DOMESTIC CLOTHES DRYER AND METHOD FOR DRIVING SUCH DRYERS
Clothes dryers that distribute air through one or more lifters are disclosed. An example domestic clothes dryer includes a rotating drum defining a drying chamber, an air inlet upstream the drum, and lifter mounted in the drum, wherein said lifter is in communication with the air inlet for distributing air inside the drum through a plurality of openings. An example air inlet includes a shaped air plenum chamber facing a lower portion of a rear perforated wall of the drum and capable of delivering air to said lifter and/or directly to the drum through said rear perforated wall.
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This application claims priority from European Patent Application 13154316.7 filed on Feb. 7, 2013, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.TECHNICAL FIELD
The present disclosure relates to clothes dryers and, more particularly, to clothes dryers that distribute air through one or more lifters.BACKGROUND
JP-A-9056991 describes a lifter fixed at the periphery part of a rotary drum and cylindrical seals are fixed at the outer periphery of an air intake plenum and of an air exhaust plenum, so that a circulation passage is formed on the back of the rear wall of the drum. The use of two concentric air plenum chambers and related seals makes the above known solution quite complex and not easy to be implemented. Moreover in the above known solution the process hot air is flowing always and entirely through the lifters, even if the lifters are in an upper position during drum rotation. In this condition, i.e. when the lifters are not in contact with clothes, the effectiveness of having air flowing in the lifter is substantially reduced. Another disadvantage of the above known solution is that it cannot be adapted to traditional dryers where air flow enters the drum from a perforated rear wall and leaves the drum from an aperture placed adjacent the front opening of the drum.SUMMARY
It is an object of this disclosure to provide a tumble clothes dryer that does not present the above disadvantages and which can provider higher drying performances, better fabric care and reduced wrinkles.
The above object is reached thanks to the features listed in the appended claims.
One of the most relevant technical features of a dryer according to this disclosure is the use of a distribution device in the air inlet plenum chamber capable of delivering air to the drum either indirectly, i.e. through one or more lifters, or directly, i.e. though a rear perforated wall of the drum.
According to this disclosure, the distribution device is a shaped air plenum chamber which faces only a lower portion of the rear perforated wall, from its side opposite to the drum, so that air is delivered to the drum only though the lower portion of the rear perforated wall. Therefore, when the position of the lifter during rotation of the drum corresponds to the shaped air plenum chamber, air is flowing entirely or partially through the lifter, and when the position of the lifter does not correspond to said air plenum chamber, air is flowing through the plurality of holes of the rear wall of the drum facing the shaped air plenum chamber. The shape of said plenum chamber, together with the shape of an air conveying base portion of the lifter orthogonal to the active portion of the lifter on the drum side wall (such base portion covering, at a predetermined distance, a part of the perforated rear wall of the drum in order to create a sort of inner chamber) will be responsible on the amplitude of arc during which air is delivered through the lifter.
In one example, the shape of the base portion of the lifter covers substantially a circular sector covering from 60° to 100° of arc of the perforated rear wall of the drum, while the air plenum chamber covers an area a bit wider than said base portion of the lifter, so that at least a percentage of process air flows always through the perforated wall also when the lifter, during its rotation with the drum, it is in a lower portion of the drying chamber. This has been found beneficial in terms of drying efficiency and energy saving.
The use of lifters for blowing air into the drum as described herein can be implemented without significant modification of existing machines. Moreover, as described herein the air is flowing through the lifter only if this latter is aligned with the distribution device (i.e. inlet air plenum chamber). In this way air flows in the lifter only when this latter is in contact with clothes, i.e. in the lower part of its circular trajectory.
Another advantage derives from use of a dedicated cycle and the use of separate actuation for drum tumbling and air blowing that enables energy saving and reduced fabric shrinkage. For instance, the use of “blowing lifters” (i.e. use of lifters though which process air can be fed to the drum) increases significantly the drying evenness with respect to traditional dryers, particularly because air flows where it is needed, towards clothes placed in the bottom of the drum, on the lifter, where in the above known solution most of the air would flow through the upper lifter and only a limited part would flow through clothes therefore reducing significantly the efficiency of the overall drying process.
Further advantages and features of this disclosure will be clear from the following detailed description, with reference to the attached drawings, in which:
With reference to
The clothes dryer 10 also includes an air inlet channel 30 (see
The drum outlet 32, where a removable filter 33 for removing fluff or lint is placed, can be eventually connected to the drum inlet 30 thus realizing a closed loop system in which heat exchangers, resistors, heat pump, etc. control the condensation and heating process. As an alternative the drum outlet 32 can be connected to an air vent.
The lifter 18 functions not only to increase the heat exchange efficiency between air and clothes and improve the evenness of the drying result by means of clothes redistribution during the whole cycle, but also to improve the efficiency of hot air distribution.
