Title:
Waste management system for a vehicle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A waste management system for a vehicle includes toilet, an accumulator tank and a main waste tank. The accumulator tank is in fluid communication with and fixedly mounted relative to the toilet. The main waste tank is remotely positioned relative to the toilet. A flexible fluid coupling connects the accumulator tank and the main waste tank such that the toilet and the accumulator tank can be translated relative to the main waste tank. In certain applications, the toilet is mounted in a movable cabin portion of the vehicle that is coupled to a fixed cabin portion of the vehicle for movement between an extended position and a retracted position.



Inventors:
Grech, George (Garden City, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/202403
Publication Date:
02/20/2003
Filing Date:
07/24/2002
Assignee:
GRECH GEORGE
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B60R15/00; B60R15/04; (IPC1-7): E03D1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HARNESS DICKEY (TROY) (Troy, MI, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A waste management system for a vehicle, the waste management system comprising: a toilet; an accumulator tank in fluid communication with and fixedly mounted relative to the toilet; a main waste tank remotely positioned relative to the toilet; and a flexible fluid coupling connecting the accumulator tank and the main waste tank such that the toilet and the accumulator tank can be translated relative to the main waste tank.

2. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 1, wherein the flexible fluid coupling is operative to permit the toilet and the accumulator tank to move horizontally relative to the main waste tank.

3. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 1, wherein the accumulator tank includes a first level sensor for sensing a level in the accumulator tank.

4. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 3, further comprising a pump for pumping a waste from the accumulator tank to the main waste tank automatically in response to the first level sensor sensing a first predetermining level in the accumulator tank.

5. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 4, further comprising a manually operated switch for controlling the pump to pump the waste from the accumulator tank to the main waste tank prior to the first lever sensor sensing the first predetermined level in the accumulator tank.

6. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 4, further comprising a second level sensor for sensing a level in the main waste tank.

7. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 6, further comprising a control arrangement for preventing operation of the pump in response to the sensing of a second predetermined level in the main waste tank by the second level sensor.

8. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 1, wherein the toilet has a water inlet and a waste outlet and the main waste tank is in fluid communication with the waste outlet, and further comprising a fresh water tank in fluid communication with the water inlet, and a gray water tank in fluid communication with the water inlet.

9. A vehicle comprising: a fixed cabin portion; a movable cabin portion defining a bathroom, the movable cabin portion coupled to the fixed cabin portion for movement between an extended position and a retracted position; a toilet mounted in the movable cabin portion; an accumulator tank carried by the movable cabin portion, the accumulator tank being in fluid communication with and fixedly mounted relative to the toilet; a main waste tank fixedly mounted in the vehicle relative to the fixed cabin portion; and a flexible fluid coupling connecting the accumulator tank and the main waste tank such that the toilet and the accumulator tank can be translated relative to the main waste tank as the movable cabin portion is moved between the extend position and the retracted position.

10. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 9, wherein the main waste tank is disposed remote to the accumulator tank.

11. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 9, wherein the flexible fluid coupling is operative to permit the toilet and the accumulator tank to move horizontally relative to the main waste tank.

12. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 9, wherein the accumulator tank includes a first level sensor for sensing a level in the accumulator tank.

13. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 11, further comprising a pump for pumping a waste from the accumulator tank to the main waste tank automatically in response to the first level sensor sensing a first predetermining level in the accumulator tank.

14. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 12, further comprising a manually operated switch for controlling the pump to pump the waste from the accumulator tank to the main waste tank prior to the first lever sensor sensing the first predetermined level in the accumulator tank.

15. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 12, further comprising a second level sensor for sensing a level in the main waste tank.

16. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 14, further comprising a control arrangement for preventing operation of the pump in response to the sensing of a second predetermined level in the main waste tank by the second level sensor.

17. The waste management system for a vehicle of claim 12, further comprising a deodorant treatment arrangement for preventing odor during operation.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is based on provisional patent application which has been assigned U.S. Ser. No. 60/307,702, filed Jul. 25, 2001.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention generally relates to waste management systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to a waste management system for a recreational vehicle.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Vehicles including recreational vehicles (“RVs”), airplanes, boats, trains, and the like conventionally incorporate bathrooms and associated waste management systems. The waste management systems of such conventional vehicles typically include a toilet fixedly mounted relative to a main waste tank. The main waste tank must be of sufficient capacity for collecting waste over a period of time between periodic emptyings.

