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Publication numberUS20080034729 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/837,075
Publication dateFeb 14, 2008
Filing dateAug 10, 2007
Priority dateNov 4, 2005
Also published asUS7454911, US20070101716, US20080022681, US20080022682, US20080034728, WO2007056252A2, WO2007056252A3
Publication number11837075, 837075, US 2008/0034729 A1, US 2008/034729 A1, US 20080034729 A1, US 20080034729A1, US 2008034729 A1, US 2008034729A1, US-A1-20080034729, US-A1-2008034729, US2008/0034729A1, US2008/034729A1, US20080034729 A1, US20080034729A1, US2008034729 A1, US2008034729A1
InventorsTriantafyllos Tafas
Original AssigneeTafas Triantafyllos P
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Energy recovery system in an engine
US 20080034729 A1
Abstract
A energy recovery system for an internal combustion engine which dynamically allocates heat energy to multiple vehicle accessory systems
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Claims(38)
1-34. (canceled)
35: An internal combustion engine system comprising: an internal combustion engine producing heated emissions from one or more combustion chamber(s); a turbine; a gaseous matter generator connected proximal to said combustion chamber(s), said gaseous matter generator operatively configured to receive said heated emissions from said one or more combustion chamber(s) and to apply the heat from said heated emissions to produce gaseous matter which is directed to said turbine.
36: An internal combustion engine system, in accordance with claim 35, wherein said gaseous matter is steam.
37: An internal combustion engine system, in accordance with claim 35, further comprising:
a controlled temperature cup holder having a closed-loop flow through conduit; and
a closed-loop conduit operatively connecting said gaseous matter generator with said controlled temperature cup holder.
38: A controlled temperature cup holder in a vehicle comprising:
a heat source, containing a fluid, comprising an input source fluid port and an output source fluid port;
a distribution allocator, containing said fluid, connected to said heat source by a fluid conduit, comprising electrically operable fluid valves operatively configured to interconnect a plurality of input fluid ports and output fluid ports;
a fluid pump, containing said fluid, operatively connected to said distribution allocator, said fluid pump capable of pumping fluid through said heat source and into said distribution allocator; and
a cup holder incorporating a jacket comprised of a closed-loop flow-through conduit connected to at least one input port and one output port of said allocator.
39: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said cup holder is insulated.
40: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said heat source further comprises a temperature sensor.
41: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said cup holder further comprises a temperature sensor.
42: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said heat source is a heat-exchanger.
43: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said heat source is a battery powered electrical heater.
44: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said heat source is an electrical heater powered by electricity generated from engine heat.
45: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said heat source is powered by electricity produced by a turbine-generator.
46: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 45, wherein said turbine-generator is a steam powered turbine-generator.
47: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said fluid is anti-freeze fluid.
48: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is alcohol.
49: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is methanol.
50: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is ethylene glycol.
51: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is propylene glycol.
52: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is a mixture of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol.
53: A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is organic acid technology anti-freeze.
54. A controlled temperature cup holder, in accordance with claim 38, wherein said heat source is chosen, on a priority basis, from the prioritized group consisting of an electrical heater powered by electricity generated from engine heat and a battery powered electrical heater.
55: An energy recovery system in a vehicle comprising:
a heat source, containing a fluid, comprising an input source fluid port and an output source fluid port;
a distribution allocator, containing said fluid, connected to said heat source by a fluid conduit, comprising electrically operable fluid valves operatively configured to interconnect a plurality of input fluid ports and output fluid ports;
a fluid pump, containing said fluid, operatively connected to said distribution allocator, said fluid pump capable of pumping fluid through said heat source and into said distribution allocator; and
a controller electrically connected to said distribution allocator and operatively configured to control the position of said electrically operable fluid valves.
56: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 55, wherein said controller is additionally connected to at least one remote temperature sensor.
57: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 55, wherein said heat source further comprises a temperature sensor.
58: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 55, wherein said controller further comprises an included temperature sensor.
59: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 55, wherein said heat source is a heat-exchanger.
60: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 55, wherein said heat source is a battery powered electrical heater.
61: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 55, wherein said heat source is an electrical heater powered by electricity generated from engine heat.
62: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 55, wherein said heat source is powered by electricity produced by a turbine-generator.
63: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 62, wherein said turbine-generator is a steam powered turbine-generator.
64: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 55, wherein said fluid is anti-freeze fluid.
65: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 64, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is alcohol.
66: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 64, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is methanol.
67: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 64, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is ethylene glycol.
68: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 64, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is propylene glycol.
69: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 64, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is a mixture of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol.
70: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 64, wherein said anti-freeze fluid is organic acid technology anti-freeze.
