Title:
COMPRESSOR ASSEMBLY HAVING ELECTRONICS COOLING SYSTEM AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A refrigeration system having a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator, an accumulator, and electronics for controlling the compressor. The accumulator collects gaseous and liquid refrigerant passing from the evaporator to the compressor. The electronics are mounted to the accumulator to transfer heat from the electronics to the refrigerant located within the accumulator to cool the electronics.



Inventors:
Stover, Robert C. (Sidney, OH, US)
Application Number:
12/244416
Publication Date:
10/01/2009
Filing Date:
10/02/2008
Assignee:
EMERSON CLIMATE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (Sidney, OH, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
165/104.33, 62/505
International Classes:
F25B45/00; F25B31/00; F28D15/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ALI, MOHAMMAD M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Harness Dickey (Troy) (P.O. BOX 828, BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI, 48303, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system comprising: a compressor; an accumulator in communication with said compressor and having refrigerant located therein; and compressor electronics mounted to said accumulator and cooled by said refrigerant located therein.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein said electronics are mounted to a bottom surface of said accumulator.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein said electronics are mounted to circumferentially surround said accumulator.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein said electronics are housed by an annular housing that circumferentially surrounds said accumulator.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein said accumulator is an annular-shaped housing defining a cylinder, and said electronics are mounted in said cylinder.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein said electronics are mounted within said accumulator.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein said accumulator includes a base and a cylindrical housing having a flattened surface attached to said base, said electronics being mounted to said flattened surface.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein said compressor electronics includes an inverter.

9. A system comprising: a compressor; a high pressure zone heat exchanger and a low pressure zone heat exchanger in communication with said compressor; an accumulator disposed between said low pressure zone heat exchanger and said compressor that receives low temperature refrigerant from said low pressure zone heat exchanger; and compressor electronics mounted to said accumulator and cooled by said low temperature refrigerant located therein.

10. The system of claim 9, wherein said electronics are mounted to a bottom surface of said accumulator.

11. The system of claim 9, wherein said electronics are mounted to circumferentially surround said accumulator.

12. The system of claim 11, wherein said electronics are housed by an annular housing that circumferentially surrounds said accumulator.

13. The system of claim 9, wherein said accumulator is an annular-shaped housing defining a cylinder, and said electronics are mounted in said cylinder.

14. The system of claim 9, wherein said electronics are mounted within said accumulator.

15. The system of claim 9, wherein said accumulator includes a base and a cylindrical housing having a flattened surface attached to said base, said electronics being mounted to said flattened surface.

16. The system of claim 9, wherein heat generated by said electronics is transferred to said low temperature refrigerant in said accumulator.

17. The system of claim 9, wherein said compressor electronics includes an inverter.

18. A refrigeration system comprising: a compressor for compressing a refrigerant; a first heat exchanger in communication with said compressor for condensing said refrigerant; a second heat exchanger in communication with said compressor for expanding said refrigerant; an accumulator disposed between said second heat exchanger and said compressor; and compressor electronics mounted to said accumulator and cooled by said refrigerant that is expanded by said second heat exchanger.

19. The system of claim 18, wherein said electronics are mounted to a bottom surface of said accumulator.

20. The system of claim 18, wherein said electronics are mounted to circumferentially surround said accumulator.

21. The system of claim 20, wherein said electronics are housed by an annular housing that circumferentially surrounds said accumulator.

22. The system of claim 18, wherein said accumulator is an annular-shaped housing defining a cylinder, and said electronics are mounted in said cylinder.

23. The system of claim 18, wherein said electronics are mounted within said accumulator.

23. The system of claim 18, wherein said accumulator includes a base and a cylindrical housing having a flattened surface attached to said base, said electronics being mounted to said flattened surface.



24. The system of claim 18, wherein said compressor electronics includes an inverter.

Description:

FIELD

The present disclosure relates to a refrigeration system having various electronic components that may be cooled using refrigerant from the refrigeration system.

BACKGROUND

The statements in this section merely provide background information related to the present disclosure and may not constitute prior art.

A compressor may use electronics to control the compressor motor, to modulate compressor capacity, to monitor various electrical systems of the compressor, and the like. During operation, however, the electronics may generate heat. If too much heat is generated, the electronics may overheat and fail.

