Title:
Heat exchanger having plural tubes connected to header tanks by brazing
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A heat exchanger such as a condenser for use in an automobile air-conditioning system is composed of a pair of header tanks, plural tubes connecting both header tanks, and fins made of a thin aluminum plate disposed between the tubes. Those components are all connected to one another by brazing to form a unitary body of the heat exchanger. A solder material for bonding the tubes and the header tanks is attached onto the inner surface of both header tanks to prevent the solder material from dispersing into the thin fins in the brazing process. Thus, the thin aluminum fins are protected against erosion due to the solder dispersed therein.



Inventors:
Kajikawa, Yoshiharu (Hekinan-city, JP)
Teshima, Shoei (Handa-city, JP)
Fujiyoshi, Hironobu (Nishio-city, JP)
Application Number:
09/891809
Publication Date:
12/27/2001
Filing Date:
06/26/2001
Assignee:
KAJIKAWA YOSHIHARU
TESHIMA SHOEI
FUJIYOSHI HIRONOBU
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
165/134.1
International Classes:
F28F9/18; B23K1/00; B23K1/14; B23K3/00; F28F9/00; F28F9/02; F28F21/08; B23K101/14; B23K103/10; (IPC1-7): F28F13/18; F28F19/02; F28F19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCKINNON, TERRELL L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HARNESS DICKEY (TROY) (Troy, MI, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A heat exchanger comprising: a pair of cylindrical header tanks, each having a fluid passage therein; a plurality of tubes, each connected between the pair of header tanks to establish fluid communication between the fluid passages in the pair of header tanks; and a plurality of fins connected between the tubes in heat-conductive relation, wherein: a solder material is attached onto the inner surface of each header tanks; and the tubes are connected to header tanks by the solder material in a brazing process.

2. The heat exchanger as in claim 1, wherein: the header tanks, the tubes and the fins are made of aluminum.

3. The heat exchanger as in claim 1, wherein: a sacrificial corrosion layer is further attached onto the outer surface of the header tanks.

4. A method of manufacturing a heat exchanger having a pair of cylindrical header tanks, a plurality of tubes connected between the pair of header tanks and a plurality of fins connected between the tubes, the method comprising: attaching a solder material for connecting the tubes to the header tanks onto the inner surface of the header tanks; assembling the header tanks, the tubes and the fins together to form an assembled unit; and brazing the assembled unit in a furnace to form a unitary body of the heat exchanger.

5. The method of manufacturing a heat exchanger as in claim 4, wherein: the method further includes a step of coating a flux material necessary for brazing on the outer surface of the tubes, the coating step being performed before the assembling step.

6. A heat exchanger for use in a refrigerating cycle in an automotive air-conditioner system as a condenser for condensing over-heated refrigerant supplied thereto, the heat exchanger comprising: a first header tank made of aluminum having an elongate inner space; a second header tank made of aluminum having an elongate inner space; a plurality of tubes made of aluminum, each connected between the pair of header tanks, so that the refrigerant introduced into the inner space of the first header tank is distributed to the plurality of tubes and flows into the inner space of the second header tank; and a plurality of corrugated fins, each connected between the tubes in heat-conductive relation, wherein: a solder layer for connecting the tubes to the header tanks by brazing is clad on the inner surface of the header tanks.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is based upon and claims benefit of priority of Japanese Patent Application No. 2000-193155 filed on Jun. 27, 2000, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to a heat exchanger having plural tubes connected to header tanks by brazing. This invention is adequately applicable to an automotive heat exchanger such as a condenser for use in an air-conditioner.

[0004] 2. Description of Related Art

[0005] A condenser having plural tubes connected to header tanks disposed at both sides of the tubes is known hitherto. A cross-sectional view of a header tank to which a tube is connected in a conventional heat exchanger is shown in FIG. 3. Plural aluminum tubes 14 having refrigerant passages therein are connected to header tanks disposed at both ends of the tubes. In FIG. 3, only one tube 11 is shown and another tube is not shown. Aluminum fins (such fines 15 as shown in FIG. 1) are interposed between neighboring tubes, and the tubes and fines are laminated forming a condenser core.