71: An energy recovery system, in accordance with claim 55, wherein said heat source is chosen, on a priority basis, from the prioritized group consisting of an electrical heater powered by electricity generated from engine heat and a battery powered electrical heater.
Description
  • [0001]
    This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/266,948, filed Nov. 4, 2005. All references cited in this specification, and their references, are incorporated by reference herein where appropriate for teachings of additional or alternative details, features, and/or technical background.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    1. Field of Invention
  • [0003]
    The present invention includes an energy capture system and method for recovering heat energy from the exhaust gases of an internal combustion engine.
  • [0004]
    2. Description of Related Art
  • [0005]
    In conventional internal combustion engines, a mixture of air and fuel is introduced into the engine, where it is compressed and then ignited. The burning gases expand, do work, and then are expelled from the engine. The actual amount of kinetic energy or mechanical work that is extracted from the internal combustion generally depends upon the thermal efficiency of the internal combustion engine. What is not extracted is expended as waste heat.
  • [0006]
    Thermal efficiency is the percentage of energy taken from the combustion which is actually converted to mechanical work. In a typical low compression engine, the thermal efficiency may be only about 26%. In a highly modified engine, such as a race engine, the thermal efficiency may be about 34%.
  • [0007]
    In a generic internal combustion engine, only 20% of the total energy available may be converted to useful energy. Of the remaining 80% of the total energy, approximately 38% may be lost through exhaust heat, 36% through water heating in the cooling system and 6% through motor friction.
  • [0008]
    There have been various schemes to capture energy from the exhaust gases and heated engine cooling water.
  • [0009]
    U.S. Pat. No. 4,439,999, Mori, et aL., discloses an internal combustion engine and an absorption type refrigeration system which makes use of both the engine exhaust gas and the heated engine cooling water. The internal combustion engine and the absorption type refrigeration system are combined in such a manner that the exhaust gas of the internal combustion engine is utilized as the heat source for a first gaseous refrigerant generator having the highest operating temperature in the system, while heated engine cooling water is utilized as the heat source for another generator which operates at a temperature lower than the operating temperature of the first gaseous refrigerant generator.
  • [0010]
    U.S. Pat. No. 6,119,457 to Kawamura describes a heat exchange apparatus having high and low temperature heat sources comprising porous material provided in an exhaust passage from a ceramic engine in communication with a supercharger connected to the ceramic engine. The heat exchange apparatus comprises a high temperature heat exchanger having a steam passage provided in an exhaust gas passage through which an exhaust gas passes whereby steam is heated, and a low temperature heat exchanger provided in the portion of the exhaust gas passage on the downstream side of the high temperature heat exchanger which has a water passage for heating water by the exhaust gas. The ceramic engine has a steam turbine type supercharger provided with a steam turbine driven by the steam from the high temperature heat exchanges, a compressor, and a condenser which separates a fluid discharged from the steam turbine into water and low temperature steam. Pressurized air from the compressor is supplied to the combustion chamber, which presses down a piston to carry out compression work during an intake stroke. Thus, the supercharger is driven by the thermal energy recovered from an exhaust gas by the same heat exchanger apparatus.
  • [0011]
    An example of an energy recovery system is also disclosed in Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 1799721993. This energy recovery system has an energy recovery unit provided with a first turbine installed in an exhaust passage and a generator operated by the first turbine, a turbocharger provided with a second turbine connected to an outlet-side passage of the first turbine and a supercharging compressor operated by the second turbine, and a waste gate provided in the outlet-side passage of the first turbine. The energy recovering operation is carried out by the energy recovery unit when the temperature of the exhaust gas is high.
  • [0012]
    Exhaust gas energy from an internal combustion engine may also be used to provide a heated water source, for example, while the mechanical power of the engine may be used simultaneously to generate electricity. In Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 33707/1994, there is disclosed a system making use of exhaust gas energy from a turbocharger attached to a heat insulation type gas engine to produce steam that is used to drive a steam turbine so as to produce electric energy and heated water. A turbocharger is driven by the exhaust gas energy from the heat insulating gas engine, and the generator/energy recovery unit is driven by the exhaust gas energy from the turbocharger. The thermal energy of the exhaust gas directed to the energy recovery unit is converted into steam by a first heat exchanger, and recovered as electric energy by driving a steam turbine. Heated water is generated by the high-temperature steam from the steam turbine by an operation of a second heat exchanger, and utilized as a hot water supply source.
