PARTITIONED CHIMNEY CAP AND FIREPLACE VENTING SYSTEM

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A fireplace chimney cap includes a body having first and second apertures in fluid communication defining a first cavity therebetween. The first cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion air through the first aperture, then through the second aperture for delivery to a fireplace combustion chamber. The body has third and fourth apertures in fluid communication defining a second cavity therebetween. The second cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion gases from the fireplace combustion chamber through the third aperture, then through the fourth aperture for exhausting exterior of the body. The first and second cavities are fluidly separated from each other. The first and fourth apertures are configured and disposed to provide a pitot effect to more readily draw both combustion air into the first cavity and combustion gases into the second cavity in response to the first aperture disposed upwind and fourth aperture position disposed downwind.

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Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This Application is a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 11/618,756, filed Dec. 30, 2006, Attorney Docket No. 2006-030, entitled “FIREPLACE HEAT EXCHANGER” and which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to fireplace accessories and, more particularly, to a fireplace chimney cap adaptable to a wide array of fireplace sizes and useful for improving the heating efficiency of a fireplace.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventional fireplaces are inefficient sources of heat for the room in which they are located as the majority of the heat generated by the combustion process escapes through the chimney. Fireplace fires also require large volumes of combustion air, which if drawn from the interior space of the room, result in significant heat loss from the room as heated room air is also exhausted through the chimney. Cold air drafts in the interior space also result since the heat loss through the chimney causes cold air to be drawn in from the outside through door and window openings.

In an effort to increase the efficiency of fireplaces, fireplace inserts have been used. These devices generally comprise a large metal box situated within the fireplace and extending into the room in which the fireplace is located. Wood or other fuel is burned within the large metal box, which has openings for supplying combustion air and for expelling combustion gases to the chimney. Room air circulated within the large metal box is heated and returned to the room without commingling with the combustion air stream. While such inserts have been designed to retain the visual appeal and rustic charm of an open flame, their heat transfer efficiency is limited, allowing substantial amounts of energy to be exhausted through the chimney to the outside.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,357,930 and its progeny disclose a fireplace heating system for heating the room air incorporating a compact heat exchanger mounted at the top portion of the combustion chamber of the fireplace and extending across the location where the chimney flue connects with the top portion of the combustion chamber. A conventional fireplace door may be used to prevent room air from being exhausted through the chimney and isolate hotter portions of the fire from accidental contact by room occupants. A fan is provided for circulating room air through the heat exchanger in a manner so that the hot combustion gases heat up the room air being circulated therethrough without commingling. The design of the compact heat exchanger directs hot combustion gases through tortuous pathways to increase heat transfer; the complex design of the pathways results in increased fabrication costs for the heat exchanger assembly compared to more conventional heat exchange methods.

It would be desirable to provide an improved fireplace heating and venting system suitable for use in existing or newly constructed fireplaces that further increases thermal efficiency of a fireplace, reduces the amount of heat energy exhausted through the chimney flue, generating reduced levels of noise during operation and that can be economically fabricated from inexpensive, yet durable materials.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a fireplace chimney cap including a body having a first aperture and a second aperture in fluid communication defining a first cavity therebetween. The first cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion air through the first aperture and then through the second aperture for delivery to a fireplace combustion chamber. The body further has a third aperture and a fourth aperture in fluid communication defining a second cavity therebetween. The second cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion gases from the fireplace combustion chamber through the third aperture and then through the fourth aperture for exhausting exterior of the body. The first and second cavities are fluidly separated from each other. The opposed first and third apertures are configured and disposed to provide a pivot effect to more readily draw both combustion air into the first cavity and combustion gases into the second cavity in response to the first aperture disposed upwind and fourth aperture disposed downwind.

The present invention additionally relates to a fireplace chimney cap including a body having a first aperture and a second aperture in fluid communication defining a first cavity therebetween. The first cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion air through the first aperture and then through the second aperture for delivery to a fireplace combustion chamber. The body further has a third aperture and a fourth aperture in fluid communication defining a second cavity therebetween. The second cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion gases from the fireplace combustion chamber through the third aperture and then through the fourth aperture for exhausting exterior of the body. The first and second cavities are fluidly separated from each other and first aperture is disposed upwind and fourth aperture is disposed downwind.

The present invention further relates to a method of installing a fireplace chimney cap to a chimney flue. The steps include providing a body having a first aperture and a second aperture in fluid communication defining a first cavity therebetween. The first cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion air through the first aperture and then through the second aperture for delivery to a fireplace combustion chamber. The body further has a third aperture and a fourth aperture in fluid communication defining a second cavity therebetween. The second cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion gases from the fireplace combustion chamber through the third aperture and then through the fourth aperture for exhausting exterior of the body, the first and second cavities fluidly separated from each other. The method further includes selectably installing a blower in at least one of the first and second cavity. The method further includes securing the body to a chimney flue with the first aperture facing a predetermined wind direction thereby establishing a pivot effect to more readily draw both combustion air into the first cavity and combustion gases into the second cavity.

