Title:
High-efficiency heater pump
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a high-efficiency water pump and heater assembly for use with a pool or spa as a device that facilitates the filtering and heating of the pool water. A water pump and turbine engine are combined using an inventive linkage assembly that incorporates a revolutions per minute (rpm) reducing device. The rpm reducing device is operative to reduce the rpm speed associated with the turbine engine substantially to a revolutions-per-minute speed commonly associated with pool water pumps. A heat exchanger is disposed in the exhaust path of the turbine engine whereby water flowing through the heat exchanger coils is heated to a predetermined threshold as monitored by a temperature-monitoring device. The temperature-monitoring device causes a bypass device to redirect the flow of exhaust air once the predetermined temperature threshold has been reached such that the heat exchanger coils are bypassed as long as the water temperature is at or above the predetermined threshold.



Inventors:
Kauth, Christopher M. (Birmingham, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/428223
Publication Date:
11/06/2003
Filing Date:
05/02/2003
Assignee:
KAUTH CHRISTOPHER M.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
126/378.1, 126/379.1, 126/392.1
International Classes:
A61H33/00; F28D21/00; (IPC1-7): F24H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YEUNG, JAMES C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DINSMORE & SHOHL LLP (TROY, MI, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A water pump and heater assembly for use with a pool or spa, said water pump and heater assembly comprising: a water pump having an inlet and outlet, said water pump operative to draw water from the pool and expel the water through the outlet; a turbine engine having an air inlet path and exhaust path, said turbine engine operative to heat air drawn into said inlet path and expel the heated air through said exhaust path; a heat exchanger disposed in the exhaust path, said heat exchanger being in fluid communication with the water pump outlet and the pool such that water from the water pump outlet flows through the heat exchanger and into the pool; and a linkage assembly in mechanical communication with the water pump and the turbine engine, said linkage assembly operative to cause a reduction in rpm from the turbine engine to the water pump.

2. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 1 further comprising a exhaust diverter having a bypass solenoid, said bypass solenoid operative to cause exhaust air to be diverted from said heat exchanger to said exhaust diverter.

3. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 2 further comprising a thermostat operative to cause said bypass solenoid to energize when water in the pool reaches a predetermined temperature.

4. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 1 further comprising a combustion chamber and an igniter in communication with said turbine engine.

5. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 1 wherein the linkage assembly further comprising a gear box in mechanical communication with said water pump, said gear box operative to cause a reduction in rpm speed from the turbine engine to the water pump.

6. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 1 further comprising a noise attenuating device for reducing noise produced by said turbine engine.

7. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 1 further comprising an air inlet nozzle disposed at said air inlet.

8. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 5 wherein said gear box further comprises an oil pump portion.

9. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 2 wherein the heat exchanger further comprises dual coils disposed in the exhaust diffuser.

10. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 1 wherein said heat exchanger is a radiator.

11. The water pump and heater assembly of claim 1 wherein said assembly is portable.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority from U.S. provisional patent application Serial No. 60/377,360, filed May 3, 2002, the entire content of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates to pumping and heating water and more particularly an apparatus for pumping and heating water contained in swimming pools, hot tubs or the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Conventionally, two separate devices are used for cleaning and heating water contained within swimming pools, spas and/or hot tubs, namely, a water pump and a heating unit. Commonly, a motor is provided to drive the water pump that draws water from the pool or hot tub and pumps it through the heating unit or system. The water is heated in the heating unit to a desired temperature by natural gas or electricity and thereafter pumped along the water line back into the pool or spa. In many heated-pool systems, the water pump and heating unit require separate energy sources such as electricity for the pumping and electricity or gas fuel for the heating. Thus, it is appreciated that a substantial cost relative to operating and maintaining a heated pool system is associated with energy and fuel consumption. The present invention seeks to provide a high-efficiency water pump and heating assembly that is operated with a single energy source and common drive mechanism to accomplish pumping and heating water to a desired temperature within a pool or spa.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The present invention provides a high-efficiency combination water pump and heater assembly for use in cleaning and heating a pool, spa or the like.

[0005] The water pump and heater assembly as according to the invention includes a water pump having an inlet and outlet wherein the water pump is operative to draw water from the pool, pass the water through a filtration system, and expel the water through the outlet for return back to the pool.

[0006] A turbine engine having an air inlet path and an exhaust path is provided and is operative to heat outside air drawn into the engine inlet via a combustion process and expel the heated air through the exhaust path.

[0007] A heat exchanger is disposed in the exhaust path and is in fluid communication with the outlet of the water pump and the return path to the pool such that water from the water pump outlet flows through the heat exchanger and back into the pool.

[0008] A linkage assembly is in mechanical communication with the water pump and turbine engine whereby the linkage assembly is operative to allow the turbine engine to operate as the drive mechanism for the water pump, and whereby the linkage includes a revolutions per minute reducing device that causes a reduction in revolutions per minute from the turbine engine to the water pump.