[0006] In the conventional condenser, the header tank 11 is composed of a first U-shaped plate 111 and a second u-shaped plate 112, both connected to each other. The first U-shaped plate 111 is a clad plate having a core plate 111a and a solder layer 111b clad on the outer surface of the core plate 111a. The second U-shaped plate 112 is also a clad plate having a core plate 112a and solder layers 112b and 112c which are clad on both inner and outer surfaces of the core plate 112a. The fins 15 disposed between the tubes 14 and connected thereto are also made of solder-clad aluminum, while tubes 14 are made of bare aluminum. Each tube 14 having plural refrigerant passages therein are made by a drawing process.

[0007] In the assembling process of the condenser, the tubes 14 and the fins 15 are alternately laminated, and the tubes 14 are inserted into both header tanks to form a unitary condenser unit. Flux “f” is coated on the solder layers 111b and 112c which are clad on the outer surface of the tube 11. Then, the condenser unit is brazed in a furnace to melt the solder layers and to connect all the components to one another. In this brazing process, the solder layer 111b on the outer surface of the first plate 111 connects the tubes 14 to the first plate 111, and the solder clad on the fins 15 connects the tubes 14 and fins 15 together.

[0008] In the brazing process of the conventional condenser, the molten solder material is not only used for connecting the first plate 111 to the tubes 14 but also supplied to the fins 15 connected to the tubes 14, because the solder layer 111b is located on the outer surface of the header tank 11. Therefore, the solder from the first plate 111 is added to the clad solder on the fins 15, and solder becomes too rich at the end portions of the fins 15 located close to the first plate 111. In other words, much solder is dispersed into the end portions of the fins 15, causing erosion in the fins 15. Though the solder is also dispersed into the tubes 14, the erosion problem is more harmful to the fins 15 because the fins 15 are much thinner than the tubes 14.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The present invention has been made in view of the above-mentioned problem, and an object of the present invention is to eliminate or at least suppress the solder dispersion into the tubes and especially into the fins in the brazing process, thereby avoiding the erosion due to the dispersed solder.

[0010] A heat exchanger is composed of a pair of cylindrical header tanks (a first header tank and a second header tank), plural tubes connecting the pair of header tanks and plural corrugated fins disposed between the tubes in heat conductive relation. The heat exchanger may be used as a condenser for condensing over-heated refrigerant in an automotive air-conditioning cycle. The refrigerant supplied to the first header tank is distributed to the plural tubes and flows into the second header tank. The over-heated refrigerant is cooled down while flowing through the tubes, and the condensed refrigerant flows out from the second header tank.

[0011] The tanks are formed by rounding a solder-clad aluminum plate, so that the solder layer is positioned in the inner surface of the cylindrical tanks. The solder layer serves as a material for connecting the tubes and the tanks in brazing. The tubes are drawn from a bare aluminum material, and the corrugated fins are made of a thin solder-clad aluminum plate. Flux to promote brazing is coated on the outer surface of the tubes. Then, all the components thus made are assembled to form a heat exchanger unit. The assembled heat exchanger unit is brazed in a furnace filled with nitrogen gas or inert gas. In the brazing process, the tubes and tanks are connected to each other by the molten solder layer clad on the inner surface of the tanks, while the corrugated fins are connected to the tubes by the molten solder on the surface of the corrugated fins.

[0012] Since the solder layer is positioned on the inner surface of the cylindrical header tank, i.e., the aluminum plate forming the header tank is between the solder layer and the corrugated fin, the solder molten in the brazing process is prevented from dispersing into the fin even if the end portion of the fin is positioned close to the header tank. In addition, unnecessary dispersion of the molten solder into the tubes is also prevented. Thus, the fin made of a thin aluminum plate is protected against erosion due to excessive solder dispersed into the fin.

