US 3650122 A
A modular refrigeration unit containing a complete refrigeration system is removably mounted in an insulated holding chamber. The holding chamber and refrigeration unit are formed of polyurethane in a stressed skinned construction and a closed air flow cycle is provided between the interior of the holding chamber and the evaporator of the refrigeration system to continuously maintain a relatively low temperature within the chamber.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Lieberman 51 Mar. 21, 1972 1541 MODULAR REFRIGERATION UNIT 2,751,760 6/1956 Williams ..62/289  lnventor: Aharon Lieberman, Ozone Park, NY.  Assignee: Computed Living Space, Inc., Ozone Park, 7/1960 Re man --62/77 NY 3,156,102 11/1964 Costantini. ..62/298 3,433,031 3/1969 Scheitlin... ...62l298 I221 15, 3,474,640 10/1969 Kearl ..62/298  Appl. No.: 3,168
Primary Examiner-William J. Wye Attorney-Curtis, Morris & Saflord  US. Cl ..62/298, 62/275, 62/279,
' 62/77, 62/440 57 ABSTRACT  Int. Cl ..F25d 19/00 58 Field 61 Search ..62/77, 298, 295, 292, 27s, 4
62/279 440 279 t1on system is removably mounted in an insulated holding chamber. The holding chamber and refrigeration unit are  References Cited formed of polyurethane in a stressed skinned construction and a closed air flow cycle is provided between the interior of the UNITED STATES PATENTS holding chamber and the evaporator of the refrigeration system to continuously maintain a relatively low temperature 2,529,203 11/1950 Turpin ..62/295 within the chamben 2,561,278 7/1951 Hill ..62/279 2,727,363 12/1955 Fermer ..62/298 13 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures MODULAR REFRIGERATION UNIT This invention relates to refrigerators and in particular to a modular refrigeration unit removably mounted in an insulated holding chamber.
In refrigerator systems presently available, the mechanical components of the system are arranged in various locations with respect to the holding chamber or refrigerator box. Conventionally, the refrigerator is an insulated metal box having its condenser coils exposed at the rear, the evaporator coils located adjacent the interior walls and the compressor and other equipment mounted in the base. Such arrangements render repairs and service difficult and often necessitates removal of the entire heavy metal refrigerator from the home, in the event that factory service is required.
In addition, the conventional refrigerator is of a standard size and occupies a large area of the kitchen. This area is completely devoted to refrigeration since the capacity of the unit cannot be varied and generally the result is that the refrigerator is too large for certain families and too small for others.
It is an object of this invention to provide compact mechanical systems adapted to refrigerate insulated holding chambers. Another object of the invention is to provide compact removable and replaceable refrigeration units. A still further object of the invention is to provide lightweight insulated cabinetry adapted to serve as refrigerator units when provided with a self-contained mechanical refrigeration system. Still another object of the invention is to refrigerate performed insulated holding chambers. I
In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention there are provided kitchen cabinets formed of stressed skin injection molded construction. These cabinets have hardened plastic surfaces which provide structural integrity and an integral foamed core which provides thermal insulation for the interior of the cabinet. The exposed appearance surfaces of this cabinetry are adapted to be finished in any desired color and in any type of simulated wood grain or other contoured surface.
A mechanical package containing all of the mechanical parts of a refrigeration system is also provided, which is adapted to fit in one comer of a cabinet. The package is similarly formed of stressed skin construction and is adapted to provide a closed air flow cycle in the interior of its associated cabinet to make that cabinet a refrigerator or a holding chamber for the mechanical package and for food. The' mechanical package, or refrigeration module is adapted to be removed from the cabinet if desired and thus, when repairs are necessary, the package can be removed and a standby inserted. The necessity of home repairs is thereby eliminated and factory service of the mechanical components of the refrigeration system is facilitated since by this construction only the mechanical package or module need then be returned to the factory.
The lightweight construction of the cabinetry allows faster and easier field assembly, lower shipping costs and faster service and maintenance of the refrigeration units. In addition, the portion of the kitchen devoted to refrigeration can be determined by the consumer since as many, or as few, cabinets as desired may be provided with a refrigeration module.
The construction of the preferred embodiment as well as further objects and advantages thereof will become further apparent from the following specification when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawing wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portion of a kitchen including a cabinet containing the modular refrigeration unit of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged isometric view of the opened cabinet of FIG. 1, partly broken away, and with parts removed;
FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the rear portion of the cabinet illustrated in FIG. 2, with its top removed;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the modular refrigeration unit taken on line 4-4 of HO. 3; and
FIG. 5 is a view taken on line 5-5 of FIG. 4.