  • [0013]
    In U.S. Pat. No. 4,803,958 to Erickson, there is disclosed an open-cycle absorption apparatus for compressing steam from a low pressure to a higher pressure. The apparatus is used for upgrading low-temperature jacket-cooling heat from an internal combustion engine to useful pressure steam. A simple heat-exchange apparatus is involved, using the extra temperature availability of the hot exhaust gas as the driving medium.
  • [0014]
    There have recently been higher efficiency vehicles powered using hybrid concepts that involve internal combustion engines in combination with an electric generator that powers an electric motor. The generator utilizes some of the kinetic energy that would otherwise be converted into heat by friction in the vehicle is braking system. While systems such as described above in combination with such hybrid systems may further improve energy storage in such cars, the loss of energy through the emission system would remain high. What is needed is a system that would convert a significant percentage of the power lost as heat to electrical power and create a more efficient hybride vehicle.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • [0015]
    FIG. 1 is a drawing showing the integration of components of an embodiment energy recovery system, including a heat collection subsystem and a heat expending exhaust subsystem, as well as a two-stage turbine that interfaces with the two subsystems simultaneously;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 2 is a drawing showing the incorporation of the energy recovery system of FIG. 1 in an automobile, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 3 is a drawing schematically showing an energy recovery system which derives heat from various engine components and allocates the energy to a plurality of accessories. For purposes of clarity, the figure shows only the forward paths from the heat sources to the accessories. A complete presentation would also include the corresponding return paths returning from the accessories to the heat sources.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 4 is a drawing showing a schematic embodiment of a 4-port valve for us in the energy recovery system.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 5 is an embodiment of a windshield which is de-iced by fluid heated by an internal combustion engine.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 6 is a drawing showing a windshield wiper that is heated by fluid warmed by the recovered heat of an internal combustion engine.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0021]
    The disclosed system comprises an energy recovery system in internal combustion engines.
  • [0022]
    In a first embodiment, the energy recovery system comprises a steam generating chamber located proximal to the engine, such as immediate contact with the exhaust manifold that is operatively configured to receive exhaust fumes from one or more combustion chambers in the internal combustion engine and one or more fluids from a fluid reserve and to convert such fluid into steam. In such embodiment, the steam generated in the steam chamber is directed through a steam inlet to an electrical generator component comprising a turbine and electrical generator. The electrical generator component is operatively configured with respect to the steam inlet such that the steam turns the turbine which in turn causes the generator to generate electricity. The electricity produced may be used by the engine contemporaneously or stored for later use, for example, when the engine is not using combustion to generate rotation of the wheels on a hybrid vehicle.
  • [0023]
    In one embodiment, the system involves a heat collection system proximal to an internal combustion engine block, the heat collection system configured to transfer heat to a steam generating boiler. Both the steam and exhaust gases simultaneously drive a turbine of an electric generator which in turn is connected to an electric motor. The power from the electric motor supplants the power from the internal combustion engine to propel a vehicle, for example. In one embodiment, the heat collection system is immediately proximal to the engine, such as connected to the manifold.
  • [0024]
    Aspects disclosed herein include:
  • [0025]
    An internal combustion engine system comprising an internal combustion engine producing heated emissions from one or more combustion chamber(s); a steam generator connected proximal to the combustion chamber(s), the steam generator operatively configured to receive the heated emissions from the one or more combustion chamber(s) and to apply the heat from the heated emissions to produce steam, and configured to direct the steam towards a turbine in a manner to cause the turbine to turn; an electric generator operatively connected to the turbine, the electric generator operatively configured to produce electricity upon turning of the turbine.
  • [0026]
    An energy recovery system comprising an engine having a combustion chamber; a coolant subsystem communicating with the combustion chamber; an exhaust subsystem integral to the combustion chamber; a boiler in communication with the coolant subsystem, the boiler operatively configured to generate steam in cooperation with the coolant subsystem; an energy converter operatively configured to simultaneously receive the steam from the boiler and to receive the exhaust gases from the exhaust subsystem and to convert energy associated with the steam and exhaust gases into mechanical energy; an electric generator in communication with the energy converter operatively configured to convert the mechanical energy from the energy converter to electrical energy, wherein the engine and the electric generator are cooperatively configured to propel a vehicle.
  • [0027]
    An energy recovery system comprising an engine having a combustion chamber producing hot pressured exhaust gases; an energy collection subsystem housing a liquid energy carrier medium, the energy collection subsystem operatively configured to allow heat from the hot pressured exhaust gases of the combustion chamber to pass into the liquid energy carrier medium; an energy chamber connected to the energy collection subsystem operatively configured to convert the energy carrier medium from a liquid to a gaseous state; a combustion exhaust subsystem integral to the combustion chamber, the combustion exhaust subsystem operatively configured to receive hot pressured exhaust gases from the combustion chamber; an energy converter operatively configured to communicate simultaneously with the energy chamber and with the combustion exhaust subsystem, the energy converter having a shaft operatively configured to be rotated by the energy carrier medium in a gaseous state and to convert pressure energy from the exhaust gases in the combustion exhaust system into mechanical power; a converter attached to the energy converter operatively configured to convert the mechanical power of the energy converter to electrical power; wherein the engine and the converter are configured to provide energy to propel a vehicle.
