PERSONAL AIR CONDITIONING APPARATUS

- C ENTERPRISE (HK) LIMITED

A personal air conditioning apparatus includes a centrifugal fan received within a scroll casing. A container mounted to the inlet of the scroll housing is provided for receiving and holding a coolant member. The scroll casing is supported upon a base enclosing two liquid reservoirs and a battery compartment. A liquid atomizing device fed from one of the reservoirs dispenses liquid droplets into air flow from a discharge passage. A channel extends between the container and the other of the reservoirs for draining away condensation formed on the coolant member. The scroll casing defines the discharge passage, which has a cross-sectional area that increases toward an outlet at an end of the scroll casing. Axially opposing faces of the discharge passage are divergent, and the cross section of the discharge passage adjacent the outlet has a shape elongated substantially in the axial direction. The inner end of the container lies above the scroll casing and a surface bounding the lower side of the discharge passage is inclined upwardly from the inlet toward the outlet. The coolant member may be a chilled beverage can and, when the fan is not operating, cooled air drops into the fan where it is retained.

Skip to: Description  ·  Claims  · Patent History  ·  Patent History

Description

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to air conditioning apparatus, and more particularly concerns methods and apparatus for generating, purifying, cooling or heating and directing a flow of air for the comfort of the user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In hot climates and during summer in more temperate climates, personal cooling is a concern for many people undertaking activities where they are exposed to high ambient temperatures. For personal cooling applications one class of prior art devices incorporate a fan that blows air either through ice supported so as to be air-permeable, or through channels in a plastic container of a type for holding a freezable liquid. The thermal efficiency of many of these prior art devices is reduced by features which allow air cooled by contact with the cold surface to be lost to the user, for instance after placement of the cooling element and before the fan is operated. These devices use axial fans and typically have no structure to retain this cool air from the cooling element, and so allow this cooled air to escape. It will be understood that there is a need for a personal cooling device which addresses this drawback and is relatively low-cost, simple and efficient in operation. It is important that the device should have a compact form for portability and should provide for a cooling air flow in varied specific directions.

A further drawback of these personal cooling devices is that ice, or a replacement container of freezable liquid, may not be readily available to recharge the device. On the other hand chilled beverages are widely available in aluminum cans, and these beverage cans may be used for personal cooling in the conventional manner by consuming their contents, or the can may be held in contact with the skin for cooling, taking advantage of the good thermal conductivity of the walls of the can. However, as these methods may raise dietary or hygiene concerns there is a need to provide a method and apparatus for providing effective personal cooling using chilled beverage cans which addresses these drawbacks. It is an object of the present invention to meet the above needs or more generally to provide an improved personal cooling apparatus and method of personal cooling.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a personal cooling apparatus comprising:

a container adapted to hold a coolant member and admit incoming air for cooling, the container having a central axis with axially opposing outer and inner ends, the outer end being open to allow passage of the coolant member and the inner end open for the passage of air;

a centrifugal fan having a plurality of circumferentially spaced blades for generating an air flow;

a scroll casing, the fan being positioned within the scroll casing, the scroll casing defining a discharge passage with a cross-sectional area that increases toward an outlet at an end thereof, wherein axially opposing faces of the discharge passage are divergent, and the cross section of the discharge passage adjacent the outlet has a shape elongated substantially in the axial direction;

an inlet in the scroll casing in communication with the inner end of the container; and wherein, with the apparatus in an upright position, the inner end of the container lies above the scroll casing and a surface bounding the lower side of the discharge passage is inclined upwardly from the inlet toward the outlet.

Preferably the discharge passage has a centriodal axis defined along a locus of centroid positions for a plurality of transverse discharge passage sections along a length of the discharge passage and the centroidal axis is inclined upwardly toward the outlet.

Preferably the apparatus further comprises a motor drivingly connected to the fan and received in the scroll casing, wherein a common axis of rotation of the motor and fan is substantially coaxial with the central axis.

Preferably vanes are provided in the inlet for supporting an end of the coolant member. The vanes are preferably substantially radially aligned and project into an axial recess in the fan.

Preferably the apparatus further comprises a base defining first and second liquid reservoirs, a liquid atomizing device disposed in the discharge passage for dispensing liquid droplets into air flow from the discharge passage, a liquid conduit extending from the liquid atomizing device to the first reservoir and a channel extending between the container and the second reservoir for directing condensation formed on the coolant member to the second reservoir.