SUMMARY

A system including a compressor, an accumulator in communication with the compressor and having refrigerant located therein, and compressor electronics mounted to the accumulator and cooled by the refrigerant located therein.

The electronics may be mounted to a bottom surface of the accumulator.

The electronics may be mounted to circumferentially surround the accumulator.

The electronics may be housed by an annular housing that circumferentially surrounds the accumulator.

The accumulator may be an annular-shaped housing defining a cylinder, and the electronics may be mounted in the cylinder.

The electronics may be mounted within the accumulator.

The accumulator may include a base and a cylindrical housing having a flattened surface attached to the base, with the electronics being mounted to the flattened surface.

The compressor electronics may include an inverter.

A system may also include a compressor, a high pressure zone heat exchanger and a low pressure zone heat exchanger in communication with the compressor, an accumulator disposed between the low pressure zone heat exchanger and the compressor that receives low temperature refrigerant from the low pressure zone heat exchanger, and compressor electronics mounted to the accumulator and cooled by the low temperature refrigerant located therein.

The electronics may be mounted to a bottom surface of the accumulator.

The electronics may be mounted to circumferentially surround the accumulator.

The electronics may be housed by an annular housing that circumferentially surrounds the accumulator.

The accumulator may be an annular-shaped housing defining a cylinder, and the electronics may be mounted in the cylinder.

The electronics may be mounted within the accumulator.

The accumulator may include a base and a cylindrical housing having a flattened surface attached to the base, with the electronics being mounted to the flattened surface.

Heat generated by the electronics may be transferred to the low temperature refrigerant in the accumulator.

The compressor electronics may include an inverter.

A refrigeration system includes a compressor for compressing a refrigerant, a first heat exchanger in communication with the compressor for condensing the refrigerant, and a second heat exchanger in communication with the compressor for expanding the refrigerant. An accumulator may be disposed between the second heat exchanger and the compressor. Compressor electronics may be mounted to the accumulator and cooled by the refrigerant that is expanded by the second heat exchanger.

The electronics may be mounted to a bottom surface of the accumulator.

The electronics may be mounted to circumferentially surround the accumulator.

The electronics may be housed by an annular housing that circumferentially surrounds the accumulator.

The accumulator may be an annular-shaped housing defining a cylinder, and the electronics may be mounted in the cylinder.

The electronics may be mounted within the accumulator.

The accumulator may include a base and a cylindrical housing having a flattened surface attached to the base, with the electronics being mounted to the flattened surface.

The compressor electronics may include an inverter.

Further areas of applicability will become apparent from the description provided herein. It should be understood that the description and specific examples are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure.

DRAWINGS

The drawings described herein are for illustration purposes only and are not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure in any way.

FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of an exemplary refrigeration system;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of an accumulator having electronics mounted thereto;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an accumulator having electronics mounted thereto;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of an accumulator having electronics mounted thereto;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of an accumulator having electronics mounted thereto; and

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of an accumulator having electronics mounted thereto.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following description is merely exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit the present disclosure, application, or uses. It should be understood that throughout the drawings, corresponding reference numerals indicate like or corresponding parts and features.

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of an exemplary refrigeration system 10. Refrigeration system 10 may generally include a compressor 12, a condenser 14, an evaporator 16, and a system accumulator 18. Disposed between condenser 14 and evaporator 16 may be a restricted orifice or expansion valve 20.

Refrigeration system 10 uses the cooling effect of evaporation to lower the temperature of the surroundings near one heat exchanger (i.e., the evaporator 16) and it uses the heating effect of high pressure, high temperature gas to raise the temperature of the surroundings near another heat exchanger (i.e., the condenser 14). This is generally accomplished by releasing a refrigerant under pressure (usually in the liquid phase) into a low pressure region to cause the refrigerant to expand into a low temperature mixture of liquid and vapor. Commonly, this low pressure region comprises an evaporator coil 22, that may be formed in the evaporator 16. Once in the evaporator coil 22, the refrigerant mixture may be exposed to high temperature ambient air of the region desired to be cooled. Evaporation of refrigerant from liquid to gas absorbs heat from the ambient air and thereby cools it.

Release of refrigerant into the low pressure evaporator coil 22 is usually metered by expansion valve 20. There are a wide variety of different types of restricted orifices and expansion valves in use today, ranging from simple non-adjustable capillary tubes to electrically adjustable valves, such as pulse width modulated valves and stepper motor valves.