  • [0028]
    A method of recovering waste heat energy from exhaust gases produced by combustion in an internal combustion engine, the method comprising the steps of transferring heat from the engine to a primary coolant loop; directing exhaust gases from the engine to a first impeller in a first chamber connected to a shaft operatively connected to an electric generator; directing the exhaust gases from the first chamber to an exhaust conduit; transferring heat from the exhaust conduit to a heat conducting member connected to a secondary cooling loop; transferring heat from the primary and secondary cooling loops to a second chamber operatively configured to produce steam; directing steam from the second chamber to a second impeller operatively connected to the shaft operatively connected to the first impeller, the second chamber being positioned in a third chamber; directing the steam from the third chamber to a condenser operatively configured to condense the steam to liquid; directing the liquid from the condenser to the primary cooling circuit.
  • [0029]
    In a further embodiment, heat from the engine and exhaust system may be used to heat a working fluid that may then be used to operate, or heat, a variety of passenger compartment and engine accessories. Examples of such accessories include windshield de-icers, windshield wiper heaters, locks, door handles, windshield wiper fluid tank heaters, electric motor bearing heaters, battery heaters, passenger compartment contact heaters, fuel tank heaters, and brake system component heaters.
  • [0030]
    The capacity of the energy recovery system may not be sufficient to simultaneously operate the full suite of accessories. In addition, the duty cycle of some of the accessories may depend on environmental conditions. The distribution of the available heated working fluid may therefore be selectively controllable on a prioritized basis. Such distribution may be manually selected or automatically selected by means of a feedback system employing sensors on one or more of the accessories.
  • [0031]
    In another embodiment, various engine components have different temperature and heat capacity characteristics. As an example, a catalytic converter produces extremely high temperatures while the engine water jacket has a high heat capacity. The dynamic behavior of temperature of these engine components additionally exhibits different time responses, especially on engine starting. An aspect of this embodiment is the matching of the temperature and heat capacity characteristics of the individual heat sources, coupled to the various engine components, to the accessory heat demands.
  • [0032]
    In an embodiment herein disclosed, the working fluid is heated by means of a plurality of heat-sources in contact with suitable engine and exhaust system components. The heated working fluid is pumped, by means of insulated conduits, to a distribution allocator which, in turn, routes appropriate flows of working fluid to selected accessories and accessory heaters. The energy-expended working fluid is returned, via the distribution allocator, to the heat-sources.
  • [0033]
    The distribution allocator comprises, in one embodiment, a matrix of electrically actuated valves that can perform the necessary routing. A controller that actuates the valves may be based on manual inputs, dynamically established priorities and sensor detected environmental conditions, or a combination of the same, to control each valve in the matrix. The controller may include a computer which executes stored programs to set the correct valve settings. A network of sensors may be distributed at appropriate monitoring sites and provide real time measurements to the controller. When heated fluid is used to effectuate heating of the working fluid, one or more working fluid pumps may be located at various points in the insulated conduit network to power circulation. Of course, accessories described herein may be heated by means of electrical input rather than heated fluid; that is, accessories may include electrical heaters, rather than, or in addition to, fluid conduits.
  • [0034]
    In a further embodiment, it is recognized that different engine and exhaust system components can provide differing temperatures and quantities of heat and have different time-heat profiles relative to engine starting and operating cycles. The associated heat-sources can therefore supply working fluids having differing dynamically varying characteristics. The distribution allocator, to the extent possible, matches supply characteristics, of the various sources, to the individual accessory demands.
  • [0035]
    Embodiments presented herein include an energy recovery system in a vehicle comprising: a heat source, containing a fluid, comprising an input source fluid port and an output source fluid port; a distribution allocator, containing the fluid, connected to the heat source by a fluid conduit, comprising electrically operable fluid valves operatively configured to interconnect a plurality of input fluid ports and output fluid ports; a fluid pump operatively, containing the fluid, connected to the distribution allocator, the fluid pump capable of pumping fluid through the heat source and into the distribution allocator; and a controller electrically connected to the distribution allocator and operatively configured to control the position of the electrically operable fluid valves.
