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Publication numberUS3146601 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 1, 1964
Filing dateFeb 4, 1963
Priority dateFeb 4, 1963
Publication numberUS 3146601 A, US 3146601A, US-A-3146601, US3146601 A, US3146601A
InventorsGould Richard E
Original AssigneeGen Motors Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Refrigerating apparatus
US 3146601 A
Abstract  available in
Images(4)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Sept. 1, 1964 R. E. GOULD 3,146,601

REFRIGERATING APPARATUS I Fild Feb. 4, 1963 45118825-511861'. 1

fi'g'gl INVENTOR RICHARD E GOULD AT TORNEV R- E. GOULD REFRIGERATING APPARATUS Sept. 1, 1964 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Feb. 4, 1963 Sept. 1, 1964 R. E. GOULD REFRIGERATING APPARATUS 4 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed Feb. 4, 1965 Unite States Patent 6 3,146,601 REFRIGERATING APPARATUS Richard E. Gould, Dayton, Ohio, assignor to General Motors Corporation, Detroit, Mich, a corporation of Delaware Filed Feb. 4, 1963, Ser. No. 255,863 Claims. ((31. 62-3) This invention relates to refrigerator apparatus and more particularly to a refrigerator including an improved thermoelectric ice making arrangement. 7

The provision of separate freezer units in many households has made it desirable to provide a refrigerator having the food compartment thereof devoted solely to the storage of fresh foods at temperatures in the range of 35 F. Such a refrigerator can be freezerless and the refrigerant system cooling the space can operate at relatively high back pressures as compared to refrigerant systems supplying a freezing compartment and hence is more etlicient. One problem with such freezerless refrigerators, however, is that no means are present for making ice cubes or the like.

Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide improved means for producing ice in a freezerless refrigerator without afiecting the efficient operation of the refrigerant system thereof.

A further object is to provide ice making capability in a freezerless refrigerator by means of an improved thermoelectric unit and ice-maker arrangement in the door thereof.

Still further objects are to provide an improved ice maker and thermoelectric ice making panel arrangement including improved means for dissipating heat from the hot junctions of the thermoelectric unit; and to provide such heat dissipation by passing a portion of a water supply for an automatic ice maker into heat transfer relationship with such hot junctions.

Further objects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description, reference being had to the accompanying drawings wherein a preferred embodiment of the present invention is clearly shown.

In the drawings:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of a refrigerator having the present invention included in the door thereof;

FIGURE 2 is a fragmentary front view partially broken away of one form of the invention;

FIGURE 3 is a view in horizontal section taken along the line 3-3 of FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 4 is an irregular, vertical, sectional view taken along the line 44 of FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 5 is an enlarged fragmentary view showing a thermocouple construction; and

FIGURE 6 is a wiring diagram for the invention.

Referring now to the drawings, and more particularly to FIGURE 1, reference numeral 16 designates a freezerless refrigerator cabinet having a food storage space 12 therein accessible through an opening in the front thereof normally closed by means of an insulated door 14. The food storage space is devoted to the storage of fresh foods requiring a compartment temperature in the range of 35 F. In the illustrated embodiment, the food storage space 12 is cooled by a conventional refrigerator system including a compressor 16, a condenser 18 and an evaporator 20, it being understood that the system includes a suitable power source, means for expanding compressed refrigerant and a thermostat for controlling the flow of hot compressed gas from the compressor through the condenser and thence into the evaporator for cooling the compartment. Due to the fact that the refrigeration system need only cool the food storage space to 35 F., the system has a high back presice sure and hence operates at a coefficient of performance, which may be expressed as B.t.u.s of cooling per wattage input, better than that present in refrigeration systems that must be capable of maintaining portions of the refrigerator cabinet below freezing temperatures.

The improved thermoelectric unit and ice-maker arrangement of the present invention is illustrated as being associated with the insulated door 14 of the refrigerator cabinet 16 and is more particularly illustrated as being associated with a cooling space 22 formed in the door 14 having an access opening provided thereto normally closed by an insulated door 24 for insulating the space 22 from the food storage space 12 in the refrigerator 16. An ice-maker apparatus 26 is operatively disposed within the space 22 to provide a predetermined amount of icemaking capability in the refrigerator cabinet 10 without affecting the cooling characteristics of the compressor system for the food storage space 12.

