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Publication numberUS3727426 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 17, 1973
Filing dateOct 28, 1971
Priority dateOct 28, 1971
Publication numberUS 3727426 A, US 3727426A, US-A-3727426, US3727426 A, US3727426A
InventorsKesling K
Original AssigneeGen Motors Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Ice making device
US 3727426 A
Abstract
An automatic ice piece making machine for use in the freezer compartment of a domestic refrigerator having an elastomer drum which is rotated on a horizontal axis while water is supplied to the drum chamber such that clear ice will form upon the inner periphery of the rotating drum. The drum is formed with inwardly directed transverse partitions such that its outer periphery and side wall regions form ice piece cavities allowing the ice pieces to be molded by the circulation of freezing air over successive films of water in the cavities. The ice pieces are automatically ejected from the drum by subjecting it to a load on its outer peripheral surface directed radially inwardly during the rotation of the drum causing the sides to be splayed laterally outwardly whereby the ice pieces fall by gravity onto a collecting chute and thence to a storage bin.
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United States Patent 91 Kesling Apr. 17, 1973i ICE MAKING DEVICE [75] Inventor: Keith K. Kesling, Vandalia, Ohio Primary Examiner-William E. Wayner Attorney-William S. Pettigrew et al.

[ ABSTRACT An automatic ice piece making machine for use in the freezer compartment of a domestic refrigerator having an elastomer drum which is rotated on a horizontal axis while water is supplied to the drum chamber such that clear ice will form upon the inner periphery of the rotating drum. The drum is formed with inwardly directed transverse partitions such that its outer periphery and side wall regions form ice piece cavities allowing the ice pieces to be molded by the circulation of freezing air over successive films of water in the cavities. The ice pieces are automatically ejected from the drum by subjecting it to a load on its outer peripheral surface directed radially inwardly during the rotation of the drum causing the sides to be splayed laterally outwardly whereby the ice pieces fall by gravity onto a collecting chute and thence to a storage bin.

6Claims,7DrawinglYgures PATENTED APRI 71975 3, 727, 426

SHEET 2 BF 2 BY lfeifh k lihg ATTORNEY ICE MAKING DEVICE This invention pertains to automatic liquid freezers for household refrigerators and more particularly to an apparatus for freezing clear ice pieces and automatically ejecting the pieces therefrom into a storage receptacle.

Automatic icemakers for household refrigerators currently on the market are complicated and expensive and do not produce clear ice since their freezing processes trap dissolved air, gas and impurities in the ice. It has been known that ice pieces can be formed by accretion or the freezing of successive films of water to prevent the inclusion of solids or air in the ice pieces, and in this way relatively clear ice pieces or cubesT may be formed as exemplified in prior art commercial icemakers disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,070,943 issued Feb. 16, 1937 to C. F. Harold and U.S. Pat. No. 2,194,600 issued Mar. 26, 1940 to J. E. Kelly et al. Such icemakers, however, are relatively complicated and too expensive for use with the ordinary domestic refrigerator.

It is an object of this invention to provide a simple, inexpensive automatic liquid freezer for household refrigerators which will produce ice of greater clarity.

It is another object of this invention to provide a simple, inexpensive automatic icemaker for domestic refrigerators in which the liquid is frozen by accretion within a rotating drum of essentially U-shaped cross section formed of deformable elastomeric material having cavities molded on theinterior thereof in which the liquid is frozen by directing a stream of air of below freezing temperature over the compartments.

It is another object of this invention to provide a sim- FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the roller mounting plate.

Referring now to the drawings and more particularly to FIGS. 1 through 3, there is shown the upper portion of a household refrigerator cabinet having a lower door 22 closing upon the above freezing food compart: ment and an upper freezer compartment 24 closed by an upper door 26. Preferably, this household refrigerator 20 is of the frost free type in which air at a temperature above l0 F. below zero is circulated through the freezer compartment 24.

According to my invention an automatic liquid freezer or clear ice maker 28 is installed in the freezer compartment 24 such that it is supplied with tap water at ordinary temperatures through a cold water gravity flow supply tube 30 from a conventional refrigerator" water supply line. The tube 30 extends downwardly ple, inexpensive automatic liquid freezer in the form of 3 5 a drum made of deformable, elastomeric material for rotation about horizontal axis in which the air and gases can freely escape as ice pieces are frozen in thin layers while allowing the ice to be automatically harvested therefrom by having the outer periphery of the drum forced radially inwardly adjacent its zenith such that the drum sides are splayed laterally outwardly during rotation of the drum causing the ice pieces to be dislodged from their compartments so as to fall by gravity into an ice chute extending outwardly through the drum side opening which directs the ice pieces into a collection bin.