  • [0036]
    Further embodiments presented herein include a controlled temperature cup holder in a vehicle comprising: a heat source, containing a fluid, comprising an input source fluid port and an output source fluid port; a distribution allocator, containing the fluid, connected to the heat source by a fluid conduit, comprising electrically operable fluid valves operatively configured to interconnect a plurality of input fluid ports and output fluid ports; a fluid pump operatively, containing the fluid, connected to the distribution allocator, the fluid pump capable of pumping fluid through the heat source and into the distribution allocator; and a cup holder incorporating a jacket comprised of a closed-loop flow-through conduit connected to at least one input port and one output port of the allocator.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0037]
    In an embodiment shown in FIG. 1, there is illustrated an energy recovery system 10 for an internal combustion engine 20. Internal combustion engine 20 is powered by the expansion of hot combustion products of fuel directly combusted within the engine. As is known, a piston internal combustion engine works by burning hydrocarbon or hydrogen fuel that presses on a piston, which does work, such as propelling an automobile; and a jet engine works as the hot combustion products press on the interior parts of the nozzle and combustion chamber, directly accelerating the engine forwards. The engine of such embodiment may be a gasoline or diesel engine, for example, a two-cycle, four-cycle or a rotary Wankle engine. Energy recovery system 10 shown in FIG. 1 is configured to capture and convert specific energy, that is, the amount of energy per unit mass of the fuel burned in engine 20 into useful work that is otherwise wasted, for example, in the form of heat that escapes into the environment.
  • [0038]
    In certain internal combustion engines, only a portion (about 20%) of the total available specific energy in the consumed fuel is directly converted to mechanical work by the action of the hot combustion products on engine components such as pistons (which maybe connected to a shaft, which in turn may do work such as rotating the wheels on a car—shown in FIG. 2). Of the remaining portions of energy lost through exhaust gases 30 and through water heating in the radiator 40 are converted to useful work through the use of a two-stage turbine 50 as shown in FIG. 1.
  • [0039]
    In an aspect of an embodiment, the two-stage turbine 50 is configured to operate with impellers 57 that are mounted onto a common shaft 59 which spans two chambers 53 and 55, and which drives an electric generator 90 as shown in FIG. 1. The impellers are rotatable by gaseous matter such as the exhaust gases issuing from exhaust subsystem 30 and steam issuing from exhaust heat conductor 80, as explained further below. Alternatively, only one impeller may be employed with rotation by gaseous inflow or steam alone, or both gaseous inflow and steam. The electricity generated by generator 90 provides additional energy recovered from the otherwise would-be wasted heat energy to be put into useful work. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that this additional energy recovered from waste heat alone can supplant the energy recovered from kinetic energy dissipated in the braking system of an automobile, and hence, can be used to enhance the current hybrid technologies for automobiles. The efficiency of current internal combustion engines may be significantly improved thereby, for example, by a factor of two or more.
  • [0040]
    Another embodiment of the present invention involves pick-up of heat and exhaust gas from engine block 22 and engine head 24 (shown separate from the engine block for purposes of illustration) at points closest to the heat source generated by the combusting fuel in combustion chambers of engine block 22 in FIG. 1. The main cooling circuit comprises a primary loop 60 (shown in solid line arrows) which circulates a coolant (such as water). Exhaust heat conductor 80 generates steam which enters chamber 53 of the two-stage turbine 50 to turn shaft 59 connected to electric generator 90. In one aspect, the electricity from generator 90 may be used to increase steam production from exhaust heat conductor 80. The expended steam is then collected at condenser 85 where another phase change occurs from steam to liquid, thus completing the first cooling loop 60, as shown in FIG. 1.
  • [0041]
    In another aspect, a secondary loop 65 picks up condensed steam from condenser 85 (shown in FIG. 1). Exhaust 30 from internal combustion engine 20 is directed to chamber 55 where the high-pressure hot gases perform work on the turbine shaft 59, and leave the system through exhaust conduit 35. A shroud over exhaust conduit 35 may be configured to augment (using highly thermal conductive ceramic heat sinks, for example) heat conduction from the exhaust gases to the secondary loop 65. In one aspect, secondary loop 65 is connected ultimately to exhaust heat conductor 80. Valves may be used to adjust and balance the coolant flow through loops 60 and 65. Relatively cool and low speed exhaust gases may leave the system through exhaust conduit 35 as shown in FIG. 1.
