US 20060048924 A1
A module, particularly on motorized or automotive vehicles, comprising parts such as a housing and/or shrouds or the like and fluid reservoirs containing fluids, such as heat exchange fluids and the like, is provided. Advantageously, the reservoir comprises one or more leak proof flow through holes or openings. The module has a first part or a carrier or shroud, that, when properly aligned or positioned relative to a second part or fluid reservoir, provides for a through flow of air from the front to the back of the first part and second part aligned combination.
1. A module particularly for motorized or automotive vehicles having an element for providing efficient heat exchange for the vehicle comprising:
at least one fluid reservoir for an automotive fluid;
at least one fluid communication point on or adjacent to the at least one fluid reservoir;
at least one hole or opening in the housing through which air can flow;
at least one slot in the fluid reservoir through which air can flow;
wherein the at least one hole or opening in the housing is at least partially aligned with the at least one slot in the fluid reservoir so that air can flow through both the housing and the fluid reservoir.
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9. A module of a vehicle, and, particularly a motorized or automotive vehicle, having an element for providing efficient heat exchange for the vehicle comprising:
a front end carrier or bolster;
a least one fluid reservoir for an automotive fluid;
a means for providing fluid to the fluid reservoir;
at least one hole or opening in the front end carrier or bolster through which air can flow;
at least one slot in the fluid reservoir through which air can flow;
wherein the at least one hole or opening in the front end carrier or bolster is at least partially aligned with the at least one slot in the fluid reservoir so that air can flow through both the front end carrier or bolster and the fluid reservoir.
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11. A modules as in
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17. A module for use in environments requiring efficient heat exchange comprising:
a first part wherein no fluid capable of heat exchange is stored or flows;
a second part wherein a fluid capable of heat exchange is stored or flows;
a means for providing fluid to the second part;
at least one flow through hole or opening in the first part through which air can flow;
at least one flow through hole or opening in the second part through which air can flow;
wherein the at least one flow through hole or opening in the first part is at least partially aligned with the at least one flow through hole or opening in the second part so that air can flow through both the first part and the second part reservoir.
This application claims priority of provisional application U.S. Ser. No. 60/605,806 filed Aug. 31, 2004
The present invention relates to cooling systems, and, in particular, to automotive cooling systems, wherein coolant expansion changes need to be managed efficiently. It further relates to motorized or automotive modules, and, in particular, modules that comprise heat exchangers and fluid reservoirs.
In modern day motorized or automotive cooling systems, coolant expansion changes must be efficiently managed for overall effective functioning of such systems. Expansion changes have often been managed by use of reserve bottles or reservoirs or the like. The prior art has often provided for the use of such reservoirs as a separate part attached in the engine compartment to an engine cooling module or to other vehicle components or structure.
Vehicle modules, and, in particular, modules comprising heat exchangers and some sort of fluid chamber or reservoir are known in the art. U.S. Pat. No. 3,692,004, Tangue, et al, issued Sep. 19, 1972, discloses a fan shroud and fluid storage chamber arrangement wherein radiator fluid and windshield washer fluid chambers are provided integrally molded on opposite side surfaces of the cylindrical wall surrounding the air flow opening. Other patents, such as U.S. Pat. No. 5,649,587, Plant, issued Jul. 22, 1997, disclose fan shroud and receptacle arrangements in which there is a shaped hollow body. Oppositely disposed recesses are formed in a front and rear face of the fan shroud to form a wall for dividing the hollow body into two or more internal fluid storage chambers.
Modern engine design often now includes a plurality of chambers for engine coolant fluid. The fluid must circulate through the radiator core for the usual cooling process. The cooling process is often supplemented by addition of a fan, such as an independently driven electric fan from the engine or driven by a belt by a crank shaft on the engine itself.
Such aids are necessary, of course, due to the fact that there is an ever present need to have more efficient heat exchange in the area of the radiator and accompanying components in a cooling system, and, therefore, new and/or improved means to increase cooling are desirable in motor vehicle applications.
Several attempts have been made to integrate parts, such as cooing system reservoirs, into other parts, such as radiator fan shrouds. In general, overall approaches to reservoir placement and/or integration, as seen in the prior art, have focused on: 1) providing for a separate bottle on the shroud; 2) providing for a bottle integrated in the shroud by a blow molding process; or 3) providing for a part of a bottle to be integrated in to the fan shroud by an injection molding process. Typically, a fan shroud is a shroud useful for placing in front of or in back of a fan, depending of its orientation, wherethrough air flows through the shroud prior to or after being pulled, pushed or otherwise directed by the fan.