More particularly, the ice-maker apparatus 26 comprises a pair of elongated guide members 28, 30 directed longitudinally of the ice-making space 22. The guide member 28 is fastened by suitable means to an inner wall 32 of the ice-making space 22 and to a plate 34 removably connected to the inner wall 32 at one end of the space 22 and the guide members 28, 30 are interconnected at one end thereof by a rivet 36 having a bearing 38 rotatably mounted thereon supporting a roller 40. A multi-teethed sprocket 42 is rotatably supported between the opposite ends of the guide members with the sprocket 42 and roller 49 forming a support for an endless belt 46 of a flexible, resilient, plastic material, for example polyethylene, thereon for movement thereacross.

The belt 46 has a plurality of receptacles 48 continuously arranged therearound with the belt being sufliciently taut so that the bottoms of the receptacles 48 are pushed outwardly as they contact the roller 40.

The sprocket 42 is operatively connected to a motor 56 through gearing 51 and a shaft 52 with the motor 50 being located within the door 14 so as to be insulated from the cooling space 22 and accessible through the removable plate 34. The shaft 52 has cams 54, 56 mounted thereon operatively associated with water supply means for the ice-maker 26 including a conduit 58 conveying water from a suitable supply conduit 59 connected to a source such as household plumbing to valve means 66 for measuring and distributing a predetermined amount of water through a discharge spout 62 connected to valve means 60 and thence into one of the receptacles 43. The sprocket 42 of the ice-maker apparatus 26 is oriented on the drive shaft 52 therefor so that the notches therein are substantially aligned with the protuberant portions of the cams 54, 56 so that a given r'e ceptacle 48 on the belt 46 will be located beneath the spout 62 when the valve means 60 allows a measured amount of water to flow therethrough.

In accordance with certain of the principles of the present invention, a thermoelectric unit 64 is mounted within the insulated door 14 in a space behind the inner Wall 32 of the space 22 with the hot junctions thereof being thermally insulated from the ice-making space 22 and with the cold junctions thereof being in intimate heat transfer contact with an L-shaped member or ice-making panel 66 of a good thermally conductive material such as aluminum with said L-shaped member having one end thereof secured to the inner wall 32 of the space 22 and the opposite end thereof directed outwardly of the inner wall 32 beneath the conveyor belt 46 at a location where the bottoms of the receptacles 48 will be in intimate heat transfer contact therewith. The panel 66 is cooled by the cold junctions of the thermoelectric unit 64 for cooling the liquid in the receptacles 48. The motor 50 moves the belt 46 relative to the panel 66 at a speed to cause the water or other liquid deposited in the receptacle adjacent the spout 62 to be frozen prior to reaching the roller 40 and once the bottom of the receptacle is in contact therewith the outward movement thereof, as discussed above, will cause the frozen material within the receptacle to be forced off the belt 46 and into a storage container 63 located within the space 22 beneath the roller 40. Suitable electrical switch means 69 may be associated with the ice storage container 68 for controlling the operation of the ice maker drive motor 50 in accordance with the weight of the ice or other frozen material present in the container 68.

The thermoelectric unit 64 is representatively illustrated as comprising a plurality of thermocouples of the type shown in FIGURE connected in electrical series relationship by straps 70 of a good electrical conductor such as copper. Each thermocouple includes an 11 type semiconductor element 71 and a p type semiconductor 72 having the ends thereof secured to mounting elements 74 by soldering or the like. The space between the adjacent thermocouples is filled with a Freon-filled polyurethane foam 76 for providing rigidity to the thermoelectric unit 64 and for providing electrical and thermal insulation between the hot and cold ends of the thermocouples thereof. Furthermore, a layer of suitable adhesive '78 secures the straps 76) at the cold junctions of the thermocouple to the L-shaped member 66 for electrically insulating therebetween with said adhesive layer serving as a good thermal conductive path between the cold junctions and the L-shaped member 66.

In accordance with other of the principles of the present invention, a conduit 80 conveys water from the conduit 59 through a coil 32 located in heat transfer relationship with the hot ends of the thermocouples for dissipating heat therefrom exteriorly of both the food storage space 12 in the refrigerator cabinet and the ice-making space 22 in the insulated door M. The cooling water passes from the coil 82 through a return conduit 83 back to a suitable drain (not shown). Such an arrangement as sures that the refrigeration system for the refrigerator cabinet 10 will be able to operate with an optimum coefiicient of performance and further prevents the entrance of any excess heat into the space 22 that might interfere with ice making by the thermoelectric unit. The arrangement of the thermoelectric unit 64 in combination with the ice maker 26 enables a common water source to serve the function of providing water for the ice-maker receptacles and for cooling the hot junctions of the electrothermal unit. Furthermore, the provision of the combination ice maker and thermoelectric cooling device in the door of the refrigerator enables ice-making capacity to be quickly installed in a standard production model freezerless refrigerator without the necessity of providing modifications of the refrigeration system thereof.

