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Publication numberUS20060196448 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/357,290
Publication dateSep 7, 2006
Filing dateFeb 17, 2006
Priority dateFeb 21, 2005
Also published asEP1856441A2, WO2006091477A2, WO2006091477A3
Publication number11357290, 357290, US 2006/0196448 A1, US 2006/196448 A1, US 20060196448 A1, US 20060196448A1, US 2006196448 A1, US 2006196448A1, US-A1-20060196448, US-A1-2006196448, US2006/0196448A1, US2006/196448A1, US20060196448 A1, US20060196448A1, US2006196448 A1, US2006196448A1
InventorsWilson Hayworth, Steven Hackney, Michael Hawthorne, Harold Warren
Original AssigneeInternational Resistive Company, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
System, method and tube assembly for heating automotive fluids
US 20060196448 A1
Abstract
A tube heating assembly having a heating tube with proximate and distal end portions, a manifold insert disposed concentrically within the heating tube and likewise having proximate and distal end portions, and a pair of end caps removably secured to the proximate and distal end portions of the manifold insert and the heating tube respectively. The manifold insert includes a raised spiral thread on its surface. An electrical assembly such as a resistive path applied to the outer surface of the heating tube is used to heat the tube. The tube heating assembly may be embodied in a system and method for delivering an automotive fluid in a vehicle, wherein the tube heating assembly is installed as a heat exchanger in a fluid delivery path through which the fluid is pumped, preferably in pulses to enhance heating of the fluid.
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Claims(25)
1. A tube heating assembly, comprising:
(a) a heating tube having a proximate and a distal end portion;
(b) a manifold insert having a proximate and a distal end portion and being disposed within the heating tube; and
(c) a pair of end caps removably secured to the proximate and distal end portions of the manifold insert and the heating tube respectively.
2. The tube heating assembly of claim 1, wherein the manifold insert includes a surface configuration adapted to induce turbulence in a fluid flowing between the manifold insert and the heating tube.
3. The tube heating assembly of claim 2, wherein the surface configuration of the manifold insert comprises a raised spiral thread on the surface of the manifold insert.
4. A tube heating assembly, comprising:
(a) a tube;
(b) an electrical assembly that heats the tube; and
(c) a manifold insert disposed within the tube.
5. The tube heating assembly of claim 4, wherein the electrical assembly is a resistive path applied to the outside of the tube.
6. The tube heating assembly of claim 4, wherein the tube and manifold insert have proximate and distal end portions and further comprising a pair of end caps removably secured to the proximate and distal end portions of the manifold insert and the tube respectively.
7. In combination with an automotive vehicle having a fluid delivery system, a tube heating assembly in the fluid delivery system for heating a fluid conveyed therein, the tube heating assembly comprising:
(a) a heating tube having a proximate and a distal end portion;
(b) a manifold insert having a proximate and a distal end portion and being disposed within the heating tube and defining an annular fluid heat exchange path therebetween;
(c) a pair of end caps secured to the proximate and distal end portions of the manifold insert and the heating tube respectively, the end caps being connected respectively with inlet and outlet sections of the fluid delivery system for directing fluid flow through the annular fluid heat exchange path; and
(d) an electrical assembly that heats the tube.
8. A system for delivering a heated fluid, comprising a fluid supply, a fluid delivery path comprising a heat exchanger, and an arrangement for pumping fluid in pulses from the fluid supply through the fluid delivery path.
9. A system for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 8, wherein the heat exchanger comprises a tube heating assembly.
10. A system for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 9, wherein the tube heating assembly comprises:
(a) a heating tube having a proximate and a distal end portion;
(b) a manifold insert having a proximate and a distal end portion, the manifold insert being disposed within the heating tube and defining an annular fluid heat exchange path therebetween; and
(c) a pair of end caps secured to the proximate and distal end portions of the manifold insert and the heating tube respectively, the end caps being connected respectively with inlet and outlet sections of the fluid delivery system for directing fluid flow through the annular fluid heat exchange path.
11. A system for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 10, wherein the manifold insert includes a surface configuration adapted to induce turbulence in a fluid flowing between the manifold insert and the heating tube.
12. The tube heating assembly of claim 11, wherein the surface configuration of the manifold insert comprises a raised spiral thread on the surface of the manifold insert.
13. A system for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 9, wherein the tube heating assembly, comprises:
(a) a tube;
(b) an electrical assembly that heats the tube; and
(c) a manifold insert disposed concentrically within the tube.
14. A system for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 13, wherein the electrical assembly is a resistive path applied to the outside of the tube.
15. A system for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 13, wherein the tube and manifold insert have proximate and distal end portions and further comprising a pair of end caps removably secured to the proximate and distal end portions of the manifold insert and the tube respectively.
16. A system for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 8, wherein the pumping arrangement comprises a pump motor and a pulse interface for cycling the pump motor between energized and non-energized states.
17. A system for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 8, wherein the pumping arrangement comprises a valve in the delivery path and a device for cycling the valve between opened and closed states.
18. In combination with an automotive vehicle having at least one fluid flow system, a system for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 8, wherein the fluid supply comprises an automotive fluid.
19. A method for delivering a heated fluid, comprising the steps of providing a fluid supply, and delivering a fluid in pulses from the fluid supply along a delivery path including a heat exchanger.
20. A method for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 19, further comprising transporting the fluid in a turbulent path through the heat exchanger.
21. A method for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 19, further comprising transporting the fluid in a spiral path through the heat exchanger.
22. A method for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 19, further comprising applying electrically resistive heat to the heat exchanger.
23. A method for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 19, wherein the delivering of the fluid in pulses comprises cycling a fluid pump motor between energized and non-energized states.
24. A method for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 19, wherein the delivering of the fluid in pulses comprises cycling a valve in the delivery path between opened and closed states.
25. In an automotive vehicle having at least one fluid flow system, a method for delivering a heated fluid according to claim 19, wherein the fluid supply comprises an automotive fluid.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is entitled to the benefit of, and claims priority to provisional U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/654,701, filed Feb. 21, 2005, and entitled “System for Heating Automotive Fluids” the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