[0009] The turbine engine is powered by a single-fuel source and, in addition to producing heated air for heating the pool water, the turbine engine drives the linkage assembly and thus provides the drive power for the water pump.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] A better understanding of the present invention will be had upon reference to the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like parts are given like reference numerals and wherein:

[0011] FIG. 1 is illustrative of a top view of the water pump and heater assembly as according to the invention;

[0012] FIG. 2 is illustrative of a side view of the water pump and heater assembly;

[0013] FIG. 3 illustrates a 3-D perspective view of the water pump and heater assembly; and

[0014] FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of a fuel source in communication with the air inlet portion of the heater and water pump assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0015] The object of the present invention is to create an energy-efficient water pump and heater assembly for swimming pools and spas. Many conventional pool and spa systems include separate water pump and heater apparatus for filtering and heating the water contained therein, respectively. Each component is typically associated with its own energy source for power, and frequently, separate pumping/drive mechanisms for causing water to be drawn through the component subsystems accordingly.

[0016] As an advantage, the present invention seeks to provide a high-efficiency water pump and heater assembly that utilizes a common energy source and drive assembly for facilitating the functions of filtering and heating the water contained within a pool or spa.

[0017] Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the inventive water pump and heater assembly 10 is provided and includes a water pump 12 for drawing water from the pool whereby the water may be cleaned through a filtration system (not shown). The water pump 12 includes a water inlet 14 and outlet 16 for receiving water into and expelling water from the pump 12 accordingly. It is appreciated that water flow into and out from the water pump and heater assembly 10 is supported by appropriate piping and or tubing as known to those skilled in the art for interconnecting the inventive assembly, pool inlet and outlet, drains, external filtration systems, and other conventional peripheral devices used with pool or spa systems.

[0018] Illustratively, water drawn by the water pump 12 passes through a first filter component for removing large debris such as leaves, bugs, and/or the like. This filter may be provided in the form of a screen or screen basket whereby the large debris can be collected and discarded as necessary. In this manner, the risk of the water pump 12 becoming clogged is obviated. Thereafter, a secondary filter cleans the water of smaller debris particles that are not captured by the first filtering components that precedes the water inlet 14 of the water pump 12. The secondary filtering may be accomplished internal to the water pump 12 adjacent the water inlet 14 or after the water passes through the water pump outlet 16.

[0019] A turbine engine 18 is provided as the drive component for the water pump and heater assembly 10. The turbine engine 18 is operative to output high amounts of heat and to produce a great degree of torque during operation. As a generator of heat, the turbine engine 18 produces more heat with less or equivalent fuel consumption than conventional heating apparatus, such as electrical or gas powered heaters that utilize inductive coils, ceramics, metallic burners or similar heat dissipating materials. Preferably, the turbine engine 18 is equivalent to a Saab® 900 Turbo Charger; however, other types of turbine engines may be used for such purpose. It is appreciated that other types of engines may be used as heat generators, but these engines typically will not produce the high levels of heat as efficiently as the turbine engine for substantially equal amounts of energy or fuel consumption. These may illustratively include electric motors and small horsepower gas engines.

[0020] The present invention harnesses the heat produced by the turbine engine 18 as a source for heating the water from the pool in a manner to be described hereinafter. Likewise, the large degree of torque produced by the turbine engine 18 is harnessed to drive the water pump 12 that filters the water.

[0021] The turbine engine 18 includes an air inlet path 20 and exhaust path 22 for receiving air into and expelling air from the turbine engine 18, respectively. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the air inlet path may be disposed with an inducing nozzle 20 for channeling air into the turbine engine 18, and an exhaust diffuser 60 disposed in the exhaust path 22 for diffusing the exhaust air from the turbine engine 18.

[0022] Referring now to FIG. 3, the water pump and heater assembly 10 includes a heat exchanger 24 for receiving water from the pool delivered via the water pump 12 for heating and thereafter returned to the pool accordingly. Preferably, the heat exchanger 24 is comprised of a dual coil system wherein an inner coil 26 communicates with an outer coil 28 for propagating water through the heat exchanger 24. The dual coil provides a greater distance through which the pool water must travel and thus allows for the water to absorb more heat as opposed to that absorbed from a single coil. As illustrated, the heat exchanger 24 is preferably dimensioned to be received within the exhaust diffuser 60 attached to the exhaust path 22 of the turbine engine 18. In this fashion, the exhaust air from the turbine engine 18 is expelled through the exhaust path 22 out of the exhaust diffuser 60 wherein the heat exchanger 24 is disposed. Accordingly, the high temperature of the exhaust air from the turbine engine 18 causes the heat exchanger coils 26 and 28 to heat up which in turn heats up the water flowing therethrough.

