

Though manufacturers of bath tubs, whirlpool baths, spas and/or hot tubs offer models of their products with the ability to heat the contents of the tub or spa, none of the manufacturers of this general group of products are known to offer a kitchen sink with heating and/or cooling capability which would allow the user to heat, cool and/or maintain the temperature of the water in the sink at a desired level, and for a selected time interval, in the manner contemplated by the various embodiments of the Invention as represented herein.

Problems with the Prior Art:

Problems with the conventional concepts, existing products and the prior art regarding kitchen sinks include the following:

The main problem is that none of the existing kitchen sink products available in the marketplace and/or currently in use today are known to have the ability to change or maintain the temperature (warm or cold) of the water in the sink.

Another problem is that no “aftermarket” or “retro-fit” system, apparatus or device is known to exist which a person skilled in the practice might incorporate into an existing, installed sink, which could be used to maintain the temperature of water in the sink at a temperature level predetermined by the user.

Another problem is that no self-contained system, apparatus and/or appliance is known to exist which could be readily employed by the average home user to maintain the temperature of water in an existing sink at a temperature level predetermined by the user, and for a selected time interval.

In these respects, the temperature controlling apparatus for a kitchen sink according to the present invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in so doing provides an apparatus primarily developed for the purpose of controlling the temperature of the water in a kitchen sink (including a bath tub and/or other type of sink) for some reasonably extended period of time, without the necessity of adding additional hot water to the basin of the sink itself, to offset the loss of heat in the water as it naturally cools down over time. It can be appreciated that the invention also applies to the ability to maintain the water in a sink at a cool temperature, as opposed to a warm temperature.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of kitchen sinks now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new temperature controlling apparatus for a kitchen sink construction wherein the same can be utilized for controlling the temperature of the water in a kitchen sink (including a bath tub and/or other types of sink) for some reasonably extended period of time, without the necessity of adding additional hot water to the basin of the sink itself, to offset the loss of heat in the water as it naturally cools down over time. It can be appreciated that the invention also applies to the ability to maintain the water in a sink at a cool temperature, as opposed to a warm temperature.

    • 1) A sink 20, is a device consisting of one or more basin(s) 30, each of which are generally connected with a drain 22, and usually a hot and cold water supply for washing and drainage, and can be generally represented by the many types of common types of sink 20 is as may be found in many contemporary residential homes and commercial buildings. These include kitchen sinks 20 that are used to prepare meals and wash dishes following a meal, and utility sink(s) 20 that are used for washing floors and other non-food related uses. Other types of sink(s) 20 are found in utility rooms and other “non-food preparation areas” where they are used for holding water and chemical solutions for a variety of purposes. Sink 20(s) are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and various materials including, but not limited to, stainless steel, porcelain-covered iron or steel, various plastic formulations, fiberglass, manufactured synthetic stone, and a variety of decorative metals.

All of the embodiments of the invention as represented by the Figures and as discussed herein are intended to be to be used with sink(s) 20 that may have insulated basin(s) 30, such as is shown in FIG. 7, as well as sink(s) 20 whose basin(s) 30 are not equipped with insulation. For purposes of simplicity, and to render the Figures more readily understood by the reader, the graphical representation of the insulation that can be provided on the bottom and/or sidewalls of the basin 30 of the various sink(s) 20 as referenced herein has been excluded from the Figures except of FIG. 7.

Additionally, embodiments of the Invention as represented by FIGS. 16 through 19 include a portable sink 32 that can be placed inside the basin 30 of an existing, installed sink 20, and/or can be placed on a countertop or some other surface. Though not explicitly shown on the Figures, the portable sink 32 may be equipped with bottom and/or side drains to facilitate draining water from the device. The portable sink 32 as represented in FIGS. 16 through 19 is usable in situations not involving provision of an “indoor sink 20”, as in out-of-doors activities such as camping and outdoor cooking. The portable sink 32 as referenced herein can be equipped with one or more basins, which may be insulated, and also equipped with drains and lifting handles for ease of transport and use.

    • 2) A liquid sensor 40, is a device that responds to the presence of a liquid and closes or opens an electric circuit and/or transmits a resulting impulse to a thermostat 104, and/or an electrical contactor 106 and/or a system controller 100, and/or some other component as the case may be, (as for measurement or operating a control, and for instance, in the present Invention, a liquid sensor 40 can be used to determine the presence of water in a sink 20 or other vessel or in a tube or other plumbing component. The sensor can be active or passive, and can transmit information concerning its function to a control. This transmission can be by electric current, or air pressure, or some other method. Many types of liquid sensor(s) 40 exist in the marketplace today. These include, but are not limited to float-type switches of all kinds, infrared (optical), electrical capacitance, ultrasonic, and solid-state electronic sensors.
    • 3) A temperature sensor 60, is a device that responds to the temperature of something and transmits a resulting impulse to a thermostat 104, and/or a electrical contactor 106, and/or a system controller 100, and/or some other component, as for measurement or operating a control, and for instance, in the present Invention, a temperature sensor 60 can be used to determine the temperature of water in a sink 20 or other component of an apparatus or vessel. The sensor can be active or passive, and can transmit information concerning its function to a control. This transmission can be by electric current, or air pressure, or some other method. Many types of temperature sensor(s) 60 exist in the marketplace today. These include, but are not limited to bi-metal, infrared (optical), electrical capacitance, ultrasonic, and solid-state electronic sensors.

Additionally, certain temperature-sensitive materials might be employed as visual indicators for monitoring the temperature of a liquid in the basin 30 of the sink 20. In particular, certain paints and plastic materials change colors in response to changes in temperature. One or more color displays may be employed in a user interface 80, allowing the user to determine the temperature being monitored in one part of an embodiment apparatus versus the temperature in another part of the apparatus by simply comparing the relative difference between the colors of different temperature sensitive color displays.

    • 4) A user interface 80, is a device or apparatus used by the user to manipulate and/or otherwise control the operation of the invention, and/or to monitor the status of the operation of the particular embodiment of the invention, and in operation, a user would generally use the hot and cold water faucet set 24 to fill an invention-equipped kitchen sink 20 with water to be used for the task at hand. Once the user has established the temperature of the water in the sink 20 at an acceptable level, and depending on the particular embodiment of the invention involved, the user will take some specific action via the user interface 80 to cause apparatus of the invention to maintain the water in the sink 20 at her desired temperature. In the case of all of the embodiments of the invention as represented by FIGS. 1 through 19, with the exception of those embodiments represented by FIGS. 6, 7, and 15, the specific action the user will take to operate the embodiment of the invention is first, (if the invention is not already connected to a source of electric power 222) to connect the apparatus to a source of electric power 222, and then, though not necessarily in all cases, the user will activate a “power on” on-off switch 82 that will be either integral to, connected to or controlled by the user interface 80 which energizes the apparatus and/or system controller 100.