1. Field of the Present Invention

The present invention relates generally to systems for heating automotive fluids, and, in particular, to systems, methods, and electrically-heated tubular assemblies for transferring heat to a fluid flowing therethrough.

2. Background

Because automobiles, trucks, and a wide variety of other motor vehicles are often used in low-temperature environments, their subsystems and components must be able to operate under conditions ranging from warm to extremely cold. In particular, automotive subsystems and components that make use of fluids, including wiper fluid systems, cooling systems, fuel lines, and the like, must be capable of reliable operation in such conditions. One primary problem faced by such systems is that of keeping the fluids flowing therethrough from congealing, freezing or the like. Thus, an ongoing need exists for heating systems, using inexpensive, lightweight and non-bulky materials for quickly and efficiently heating or warming fluids in such automotive systems.

Raising the temperature of at least some automotive fluids may have other benefits as well. For example, a fluid such as wiper fluid may be comprised of water and detergent, along with a substance to lower the freezing temperature of the composition, such as an alcohol, e.g., methanol or isopropyl, and/or ethylene glycol. Higher temperatures may help ensure that such fluids are more thoroughly mixed; this may be particular critical for fluids such as wiper fluid in which the anti-freezing substance (which typically has a significantly lower boiling point than water, e.g., methanol) must be prevented from being superheated into the evaporation state and forced out of the mixture. Further, automotive studies have shown that the cleaning action of wiper fluid is increased as much as 2000% when the alcohol temperature is elevated to just under its boiling point. Also, the heating of a wiper fluid additionally provides a de-icing feature, which may be of equal or greater importance to consumers.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The present invention accordingly provides a system and method for delivering a heated fluid, particularly adapted for use in fluid delivery systems and methods employed in automotive vehicles. The present invention further provides a tubular assembly for heating fluids, particularly automotive fluids, and especially adapted for use in such systems and methods.

Broadly defined, the present invention according to one aspect is a tube heating assembly, including: a heating tube having approximate and a distal end portion; a manifold insert having a proximate and a distal end portion and being disposed concentrically within the heating tube; and a pair of end caps removably secured to the proximate and distal end portions of the manifold insert and the heating tube respectively. In a feature of this aspect, the manifold insert may include a means for creating turbulence in the fluid, e.g., via a raised spiral thread on the surface of the manifold insert.