[0004] While known waste management systems for vehicles have proven to operate satisfactory for their intended purposes, they are all associated with limitations. For example, known waste management systems cannot be incorporated into a slide-out room. Other types of slide-out rooms (most typically without plumbing) are used on recreational vehicles to allow the user to increase interior square footage upon parking. The fluid coupling required between a conventional toilet and storage tank arrangement limits use to a fixed area of the vehicle.

[0005] A related limitation of known waste management systems for vehicles pertains to floor plan design. In this regard, a predefined orientation between a toilet and an associated waste tank significantly limits flexibility for floor plan design.

[0006] Accordingly, it remains a need in the pertinent art to provide a waste management system for a vehicle which overcomes the limitations associated with the prior art, including but not limited to those disadvantages discussed above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] In one particular form, the present invention provides a waste management system for a vehicle that includes a toilet, an accumulator tank and a main waste tank. The accumulator tank is in fluid communication with and fixedly mounted relative to the toilet. The main waste tank is remotely positioned relative to the toilet. A flexible fluid coupling connects the accumulator tank and the main waste tank such that the toilet and the accumulator tank can be translated relative to the main waste tank.

[0008] In another particular form, the present invention provides a vehicle that includes a fixed cabin portion and a movable cabin portion. The movable cabin portion defines a bathroom and is coupled to the fixed cabin portion for movement between an extended position and a retracted position. A toilet is mounted in the movable cabin portion. An accumulator tank is carried by the movable cabin portion. The accumulator tank is in fluid communication with and fixedly mounted relative to the toilet. A main waste tank is mounted in the vehicle relative to the fixed cabin portion. A flexible fluid coupling connects the accumulator tank and the main waste tank such that the toilet and the accumulator tank can be translated relative to the main waste tank as the movable cabin portion is moved between the extended position and the retracted position.

[0009] In yet another particular form, the present invention provides a waste management system for a vehicle that includes a toilet, a fresh water tank, a gray water tank and a main waste tank. The toilet has a water inlet and a waste outlet. The fresh water tank is in fluid communication with the water inlet. The gray water tank is in fluid communication with the water inlet. The main waste tank is in fluid communication with the waste outlet.

[0010] A potential advantage of the present invention is the provision of a vehicle which includes a slide-out bathroom.

[0011] Another potential advantage of the present invention is the provision of a waste management system for a vehicle which allows for improved flexibility in floor plan design.

[0012] A related advantage of the present invention is the provision of a waste management system for a vehicle having a main waste tank remotely mounted relative to a toilet.

[0013] Another potential advantages of the present invention is the provision of a waste management system for a vehicle which reduces a required amount of fresh water necessary for operation.

[0014] A related advantages of the present invention is the provision of a waste management system which utilizes collected gray water for toilet flushing or waste tank rinsing.

[0015] Additional advantages and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following description and appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] The present invention will become more fully understood from the detailed description and the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0017] FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a chassis plan of a recreational vehicle incorporating a waste management system constructed according to the teachings of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 2 is a schematic view of a floor plan of a recreational vehicle incorporating the waste management system according to the teachings of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 3 is a simplified side view further illustrating the waste management system according to the teachings of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 4 is a simplified side view of the waste management system according to the teachings of the preferred embodiment of the present invention illustrated incorporating an optional gray water recycling arrangement.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0021] The following description of the preferred apparatus and method of the present invention is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the invention, its application, or uses.

[0022] With reference to FIGS. 1 through 3 of the drawings, a waste management system for a vehicle according to the teachings of a preferred embodiment of the present invention is illustrated and generally identified at reference character 10. FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a chassis plan 12 of a recreational vehicle 14 incorporating the waste management system 10. FIG. 2 is a schematic view of a floor plan 16 of the recreational vehicle 14. It will become apparent to those skilled in the art that the teachings of the present invention are not limited to a waste management system for a recreational vehicle. Rather, the teachings of the present invention have applicability to a wide range of vehicles or vessels.