The user may also adjust a thermostat 104 that will either be integral to, connected to or controlled by the user interface 80 to bring the thermostat 104 to the proper temperature setting that matches the temperature of the water in the sink 20. In some contemplated versions of the various embodiments of the invention referenced herein, the user will know when the setting on the thermostat 104 is matched to the temperature of the water in the sink 20 by one or more visual displays or signals and/or audible signals which are integral to either the user interface 80 or the system controller 100, or some other part of the apparatus.

In the case of the embodiments of the invention as represented by FIGS. 6 and 7 which utilize the building's central hot and/or cold water system as the heat source 120, the user controls the operation by a user interface control valve 86 which, when activated, diverts hot and/or cold water through a heat exchanger 140 integral to, attached to or within the sink 20. By adjusting the temperature and flow rate of the hot and cold water flowing through the heat exchanger 140, the user is able to maintain the temperature of the water in the basin 30 of the sink 20 at a desired level. A variation of the user control interface valve 86 may be one that is temperature sensitive and which can be adjusted to dispense water at a predetermined temperature level. These types of temperature controlled valves (s) 212 may be of the type used in household showers and bathtubs and are used to prevent scalding by extremely hot water. Such a valve may be multi-functional in that it may have water inlets from both hot and cold-water sources, and multiple outlets depending on the particular requirement or installation, as in FIG. 7 temperature control can be a feature of this valve also.

The embodiment of the Invention as represented by FIG. 15 is a removable self-contained unit with its integral heat source 120, temperature sensor 60 and system controller 100. The user interface 80 may be an on-off switch 82 and/or a thermostat 84 that is either adjustable or fixed. In operation, the user would activate the apparatus with the on-off switch 82, and either adjust the thermostat 84 to automatically determine and operate to maintain the desired water temperature level in the sink 20, or the user would set the thermostat 84 at a pre-determined temperature level.

The embodiment as represented by FIG. 20 is a self-contained apparatus that attaches to the water spigot 28 of a faucet set 24 with is affixed to a sink 20. In this embodiment of the invention, the user interface 80 comprises the hot and cold valves on the faucet set 24 and/or the faucet attachment diverter valve 210.

Various types of on-off and temperature control switches are usable as at the user interface 80, including, but not limited to an air switch as is used with modern, sink-mounted garbage disposal units and outdoor spas, Mechanically actuated switches of all kinds, touch pads and proximity switches of all kinds, and in some embodiments of the Invention, the on-off switch will be omitted and instead, the user may simply plug the apparatus into an electrical power source 222.

Certain embodiments of the invention may include one or more color and/or black and white LCD (liquid crystal display)-type visual displays that inform the user regarding the status of the operation of the apparatus, and/or prompt the user to take certain actions given the various states of operation of the particular embodiment apparatus. This display may be connected to certain electronic components that have some logic function and the ability to control various functions of the embodiment. Additionally, certain temperature-sensitive materials might be employed as visual indicators for monitoring the temperature of a liquid in the basin 30 of the sink 20. In particular, certain paints and plastic materials change colors in response to changes in temperature. One or more color display may be employed in a user interface 80 that would allow the user to determine the temperature being monitored in one part of an embodiment apparatus as against that in another by simply comparing the relative difference between the colors of different temperature sensitive color displays.

Objects of the Invention

A primary object of the present invention is to provide a temperature controlling apparatus for a kitchen sink 20 that will overcome the shortcomings of the prior art devices in being able to maintain the temperature of water (or other liquid) in a sink 20 for some reasonably extended period of time.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a temperature controlling apparatus for controlling and/or maintaining the temperature of the water in a kitchen sink 20 (including a bath tub and/or other household sink 20) for some reasonably extended period of time, without the necessity of adding additional hot water to the basin 30 of the sink 20 itself, to offset the loss of heat in the water as it naturally cools down over time. It can be appreciated that the invention also applies to the ability to maintain the water in a sink 20 at a cool temperature, as opposed to a warm temperature.

Another object is to provide a temperature controlling apparatus for a kitchen sink 20 that can be used to maintain and/or raise and/or lower the temperature of water in a sink 20 as might ordinarily be used by persons for the preparation of food, for the washing of dishes and cooking utensils, and other applications where the ability to maintain the temperature of the liquid contents of a sink 20 is of benefit to the user.

Another object is to provide a temperature controlling apparatus for a kitchen sink 20 that is easy and safe for the user to use.

Another object is to provide a temperature controlling apparatus for a kitchen sink 20 that can be integrally incorporated into the design of newly manufactured sink(s) 20 and bathtubs.

Another object is to provide a temperature controlling apparatus for a kitchen sink 20 that can be made available as “after market” and/or “retro-fit” and/or “add-on” products that can be installed in an existing sink 20 by a person skilled in such practices.

Accordingly, it is a major object of the invention to provide apparatus to control the temperature of liquid in a sink, comprising in combination:

    • a) providing and locating a local heater proximate the wall of the sink below liquid top surface level, which is upwardly exposed, and
    • b) controlling conductive heat transfer from said heater to liquid in the sink, establishing and maintaining a selected elevated liquid temperature range in the sink for a selected time interval, enabling washing of kitchen ware during said interval and without requiring addition of hot water from a sink faucet during said interval.

The heater may be placed into the sink, and made to be electrically energizable, the control operating to control electrical energization of the heater in response to detection of water temperature in the sink; alternatively, the control may provide for flow of externally heated media into heat transfer relation with the heater, or with the sink wall, or directly to water in the sink. A media flow control valve may be provided, as well as a detector for detecting sink water temperature, and for controlling valve operation, for example to increase flow of heated media in response to water temperature drop. The heater may include a jacket or shell proximate the sink wall, allowing heated media flow into the space between the jacket and the sink wall.

Another object includes provision for use of an edifice or building central water heater as a source for flow of hot water to the heater proximate the sink, for example by tapping into the edifice hot water flow system, eliminating need for a separate water heater.

A further object is to provide a user interface control valve connected in series with said recirculation hot water system, said control valve being one the following:

    • i) adjustable flow control valve
    • ii) temperature controlled valve to control the temperature of water flowing to the heater.

A user interface control valve may be provided to have:

    • i) an inlet connection or connections to both the edifice central heater and to an edifice cold water source
    • ii) an outlet connection or connections to a spigot that feeds water into the sink, and to the local heater, and to a sink drain or to a return line of the recirculation hot water system.

A temperature sensor may be connected to or included with the heater control, the user interface connected to the control, and a source of electric power connected to the control, with a heat transfer medium transferring heat from the heater to the contents of the sink.

An added object is to provide a separate package outside the sink, and containing a media heating source as well as the control, there being heated media flow ducting extending from the external package to the heater in or proximate to the sink.

A yet further object is to provide a pump producing rising air bubbles acting to pump the flowable media effecting its circulation between the media heating source in the package and the local heater. Alternatively, the pump may be located in the sink.

An additional object is to provide an energy transducer outside the sink and located to transmit heating energy through the sink wall to the heater in the sink interior, or to water in the sink.