[0013] Other objects and features of the present invention will become more readily apparent from a better understanding of the preferred embodiment described below with reference to the following drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing an entire structure of a condenser;

[0015] FIG. 2 is a partial cross-sectional view showing a portion connecting a tube to a header tank in the condenser shown in FIG. 1, as an embodiment of the present invention; and

[0016] FIG. 3 is a partial cross-sectional view showing a portion similar to that of FIG. 3 in a conventional condenser.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0017] An embodiment of the present invention will be described with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2. First, referring to FIG. 1, the entire structure of a condenser 10 which is generally referred to as a multi-flow-type condenser will be described. The condenser 10 cools down and condenses overheated gaseous refrigerant supplied from a compressor (not shown) in an automotive air-conditioning system. The condenser 10 is composed of a condenser core 13 disposed between and connected to a pair of header tanks, a first header tank 11 and a second header tank 12. The header tanks 11, 12 are made of aluminum and substantially cylinder-shaped.

[0018] The condenser core 13 is composed of tubes 14, corrugated fins 15, both being alternately laminated, and side plates 19, 20 respectively disposed at the top and the bottom of the condenser core 13. The condenser core 13 is connected between both header tanks 11, 12, so that the tubes extend horizontally. The tube 14 is made by drawing aluminum into a flat shape having plural refrigerant passages therein. The fin 15 is made by bending a solder-clad aluminum plate into a corrugated shape. One end of each tube 14 is inserted into the first header tank 11 and the other end into the second header tank 12, so that the inner spaces of both header tanks 11, 12 communicate with each other through the tubes 14. The U-shaped side plate 19 is disposed at the top of the condenser core 13 and connected to the upper most fin 15, while the other U-shaped side plate 20 is disposed at the bottom of the condenser core 13 and connected to the lower most fin 15. Both side plates 19, 20 serve as condenser frames with which the condenser 10 is mounted on a vehicle body.

[0019] A refrigerant inlet port 16 is provided at an upper portion of the first header tank 11, while a refrigerant outlet port 17 is provided at a lower portion of the second header tank 12. The refrigerant entering the first tank 11 through the inlet port 16, is distributed to each tube 14, enters the second header tank 12 through the tubes 14 and flows out from the outlet port 17. Both ends of the first header tank 11 are closed with caps 113, 114, respectively, and similarly both ends of the second header tanks 12 are closed with caps 123, 124, respectively.

[0020] The structure connecting the tubes 14 to the header tanks 11, 12 will be described in detail with reference to FIG. 2 that shows a cross-section II-II marked in FIG. 1. Since both header tanks 11, 12 have the same structure, the structure of the first header tank 11 will be described below as a representative of both header tanks 11, 12. Reference numbers shown in parentheses in FIG. 2 denote components or portions of the second header tank 12 that correspond to those of the first header tank 11.

[0021] The first header tank 11 is composed of a first U-shaped plate 111 and a second U-shaped plate 112, both being connected to each other to form a cylindrical inner space that serves as a refrigerant passage. A pair of caps 113, 114 close both ends of the inner passage. Plural openings (not shown), the number of which corresponds to the number of tubes 14, are formed in the first header tank 11, so that each tube 14 is inserted into the opening and connected thereto. The first plate 111 which is connected to the tubes 14 is a solder-clad aluminum plate having a core aluminum plate 111a and a solder layer 111b clad on the inner surface of the first plate 111. The second plate 112 is a solder-clad aluminum plate having a core aluminum plate 112a and solder layers 112b, 112c clad on both surfaces of the second plate 112. Both aluminum core plates 111a, 112a are made of an aluminum material such as A-3003, and the solder layers 111b, 112b, 112c are made of a solder material such as A-4045.