In the illustrated arrangement, the drive motor 50 is electrically connected to a suitable power source through a bimetallic thermostatic switch 84 mounted upon the door 14 above the spout 62 and the belt 46 for preventing operation of the machine under temperature conditions that would not freeze the liquid in the receptacles 41% prior to their reaching the roller 49. The power for the thermoelectric unit 64 is located in a small compartment (not shown) in the refrigerator door 14 at a point thermally insulated from the remainder of the structure and includes a transformer 86 having the primary coil thereof connected to the power source and the secondary thereof having a center tap filament SS and being electrically connected to the electrothermal unit 64, suitable rectifiers 91D and a choke 92 for limiting the fluctuations in the power source in a predetermined manner.

While the embodiment of the present invention as herein disclosed constitutes a preferred form, it is to be understood that other forms might be adopted.

What is claimed is as follows:

1. A refrigerator having a cabinet and a door forming a first cooling compartment, a refrigerator system operatively associated with said cabinet for cooling said first cooling compartment to a first predetermined temperature, means defining a second cooling compartment thermally insulated from said first cooling compartment, an ice maker in said second cooling compartment including water supply means, means including a thermocouple array having the cold junctions thereof in heat transfer relationship with said ice maker for reducing the temperature thereof below freezing, said thermocouple array having the hot junctions thereof substantially fully thermally insulated from said first and second cooling compartments, said water supply means being in heat transfer relationship with said hot junctions for dissipating heat therefrom exteriorly of said cabinet.

2. A refrigerator having a cabinet and a door forming a first cooling compartment, a refrigerator system being operatively associated with said cabinet for cooling said first cooling compartment to a first predetermined temperature, means defining a second cooling compartment in said door thermally insulated from said first cooling compartment, an ice maker in said second cooling compartment, means including a thermocouple array having the cold junctions thereof in heat transfer relationship with said ice maker for reducing the temperature thereof below freezing, said thermocouple array having the hot junctions thereof substantially fully thermally insulated from said first and second cooling compartments, and means for dissipating heat from the hot junctions of said thermocouple array exteriorly of said cabinet.

3. A refrigerator having a cabinet and a door forming a first cooling compartment, a refrigerator system being operatively associated with said cabinet for cooling said first cooling compartment to a first predetermined temperature, means defining a second cooling compartment in said door thermally insulated from said first cooling compartment, an ice maker in said second cooling compartment including water supply means, means including a thermocouple array having the cold junctions thereof in heat transfer relationship with said ice maker for reducing the temperature thereof below freezing, said thermocouple array having the hot junctions therof substantially fully thermally insulated from said first and second cooling compartments, said water supply means being in heat transfer relationship with said hot junctions for dissipating heat therefrom exteriorly of said cabinet.

4. A refrigerator having a cabinet and a door forming a first cooling compartment, a refrigerator system being operatively associated with said cabinet for cooling said first cooling compartment to a predetermined temperature, means defining a second cooling compartment in said door thermally insulated from said first cooling compartment, a conveyor in said second cooling compartment having receptacles therein, means for driving said conveyor, a cooling panel in heat transfer relationship with said conveyor, means including a thermocouple array having the cold junctions thereof in heat transfer relationship with said cooling panel for reducing the temperature thereof below freezing, said thermocouple array having the hot junctions thereof substantially fully thermally insulated from said first and second cooling compartments, and means for dissipating heat from the hot junctions of said thermocouple array exteriorly of said compartment.

5. A refrigerator having a cabinet and a door forming a first cooling compartment, a refrigerator system being operatively associated with said cabinet for cooling said first cooling compartment to a predetermined temperature, means defining a second cooling compartment in said door, a conveyor in said second cooling compartment having receptacles therein, means for driving said conveyor, means operatively associated with said drive means for supplying water to said receptacles, a cooling panel in heat transfer relationship with said conveyor, means including a thermocouple array having the cold junctions thereof in heat transfer relationship with said cooling panel for reducing the temperature thereof below freezing, said thermocouple array having the hot junctions thereof substantially fully thermally insulated from said first and second cooling compartments, said water supply means being in heat transfer relationship with said hot junctions for dissipating heat therefrom exteriorly of said cabinet.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Foraker Dec. 31, 1935 Roeder Dec. 20, 1960 Sheckler Nov. 14, 1961 Staebler Jan. 15, 1963

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Classifications
U.S. Classification62/3.6, 62/344, 62/3.63, 62/347
International ClassificationF25C1/10, F25B21/02, F25D23/04
Cooperative ClassificationF25B21/02, F25D23/04, F25C1/10
European ClassificationF25B21/02, F25C1/10