The present invention according to another aspect is a tube heating assembly, including: a tube; an electrical assembly that heats the tube; and a manifold insert disposed concentrically within the tube. In features of this aspect, the electrical assembly is a resistive path applied to the outside of the tube; and the tube and manifold insert have proximate and distal end portions and further comprising a pair of end caps removably secured to the proximate and distal end portions of the manifold insert and the tube respectively.

In one contemplated embodiment, the tube heating assembly is installed in an automotive vehicle having a fluid delivery system, wherein the tube heating system is adapted for heating a fluid conveyed in the fluid delivery system. In such an embodiment, the tube heating assembly may comprise a heating tube having a proximate and a distal end portion; a manifold insert having a proximate and a distal end portion and being disposed concentrically within the heating tube; a pair of end caps removably secured to the proximate and distal end portions of the manifold insert and the heating tube respectively, the end caps being connected respectively with inlet and outlet sections of the fluid delivery system; and an electrical assembly that heats the tube.

The present invention according to another aspect is a system for delivering a heated fluid, basically comprising a fluid supply, a fluid delivery path comprising a heat exchanger, and an arrangement for pumping fluid in pulses from the fluid supply through the fluid delivery path. The heat exchanger may, for example, be a tube heating assembly of a type as described above. The system preferably is embodied in combination with an automotive vehicle having at least one fluid flow system in which an automotive fluid is conveyed. In such an embodiment, the pumping arrangement may comprise a pump motor and a pulse interface for cycling the pump motor between energized and non-energized states or, alternatively, may comprise a valve in the delivery path and a device for cycling the valve between opened and closed states.

The present invention according to another aspect is a method for delivering a heated fluid, basically comprising the steps of providing a fluid supply, and delivering a fluid in pulses from the fluid supply along a delivery path including a heat exchanger, which may for example be a tube heating assembly of a type as described above. The method preferably is carried out in an automotive vehicle having at least one fluid flow system in which an automotive fluid is conveyed. In such an embodiment, the pulsation of the fluid may be performed by cycling a fluid pump motor between energized and non-energized states or, alternatively, by cycling a valve in the fluid delivery path between opened and closed states.

Further areas of applicability of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description provided hereinafter. It should be understood that the detailed description and specific examples, while indicating the preferred embodiment of the invention, are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further features, embodiments, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description with reference to the drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a partially cut-away side elevation view of a tube heating assembly in accordance with the preferred embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the heating tube of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an exploded side elevation view of the manifold insert and end caps of the tube heating assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of the manifold insert of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an end elevation view of the manifold insert of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of one of the end caps of FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a top elevation view of the end cap of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a front elevation view of the end cap of FIG. 6;

FIG. 9 is a rear elevation view of the end cap of FIG. 6;

FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram depicting one contemplated exemplary embodiment of the tube heating assembly of FIGS. 1-9 in an automobile system for delivering a windshield washer fluid;

FIG. 11 is another schematic diagram depicting an alternative contemplated exemplary embodiment of the tube heating assembly of FIGS. 1-9 in an automobile system for delivering a windshield washer fluid in a pulsed manner;

FIG. 12 is a graph depicting the relationship between the flow rate of a windshield washer fluid and the temperature of the fluid at a fixed fluid pump operating voltage, such as in an automotive washer fluid system like that of FIGS. 10 and 11; and

FIG. 13 is a graph depicting the relationship between the pulse duty cycle of a fluid pump and the resultant temperature of the washer fluid output from the heat exchanger in an automotive windshield washer fluid system like that of FIG. 11, shown for differing inlet temperatures for the washer fluid.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the drawings, in which like numerals represent like components throughout the several views, the preferred embodiments of the present invention are next described. The following description of the preferred embodiment(s) is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the invention, its application, or uses.