W00139949, published Jun. 7, 2001, to Mccord Winn Textron, provides for a reservoir included in the many different configurations by blow molding. U.S. Pat. No. 6,041,744, issued Mar. 28, 2000, to Oota et al., provides for coolant use solutions whereby part of a reservoir body is injection molded as an integral part of the radiator fan shroud structure. These general approaches, however, have yielded highly undesirable affects—they, in most cases, end up having reservoirs or bottles that eventually block the air flow path so desired for efficient cooling of modern automotive heat exchangers and cooling systems. In virtually all of the above-mentioned solutions, blockage or diversion of air or ‘air paths’ so critical for efficient cooling of modern day systems, occurs, as the bottles or reservoirs are often placed, for example, either directly or indirectly in front of, or in back of, the automotive fan should.
In U.S. Pat. No. 5,971,062, issued Oct. 26, 1999, to Sadr et al, a fan shroud comprising a housing provide with an opening for permitting air flow through the front and rear walls, the walls being described as coextensive, substantially continuous surfaces defining therebetween uniform molded fluid storage thickness. The housing has at least two molded fluid storage chambers comprising a one piece housing comprised of the front and back walls, and, at least one molded fluid storage chamber comprising a plurality of individual storage modules with interconnections. However, this arrangement does not acknowledge or attempt to solve the problem of placement of such components in efficient engine cooling modules or systems. The placement of such a storage chamber ‘behind’ or aligned with a through hole in the housing or shroud, is not described.
The need, therefore, that developed out of modern engine cooling system requirements, still exists for a vehicle, and, in particular a vehicle such as an automotive vehicle with a module or modular fluid system, that not only serves a storage function, but ideally aids in the achievement of higher and/or more efficient levels of heat exchange and cost effective. Such a need, particularly exists to handle the requirements of modern automotive engine cooling demands. The present invention addresses this need, while, at the same time providing a heretofore unrecognized use of a reservoir as part of a module with the added effect of not only having decreased, or reduced costs, but also, potentially, an increased thermal exchange.
The present invention relates to modules, such as modules with elements or components used in heat exchange, particularly for vehicles, such as motorized or automotive vehicles. So called ‘engine cooling’ modules or ‘front end modules’ or carriers or bolsters, in accordance with the present invention, further comprise elements or components, often used in assemblies useful for efficient heat exchange, particularly suited for automotive or motorized vehicle fluid or liquid circulating or cooling systems. In preferred aspects of the present invention, a bottle or reservoir is provided that has, as a dual function, storage of a liquid or fluid and, in particular, a fluid capable of heat exchange (fluid reservoir), while allowing improved overall or more efficient cooling by the module or assembly. Also this invention covers the scenario where more than one fluid are handled through reservoirs which are separately integrated or made of multiple separated chambers of the reservoir. The present invention, by providing for both functions in a single module or assembly, leads to cost benefits over prior art bottle and shroud or similar combinations.
In preferred aspects of the present invention, a reservoir, chamber, bottle or the like (fluid reservoir) is provided as an integrated or separate part of an assembly and/or module, such as an engine cooling or front end module or bolster. Preferably the fluid reservoir has at least one opening (slot). The fluid reservoir maintains its fluid(s) within its confines or walls. In the present invention, an area or zone of the walls of the fluid reservoir is constructed so as to form at least one passageway or opening in the fluid reservoir (slot) where air can pass through the fluid reservoir without contacting the fluid therein. Preferably, the fluid reservoir has two or more slots at areas or zones where the reservoir is exposed to the exterior environment or outside air at the exterior surface of the reservoir and exposed to the fluid inside on the interior surface of the reservoir. Preferably, at least one or two or more holes or opening(s) (slot(s)) is a through slot, i.e., the slot allows for air to pass or flow from the front or initial air flow contact area of the fluid reservoir to the opposite, back or posterior side of the fluid reservoir, front and back being determined by the placement of the fluid reservoir in the module and the direction of air flow in the normal environment of the engine cooling module or system. In preferred embodiments, since the air normally passes or flows over or is pushed or pulled through from the anterior or front end of the automobile to the posterior or back end of the vehicle, the fluid reservoir is placed such that the air can pass or flow, be pushed or pulled through the slot or slots in the fluid reservoir under normal vehicle operation conditions, from one side to the other of the reservoir in such as fashion that the fluid reservoir preserves the function of bottle as a reservoir (maintaining fluids within without leakage or outside contact) while also allowing for improved cooling. By providing for through slots through the fluid reservoir for air passage, air flow that normally would be blocked or stopped by certain elements associated with other modules or assemblies of the vehicle, such as, for example, bolsters, shrouds or the like in a fan assembly in a vehicle, is no longer blocked and can pass or flow over or ‘through’ areas or zones of the fluid reservoir previously inaccessible in prior art vehicles. The present invention provides, therefore, for air to pass or flow through areas wherein previously inefficient, practically inexistent or inappropriate heat exchange could occur or dead zones, thereby increasing the heat exchange capacity of the entire module.