Referring now to the drawings and in particular to FIG. 1, there is illustrated a portion of a kitchen wall 10 including a series of cabinets 12 and 14. Each of the cabinets 14 is adapted to contain the modular refrigeration unit 16 of the present invention, and one of these cabinets is shown with its door 18 opened and a typical module 16 inserted therein.
Cabinets 12 and 14, and their respective doors 18, are
formed of injection molded polyurethane in a stressed skin construction by a known process. As seen in FIG. 2, this construction provides thin hardened outer surfaces 20 and an integral foamed core 22. The hard plastic surfaces 20 provide both structural stability and a durable finish to the cabinets. In addition, the molding process permits surfaces 20 to be formed with any desired color or type of finish, such as wood or other grained surfaces, as seen in FIG. 1, in order to give the cabinets the appearance of fine furniture.
Foamed core 22 provides thermal insulation for the cabinets and thus facilitates the use of any individual cabinet 14 as a refrigerator by the insertion of a refrigeration module l6. As more fully described hereinafter, module 16 contains all of the mechanical components required for a refrigeration system and thus will cool any cabinet in which it is placed. As seen in FIG. 1, and in phantom lines in FIG. 2, module 16 is positioned in one of the rear comers of the chosen cabinet and occupies only a small amount of the available space therein.
Each cabinet 14 which is adapted to receive a modular refrigeration unit 16 is provided with a conventional magnetized flexible sealing strip 24 around the interior edges of its pivotally mounted door 18 and this sealing strip cooperates with the front face portions 26 of the cabinet to form an airtight seal to prevent cool air from escaping from cabinet 14. Ferrous particles embedded in the cabinet portions 26 cooperate with magnetized strip 24 to keep door 18 closed.
Cabinets 14 are each provided with an opening 28 in their top and bottom walls 30 and 32, respectively. These openings provide access for electric power lines into box 14 for connection to module 16. In addition, openings 28 provide communication with the atmosphere through appropriate conduits (not shown) to supply air for cooling certain of the components within module 16.
As seen in FIG. 3, module 16 is formed by a pair of elongated generally L-shaped members 34 and 36 which form a rectangular container for the refrigeration system components. Members 34 and 36 are each formed of polyurethane by an injection molding process similar to that used to form cabinets l2 and 14; and they thus have a stressed skin construction with hardened outer surfaces 38 and an integral foamed inner core 40. Legs 42 and 44 of member 36 are somewhat longer than the corresponding legs 46 and 48 of member 34 so that their free ends extend beyond the perimeter of module 16 when members 34 and 36 are joined together. This construction is to insure proper positioning of module 16 within cabinet 14, as will be more fully explained hereinafter. Any conventional fastening means or method can be utilized to join the free ends of legs 46 and 48 to legs 42 and 44 respectively, however, one such method, i.e., sonic welding of the members, has been found satisfactory and is particularly useful in production line assemblies.
Cabinet 14 is formed with grooves 50 located in its rear wall 15 and a similar groove 50 located in its side wall 17. These grooves are adapted to receive the free ends of the legs 42 and 44 of member 36 when the latter is inserted in cabinet 14 in order to locate and retain module 16 in the rear corner of the cabinet. While the arrangement described above would be sufficient to retain module 16 in this position, it may be supplemented by any type of conventional fastening or locking mechanisms. When module 16 is inserted in cabinet 14 member 36 is positioned as seen in FIG. 3, with its sides towards the interior of cabinet 14. Accordingly, in order to provide substantial insulation between the mechanical components contained within the interior of module 16 and the interior of cabinet 14, legs 42 and 44 of member 36 are formed somewhat thicker than the corresponding legs 46 and 48 of member 34.
Module 16 is also provided with top and bottom members 52 and 54, respectively, to completely seal the module. These members are joined to side members 34 and 36 by the same method used to join the latter, e.g., sonic welding. Alternatively they may be integrally formed with either of the side members during the injection molding process.
Members 52 and 54 each include an opening 56 which align with openings 28 in cabinet 14 when module 16 is inserted therein. These openings permit entrance of ambient air into the module as will be more fully explained hereinafter and also facilitates connection of electrical power lines to the motor driven components of the refrigeration systems.
As previously noted, module 16 contains all of the components of a conventional refrigeration system, including a condenser 58, compressor 60, evaporator 62 and an expansion nozzle or capillary tube (not shown). The arrangement of these components is clearly illustrated in the sectional view of module 16, in FIG. 5. As seen therein condenser 58 is positioned in the base of module 16 on bottom member 54 substantially overlying opening 56 therein. In the preferred embodiment, condenser 58 is formed as a wide-spaced finned heat exchange unit, although, it is foreseen that a condenser without fins would also be satisfactory. The use of widespaced fins minimized dust collection on the condenser and thus avoids losses in heat transfer capacity of the unit.