In another aspect the invention provides a method of personal cooling employing a personal cooling apparatus including a substantially tubular container having inner and outer ends, the container being made of thermally insulating material or being thermally insulated, a scroll casing with an axial inlet in communication with the inner end of the container; a centrifugal fan positioned within the scroll casing, the scroll casing defining a discharge passage with a cross-sectional area that increases toward an outlet at an end thereof, wherein axially opposing faces of the discharge passage are divergent, and the cross section of the discharge passage adjacent the outlet has a shape elongated substantially in the axial direction, the method comprising:

placing a metallic can within the container, wherein the can is sealed and holds a beverage chilled below ambient temperature or frozen;

allowing air cooled by contact with the can to fall into the scroll casing; actuating the fan to extract cold air from within the container and impel an outflow of cold air from the scroll casing, and

directing the air outflow from a outlet at an end of the scroll casing for personal cooling.

Preferably the air flow from the can is drawn through a substantially annular channel between the metallic can and the tubular container.

Preferably the can protrudes from the upper end and the air flow into the container is funneled through the upper end which tapers inwardly from its rim.

This invention provides a device for personal cooling which is effective and efficient in operational use, and which by accumulating cooled air which is lost in typical prior art designs, provides for improved cooling performance. The device may be economically constructed and has an overall simple design which minimizes manufacturing costs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred forms of the present invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of an exemplary embodiment of the personal cooling apparatus of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear pictorial view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an exploded pictorial view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a section in an upright plane of the apparatus of FIG. 1, extending transversely through the discharge passage showing both the can and filter on opposing sides of the centreline;

FIG. 5 is plan view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 6 and 7 are front and rear elevations respectively of the apparatus of FIG. 1, and

FIGS. 8 and 9 are left and right side elevations respectively of the apparatus of FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the drawings, a cordless personal cooling apparatus 1 includes a tubular container 2 with an open top end 3 and an outwardly tapered lip 4. The container 2 has a central axis 5 and an open bottom end 6 axially opposing the top end 3. The bottom end 6 is removably received in an annular flange 7 formed on the upper, outer end of a scroll casing 10. Axially elongated ribs 8 project inwardly from the walls of the container 2 and are angularly spaced apart. The ribs 8 serve to define air flow channels and to centrally locate a coolant member having cylindrical walls, and which may take the form of a chilled and sealed beverage can 9a (shown in section in FIG. 4) or a vessel 9b (shown protruding from the container 2 in FIG. 1) holding a liquid with a low freezing temperature, such as a water and glycol mix. The vessel 9b includes circumferentially spaced protrusions 46 which are supported upon the rim of the container 2 and define recesses 47 therebetween. The container 2 is moulded from polymer such as polycarbonate having thermal insulating properties.

A centrifugal fan 11 having a plurality of blades 12 is enclosed in the scroll casing 10 and driven by an electric motor 13. The motor 13 and fan 11 are aligned axially below the container 2.

The scroll casing 10 includes upper and lower parts 15, 16 which are joined in a transverse plane to enclose the fan 11. The annular flange 7 is formed on upper part 15 around an inlet aperture 17. Vanes 19 integral with the upper part 15 are aligned radially within the aperture 17, the radially outer ends joining the flange 7 and the inner ends projecting axially into a circular recess 18 in the top of the fan 11. The edges of the vanes 18 support the end of the can 9a. A concavity 20 in the upper part 15 defines an upper surface 21 of a spiral discharge passage 22 extending between the fan 11 and the outlet 23.

The lower part 16 of the scroll casing 10 cooperates with the upper part 15 to enclose the fan 11 and define the discharge passage 22. The lower part 16 defines a lower surface 28 and a radially outer face 29 of the discharge passage 22. The part 28a of the lower surface 28 adjacent the outlet 23 is outwardly spaced apart from the part 28b of the lower surface 28 adjacent the fan 11 and the lower surface 28 joining the parts 28a, 28b is smoothly and progressively tapered. The cross-sectional area of the discharge passage 22 increases toward the outlet 23, with the axially opposing inner and outer surfaces 21, 28 diverging. The discharge passage 22 has a centriodal axis defined along a locus of centroid positions 36 for a plurality of transverse sections along a length of the discharge passage 22. The centroidal axis is spiroidal and inclined upwardly toward outlet 23.

