Title:
Ice build-up preventor for thermal chamber ports
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system for preventing the formation of ice about a port to a contained cooling area. The system includes a support tube that is adapted to pass through the port in a wall that forms part of the cooling area. The support tube is further adapted to provide a passage into the cooling area for a conduit. The support tube is still further adapted to contain dry nitrogen to prevent the formation of ice around the port.



Inventors:
Schultz, Robert A. (Maderia Beach, FL, US)
Hartney, Nicholas A. (St. Petersburg, FL, US)
Webb, Winston S. (Largo, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/343057
Publication Date:
08/02/2007
Filing Date:
01/30/2006
Assignee:
Honeywell International Inc. (Morristown, NJ, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25D21/10
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ALI, MOHAMMAD M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC. (PATENT SERVICES 115 Tabor Road P O BOX 249, MORRIS PLAINS, NJ, 07950, US)
Claims:
1. An ice prevention system for a contained cooling area, the system comprising: a support tube adapted to pass through a port in a wall that forms part of the cooling area, the support tube further adapted to provide a passage into the cooling area for a conduit, the support tube still further adapted to contain dry nitrogen to prevent the formation of ice around the port.

2. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a first boot adapted to cap a first end of the support tube that is contained in the cooling area, the first boot having a first boot aperture wherein the conduit passes through; and a second boot adapted to cap the second end of the support tube that is outside the cooling area, the second boot having a second boot aperture wherein the conduit passes through.

3. The system of claim 2, further comprising: a first support tube clamp adapted to secure the first boot to the first end of the support tube; and a second support tube clamp adapted to secure the second boot to the second end of the support tube.

4. The system of claim 2, further comprising: a first conduit clamp adapted to secure the conduit in the first boot aperture of the first boot; and a second conduit clamp adapted to secure the conduit in the second boot aperture of the second boot.

5. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a dry nitrogen input adapted to selectively input the dry nitrogen into the support tube.

6. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a dry nitrogen output adapted to selectively output the dry nitrogen from the support tube.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the dry nitrogen output is a solenoid adapted to expel the dry nitrogen from the support tube when pressure in the support tube exceeds a desired level.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the conduit is one of an electrical cable and a fluid carrying tube.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein the support tube is a PVC pipe.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein the contained cooling area is a thermal chamber.

11. A method of preventing ice from forming near a port of a contained cooling system, the method comprising: maintaining an amount of dry nitrogen near the port.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein maintaining the amount of dry nitrogen near the port further comprises: providing a flow of dry nitrogen to an input of a support tube that passes through the port; and allowing a relatively small flow of dry nitrogen to flow out of the support tube.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein allowing the relatively small amount of dry nitrogen to flow out of the support tube further comprises: allowing the relatively small flow of dry nitrogen to flow through at least one boot opening of a boot that caps an end of the support tube.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein allowing the relatively small amount of dry nitrogen to flow out of the support tube further comprises: selectively expelling the dry nitrogen out of an output in the support tube.

15. The method of claim 11, wherein maintaining an amount of dry nitrogen near the port further comprises: pressurizing with the dry nitrogen an interior chamber of a support tube that passes through the port to about 1 to 2 psi.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising: monitoring the pressure in the interior chamber of the support tube.

17. A method of forming an ice prevention device around a port to contained cooling area, the method comprising: positioning a support tube through the port so that a first end of the support tube is positioned in the contained cooling area and a second end is outside the contained cooling area; capping the first and second ends of the support tube; positioning a conduit through the support tube; and providing a dry nitrogen input to the support tube.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising: providing a dry nitrogen output from the support tube.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein capping the first and second ends of the support tube further comprises: clamping a first boot around the first end of the of support tube; and clamping a second boot around the second end of the of support tube.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein positioning the conduit through the support tube further comprises; clamping a portion of the first boot around the conduit; and clamping a portion of the second boot around the conduit.

21. An ice prevention system, the system comprising: a means to contain an amount of dry nitrogen about a port to a contained cooling system.

22. The system of claim 21, further comprising: a means to provided dry nitrogen to the means to contain the dry nitrogen; and a means to expel the dry nitrogen from the means to contain the dry nitrogen.

