Title:
Heat Exchanger Having an Integral Air Guide
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A heat exchanger (40) includes a first header (42), a second header (44), and a plurality of tubes (46) extending between the first and second headers (42, 44). First and second extension members (48, 52) project from and are longitudinally oriented along a frontward facing side (50) of the headers (42, 44). The first and second extension members (48, 52) serve as guides for facilitating airflow through the heat exchanger (40). Third and fourth extension members (54, 58) project from and are longitudinally oriented along a rearward facing side (56) of the headers (42, 44). The third and fourth extension members (54, 58) serve to seal a gap between the heat exchanger (40) and an adjacent radiator (26), and guide airflow from the heat exchanger (40) through the radiator (26).



Inventors:
Mathur, Gursaran Das (Farmington Hills, MI, US)
Burton, Quincy Raniel (Southfield, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/906699
Publication Date:
09/07/2006
Filing Date:
03/02/2005
Assignee:
CALSONICKANSEI NORTH AMERICA, INC. (27000 Hills Tech Court, Farmington Hills, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F28D7/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FLANIGAN, ALLEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MESCHKOW & GRESHAM, P.L.C. (5727 NORTH SEVENTH STREET, SUITE 409, PHOENIX, AZ, 85014, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A heat exchanger comprising; a first header; a second header; a plurality of tubes extending between said first and second headers; and an extension member projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, one of said first and second headers.

2. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1 wherein said heat exchanger is configured for installation in a vehicle and said extension member projects from a frontward facing side of said one of said first and second headers.

3. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1 wherein said heat exchanger is configured for installation in a vehicle and said extension member projects from a rearward facing side of said one of said first and second headers.

4. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 3 wherein said vehicle further comprises a radiator positioned proximate said rearward facing side of said one of said first and second headers, and said extension member projects toward said radiator to form a seal between said one of said first and second headers and said radiator.

5. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1 wherein said extension member projects substantially perpendicular relative to said plurality of tubes.

6. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1 wherein said extension member projects in a direction to form an acute angle between said extension member and said plurality of tubes.

7. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1 wherein said extension member projects in a direction to form an obtuse angle between said extension member and said plurality of tubes.

8. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1 wherein said extension member is a first extension member, and said heat exchanger further comprises a second extension member projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, another of said first and second headers.

9. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1 wherein said extension member is a first extension member, and said heat exchanger further comprises a second extension member projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, said one of said first and second headers.

10. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 9 wherein said second extension member diametrically opposes said first extension member on an outer surface of said one of said first and second headers.

11. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 9 wherein said one of said first and second headers comprises: a first section having a first pair of longitudinally oriented edges, said first extension member extending from said first section; and a second section having a second pair of longitudinally oriented edges bonded to said first pair of longitudinally oriented edges, said second extension member extending from said second section.

12. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1 wherein said extension member further comprises a fastening portion configured to enable attachment of a separate structure.

13. A heat exchanger configured for installation in a vehicle comprising: a first header; a second header; plurality of tubes extending between said first and second headers; first extension member projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, a frontward facing side of said first header; and second extension member projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, said frontward facing side of said second header.

14. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 13 further comprising; a third extension member projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, a rearward facing side of said first header; and a fourth extension member projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, said rearward facing side of said second header.

15. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 14 wherein said vehicle further comprises a radiator positioned proximate said rearward facing side of said first and second headers, and said third and fourth extension members project toward said radiator to form a seal between said first and second headers and said radiator.

16. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 14 wherein: said third extension member diametrically opposes said first extension member on a first outer surface of said first header; and said fourth extension member diametrically opposes said second extension member on a second outer surface of said second header.

17. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 14 wherein each of said first and second headers comprises: a first section having a first pair of longitudinally oriented edges, and an associated one of said first and second extension members extends from said first section; and a second section having a second pair of longitudinally oriented edges bonded to said first pair of longitudinally oriented edges, and an associated one or said third and fourth extension members extends from said second section.

18. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 13 wherein each of said first and second extension members further comprises a fastening portion configured to enable attachment of a separate structure.