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:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a household refrigerator freezer compartment with the door open illustrating one form of the liquid freezer;

FIG. 2 is a transverse view partly in section taken on the line 2-2 of FIG. 3 looking in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 3 is a longitudinal view partly in section of the liquid freezer;

FIG. 4 is a wiring diagram for the liquid freezer;

FIG. 5 is a view in side elevation, partly in section, illustratin g an alternative embodiment of the drum;

FIG. 6 is a vertical sectional view taken along the line 66 of FIG. 5;

herent to ice such as a rubber material known as Kraton, for example, having an essentially U-shaped cross section and comprises an outer periphery region 42, flexible side wall regions 43, 44 and relatively inextensible bead regions 45 and 46 defining the side openings 41 of the U-shaped cross section with the inner bead 46 being clamped between an annular motor shaft plate 48 and a drum retaining plate 50. The motor shaft plate 48 has a central externally threaded hub 52 keyed or otherwise suitably retained on offset drive shaft 54 of a suitable motive means such as electric motor 56 which is preferably located in a recess 57 of the insulated freeze compartment back wall partition 58. A cap nut 62 is threaded on the hub 52 such that when tightened it clamps the inner bead 46 between the outer edges of the retaining plate 50 and the shaft plate 48 to securely retain the drum 40.

An ice harvesting chute 64, having peripheral side flanges 65, is preferably molded from a plastic material such as high impact polystyrene and is positioned to extend through the outer side opening 41, defined by the drum, U-shaped cross section, so as to be oriented at an acute angle of approximately 45 from the vertical. The chute 64 terminates in an enlarged outwardly diverging trough portion 66 positioned just below the inner zenith point of the drum rotational travel. It will be noted in FIG. 3 that the chute 64 is symmetrically located on the vertical transverse plane defined by center line indicated at 68. The ice chute 64 is retained by suitable securing means which in the disclosed form comprises an. integral molded mounting plate 70 formed on the underside of the chute 64 for attachment to a vertical ice chute mounting bracket 72 by means of through bolts 74. The chute mounting bracket 72 is in.

turn suitably secured to a horizontal base member 76 having upstanding stiffening flanges 78 and an upstanding end flange 80 for securing mounting bracket 72 by suitable means such as a pair of through bolts 82.

The base 76 in the preferred form is mounted on the bottom wall 84 of the freezer compartment 24 and extends into a recess opening 57 in the freezer compartment back wall 58. An intermediate mounting flange 88 is lanced from the base 76 and bent to a vertical position to support motor mounting bracket 90 by suitable means such as bolts 92. The motor mounting bracket has a circular opening at 94 to allow rotating drive shaft 54 of the motor 56 to extend therethrough while the motor is retained on the bracket 90 by suitable means such as fastening screws the heads of which are indicated at 96 in FIG. 2. The primary drive shaft 95 of the motor drives suitable gears in gear box 97 which in turn drive the offset drive shaft 57 extending from the outer face of the gear box to rotate the drum in a counterclockwise direction as indicated by thev arrow 100 at an r.p.m. within the range of 12-20 r.p.m.

The icemaker has ice piece ejecting means, including a slidable mounting plate indicated generally at 98 in FIG. 2, having a channel cross section with rearwardly extending flanges 99 having foot like extensions 102 suitably affixed to actuator means which in the disclosed form comprise a solenoid 104 incorporating a vertical spring return actuator rod or plunger 106. The rod 106 has a pedestal 107 and an upstanding bracket ear 108 thereon having an opening for reception of a horizontal bar 109 extending through aligned openings in foot like extensions 102.