Condenser 58 is connected to compressor 60 by a conduit 64 which forms part of the flow path for the refrigerant used in the system. Compressor 60 is resiliently mounted within module 16 immediately above condenser 58 on support plate 66. Module walls 42 and 48 include grooves 68 in which the generally U-shaped tracks 70 are resiliently mounted by a plurality of coil springs 72. The ends of plate 66 are adapted to slide in and out of tracks 70 and, in this manner, vibrations of the compressor are absorbed by springs 72 and isolated from module 16 in order to prevent damage thereto.
A fan 74 is mounted in module 16 on a support plate 76 immediately above compressor 60. Plate 76 is slidably mounted within grooves 78 formed in module walls 48 and 42 so that it can be readily inserted or removed. Fan 74 is positioned within a foraminous chamber 80 on plate 76 and draws ambient air into module 16 through lower opening 28 in cabinet -14 and opening 56 in base member 54 to create an air flow through chamber 80 between the lower and upper portions of the module. This air flow serves to cool condenser 58 by convection and in addition passes through openings (not shown) in plate 66 to cool compressor 60 and thereby increase its operating range. The resulting warmed air is then discharged through opening 56 in top plate 52 and top opening 28 in cabinet 14 and returned to the atmosphere. It is noted that discharge opening 56 may alternatively be located in rear wall of cabinet 14 to decrease the head of air against which fan 74 must act. For certain applications, fan 74 may be eliminated since air will tend to flow upwardly within module 16 by convection, as the air adjacent condenser 58 is heated at the beginning of the operating cycle.
Grooves 78 in walls 42 and 48 may be lined with rubber pads (not shown) to absorb vibrations of the fan and limit transmission of these vibrations to the walls of module 16. In
addition, it is noted that for each groove formed in walls 42 and 48 corresponding grooves are formed in walls 44 and 46 for receiving the two other sides of the various components, in particular, compressor support plate 64 and plate 76.
Evaporator 62 is also formed as a wide-finned heat exchanger in the conventional manner and it is mounted in a recess 82 formed in module wall 42. Cooled fluid from condenser 58 flows through conduit 84 to an expansion noule or capillary tube (not shown) formed therein and thence to evaporator 62 in the conventional manner. Accordingly, extremely cool refrigerant is supplied to evaporator 62 for cooling the interior of cabinet 14 and this refrigerant is returned to compressor 60 through conduit 86 to complete the refrigerant flow path.
A closed air flow cycle is provided within cabinet 14 by fan 88 which draws air present in cabinet 14 through an opening 100 in the upper portion of leg 42 of L-shaped member 36 over relatively cold evaporator 62 and thence returns the cooled air back through opening 100 to the interior of the cabinet. Fan 88 is mounted within a cavity 90 formed in support plate 92 which plate is formed of thermal insulating material such as foamed polyurethane and is slidably mounted in the vertically offset grooves 94 which are formed in top plate 52 and support plate 76 of fan 74. In this manner, a cool zone 96 is defined adjacent evaporator 62 which is thermally isolated from the warm air discharge zone 98 defined above fan 74 and loss of cooling capacity of the system is avoided.
Leg member 44 of L-shaped member 36 is formed with an opening 101 therein to provide discharge of cool air from both exposed sides of module 16. Opening 101 communicates with cool zone 96 through duct 102 which is formed as part of leg 44 and accordingly, air flowing in duct 102 is also thermally insulated from discharge zone 98. The upper comer of plate 92 adjacent duct 102 is notched to avoid obstruction of the duct and to permit free air flow from zone 96 through duct 102 to opening 101.
In operation, fan 88 draws air within cabinet 14 through opening over evaporator 62 into zone 96 and returns the cooled air back and the rest flowing into duct 102 and through opening 101, through the evaporator coils and through opening 100, as indicated by the arrows in FIG. 4 and 5. It is noted that both openings in module 16, i.e., openings I00 and 101 may be covered by a foraminous screening material or cloth 104 to prevent inadvertent insertion of food or other objects into the module.
During operation of the device water vapor from within cabinet 14 will be drawn by fan 88 into zone 96 and onto evaporator 62 where this moisture will condense and freeze. To avoid ice buildup on the evaporator coils and resultant loss of heat transfer capacity, a heater unit 106 is provided at the base of the evaporator. Conventional automatic controls are provided to periodically operate the heater and heat the evaporator fins to melt ice formations thereomThe resulting liquid is conveyed by conduit 108 to the top of the compressor casing 60.