The refrigerant released by evaporator 16 may be compressed back into a high pressure state by compressor 12 and may be condensed into a liquid phase by condenser 14 so that it may be used again. In some systems, compressor 12 may be variable speed or variable capacity, so that compressor 12 also controls the rate at which refrigerant flows through the restricted orifice or expansion valve 20. Compressor 12 may be a scroll compressor, a vane compressor, a piston compressor, or any other type of compressor known to one skilled in the art.

Accumulator 18 may be located between evaporator 16 and compressor 12, near a suction inlet (not shown) of compressor 12. Accumulator 18 may capture excess liquid refrigerant in system 10 before it is allowed to reach compressor 12. If an excess of liquid refrigerant reaches compressor 12 it may damage bearings and other surfaces within compressor 12 and cause compressor 12 to fail.

As stated above, compressor 12 may be a variable speed or variable capacity compressor. Additionally, compressor 12 may include various diagnostic and protection systems. To vary the speed and/or the capacity of compressor 12, as well as run the diagnostic and protection systems, various electronic components 24 for control, diagnosis, and protection of the of compressor 12 may be used. Electronic components 24 may include various devices such as an inverter, controller, the protection system, and the diagnostic system.

Electronic inverter, which may also be referred to as a variable frequency drive (VFD), receives electrical power from a power supply and delivers electrical power to compressor 12. By modulating the frequency of electrical power delivered to the electric motor of compressor 12, inverter may thereby modulate and control the speed, and consequently the capacity, of compressor 12. To modulate the frequency of electric power, inverter may include solid state electronics to modulate the frequency of electrical power. Generally, inverter more specifically comprises a converter that converts the inputted electrical power from AC to DC, and then inverter converts the electrical power from DC back to AC at a desired frequency.

A controller such as Assignee's U.S. Pat. No. 6,302,654, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety, may control compressor capacity or monitor operating conditions of the compressor. The controller may generally include a control block, memory analog-to-digital converters, a communication interface, and a plurality of terminals connected to various sensors that monitor parameters of the compressor. The control block, which includes processing circuitry, may control compressor capacity. The analog-to-digital converter may be used to convert analog signals sent by the various sensors to a digital signal before input into the controller. The communication interface may provide communication with the control block from an outside source or server via, for example, an internet or intranet connection.

The compressor protection or diagnostic system may include a controller, such as that described above, and a power interruption system. The processing circuitry of the diagnostic system is monitored by a plurality of sensors, and diagnoses operating conditions and faults under both normal and abnormal fault conditions by receiving and analyzing motor, compressor, and system parameters. The processing circuitry diagnoses conditions of the motor, compressor, or system by analyzing trends and relationships among sensed data. In addition, the diagnostic data may be used to control compressor modulation based on system conditions detected by the sensors or faults determined by the processing circuitry.

The sensors generally provide diagnostics related to compressor mechanical failures, motor failures, and electrical component failures such as missing phase, reverse phase, motor winding current imbalance, open circuit, low voltage, locked rotor currents, excessive motor winding temperature, welded or open contractors, and short cycling. The sensors may also monitor compressor current and voltage to determine, and differentiate between, mechanical failures, motor failures, and electrical component failures. In addition, the sensors may monitor parameters such as discharge temperature, suction and discharge pressure, oil levels, vibration, capacity control, oil injection, and liquid injection. Exemplary compressor protection and control diagnostic systems are described in the assignee's commonly owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/059,646 filed on Feb. 16, 2005, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,615,594 which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

As the above compressor electronics 24 operate, heat will be generated. If too much heat is generated, however, compressor electronics 24 may overheat. If compressor electronics 24 overheat, they could fail, the refrigeration system 10 may shut down, or may be forced reduce capacity to allow compressor electronics 24 to cool. Therefore providing a means of cooling the electronics is desired.

Accumulator 18 may be disposed between evaporator 16 and compressor 12. Accumulator 18, therefore, may be disposed in the low pressure and low temperature region of refrigeration system 10. In this regard, accumulator 18 may have a temperature that may be close to that of the gaseous and liquid refrigerant located therein. Because accumulator 18 may have a lower temperature relative to other elements of refrigeration system 10, the gaseous and liquid refrigerant located therein may be used to cool compressor electronics 24 by mounting compressor electronics 24 to accumulator 18.