The vertically movable mounting plate 98 has its upper end offset at 110 providing a gusset 112 for mounting drum loading means thereon which in the disclosed embodiment is a roller member 114 rotatably mounted on a through horizontal pin .116 and retained by C-clip 117 such that the vertical center line 68 coincities with the principal axis of the pin 116. In the position shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 the roller'member 112 is in its inactive state so as to clear the outer periphery 42 of the rotating drum member 40. When the solenoid 104 is energized by a suitable control circuit to be described the rod 104-is moved downwardly under the influence of its magnetic field causing the movable plate 98 to slide vertically relative to the motor mounting plate 90 a limited distance'which in the disclosed form is approximately one-fourth inch, to enable the roller 114 to contact and depress the outer surface of the periphery region 42 causing the side walls 43, 44 of the drum to be splayed laterally outwardly. It will be noted in F IG. 7 that the bolts 96 are received in elongated slots 119 formed in shiftable roller mounting plate 98 to allow for reciprocal movement of the mounting plate 98 which is vertically guided on bracket 90 by its side flanges 99.

A plurality of drum chamber partition walls in the form of inwardly directed lobes 122 extend transversely across the drum periphery outer surface to define with the drum side walls 43, 44 cavities or pockets 124 in which ice bodies or pieces are formed. The successive deforming of the cavities 124 as they are rotated into contact with roller 114 thus freeing the ice pieces frozen therein causing the ice pieces to fall by gravity onto the underlying trough portion 66 of chute 64 for sliding direction into a suitable ice container such as the container indicated at 126 in FIG. 2. Each of the deformed ice cavities 124 and its associated side walls will flex back to their normal shape when the drum 40 is rotated past the roller 114. In this manner only a single 360 revolution of the drum 40 is normally required with the roller 114 in its lower drum contacting position to free all the ice pieces from the cavities. The ejecting circuit, however, may be cycled to revolve the drum through a plurality of revolutions to insure the freeing of all the ice pieces from the cavities their being 15 in number in the disclosed embodiment.

In order to sense the buildup of successive films of water within the drum cavities 124 ice sensing means in the form of a resilient spring arm 130, shown in FIG. 3, projects toward the peripheral surface of the drum with its inner portion suitably affixed to the mounting bracket 72 by means of rivet members 132, for example. The outer extremity of the arm 130 is curved or looped at 134 and extends outwardly to a position slightly inwardly from the crest of the transverse lobes 122 of the rotating drum. In this way when the buildup or accretion of the freezing water within the chambers extends radially inwardly to a point just overlying the lobes 122 the looped end 134 of the arm 130 will contact the frozen liquid causing the arm to be flexed inwardly to a position as shown in FIG. 2. This causes the arm step portion 136 to engage the contact 138 of a microswitch 140 which is retracted thus opening the switch 140 which in turn closes a suitable control valve,

such as disclosed in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. No.

3,540,227, issued to Eyman, Jr. et al., and incorporated by reference herein, which controls the flow of the water through inlet tube 30 and initiates the ice piece ejection cycle described.

The control valve means of the Eyman, Jr. et al. type provides a slow measured flow of water through the tube 30 to its outlet 38. The water will flow into the lower portion of the drum chamber while the drum is being rotated at a speed of approximately 12 to 20 revolutions per minute. The water will be distributed in a thin film over the inner surfaces of the cavities 124 and be exposed to the forced horizontal circulation of cold air exiting from cold air duct 142 within the freezer compartment 24. As a result the water will freeze in very thin layers or films on the inner surface of the cavities thereby allowing the escape of dissolved air and gas from the water as it is frozen. The water is supplied to the drum at a rate which is equal to or less than the rate at which it can be frozen onto the surface of the cavities 124 by the flow of the cold air. Additional water will continue to freeze in thin layers over the water previously frozen until it accumulates to a sufficient depth as indicated by the dot dash arc 144 defining the upper surface of completed ice pieces.

The method of freezing minimizes the clouding effect of dissolved air in water in the manner similar to an icicle and thereby improve the clarity of the ice pieces formed. If desired, the water may be supplied at a slightly greater rate than it can be frozen with the excess remaining in the lower quadrants of the rotating drum to continually wash away any sediment from the freezing layers of water. In the preferred form the tube 30 supplies water at the rate of approximately onefourth pound of water per hour at a rotational speed of about 20 r.p.m.