The present invention yet further relates to a fireplace venting system including a heat exchanger assembly having a combustion chamber, a chimney flue having an opening connected to a top portion of the combustion chamber, a heat source disposed within the combustion chamber for producing hot gases in response to combustion, a front opening, and a fire screen assembly or the like for closing the front opening to separate the combustion chamber from an area to be heated. The heat exchanger assembly includes a baffle for sealing the chimney opening, the baffle having at least one flue opening for exhausting combustion gases into the chimney flue and at least one combustion air supply opening for receiving combustion air into the combustion chamber. At least one elongated heat exchanger core has an outer hollow member with opposing combustion gas inlet and outlet ends separated by an outer member length, and an inner hollow member disposed within and generally coextensive with the outer hollow member forming an annular passageway therebetween. The inner hollow member has a medium inlet end and a medium outlet end, and further defining an interior passageway for a heat transfer medium flowing generally from the medium inlet end toward the medium outlet end. At least a portion of combustion gas flow within the annular passageway is generally in a counter-flow heat exchange relationship with the medium flow within the inner hollow member. The annular passageway receives combustion gases from the combustion chamber at the gas inlet end and discharging combustion gases from the gas outlet end. At least one nozzle disk is configured and disposed in the annular passageway to induce a swirling flow pattern of the combustion gases about the inner hollow member generally between the combustion gas inlet and outlet ends. A supply conduit is in flow communication with the medium inlet end for directing a flow of the heat transfer medium toward the medium inlet end of the inner hollow member. A return conduit is in flow communication with the medium outlet end for receiving the heat transfer medium from the medium outlet end of the inner hollow member. A fireplace chimney cap includes a body having a first aperture and a second aperture in fluid communication defining a first cavity therebetween. The first cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion air through the first aperture and then through the second aperture for delivery to the fireplace combustion chamber. The body further has a third aperture and a fourth aperture in fluid communication defining a second cavity therebetween. The second cavity is configured and disposed to receive combustion gases from the fireplace combustion chamber through the third aperture and then through the fourth aperture for exhausting exterior of the body. The first and second cavities are fluidly separated from each other. The opposed first and third apertures are configured and disposed to provide a pivot effect to more readily draw both outside air into the first cavity and flue gas into the second cavity in response to the first aperture disposed upwind and fourth aperture disposed downwind.

An advantage of the present invention is a fan/motor arrangement for drawing air through the chimney flue to the combustion chamber of a fireplace system and for drawing combustion gases from the combustion chamber through the chimney flue, which arrangement operating at a substantially reduced noise level as measured adjacent to the combustion chamber.

A further advantage of the present invention is a fireplace chimney cap that provides a pivot effect which improves operational efficiency associated with movement of combustion air and combustion gases through the fireplace system.

A still further advantage of the present invention is a blower fan/motor arrangement for drawing combustion gases from the combustion chamber through the chimney flue of a fireplace system, which system will operate at a substantially reduced noise level.

A yet further advantage of the present invention is a blower fan arrangement making possible a chimney of significantly reduced height. In one embodiment, ranch style residential dwellings may be constructed without requiring disproportionably high chimneys. Architects may then incorporate workable masonry fireplaces in their designs, such as a top floor in a dwelling having vista living/den rooms or bed room.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following more detailed description of the preferred embodiment, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a fireplace venting system of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a fireplace of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2A is an exploded view of the fireplace of FIG. 2 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 is a partial cutaway view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4 is a partial cutaway view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 5 is a partial cutaway view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 2 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 6 is a partial cutaway view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 2 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 6A is a partial cutaway view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 2 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 7 is a partial cutaway view taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 1 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 7A is an elevation view of an alternate embodiment of FIG. 7 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 8 is a cross-section taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 1 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 9 is an embodiment of a nozzle disk of FIG. 2 of the present disclosure.

FIG. 10 is a partial cross-section taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 9 of the present disclosure.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following more detailed description of the preferred embodiment, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In FIGS. 1, 2 and 2A, there is shown a perspective view (and an exploded perspective view in FIG. 2A) of a fireplace 5 comprising a combustion chamber 10 having a front opening 12 (FIG. 2), a back wall 14, a pair of side walls 16, a hearth 18, and a chimney 21 including a chimney flue 20 connected to the top portion of the combustion chamber 10 by a throat or chimney opening 19. Combustion gases 37 produced in combustion chamber 10 are discharged through the chimney flue 20 by way of the throat or chimney opening 19, and then through a chimney cap 102. In one embodiment, fireplace venting system 3 conveys relatively cold outside air or combustion air 35 through chimney cap 102 and then through chimney flue 20 to combustion chamber 10, as will be discussed in further detail below.

FIGS. 1 and 2 further shows a suitable type of gas log burner 30 for producing heat energy that is supplied with heating gas from an external source. These gas log burners 30 are well known in the art and various suitable alternate types may be employed. Also provided is a conventional fireplace screen 24, which closes and substantially seals front opening 12, thereby separating combustion chamber 10 from a room or area to be heated by fireplace 5. In one embodiment, fireplace screen 24 includes glass doors or other substantially optically transparent structure that allow room or area occupants to observe the combustion flames and that may be opened to access the combustion chamber 10 or for cleaning the fire screen assembly. However, fireplace screen 24 also includes translucent or opaque constructions in alternate embodiments.