19. A heat exchanger configured for installation in a vehicle comprising: a first header; a second header; a plurality of tubes extending between said first and second headers; a first extension member projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, a rearward facing side of said first header; and a second extension member projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, said rearward facing side of said second header.

20. A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 19 wherein said vehicle further comprises a radiator positioned proximate said rearward facing side of said first and second headers, and said first and second extension members project toward said radiator to form a seal between said first and second headers and said radiator.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of air management in a vehicular front end. More specifically, the present invention relates to a heat exchanger for a vehicle having an air guide.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A motor vehicle, such as an automobile, truck, and the like, typically has an engine compartment located at the front of the vehicle. A radiator, that is part of the engine's cooling system, is typically mounted in front of the engine in the engine compartment. When the vehicle is equipped with air conditioning, a condenser mounts in front of the radiator. The condenser and radiator are cooled by air that passes through them. The air may be forced through the condenser and radiator by ram air effect when the vehicle is in forward motion, and/or by being drawn through the condenser and radiator by a cooling fan typically located directly behind the radiator.

FIG. 1 shows a perspective exploded view of a portion of an engine compartment of a vehicle 20. The engine compartment is schematically portrayed in FIG. 1 and is generally referred to as engine compartment 22 which contains an engine 24, also portrayed schematically. A first heat exchanger, in the form of a radiator 26 for engine 24, is disposed in front of engine 24, and a cooling fan 28 is located between radiator 26 and engine 24. A second heat exchanger, in the form of a condenser 30 for a vehicular air conditioning system, is disposed in front of radiator 26.

Seals 32 are typically positioned between condenser 30 and radiator 26. Seals 32 form a tight seal between condenser 30 and radiator 26 so that air forced through condenser 30 is pulled through radiator 26, rather than around radiator 26. The flow of air around radiator 26 can result in inefficient cooling of engine 24, which can lead to undesirable and potentially damaging overheating of engine 24. In addition, seals 32 function to prevent the build-up of debris between the front of radiator 26 and the back of condenser 30. Debris in this area undesirably obstructs the flow of air through radiator 26 which again can lead to overheating of engine 24.

Condenser 30 generally includes a plurality of condenser tubes 34 extending between a first header 36 and a second header 38, each of which have a generally circular cross-section. First and second headers 36 and 38 feed high-pressure refrigerant from the compressor (not shown) into condenser tubes 34 where it is cooled until it returns to its liquid state, in accordance with well known methodologies.

A problem with prior art condenser/radiator cooling systems, such as condenser 30 and radiator 26, is that of insufficient airflow through condenser 30 and radiator 26. This problem can even arise in new systems that have not yet been contaminated with debris. Insufficient airflow through condenser 30 and radiator 26 undesirably hinders heat rejection from condenser 30 and radiator 26. Insufficient airflow and a commensurate reduction in heat rejection is exacerbated when the vehicle is traveling in low-speed and/or high-load operating conditions, when the vehicle is traveling in “stop-and-go” conditions, and when the vehicle is simply idling.

Insufficient heat rejection at condenser 30 can cause an increase in head pressure of the air conditioning system, thereby reducing air conditioner cooling performance. An increase in head pressure can additionally increase the power consumption of the air conditioning compressor thereby reducing gas mileage. Insufficient heat rejection at radiator 26 can reduce engine cooling system performance, thereby resulting in elevated temperatures in engine compartment 22. These elevated temperatures may be sufficiently high to create thermally induced problems in certain components of the vehicle.

Another problem with systems such as that described above, is that seals 32 between condenser 30 and radiator 26 can be breached or can fall off due to moisture, salt, heat, cold, adhesive issues, and age-related issues. The failure of seals 32 can lead to further airflow inefficiencies through radiator 26, and can lead to the undesirable accumulation of debris between condenser 30 and radiator 26.

Accordingly, what is needed is a guide for facilitating airflow through a heat exchanger, and especially through a condenser and radiator of a vehicle. What is further needed is a durable means for sealing between the condenser and radiator.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an advantage of the present invention that a heat exchanger for a vehicle is provided that facilitates airflow through the heat exchanger.