A common drawback of known dryers is that when the load size increases to almost fill the drum volume, the efficiency of the lifter in redistributing the load within the drum is decreased thus leading to the risk of damaging the clothes that are positioned in the rear end of the dryer (where temperatures are higher) and reducing the evenness of drying results.
With a lifter design that allows not only the hot air to flow through the lifter 18 but also by means of a distribution of air through the lifter 18 only during a certain degree of rotation of the drum 16, the temperature gradient in the drum 16 is reduced and the evenness of drying is increased, reducing also the risk of clothes damaging.
The above controlled distribution is carried out by means of a shaped fixed distributor 34 which forms an air inlet plenum chamber upstream the drum 16. The shape of the distributor 34 (
In other examples, the enhanced lifter design can be combined with a dedicated cycle design, able to stop tumbling when the lifter 18 is located in a position that minimizes the temperature gradient. This approach can furthermore increase the above mentioned advantages and can provide also energy saving benefits due to reduced motor usage. One or more lifters of the type disclosed above can also be used together with one or more typical lifters that do not match the above description. Due to the fact that the lifter 18 is physically connected to the drum 16, during tumbling it changes its position with respect to the air inlet 34 thus leading to a variable air mass flow rate in the lifter 18 and in the drum 16. This is clearly shown in
The examples disclosed herein can improve significantly also the drying and fabric care performances with delicate cycles. As described above, aiming to reduce the mechanical action on this type of loads, the tumbling is often reduced or even avoided; this solution has the negative result of increasing the temperature gradient thus leading to the already discussed drawbacks. If the proposed lifter design is used, the machine can be designed to stop tumbling (for the whole cycle or only for part of it, also e.g., using a PWM approach) in a way that the air can flow through the lifter 18 to provide a means to optimize heat flux for these type of loads using appropriate design of the lifter. In some examples, the drum 16 is in a position where the lifter 18 lays on the bottom of the drum 16, thus having the clothes laying on it. The method used to stop the drum 16 in the correct position is well known in the art and it can be easily transferred from the known solutions for top loader washer for having the door in upwards location to facilitate loading and unloading of the drum.
Moreover, since air can flow through the lifter 18, the latter can be designed to host a cartridge containing a fragrance or some other chemical additives to improve quality of drying that can be released in the drum 16.
In some examples, the lifter 18 is used with a drum 16 having an air inlet and outlet port on opposite sides thus enabling fine optimization of heat fluxes. Nevertheless the examples disclosed herein can be applied to those drums in which inlet and outlet air connections are located on the same side (with a dedicated air collector similar to air distributor 34). In these examples the lifter 18 can be used to convey hot inlet air towards the opposite side of the drum 16, therefore improving significantly the heat flux distribution in the longitudinal direction.
13. A clothes dryer comprising:
- a rotating drum defining a treating chamber;
- an air inlet upstream the drum; and
- a lifter mounted to the drum, the lifter having a plurality of openings to convey air into the drum when the lifter is in a pre-determined position relative to the air inlet.
14. A clothes dryer as defined in claim 13, wherein the lifter is hollow.
15. A clothes dryer as defined in claim 13, wherein the air inlet includes a distribution device that delivers air to the lifter and/or directly to the drum through a perforated wall of the drum.
16. A clothes dryer as defined in claim 15, wherein the distribution device comprises an air plenum chamber facing a lower portion of the perforated wall of the drum.
17. A clothes dryer as defined in claim 15, wherein the shaped air plenum chamber has a shape substantially corresponding to the shape of a base part of the lifter.
18. A clothes dryer as defined in claim 13, wherein the lifter further comprises a base part mounted on a portion of a perforated wall of the drum to create an inner chamber.
19. A clothes dryer as defined in claim 18, wherein the base part has a circular wedge shape.
20. A clothes dryer as defined in claim 18, wherein the base part covers an arc between 60° and 100°.
21. A clothes dryer as defined in claim 13, further comprising a processor to selectively stop a rotation of the drum when the lifter is in a lower portion of the drying chamber.
22. A clothes dryer as defined in claim 13, wherein the lifter is configured to receive a removable cartridge or the like containing an additive.
23. A method for drying articles in a dryer including a drum defining a treating chamber, an air inlet upstream the drum, and a lifter mounted to the drum, the method comprising:
- rotating the drum;
- distributing air from the air inlet through openings in the lifter into the drum; and
- stopping rotation of the drum for a pre-determined period of time when the lifter is in a lower portion of the treating chamber.
24. A method as defined in claim 23, further comprising starting and stopping the drum when the lifter is in the lower portion according to a predetermined pattern.
25. A method as defined in claim 23, further comprising maintaining the drum in the stopped position for substantially all of a drying cycle.
26. A method for drying articles in a dryer including a drum defining a treating chamber, an air inlet upstream the drum, and a lifter mounted to the drum, the method comprising:
- rotating the drum; and
- distributing air from the air inlet through openings in the lifter into the drum only when the lifter is in a lower portion of the treating chamber.
International Classification: D06F 58/04 (20060101);