An alternative form of the cylindrical ice molding drum is shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 wherein drum is formed of deformable elastomer material such as Kraton rubber having an uninterrupted smooth outer peripheral wall 152 which is provided with a plurality of integrally molded walls 154 extending transversely across the drum to define with the side walls 156 a plurality of radially disposed cavities 158 in which ice pieces are formed. In a manner similar to the drum 40 of FIGS. 2 and 3 when the peripheral surface 152 of the drum 150 is subjected to the load of the ice ejecting means, which in the disclosed form is roller 114, the side walls are splayed laterally outwardly and the bottom walls of each compartment are successively bulged radially inwardly freeing the frozen ice pieces from the cavities 158 as each chamber passes through the zenith point of its rotational travel whereupon the freed ice piece falls by gravity into the .trough portion of the chute 64 in the manner described for the embodiment of FIGS. 2 and 3. It will be noted that the roller 114 action, that is of being moved radially inwardly on the vertical center line 68, is identical for both forms of the drum members 40 and 150 such that the ice release operation is essentially the same.

As seen in the schematic electrical wiring diagram of FIG. 4, the motor 56 is wired across the power lines L L from the refrigerator 1 volt AC power source. The energizing coil of the ice release solenoid 104 and contacts 138 of ice sensing switch 140 are connected in series across the lines L L A suitable water fill valve (not shown) is controlled by a solenoid 162 actuated by a water fill switch 164 also connected across the power lines L and L while an on-off switch 166 energizes the ice making device circuit. The energization of the solenoid valve will provide a slow measured flow of water through the water tube 30 to the drum chamber to maintain a predetermined level of water-in the chamber as indicated by the water 170. When the bin 126 is substantially filled suitable means, such as the weight switch arrangement disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,433,030 issued Mar. 18, 1969 to J. W. Jacobs, will open switch 166 to stop further ice making until some or all of the ice pieces are removed from the bin.

In the preferred construction in FIG. 1 the recess 57 is shown formed in the back wall partition to enable the icemaker 21 to be located at the rear of the freezer compartment with the ice chute extending toward the front opening. By this arrangement the icemaker is positioned so as to present a minimum of interference with the storage space of the compartment while positioning the storage bin 126 adjacent the front opening for ready access to the ice formation in the bin or removal of the bin itself.

Experimentation has shown that the drum lobes 122 of FIG. 3 or walls 154 of FIG. 5 should have a radial extend of approximately one-third the radial extent of the drum'side walls 43 or 156 respectively to maintain a sufficient water level 170 depth ratio relative to the depth of the ice formation of pockets 124.

While the embodiments of the invention as herein disclosed constitute preferred forms, it is to be understood that other forms might be adopted.

I claim:

1. A liquid freezer for providing clear frozen ice formations including a drum of generally cylindrical shape made of deformable elastomeric material having an essentially U-shaped cross section, an ice formation collecting bin adjacent said drum, said drum having an opening in at least one side thereof, means for introducing water into the drum chamber through said opening, refrigeration means for freezing the water, a

plurality of transverse walls on the internal surface of said drum defining a series of pockets integral with and spaced about the internal surface of said drum, drive means for rotating said drum upon its horizontal axis whereby successive films of water are frozen in said pockets until a frozen ice formation substantially fills each pocket, ice formation ejecting means positioned above the uppermost pocket for removing the ice formations from said pockets, means for moving said ejecting means into the path of rotation of said drum to successively depress the drum outer peripheral region to successively eject the ice formations from the pockets, an inclined stationary chute having its upper end underlying the uppermost drum pocket and its lower end extending through the opening toa point above the bin whereby the ice formations will be dropped onto the upper end of said chute and will slide down the same into the collecting bin.

2. A liquid freezer for providing clear frozen ice formations including a drum of generally cylindrical shape made of deformable elastomeric material having an essentially U-shaped cross section, an ice formation collecting bin adjacent said drum, said drum having inner and outer opening on each side thereof, a relatively inextensible integral inner bead defining said drum inner side opening, drum drive means comprising an electric motor and means coupling the inner side opening to said motor for rotating said drum at a speed on the order of 12-20 revolutions per minute, said coupling means comprising an outer electric motor shaft annular plate and inner drum retaining annular plate, said motor shaft plate having a central hub for reception of the drive shaft therein, means for clamping said drum inner bead between the outer edges of said retaining plate and said shaft plate to securely retain the drum to said motor shaft, tube means for introducing water into the lower portion of the drum chamber through said outer opening, refrigeration means for freezing the water, a plurality of transverse walls on the internal surface of said drum defining a series of pockets integral with and spaced about the internal surface of said drum, said drum drive means rotating said drum upon its horizontal axis whereby successive films of water are frozen in said pockets until a frozen ice formation substantially fills each pocket, ice formation ejecting means positioned above the uppermost pocket adapted to be moved into the path of rotation of said drum to successively depress the drum outer peripheral region to successively eject the ice formations from the pockets, an inclined stationary chute having its upper end underlying the uppermost pocket and its lower end extending through said outer opening to a point above the bin whereby the ice formations will be dropped onto the upper end of said chute and will slide down the same into the collecting bin.