23. The system of claim 20, further comprising: a means to pass a conduit through the means to contain the dry nitrogen into the contained cooling system.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Electronic equipment is typically tested before they are sold as a product in the environmental conditions the equipment is likely to encounter in use. For example, for electronic equipment that will encounter cold temperatures during use, the electronic equipment is typically exposed to similar cold temperatures or even more extreme cold temperatures to see how the equipment will perform. One method of testing electronic devices for performance in cold temperatures is with a thermal chamber that is able to provide long cold soak periods. With this type of arrangement, the electronic device is placed in the thermal chamber and activated while its performance is monitored. To activate the device, a cable powering the electronic device is typically passed through a port or hole in a wall of the thermal chamber. To prevent the cold air from escaping from the port of the thermal chamber, foam or clay is typically packed around the cable at the port. However, with this arrangement, when the chamber is cold for an extended period of time, ice will form around the cable port. As the ice is formed, the cables providing the power to the electronic device are stressed. The ice can also damage the cables insulation causing shorts. Moreover, as the ice melts when the chamber is warmed, the water will runs down the cables which may short out the power supply or the electronic device in the chamber.

For the reasons stated above and for other reasons stated below which will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading and understanding the present specification, there is a need in the art for a system and method of preventing the formation of ice around input/output (I/O) ports of a contained cooling system.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The above-mentioned problems of current systems are addressed by embodiments of the present invention and will be understood by reading and studying the following specification.

In one embodiment, an ice prevention system for a contained cooling area is provided. The system includes a support tube that is adapted to pass through a port in a wall that forms part of the cooling area. The support tube is further adapted to provide a passage into the cooling area for a conduit. The support tube is still further adapted to contain dry nitrogen to prevent the formation of ice around the port.

In yet another embodiment, a method of preventing ice from forming near a port of a contained cooling system is provided. The method includes maintaining an amount of dry nitrogen near the port.

In still another embodiment, a method of forming an ice prevention device around a port to contained cooling area is provided. The method includes positioning a support tube through the port so that a first end of the support tube is positioned in the contained cooling area and a second end is outside the contained cooling area. Capping the first and second ends of the support tube. Positioning a conduit through the support tube and providing a dry nitrogen input to the support tube.

In further another embodiment, an ice prevention system is provided. The system includes a means to contain an amount of dry nitrogen about a port to a contained cooling system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention can be more easily understood and further advantages and uses thereof more readily apparent, when considered in view of the description of the preferred embodiments and the following figures in which:

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional diagram of a ice prevention system for a thermal chamber of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram illustrating one method of forming a ice prevention system of one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating one method of operating an ice prevention system of one embodiment of the present invention.

In accordance with common practice, the various described features are not drawn to scale but are drawn to emphasize specific features relevant to the present invention. Reference characters denote like elements throughout Figures and text.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the inventions may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical and electrical changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the present invention is defined only by the claims and equivalents thereof.

Embodiments of the present invention provide a system to prevent ice from forming around (near) ports into a contained cooling area such as a thermal chamber. The present invention places an amount of dry nitrogen around the ports into the contained cooling area thereby replacing moisture in air around the ports. Without the moisture, ice cannot form. Moreover, in embodiments of the present invention, the dry nitrogen is at room temperature which helps warm conduits (such as electrical cables, hydraulic lines and the like) before they exit the system and are exposed to normal atmospheric conditions.

Referring to FIG. 1, a cross-sectional view illustrating an ice prevention system 100 of one embodiment of the present invention is provided. This ice prevention system 100 is used in conjunction with a thermal chamber 122 in this embodiment. This is by way of example and not by way of limitation. The ice prevention system 100 and methods described in this specification can be used on any contained cooling area. The ice prevention system 100 includes a support tube 102. The support tube 102 is positioned through a port 124 (or aperture) in a wall of the thermal chamber 122. As illustrated, a first end 109 of the support tube 102 is located in the thermal chamber 122 and a second end 111 of the support tube is located outside the thermal chamber 122. The first end 109 of the support tube 102 is capped with a first boot 108. Likewise, the second end 111 of the support tube 102 is capped with a second boot 110. In one embodiment, the first and second boots 108 and 111 are secured to the first and second ends 109 and 111 of the support tube 102 via clamps 112 and 114.