Another advantage of the present invention is that a heat exchanger, in the form of a condenser, is provided that enhances heat rejection by the condenser and an adjacent radiator.

Another advantage of the present invention is that a heat exchanger, in the form of a condenser, is provided that eliminates utilization of a separate sealing element between the condenser and an adjacent radiator.

The above and other advantages of the present invention are carried out in one form by a heat exchanger that includes a first header, a second header, and a plurality of tubes extending between the first and second headers. An extension member projects from, and is longitudinally oriented, along one of the first and second headers.

The above and other advantages of the present invention are carried out in another form by a heat exchanger configured for installation in a vehicle. The heat exchanger includes a first header, a second header, and a plurality of tubes extending between the first and second headers. A first extension member projects from, and is longitudinally oriented along, a frontward facing side of the first header, and a second extension member projects from, and is longitudinally oriented along, the frontward facing side of the second header.

The above and other advantages of the present invention are carried out in yet another form by a heat exchanger configured for installation in a vehicle. The heat exchanger includes a first header, a second header, and a plurality of tubes extending between the first and second headers. A first extension member projects from, and is longitudinally oriented along, a rearward facing side of the first header, and a second extension member projects from, and is longitudinally oriented along, the rearward facing side of the second header.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the present invention may be derived by referring to the detailed description and claims when considered in connection with the Figures, wherein like reference numbers refer to similar items throughout the Figures, and:

FIG. 1 shows an exploded perspective view of a portion of an engine compartment of a vehicle;

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a heat exchanger in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 shows a cross-sectional view of a header of the heat exchanger of FIG.2;

FIG. 4 shows an exploded perspective view of a portion of an engine compartment of a vehicle including the heat exchanger of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of the heat exchanger proximate a radiator;

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of a heat exchanger in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 shows a cross-sectional view of a header of the heat exchanger of FIGS. 2 and 6 in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 shows a cross-sectional view of a header of the heat exchanger of FIGS. 2 and 6 in accordance with another alternative embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention entails a guide for improving air management through a heat exchanger. This improvement in air management is described in connection with heat exchangers found in the front end of vehicles. These heat exchangers include, for example, a condenser and a radiator. However, it will become apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention may be adapted for various heat exchanger designs, and is not limited to heat exchangers for use in vehicles.

Referring to FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a heat exchanger 40 in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 3 shows a cross-sectional view of a first header 42 of heat exchanger 40, and FIG. 4 shows an exploded perspective view of a portion of engine compartment 22 of vehicle 20 including heat exchanger 40.

For purposes of illustration, heat exchanger 40 is a condenser for a vehicle air conditioning system, the remaining components of which are not shown. As such the heat exchanger illustrated in FIGS. 2-4 will be referred to hereinafter as condenser 40. In addition, condenser 40 can readily replace condenser 30 of vehicle 20, illustrated in FIG. 1. Accordingly, comparable components from FIG. 1 retain the same reference numerals in FIG. 4.

Condenser 40 includes first header 42 and a second header 44. A plurality of tubes 46 extends between first and second headers 42 and 44, respectively, for passing refrigerant between first and second headers 42 and 44. First header 42 includes a first extension member 48 projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, a frontward facing side 50 of first header 42. Similarly, second header 44 includes a second extension member 52 projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, frontward facing side 50 of second header 44. First header 42 further includes a third extension member 54 projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, a rearward facing side 56 of first header 42. Likewise, second header 44 includes a fourth extension member 58 projecting from, and longitudinally oriented along, rearward facing side 56 of second header 44.

For clarity of understanding, the term “frontward facing side” utilized herein generally refers to the side of condenser 40 that faces frontward in vehicle 20, while the term “rearward facing side” generally refers to the side of condenser 40 that faces backward, or toward engine 24, in vehicle 20.