In particularly preferred embodiments, the presence of such through slots, and, in particular, slots formed by partitions or divisions in the fluid reservoir forming chambers or sections, in the fluid reservoirs can be especially important. For example, preferred embodiments of the present invention allow for air to get through to areas where efficient heat exchange can occur, particularly when the vehicle is moving at high speeds, that would not be achievable due to conditions such as fan ‘block’; minimalized passage due to reservoir ‘block’ wherein there are no through slots or openings; or wherein the fan output cannot keep up with the desired exchange of air over the heat exchange surface of the heat exchanger alone due to the increase volume and/or velocity of air passage. By having the reservoir, and, in particular, one or more slots of the reservoir, partially aligned, or, preferably, in at least 50% alignment, with and, even more preferably, at least between 70-100% aligned with at least one opening in the shroud or other modular part, simplicity, lower cost and improved system performance and competitiveness occur over current solutions. The slot or, preferably, slots, can be of practically any shape, such as round, square, oval, rectangular, triangular or any other shape or modification of one of the basic shapes.
The present invention provides a module comprising a housing or shroud, or, preferably, a housing and shroud, the housing, shroud or housing and shroud having, preferably, front and rear walls and top and bottom walls or structures. The housing or shroud or housing and shroud has or defines at least one hole or opening, and, preferably, two or more holes or openings, to permit air flow through the front and back walls or structures of the housing, shroud or housing and shroud. The at least one hole or opening is a through hole or opening. The present invention also provides for at least one fluid reservoir, and, in particular, a fluid reservoir, that may contain fluids useful for heat exchange applications. The at least one fluid reservoir has at least on one hole or opening (slot), and, preferably, two or more holes or openings (slots), to permit air flow through externally through the slot or slots, from the front to the back of the reservoir. At least one of the at least one fluid reservoirs is partially, more preferably, fully aligned with at least one hole or opening of the housing, shroud or housing and shroud such that the air flows through the front and back walls or structures of the housing, shroud or housing and shroud, and at least partially, and preferably, more than 50%, more preferably, up to about 100% of the air flow that flows through the front and back walls or structures of the housing, shroud or housing and shroud at the hole or opening flows through at least one fluid reservoir through the slot or slots of the fluid reservoir.
The fluid reservoir can be made of various materials, including metal or metallic materials or alloys, preferably steel or alloys.
In preferred embodiments of the present invention, the fluid reservoir is made of a resin or resin like material. Most preferred materials are filled or unfilled plastic or plastic like materials.
As described above, prior art techniques included having a blow molded bottle attached to a shroud, often integrated into the blow molded shroud or, in certain cases, injection molded, having a part of the bottle body with separate cover, or in some cases, an integral or integrated cover included as a part of the shroud. The present invention, in preferred embodiments, provides for an assembly or ‘module’ or assembly having a carrier or ‘bolster’, particularly for use in motorized or automobile cooling systems, having, a fluid reservoir either positioned to be free standing, or as an integrated part of a module or attached thereto.
The module or bolster may be produced by a variety of methods such as molding. Particularly preferred are modules that include a shroud, such as a fan shroud, that can be molded. Also preferred are modules that have blown or injection molded features. More preferred are modules that include structural features that have openings therein to provide for air passage from the front to the back, or back to the front end of a module, in particular, a front end module. Also more preferred are modules that include structural features that have openings therein, and a fluid reservoir placed in front of or behind the openings. Even more preferred are modules that have reservoirs that have slots therein that correspond directly with or are aligned with the openings of the modules. Also even more preferred are modules that have at least one shroud, such as a fan shroud, the fan shroud having, at least, one opening for the fan, as well as, in preferred embodiments, at least one additional opening in the shroud for air passage from the front to the back end of the shroud (shroud opening), and a fluid reservoir, wherein the fluid reservoir has at least one slot whereby air can pass from the front to the back of the reservoir, and wherein the at least one slot is placed behind or downstream of the at least one opening, or, preferably, one additional opening in the shroud, and the at least one slot on the fluid reservoir is at least partially aligned, more preferred almost directly aligned, with the opening in the shroud, so that a substantial amount, and, preferably, a majority of the air flow that passes through the shroud opening subsequently passes through the slot of the reservoir.