  • [0042]
    Various aspects of certain embodiments of the present invention may be superimposed schematically over the various known components of an automobile 100 as depicted in FIG. 2 and the labeled known components are not described here so as to not obscure the key aspects of the present invention. The cooling loops are not shown as they can be arranged in any number of ways to connect the components of embodiments, for example, engine block 22, exhaust heat conductor 80, condenser 85, radiator 40, two-stage turbine 50, electric generator 90 and exhaust conduit 35. Electricity generated by electric generator 90 can be used to power the drive of the car, or power any component of the car, or the electricity can be stored in the car battery or secondary storage battery 37. It will be understood that the placement of the disclosed new components can be varied dependent upon factors affecting space, and safety considerations of an automobile. It will also be obvious to those skilled in the art that the energy recovery system disclosed herein can be applied to improve the efficiency of any engine used to produce useful work.
  • [0043]
    In operation, an embodiment of a method of recovering waste heat energy in an internal combustion engine 20 involves transferring the heat developed in internal combustion engine 20 to primary cooling loop 60 at the closest points to the combusting fuel in the chambers (as, for example, receiving emissions directly from the exhaust manifold) (see, FIG. 1). The heat carrying coolant fluid, for example, water in loop 60 is directed to a suitably designed exhaust heat conductor 80 where the fluid is heated to generate advantageously pressured steam. Steam is next allowed to enter two-stage turbine 50 to drive impeller 57 mounted on shaft 59, which in turn drives electric generator 90. The expended steam is then condensed into liquid through a second phase change in condenser 85. The coolant liquid then completes the circuit back to engine block 22 joining primary cooling loop 60. The method may involve circulating the coolant through the engine block 22 as well as the engine head 24 to promote most efficient energy recovery from the combusting fuel in combustion engine 20.
  • [0044]
    In an aspect of an embodiment, the method also involves directing the exhaust gases 30 to the two-stage turbine 50 as shown in FIG. 1. The high speed exhaust gases are directed to impart energy to another impeller 57 of the turbine which further enhances the rotation of shaft 59, which in turn drives the electric generator 90. Before the expended gases are ejected out into the environment via an exhaust conduit 35, any remaining heat energy may be extracted by means of further heat conducting elements and then transferred appropriately into the system as, for example, into secondary loop 65. In another embodiment, exhaust gas may pass first from the turbine exhaust stage and subsequently be channeled to exhaust heat conductor 80.
  • EXAMPLE 1
  • [0045]
    The exhaust from the exhaust manifold of a single piston outboard motor is directed to a water-jacketed chamber. The temperature of the exhaust and the water in the jacket is measured by way of thermocouples during the combustion of 100 ml of regular gasoline. Steam is generated with maximum temperatures over 400. degree. C. measured in the gas exhaust.
  • [0046]
    Other embodiments of the energy recovery system embodiment of the present invention utilize the heat generated in an internal combustion engine directly or from components of the exhaust system. In an embodiment, the heat energy may be efficiently transported from the various heat sources and the heat loads by means of a working fluid flowing through insulated conduits.
  • [0047]
    There are a variety of heat sources available from the vehicles engine and associated support components other than heat generated by, or subsequent to, firing of the internal combustion engine. For example, a heat source may be an electrical heater powered by the steam turbine driven generator described above or by the battery of the vehicle itself. It is also possible to heat the working fluid directly with the generated steam.
  • [0048]
    In a system analogous to a hybrid vehicle propulsion system, the electrical heater may obtain its power from the steam turbine driven generator when sufficient steam is available. When steam is not available to drive the generator, the electrical power for the heater may be derived from a rechargeable battery. This hybrid approach permits the system to operate before the engine is started. Other heat sources may be employed such as heat exchangers thermally coupled to various engine and exhaust system components which heat during normal engine operation.
  • [0049]
    Referring to FIG. 3, an energy recovery system embodiment 105 is schematically diagrammed and includes a plurality of heat sources 110 affixed to engine and exhaust system components, a network of interconnecting insulated conduits 115, a distribution allocator 120, a working fluid distribution pump 130, and a plurality of accessory heaters 150 thermally affixed to vehicle accessories. The heat sources 110 may include one or more engine and exhaust system mounted heat exchangers 111, steam turbine-generator powered electrical fluid heaters 112, battery powered fluid heaters 113, and steam heated heat exchangers 114. The distribution allocator 120 includes a matrix of electrically actuated valves 130 and a controller 140. The working fluid is heated in the plurality of heat sources 110 and is then pumped to the distribution allocator 120. The distribution allocator 120 routes the heated working fluid to the appropriate conduits 115 to supply the plurality of accessories 150. The expended fluid is then returned from the plurality of accessories 150, back to the distribution allocator 120, from which it is returned to the heat sources 110. Each of the distribution allocator valves 130, operated by the controller 140, may be adjusted within the range from fully open to fully closed.