FIG. 1 is a partially cut-away side elevation view of a tube heating assembly 10 in accordance with the preferred embodiments of the present invention. The tube heating assembly 10 includes a heating tube 12, a manifold insert 14 and two end caps 16. As is shown in FIG. 1, when assembled, the manifold insert 14 is disposed concentrically within the heating tube 12. The manifold insert 14 and the heating tube 12 are coupled to the end caps 16. More specifically, the two end caps 16 cinch the tube heating assembly 10 closed with a water-tight seal to the manifold insert 14 and an o-ring seal between the end caps 16 and heating tube 12.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the heating tube 12 of FIG. 1. An electrically resistive path 18 is applied to the outside surface of the heating tube 12. When current flows through the resistive path 18, heat is generated, thereby heating a fluid flowing through the tube 12. An example of a heating tube 12 suitable for use in the preferred embodiments of the present invention is described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/871,117, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIG. 3 is an exploded side elevation view of the manifold insert 14 and end caps 16 of the tube heating assembly 10 of FIG. 1. The manifold insert 14 is preferably formed from a material capable of being injection molded; more particularly, however, it is preferably formed from an elastomer that is capable of expanding inward in the event of fluid expansion during a fluid freezing condition or a heating cycle. The manifold insert 14 is tubular in shape with spiral threading 20 arranged around its outer surface. The spiral threading 20 preferably extends along most of the length of the manifold insert 14, with only the end portions of the manifold insert 14 not having the spiral threads 20 around the outer surface, thus allowing for the end portions of the manifold insert 14 to be coupled with the end caps 16. However, the end portions of the manifold insert 14 are preferable configured for secure coupling with the end caps 16. For example, the inner surface of the end portions of the manifold insert 14 may be threaded 22 (best seen in FIG. 4) for coupling with correspondingly threaded projections 28 extending from the end caps 16. Alternatively, the end portions of the manifold insert 14 and the end caps may be configured for assembly via a snap-type fitting of respective portions thereof, or via any other suitable assembly means. The end caps 16 is also preferably formed from a material capable of being injection molded; more particularly, however, they are preferably formed from polyester or another elastomer capable of expansion. When the manifold insert 14 and end caps 16 are coupled together, the seal formed therebetween is a water-tight seal. While FIG. 3 shows the manifold insert 14 and end caps 16 as three separate components, one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the manifold insert 14 and one of the end caps 16 may be formed together as a single piece.

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of the manifold insert 14 of FIG. 3. In an exemplary embodiment that is suitable for a windshield wiper fluid heater, the length of the manifold insert 14 would be 5.5 inches, but one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that other dimensions would be suitable for the length of the manifold insert 14 in other applications. The length of the manifold insert 14 may also be affected by the length of the heater tube 12 into which the manifold insert 14 is placed. The dimensions of the spiral threading 20 may vary with the application of the tube heating assembly 10. In a preferred embodiment, the width 24 of the thread 20 is related to the width 26 of the open space between threads and to the depth of the thread 20 such that the cross-sectional area of the fluid flow channel defined by the thread 20 substantially matches the cross sectional area of incoming and outgoing fluid supply lines connected to the end caps 16, as more fully described hereinafter.

FIG. 5 is an end elevation view of the manifold insert 14 of FIG. 3. In an exemplary embodiment that is suitable for a windshield wiper fluid heater, the outer diameter of the manifold insert 14 would be 0.545 inches, but one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that other dimensions would be suitable for the outer diameter of the manifold insert 14 in other applications.

FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of one of the end caps 16 of FIG. 3. As noted previously, each end cap 16 has a threaded projection 28 extending outwardly from a proximal end for threaded coupling with the manifold insert 14. On the distal end of each end cap 16, the end cap 16 has a fitting 30 projecting outwardly for connection with a windshield wiper fluid supply line (not shown in FIG. 6; see line 48 in FIGS. 10 and 11) or other tube or supply line. The interior of the end cap 16 is defined by a T-shaped flow path 32 for routing the windshield wiper fluid to the outside of the manifold insert 14. The T-shaped flow path 32 includes a central concentric bore 34 connecting the distal end of the end cap 16 to a cross-bore 36 disposed adjacent the threaded projection. The end cap 16 has small openings 38 near the outer edges of each end of the cross-bore 36 of the T-shaped flow path 32, or alternatively a stepped down diameter, to route fluid flow into the heating tube 12.

FIG. 7 is a top elevation view of the end cap 16 of FIG. 6. The end cap 16 is configured to be fitted to the opposite ends of the heating tube 12. For example, as can be seen in FIG. 7, the end cap 16 may have a lip 40 around its outer circumference sized to fit over and in surrounding relation to the outer diameter of the heating tube 12 when the tube heating assembly 10 is assembled. Alternatively, the end cap 116 may be formed with a tapered lead to be slidable into the end of the heating tube 12 via a friction press fit. A seal (not shown) is disposed between the heating tube 12 and the end cap 16 to cinch the tube heating assembly 10 closed. Also seen in FIG. 7, is an air outlet 46 that may be utilized during operation to release any excess pressure that could otherwise lead to damage of the circuitry 18 printed on the heating tube 12.