In preferred embodiments of the present invention, the shroud or bolster, and, most preferably, the shroud, is a blow or injection molded shroud although other shaping methods can be used to form the shroud or front end carrier or ‘bolsters’. In more preferred embodiments of the present invention wherein the reservoir or reservoirs are injection molded, the fluid reservoir has partitions or divisions which create the at least one slot within the fluid reservoir, while allowing the reservoir to remain leak-free. In preferred embodiments with reservoirs with partitions or divisions, chambers or sections are also created by the partitions or divisions form to form separate parts or areas in the fluid reservoir.
In other preferred embodiments of the present invention, a shroud is provided. The reservoir, in more preferred embodiments, is blow molded and is a separate element or part attached to or fixed on or against the shroud or between the shroud and other elements or parts of the module. In other more preferred embodiments, the shroud is blow molded, and the reservoir (or reservoirs) is integrated via the blow molding process, into the shroud.
In the modules of the present invention, other parts than reservoirs and shrouds, can also be integrated or attached to or as part of the module. In preferred embodiments, for example, a line or ‘hose’ can be integrated into the module in an area, such as particularly, a shroud, and, in particular, a fan shroud. The line or hose is, therefore, integrated into the module at an area such as the shroud.
In addition, also in preferred embodiments of the present invention, a means, such as a reservoir filling or relief means such as a fluid communication point, is, provided. A fluid communication point as described herein, is a means for allowing ingress or egress of fluid from the fluid reservoir. A fluid communication point can, therefore, can consist of a single hole, slot or channel, port, hose, connector or the like that allows for fluid communication either into or out of the reservoir. Said reservoir filling or relief means can be of the form of an opening, preferably an opening with cap or top which covers part of the reservoir wherein filling with fluid or relief of pressure can occur, as well as a sealing area where the cap or top and the fluid reservoir meet. Such reservoir filling means may be made of a number of materials. Preferably, said filling or relief means is made of a material capable of being deformable to form a seal at the seal area. More preferred materials are plastic or plastic like or resin or resin like material. In more preferred embodiments the top or cap can be integrated in design with the reservoir itself or another part, more preferably with the reservoir itself, and comprise a means, such as a hinging means or ‘living hinge design’ which allows the manufacture of integrated cap. As recognized in the industry, the living hinge allows a joint between two parts which is flexible to allow movement between components, specifically for assembly and disassembly. In preferred embodiments of the present invention, the living hinge, therefore, can open and close the cap for filling and sealing the fluid.
In preferred embodiments of the present invention, a fluid reservoir with at least one slot or opening, and, preferably, at least two ‘through holes’ or ‘through openings’, (through slots) is provided. The through slots can be of any size or shape desired. Preferably, the through slots can be aerodynamically designed to allow smooth air flow. The fluid reservoir can consist of single or multiple chambers or compartments to hold different fluids. In preferred embodiments, the fluid reservoir can have channels (interior) or grooves (exterior) on the surfaces. Preferably, the external grooves allow for additional air to be directed towards a through slot or opening, depending on the orientation of the fluid reservoir. The fluid reservoir may also have partitions, tabs or walls on the interior of the reservoir. The partitions, tabs or walls on the interior of the fluid reservoir can act as either structural supports for the fluid reservoir or as features to reduce ‘buoyancy’ or extreme fluid movements within the reservoir that may be influenced or influence the effect of the through passage of the air or the overall performance of the heat exchange of the fluid. By partitions, tabs or walls it is understood that these are projections, either completely from the interior of one part of the reservoir to the interior of another part of the fluid reservoir, or incompletely, extending from the interior of one part of the reservoir towards the interior of the reservoir, and can be formed either internally, externally, or through other means that cause the reservoir to have projections or other structures that influence the distribution or flow of fluid through the reservoir. The fluid reservoir can be made out of almost any material capable of being formed or molded for use in automotive or motorized module or assemblies, particularly heat exchange or engine cooling modules or assemblies, more particularly fan and shroud type assemblies, and more particularly front end module type assembly or ‘bolsters’.
Preferably the fluid reservoir is made of plastic or plastic like or resin or resin-type materials. Also the reservoir can be made of transparent, semi-transparent or opaque material to allow fluid visibility for service and fill. Also the reservoir can have local areas formed which are transparent, semi-transparent or opaque where color matching is needed. Where color matching is needed dip sticks are provided to measure the level of fluid within the reservoir.