In one embodiment, combustion air 35 enters combustion chamber 10 via a pair of conduits 31 adjacent to and is supplied to gas log burner 30. Conduits 31 are controllably spaced adjacent to supply conduit 80 and above hearth 18 by clamps 39 secured in side walls 16. When the fireplace is not used for extended period of time, such as during the summer months, clamps 39 are loosened and the ends of conduits 31 are directed toward hearth 18. When the ends of conduits 31 are brought into abutment with hearth 18, access to combustion chamber 10 through conduits 31 is substantially blocked, preventing insect access into the dwelling through the chimney. In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 3, end portions 41 of conduits 31 are angled toward back wall 14 and hearth 18 to provide a swirling movement of combustion air 35 within combustion chamber 10. The hot combustion gases 37 produced by gas log burner 30 will flow upwardly from the location of the burner combustion immediately above the hearth 18, which upwardly flowing gases being confined by back and side walls 14, 16 of the fireplace and fireplace screen 24. Fireplace elements are well known in the art and are discussed extensively in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,357,930, 4,471,756, and 6,047,695, all by Eberhardt and which are incorporated by reference in their entirety herein.

In accordance with the invention, as shown in FIGS. 2, 2A and 4, there is provided a heat exchanger assembly 40 comprising one or more elongated heat exchanger cores 42 and means for mounting the same within combustion chamber 10, generally adjacent to back wall 14. In one embodiment, heat exchanger assembly 40 is substantially vertically oriented. Heat exchanger assembly 40 incorporates a plurality of heat exchanger cores 42 to enable efficient thermal energy exchange between a heat transfer medium 52, such as room air, and combustion gases 37 by virtue of non-mixing adjacent flow within the heat exchanger assembly 40. As shown in FIG. 1, flue baffle 22 is positioned to extend across the throat or chimney opening 19 in the top portion of the combustion chamber 10 to seal the connection between combustion chamber 10 and chimney flue 20. At least one flue opening 28 is provided in baffle 22 to provide combustion gases 37, created when the gas log burner 30 is in operation, a controlled passage from combustion chamber 10 to chimney flue 20. In addition, as further shown in FIG. 1, a pair of combustion air supply openings 29 formed in baffle 22 provide a controlled passage of combustion air 35 drawn from exterior of chimney cap 102 and directed within chimney flue 20 to reach combustion chamber 10, once the combustion air flows through respective conduits 31.

Elements of heat exchanger assembly 40 may be held in position by anchoring tabs (not shown) secured directly into the walls 14, 16 of the fireplace which provide connection points for elements of the heat exchanger assembly. Such anchor tabs are suitable for use in fireplaces being modified to use the present invention or fireplaces initially constructed to use the invention. Alternatively, a free-standing support structure may be provided to enable the heat exchanger assembly 40 to be self-supporting within the fireplace, thereby eliminating the need to breach the interior walls of the fireplace with additional fasteners. The design of a free-standing support structure is ideally suited for retrofit applications and is, therefore, adjustable to suit a variety of fireplace sizes and configurations. Materials selected for support members, whether a free-standing frame or anchor tabs, are typically iron or steel and are selected for their durability when exposed to hot combustion gases in the fireplace and relatively low cost. However, support members may be composed of other suitable materials.

Referring now to FIGS. 2-4, heat exchanger assembly 40 comprises six heat exchanger cores 42 as configured for use in a typical fireplace. In one embodiment, cores 42 are generally straight between opposing ends, arranged generally parallel and generally vertically positioned adjacent the back wall 14 of the combustion chamber 10. Each heat exchanger core 42 includes an elongated inner hollow member 44 surrounded by a substantially coextensive outer hollow member 46 forming an annular passageway 48 therebetween. Both hollow members 44, 46 preferably have generally circular cross-sections to allow smooth flow of combustion gases 37 and the heat transfer medium 52 (air in the embodiment described herein), though other shapes or other heat transfer mediums may be used with reasonable effectiveness. In one embodiment, each core 42 is configured to accept flow of combustion gases 37 and heat transfer medium 52 in a counter-flow arrangement, that is, the direction of flow of heat transfer medium 52 in inner hollow member 44 is in a direction generally opposite of the flow of combustion gases 37 through the outer hollow member 46 for improved heat exchange performance therebetween.

As shown in FIGS. 4 and 6, the heat exchanger cores 42 are configured and disposed so that adjacent outer hollow members 46 abut each other along the longitudinal direction, or direction of elongated length. There are three pairs of cores 42 in which combustion gases 37 flow in a downward helical direction through annular passageway 48 of one core 42. Upon reaching transition region 61, the direction of flow of combustion gases 37 is reversed so that the combustion gases 37 flow in an upward helical direction through annular passageway 48 of the adjacent core 42 of the pair of cores 42. The change in direction of combustion gases is shown in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6A.