FIG. 8 is a front elevation view of the end cap 16 of FIG. 6, and FIG. 9 is a rear elevation view of the end cap 16 of FIG. 6. In an exemplary embodiment that is suitable for a windshield wiper fluid heater, the outer diameter of the end cap 16 would be 0.85 inches, but one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that other dimensions would be suitable for the outer diameter of the end cap 16 in other applications.

In operation, the heating tube assembly 10 operates as follows. Windshield wiper fluid enters one end cap 16 and flows through the concentric bore 34 of the T-shaped flow path 32 within the end cap 16. Then the fluid is directed to the outside edges of the of end cap 16 by the cross-bore 36 of the T-shaped flow path 32. The fluid then exits the end cap 16 via the openings 38 at the ends of the cross-bore 36 of the T-shaped flow path 32. The end cap openings 38 direct fluid flow to an outer flow path located between the outside surface of the manifold insert 14 and the inside surface of the heating tube 12.

The fluid flows through the outer flow path for the extent of the length of the manifold insert 14 and heating tube 12. It then exits through the end cap 16 at the other end of the tube heating assembly 10 by passing through the openings 38 and into the cross-bore 36 and from there through the central concentric bore 34 and out into the fluid line or pipe (not shown) connected thereto.

As the fluid flows through the tube heating assembly 10, it is heated by the heating tube 12. In fact, the tube heating assembly 10 of the present invention provides improved heat transfer capabilities as compared to conventional tube heating assemblies. The present invention provides reduced fluid volume, increased fluid velocity, increased turbulent flow and increased heating area. More specifically, the flow path available within the tube heating assembly 10 is limited in volume because the manifold insert 14 displaces most of the volume within the heating tube 12. Because the volume available for the fluid flow is limited, the fluid velocity increases as the fluid enters the outer flow path. Increased fluid velocity aids in improving heat transfer of the tube heating assembly. Additionally, the reduced fluid volume within the tube heating assembly requires less power to raise the fluid temperature than conventional heating assemblies. The spiral threading 20 of the manifold insert 14 creates a spiraled path for fluid flow and increases the turbulence of the fluid flow through the tube heating assembly 10. The turbulent flow forces more fluid to contact the surface of the heating tube 12 thus heating the fluid more quickly. Turbulent flow also causes the fluid to mix more thoroughly, which is particularly beneficial for a fluid mixture comprising multiple fluid types, e.g., windshield wiper fluid. The tube heating assembly 10 of the present invention increases the heating area of the heating tube 12 by using a heating tube 12 with an outer diameter larger than that of a conventional heating tube; however, the actual fluid volume within the tube heating assembly 10 is reduced because of the presence of the manifold insert 14 disposed within the tube heating assembly 10.

Because of the improved heat transfer rate of the tube heating assembly 10 of the present invention, the tube heating assembly 10 is capable of providing heated fluid on demand, i.e., no heat is required until fluid flow begins. However, the tube heating assembly 10 may also be operated to maintain fluid at an elevated temperature. It is contemplated that the heating assembly 10 may be equipped additionally with a thermal feedback arrangement, e.g., SMD thermistors, attached directly to the outer surface of the heating tube 12, to provide feedback to a control system associated with the assembly. It is also contemplated to provide a means for heat transfer from heat generating control elements which may be associated with the assembly, e.g., field transistors, so as to further improve the heating efficiency of the heating assembly.

An additional improvement of the present invention is the end cap design that allows for air to be released from the manifold insert 14 during high pressure events such as fluid freezing or boiling. The manifold insert 14 can absorb pressure from frozen fluid or boiling fluid and release the pressure though the air outlets 46 in the end caps 16.

FIG. 10 depicts schematically a typical installation of the tube heating assembly 10 for heating a windshield washer fluid in a washer fluid delivery system of an automobile. The tube heating assembly 10 is installed in a fluid delivery line 48 extending from a washer fluid reservoir 50 to a nozzle or other spray head (indicated only representatively at 52) disposed to emit the washer fluid onto the windshield of the automobile, with the fittings 30 of the tube heating assembly 10 being connected in-line in the fluid delivery line 48. The fluid delivery system further includes a fluid pump 54 in the fluid delivery line 48, driven by an electrically operated pump motor 56.