An added object is to provide a portable sink for containing water to be heated by the heater, as referred to, and sized for reception in a fixed basin as in a dwelling. Faucet apparatus may be provided to control water flow into the sink, with added ducting tapping into the faucet apparatus to conduct heated water to the heater in the sink, for heat transfer from the heater into water in the sink, with valve means controlled to control water delivery via that ducting so as to maintain the temperature of water in the sink at selected level.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention, as well as the details of an illustrative embodiment, will be more fully understood from the following specification and drawings, in which:

To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in various forms, including, but not limited to those as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, attention being called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only, and that changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various other objects, features and attendant advantages of the present invention will become fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG.1 is a front view of one embodiment of the present invention with an externally mounted heat source 120 that is integral to, affixed to, or in close proximity to, the bottom of the basin 30 of the sink 20.

FIG.2 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with an externally mounted heat exchanger 140 that is integral to, affixed to, or in close proximity to, portions of the bottom and/or sidewalls of the basin 30 of the sink 20. The pump 180 circulates a heat transfer medium in tubes 206 in a closed-loop fashion through the heat exchanger 140 and heat source 120.

FIG.3 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with an externally mounted heat exchanger 140 in the form of a “jacket” that is integral to, affixed to, or in close proximity to portions of the bottom and/or sidewalls of basin 30 of the sink 20. The pump 180 circulates a heat transfer medium 160 in a closed-loop fashion through the heat exchanger 140 and heat source 120.

FIG.4 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with an externally mounted heat exchanger 140 that is in the form of a “jacket” that is integral to, affixed to, or in close proximity to portions of the bottom and/or sidewalls of the basin 30 of the sink 20 building hot water 162 from the household (or building) central hot water system is circulated by a pump 180 through the heat exchanger 140 and is drained into the central cold water system.

FIG.5 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with an externally mounted heat exchanger 140 that is in the form of a “jacket” that is integral to, affixed to, or in close proximity to portions of the bottom and/or sidewalls of the basin 30 of the sink 20 building hot water 162 from the household (or building) central hot water system (the heat source 120) is circulated by a pump 180 through the heat exchanger 140 and is drained into the return line of a recirculating central hot water system 202.

FIG.6 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with an externally mounted heat exchanger 140 that is in the form of a “jacket” that is integral to, affixed to, or in close proximity to portions of the bottom and sidewalls of the basin 30 of the sink 20 building hot water 162 from the household (or building) central hot water system is circulated by a pump 180 via the water delivery tube(s) 204 through the heat exchanger 140 and is drained into the Return Line of a recirculating central hot water system 202. Temperature control is achieved by manual operation of a user interface control valve 86 that can also be a temperature control valve 212.

FIG.7 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with an externally mounted heat exchanger 140 that is in the form of a “jacket” that is integral to, affixed to, or in close proximity to portions of the bottom and/or sidewalls of the basin 30 of the sink 20. Also shown is a user interface control valve 86 that has its inlet connections to both the building hot water 162 and the building cold water 164, and its outlet connections to a) the water spigot 28 which feeds water into the basin 30 of the sink 20 and b) the heat exchanger 140, and c) the drain 22 of the sink 20 and/or d) the recirculating hot water system return line 202. This FIG. 7 illustrates a covering of insulation 26 that is integral to, affixed to, or in close proximity to portions of the bottom and/or sidewalls of the basin 30.

FIG.8 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with an heat exchanger 140 that is in the form of a “jacket” that is integral to, affixed to, or in close proximity to portions of the bottom and sidewalls of the basin 30 of the sink 20. A heat source 120 is affixed to, or in close proximity with, the heat exchanger 140.

FIG.9 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with an integral heat exchanger 140 and heat source 120.

FIG.10 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with the heat source 120 in direct contact with the liquid contents of the sink 20. The system controller 100 and its related components are shown as a counter-top appliance that is placed in some proximity to the sink 20.

FIG.11 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with the heat exchanger 140 in direct contact with the liquid contents of the sink 20. The system controller 100 and its related components are shown as a counter-top appliance that is placed in some proximity to the sink 20. The pump 180 circulates a heat transfer medium 160 in a closed-loop fashion between and through the heat exchanger 140 and heat source 120.

FIG.12 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with the heat exchanger 140 in direct contact with the liquid contents of the sink 20. The system controller 100 and its related components are shown as a counter-top appliance that is placed in some proximity to the sink 20. The air pump 182 pumps air through an air delivery tube 214 to an air bubble fluid lifting pump 184 that circulates a heat transfer medium 160 in a closed-loop fashion between and through the heat exchanger 140 and heat source 120; and FIG. 12a is an enlarged view of a lifting pump;

FIG.13 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention in which the liquid contents of the sink 20 are pumped from the sink 20 to a counter-top appliance that is placed in some proximity to the sink 20. The counter-top appliance includes a pump 180 that circulates the liquid contents of the sink 20 in a closed-loop fashion through the heat source 120 and back to the sink 20.

FIG.14 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with the heat source 120 in direct contact with the liquid contents of the sink 20. The heat source 120 is powered by an energy transducer that is affixed or in close proximity to the outside of the sink 20.

FIG.15 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with a self-contained and self-powered heat source 120 in direct contact with the liquid contents of the sink 20.

FIG.16 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with the heat source 120 in direct contact with the liquid contents of the portable sink 32. The portable sink 32 as shown in this Figure is placed inside the basin 30 of an existing sink 20. The system controller 100 and its related components are shown as a counter-top appliance that is placed in some proximity to the portable sink 32.

FIG. 17 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with the heat exchanger 140 in direct contact with the liquid contents of the portable sink 32. The portable sink 32 as shown in this Figure is placed inside the basin 30 of an existing sink 20.The system controller 100 and its related components are shown as a counter-top appliance that is placed in some proximity to the portable sink 32. The pump 180 circulates a heat transfer medium 160 in a closed-loop fashion through the heat exchanger 140 and heat source 120.

FIG.18 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with the heat exchanger 140 in direct contact with the liquid contents of the portable sink. 32. The portable sink 32 as shown in this Figure is placed inside the basin 30 of an existing sink 20. The system controller 100 and its related components are shown as a counter-top appliance that is placed in some proximity to the portable sink 32. The air pump 182 pumps air through an air delivery tube 214 to an air bubble fluid lifting pump 184 that circulates a heat transfer medium 160 in a closed-loop fashion between and through the heat exchanger 140 and heat source 120.

FIG.19 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention in which the liquid contents of the sink 20 are pumped from the portable sink 32 to a counter-top appliance that is placed in some proximity to the portable sink 32. The portable sink 32 as shown in this Figure is placed inside the basin 30 of an existing sink 20. The counter-top appliance includes a pump 180 that circulates a the liquid contents of the portable sink 32 in a closed-loop fashion between and through the heat source 120 and back to the portable sink 32.