A rib-like member 30 in the discharge passage 22 has a convex face 31 that protrudes from the lower surface 28 and defines a downwardly opening recess 32 which holds an ionizing device or associated wiring (not shown), as well as wiring for connection to an LED 33. The member 30 is elongated to extend along the discharge passage 22 longitudinally and is arcuate, with opposing side walls having a curve complementary to the radially outer face 29. Mounted to the lower part 16 are control buttons 26 and an indicator lamp 27.

A louvre assembly 24 is mounted at the outlet 23 for varying the direction of outlet air flow in the vertical direction. Generally parallel louvres 25 are vertically spaced across the outlet 23 and mounted by pivots (not shown) at their opposing longitudinal ends. The louvres 25 are mutually connected by a bar 35 to rotate together. An aperture 50 is provided in a louvre-supporting frame 37 at the base of the louvre assembly 24 and receives an ultrasonic atomizing device 38 for introducing water into the air flow from the apparatus 1. With the atomizing device 38 operating a fine, visible mist is produced which provides evaporative cooling of the air. By directing this air flow against the skin a fine spray of water is deposited, which provides further cooling as it evaporates.

The scroll casing 10 is supported upon a base 40 to which it is releasably fastened. Enclosed within the base 40 is a compartment 41 for holding batteries 42 electrically connected to a coupling 43 at the top of the base 40 by which current is supplied to the components mounted in the scroll casing 10. First and second water reservoirs 56, 57 are also provided in the base 40. A wick 45 has one end which protrudes from the base 40 to engage the atomizing device 38 and an opposing end received in the first reservoir 56. A liquid conduit 55 extends from the scroll casing 10 into the second reservoir 57 for carrying condensation formed on the outside of the beverage can 9a or a vessel 9b.

The apparatus 1 is provided with a filter 65, best seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, having a corrugated, frustoconical paper filter element 66 supported between an annular mount 67 and a cap 68 at axially opposing ends. Inner and outer filter discs 69, 70 cover the axial inlet end of the filter element 2 and may be washable. When it is not desired to employ a beverage can 9a or a vessel 9b, the filter 65 is instead mounted. The filter element 66 is received within the container 2, with the cap 68 lowermost and the annular mount 67 supported upon the rim 4.

FIGS. 5 and 7-9 also show two clips 56 elongated generally parallel to one another with their inner ends releasably fixed to the scroll housing 10. The outer ends of the clips 56 may be engaged to grasp a fixture, for securing the apparatus in place.

In use, with the apparatus 1 upright as illustrated the can 9a (or alternatively, the vessel 9b) is placed into the container 2. Before the fan 11 is operated air cooled by contact with the can 9a falls into the scroll casing 10 where it is retained and is largely prevented from being lost through the outlet 23 by the fan blades and the upward inclination of the discharge passage 22. When the fan 11 is operated, air is drawn axially downwardly through the annular space around the can 9a before it is directed through the outlet 23.

It will be understood that, although the apparatus is primarily intended to be used for personal cooling, it may also be used to provide some personal heating using hot water in the container 2. It also lends itself to be used for cooling drinks, or baby's feeding bottles. The container 2 may also be removed from the top of the apparatus, and replaced with an air filter (not shown).

Aspects of the present invention have been described by way of example only and it should be appreciated that modifications and additions may be made thereto without departing from the scope thereof.

