US 3915860 A
A device for the continuous reconditioning of lubricating oil for use with an internal combustion engine, including a closed casing having an oil inlet line and an oil return line at a first lower end, an annular oil filter within the casing for mechanical filtration of oil, a vaporization plate having a tiered concave frustoconical top surface and peripheral capillary flow passages for conducting filtered oil to the top face of the plate, a central return conduit opening into the center of the plate and connected with the return line from the casing for flowing processed oil back to the oil pan of the engine, an annular heater within the casing above the vaporization plate for heating oil cascading down the plate surface to drive off entrained water and the like, and a vapor discharge line connected with a check valve through the top of the casing to exhaust separated vapor contaminants and prevent liquid over-flow. Oil is forced from the engine oil pump upwardly through the filter to the top of the vaporization plate where the oil cascades downwardly in a heated atmosphere returning through the central conduit to the oil return line from the bottom of the casing while vaporized contaminants are discharged from the housing through the exhaust line at the top of the housing. The returning oil is directed back to the engine oil pan and the exhausted vapors are introduced into the engine intake.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
'United States Patent [191 Priest 1 OIL RECONDITIONING DEVICE  Inventor: Glen R. Priest, Rte. 1, Box 3,
Geronimo, Okla. 73543  Filed: Dec. 26, 1973  Appl. No.: 428,347
 US. Cl. 210/136; 210/180; 210/184; 210/436; 210/443; 210/472; l96/46.1; 208/179  Int. Cl. B01D 35/18  Field of Search 196/46.1; 208/179; 210/71, 210/73, 120, 136, 180, 183, 184, 300, 436,
Primary Examiner-Samih N. Zaharna Assistant Examiner-F. F. Calvetti Attorney, Agent, or Firm-H. Mathews Garland  ABSTRACT A device for the continuous reconditioning of lubri- Oct. 28, 1975 cating oil for ,use with an internal combustion engine, including a closed casing having an oil inlet line and an oil return line at a first lower end, an annular oil filter within the casing for mechanical filtration of oil, a vaporization plate having a tiered concave frustoconical top surface and peripheral capillary flow passages for conducting filtered oil to the top face of the plate, a central return'conduit opening into the center of the plate and connected with the return line from the casing for flowing processed oil back to the oil pan of the engine, an annular heater within the casing above the vaporization plate for heating oil cascading down the plate surface to drive off entrained water and the like, and a vapor discharge line connected with a check valve through the top of the casing to exhaust separated vapor contaminants and prevent liquid over-flow. Oil is forced from the engine oil pump upwardly through the filter to the top of the vaporization plate where the oil cascades downwardly in a heated atmosphere returning through the central conduit to the oil return line from the bottom of the easing while vaporized contaminants are discharged from the housing through the exhaust line at the top of the housing. The returning oil is directed back to the engine oil pan and the exhausted vapors are introduced into the engine intake.
7 Claims, 5- Drawing Figures U.S. Patent Oct. 28, 1975 OIL RECONDI'IIONING DEVICE This invention relates to devices for reconditioning oil and more particularly relates to a device for reconditioning lubricating oil in an internal combustion engine.
In the operation of internal combustion engines the recirculation of oil required to lubricate the moving parts of the engine is necessary because of both limited storage capacity, particularly in vehicles, and economy requiring the reuse of the oil. In the early days of internal combustion engines the oil was simply continuously recirculated through the engine without any form of processing. Among the foreign materials which contaminate lubricating oil in the operation of internal combustion engines are fuels which escape past the pistons to mix with the oil, water resulting from condensation of moisture in the air upon cool metal surfaces, dirt in the air, metal particles from the various parts of the engine, and other miscellaneous liquid and solid impurities picked up by the engine lubricating systems in various ways. The continuous recirculation of oil containing all of these impurities is damaging to the engine parts and reduces the efficiency of operation of the engine. Also, excessive unburned hydrocarbons are discharged into the air.