FIG. 20 is a front view of another embodiment of the present invention with the heat exchanger 140 in direct contact with the liquid contents of the sink 20. Hot and/or cold water from the household (or building) central hot water system, by way of a faucet attachment device 214, is circulated through the heat exchanger 140, and is subsequently drained into the same or another basin 30 of the sink 20 by the user's manipulation of a faucet attachment device diverter valve 210.

FIG. 21 is a side view of one version of a heat source 20 that may be used in existing sink 20(s) 20 to provide heating of the liquid contents of the sink 20. The same general design of this component may be useful for incorporating a temperature sensor 160 and/or a liquid sensor 140 in the basin 30 of a sink 20.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The embodiment to be described include, in various forms, the following main components:

    • 1) A sink 20, is a device consisting of one or more basin(s) 30, each of which are generally connected with a drain 22, and usually a hot and cold water supply for washing and drainage, and can be generally represented by the many types of common types of sink 20 is as may be found in many contemporary residential homes and commercial buildings. These include kitchen sinks 20 that are used to prepare meals and wash dishes following a meal, and utility sink(s) 20 that are used for washing floors and other non-food related uses. Other types of sink(s) 20 are found in utility rooms and other “non-food preparation areas” where they are used for holding water and chemical solutions for a variety of purposes. Sink 20(s) are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and various materials including, but not limited to, stainless steel, porcelain-covered iron or steel, various plastic formulations, fiberglass, manufactured synthetic stone, and a variety of decorative metals.

All of the embodiments of the invention as represented by the Figures and as discussed herein are intended to be to be used with sink(s) 20 that may have insulated basin(s) 30, such as is shown in FIG. 7, as well as sink(s) 20 whose basin(s) 30 are not equipped with insulation. For purposes of simplicity, and to render the Figures more readily understood by the reader, the graphical representation of the insulation that can be provided on the bottom and/or sidewalls of the basin 30 of the various sink(s) 20 as referenced herein has been excluded from the Figures except of FIG. 7.

Additionally, embodiments of the invention as represented by FIGS. 16 through 19 include a portable sink 32 that can be placed inside the basin 30 of an existing, installed sink 20, and/or can be placed on a countertop or some other surface. Though not explicitly shown on the Figures, the portable sink 32 may be equipped with bottom and/or side drains to facilitate draining water from the device. The portable sink 32 as represented in FIGS. 16 through 19 is usable in situations not involving provision of an “indoor sink 20”, as in out-of-doors activities such as camping and outdoor cooking. The portable sink 32 as referenced herein can be equipped with one or more basins, which may be insulated, and also equipped with drains and lifting handles for ease of transport and use.

    • 2) A liquid sensor 40, is a device that responds to the presence of a liquid and closes or opens an electric circuit and/or transmits a resulting impulse to a thermostat 104, and/or an electrical contactor 106 and/or a system controller 100, and/or some other component as the case may be, (as for measurement or operating a control, and for instance, in the present invention, a liquid sensor 40 can be used to determine the presence of water in a sink 20 or other vessel or in a tube or other plumbing component. The sensor can be active or passive, and can transmit information concerning its function to a control. This transmission can be by electric current, or air pressure, or some other method. Many types of liquid sensor(s) 40 exist in the marketplace today. These include, but are not limited to float-type switches of all kinds, infrared (optical), electrical capacitance, ultrasonic, and solid-state electronic sensors.
    • 3) A temperature sensor 60, is a device that responds to the temperature of something and transmits a resulting impulse to a thermostat 104, and/or a electrical contactor 106, and/or a system controller 100, and/or some other component, as for measurement or operating a control, and for instance, in the present Invention, a temperature sensor 60 can be used to determine the temperature of water in a sink 20 or other component of an apparatus or vessel. The sensor can be active or passive, and can transmit information concerning its function to a control. This transmission can be by electric current, or air pressure, or some other method. Many types of temperature sensor(s) 60 exist in the marketplace today. These include, but are not limited to bi-metal, infrared (optical), electrical capacitance, ultrasonic, and solid-state electronic sensors.

Additionally, certain temperature-sensitive materials might be employed as visual indicators for monitoring the temperature of a liquid in the basin 30 of the sink 20. In particular, certain paints and plastic materials change colors in response to changes in temperature. One or more color displays may be employed in a user interface 80, allowing the user to determine the temperature being monitored in one part of an embodiment apparatus versus the temperature in another part of the apparatus by simply comparing the relative difference between the colors of different temperature sensitive color displays.

    • 4) A user interface 80, is a device or apparatus used by the user to manipulate and/or otherwise control the operation of the invention, and/or to monitor the status of the operation of the particular embodiment of the invention, and in operation, a user would generally use the hot and cold water faucet set 24 to fill an invention-equipped kitchen sink 20 with water to be used for the task at hand. Once the user has established the temperature of the water in the sink 20 at an acceptable level, and depending on the particular embodiment of the invention involved, the user will take some specific action via the user interface 80 to cause apparatus of the invention to maintain the water in the sink 20 at her desired temperature. In the case of all of the embodiments of the invention as represented by FIGS. 1 through 19, with the exception of those embodiments represented by FIGS. 6, 7, and 15, the specific action the user will take to operate the embodiment of the invention is first, (if the invention is not already connected to a source of electric power 222) to connect the apparatus to a source of electric power 222, and then, though not necessarily in all cases, the user will activate a “power on” on-off switch 82 that will be either integral to, connected to or controlled by the user interface 80 which energizes the apparatus and/or system controller 100.

The user may also adjust a thermostat 104 that will either be integral to, connected to or controlled by the user interface 80 to bring the thermostat 104 to the proper temperature setting that matches the temperature of the water in the sink 20. In some contemplated versions of the various embodiments of the invention referenced herein, the user will know when the setting on the thermostat 104 is matched to the temperature of the water in the sink 20 by one or more visual displays or signals and/or audible signals which are integral to either the user interface 80 or the system controller 100, or some other part of the apparatus. In the case of the embodiments of the invention as represented by FIGS. 6 and 7 which utilize the building's central hot and/or cold water system as the heat source 120, the user controls the operation by a user interface control valve 86 which, when activated, diverts hot and/or cold water through a heat exchanger 140 integral to, attached to or within the sink 20. By adjusting the temperature and flow rate of the hot and cold water flowing through the heat exchanger 140, the user is able to maintain the temperature of the water in the basin 30 of the sink 20 at a desired level. A variation of the user control interface valve 86 may be one that is temperature sensitive and which can be adjusted to dispense water at a predetermined temperature level. These types of temperature controlled valves (s) 212 may be of the type used in household showers and bathtubs and are used to prevent scalding by extremely hot water. Such a valve may be multi-functional in that it may have water inlets from both hot and cold-water sources, and multiple outlets depending on the particular requirement or installation, as in FIG. 7 temperature control can be a feature of this valve also.