The fluid reservoir of various aspects of the present invention may extend partially or fully across the surface of a bolster, housing, shroud or housing and shroud. The fluid reservoir may further comprise an expansion tank for use with various fluids. Other embodiments of the present invention include direct connections via tubes, hoses or the like, between fluid reservoir and heat exchange devices, e.g. radiators.
The present invention provides for the flow through of air from the ‘front’ to the ‘back’ of a module, including its constituent parts, at specific areas of the module. In preferred embodiments, air flow passes not only through openings in parts such as the shroud, but also through the fluid reservoir itself, at particularly desired locations. In preferred embodiments of the present invention, a shroud having at least one through hole or opening and a fluid reservoir having at least one slot is provided, the at least one through slot of the reservoir at least partially aligned, and, more preferably, fully aligned (to provide for maximum air flow through), with the at least one through hole or opening of the shroud, and attached or fitted in such a manner that the at least one through slot of the reservoir and the at least one through hole of the shroud remain in at least partial alignment while the vehicle is in operation.
By providing for a reservoir or reservoir sections with a slot or slots at locations that either partially or fully align with housing, housing and shroud or other module parts to provide through-flow of air from the front to the back of the module, the placement of the holes or openings at the desired locations lead to improve air passage providing higher heat exchange and thus more efficient systems.
In other preferred embodiments of the present invention, a shroud or front end carrier or bolster is provided. The shroud or front end carrier is, preferably, molded, more preferably, injection molded or blow molded or rotational molded, though it may be made from sheet metal or magnesium, casted or compression molded or resin casted or hollow molded, lost core molded, insert molded or overmolded, etc. In preferred embodiments, the injection molded shroud or front end carrier is produced to have an integrated, (i.e. one piece design or totally incorporated/integrated design), with the at least one fluid reservoir and slots are provided at the desired location to allow air to pass through from the front to the back of the shroud with integrated fluid reservoir. In other preferred embodiments, the shroud is injection molded or front end carrier or bolster is injection molded. In more preferred embodiments, the injection molded shroud or carrier has a two or more piece or part design or a non-totally incorporated or non-integrated design. In these more preferred embodiments, the pieces or parts have at least one opening, and, if more than one opening, preferably, the majority of openings, more preferably, all openings, aligned with slots and each other such that when they are joined by any liquid tight operation (i.e. when the parts are fixed or attached to each other without allowing for a reservoir breech or leak area to occur) they provide openings and slot combinations for air to pass through from the front to the back of the shroud plus additional piece or part of the fluid reservoir. These opening or slots can also have flaps or covers. Though flaps or covers in areas away from the reservoir are known, the use of flaps or covers for slots as in the present invention have the advantage of being controlled to adapt to the needs of the vehicle when air is needed the most; for example the flaps will open at high speeds where fan becomes a blockage and cooling system needs more air.
As described in above figures it is envisioned similar improvements on shrouds and front end carriers or bolsters.
The reservoirs described in the preferred aspects of the present invention can be built to be used for fluids provided in pressurized environments or more hostile conditions of temperature and pressure, or for fluids used in more normal atmospheric and other conditions, or for both, depending on the fluid needs of the vehicle (automotives fluids). Examples of automotive fluids that can be used in the present invention include without limitations radiator coolant, windshield washer fluid, automotive oils such as transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid etc. Within the reservoirs, the holes or opening provide a lower inertia when fluid is in motion when higher vibration conditions are encountered during working vehicle conditions. The optional ‘overflow’ or ‘expansion’ bottles or chambers that may be directly or indirectly connected to the fluid reservoir, are placed at a level superior to the heat exchanger, such as the radiator, itself, in its normal working orientation. More preferably, the automotive fluids are radiators fluid or coolants.
Unless stated otherwise, dimensions and geometries of the various structures depicted herein are not intended to be restrictive of the invention, and other dimensions or geometries are possible. Plural structural components can be provided by a single integrated structure. Alternatively, a single integrated structure might be divided into separate plural components. In addition, while a feature of the present invention may have been described in the context of only one of the illustrated embodiments, such feature may be combined with one or more other features of other embodiments, for any given application. It will also be appreciated from the above that the fabrication of the unique structures herein and the operation thereof also constitute methods in accordance with the present invention.
The preferred embodiment of the present invention has been disclosed. A person of ordinary skill in the art would realize however, that certain modifications would come within the teachings of this invention. Therefore, the following claims should be studied to determine the true scope and content of the invention.