Title:
Pressure vessel door
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A door for a pressurized vessel comprises a circular seat and lid. The seat has a plurality of locking receivers that are configured to receive a locking arm on the outer surface of the lid when the lid is positioned against the seat. The lid has a plurality of guides configured to direct the travel of the locking arms as the locking arms move toward and away from the locking receivers. A locking actuator is positioned on the outer surface of the lid and configured to cause each locking arm to extend through one of the guides and locking receivers so that a pressurized seal is maintained. An opening actuator is also coupled to the lid and to the pressurized vessel and is configured to conceal and expose the opening by positioning the lid against and away from the seat, respectively.



Inventors:
Freeman, Jimmy L. (Jasper, AL, US)
Application Number:
10/899871
Publication Date:
02/16/2006
Filing Date:
07/27/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D45/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMAS | HORSTEMEYER, LLP (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A door for a pressurized vessel, comprising: a circular seat having a plurality of locking receivers positioned on the seat, each locking receiver configured to receive a locking arm; a circular lid having a plurality of guides, the number of guides corresponding to the number of locking receivers and configured to direct the travel of the locking arm; a locking actuator configured to cause each locking arm to extend through a guide and locking receiver when the lid is secured to the seat, wherein a seal is created between the lid and seat, and so as to extend through the guide but not the locking receiver when the lid is not secured to the seat; an opening actuator coupled to the lid and configured to remove the lid from the seat, thereby exposing an opening in the seat to an interior area of the pressurized vessel, and configured to place the lid against the seat, thereby concealing the opening in the seat to the interior area of the pressurized vessel.

2. The vessel of claim 1, wherein the locking actuator moves a locking bar linearly, wherein the locking bar is coupled to a rotator that is configured to rotate about the center of the lid.

3. The vessel of claim 2, wherein the locking arms are coupled to the rotator proximate to the end of the locking arm so that each locking arm travels approximately radially outward about the outer surface of the lid.

4. The vessel of claim 1, wherein the lid contains four guides and the seat contains four locking receivers.

5. The vessel of claim 1, wherein the opening actuator is a hydraulic actuator.

6. The vessel of claim 1, wherein the opening actuator is an electric motor.

7. The vessel of claim 1, wherein the locking actuator is a hydraulic cylinder.

8. The vessel of claim 1 wherein the locking actuator is an electric actuated device.

9. The vessel of claim 1, further comprising: one or more seal rings positioned on the inner surface of the lid and configured to physically contact the seat when the lid is in a closed position so that a pressurized seal is created.

10. The vessel of claim 1, further comprising: a pin extending beyond a bottom surface of the locking arm; and a track configured into a portion of the outer surface of the lid, wherein the track receives the pin so as to guide the travel of the locking arm when the locking arm is in motion.

11. The vessel of claim 10, wherein the lid contains one track for each locking arm and each track extends in a direction between the center point of the lid and the outer circumference of the lid.

12. A method for sealing an opening to a pressurized vessel, comprising the steps of: activating a lid actuator coupled to the pressurized vessel and to a circular lid to position the lid over the opening to the pressurized vessel and into contact with a seat coupled to the pressurized vessel, wherein the lid travels in an arc in relation to the lid actuator; and activating a locking actuator on the outer surface of the lid to rotate a locking communicator positioned at the center of the lid, the locking communicator coupled to a plurality of locking arms, wherein each locking arm travels through a guide coupled to the lid and through a locking receiver coupled to a seat, and wherein the lid seals to the seat when the locking arms travel through the locking receiver.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the lid actuator is a hydraulic actuator.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the locking actuator is a hydraulic cylinder.

15. The method of claim 12, further comprising the step of: routing each locking arm along a track configured into the outer surface of the lid, wherein each locking arm is configured with a pin that engages and travels in the track.

16. The method of claim 12, wherein the lid seats to the seat according to a circular seal coupled to the lid that engages both the seat and the lid when the lid is in a closed position so as to enable the pressurized vessel to maintain pressures greater than one atmosphere.