The embodiment of the invention as represented by FIG. 15 is a removable self-contained unit with its integral heat source 120, temperature sensor 60 and system controller 100. The user interface 80 may be an on-off switch 82 and/or a thermostat 84 that is either adjustable or fixed. In operation, the user would activate the apparatus with the on-off switch 82, and either adjust the thermostat 84 to automatically determine and operate to maintain the desired water temperature level in the sink 20, or the user would set the thermostat 84 at a pre-determined temperature level.

The embodiment as represented by FIG. 20 is a self-contained apparatus that attaches to the water spigot 28 of a faucet set 24 with is affixed to a sink 20. In this embodiment of the invention, the user interface 80 comprises the hot and cold valves on the faucet set 24 and/or the faucet attachment diverter valve 210.

Various types of on-off and temperature control switches are usable as at the user interface 80, including, but not limited to an air switch as is used with modern, sink-mounted garbage disposal units and outdoor spas, Mechanically actuated switches of all kinds, touch pads and proximity switches of all kinds, and in some embodiments of the invention, the on-off switch will be omitted and instead, the user may simply plug the apparatus into an electrical power source 222.

Certain embodiments of the invention may include one or more color and/or black and white LCD (liquid crystal display)-type visual displays that inform the user regarding the status of the operation of the apparatus, and/or prompt the user to take certain actions given the various states of operation of the particular embodiment apparatus. This display may be connected to certain electronic components that have some logic function and the ability to control various functions of the embodiment. Additionally, certain temperature-sensitive materials might be employed as visual indicators for monitoring the temperature of a liquid in the basin 30 of the sink 20. In particular, certain paints and plastic materials change colors in response to changes in temperature. One or more color display may be employed in a user interface 80 that would allow the user to determine the temperature being monitored in one part of an embodiment apparatus as against that in another by simply comparing the relative difference between the colors of different temperature sensitive color displays.

    • 5) A system controller 100, is a device that activates the heat source 120 and/or the pump 180 and/or other parts of the apparatus in response to input information from sensors and/or controls activated by the user, and as such, generally guides and regulates the operation of the various embodiments of the Invention, and in the case of certain of the embodiments of the present invention as represented herein, the system controller 100 may comprise nothing more than a thermostat 104, and in other embodiments, it includes, or is connected to, a thermostat 104 which receives input signals from one or more temperature sensor(s) 60 regarding the temperature of water or other material in a sink 20 and/or of other components the Invention. The system controller 100 may also be connected to a liquid sensor 40 that detects the presence of liquids. If a liquid sensor 40, it will send a signal to the system controller 100 indicating the presence, or absence, of liquid in the system at the point the liquid sensor 40 is located. The presence of liquid as indicated will cause the system controller 100 to activate or de-activate electrical circuitry, affecting the operation of the apparatus. One outcome of such de-activation will be to disable the operation of the apparatus. Additionally, and based on its own set of user-defined or pre-defined performance settings, the system controller 100, (depending of the particular embodiment) may cause the heater Source 120 to produce heat energy, and/or the pump 180 to transfer fluids within the apparatus. In some embodiments of the invention, the system controller 100 may include a thermostat 104, which may be connected to one or more contactors 106 that, upon receiving an input signal from the thermostat 104, may close electrical contacts that carry electric current to the heat source 120 and/or the pump 180.

Additionally, the system controller 100 may contain, or be connected to, the user interface 80. With the exception of those embodiments of the invention represented by FIGS. 6 and 7, all of the embodiments of the invention as represented in FIGS. 1 through 19 include the use of a system controller 100 that operates on electric current. The system controller 100 and/or the thermostat 104 may be configured in such a way as to recognize a lower temperature limit, and/or an upper temperature limit, and having recognized one or the other-of these temperature limits, may initiate some specific action in regards to the heat source 120 and/or the pump and/or a temperature controlled on-off switch 228 and/or some other component in the apparatus.

Embodiments of the invention as represented in FIGS. 6 and 7 are not shown to include the use of electric current, and in these Figures, no system controller 100 is shown. It can be appreciated that variations of the embodiments of the invention as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 might include a system controller 100 which may include or be connected to a temperature sensor 60, and which may also be connected to a temperature controlled water valve 216 that maintains the temperature of the water in the heat exchanger 140 at a user defined or pre-determined temperature. In those embodiments of the invention in which a system controller 100 is utilized, as above, the user may adjust a thermostat 104 which will either be integral to, or connected to or controlled by the user interface 80 to bring the thermostat 104 to the proper temperature setting that matches the temperature of the water in the sink 20.

Another operating configuration is to set the system controller 100 at a predetermined temperature level, and once activated, the system controller 100, assuming the water in the sink 20 was cooler than desired, would energize the heat source 120 and in some instances, also the pump 180 to bring the water in the sink 20 up to the desired temperature.

Another mode of operation would be for the user, (once having filled the sink 20 with water of an acceptable temperature), to activate a switch on the user interface 80 which would cause the system controller 100, acting through the temperature sensor 60, to automatically determine the temperature of the water in the sink 20, and using that “set” temperature as the reference temperature, operate the heat source 120 and/or pump 180, to maintain the water in the sink 20 at the “set” temperature.

The system controller 100 may be equipped with one or more “smart” logic circuits that may or may not be programmable. Such circuits would enable the device to control and manage the operation of the apparatus in an autonomous or semi-autonomous mode.

    • 6) A heat source 120, is the source of heat [and/or cold] which is used to control the temperature of the contents of the basin 30 of the sink 20, and is one or more devices that when used in the heating mode emits heat energy, and in the cooling mode absorbs heat energy. Different types of usable heat source(s) 120 that may be employed in the various embodiments represented in FIGS. 1 through 21 include, but are not limited to, electrical resistance and radiant heaters of all kinds (including both high and low voltage devices), household (or building) hot water heater(s), thermoelectric heater(s) and cooler(s), heat pump(s), steam, solar energy, radioactive materials, chemical reaction-based heater(s) and cooler(s), and thermal energy storage materials and devices.

The heat source 120 can be a) placed in direct contact with the water in the sink 20 as shown in FIG. 10, and/or b) can be placed outside the sink 20 as in FIG. 1, and in this case will heat or cool the bottom and/or walls of the sink 20, and by heat transmission through the bottom and sides of the sink 20 would thereby heat or cool the contents of the sink 20, and/or c) can be employed to heat or cool a heat transfer medium 160 which is integral to, or is circulated through a heat exchanger 140 as shown in FIG. 2 which is closely affixed to the sink 20, and by heat transmission through the bottom and/or side walls of the sink 20, heat or cool the contents of the sink 20, and/or d) can be integrated into the bottom and/or side walls of the sink 20 as in FIG. 9, and by heat transmission through the bottom and/or side walls of the sink 20, heat or cool the contents of the sink 20.