The first improvement in the oil systems of internal combustion engines was the addition of a mechanical type oil filter which uses a fibrous filter material for removing solid contaminants from the circulating oil. This type of system, however, is essentially ineffectual for removal of liquids such as water and fuel which become entrained in and emulsified with the oil. In more recent years heating units have been added to lubrication oil filter systems for the purpose of driving off vaporizable contaminants to further recondition the oil to a higher degree possible than achieved with only the fibrous filter material. Some of the available systems, however, which include heaters are arranged such that they may pull in dirt. Some of the units are vented at the top and may malfunction resulting in oil being blown from the unit to the atmosphere. Those units which vent directly to the atmosphere from the top cannot be used where the vehicle operates on a steep incline. Also, such units are not readily usable in aircraft. The current need to conserve oil and improve air quality has made many available oil reclaimers obsolete.
It is a principal object of the invention to provide a new and improved lubricating oil reconditioning device for use with an internal combustion engine.
It is another object of the invention to provide a device for reconditioning lubricating oil which is completely closed system.
It is another object of the invention to provide an oil reconditioning device which may be operated at rather severe angles without impairing the efficiency of the device.
It is another object of the invention to provide a device of the character described wherein the removed contaminating vapors are directed into the engine intake to reduce the emission of air pollutants to the atmosphere.
It is another object of the invention to provide a de- It is another object of the invention to provide a device for reconditioning oil wherein the oil is heated by either electrical means or by the exhaust from the engine on which the device is mounted.
It is another object of the invention to provide a device for reconditioning oil which includes a safety check valve preventing the overflow of oil in the event of a malfunction of the device.
It is another object of the invention to provide an oil reconditioning device which is compact in design using a minimum of efficiently located connections for reducing the space required for the device on an engine.
In accordance with the invention there is provided an oil reconditioning device which has a casing, an annular filter in the casing, an oil supply line into the bottom of the casing, an oil return line through the annular filter from the bottom of the casing, a frustoconical concave vaporization plate in the casing above the filter over which oil cascades downwardly from small capillary passages around the periphery of the plate which de-emulsify the oil and partially vaporize volatile contaminants, a heater in a vaporization chamber above the plate, and a vent line from the casing through a float valve to prevent overflow of liquids.
The foregoing objects and advantages of the invention together with more specific details of a preferred form of oil reconditioning device embodying the features of the invention will be better understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. I is a longitudinal view in section and elevation of an oil reconditioning device in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 2 is a view in section and elevation along the line 22 of FIG. 1;
FIG.'2-A is an enlarged fragmentary view in section of a modified form of heater for the device;
FIG. 3 is a view in section and elevation along the line 3-3 of FIG. I; and
FIG. 4 is a view in section and elevation along the line 44 of FIG. 1.
Referring to the drawings, an oil reconditioning device 10 embodying the features of the invention includes an outer casing 11 housing a filter unit 12, a vaporization plate 13, and a heater 14. Oil is supplied from an engine oil system to the device through a line 15, while reconditioned oil is discharged from the device back to the engine through a line 20. Volatile contaminants are vaporized and exhausted from the top end of the device through a line 21. The device continuously reconditions oil in the lubricating system of an internal combustion engine, not shown, wherein the discharge side of the oil pump of the engine is connected with the line 15, the reconditioned oil return line 20 is connected into the oil pan of the engine, and the exhaust line 21 is connected with the engine intake for introducing vaporized contaminants back into the engine for combustion rather than polluting the air by discharging them to the atmosphere. The unit is full enclosed, does not overflow liquids, and includes a vaporization plate having a concave frustoconical top face over which oil cascades downwardly to a central discharge line running from the bottom of the device.