17. A lid assembly for a circular opening on a pressurized vessel, comprising: a circular metal lid having one or more o-ring seals on an inner side; a plurality of metal guides attached on the outer surface of the lid, each guide having an opening; a plurality of locking arms, one locking arm for each guide, wherein the locking arms extend through the guide opening; a rotator assembly positioned on the outer surface of the lid and positioned at the center of the lid, the rotator assembly coupled to each locking arm and configured to rotate, wherein the rotation of the rotator assembly moves each locking arm in a direction so that the locking arm moves toward and away from the center of the lid in correspondence to the direction of rotation of the rotator assembly; a locking actuator positioned on the outer surface of the lid and mechanically coupled to the rotator assembly, the locking actuator being configured to rotate the rotator assembly about the center of the lid in a clockwise or counterclockwise orientation according to the movements of the locking actuator; a seat coupled to the pressurized vessel around the opening, the seat configured with a plurality of locking dogs, each locking dog having an opening and positioned on the seat to align with the guides for receiving the locking arms when in an extended position; and a lid actuator coupled to the lid and to the pressurized vessel that is configured to move the lid to and from the seat to expose or close the opening according to the movement of the lid actuator.

18. The door of claim 17, wherein the locking actuator is configured to rotate the rotator assembly so that the locking arms move in a direction toward the center of the lid and extend through the guides but not through the locking dogs.

19. The door of claim 17, wherein the locking actuator is configured to rotate the rotator assembly so that the locking arms move in a direction away from the center of the lid and extend through the locking dogs.

20. The door of claim 17, further comprising: a controller that directs the movement of the locking actuator and the lid actuator.

21. A lid assembly for a circular opening on a pressurized vessel, comprising: means for positioning a lid over the opening, said means for positioning coupled to the pressurized vessel; means for rotating a rotator assembly positioned on the outer surface of the lid at the center of the lid; means for engaging the lid to a seat on the pressurized vessel, the means for engaging coupled to the means for rotating; means for directing the movement of the means for engaging, said means for directing positioned on the outer surface of the lid; and means for receiving the means for engaging, said means for receiving positioned on the seat.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to pressurized vessels and, more particularly, to an apparatus and method for a pressurized vessel door.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

At least one method of generating electricity involves burning coal to generate heat, which transforms water to steam that is then routed under pressure through the turbines that produce electrical energy. After hydroelectric dams, coal-fired power plants represent one of the oldest methods of generating electricity.

The incineration of coal is not a perfectly efficient process, meaning that the effluent from the boiler where the coal is burned typically contains chemical agents that are harmful to people and the environment. Agents such as ozone (smog), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, NOx, such as nitrogen dioxide, lead, and particulate soot may be released into the environment through the coal-burning process. In recent years, governments have enacted laws to control and greatly reduce the amount of pollutants such as these that can be released into the environment.

Because of these changes in environmental laws, some types of coal have become disfavored or even barred as fuel options, as the chemical compositions of these coals are such that their incineration actually results in a higher concentration of undesirable chemical agents. For example, some types of coals contain high sulfur content levels, thereby resulting in a much higher release concentration of chemical pollutants such as sulfur dioxide when burned in a coal incinerator. Thus, some of these types of coals cannot be used any more for at least this reason. So the economic effect on coal mining industries in locations where such undesirable coal is found can be and in some instances has been catastrophic. There is a need then for a process to make these types of fuel available again for combustion.

Likewise, a similar issue exists with common garbage. Landfills throughout the world are filling at alarming rates with residential and commercial garbage. With exploding populations and decreasing landfill space, garbage disposal may soon reach crisis levels.

Additionally, disposal of garbage presents a host of environmental issues as well. Even common household garbage may contain harmful liquid and solid chemicals that can damage the environment once deposited in a landfill. Much of today's garbage takes a great amount of time to degrade, and a substantial amount of garbage is not even biodegradable, which means that it will forever be in the landfill.

As one solution to the ever increasing problem of garbage disposal, garbage incinerators have been developed to reduce the massive raw garbage to mere ashes for burial in a landfill. In theory, this concept solves at least the space issue with landfills, as garbage can be incinerated to a fraction of its original size. However, the same problem exists with garbage as with the coal discussed above, and perhaps even more so.

Garbage can be comprised of practically anything, which when burned may actually be more harmful to man and the environment than prior to incineration. Many compositions, whether liquid or sold, release harmful pollutants when burned, thereby limiting the type of materials that may be incinerated at a landfill. But the process of separating materials for incineration is usually difficult and time consuming, which increases the costs of garbage incineration to the point that it is not cost efficient anymore as compared to simply burying materials in the landfill. Plus, human operators may commonly misidentify certain materials for incineration so that harmful materials are unintentionally incinerated, which still results in the release of toxic chemicals, gases, and pollutants into the environment.