As previously discussed, hot combustion gases 37 traveling within passageways 48 (FIGS. 4 and 6) of heat exchanger cores 42 toward the bottom of combustion chamber 10 are redirected to flow within passageways 48 of adjacent heat exchanger cores 42 toward the top of combustion chamber 10. As further shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 4 and 6A, once the combustion gases 37 approach the top of heat exchanger assembly 40, combustion gases 37 passing through combustion gas outlet opening 96 are directed inside a plenum 54 having a vane 67. Vane 67 divides plenum 54 into passageways 56 and 57. Passageway 56 receives combustion gases 37 from annular passageway 48 and passageway receives heated heat transfer medium 53 from inner hollow member 44. As shown in FIG. 2A, plenum 54 includes a pair of slots 55 (one slot shown in FIG. 2A), each slot receiving a corresponding pin 59 of a pair of pins 59 (one pin shown in FIG. 2A) formed in an insert 60. The resulting pivoting connections formed between plenum 54 and insert 60 accommodate the range of angles between back wall 14 and flue baffle 22. Insert 60 includes a tube having a vane 62 terminating at an end cap 77 which forms a chamber 63 that is in fluid communication with fitting 71 secured to the exterior of insert 60. A conduit portion 68 is configured to receive conduit portion 66. Collectively, as shown in FIG. 2A, insert 60, and conduit portions 66, 68 define return conduit 90.

In operation, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2A and 6A, plenum 54 is disposed between heat exchanger core 42 and insert 60 such that combustion gases 37 passing through combustion gas outlet opening 96 are directed through passageway 56 and then into chamber 63 of insert 60. Plenum 54 and insert 60 form an overlap 78 in which vane 67 of plenum 54 and vane 62 of insert 60 form a substantially fluid tight seal to substantially prevent combustion gases 37 from mixing with heated heat transfer medium 53. In one embodiment, the curves defining passageway 56 act to preserve a portion of the momentum of the flow of combustion gases 37. Combustion gases 37 entering chamber 63 then flow through opening 64 of insert 60, then through fitting 71 of insert 64, which extends through flue opening 28 formed in flue baffle 22.

The conventional throat or chimney opening 19 is sealed in the present disclosure by the presence of flue baffle 22. As a result, all hot combustion gases 37 are directed through the heat exchanger assembly 40 prior to being discharged into chimney flue 20. In one embodiment, one end of conduit 33, such as flexible aluminum tubing, is secured over fitting 71 that extends through flue opening 28, with the other end secured to an inlet aperture 112 of chimney cap 102 that is in fluid communication with an outlet aperture 114 for discharging combustion gases 37 exterior of fireplace venting system 3. In other words, combustion gases 37 are confined to flow inside conduit 33 and do not mix with combustion air 35 passing through chimney cap 102 and into chimney flue 20, which combustion air 35 being conveyed to combustion chamber 10.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 7 and 8, chimney cap 102 includes a body 104 defining a substantially trapezoidal profile extending in a longitudinal direction, i.e., the direction of primary length. Body 104 contains partitioned cavities 110, 116 disposed therein for separately receiving combustion air 35 and discharging combustion gases 37 therethrough. A louvered inlet aperture 106 including vanes 120 disposed therealong is formed in body 104 for receiving combustion air 35 into cavity 110 from exterior of body 104. Adjacent to inlet aperture 106 is a partial partition 122 that is proximate to a full partition 118. In one embodiment, the louvers of inlet aperture 106 are spaced to prevent access, such as by birds.

Partial partition 122, which may span body 104 in the transverse direction in one embodiment, prevents rain or other form of moisture from entering cavity 110 and provides additional structural stiffness to body 104. Full partition 118, shown as including three panel segments joined along their edges and disposed at angles from each other, forms a contiguous wall in body 104 to separate cavity 110 from another cavity 116. An outlet aperture 108 (FIG. 8) is disposed between full partition 118 and partial partition 122 for discharging combustion air 35 received into cavity 110 through inlet aperture 106. Combustion air 35 discharged from outlet aperture 108 flows within chimney flue 20 toward combustion chamber 10.

Body 104 also includes cavity 116 having an inlet aperture 112 (FIG. 8) for receiving combustion gases 37 from combustion chamber 10 via conduit 33. In one embodiment, a transition fitting or adapter 126 (FIG. 7) permits connection of conduit 33 and a blower 128 secured inside cavity 116. Blower 128 draws combustion gases 37 through conduit 33 and then inside cavity 116 through inlet aperture 112, finally discharging the combustion gases exterior of body 104 through louvered outlet aperture 114 having vanes 120. In one embodiment, the louvers of outlet aperture 114 are spaced to prevent access, such as by birds.

As shown, inlet aperture 106 and outlet aperture 114 are opposed from each other, separated from each other by a flue liner 124 (FIG. 7) when chimney cap 102 is installed. Due to the opposed construction, in response to orienting inlet aperture 106 so that inlet aperture 106 is disposed upwind or faces the general direction of the wind, i.e., the northwest in many portions of North America, body 104 experiences a pivot effect with respect to each of inlet aperture 106 and outlet aperture 114. That is, when inlet aperture 106 is oriented to face the wind, the relative atmospheric pressure developed outside of but in close proximity with cavity 110 is increased with respect to the relative atmospheric pressure developed inside cavity 110, due to the combustion air 35 colliding with flue liner 124, thereby drawing combustion air 35 through inlet aperture 106 and into cavity 110. Conversely, when outlet aperture 114 is disposed downwind or oriented to face opposite the wind, the relative atmospheric pressure developed outside of but in close proximity with cavity 116 is reduced with respect to the relative atmospheric pressure developed inside cavity 116, due to the wind flowing around flue liner 124, thereby drawing combustion gases 37 from cavity 116 through outlet aperture 114.