The tube heating assembly 10 is electrically connected in the electrical system of the automobile to heat the washer fluid as it is delivered by the pump 54 through the manifold in the heater assembly 10. The tube heating assembly 10 is connected in the ignition circuit of the automobile between the ignition switch assembly 60 and the alternator or other source of operating voltage energized when the automobile engine is in operation (indicated only symbolically at OV) to provide power to the heating assembly 10 only when the ignition switch is in the closed position with the automobile engine in operation. The tube heating assembly 10 is connected, directly or indirectly, to the positive and negative terminals of the ignition battery 58 of the automobile electrical system to provide direct current electrical voltage to the heating assembly 10 when the ignition circuit is closed during engine operation. A disabling switch sub-circuit 62 is connected in the ignition circuit and to the tube heating assembly 10. The disabling sub-circuit 62 is normally closed during ongoing normal operation of the automobile electrical system, but is configured to open if the total operating amperage draw on the system reaches a level which endangers the minimum voltage required to supply electrical operating current to the critical systems of the automobile engine, e.g., to insure correct firing of the engine spark plugs. As depicted in FIG. 10, each of the ignition switch assembly 60 and the disabling switch circuit 62 are shown in their open condition as occurs when the automobile engine is not operating.

As is conventional, the windshield washer fluid delivery system is provided with a warning circuit 64 to monitor the fluid level in the reservoir 50 and to generate a warning signal, e.g., via an illuminated warning lamp, in the event the quantity of fluid in the reservoir falls below a predetermined minimum level. The tube heating assembly 10 is also connected in the warning circuit 64 to deactivate operation of the tube heating assembly 10 in the event there is insufficient fluid in the reservoir for normal operation of the fluid delivery system.

As is also conventional, the operating motor 56 to the fluid pump 54 is also connected in the ignition circuit of the automobile between the ignition switch assembly 10 and the operating voltage source OV and includes a manually operated switch 66 for selectively actuating and deactuating the windshield washer fluid delivery system when desired. The switch 66 is also shown in its normally open deactuated position.

The operation of the tube heating assembly 10 in conjunction with the windshield washer fluid delivery system of FIG. 10 may thus be understood. Upon closing of the ignition switch assembly 60 to start operation of the automobile engine, the disabling sub-circuit 62 is closed and electrical power is supplied to the tube heating assembly 10. The warning circuit 64 and the operating circuit to the pump motor 56 are also enabled. Upon manual closing of the pump motor switch 66 (e.g., via a switch lever or the like provided as part of the driver's controls in the passenger compartment of the automobile), washer fluid is pumped under pressure from the reservoir 50 through the fluid line 48 and through the tube heating assembly 10, which thereby acts as a heat exchanger to heat the fluid to an elevated temperature as it flows through the manifold of the tube heating assembly 10.

FIG. 11 depicts schematically an alternative embodiment of an installation of the tube heating assembly 10 for heating a windshield washer fluid in a washer fluid delivery system of an automobile. The installation of FIG. 11 is similar to that of FIG. 10 and embodies many identical components and operational characteristics which are as described above in the embodiment of FIG. 10. Accordingly, corresponding components in FIG. 11 are identified by like reference numerals as in FIG. 10, the description of which need not be repeated. The embodiment of FIG. 11 differs from that of FIG. 10 by the provision of a pulse interface device 68 in the portion of the ignition circuit through the pump motor 56, and also connected to the output from the warning circuit 64. The pulse interface device 68 is operable to cycle the pump motor 56, when actuated via closing of the switch 66, between energized and non-energized states, thereby creating a pulsed flow of the washer fluid through the fluid delivery line 48 and through the tube heating assembly 10. Of course, those persons skilled in the relevant art will readily recognize and understand that various alternative arrangements may be utilized for accomplishing a cyclical pulsing operation of the fluid delivery system, for example but without limitation, the provision of a solenoid valve in the fluid delivery line 48 and actuable to cycle between closed and open states, e.g., via the control of a microprocessor or other suitable control system such as commonly provided in conventional motor vehicles.