[0022] The tubes 14 made of a bare aluminum material such as A-1050 are manufactured in a drawing process. The fins 15 are made of a solder-clad aluminum plate having a core plate made of aluminum such as A-3003 and a solder layer such as A-4045 clad on the core plate. The caps 113, 114 and side plates 19, 20 are made of bare aluminum such as A-3003. The refrigerant inlet port 16 and the refrigerant outlet port 17 are also made of bare aluminum.

[0023] A process of manufacturing the condenser 10 will be explained below. All the components of the condenser 10 are manufactured using the solder-clad aluminum material or the bare aluminum, respectively. Then, flux is coated on the second plate 112 (122), the caps 113, 114 (123, 124), the tubes 14, and the side plates 19, 20, in a coating process such as immersion coating or roll coating. Then, the coated flux is dried. As the flux, a mixture of non-corrosive flux (e.g., fluorides such as a mixture of KALF4 and K2Al6) and a binder for improving flux adhesion (e.g., acrylic resin substantially composed of 2-ethylhexyl methacrylate) may be used. Alternatively, silicon (Si) may be further mixed with the mixture of the flux and the binder to improve brazing ability.

[0024] Then, the components, including the first header tank 11, the second header tank 12, tubes 14, fins 15, side plates 19, 20, and inlet and outlet ports 16, 17, are all assembled to form a condenser unit 10 shown in FIG. 1. The assembled unit is kept in a jig to keep its unitary form. The unit kept in the jig is heated in a brazing furnace filled with nitrogen gas or inert gas up to a melting point of the solder material. Thus, all the components of the condenser 10 are connected to one another by brazing, forming a unitary body of the condenser 10.

[0025] In the brazing process, the first plates 111, 121 and the tubes 14 are connected to each other by the solder layers 111b, 121b clad on the inside surfaces of the first plates 111, 121 under the flux coated on the tubes 14. Since the solder layers 111b, 121b are positioned inside the header tanks 11, 12, i,e., fins 15 are separated by the core plates 111a, 121a from the solder layers 111b, 121b the solder is prevented from flowing to the fins 15. Therefore, excessive solder supply to the fins 15 are avoided, and the end portions of the fins 15 may be positioned closer to the header tanks 11, 12.

[0026] In a conventional manufacturing process, flux “f” (shown in FIG. 3) necessary for brazing is coated after its assembling process by spraying or other methods. Accordingly, the flux is coated not only on necessary portions but also on other portions, and thereby a large amount of flux is consumed. On the contrary to the conventional process, in the process of the present invention, the flux required for brazing (connections between the first plates 111, 121 and tubes 14, and between the tubes 14 and fins 15) is supplied from the tubes 14. The flux required is coated on the tubes 14 before the assembling process. Therefore, the flux is coated only on the necessary portions and the unnecessary consumption of the flux is avoided.

[0027] Application of the present invention is not limited to the condenser described above, but it can be applied to other heat exchangers such as automotive radiators. Though the solder-clad aluminum is used for the components requiring brazing in the foregoing embodiment, a solder material in a paste state may be coated on aluminum components, or silicon (Si) that promotes brazing may be coated on the aluminum components. The material of the components is not limited to aluminum, but the components may be made of an aluminum alloy. Though the flux required for brazing the first plates 111, 121 and the tubes 14 is coated on the tubes 14 in the foregoing embodiment, it is possible to additionally coat the flux on the solder layers 111b, 121b, if necessary. Alternatively, the flux may be coated only on the solder layers 111b, 121b without coating it on the tubes 14.

[0028] Though the first plates 111, 121 having the solder layers clad on the inside surfaces thereof are used in the foregoing embodiment, it is also possible to additionally clad a sacrificial corrosion layer (e.g., A-7072 or A-3003 including 1 weight-percent Zn) on the outer surfaces of the first plates 111, 121. Though the tubes 14 having plural passages therein formed by drawing are used in the foregoing embodiment, they may be replaced with tubes formed by presswork.

[0029] While the present invention has been shown and described with reference to the foregoing preferred embodiment, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that changes in form and detail may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.