Compressor 60 is provided with an annular channel 110 formed on its casing for collecting moisture deposited thereon from conduit 108 and, as the liquid flows from the top of the compressor casing to channel 110, it serves to provide additional cooling for compressor 60. In addition, the heat generated by compressor 60 during operation will vaporize the moisture and this vapor is thence automatically removed from module 16 under the influence of fan 74.
While polyurethane has been described above as the material used in the construction of the preferred embodiment of this invention, it is foreseen that other plastic materials may be used, and particularly, materials chosen from the eythelene or styrene groups.
The refrigeration module construction described above pro vides a compact unit which is readily and rapidly assembled on factory production lines. The provision of preformed grooves in the injection molded module members facilitates assembly since each refrigeration component is merely slid in place by one of the L-shaped members and the appropriate conduits connected. When each component is in place the second L- shaped member is merely positioned over the components and the joints sonically welded to form a completely sealed package. I
The self-contained mechanical package of the present invention is readily removed and replaced in case of a mechanical failure without the necessity of replacing the entire cabinet or refrigerator holding chamber as in the prior art systems. This arrangement therefor permits factory service in lieu of the generally more expensive and less efficient home repairs. In addition, the package is readily serviceable since each component is compact and located in one position within the holding box.
The capacity of an individual module is readily varied since each component can be readily removed and replaced by another of difierent size, due to the use of the slidable mounting construction of each component within the module. As seen in FIG. 4, module 16, while compact, contains sufficient space therein to accommodate larger components and thus is adapted to make the cabinet 14 a freezer chamber rather than a refrigerator.
Cabinet 14 also may be provided with a conventional automatic ice maker 112 along wall 17 in front of module 16 and opening 101. The cool air discharged from zone 96 and opening 101 in module 16 has, in the preferred embodiment, a temperature of approximately 0 F., and as it is discharged immediately over the ice maker it will freeze the liquid contained therein.
The above description of the invention is intended to be illustrative only, and various changes and modifications in the embodiment described may occur to those skilled in the art. These changes may be made without departing from the scope of the invention, and thus it should be apparent that the invention is not limited to the specific embodiments described or iilustrated in the drawings.
What is claimed is:
l. A modular refrigeration unit comprising, an enclosed thermally insulated holding box having a selectively openable door member forming a portion of the box for providing access to the interior thereof and a self-contained mechanical refrigeration unit readily removably mounted within the interior of said holding box, said refrigeration unit including an enclosed thermally insulated container and means within said container for cooling and circulating ambient air present in said holding box.
2. A modular refrigeration unit as defined in claim 1 wherein the walls and door of said enclosed holding box are formed of polyurethane and have hardened surfaces and foamed inner cores.
3. A modular refrigeration unit as defined in claim 2 one of said L-spaced members, said condenser is mounted in the base of said container and said compressor is mounted above said condenser and beneath said evaporator whereby relatively short refrigerant flow path sections are provided between the elements of said cooling and circulating means.
7. A device as defined in claim 6 wherein said cooling and circulating means includes a first fan for drawing air from .within said holding box over said evaporator for cooling said air and for returning said cooled air to said box.
8. A device as defined in claim 7 wherein said cooling and circulating means further includes a second fan, thermally isolated from said first fan, and adapted to draw ambient air from outside said box through said condenser and over said compressor to cool said condenser and compressor.
9. A modular refrigeration unit adapted to be removably mounted within a thermally insulated holding box comprising, an enclosed container formed by a stressed skin construction defining an enclosed chamber, and means entirely contained within said chamber for refrigerating said holding box, said refrigeration means including compressor, condenser, expansion nozzle, evaporator, and conduit means constructed and arranged to define a flow path for refrigerant in said refrigeration means whereby the interior of said holding box is cooled.
10. A refrigeration unit as defined in claim 9 including means resiliently mounting said compressor in said container to absorb the attendant vibrations thereof.
11. A refrigeration unit as defined in claim 10 wherein said condenser is mounted in the base of said container below said compressor and said system further includes means for drawing ambient air into said container to cool said condenser and said compresser and for discharging the warmed air from said container.
12. A refrigeration unit as defined in claim 11 wherein said container includes means, thermally isolated from said drawing and discharge means, for continuously drawing air within said holding box over said evaporator and returning said air to said box in a closed air circulation cycle.
13. A refrigeration unit as defined in claim 12 wherein said compressor includes a thermally conductive outer shell and a watertight channel means mounted on the periphery of said shell, said evaporator including a heater element adapted to periodically defrost ice forming on said evaporator, and means for conducting the resulting liquid from said evaporator to said channel whereby said liquid cools said compressor, is vaporized, and discharged from said container with said warmed air.
* i It 4'