3. A liquid freezer for providing clear frozen ice formations including a drum of generally cylindrical shape made of deformable elastomeric material having an essentially U-shaped cross section, a collecting bin adjacent said drum, said drum having an opening in at least one side thereof, means for introducing water into the drum chamber through said opening, a plurality of transverse walls on the internal surface of said drum defining a series of pockets integral with and spaced about the internal surface of said drum, a frame for rotatably supporting said drum upon it horizontal axis within the freezing compartment of a domestic refrigerator, drive means for rotating said drum upon its horizontal axis during the gradual filling of said pockets with water whereby successive films of water are frozen in said pockets until a frozen ice formation substantially fills each pocket, ice formation ejecting means slidably mounted on said frame for vertical reciprocal movement, said ejecting means including a roller member positioned above the uppermost pocket such that its axis of rotation lies in the vertical transverse plane common to the axis of rotation of said drum, ice formation sensing means spaced from said drum inner periphery operative to initiate downward movement of said ice ejecting means into the path of rotation of said drum to successively depress the drum outer peripheral region to successively eject the ice formations from the pockets, an inclined stationary chute having itsupper end underlying the uppermost drum pocket and its lower end extending through said opening to a point above the collecting bin whereby the ice formations will be dropped onto the upper end of said chute and will slide down the same into the collecting bin.

4. A refrigerator including a freezer compartment containing an automatic icemaker and a collecting bin for storing ice formations produced by said icemaker, said icemaker including a drum of generally cylindrical shape made of deformable elastomeric material having an essentially U-shaped cross section, a collecting bin adjacent said drum, said drum having an opening in at least one side thereof, means for introducing water into the drum chamber through said opening, duct means in said freezer compartment for directing sub-freezing air over said drum for freezing the water, a plurality of transverse walls on the internal surface of said drum defining a series of pockets integral with and spaced about the internal surface of said drum, a frame for rotatably supporting said drum upon its horizontal axis adjacent the back wall of said freezer compartment, drive means recessed in said back wall for rotating said drum upon its horizontal axis during the gradual filling of said pockets with water-whereby successive films of water are frozen in said pockets until a frozen ice formation substantially fills each pocket, ice formation ejecting means slidably mounted on said frame for vertical reciprocal movement, said ejecting means including a member positioned above the uppermost pocket for movement into the path of rotation of said drum to successively depress the drum outer peripheral region to successively eject the ice formations from the pockets, an inclined stationary chute mounted on said frame having its upper end underlying the uppermost drum pocket and its lower end extending through said opening to a point above the collecting bin whereby the ice formations will be dropped onto the upper end of said chute and will slide down the same into the collecting bin. I

5. The liquid freezer as recited in claim 1 wherein said plurality of transverse walls are inwardly directed longitudinal lobes having a V-shap'ed cross section formed in said drum outer surface to define with said drum side walls said series of pockets on the interior of said drum.

6. The liquid freezer as recited in claim 1 wherein said drum having an uninterrupted smooth outer peripheral wall, said drum interior having a plurality of integrally molded radially disposed walls to define with said drum side walls said series of pockets on the interior of said drum.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2493149 *Jan 21, 1948Jan 3, 1950Kirkpatrick Willis BApparatus for making ice
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5014523 *Aug 3, 1990May 14, 1991The Manitowoc Company, Inc.Ice machine
US6044658 *Nov 19, 1998Apr 4, 2000Daewoo Electronics Co., Ltd.Automatic ice making apparatus for use in a refrigerator
US6438976Jun 4, 2001Aug 27, 2002General Electric CompanyIcemaker assembly
US7426838Aug 17, 2000Sep 23, 2008General Electric CompanyIcemaker assembly
US20060027598 *May 20, 2005Feb 9, 2006Pepsico, Inc.Integrated beverage and ice dispenser assembly
Classifications
U.S. Classification62/346, 62/72, 62/75
International ClassificationF25C1/10
Cooperative ClassificationF25C1/10
European ClassificationF25C1/10