The advantages of the provision of the fluid heating capabilities of the present invention will be understood with reference to the graphs of FIGS. 12 and 13, which depict empirical test data derived from operation of prototype embodiments of the systems of FIGS. 10 and 11. The graph of FIG. 12 plots a curve representing the relationship between the flow rate of a typical water-methanol windshield washer fluid mixture and the temperature of the fluid mixture, at a constant voltage of operation of a fluid pump motor operating at 14.5 volts of direct current. As will be seen, the flow rate of the fluid measured in liters per minute more than doubles as the temperature of the fluid increases from just above the freezing point of the mixture (−28 degrees C.) to a generally flat plateau at about 25 degrees C. The benefits of heating the fluid mixture in cold environments and conditions will therefore be readily apparent. The performance of a windshield washer system is directly dependent on the maintenance of a minimum outlet velocity of the fluid from the spray nozzle, yet absent heating of the fluid, the graph of FIG. 12 shows that the flow rate at a given pump speed can be reduced by more than half under conditions of extreme cold temperatures. Conversely, by provision of the heating system of the present invention, the flow rate and output velocity of the fluid can be maintained within a much more narrow range generally unaffected by ambient temperature changes.

FIG. 13 reflects that the advantages of the present invention are even more enhanced in an embodiment utilizing a pulsing delivery of the washer fluid. The graph of FIG. 13 plots a number of curves, each representing a differing starting temperature of the fluid mixture, showing the relationship between the heated output temperature achieved in a typical water-methanol windshield washer fluid mixture at differing on-off duty cycles of the fluid pump motor wherein each duty cycle operates the pump alternatingly between an energized state for 0.1 second and a deenergized state ranging from 0.1 second to 0.5 second. Each curve also shows the heated output temperature achieved by a continuous operation of the pump motor, represented as a 0.0 second off cycle. As will be seen, the cyclical operation of the pump motor achieves an increase in output fluid temperature over continuous flow pump operation, with the out put temperature progressively increasing as the off cycle is lengthened, regardless of starting fluid temperature.

Based on the foregoing information, it is readily understood by those persons skilled in the art that the present invention is susceptible of broad utility and application. Many embodiments and adaptations of the present invention other than those specifically described herein, as well as many variations, modifications, and equivalent arrangements, will be apparent from or reasonably suggested by the present invention and the foregoing descriptions thereof, without departing from the substance or scope of the present invention. Accordingly, while the present invention has been described herein in detail in relation to its preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that this disclosure is only illustrative and exemplary of the present invention and is made merely for the purpose of providing a full and enabling disclosure of the invention. The foregoing disclosure is not intended to be construed to limit the present invention or otherwise exclude any such other embodiments, adaptations, variations, modifications or equivalent arrangements; the present invention being limited only by the claims appended hereto and the equivalents thereof. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for the purpose of limitation.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7641131Jul 19, 2004Jan 5, 2010Sbr Investments Company LlcVehicle windshield cleaning system
US7657961Mar 20, 2007Feb 9, 2010Sbr Investments Company LlcVehicle windshield cleaning system
US7673814Jul 30, 2008Mar 9, 2010Sbr Investments Company LlcVehicle windshield cleaning system
US7857238Oct 30, 2007Dec 28, 2010Sbr Investments Company LlcVehicle windshield cleaning system
US8123148Nov 9, 2010Feb 28, 2012Sbr Investments Company LlcVehicle windshield cleaning system
US8141794Feb 2, 2010Mar 27, 2012Sbr Investments Company LlcVehicle windshield cleaning system
US8157187Feb 26, 2009Apr 17, 2012Sbr Investments Company LlcVehicle windshield cleaning system
US8505832Mar 8, 2012Aug 13, 2013Uusi, LlcVehicle windshield cleaning system
US20120074120 *Sep 13, 2011Mar 29, 2012Andreas MassoldElectrically Heated Plastic Part for a Vehicle
Classifications
U.S. Classification122/6.6
International ClassificationF22B37/00
Cooperative ClassificationF16L53/008, F02M31/12, Y02T10/126, B60S1/488, F02M31/005
European ClassificationB60S1/48D2, F02M31/12, F02M31/00B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 17, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL RESISTIVE COMPANY,INC., NORTH CAROLI
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HAYWORTH, WILSON RICHARD;HACKNEY, STEVEN WARREN;HAWTHORNE, MICHAEL SHANE;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:017597/0221
Effective date: 20060217