The casing 11 is preferably a cylindrical closed container comprising a body section 22 having a hemispherical bottom portion 23 and a removable top section 24 having a hemispherical top portion 25. The oil inlet line is connected directly through the bottom body portion 23 discharging into a lower inlet chamber of the casing. The conditioned return oil line 20 is similarly connected through the bottom casing portion 23 aligned along the longitudinal axis of the casing. The body section 22 of the casing has an integral upwardly and outwardly sloping external flange 31 formed near the upper end edge 32 of the section defining an external V-shaped recess 33. Similarly, the top section 24 of the casing has a downwardly and outwardly sloping external flange 34 spaced above the lower end edge 35 of the casing section defining a downwardly opening V- shaped annular recess 40. When the top 24 is secured on the bottom body 22, as illustrated in FIG. 1, the end edge surfaces 35 and are aligned and engaged and a ring seal 41 is disposed in the adjoining recesses 33 and 40. The top and body sections of the casing are held together by a split ring strap 42 having identical end flanges 43 secured together by a nut and bolt assembly 44. The strap 42 is formed in cross-section, as illustrated in FIG. 1, so that it has an internal annular recess which receives the flanges 31 and 34 to tightly secure the two casing sections together.
The oil return line 20 is aligned along the longitudinal axis of the casing body section 22 extending upwardly in the casing section to an elevation somewhat below the upper end edge 32 of the body section. The conduit 20 is threaded along an upper end portion 20a and is provided with an integral external flange 45 spaced above the lower end of the body section 22 to support the filter cartridge 12. The casing section 22 has an internal annular recess 51 shaped to receive an external annular lower end lip 52 on the filter cartridge.
The filter cartridge 12 is an annular mechanical filter having an outer cylindrical wall 53, a concentric internal cylindrical wall 54 which is somewhat larger than the oil return conduit 20, an annular spherical bottom plate 55 and a frustoconical top plate 60. The outer and inner walls and bottom and top plates of the filter cartridge may be formed of a suitable plastic or metal. The bottom plate 55 has a plurality of inlet perforations 61 to permit the upward flow of oil from the lower inlet chamber 30 in the casing body below the filter cartridge into and through the filter cartridge. The walls and top and bottom of the filter cartridge define an internal annular chamber 62 which is filled with a suitable filter material such as cotton 63 which is inert to the petroleum oils and other fluids and contaminants which may circulate in the lubricating system of an engine. The top of the filter cartridge has a plurality of outlet perforations 64 through which the circulating fluids exit from the filter cartridge. The tubular inner wall 54 of the filter cartridge defines a bore 65 through the filter cartridge through which the oil return conduit 20 extends. The bottom plate 55 of the filter cartridge is centrally supported on the flange 45 which is provided with an upwardly opening annular recess in which an O-ring seal 71 is disposed for sealing between the top face of the flange 45 and the bottom of the filter cartridge to prevent circulating fluids from bypassing the filter cartridge along the outer wall surface of the conduit 20.
The frustoconical vaporization plate 13 is supported on the filter cartridge spaced slightly above the cartridge defining a frustoconical, relatively thin flow space between the bottom face of the vaporization plate and the top face of the filter cartridge to permit flow of the mechanically filtered fluids from the cartridge upwardly into the vaporization plate. The vaporization plate has a central bore 81 through which the upper end portion of the return conduit 20 fits. An integral bottom flange 82 is formed on the filter plate around the bore 81 through the plate to support the central portion of the plate on the top 60 of the filter cartridge. The periphery of the bottom face of the vaporization plate is provided with a downwardly extending rim 83 which rests on the outer periphery of the top 60 of the filter cartridge to support the outer portion of the vaporization plate on the top of the cartridge. The top face of the vaporization plate has a central annular recess 84 formed concentric with the bore 81 through the plate for a nut 85 threaded on the top end portion 20a of the conduit 20 to firmly secure the vaporization plate in position on the conduit on the top of the filter cartridge. An internal annular recess is formed in the vaporization plate at the base of the recess 84 for an O-ring 91 which seals between the conduit 20 and the bore of the vaporization plate so that none of the circulating fluids may bypass the vaporization plate along the conduit.