It is to be understood that the term “facing the wind” or “facing upwind” in reference to apertures 106 and 114 is intended to include circumstances in which a plane (not shown) defining apertures 106 and 114 are disposed at an angle to the direction of travel of the wind, including parallel to the wind, and also includes circumstances in which apertures 106 and 114 are disposed to the wind at angles different from parallel. With assistance of a sustained pivot effect, the load required by blower 128 to discharge combustion gases 37 from conduit 33 through and then exterior of chimney cap 102 is reduced.

The pivot effect may be enhanced through the use of vanes 120 staggered to be disposed upwind or directly face the wind. That is, as shown in FIG. 7, a plane 130 of inlet aperture 106 is disposed at an angle θ to the horizontal. Thus, wind that is horizontally disposed combustion air 35 strikes each of vanes 120 distributed over inlet aperture 106, thereby enhancing the pivot effect described above. It is to be understood that vanes 120 may be of similar or of different sizes, so that a portion of each vane is directly exposed to wind emanating from a predominant direction and orientation, such as horizontally oriented wind from the northwest. For example, as shown in FIG. 7A, vanes 120 are substantially planar, versus being curved in FIG. 7. In addition, vanes 120 in FIG. 7A are entirely contained within respective cavities 110, 116.

As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, chimney cap 102 includes features permitting use with differently configured blowers 128. That is, chimney cap 102 can accommodate different blower sizes and shapes. Adjustable fastening members 134, such as threaded rod, and associated mating fastener members 136, such as jam nuts, may be used to secure blower 128 via a blower flange 138 and openings 132 formed in body 104. In one embodiment, the pattern of openings in blower flange 138, openings 132 and openings 148 of chimney cap 102 are substantially identical, and plate 152 is separable from body 104.

In one embodiment, adjustable brackets 142 support chimney cap 102 and include opposed pairs of brackets 142 that are disposed on opposite ends of flue liner 124. The opposed pairs of brackets 142 include slots 144 for use with mating fasteners 150 to accommodate differently sized flue liners 124. Additionally, brackets 142 include fasteners 146, such as set screws, for securing brackets 142 and chimney cap 102 in position to flue liner 124. Moreover, brackets 142 secure a transition fitting or adapter 126 between blower 128 and conduit 33, such as a reducer, which transition fitting or adapter 126 structurally supports the weight of conduit 33.

In one non-limiting method of assembly of chimney cap 102 to flue liner 124, transition fitting or adapter 126 is secured to each opposed pair of brackets 142, then conduit 33 is secured to transition fitting or adapter 126 prior to lowering conduit 33 inside of flue liner 124. Once conduit 33 has been lowered, the opposed pairs of brackets can then be secured to flue liner 124 with fasteners 146, such as set screws. In one embodiment, plate 152 is separable from body 104. Plate 152 is secured via openings 132 to such as respective openings (not shown) formed in brackets 142 using fastening members 134 and 136, such as respective threaded rod and jam nuts, as shown, which fastening members are further utilized to secure flanges 138 to blower 128. At this point, in one embodiment, four ends of fastening members 134 extend upwardly. Body 104 is then lowered over fastening members 134, aided by guides 140 so that ends of fastening members 134 extend through corresponding openings 148 aligned with the guides. Assembly is then completed by securing fasteners 154, such as cap screws, over each fastening member 134.

Referring back to FIGS. 2, 2A and 3-6, each heat exchanger core 42 is made of a material to provide a highly heat conductive arrangement. To that end, inner hollow member 44 is constructed of a heat conductive material, such as aluminum, to effectively conduct heat from the hot combustion gases 37 flowing through the annular passageway 48 to the heat transfer medium 52 flowing through the inner hollow member 44. Outer hollow member 46, which is directly exposed to the combustion occurring at burner 30, is likewise constructed of a highly heat conductive material, but one that is also more suitable for the combustion chamber environment, such as steel and, more specifically, stainless steel.

In one embodiment, the heat exchanger assembly 40 is configured such that inlet and outlet openings 86, 96 for the inner hollow members 44 and the annular passageways 48 are generally adjacent and proximate to a common end of the assembly 40.

In one embodiment, the aluminum inner hollow members 44 and other aluminum parts of the heat exchanger cores 42 are anodized flat black. This improves the heat transfer properties of these parts by improving the heat transfer coefficient thereof. The overall heat transfer effectiveness of the heat exchanger assembly 40 is improved by the addition of a radiant energy reflector 65 to at least a portion of the heat exchanger assembly 40. In one embodiment, radiant energy reflector 65 is a contiguous component as shown in FIG. 2A, simultaneously serving as an access cover for blower or fan/motor assembly 100, although multiple reflectors may be used. The radiant energy reflector 65 may be in the form of a reflective covering, such as polished stainless steel or the like, on at least a portion of the outer hollow members 46. By positioning radiant energy reflector 65 on or along a portion of the heat exchanger core 42 adjacent to the burner 30, radiant heat energy from the combustion flames of the burner is thereby directed toward the room or space to be heated. Radiant energy reflector 65 may also be in the form of a material selection and/or exterior surface treatment of the outer hollow members 46 to provide the desired surface reflective characteristics.

