Title:
Thermal Heating System
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The system contains a plurality of elongated conduit. A height dimension of the elongated conduit is substantially less than a width dimension of the elongated conduit. A plurality of connecting elements is connected between the elongated conduits establishing a fluid path through the elongated conduit. A fluid is captured within the elongated conduit.



Inventors:
Woodman, Mark W. (Nottingham, NH, US)
Application Number:
12/277846
Publication Date:
06/18/2009
Filing Date:
11/25/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
126/714, 126/651
International Classes:
E04D13/18; F24J2/00; F24J2/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CORBOY, WILLIAM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hayes, Soloway P. C. (175 CANAL STREET, MANCHESTER, NH, 03101, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for collecting thermal energy, the system comprising: a plurality of elongated conduit, wherein a height dimension of the elongated conduit is substantially less than a width dimension of the elongated conduit; a plurality of connecting elements between the elongated conduit establishing a fluid path through the elongated conduit; and a fluid captured within the elongated conduit.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the height dimension of the elongated conduit is approximately less than 0.25 inches.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the elongated conduit are mounted to a top of a structure approximately immediately beneath a plurality of shingles.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the elongated conduit further comprises a pair of wings formed on opposite sides of the elongated conduit, thereby extending a width dimension of the elongated conduit.

5. The system of claim 1, further comprising: an opening formed in an underside of at least one of the elongated conduits; and a connector mounted to the elongated conduit at the opening, wherein the connector approximately forms a right angle with the elongated conduit.

6. The system of claim 5, further comprising a deflector plate formed at least partially within the elongated conduit proximate to the opening.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the height dimension of the elongated conduit is approximately less than 0.2 inches and the width dimension is at least approximately 1 inch.

8. The system of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of approximately flat support straps mounted about the plurality of elongated conduit and connected to a building structure.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein the elongated conduit are mounted to a side of a structure approximately immediately behind a plurality of siding panels.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein the elongated conduit are mounted approximately immediately beneath a flooring structure.

11. A method of collecting thermal energy, said method comprising the steps of: mounting a plurality of elongated conduit along a building structure, wherein a height dimension of the elongated conduit is substantially less than a width dimension of the elongated conduit; connecting the plurality of the elongated conduit to establish a fluid path through the elongated conduit; and pumping a fluid along the fluid path.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the step of mounting the plurality of elongated conduit along the building structure further comprises mounting the plurality of elongated conduit along the building structure with a plurality of approximately flat support straps.

13. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of mounting a plurality of shingles along one side of the elongated conduit.

14. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of mounting a plurality of vinyl siding panels along one side of the elongated conduit.

15. The method of claim 11, further comprising the steps of: collecting solar heat with a pair of thermally conductive wings formed along opposing sides of the elongated conduit; and thermally transferring the collected solar heat to the fluid.

16. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of mounting a fluid connector to the elongated conduit at an approximately perpendicular angle to the elongated conduit.

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising the step of mounting a fluid deflector within the elongated conduit proximate to the fluid connector.

18. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of mounting an underlayer between the building structure and the elongated conduit thereby protecting the elongated conduit from an abrasive exterior to the building structure.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to copending U.S. Provisional Application entitled, “Thermal Solar Collector,” having Ser. No. 61/008,179, filed Dec. 18, 2007, which is entirely incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is generally related to a thermal heating system and more particularly is related to a thermal heating system partly installed non-disruptively beneath traditional shingles of a roof.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Environmental concerns and the depletion of non-renewable energy resources, particularly fossil fuels, have created an on-going need for viable alternative energy sources. Solar energy has long been considered an ideal alternative energy source. Using radiation from the sun to generate heat or other forms of energy is not harmful to the environment and provides a seemingly unlimited supply of energy. Further, any individual or business may use solar energy by installing solar panels on residential and non-residential buildings. The energy is available independent from any utility service provider. Various types of solar collector panels have been designed to maximize the efficient conversion of solar radiation for heating and other forms of energy.

Despite these advantages, however, the use of existing solar energy systems has been limited. Solar collection panels, typically used to collect and provide solar energy, are expensive and are often difficult to install. Further, incorporating solar energy into a building using current technology often requires significant structural changes to the building. Roofs need to be built out or significantly modified to support many thermal energy conversion systems. Many thermal energy conversion systems also diminish the aesthetic appeal of a roof. As a result of the expense, complexity of design, and appearance related to installation of solar collection panels, many individuals have opted to continue using conventional energy sources rather than solar energy.