The vaporization plate 13 has a top face defined by a plurality of tiers each comprising an annular channel and a flat surface arranged at graduated elevations from the outer periphery of the plate downwardly to the central bore through the plate, generally defining a concave frustoconical form. The top outer tier of the vaporization plate is a flat, annular, upwardly facing surface. A plurality of circumferentially spaced cylindrical expansion cups 101 are formed in the top tier 100 opening downwardly into vertical capillary passages 102 which extend downwardly through the vaporization plate opening through the bottom face of the plate, as shown in FIG. 1. Each of the succeeding concentric tiers 103, 104, 105, and is formed by a flat top surface and a concentric channel which is semicircular in cross-section as indicated in FIG. 1. For example, the second tier 103 is defined by the flat surface 103a and a concentric annular channel 103b. Each of the other tiers 104, 105, and 110 is similarly formed by an annular channel centrally positioned in concentric relation in a flat annular surface. Each tier is joined to the next adjacent tier by a vertical cylindrical surface such as the surface 10017 extending from the tier 100 downwardly to the tier 103. The flat surfaces allow oil and impurities to spread in a thin film while the channels somewhat increase the volume of liquids residing on the plate and heated by the heater 14. The capillar ies 102 are sufficiently small to impose a slight back pressure on the fluids flowing upwardly from the filter cartridge to the top face of the vaporization plate so that as the oil enters the expansion cup 101 at the upper end of each of the capillaries, the oil expands and is de-emulsified. For example, in order to accomplish de-emulsification under the operating conditions of the device, the capillary passages may be on the order of about 0.096-inch in diameter.
An external annular recess 111 is provided around the outer vertical wall of the vaporization plate for a ring seal 112 which seals between the plate and the inner wall surface of the casing section 22 to prevent bypassing of fluids around the vaporization plate. An internal annular, downwardly extending retainer flange 113 is suitably secured as by welding at 114 within the lower end portion of the top 25 positioned so that the lower end edge of the retainer flange engages the top of the vaporization plate around the top tier surface 100 to firmly hold the plate in position in the casing.
The space within the upper end portion of the casing body section 22 and within the top 25 above the vaporization plate defines a vaporization chamber 120 which is heated by the annular heater 14. The heater 14 has a ring-shaped housing 122 formed by a cylindrical inner wall 123, a cylindrical outer wall 124, a ringshaped top 125 and a ring-shaped bottom 130. The outer wall 124 is dimensioned to fit closely within the inner wall surface of the casing top 25. On diametrically opposite sides of the housing 122 internally threaded female fittings 130 and 131 are secured through the outer wall 124 extending into the annular internal chamber 126 defined within the housing. Identical externally threaded tubular male fittings 132 and 132a are threaded through corresponding holes 133 in opposite sides of the top 25 supporting the housing 122 within the top and providing communication into the annular chamber 126 within the housing. An annular recess 134 is formed in the outer wall surface of the top 25 around each of the openings 133 for a ring seal 135 to provide a pressure tight seal between the male fitting and the wall of the top 25. A ring-shaped calrod heating element 140 is within the annular chamber 126 of the housing 122 resting on the bottom 130. A power lead 141 extends through the male fitting 132 to the heating element 140 while a ground lead 142 is connected from the heating element through the opposite male fitting 132a on the other side of the top. The lead 141 is connected from the electrical power system of the engine and the lead 142 goes to ground on the engine to provide flow of electricity through the heater element.
A tubular exhaust fitting 150 is secured through the top 25 to direct vapors separated in the vaporization chamber from the unit. The exhaust fitting has a plurality of side ports 151 and a bottom port 152. A valve seat member 153 is threaded into the outer end portion of the fitting 151. The seat member 153 has an annular valve seat 154 which is engageable by a tapered valve surface 160 on a reduced end portion 161 of a check valve member 162 slidably disposed within the fitting 150. A spring 163 between the valve seat 154 and a shoulder 164 on the valve body 162 biases the check valve toward the open position shown in FIG. 1. The check valve is basically a liquid float valve designed to permit the escape of vaporized contaminants and to prevent the overflow of liquids from the unit in the event of a malfunction which would raise the liquid level within the unit above a normal value. Suitably the valve body 162 is a hollow plastic or metal member which will float upwardly against the spring 163 to engage the valve surface 160 with the valve seat 155 for closing off the exhaust from the top 25. The exhaust line 21 is suitably secured by a fitting 166 to the member 153 to conduct the vaporized contaminants from the unit.