  • [0050]
    The matrix of electrically actuated valves 130 may employ a plurality of 4-port valves 400, as schematically drawn in FIG. 4, to implement the necessary interconnectivity between fluid conduits 115. The 4-port valve provides three states of connectivity between the four ports. In state 1, as shown in FIG. 4, PORT A is connected to PORT B and PORT D is connected to PORT C. In state 2, PORT A is connected to PORT C and PORT B is connected to PORT D. In state 3, PORT A is connected PORT D and PORT B is connected to PORT C. As shown in cut-away in FIG. 4, the 4-port valve 400 comprises an circular outer housing shell 420 having 4 pass-through fluid ports; PORT A 430, PORT B 440, PORT C 450, and PORT D 460. An inner valve body 410 is mounted inside the outer housing shell 420, so that it can rotate about the center axis 510. The contact surface between the inner valve body 410 and the outer shell 420, does not allow fluid to migrate between the surfaces but permits rotation. A stepper motor (not shown), whose shaft connects to the inner valve body 410 at its center axis 510, is mechanically configured to rotate the inner valve body 410 relative to the outer shell 420. The inner valve body 410 comprises two isolated straight-through fluid flow channels, channel 2-6 480, channel 4-8 500, and two isolated right angle channels, channel 1-7 470, and channel 3-5 490. The mouths of each of the channels matches up with the port opening when the inner valve body 410 is rotated into alignment. The flow through the valve may be reduced by partially aligning the channel mouth with the port opening. A position sensor (not shown) is operatively configured to report the relative position of the inner valve body 410 to the distribution allocator 120.
  • [0051]
    In an embodiment, sensors 160 may be thermally coupled to the heat sources 110, accessories, and accessory heaters 150 and operatively connected to report temperatures to the controller 120. Additional sensors (not shown) may be used to report environmental temperatures and other conditions to the controller 120. A feedback loop may thereby be established to maintain desired temperatures throughout the system.
  • [0052]
    Each of the accessories 150 may have a different dynamically varying heat requirement. It is further recognized that each of the heat sources 110 may have different time versus temperature profiles and different heat capacities. The distribution allocator 120 may configure the valves 130 so as to match the requirements of each accessory heater 150 with the most suitable heat exchanger 110 combinations.
  • [0053]
    In some cases, the working fluid temperature may be too high for a given accessory heater 150. In that situation, the working fluid may be diverted to an auxiliary cooling coil (not shown), exposed to the outside environment, by means of additional electrically operated valves within the distribution allocator 120.
  • [0054]
    Accessories that may be heated by the energy recovery system are described. For all applications, the working fluid is selected to remain liquid over the temperature ranges to be encountered. Suitable working fluids may comprise anti-freeze liquids such as alcohol, methanol, ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, organic acid technology anti-freeze solutions and mixtures of these liquids and/or water.
  • [0055]
    A first accessory may be a windshield de-icer that is schematically pictured in FIG. 5. The windshield 200 is formed of a plate of safety glass 210 with fluid flow channels 220 located in a plane parallel to the glass surface. The channels 220 are interconnected so as to provide a continuous fluid flow path with an input connection 230 and an output connection 240. In operation, heated working fluid is pumped to the input connection 230, through the continuous fluid flow path and out the output connection 240 from which it is returned.
  • [0056]
    A second accessory may be a windshield wiper heater. A windshield wiper blade 300, shown in a cutaway view in FIG. 6, is configured to have a fluid flow channel 310 running the length of the blade and back. The input and output of the channel are connected via flexible tubes back to the working fluid supply lines. In operation, when required, heated working fluid is pumped through the channel 310 thereby warming the windshield wiper blade. Optionally the blade may include thermal conductive material 320 within the shell 330 of the wiper blade to allow for better conduction to the wiper blade. In another embodiment, the wiper blade has a recessed portion 340 in its construction with thermal conductive material 320 therein. In such embodiment, the contact edge 350 the wiper blade (e.g. the rubber of the blade) contacts the window, while the recessed portion does not. Thus, the thermal conductive material 320 may conduct heat into the recess. For example, the wiper blade may be a V-shaped when viewed from the windshield side, with the thermal conductive material 320 being spaced from the windshield.
  • [0057]
    In another embodiment, heated working fluid may also be used to heat the windshield washer fluid holding tank thereby warming the windshield washer fluid and improving its effectiveness during cold weather. For example, the washer fluid housing may be bathed in the heated solution or a conduit may run therethrough which contains the heated solution.