[0023] As best illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 3, the water pump and heater assembly 10 includes a linkage assembly 30 that interconnects the turbine engine 18 and the water pump 12. Essentially, the linkage assembly 30 operates as a drive mechanism for translating the torque energy produced by the turbine engine 18 to the water pump 12 that draws water through the filtering system and heat exchanger 24. The linkage assembly is attached to the turbine engine 18 at one end and attached to a gear box 70 at the opposite end.

[0024] The gear box 70 is operative to reduce the revolutions per minute (rpm) associated with the turbine engine 18 substantially to an rpm speed commonly associated with water pumps used for swimming pools. Preferably, the gear box operates to reduce the rpm speed to approximately {fraction (1/20)}th of the speed from the turbine engine 18 to the water pump 12, or from approximately 80,000 rpm to 4000 rpm. Essentially, the gear box 70 operates as an interface between the turbine engine 18 and linkage assembly 30 to provide the appropriate drive speed for the water pump 12. It is appreciated that other rpm reducing devices may be used for such purpose including, but not limited to, belt and pulley systems. In a preferred embodiment, the gear box 70 includes an oil pump portion 50. The oil pump portion 50 associated with the gear box 70 is operative to circulate oil through the turbine engine 18 and gear box 70.

[0025] The gear box 70 and water pump 12 have separate propellers that may rotate at different speeds. Accordingly, the gear box 70 may be designed to provide the rpm speed for both the water pump 12 and oil pump portion 50 accordingly. Although the oil pump portion 50 of the gear box 70 and water pump 12 are preferably combined to share the same housing, the oil and water remain separated at all times as the two fluids flow through separate isolated chambers and fluid networks during operation. The oil pump portion 50 is primarily provided for cooling and lubricating the turbine engine 18 and the gears and bearings within the gear box 50 that may be caused to overheat and seize up due to the high-torque speed of the turbine engine 18.

[0026] The gear box 70 has intake and exit lines 52 and 54, respectively, for oil to pass between the oil pump 50 and turbine engine 18. As illustrated in FIG. 1, an oil filter 56 may also be incorporated into the intake and exit lines of the oil pump 50 for removing any small particulates that may be introduced into the oil during operation.

[0027] As illustrated in FIG. 3, the water pump and heater assembly 10 also includes a combustion chamber 48 having an igniter integrated between the air intake nozzle 20 and turbine portion of the turbine engine 18. A compressor portion 46 of the turbine engine 18 is operative to compress the incoming air to a high pressure before being received into the combustion chamber 48 that houses the igniter. Preferably, a steady stream of fuel mist is injected into the incoming air from a fuel source such as propane, natural gas, kerosene, or other combustible fluid. The fuel may be injected into the air stream at the air intake nozzle 20 of the turbine engine 18 or introduced into the combustion chamber 48 through an appropriate means such as a fuel injector or the like. As best illustrated in FIG. 1, the air intake nozzle 20 may include an intake aperture for receiving a fuel intake line from a fuel source 40. Alternatively, the gaseous fuel mist may be dispensed direct into the air intake nozzle 20 as illustrated in FIG. 4.

[0028] An igniter disposed within the combustion chamber 48 ignites the gas and compressed air mixture and the exhaust therefrom is drawn through the turbine engine 18 and expelled through the exhaust path 22. The exhaust diffuser 60 diffuses the exhaust air over the heat exchanger 24 and thereby heating the dual coils 26 and 28.

[0029] As described, the present invention provides a water pump and heater assembly 10 that is operative to cause the filtering and heating of pool water contemporaneously in a single system. Preferably, the water pump and heater assembly 10 is a portable device that may be incorporated into any pool or spa system as desired without the need for making connections to external power supplies or fuel sources.

[0030] As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the water pump and heater assembly 10 is preferably provided with a water temperature monitoring device 42, such as a thermostat, which energizes a bypass valve 44 associated with the heat exchanger 24. When the water temperature reaches a predetermined threshold, the bypass valve 44 is operative to cause the exhaust air to bypass the heat exchanger 24 and be expelled through an exhaust diverter 45 as long as the water temperature is at or above a predetermined threshold. When the water temperature falls below the predetermined threshold, the bypass valve is de-energized and the exhaust is again allowed to flow through the heat exchanger 24 for heating the water. The bypass valve 44 may also be operative to divert the flow of some portion of the water from the heat exchanger 24 as a means of regulating the temperature of the water. It is appreciated that other methods of regulating water temperature may become apparent to those skilled in the art but do not exceed the scope of the invention.

[0031] From the foregoing, it can be seen that the present invention provides a high-efficiency water pump and heater assembly sharing a common fuel source and drive mechanism. One skilled in the art upon reading the specification will appreciate changes and modifications that do not depart from the spirit of the invention as defined by the scope of the appended claims.