Each heat exchanger core 42 is constructed and arranged to increase the dwell time of hot combustion gases 37 in the annular passageway 48 thereby increasing the heat transfer between the relatively hotter combustion gases and the relatively cooler heat transfer medium 52. An object is to extract as much thermal energy as possible in a relatively compact space. By doing so, materials of construction for the chimney flue can be selected having to withstand much lower temperatures, as low as about 150° F. in at least one embodiment, thereby allowing less expensive materials to be used for the chimney flue, such as PVC. To this end, the heat exchanger cores 42 are configured to cause a vortex flow of the combustion gases 37 as they flow through the annular passageway 48. The vortex flow is caused by at least one nozzle disk 70 (FIGS. 2A, 6 and 9-10), which is connected to at least one of the inner and outer hollow members 44, 46 and positioned proximate to the inlet end 86 (FIG. 6) of the annular passageway 48. As hot combustion gases pass through nozzle disk 70, the gases are forced to swirl about the annular passageway 48 (e.g., FIG. 6), generally circulating around the inner hollow member 44 as the gases proceed along the length of the heat exchanger core 42. Referring to FIG. 4, combustion gases 37 flowing downwardly through heat exchanger core 42 rotate generally counterclockwise, when viewed from above, about the inner hollow member 44 as the gases downwardly traverse the annular passageway 48. While the rotation for the upwardly directed combustion gases is opposite that of the downwardly directed combustion gases 37, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, in another embodiment (not shown), the rotational directions of combustion gases 37 are the same in both directions. The direction of spin for at least the downwardly directed combustion gases 37 in the annular passageways 48 is selected to be aided by the Coriolis effect of the earth's rotation, further enhancing the spinning motion of the combustion gases traversing through the annular passageways. Those skilled in the art will appreciate the direction of spin shown corresponds to the Coriolis effect in the northern hemisphere, so that an installation for use in the southern hemisphere should be configured to cause a spin in a reverse direction.

FIGS. 9 and 10 show details of the nozzle disk 70, which disk positioned proximate to the inlet end 86 of each annular passageway 48. In one embodiment, nozzle disks 70 may be interconnected to each other. In one embodiment, nozzle disk 70 is of generally planar circular construction, having an outer perimeter 72 generally matching the inner perimeter of outer hollow member 46 (FIG. 4), and an inner opening structure 74 through which the inner hollow member 44 (FIG. 4) passes. In one embodiment, inner and outer hollow members 44, 46 and nozzle disk 70 are arranged along a common centerline corresponding to the longitudinal axis of the hollow members 44, 46. A plurality of vane structures 76 is arranged generally radially about the centerline. The vane structures include a penetration 73 through the nozzle disk structure and a flow directing vane 75 positioned such that hot combustion gases passing through the penetrations 73 impinge on the flow directing vane and are deflected. Each flow directing vane 75 defines an inclination angle Φ with respect to the plane of the nozzle disk, approximately 30 degrees in one embodiment, but those skilled in the art will recognize that a wide variation in the angle of inclination can be used without deviating from the functional objective of the nozzle disk 70. Gaps between the inner and outer hollow member 44, 46 walls and the nozzle disk 70 are minimized by a tight-fitting interface so that combustion gases bypassing the nozzle disk will be minimized.

Referring now to FIGS. 2, 2A, 3-6 and 6A, there is shown one embodiment for circulating heat transfer medium 52, room air in one embodiment, through the heat exchanger assembly 40 to heat the adjacent space. Once heat transfer medium 52 is heated after passing through heat exchanger assembly 40, it is designated as heated heat transfer medium 53. As shown, a supply conduit 80 is employed to convey heat transfer medium 52, and a return conduit 90 is employed to convey heat transfer medium 53.

In operation, a fan/motor assembly 100 draws relatively cool heat transfer medium 52 from the space or room and directs it through supply conduit 80 toward the heating medium inlet opening 84 of the heat exchanger core 42. To simplify installation and accommodate fireplaces of different size, supply conduit 80 includes several portions that slidingly overlap each other.

In one embodiment, after being directed through fan/motor assembly 100, heat transfer medium 52 enters plenum 58 which defines a region of increasing cross-sectional area between the lower and upper end of plenum 58, as measured by horizontal planes (not shown). In other words, plenum 58 increases in arial transverse directions between the lower and upper end of plenum 58, as shown orthogonally in FIGS. 3 and 4. This increase in cross-sectional area significantly reduces the velocity of entering heat transfer medium 52 without decreasing the energy associated with the fluid flow from fan/motor assembly 100. In addition, as shown in FIG. 4, one or more vanes 83 are disposed within plenum 58 to selectably redirect a portion of the flow of heat transfer medium 52 to at least the outermost positioned heat exchanger cores 42. Vanes 83 are configured to redirect flow of heat transfer medium 52 to more evenly distribute the amount of the medium flowing through each heat exchanger core 42 while minimizing a reduction of energy associated with the fluid flow from fan/motor assembly 100.