In operation the oil reconditioning unit 10 is connected into the lubrication system of an internal combustion engine by securing the inlet line to the discharge side of the oil pump of the engine, not shown, and connecting the oil return line of the unit into the engine oil pan, not shown. The vapor exhaust line 21 is connected into the intake manifold of the engine. The circulating fluids in the lubrication system of the engine include the oil which is to be maintained as pure as possible by the reconditioning of the unit, contaminating water and fuels picked up by the oil as it circulates through the engine, dirt which enters the engine in a number of different ways, metal particles picked up by the oil as engine parts wear, and other solid and fluid contaminants: Some contaminating fluids generally are emulsified with the oil. The mixture discharged by the oil pump enters the reconditioning unit 10 through the line 15 passing into the inlet chamber 30 in the bottom of the casing section 22. When the chamber 30 fills, the oil mixture is forced upwardly through the perforations 61 in the bottom of the filter cartridge 12. The oil mixture flows upwardly through the fibrous filter material 63 which mechanically. separates solid contaminants from the flowing fluid. The fluids are forced upwardly out of the filter cartridge through the perforations 64 in the top of the cartridge. The fluids flow upwardly and outwardly along the space between the bottom face of the vaporization plate and the filter cartridge top. The fluids enter the lower ends of the capillary passages 102 flowing upwardly in the passages into the expansion cups 101 at the upper ends of the passages in the vaporization plate top tier defining the outer periphery of the top surface of the plate. The small diameter of the capillary passages at the pressure under which the fluids are flowing results in de-emulsifying the oil so that the contaminating diluents are more easily vaporized and removed from the oil in the vaporization chamber 120. The fluids from the expansion cups 101 flow upwardly and outwardly spreading in a thin film over the flat top annular tier surface 100 of the vaporization plate. After the surface 100 is covered the oil flows radially inwardly spilling over the inner edge 100a of the surface flowing downwardly along the vertical inner wall surface l00b to the next tier 103. The
liquids spread over the flat surface 103a into the annular channel 103b filling the channel until the level rises sufficiently that the liquid spills downwardly and radially inwardly over the succeeding tiers 104, 105, and 1 10.
As the liquids cascade inwardly and downwardly along the top face of the vaporization plate 13, the temperature of the liquids is raised to between about 175 F. and 225 F. with the preferred temperature being approximately 200 F. At this preferred temperature, volatile contaminants in the liquids are vaporized into the chamber above the vaporization plate while the purified oil spills inwardly into the return conduit 20 through which it flows downwardly from the unit back to the oil pan of the engine. The vaporized contaminants pass upwardly into the side ports 151 of the exhaust fitting 150. The vapors flo'w around the valve member 161 and through the valve seat 155 into the exhaust line 121 in which the vapors flow to the intake of the engine for combustion which reduces the final exhaust of contaminants to the atmosphere.
During normal operation of the oil reconditioning device 10 the liquids cascade downwardly over the concave pyramid upper face of the vaporization plate while the volatile contaminants are vaporized in the chamber 120 without the liquid level rising to any degree within the chamber. If, however, a malfunction of the device causes the liquid level to rise toward the upper end of the top 25 of the unit or should the vehicle carrying the device lean or turn over to the extent that liquid flows into the upper end of the top of the casing, the hollow float valve body 162 rises within the fitting closing the check valve by engagement of the valve surface 160 with the valve seat 155. This safety feature provided by the check valve prevents the flow of liquids back to the engine through the discharge line 21.