Thus, a heretofore unaddressed need exists in the industry to address the aforementioned deficiencies and inadequacies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide a system and method for collecting thermal energy. Briefly described, in architecture, one embodiment of the system, among others, can be implemented as follows. The system contains a plurality of elongated conduit. A height dimension of the elongated conduit is substantially less than a width dimension of the elongated conduit. A plurality of connecting elements is connected between the elongated conduits establishing a fluid path through the elongated conduit. A fluid is captured within the elongated conduit.

The present invention can also be viewed as providing methods for collecting thermal energy. In this regard, one embodiment of such a method, among others, can be broadly summarized by the following steps: mounting a plurality of elongated conduit along a building structure, wherein a height dimension of the elongated conduit is substantially less than a width dimension of the elongated conduit; connecting the plurality of the elongated conduit to establish a fluid path through the elongated conduit; and pumping a fluid along the fluid path.

Other systems, methods, features, and advantages of the present invention will be or become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following drawings and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features, and advantages be included within this description, be within the scope of the present invention, and be protected by the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Many aspects of the invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings. The components in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of the present invention. Moreover, in the drawings, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.

FIG. 1 is an illustration of a top view of a portion of a thermal energy collection system, in accordance with a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an illustration of a cross-sectional side view of an elongated conduit used in the thermal energy collection system of FIG. 1, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an illustration of a cross-sectional side view of the thermal energy collection system of FIG. 1 mounted on a roof, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an illustration of a perspective view of a connector nozzle that mates with the elongated conduit shown in FIG. 2, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is an illustration of a portion of the cross-sectional side view of the thermal energy collection system shown in FIG. 3, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating a method of collecting thermal energy with the thermal energy collection system of FIG. 1, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is an illustration of a top view of a portion of a thermal energy collection system 10, in accordance with a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The thermal energy collection system 10 contains a plurality of elongated conduit 12. A height dimension of the elongated conduit 12 is substantially less than a width dimension of the elongated conduit 12. A plurality of connecting elements 14 is connected between the elongated conduits 12 establishing a fluid path through the elongated conduits 12. A fluid is captured within the elongated conduit 12.

As can be seen in FIG. 1, the elongated conduit 12 may be arranged in rows with a layer of shingles, vinyl siding panels, or other exterior building materials 22 attached approximately immediately over the elongated conduit 12. Connecting elements 14 may be utilized to establish a fluid path between the elongated conduits 12. The connection elements 14 may establish a collection of parallel flow paths, as is shown in FIG. 1, or a substantial portion of the elongated conduits 12 connected in series. The fluid may be water, although other fluids, including both liquids and gases, may be utilized without departing from the scope of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an illustration of a cross-sectional side view of an elongated conduit 12 used in the thermal energy collection system 10 of FIG. 1, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention. As represented by the illustration in FIG. 2, the height dimension H of the elongated conduit 12 is substantially less than a width dimension W of the elongated conduit 12. The height dimension H may be less than 0.25 inches. The height dimension H may be less than 0.2 inches and the width may be at least 1 inch. The elongated conduit 12 may be formed by folding over a sheet of copper, or a similar sheet of metal, and welding it along its length at a weld point 16, where each of the bends in the elongated conduit 12 is formed by bending the copper. The opening of the elongated conduit 12, at its tallest portion, may be twice the thickness of the sheet of copper and the height dimension may be four times the copper thickness. While the elongated conduit 12 is described as a copper conduit, the elongated conduit 12 may be another metal or an extruded polymeric material or any other operative fluid conduit material known to those having skill in the art As shown in FIG. 2, the elongated conduit 12 may be divided into two sections, a fluid channel 18 and wings 20. The wings 20 may simply be two layers of copper pinched together, permitting little fluid transport between the layers. The fluid channel 18 may be an opening that allows the majority of the fluid transport. The wings 20 may receive heat from solar energy, or other sources, and transfer that energy to the fluid channel 18 and, ultimately, the fluid within the fluid channel 18. While the elongated conduit 12 is primarily discussed herein as collecting thermal energy, the elongated conduit 12 may also be used to distribute thermal energy. Specifically, the elongated conduit 12 may be installed under floors or beneath a surface of a driveway to distribute heat from heated fluid flowing in the elongated conduit 12. In a heat distribution arrangement, the heated fluid may thermally transfer heat to the fluid channel 18 and then the wings 20 to disperse heat to an area local to the elongated conduit 12.