In a preferred embodiment, first and third extension members 48 and 54, respectively, project from first header 42 substantially perpendicular relative to tubes 46, as most clearly illustrated in FIG. 3. In addition, third extension member 54 diametrically opposes first extension member 48 on an outer surface 60 of first header 42. That is, first and third extension members 48 and 54, respectively, are located on opposite sides, and along the diameter of first header 42. Likewise, second and fourth extension members 52 and 58, respectively, project from second header 44 substantially perpendicular relative to tubes 46, and fourth extension member 58 diametrically opposes second extension member 52 on an outer surface 62 of second header 44.

Each of first and second headers 42 and 44, respectively, may be formed from two sections that are bonded together. As most clearly illustrated in FIG. 3, first header 42 includes a first section 64 from which first extension member 48 extends, and a second section 66 from which third extension member 54 extends. First section 64 has a first pair of longitudinally oriented edges 68, and second section 66 has a second pair of longitudinally oriented edges 70. First and second pairs of edges 68 and 70 can be welded, brazed, or otherwise adhered to one another during manufacturing to form first header 42. Alternatively, and as known to those skilled in the art, first and second headers 42 and 44, respectively, may be shaped into a continuous form utilizing a conventional extrusion manufacturing technique. The outcome of either of the manufacturing techniques is first and third extension members 48 and 54, respectively, integrally formed with first header 42, and second and fourth extension members 52 and 58 integrally formed with second header 44.

Referring to FIG. 5, in connection with FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of condenser 40 proximate radiator 26. As shown, radiator 26 is positioned proximate rearward facing side 56, and third and fourth extension members 54 and 58, respectively, extend toward radiator 26. In such a capacity, third and fourth extension members 54 and 58 form a seal between first and second headers 42 and 44, respectively, and radiator 26. Consequently, third and fourth extension members 54 and 58 can be utilized in place of seals 32 (FIG. 1). Thus, greater durability of the sealing mechanism is achieved through the utilization of third and fourth extension members 54 and 58 that are integral to first and second headers 42 and 44, respectively. In addition, cost savings are achieved, through the elimination of the material cost of seals 32 and the labor cost for installation of seals 32.

As well known to those skilled in the art, in a vapor compression system, vapor refrigerant is compressed in the compressor, where its temperature is raised above the temperature of the cooling medium used at the condenser. Vaporized refrigerant then enters condenser 40, and into tubes 46, where heat is rejected from the refrigerant, and the refrigerant changes to a liquid. The liquid refrigerant subsequently exits from condenser 40 and enters a thermal expansion valve (not shown), which controls the quantity of liquid refrigerant passing to the evaporator coils (not shown). Finally, the liquid refrigerant enters the evaporator and evaporates. Heat from the ambient atmosphere, for example, in a vehicle passenger compartment, is rejected to the refrigerant in the evaporator where it is absorbed as the latent heat of vaporization as the refrigerant evaporates. The now vaporized refrigerant is then directed to the compressor to be recycled through the system.

First and second extension members 48 and 52, respectively, serve as guides to direct airflow entering at the front of vehicle 20 through condenser 40 at frontward facing side 50, rather than around condenser 40. Third and fourth extension members 54 and 58 seal the gap between condenser 40 and radiator 26, and guide airflow from condenser 40 through radiator 26, rather than around radiator 26.

First and second extension members 48 and 52 facilitate an increase in airflow through condenser 40 and, correspondingly, radiator 26 over prior art systems, such as condenser 30 (FIG. 1). An increase of airflow through condenser 40 and radiator 26 improves vehicle air conditioning system and engine cooling system performance, especially in low-speed and/or high-load operating conditions, when the vehicle is traveling in “stop-and-go” conditions, and when the vehicle is simply idling. More specifically, increased airflow through condenser 40 and radiator 26 results in higher heat rejection from condenser 40 and radiator 26.

Higher heat rejection from condenser 40 reduces the head pressure of the air conditioning system, thereby improving system performance, or coefficient of performance (COP). Consequently, the vent outlet and cabin temperatures improve, resulting in increased comfort for the passengers. In addition, a reduction in head pressure reduces power consumption by the compressor resulting in improved gas mileage, and a commensurate reduction in tail pipe emissions. Similarly, higher heat rejection from radiator 26 results in improved engine cooling, thereby reducing the potential for engine component failure.