    • 7) A heat exchanger 140, as employed in certain of the various embodiments of the invention is a device that transfers the heat from a heat transfer medium 160 to another fluid or material without allowing them to mix, and, one of the variations of the heat exchanger 140 is that of a “jacket” through which a heat transfer medium 160 is pumped or otherwise circulated, as is shown in FIGS. 2 through 7. In some embodiments of the invention, as in FIG. 8, the heat exchanger 140 is directly heated by the heat source 120. FIG. 9 illustrates a heat source 120 incorporated into the bottom of a sink 20. In a variation the heat source 120 is placed inside, or in close proximity to, a heat exchanger 140 that is integral with the sink 20. In this case, the heat exchanger 140 would contain some type of heat transfer medium 160 operable to transfer the energy from the heat source 120 to the water in the sink 20. The construction of the heat exchanger 140 enables use of a variety of materials that preferably will have good thermal transfer properties. These materials include, but are not limited to, copper, brass, stainless steel, aluminum and other metals, as well as certain formulations of plastics, glass, porcelain and other materials.
    • 8) A heat transfer medium 160, as employed in certain of the various embodiments of the invention represented by FIGS. 1 through 19 is a material that is used within the apparatus to transfer or convey thermal energy from one location within the apparatus to another. A heat transfer medium 160 as employed in the various embodiments of the invention can be a fluid (liquid or gas), a metal or other solid material, or a phase-change material that as it is heated or cooled changes from a solid state to a fluid state, or the reverse.
    • 9) A pump 180, as employed in the various embodiments of the invention is a device that raises, transfers or compresses a fluid, and, the pump 180 is usually connected to or integral with a motor that is powered by either electricity or compressed air or some other motive force or fluid. The pump 180 is connected to other components of the invention by tubes and other plumbing components 200 and/or electrical components 220. Various types of pump(s) 180 may be useable in the various embodiments of the invention as referenced herein. Pump(s) 180 usable in the embodiments of the invention as represented in FIGS. 1 through 19 include centrifugal, semi-positive displacement and/or positive displacement pump(s) 180 for raising or transferring a liquid heat transfer medium 160 within the invention as in FIG. 2, and/or the water in the sink 20 as in FIG. 13, and/or from the household (or building) central hot and/or cold water system connected or close to the sink 20 through components of some of the embodiments of the invention as in FIG. 4; and an air Compressor pump 182 which is used to compress air which subsequently routed through an air delivery tube 214 to an air bubble fluid lifting pump 184 as in FIG. 12 and 18.
    • 10) Plumbing components 200, comprises that collection of pipes, tubes, fittings, containers, valves, clamps and other components generally used to contain, conduct and facilitate the transfer of fluids from one component in the apparatus to another. Components comprising the plumbing system 200 may be manufactured in a variety of materials, including metal and plastic.
    • 11) Electrical components 220, comprises that collection of wires (single and multiple conductor insulated and non-insulated cables), connecting devices, indicator devices (visual and audible signals), contactors and other electrical components that interconnect and/or are interconnected with the other components of a particular embodiment of the invention and facilitate the transfer of electrical signals and energy from one component to another. Components comprising the electrical system 220 include those of various materials, some of which are electrically conductive and some that are electrically insulating. Included by reference herein is a source of electric power 222, which is intended to include all types of electric power sources, including utility grid-delivered power at all voltages throughout the world, as well as battery-delivered power, or electric power produced and/or delivered by other types of electric power generation and delivery systems and/or devices.
    • 12) Product packaging 240, comprises that body of protective covers that contain and protect the various components of the invention, and which are necessary for the safe, efficient and effective use and operation of the Invention, and as may be necessary to comply with relevant government and industry standards and regulations governing such products, such as, but not limited to, Underwriter's Laboratory. Components comprising the product packaging will include those of various materials, some which are electrically conductive and some that are electrically insulating.
DESCRIPTION OF THE VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Turning now descriptively to the drawings, in which similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, the attached figures illustrate a temperature controlling apparatus for a kitchen sink 20, which here comprises various embodiments of the invention.

Regarding the following discussion of the embodiments of the Invention as are represented in the various Figures:

Not shown in the Figures are thermostat(s) 104 and/or electric contactor(s) 106 that may be included in or connected to the apparatus comprising the system controller 100. Also, some of the Figures show single temperature sensor(s) 60 when in fact certain variations of the embodiments of the invention may have multiple temperature sensor(s) 60, depending on the complexity and performance specifications of the apparatus involved. Also, the liquid sensor 40 is not shown as being included in all of the embodiments of the invention referenced herein, though in fact, it could be included in many. Also, though not explicitly illustrated in the Figures, variations of the embodiments that utilize hot water from the central hot water system, might utilize a mix of both hot water and cold water feeds to provide the appropriate temperature heat transfer medium 160 to the heat exchanger 140.

In a first (1st) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 1, the temperature sensor 60 is connected to a system controller 100, which is itself connected to the user interface 80, the liquid sensor 40, the source of electric power 222, and the heat source 120 which is affixed in close proximity to the basin 30 of the sink 20. Not shown in this Figure are a thermostat 104 and/or electric contactors 106 which may be included in the apparatus comprising the system controller 100. In this embodiment, the liquid in the basin 30 is heated (or cooled) via heat transmission through the bottom of the basin 30 from or to the heat source 20 that is controlled by the system controller 100.

In a second (2nd) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 2, a temperature sensor 60 is connected to a system controller 100, which is itself connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80, pump 180 and source of electric power 222. Not shown in this Figure are a thermostat 104 and/or electric contactors 106 which may be included in the apparatus comprising the system controller 100.The pump 180 is connected to the heat transfer medium delivery tube(s) 206 that are themselves connected to the heat exchanger 140 that is integral to, affixed to, and/or in close proximity to the basin 30 of the sink 20. Not shown explicitly in this Figure is the heat transfer medium 160 that in this instance is a fluid that is transported by the pump 180 in a closed loop system through the heat transfer delivery tube(s) 206 from the heat source 120 to the heat exchanger 140 and back. In this embodiment, the liquid in the basin 30 is heated (or cooled) via heat transmission through the bottom of the basin 30 from or to the heat exchanger 140. FIG. 3 illustrates a variation on this embodiment of the Invention in which the heat exchanger 140 is a “jacket” that covers part or all of the bottom and/or walls of the basin 30 of the sink 20.

In a third (3rd) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 4, the heat source 120 is the building central hot water heater 126. The pump 140 pumps the building hot water 162 through the water delivery tube 204 that is connected to the heat exchanger 140, which is integral to, affixed to, and/or in close proximity to the basin 30 of the sink 20. After having passed through the heat exchanger 140, the hot water from the building central hot water heater 126 is then sent into the cold water feed line. A variation of this embodiment would involve draining the hot water into the drain 22 of the sink 20 after it has passed through the heat exchanger 140, as indicated by the “dashed line” and arrow.

In a fourth (4th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 5, the interconnections between the main components of the invention are very similar to those noted in the third version as shown in FIG. 4 with the exception that after having passed through the heat exchanger 140, the building hot water 162 is then sent into the Return Line of a recirculating hot water system 202 as may exist in a building, as the case may be.