Claims

1. A personal air conditioning apparatus comprising:

a container for holding a coolant member and admitting incoming air for cooling, the container having a central axis with axially opposing outer and inner ends, the outer end being open for passage of the coolant member and the inner end being open for the passage of air;
a centrifugal fan having a plurality of circumferentially spaced blades for generating an air flow;
a scroll casing, the fan being positioned within the scroll casing, the scroll casing defining a discharge passage with a cross-sectional area that increases toward an outlet at an end of the scroll casing, wherein axially opposing faces of the discharge passage are divergent, and the cross-sectional area of the discharge passage adjacent the outlet has a shape elongated substantially in an axial direction; and
an inlet in the scroll casing in communication with the inner end of the container, wherein, with the apparatus in an upright position, the inner end of the container lies above the scroll casing and a surface bounding a lower side of the discharge passage is inclined upwardly from the inlet toward the outlet.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the discharge passage has a centriodal axis defined along a locus of centroid positions for a plurality of transverse discharge passage sections along a length of the discharge passage and the centroidal axis is inclined upwardly toward the outlet.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a motor drivingly connected to the fan and received in the scroll casing, wherein a common axis of rotation of the motor and the fan is substantially coaxial with the central axis.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 including vanes located in the inlet for supporting an end of the coolant member.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the vanes are substantially radially aligned and project into an axial recess in the fan.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising:

a base defining first and second liquid reservoirs;
a liquid atomizing device disposed in the discharge passage for dispensing liquid droplets into air flow from the discharge passage;
a liquid conduit extending from the liquid atomizing device to the first reservoir; and
a channel extending between the container and the second reservoir for directing condensation forned on the coolant member to the second reservoir.

7. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the motor is received in a recess

in the scroll casing.

8. A method of personal cooling employing a personal cooling apparatus including a substantially tubular container having inner and outer ends, the container being made of thermally insulating material or being thermally insulated, a scroll casing with an axial inlet in communication with the inner end of the container; a centrifugal fan positioned within the scroll casing, the scroll casing defining a discharge passage with a cross-sectional area that increases toward an outlet at an end thereof wherein axially opposing faces of the discharge passage are divergent, and the cross section of the discharge passage adjacent the outlet has a shape elongated substantially in the axial direction, the method comprising:

placing a metallic can within the container, wherein the can is sealed and holds a beverage chilled below ambient temperature or frozen;
allowing air cooled by contact with the can to fall into the scroll casing;
actuating the fan to extract cold air from within the container and impel an outflow of cold air from the scroll casing, and
directing the air outflow from a outlet at an end of the scroll casing for personal cooling.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein the air flow from the can is drawn through a substantially annular channel between the metallic can and the tubular container.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein the can protrudes from the upper end and the air flow into the container is funneled through the upper end which tapers inwardly from its rim.

11. A personal air conditioning apparatus comprising:

a container holding a coolant member and admitting incoming air for cooling, the container having a central axis with axially opposing outer and inner ends, the outer end being open for passage of the coolant member and the inner end being open for the passage of air;
a centrifugal fan having a plurality of circumferentially spaced blades for generating an air flow;
a motor drivingly connected to the fan, a common axis of rotation of the motor and the fan being substantially coaxial with the central axis;
a scroll casing, the fan being positioned within the scroll casing, the scroll casing defining a discharge passage with a cross-sectional area that increases toward an outlet at an end the scroll casing, wherein axially opposing faces of the discharge passage are divergent, and the cross-sectional area of the discharge passage adjacent the outlet has a shape elongated substantially in an axial direction;
an inlet in the scroll casing in communication with the inner end of an container;
substantially radially aligned vanes located in the inlet for supporting an end of the coolant member and projecting into an axial recess in the fan, wherein,
the inner end of the container lies above the scroll casing and a surface bounding a lower side of the discharge passage is inclined upwardly from the inlet toward the outlet,
the discharge passage has a centriodal axis defined along a locus of centroid positions for a plurality of transverse discharge passage sections along a length of the discharge passage and
the centroidal axis is inclined upwardly toward the outlet.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 further comprising:

a base defining a liquid reservoir;
a liquid atomizing device disposed in the discharge passage for dispensing liquid droplets into air flow from the discharge passage;
a liquid conduit extending from the liquid atomizing device to the reservoir; and
a channel extending between the container and the reservoir for directing condensation formed on the coolant member to the reservoir.

Patent History

Publication number: 20090143004
Type: Application
Filed: Nov 29, 2007
Publication Date: Jun 4, 2009
Applicant: C ENTERPRISE (HK) LIMITED (Hong Kong)
Inventors: Cheuk Hung Tam (Hong Kong), Christopher Thomas Elsworthy (Bristol)
Application Number: 11/946,964

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Including Specific Air Distributor (e.g., Register, Etc.) (454/284); Combined Or Convertible (239/289)
International Classification: F24F 13/08 (20060101); F24F 13/00 (20060101);