|Publication number||USRE41295 E1|
|Application number||US 11/059,703|
|Publication date||May 4, 2010|
|Filing date||Feb 16, 2005|
|Priority date||Mar 10, 2000|
|Also published as||US6282906|
|Publication number||059703, 11059703, US RE41295 E1, US RE41295E1, US-E1-RE41295, USRE41295 E1, USRE41295E1|
|Inventors||Charles J. Cauchy|
|Original Assignee||Tellurex Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (15), Referenced by (6), Classifications (22), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a reissue application of U.S. Ser. No. 09/523,208, filed Mar. 10, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,282,906, issued on Sep. 4, 2001.
The present invention generally relates to a mobile vehicle temperature controlled compartment, and more particularly to a temperature controlled compartment provided in a mobile vehicle console.
Consoles are conventionally provided in vehicles to provide an enclosed storage space accessible to the vehicle occupants. In such a storage space, vehicle occupants store miscellaneous articles including music tapes, compact disks, coins, address books, etc. The articles conventionally stored in these storage spaces do not require a specific temperature and thus the console temperature generally corresponds to the ambient air temperature in the vehicle. However, some articles, for example beverages, food, insulin, etc., require a temperature controlled environment which would provide a driver and/or passenger convenient and safe storage for these articles. Operators of vehicles continually demand greater conveniences in their mobile vehicles and, therefore, it is an object of this invention to provide a temperature controlled compartment wherein articles in need of a cooled or heated environment may be stored. By placing the temperature controlled compartment in the console, which is readily available to the vehicle driver, the distraction of the driver from the road and happenings around the vehicle is reduced.
Thermoelectric devices are known which utilize the Peltier effect in solid state electrical components to operate as small heat pumps. Thermoelectric devices include a plurality of thermocouples mounted between heat sinks. The thermocouples transfer thermal energy from one heat sink to the other dependent on the direction of DC power applied to the thermocouples.
The present invention addresses the above need for convenient mobile vehicle temperature controlled compartments by utilizing thermoelectric devices to control the temperature in the vehicle compartments.
A vehicle console encloses at least one compartment, the temperature of which can be controlled by a thermoelectric device, heat exchanger, and air duct assembly. The heat exchanger is mounted in thermal communication with the compartment. The thermoelectric device controls the flow of thermal energy to or from the heat exchanger and transfers the thermal energy to the air duct assembly. The air duct assembly transfers the thermal energy to air flowing therethrough.
Another feature of the invention is that the air duct assembly segregates the incoming air from the outgoing air to improve system performance by keeping the temperature difference between the incoming and outgoing air at a maximum.
The invention also provides a forced air convection device in the temperature controlled compartment. The forced air convection device is mounted in the console and draws air therefrom and forces the same through a heat exchanger which includes a heat exchanger plate and radiator fins that are in thermoconductive contact with the heat exchanger plate so as to temperature condition the air flowing through the convection device. The forced air convection device vents the air into the temperature controlled compartment after temperature conditioning the air.
FIG. 5(A) is a cross sectional view of the
FIG. 5(B) is a cross sectional view of a second embodiment of the beverage container of FIG. 4.
Certain terminology will be used in the following description for convenience in description only and will not be limiting unless expressly claimed. The words “up”, “down”, “top”, “bottom”, “right”, and “left” will designate directions in the drawings to which reference is made. The words “in” and “out” will refer to directions toward and away from the geometric center of the device and designated parts thereof. Such terminology will include derivatives and words of similar meaning.
The console 12 is provided with a system 35 for controlling the temperature in the console storage compartment 18. An L-shaped thermally conductive heat exchanger 36 is in contact with at least part of the front wall 28 and the bottom wall 22 and extends over the front wall opening 34. It will be understood that the heat exchanger 36 can be constructed to any shape so long as it is thermally connected with the compartment and can be in contact with any number of walls, e.g., all of the upright walls of the compartment. In the described embodiment, the heat exchanger 36 is constructed from aluminum to have an efficient heat conduction and light weight.
A thermally conductive element 40 extends through the front wall opening 34 and is in thermal communication with the heat exchanger 36 adjacent the corner thereof. The thermally conductive element 40 can be constructed from solid aluminum or any other thermally conductive material so long as it has adequate thermal conductive properties. At an end of the thermally conductive element 40 remote from the heat exchanger 36 is a thermoelectric system 42 which is connected to an electrical power supply 44 mounted in the vehicle, for example a 12 volt electrical system of an automobile. Insulation 32 is provided around the thermoelectric system 42 to thermally isolate the system. Plates 46, 48 attached to a thermoelectric device 50 made up of thermoelectric elements act as heat sinks, one of which is a hot sink and the other is a cold sink depending on the direction of direct current flowing from the electrical power source 44 to the thermoelectric device 50. A thermoelectric device plate 46 contacts an end of the thermally conductive element 40.