In a fifth (5th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 6, the interconnections between the main components of the invention are very similar to those noted in the fourth version as shown in FIG. 5 with the exception that the flow of building hot water 162 is carried by the water delivery tube(s) 204 to the user interface control valve 86 which can be either an ordinary adjustable flow valve, or can be a temperature controlled valve 212 for controlling the temperature of the water before being passed through the heat exchanger 140.

In a sixth (6th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 7, the user interface control valve 86 is a combination control valve that has its inlet connections to both the building hot water 162 and the Building cold Water 164, and its outlet connections to a) the water spigot 28 which feeds water into the basin 30 of the sink 20 and b) the heat exchanger 140, and c) the drain 22 of the sink 20 and/or d) the recirculating hot water system return line 202. This embodiment of the invention is multifunctional in that it provides the user with the ability to use the faucet set 24 on the sink 20 normally, and at those times when the user desires to maintain the temperature of the water in a basin 30 of the sink, she may operate the multi-position valve on the user interface control valve 86 which directs water at an appropriate temperature through the heat exchanger 140 and from there, the water can be directed to the most appropriate destination depending on the user's wishes and/or the particular plumbing configuration for the building in question. The heat exchanger 140 can be integral to, affixed to, and/or in close proximity to the basin 30.

In a seventh (7th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 8, the temperature sensor 60 is connected to a system controller 100, which is itself connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80 and source of electric power 222. The heat source 120 is integral to, affixed to, and/or or in close proximity to the heat exchanger 140 that is filled with a heat transfer medium 160 that transfers heat from the heat source 120 to the contents of the basin 30 of the sink 20.

In an eighth (8th), and preferred embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 9, the heat source 120 is an integral part of the basin 30 of the sink 20, and may or may not be enclosed within a heat exchanger 140 that may or may not be filled with a heat transfer medium 180. The temperature sensor 60 is connected to the system controller 100, which is itself connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80 and source of electric power 222.

In a ninth (9th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 10, the heat source 120 is a component that is placed into the liquid contents of the basin 30 of the sink 20, and may or may not be enclosed within a heat exchanger 140, which may or may not be filled with a heat transfer medium 180. The temperature sensor(s) 60 though not explicitly shown in this Figure are considered to be integral with the apparatus that comprises the heat source 120 and/or connecting electrical components 220, and as such would be connected to the system controller 100 which is connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80 and source of electric power 222.

A tenth (10th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 11 is somewhat similar to the second version of the Invention as shown in FIG. 2 with the exception that the heat exchanger is a component that is placed in the liquid contents of the basin 30 of the sink 20 by the user, and the balance of the components of the invention are contained in one or more items of product packaging 240 which are intended to be placed in some proximity to the sink 20. The temperature sensor 60, though not shown in this Figure, detects the temperature of the heat transfer medium 160, and is connected to the system controller 100, which is itself connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80, pump 180 and source of electric power 222. The pump 180 is connected to the heat transfer delivery tube(s) 206 that are connected to the heat exchanger 140. Not shown explicitly in this Figure is the heat transfer medium 160, which in this instance is a fluid that is transported by the pump 180 in a closed loop system from and through the heat source 120 to the heat exchanger 140 and back.

An eleventh (11th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 12 is quite similar to the tenth (10th) version of the invention as shown in FIG. 11 with the exception that an air bubble fluid lifting pump 184 is employed in this version of the invention, and it uses compressed air to physically move the heat transfer medium 160 within the apparatus. As the compressed air is released within the air bubble fluid lifting pump 184, the compressed air forms bubbles which rise upward, carrying the liquid heat transfer medium 160 with the rising bubbles, which develops a pumping action, causing heat transfer medium 160 to circulate within the apparatus through and between the heat source 120 and heat exchanger 140. The temperature sensor 60, though not shown in this Figure, detects the temperature of the heat transfer medium 160, and is connected to the system controller 100, which is itself connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80, air pump 182 and source of electric power 222.

A twelfth (12th) embodiment of-the invention as shown in FIG. 13 is quite similar to the tenth (10th) version of the invention as shown in FIG. 11 with the primary difference being that no heat exchanger 140 is employed. Instead, inlet and outlet water delivery tube(s) 204 are placed in the liquid contents of the basin 30 of the sink 20 by the user, and are connected to the balance of the components of the invention which are contained in one or more items of product packaging (s) 242 which are intended to be placed in close proximity to the sink 20. The temperature sensor 60, though not shown in this Figure, detects the temperature of the heat transfer medium 160, and is connected to the system controller 100, which is itself connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80, pump 180 and source of electric power 222. In this embodiment of the invention, the pump 180 transports the liquid contents of the sink 20 in a closed loop system from the sink 20 to the heat source 120 and back. One or more filters that are intended to remove debris from the liquid contents of the sink 20 may be connected at some point in the apparatus. Variations of this embodiment include a) having the pump located in the basin 30 of the sink 20, b) and using an air bubble fluid lifting pump 184 in the apparatus, and 3) incorporating the embodiment, and its variations, into the sink 20 itself.

In a thirteenth (13th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 14, the interconnections between the main components of the invention are very similar to those noted in the first embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 1 with the exception that the heat source 120 is a separate, removable device not directly connected to the other components comprising this embodiment of the invention. The heat source 120 receives energy from a energy transducer 224 which is affixed in close proximity to the bottom or side wall of the sink 20, and thereby, in close proximity to the heat source 120. The energy received by heat source 120 is transmitted through the bottom or sidewall, as the case may be, of the sink 20 from the energy transducer 224. The liquid sensor 40 and the temperature sensor 60 are connected to the thermostat 104 in the system controller 100, which is itself connected to the user interface 80, the source of electric power 222, and the energy transducer 224.

A fourteenth (14th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 15 is a single, self-contained apparatus that is placed in direct contact with the liquid contents of the sink 20. The apparatus contains a heat source 120, which may be combined with a heat exchanger 140 containing a heat transfer medium 160, and may also contain a temperature sensor 60 that is connected to the system controller 100. This embodiment of the invention may contain its own onboard, rechargeable battery(s) as an energy source, or may receive its energy from an energy transducer 224 that is placed or affixed in close proximity to it. A variation of this embodiment is one in which a chemical reactive material or other substance which gives off heat in the heating mode, or absorbs heat in the cooling mode might be employed as the heat source 120.

A fifteenth (15th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 16 is quite similar to the ninth (9th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 10, with the exception that this embodiment includes its own portable sink 32 that can be placed in the basin 30 of an existing sink 20, or may be placed on a countertop or other surface. In this embodiment of the invention, the heat source 120 is a component that is placed into the liquid contents of the portable sink 32 or may be integral to, or affixed to or in some proximity to the bottom and/or sidewalls of the portable sink 32, and may or may not be enclosed within a heat exchanger 140 that may be filled with a heat transfer medium 180. The temperature sensor(s) 60 though not explicitly shown in this Figure are considered to be integral with the apparatus that comprises the heat source 120 and/or connecting electrical components 220, and as such would be connected to the system controller 100 which is connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80 and source of electric power 222. A version of this embodiment of the Invention would comprise the portable sink 32 and the balance of the apparatus assembled as a single apparatus.