FIG. 2 illustrates a configuration where accumulator 18 may have compressor electronics 24 mounted thereto. Accumulator 18 may be a generally cylindrical housing including an inlet pipe 26 in communication with evaporator 16 and a discharge pipe 28 in communication with compressor 12. An outer surface 30 of accumulator 18 may be flattened to allow for electronics 24 to be mounted thereto.

By mounting compressor electronics 24 to accumulator 18, heat 32 may be transferred through a wall 34 of accumulator 18 to the excess liquid and gaseous refrigerant located in accumulator 18. Transfer of heat 32 to the refrigerant cools compressor electronics 24, which assists in preventing compressor electronics 24 from overheating.

Accumulator 18 may be formed of any material that may transfer heat 32 from compressor electronics 24 to the refrigerant liquid and gas. In this regard, the material selected for accumulator 18 may be a metal material such as a draw-quality or spin-forming-quality steel. Stainless steel may be used in high pressure applications and, aluminum and copper may be also used. Regardless which material is selected, the material should be able to withstand storage of the liquid and gaseous refrigerant, as well as withstand system pressures.

FIG. 3 illustrates a configuration where compressor electronics 24 may be mounted to a bottom surface 36 of accumulator 18. In contrast to the above configuration where compressor electronics 24 are mounted to wall 34 of accumulator 18 and heat may be transferred to both the liquid and gaseous refrigerant located in accumulator 18, bottom surface 36 of accumulator 18 generally only has contact with liquid refrigerant (if present), which generally may have a lower temperature than the gaseous refrigerant. By mounting compressor electronics 24 to bottom surface 36, therefore, compressor electronics 24 may be in contact with a surface of accumulator 18 that has a lower temperature. Because bottom surface 36 may have a lower temperature relative to other regions of accumulator 18, cooling of compressor electronics 24 may be further enhanced. Moreover, only a minimum amount of liquid refrigerant may be present in accumulator 18 to subject compressor electronics 24 to a higher amount of energy transfer between compressor electronics 24 and bottom surface 36 of accumulator 18.

Now referring to FIG. 4, compressor electronics 24 may have an annular housing 38 mounted to surround accumulator 18. Mounting compressor electronics 24 circumferentially around accumulator 18 increases the surface area between compressor electronics 24 and accumulator 18. By increasing the surface area between compressor electronics 24 and accumulator 18, a larger amount of heat 32 may be transferred between compressor electronics 24 and the gaseous and liquid refrigerant located within accumulator 18 to further cool compressor electronics.

FIG. 5 illustrates a configuration where accumulator 18 may be annular-shaped cylinder 40 having an aperture 42 formed therein. Compressor electronics 24 may be housed within aperture 42. Similar to the configuration where compressor electronics 24 circumferentially surround accumulator 18, mounting compressor electronics 24 in aperture 42 increases the surface area between compressor electronics 24 and accumulator 18. By increasing the surface area between compressor electronics 24 and accumulator 18, a larger amount of heat 32 may be transferred between compressor electronics 24 and the gaseous and liquid refrigerant located within accumulator 18 to further cool compressor electronics. Moreover, when accumulator 18 surrounds compressor electronics 24, accumulator 18 may act as an electromagnetic shield for compressor electronics 24.

Now referring to FIG. 6, compressor electronics 24 may be mounted within accumulator 18. Mounting compressor electronics 24 within accumulator 18 provides the greatest amount of cooling for compressor electronics due to compressor electronics 24 being in direct contact with the refrigerant. To provide electrical connections between compressor 12 and compressor electronics 24, accumulator may be provided with hermetic terminals (not shown) that allow for electrical communication between compressor 12 and compressor electronics 24. Furthermore, compressor electronics 24 should be disposed in a housing 44 able to withstand exposure to the liquid and gaseous refrigerant. Regardless, by increasing the surface area between compressor electronics 24 and refrigerant located within accumulator 18, a larger amount of heat 32 may be transferred between compressor electronics 24 and the gaseous and liquid refrigerant located within accumulator 18 to further cool compressor electronics. Moreover, when accumulator 18 surrounds compressor electronics 24, accumulator 18 may act as an electromagnetic shield for compressor electronics 24.

The above detailed description is merely exemplary in nature and, thus, variations that do not depart from the gist of the present teachings are intended to be within the scope of the present teachings. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the present teachings.