[0023] The recreational vehicle 14 is generally illustrated to include a fixed or main cabin portion 18 and a movable cabin portion 20. In a manner which is conventional insofar as the present invention is concerned, the movable cabin portion 20 is coupled to the fixed cabin portion 18 for movement between an extended position and a retracted position. The extended position is shown in the schematic views of FIGS. 1 and 2. In the retracted position (not particularly shown), an outer wall 22 of the movable cabin portion 20 is essentially flush with an adjacent outer wall 24 of the main cabin portion 18.

[0024] The movable cabin portion 22 defines a bathroom. A toilet 26 and a sink 29 are shown mounted in the movable cabin portion 20. As particularly shown in FIG. 3, the movable cabin portion 22 preferably includes a floor 28 which is raised above a floor 30 of the main cabin portion 18.

[0025] Insofar as the present invention is concerned, the toilet 26 is a conventional low-height toilet and is mounted to the floor 28 of the movable cabin portion 20. The toilet 26 is in fluid communication with an accumulator tank 32 which is carried by the movable cabin portion 20. The accumulator tank 32 is coupled to a waste outlet 34 of the toilet 26 and is fixedly mounted relative to the toilet 26. Waste is transmitted from the toilet 26 to the accumulator tank 32 under gravity. In one particular embodiment, the accumulator tank 32 has a height of approximately 5 inches and a capacity of approximately 0.5 to 10 gallons. The accumulator tank 32 is particularly sized to fit within a standard recreational vehicle floor riser.

[0026] A main waste tank 34 is fixedly mounted in the vehicle relative to the fixed cabin portion 18 and remote to the accumulator tank 32 and toilet 26. A flexible fluid coupling 36 connects the accumulator tank 32 and the main waste tank 34 such that the toilet 26 and the accumulator tank 32 can be translated relative to the main waste tank as the movable cabin portion 20 is moved between the extended position and the retracted position.

[0027] The accumulator tank 32 is shown to include at least one level sensor 37 for sensing a waste level therein. Similarly, the main waste tank 34 is shown to include at least one level sensor 38 for sensing a waste level therein. Upon sensing of a predetermined level within the accumulator tank 32 by the level sensor 37, a microprocessor based logic controller (not shown) activates a waste transfer pump 40 to transfer waste from the accumulator tank 32 to the main tank 34. Activation of the pump 40 can also be controlled by a switch 42 mounted within the interior of the vehicle 14. In this manner, the switch 42 may be actuated to activate the pump 40 prior to the accumulator tank 32 reaching the predetermined level. In this manner, the accumulator tank 32 can be emptied prior to bedtime, for example. As a result, a quieter operation of the waste management system 10 throughout the night is provided as transferred between the accumulator tank 32 and the main tank 34 will not be required.

[0028] Upon sensing of a predetermined level in the main tank 34 by the level sensor 38, the microprocessor based logic controller will prevent operation of the waste transfer pump 40. The microprocessor based logic controller also functions to activate a visual indicator in the bathroom at this time to indicate that the waste management system 10 needs to be emptied.

[0029] With particular reference to FIG. 4, the waste management system 10 of the present invention is shown incorporating an optional gray water recycling arrangement 50. As illustrated, a fresh water tank 52 and a gray water tank 54 are both in fluid communication with a water inlet 56 of the toilet 26. While not particularly shown, it will be understood that the gray water tank 54 receives gray water from the sink 29, a shower 58, a kitchen sink 60, and the like. A transfer pump 62 including a treatment chemical injector delivers the gray water from the gray water tank 54 to the inlet 56 as needed for toilet flushing. The gray water is supplemented with the source of fresh water which is delivered by a standard demand pump 64 to the inlet 56. In this manner, diverted gray water which is otherwise merely discarded can be used as toilet flush water so as the conserve potable fresh water.

[0030] The description of the invention is merely exemplary in nature and, thus, variations that do not depart from the gist of the invention are intended to be within the scope of the invention. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention.





 
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