A sixteenth (16th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 17 is quite similar to the tenth (10th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 11, with the exception that this embodiment includes its own portable sink 32 that can be placed in the basin 30 of an existing sink 20, or may be placed on a countertop or other surface. In this embodiment of the invention, the heat exchanger 140.is placed in the liquid contents of the portable sink 32 by the user, and the balance of the components of the invention are contained in one or more items of product packaging(s) 242 which are intended to be placed in close proximity to the portable sink 32. The liquid sensor 40 is not included, though it could be included, and the temperature sensor 60, though not shown in this Figure, detects the temperature of the heat transfer medium 160, and is connected to the system controller 100, which is itself connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80, pump 180 and source of electric power 222. The pump 180 is connected to the heat transfer delivery tube(s) 206 that are connected to the heat exchanger 140. Not shown explicitly in this Figure is the heat transfer medium 160 that in this instance is a fluid that is transported by the pump 180 in a closed loop system through the heat transfer delivery tube(s) 206 from the heat source 120 to the heat exchanger 140 and back. A version of this embodiment of the invention would comprise the portable sink 32 and the balance of the apparatus assembled as a single apparatus.

A seventeenth (17th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 18 is quite similar to the eleventh (11th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 12, with the exception that this embodiment includes its own portable sink 32 that can be placed in an existing sink 20, or may be placed on a countertop or other surface. In this embodiment of the invention, the air bubble fluid-lifting pump 184 employed in this version of the invention uses air bubbles to physically move the heat transfer medium 160 within the invention. The liquid sensor 40 is not included, though it could be included, and the temperature sensor 60, though not shown in this Figure, detects the temperature of the heat transfer medium 160, and is connected to the system controller 100, which is itself connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80, air Compressor 182 and source of electric power 222. The air bubble fluid-lifting pump 184 is connected to the heat transfer medium delivery tubes(s) 206 that are connected to the heat exchanger 140 that is placed by the user in the sink 20. Not shown explicitly in this Figure is the heat transfer medium 160 that in this instance is a fluid that is transported by the air bubble fluid lifting pump 184 in a closed loop system from the heat source 120 to the heat exchanger 140 and back. A version of this embodiment of the invention would comprise the portable sink 32 and the balance of the apparatus assembled as a single apparatus.

An eighteenth (18th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 19 is quite similar to the twelfth (12th) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 13, with the exception that this embodiment includes its own portable sink 32 that can be placed in the basin 30 of an existing sink 20, or may be placed on a countertop or other surface. In this embodiment of the invention, no heat exchanger 140 is employed. Instead, inlet and outlet water delivery tube(s) 204 are both placed in the liquid contents of the portable sink 32 by the user, and the balance of the components of the invention are contained in one or more items of product packaging(s) 240 which are intended to be placed in close proximity to the portable sink 32. The temperature sensor 60 is connected to the system controller 100, which is itself connected to the heat source 120, user interface 80, pump 180 and source of electric power 222. The pump 180 is connected to the water delivery tube(s) 204 that are placed by the user in the portable sink 32. The pump 180 transports the liquid contents of the portable sink 32 in a closed loop system from the heat source 120 to the basin 30 of the portable sink 32 and back. One or more filters that are intended to remove debris from the liquid contents of the portable sink 32 may be connected at some point in the plumbing components 200. A version of this embodiment of the invention would comprise the portable sink 32 and the balance of the apparatus assembled as a single apparatus. Additional variations of this embodiment include a) having the pump located inside the portable sink 32, b) and using an air bubble fluid lifting pump 184 in the apparatus, and 3) incorporating these variations of this embodiment into the portable sink 32 itself as a single apparatus.

A nineteenth (19) embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 20 comprises a apparatus with faucet attachment device 208 which the user connects to the water spigot 28 on faucet set 24 which is used in conjunction with a sink 20. The faucet attachment device 208 is connected to an outlet and an inlet water delivery tube 204, which are connected to a heat exchanger 140. The faucet attachment device 208 includes a faucet attachment device diverter valve 210 that permits the user to control the outflow of water from the Faucet Spigot 28 to either the heat exchanger 140 or bypassing the heat exchanger 140 completely, directly into the basin 30 of the sink 20, as follows:

In practice, once the user has filled the basin 30 with water to an acceptable level and temperature, she may add additional heat energy to the water in said basin 30 of the sink 20 by adjusting the faucet attachment device diverter valve 210 to cause the warm-hot water from the water spigot 28 to flow through the heat exchanger 140 via the water delivery tube(s) 204, before passing out the water spigot 28 into another basin 30 of the sink 20, as would be the case when the user were rinsing food debris from cooking dishes and utensils, etc.

The reverse is true in the case of using cold water, as in the instance of preparing some types of foods.

THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT, OR “BEST MODE”, OF THE INVENTION

The preferred embodiment of the invention is best represented by the eighth (8th) embodiment, as in FIG. 9. This FIG. 9 illustrates a sink 20 with an integral heat source 120 and appropriate temperature sensor(s) 60, system controller 100 and user interface 80. This embodiment of the invention would enable the user, using the hot and cold water faucet set 24, to fill the basin 30 of an invention-equipped kitchen sink 20 with water to be used for the task at hand, and, once having filled the basin 30 of the sink 20 with water of an acceptable temperature, to be able to activate a switch on the user interface 80 which would cause the system controller 100, acting through the temperature sensor 60, to automatically determine the temperature of the water in the basin 30 of the sink 20, and using that “set” temperature as the reference temperature, operate the heat source 120 to maintain the water in the sink 20 at the “set” temperature.

The user interface 80 may include visual display(s) and/or audio signals to inform the user of the status and condition of the water heating and operation of the controls.

Should the user desire to change the original “set” temperature of the water to some other temperature, the user simply adjusts the temperature of the water to “re-activate” the “set” switch/control to cause the apparatus to recognize the new water temperature as its reference temperature, and adjust the operation of the apparatus to the new temperature level.

The apparatus automatically shuts-off if the water in the basin 30 of the sink 20 drains away, or if the apparatus becomes “disengaged” by the user.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8424569Aug 1, 2011Apr 23, 2013Masco Corporation Of IndianaSpout assembly for an electronic faucet
US20120225395 *Mar 1, 2011Sep 6, 2012Haggerty Sean EMethod and system for limiting water boiler heat input
WO2010134668A1 *Aug 26, 2009Nov 25, 2010Negatron Co., Ltd.Micro-bubble shower device
Classifications
U.S. Classification4/654
International ClassificationG05D23/19, E03C1/18
Cooperative ClassificationE03C1/18, G05D23/19
European ClassificationE03C1/18, G05D23/19