An inlet 104 is provided on the support tube 102 to selectively allow dry nitrogen to be introduced into an interior chamber 103 formed by the support tube 102 and the first and second boots 108 and 110. Moreover in one embodiment, an outlet 103 is used to allow dry nitrogen to flow out of the interior chamber 103 of the support tube. Further in one embodiment, the outlet 106 is a solenoid adapted to expel the dry nitrogen when a pressure in the interior chamber 103 reaches a select level.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, a conduit 120 is passed through a first boot aperture 115 in the first boot 108 and a second boot aperture 117 in the second boot 110. Accordingly, the conduit 120 passes through the support tube 102 and the port 124. As discussed above, the conduit can be any type of delivery system or a tube that carries power or an agent like a hydraulic fluid or the like to activate a device under test. In one embodiment, a first clamp 116 is used to secure a portion of the first boot 108 around the conduit 120 and a second clamp is used to secure a portion of the second boot around the conduit 120. In embodiments, of the present invention, a seal created by the first and second clamps around the conduit 120 is not air tight. That is, in embodiments of the present invention, small amounts of dry nitrogen are allowed to escape out of the interior chamber 103 where the conduit is coupled to the respective first and second boots 108 and 110. This helps prevent moisture in air from getting near the port 124. Moreover, in one embodiment, the amount of dry nitrogen leaking out from by conduit-second boot seal that is outside the chamber is greater than the amount of dry nitrogen leaking into the thermal chamber from the conduit-second boot seal

A method of forming an ice prevention system of one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 2. As illustrated in FIG. 2, a support tube 102 is positioned through a port 124 of a contained cooling area 122 (202). The support tube 102 is designed to fit snuggly in the port 124 and have a first end 109 positioned inside the contained cooling area 122 and a second end 111 outside the contained cooling area. Although, the support tube 102 is illustrated as being tubular is shape, it will be understood in the art the support tube 102 can have any shape. The only limitation is that a portion of the support tube 102 must fit snuggly through the port 124. In one embodiment the support tube 102 is made out of a PVC pipe. Ends of the support tube 102 are then capped (204) and (206). In one embodiment, the support tube 102 is capped with boots made of a pliable material like rubber or the like. In one embodiment, the boots 108 and 110 are attached to respective ends of the support tube with clamps 112 and 114. The boots 108 and 110 each have an aperture (first boot aperture 115 and second boot aperture 117) in which a conduit 120 is passed through (208). Hence, the conduit 120 passes through the support tube 102 and the port 124. As discussed above, the boots 108 and 110 are coupled to the conduit 120 about the apertures 115 and 117. In one embodiment this is accomplished with clamps 116 and 118 that allow a certain amount of the dry nitrogen to leek between the apertures 115 and 117 and the conduit 120.

Referring to FIG. 3 a flow diagram illustrating one method of using an ice preventing device of the present invention is provided. As illustrated, this method begins by directing a flow of dry nitrogen into an input 104 of a support tube 102. This provides an amount of dry nitrogen around the port 124 of the contained cooling area 122. In one embodiment, a select amount of dry nitrogen is allowed to leak out of the internal chamber 103 about at least one connection between the first and second boot apertures 115 and 117 and the conduit 120 (304). This helps keep air with moisture away from the port area. Moreover, in one embodiment, a larger flow of dry nitrogen is leaked out of the second boot aperture-conduit connection than the first boot aperture-conduit connection.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, the pressure in the interior chamber 103 is monitored (306). In one embodiment this is done with a solenoid that is designed to open at a select pressure to release the gas. It is then determined if the pressure exceeds a desired pressure (308). If the pressure exceeds the desired pressure (308), a flow of dry nitrogen is released from outlet 106 in the support tube 102. If the pressure does not exceed the desired pressure (308), the pressure is continued to be monitored at (306). The desired pressure in the interior chamber 103 in one embodiment of the present invention is about 1 to 2 PSI.

Although specific embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that any arrangement, which is calculated to achieve the same purpose, may be substituted for the specific embodiment shown. This application is intended to cover any adaptations or variations of the present invention. Therefore, it is manifestly intended that this invention be limited only by the claims and the equivalents thereof.