After exiting plenum 58, heat transfer medium 52 enters the interior of inner hollow member 44 through the heating medium inlet opening 84 and moves through the heat exchanger cores 42 while absorbing thermal energy from the hot combustion gases 37 that are spinning around the outer surface of the inner hollow member 44. After passing through the heat exchanger cores 42, the heated heat transfer medium 53 (FIG. 6) then exits the heat exchanger assembly 40 through a heating medium outlet opening 94 and is delivered back to the area or room to be heated by the return conduit 90.

It is appreciated that as shown in FIG. 2A, heat exchanger assembly 40 is similarly able to accommodate fireplaces of different height due to the overlapping sliding rectangular portions 79, 81 surrounding heat exchanger cores 42.

Conduit design may include adjustable and/or flexible supply and return conduit 80, 90 to enable plenums to be installed in a variety of fireplace sizes and configurations. While imperative for retrofit installations where the exact fireplace dimensions are unknown when the conduits are fabricated, such flexibility may also benefit purpose-built fireplace installations by enabling a single conduit design to be used on a range of fireplace sizes. Such flexible design streamlines production and inventory requirements, thereby reducing overall cost of production of the invention.

While the embodiment shown in FIG. 2 describes use of one embodiment of the disclosure invention for heating a room adjacent to the fireplace, other alternatives are possible by directing the air supply and return conduits to other rooms. Those skilled in the art will recognize that numerous options for directing a heat transfer medium to and through the heat exchanger assembly are permissible within the scope of the present invention. While six generally parallel flow paths are shown in FIG. 4, it is possible to direct the heat transfer medium in a serial flow through the entire heat exchanger assembly wherein a single heating medium inlet opening 84 and a single heating medium outlet opening 94 is used. Conversely, more or less than six generally parallel flow paths may also be used since the heat exchanger cores 42 of the present invention are modular in nature. Adjusting the heating medium flow rates and the flow configuration through the heat exchanger cores allows a desired heating medium return temperature to be selected based on the heat input of the burner assembly.

In an alternate embodiment, a liquid heat transfer medium may be circulated through the inner hollow members whereupon the liquid heat transfer medium absorbs heat energy from the hot combustion gases. The heated liquid may then be easily conveyed to other locations where the heat energy may be extracted to provide heat to a room or another area. An example remote location would be a heat exchanger positioned in the existing heating system for a house whereby the heat energy from the fireplace is efficiently distributed to the entire heated portion of a house or building structure. Such an application provides further benefit to heat pump systems, which require a supplemental heat source when outside air temperatures fall below certain levels. Heat energy from the fireplace can replace expensive electric resistance heating elements often used as supplemental heat sources for heat pumps, potentially lowering energy costs. Due to the modular arrangement of the heat exchanger assembly, a combination of room air from a room adjacent the fireplace and a heat transfer liquid directed to a heat exchanger in a different location may be accommodated, enabling a single fireplace to effectively heat greater portions of a house, thereby further increasing the effectiveness of the fireplace as a supplemental heating source.

While the invention has been described with reference to a preferred embodiment, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.

Claims

1. A fireplace chimney cap comprising:

a body having a first aperture and a second aperture in fluid communication defining a first cavity therebetween, the first cavity configured and disposed to receive combustion air through the first aperture and then through the second aperture for delivery to a fireplace combustion chamber;
the body further having a third aperture and a fourth aperture in fluid communication defining a second cavity therebetween, the second cavity configured and disposed to receive combustion gases from the fireplace combustion chamber through the third aperture and then through the fourth aperture for exhausting exterior of the body, the first and second cavities fluidly separated from each other; and
wherein the opposed first and fourth apertures are configured and disposed to provide a pivot effect to more readily draw both combustion air into the first cavity and combustion gases into the second cavity in response to the first aperture disposed upwind and fourth aperture disposed downwind.

2. A fireplace chimney cap comprising:

a body having a first aperture and a second aperture in fluid communication defining a first cavity therebetween, the first cavity configured and disposed to receive combustion air through the first aperture and then through the second aperture for delivery to a fireplace combustion chamber;
the body further having a third aperture and a fourth aperture in fluid communication defining a second cavity therebetween, the second cavity configured and disposed to receive combustion gases from the fireplace combustion chamber through the third aperture and then through the fourth aperture for exhausting exterior of the body, the first and second cavities fluidly separated from each other; and first aperture disposed upwind and fourth aperture position disposed downwind.

3. The cap of claim 2, wherein the first and fourth apertures are configured to prevent bird entrance.

4. The cap of claim 1, wherein the body includes a partition disposed between the first and second cavities.

5. The cap of claim 4, further comprising a partial partition disposed adjacent the first aperture.

6. The cap of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of vanes associated with at least one of the first and fourth apertures.

7. The cap of claim 6, wherein at least one of the plurality of vanes is curved.

8. The cap of claim 1, wherein the first and fourth apertures are oriented at an angle from corresponding upwind and downwind directions.