An alternate form of providing heat in the vaporization chamber 120 is illustrated in FIG. 2-A. This form of the unit is identical in all respects other than the supply of heat from the exhaust system of an engine as distinguished from using an electrically heated vaporization chamber. A modified male fitting 132A is connected through the wall of the cap into the female fitting 130. The male fitting has an outwardly extending nipple portion 1328 on which a line 180 is secured leading to the exhaust system of the engine, not shown. The other side of the annular housing 122 is similarly fitted and connected back into the engine exhaust system or to the atmosphere so that hot engine exhaust gases flow around within the annular chamber 126 to provide heat within the vaporization chamber for vaporizing the volatile contaminants in the flowing fluids cascading down the vaporization plate. The modified form of heater unit illustrated in FIG. 2-A is used with engines incapable of supplying sufficient electrical power for the calrod 140 of the unit in FIG. 1. Such engines include those operating with magnetos and thus not having a generator and battery.
It will thus be recognized that a new and improved form of device for reconditioning oil in the lubrication systems of internal combustion engines has been described and illustrated. The device has a special advantage in minimizing, if not essentially eliminating, the necessity for changing the oil in engines and thus becomes a major factor in the conservation of oil, which is particularly important as supplies of oil are diminishing. Another special advantage of the device is that the volatile impurities removed in the vaporization chamber are directed back into the engine for further burning to reduce the total net impurities discharged into the air by the vehicle. Still further advantages of the device include the use of a form of vaporization plate which increases the residence time of the liquids in the vaporization chamber so that there is an improvement in the removal of the volatile impurities from the liquids. A still further advantage of the device resides in the use of the fully closed system having a check valve which permits use of the device in aircraft and under operating conditions where a land-based vehicle is operated at a substantial angle with the overflow of liquids back into the engine in either situation being prevented.
What is claimed is:
1. A device for processing oil to remove solid and fluid impurities comprising: a closed casing having a main body and a removable top; an oil inlet line connected into the bottom end of said body; an oil return line connected through the bottom of said body and extending upwardly substantially; an annular fibrous filter supported in said body around said oil return line, said filter having a housing provided with a perforated top and a perforated bottom for the admission and discharge of oil flowing through said filter; a vaporization plate secured in said body on said top of said annular filter, said filter top and the bottom face of said vaporization plate being spaced to define an annular flow passage for fluid flow from the perforations in said top of said filter to said vaporization plate; said vaporization plate having a top face in the form of a concave truncated cone and having a central bore through which said oil return conduit is connected for return of oil from the bottom central portion of said vaporization plate; said top face of said vaporization plate comprising a plurality of concentric tiers; said vaporization plate having vertical capillary passages circumferentially spaced around said plate for conducting fluids from said annular passage between said filter and said plate through said plate to said top face thereof, said capillaries being of a size to de-emulsify fluids passing through said capillaries; a heater supported within said top above said vaporization plate for heating fluids flowing downwardly and inwardly along said top face of said vaporization plate to vaporize volatile contaminants within said fluids; an exhaust fitting having a port therein secured through said top of said casing for connection with a vapor discharge line; a valve seat secured in said discharge fitting; and a check valve supported in said discharge fitting to coact with said valve seat for closing off flow through said discharge fitting responsive to a predetermined liquid level within said casing.
2. A device in accordance with claim 1 wherein said capillary passages are arranged around the periphery of said plate opening at upper ends through the top outermost tier.
3. A device in accordance with claim 2 including expansion cups formed in said outermost top tier of said vaporization plate each of said cups opening into a separate one of said capillary passages.
4. A device in accordance with claim 3 wherein each of said tiers of said vaporization plate below said outermost top tier comprises an annular flat surface and an annular channel formed concentric with said flat surface, and adjacent tiers are connected by vertical cylindrical wall surfaces.
5. A device in accordance with claim 4 wherein said heater is an electrical resistance ring-shaped element.
6. A device in accordance with claim 4 wherein said heater comprises an annular housing having an annular flow chamber therein and fittings on opposite sides of said housing for connection with an exhaust system of an engine to conduct heated exhaust gases through said housing.
7. A device in accordance with claim 4 wherein said check valve is a float type valve.