In a preferred embodiment, condenser 40 has both frontward facing first and second extension members 48 and 52, respectively, and rearward facing third and fourth extension members 54 and 58, respectively. However, it should be understood that modifications thereof are within the scope of the present invention, and depend upon particular design considerations. For example, a condenser may include frontward facing first and second extension members 48 and 52, but not rearward facing third and fourth extension members 54 and 58. As such, the conventional seals 32 (FIG. 1) might be used with such a condenser. In another configuration, a condenser might include rearward facing third and fourth extension members 54 and 58, but not the frontward facing first and second extension members 48 and 52, so as to replace the less durable conventional seals 32.

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of condenser 40 in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention. Condenser 40 has been modified to illustrate an additional feature of the present invention. As shown, each of first extension member 48 of first header 42 and second extension member 52 of second header 44 has been modified to include a fastening portion 72.

Fastening portion 72 is a region on each of first and second extension members 48 and 52 that is configured to enable attachment of a separate structure. Fastening portion 72 may include holes, clip nuts, indentations, and so forth that facilitate the attachment of a separate structure. In this exemplary scenario, the separate structure is an oil cooler 73. Oil cooler 73 is a small heat exchanger that is utilized to cool the engine oil or the automatic transmission fluid. As air passes through oil cooler 73, heat from the oil is rejected to the air. Accordingly, oil cooler 73 can benefit from increased heat rejection produced utilizing first and second extension members 48 and 52 for managing airflow through oil cooler 73, and correspondingly, condenser 40 and radiator 26. Other structures may optionally be coupled to first and second extension members 48 and 52, such as fluid supply lines, and the like.

FIG. 7 shows a cross-sectional view of a header 74 for condenser 40 (FIG. 2) in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention. Header 74 may be utilized in place of first header 42. It should be understood however, that replacement of second header 44 (FIG. 2) with a header having the features of header 74, will be a mirror image of header 74.

A first extension member 76 projects from, and extends longitudinally along frontward facing side 50 of header 74. A second extension member 78 projects from, and extends longitudinally along rearward facing side 56 of header 74. As shown, first extension member 76 projects in such a direction so as to form an acute angle 80 between first extension member 76 and tubes 46 (shown in ghost form). Such a configuration may effectively channel airflow through condenser 40 (FIG. 2), while concurrently addressing space design considerations within engine compartment 22 (FIG. 4).

FIG. 8 shows a cross-sectional view of a header 82 for the condenser 40 (FIG. 2) in accordance with another alternative embodiment of the present invention. Header 82 may also be utilized in place of first header 42. It should be understood however, that replacement of second header 44 (FIG. 2) with a header in accordance with the features of header 82, will be a mirror image of header 82.

A first extension member 84 projects from, and extends longitudinally along frontward facing side 50 of header 82. A second extension member 86 projects from, and extends longitudinally along rearward facing side 56 of header 82. As shown, first extension member 84 projects in such a direction so as to form an obtuse angle 88 between first extension member 84 and tubes 46 (shown in ghost form). Such a configuration may serve to funnel additional air through condenser 40 and radiator 26 (FIG. 2) to further enhance heat rejection, when there is enough space to accommodate the outwardly flared first extension member 84.

In summary, the present invention teaches of a heat exchanger for a vehicle that facilitates airflow through the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger, in the form of a condenser, includes extension members projecting from a frontward facing side of the headers that improve airflow through the condenser and an adjacent radiator to enhance heat rejection by same. In addition, the heat exchanger includes extension members projecting from a rearward facing side of the headers that form a durable seal between the condenser and the adjacent radiator, so that separate sealing elements need not be employed.

Although the preferred embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described in detail, it will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention or from the scope of the appended claims. For example, when a condenser is not used in a vehicle, the vehicular radiator may include extension sections that funnel, or channel, airflow through the radiator. In addition, extension members integral to the headers may be adapted for use with a variety of heat exchangers.