9. The cap of claim 8, wherein the angle is about 90 degrees.

10. The cap of claim 8, further comprising a plurality of vanes associated with at least one of the first and fourth apertures.

11. The cap of claim 8, wherein a portion of at least one vane of the plurality of vanes associated with the first aperture is disposed upwind.

12. The cap of claim 8, wherein a portion of at least one vane of the plurality of vanes associated with the fourth aperture is disposed downwind.

13. The cap of claim 1, wherein the body is configured to be securable to differently sized chimney flues.

14. The cap of claim 2, wherein the body is configured to be securable to differently sized chimney flues.

15. The cap of claim 1, wherein the body is configured to selectably receive a blower in at least one of the first cavity and the second cavity.

16. The cap of claim 2, wherein the body is configured to selectably receive a blower in at least one of the first cavity and the second cavity.

17. The cap of claim 15, wherein the blower received by the body is selectable from a plurality of different constructions.

18. A method of installing a fireplace chimney cap to a chimney flue, the steps comprising:

providing a body having a first aperture and a second aperture in fluid communication defining a first cavity therebetween, the first cavity configured and disposed to receive combustion air through the first aperture and then through the second aperture for delivery to a fireplace combustion chamber, the body further having a third aperture and a fourth aperture in fluid communication defining a second cavity therebetween, the second cavity configured and disposed to receive combustion gases from the fireplace combustion chamber through the third aperture and then through the fourth aperture for exhausting exterior of the body, the first and second cavities fluidly separated from each other;
selectably installing a blower in at least one of the first and second cavity;
securing the body to a chimney flue with the first aperture disposed upwind, thereby establishing a pivot effect to more readily draw both combustion air into the first cavity and combustion gases into the second cavity.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the installed blower is selectable from a plurality of different constructions.

20. The method of claim 18, wherein the step of installing a blower includes a step of securing a conduit to a blower installed in the first cavity and to a combustion air supply opening configured for conveying the combustion air from exterior of the body to the combustion chamber.

21. The method of claim 18, wherein the step of installing a blower includes a step of securing a conduit to a blower installed in the second cavity and to a flue opening configured for conveying the combustion gases from the combustion chamber to exterior of the body.

22. A fireplace venting system comprising:

a heat exchanger assembly having a combustion chamber, a chimney flue having an opening connected to a top portion of the combustion chamber, a heat source disposed within the combustion chamber for producing hot gases in response to combustion, a front opening, and a fireplace screen or the like for closing the front opening to separate the combustion chamber from an area to be heated, the heat exchanger assembly comprising:
a baffle for sealing the chimney opening, the baffle having at least one flue opening for exhausting combustion gases into the chimney flue and at least one combustion air supply opening for receiving combustion air into the combustion chamber;
at least one elongated heat exchanger core having an outer hollow member with opposing combustion gas inlet and outlet ends separated by an outer member length, and an inner hollow member disposed within and generally coextensive with the outer hollow member forming an annular passageway therebetween, the inner hollow member having a medium inlet end and a medium outlet end, and further defining an interior passageway for a heat transfer medium flowing generally from the medium inlet end toward the medium outlet end, at least a portion of combustion gas flow within the annular passageway being generally in a counter-flow heat exchange relationship with the medium flow within the inner hollow member, the annular passageway receiving combustion gases from the combustion chamber at the gas inlet end and discharging combustion gases from the gas outlet end; and
at least one nozzle disk configured and disposed in the annular passageway to induce a swirling flow pattern of the combustion gases about the inner hollow member generally between the combustion gas inlet and outlet ends; and a supply conduit in flow communication with the medium inlet end for directing a flow of the heat transfer medium toward the medium inlet end of the inner hollow member and a return conduit in flow communication with the medium outlet end for receiving the heat transfer medium from the medium outlet end of the inner hollow member; and
a fireplace chimney cap comprising:
a body having a first aperture and a second aperture in fluid communication defining a first cavity therebetween, the first cavity configured and disposed to receive combustion air through the first aperture and then through the second aperture for delivery to the fireplace combustion chamber;
the body further having a third aperture and a fourth aperture in fluid communication defining a second cavity therebetween, the second cavity configured and disposed to receive combustion gases from the fireplace combustion chamber through the third aperture and then through the fourth aperture for exhausting exterior of the body, the first and second cavities fluidly separated from each other; and
wherein the opposed first and fourth apertures are configured and disposed to provide a pivot effect to more readily draw both outside air into the first cavity and flue gas into the second cavity in response to the first aperture disposed upwind and fourth aperture disposed downwind.

23. The cap of claim 22, wherein the body is configured to selectably receive a blower in at least one of the first cavity and the second cavity.

24. The cap of claim 23, wherein the blower received by the body is selectable from a plurality of different constructions.

Patent History
Publication number: 20080160894
Type: Application
Filed: Sep 28, 2007
Publication Date: Jul 3, 2008
Applicant: (Marco Island, FL)
Inventors: H. Alfred Eberhardt (Marco Island, FL), Bernard T. Wallerich (Center Valley, PA), Gary M. Curley (Lititz, PA)
Application Number: 11/863,553
Classifications
Current U.S. Class: Cap Closure (454/4)
International Classification: F23J 13/08 (20060101);