FIG. 3 is an illustration of a cross-sectional side view of the thermal energy collection system 10 of FIG. 1 mounted on a roof, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The thermal energy collection system 10 includes an elongated conduit 12 mounted to a roof sheathing 24. Between the roof sheathing 24 and the elongated conduit 12 is a roof underlayment 26, a product known to those having ordinary skill in the art. The elongated conduit 12 is mounted to the roof sheathing 24 and over the roof underlayment 26 with a substantially flat fastening strap 28. The fastening strap 28 is attached to the roof sheathing 24 by a plurality of fasteners 30. The fasteners 30 do not pierce or mechanically impinge the elongated conduit 12. A slip sheet 32 is mounted over the fastening strap 28 and the fasteners 30 attaching the fastener strap 28 to the roof sheathing 24. The slip sheet 32 and the fastening strap 28 may protect the elongated conduit 12 from rubbing against an exterior building material 22 that may be abrasive, such as asphalt shingles. During use, because of an anticipated daily change of temperature in the elongated conduit 12 in the tens of degrees (Fahrenheit), the elongated conduit 12 can be expected to expand and contract on a daily basis, which will cause rubbing against abutting materials. More fasteners 30 may fasten the exterior building material 22 to the roof sheathing 24. These additional fasteners 30 may be located to avoid impinging the elongated conduit 12. The connection elements 14 connect to the elongated conduit 12 to provide the flow path for fluid traversing the elongated conduit 12.

As can be viewed in the various illustrations, the connection elements 14 may be arranged to connect with the elongated conduit 12 at an approximate right angle. Significant water flow directed at a side of the elongated conduit 12 may create focused wear on the elongated conduit 12 proximate to a connection point, dependent on the material used to form the elongated conduit 12.

FIG. 4 is an illustration of a perspective view of a connector nozzle 34 that mates with the elongated conduit 12 shown in FIG. 2, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. S is an illustration of a portion of the cross-sectional side view of the thermal energy collection system 10 shown in FIG. 3, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The connector nozzle 34 includes a deflector plate 36, an insert element 38, a collar 40, and a neck 42.

As shown in FIG. 5, the connector nozzle 34 mounts into an opening formed in the elongated conduit 12 such that the deflector plate 36 and the insert element 38 enter the elongated conduit 12 and the collar 40 abuts an outside surface of the elongated conduit 12. A flow channel is formed within the neck 42 and collar 40 of the connector nozzle 34 such that fluid can pass through an opening 44 formed in the insert element 38 to the elongated conduit 12 or to a connection element 14 connected to the neck 42. The collar 40 may be soldered to the elongated conduit 12 to provide a liquid-tight connection. The deflector plate 36 is provided to protect the elongated conduit 12 from wear induced by water flow. The deflector plate 36 may be made of stainless steel.

FIG. 6 is a flowchart 200 illustrating a method of collecting thermal energy with the thermal energy collection system 10 of FIG. 1, in accordance with the first exemplary embodiment of the invention. It should be noted that any process descriptions or blocks in flow charts should be understood as representing modules, segments, portions of code, or steps that include one or more instructions for implementing specific logical functions in the process, and alternate implementations are included within the scope of the present invention in which functions may be executed out of order from that shown or discussed, including substantially concurrently or in reverse order, depending on the functionality involved, as would be understood by those reasonably skilled in the art of the present invention.

As is shown by block 202, a plurality of elongated conduit 12 are mounted along a building structure, wherein a height dimension of the elongated conduit 12 is substantially less than a width dimension of the elongated conduit 12. The plurality of the elongated conduit 12 is connected to establish a fluid path through the elongated conduit 12 (block 204). A fluid is pumped along the fluid path (block 206).

The fluid may be used to collect heat by mounting the elongated conduit 12 in a place that will be heated, for instance, by solar energy. The fluid may also be used to heat an area by mounting the elongated conduit 12 in a place to distribute heat, such as within a floor. Mounting may be performed by mounting relatively flat straps about one side of the elongated conduit 12 and securing the flat straps 28 on either side of the elongated conduit 12 to a building structure. A connector nozzle 34 may be mounted at either end of an elongated conduit 12 at an angle approximately perpendicular to the elongated conduit 12 to feed fluid into and draw fluid from the elongated conduit 12.

It should be emphasized that the above-described embodiments of the present invention, particularly, any “preferred” embodiments, are merely possible examples of implementations, merely set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the invention. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described embodiments of the invention without departing substantially from the spirit and principles of the invention. All such modifications and variations are intended to be included herein within the scope of this disclosure and the present invention and protected by the following claims.