  • [0058]
    A third accessory may be an electric motor bearing heater. Typically, a vehicle employs many small electric motors to power various functions such as fluid pumps, power windows and power antennas, and engine cooling fans. Each of these electric motors has bearings that must remain lubricated during operation. Under cold weather conditions, many lubricants exhibit reduced performance. In an embodiment of the energy recovery system, heated working fluid is used to warm the electric motor bearings, thereby restoring desirable lubricant properties and resulting in improved motor performance and extending motor life. A fluid flow channel is formed in the bearing housing with an input port and an output port connected to external conduits that supply and return the working fluid.
  • [0059]
    A fourth accessory may be contact heating in the passenger compartment. Currently, most vehicles employ blown air to heat the passenger compartment. Some vehicles additionally provide electrical heating elements in the passenger seats. Under extremely cold conditions, especially when the passenger compartment is not sealed, hot air system may not be effective. In an embodiment of the energy recovery system heated working fluid may be circulated through fluid flow channels embedded in passenger seats, floor boards and any other surfaces that the operator normally contacts during vehicle operation. Sensors, connected to the distribution allocator 120, may be used to determine allocation requirements. The distribution allocator 120 may dynamically redistribute the fluid based on vehicle occupancy thereby minimizing heat waste.
  • [0060]
    A fifth accessory may be a heater for the vehicle's storage battery. The capacity and performance of lead-acid and other storage batteries degrades at lower temperatures. In an embodiment, heated working fluid may be circulated through fluid flow channels in proximity to the outer surface of the battery case whereby a more favorable operating temperature may be maintained. This embodiment is of special significance to hybrid vehicles where propulsion is supplied in part by energy stored in rechargeable storage batteries. In a further embodiment, the fluid flow channels may be incorporated into the battery structure to improve the efficiency of the heat transfer. Temperature sensors may also be incorporated into the battery to provide feedback to the distribution allocator 120.
  • [0061]
    A sixth accessory is a temperature-maintaining compartment within the vehicle for holding food, beverage, medical supplies or similar items where preservation of the item's temperature is desirable. The maintenance of temperature may fully automatic and not require manual control. The compartment may be an thermally insulated container having an access door which substantially maintains the thermal insulation from the outside environment. The interior walls of the compartment incorporate a continuous fluid conduit, having an input port and an output port. The input and output ports may be connected, via insulated conduits, to the distribution allocator 120. In operation, an item(s) is placed within the compartment and the door is closed. Sensors inside the compartment, may detect the door closure and may immediately measure the temperature of the item(s). The measured temperature may be reported to the distribution allocator 120 which may determine whether heat must be added or subtracted from the interior of the compartment to maintain the item temperature. If heat addition is required, heated fluid may be supplied from the heat sources via the distribution allocator 120. If heat subtraction is required cooled fluid is supplied from a cooling unit via the distribution allocator 120. The cooling unit may be a gas-absorption refrigeration unit powered by heated working fluid provided by the distribution allocator 120. A gas-absorption refrigeration unit is a refrigerator that utilizes a heat source to provide the energy needed to drive the cooling system rather than being dependent on electricity to run a compressor.
  • [0062]
    A seventh accessory is a temperature controlled jacket configured as a cup holder in the vehicle. The temperature controlled jacket incorporates a fluid flow channel within its walls, through which fluid at a desired temperature may be circulated. A mechanical fluid flow valve may be actuated automatically when the cup is placed in the jacket. The flow of the fluid may further be regulated by a thermostatically controlled valve whereby the desired cup temperature may be maintained.
  • [0063]
    A eighth accessory is a heated door lock and door handle. The door lock and door handle may incorporate a fluid conduit that is thermally coupled to moving components of the respective locks and handles. It is recognized that freezing of these components often occurs during periods of vehicle non-use. In this situation, where the engine has been shut down for an extended period of time, heated fluid from the energy recovery system may not be available. In an embodiment, an auxiliary insulated holding tank (not shown), connected to the distribution allocator 120, may contain fluid which was previously heated and stored. The auxiliary insulated holding tank may incorporate double wall construction with a sealed evacuated space therebetween to improve heat preservation. Flow of the heated fluid through the respective door handles and locks may be initiated by a control actuated from a location external to the vehicle. In a further embodiment, an analogous approach may be taken to de-icing frozen brake system components. The concept of the auxiliary insulated holding tank may be applied to any or all of the accessories disclosed in this specification.
  • STATEMENT REGARDING PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0064]
    While the invention has been described with respect to preferred embodiments, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that various changes and/or modifications can be made to the invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification60/39.182
International ClassificationF02G5/02
Cooperative ClassificationF01N5/04, F01N5/02, F01K23/065, B60L3/0023, F02G2260/00, B60L2240/36, B60L11/14, F01K23/10
European ClassificationF01K23/06D, F01K23/10