An air duct assembly 52 is mounted within the console 12 and is in thermal communication with the thermoelectric system 42. The air duct assembly 52 has a housing 54 and a solid extension member 56 extending from the housing and contacting thermoelectric device plate 48. The solid extension member 56 is made of a thermally conductive material, for example aluminum, to provide adequate thermoconductivity. Within the housing 54 are radiator fins 58 which extend from the solid extension member 56. The air duct assembly 52 comprises an inflow air duct 64 and an outflow air duct 110 which are fluidly connected to provide air flow through the assembly. The outflow air duct 110 passes air by the radiator fins 58 and a side of the extension 56 so that heat is transferred to the inflowing air and is vented with the outflowing air. To positively provide air flow through the air duct assembly 52, a fan 68 is provided to draw inflow air through the inflow air duct 64, pass the air around the radiator fins 58 and exhaust the air into outflow air duct 110. As shown in
The modified console 12A further includes an integral beverage container cooler/heater assembly 70 which includes a modified heat exchanger 72 that has upper and lower legs joined to a bight portion with the lower leg 73 forming the compartment bottom wall 22A, the upwardly extending bight portion forming the front wall 28A, and the upper leg 75 extending forwardly from the bight portion 74. A lower portion of the bight portion 74 contacts a plate 46A of the thermoelectric system 42A so that the thermoelectric system 42A can draw or provide heat to the heat exchanger 72.
The upper portion 78 of the upper leg 75 can be formed with a depression in an upper surface thereof for the beverage container 80 to be seated in to aid in the heat transfer between the beverage container and the heat exchanger 72.
The beverage container 80 may also have structure which will assist in transferring the thermal energy to the beverage contained in the container 80 from the heat exchanger 72 and thermoelectric system 42A (FIGS. 5(A) and (B)). The beverage container 80 has an insulated cup portion 82 and a lid 84 which is removably secured to the open top of the cup portion 82 so as to reduce thermal losses or gains through the cup portion open top. The bottom of the cup portion 82 has a reduced diameter bottom portion 86 which is sized to fit within the recess 71. A thermally conductive element 88 is positioned within the cup portion 82 to improve the heat transfer with the heat exchanger upper portion 78 and has a relatively short cylindrical base 91 at the bottom end of the container 80 and a spire 92 integral with and extending upwardly from the base 91 into the beverage containing space defined by the cup portion 82. The spire 92 increases the surface area of the thermally conductive element 88 that is in contact with the beverage to improve the heat exchange with the beverage in the container 80.
In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5(B), the beverage container 80 does not have a spine 92 but instead has the walls of the container integral with and formed of the same material as the base 91. This enables the heating or cooling of not only a beverage contained therein but also a beverage container such as a can, water bottle, etc.
While it is believed that operation of the present invention is apparent based on the above description, the operation of the present invention is outlined below for convenience. If it is desired to cool the compartment 18, then DC electrical power from the power source 44 is sent to the thermoelectric system 42. The direction of current flow causes the thermoelectric system to transfer thermal energy from one heat sink plate 46 and transfer the thermal energy to the other heat sink plate 48. The heat sink plate 46 will transfer thermal energy from thermally conductive element 40 which in turn transfers thermal energy from the heat exchanger 36. The heat exchanger 36 is bound on its outer facing sides by insulated walls 22, 28 and transfers thermal energy from the enclosed compartment 18. Thermal energy builds up at the heat sink plate 48 and is transferred to the extension member 56 and radiator fins 58 of air duct housing 54. The extension member 56 and radiator fins 58 transfers the thermal energy to air passing through the air duct assembly. The fan 68 pulls air in through the inflow air duct 54 and pushes air out of the outflow air duct 66 past the radiating fins 58 and extension member 56. Thusly, heat is transferred from the compartment 18 and is vented out in air from air duct 66. If it is desired to heat the compartment 18, then the DC power supplied to the thermoelectric system is reversed to force heat to flow toward the compartment 18.
While the above description only shows a single compartment, it will be within the scope of this invention to have a plurality of compartments whereby at least one of which has features above described. Further, it will be understood that the above described invention is described mounted within a vehicle console, it will work within any type of vehicle, for example automobiles, trucks, trailers, tractors, boats, aircraft, etc., wherein a temperature controlled compartment is desired, and does not have to be mounted within a console.
Although particular preferred embodiments of the invention have been disclosed in detail for illustrative purposes, it will be recognized that variations or modifications of the disclosed apparatus, including the rearrangement of parts, lie within the scope of the present invention.
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|U.S. Classification||62/3.3, 62/3.6, 62/3.61, 62/244|
|International Classification||B60N3/10, B60N2/46, H01L35/00, B60H1/00, F25B21/04, F25B21/02|
|Cooperative Classification||F25B21/04, B60N2/4686, B60N3/107, B60N3/104, F25B2321/0251, H01L35/00, F25D2400/12|
|European Classification||B60N2/46H2, B60N3/10S4, B60N3/10R, H01L35/00, F25B21/04|
|Jul 13, 2010||CC||Certificate of correction|
|Feb 28, 2013||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12