Solutions have arisen for treating coal, garbage, and other combustible materials prior to incineration so as to reduce the release of harmful agents during incineration. As one nonlimiting example, materials such as coal or garbage may be treated with chemical compounds under pressure. By mixing the compounds with the material under pressure, the material can be rendered combustible according to government restrictions.

However, a problem exists with vessels that mix the chemical compounds with the materials. Loading and unloading material into the vessel and then maintaining high pressure during treatment creates a host of problems for the vessel's entry point. Thus, there is a heretofore unaddressed need for an apparatus and method for loading, unloading, and maintaining pressure within such vessels for the treatment of materials therein.

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 principals of the present invention. Moreover, the drawings like reference numerals that designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.

FIG. 1 is a diagram of the pressurized vessel with the lid shown in an open position for receipt of material.

FIG. 2A is a diagram of the pressurized vessel of FIG. 1 with the lid shown in a closed position.

FIG. 2B is a diagram of the pressurized vessel of FIG. 1 shown rotated into an inverted position such that the lid is shown in a bottom position.

FIG. 3 is a diagram of the pressurized vessel of FIG. 1 with the lid on the pressurized vessel shown in an open position.

FIG. 4 is a diagram of the pressurized vessel of FIG. 1 with the lid of the pressurized vessel shown in a closed and locked position.

FIG. 5 is a diagram of the lid component of the pressurized vessel of FIG. 1 with the lid shown in a locked position.

FIG. 6 is a diagram of the lid component of the pressurized vessel of FIG. 1 with the lid shown in an unlocked position.

FIG. 7 is a diagram of an alternate embodiment of the lid of FIG. 1 such that the locking arm has a tracking pin and the lid is configured with a track for guiding the tracking pin.

FIG. 8 is a diagram of the locking arm of FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 is a diagram 10 of a pressurized vessel for treating certain types of materials so that the subsequent incineration of those materials releases less undesirable components into the atmosphere, as described above. In FIG. 1, vessel 11 is a pressurized vessel configured to treat materials, such as coal or garbage, with agents introduced into the vessel. In one embodiment among others, the vessel 11 operates, once loaded, under high pressure so as to properly treat the loaded material.

Vessel 11 is shown in FIG. 1 with a lid 12 in an open position so that material 19 may be loaded into the vessel 11 for treatment prior to incineration (as a nonlimiting example). Lid 12 is opened by actuator 17 that moves lid 12 away from seat 14, which is attached to pressurized vessel 11. One of ordinary skill in the art would know that lid 12 may be actuated away from seat 14 by a number of methods and/or devices; however, as nonlimiting examples, actuator 17 may be an hydraulic device or an electric motor.

In at least one nonlimiting example, pressurized vessel 11 is constructed of metal, as are lid 12 and seat 14. Moreover, one of ordinary skill would know that various types of metals may comprise vessel 11, lid 12, and seat 14. As a nonlimiting example, lid 12 and seat 14 may be constructed of 516 grade steel.

It is for at least the reason that lid 12 may be constructed of metal that actuator 17 may be configured as an hydraulic mover of lid 12. Actuator 17 may be connected to pressurized vessel 11 by mounts 21 which may be bolted, welded, or fastened in another manner, as one of ordinary skill in the art would know. Regardless of the fastening method used to secure actuator 17 to pressurized vessel 11, the result is that lid 12, which is connected to actuator 17, is secured so as to allow ease of movement in opening and closing operations.

As indicated above, material 19 may be coal, garbage, or any other type of material that may be treated within pressurized vessel 11. In fact, material 19 may be any substance that may be inserted in the opening within seat 14, as shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 2A is a diagram 10 of the pressurized vessel 111 of FIG. 1 with the lid 12 shown in a closed position. More specifically, actuator 17 may be controlled so as to rotate (or move) lid 12 from its position as shown in FIG. 1 so that it is placed in contact with seat 14. Actuator 17 may be configured so as to create a pressurized seal between lid 12 and seat 14 for a predetermined amount of time. However, a locking mechanism on lid 12, as discussed in more detail below, secures lid 12 to seat 14 so as to maintain a pressurized seal between lid 12 and seat 14 enabling material 19, once deposited within pressurized vessel 11, to be treated. Although not shown in this drawing, one or more control lines may be coupled between actuator 17 and a user interface device for controlling the opening and closing of lid 12, as shown in FIG. 2A.

In at least one nonlimiting example, pressurized vessel 11 may be configured so as to rotate around an axis extending lengthwise through the center of vessel 11, as shown in FIG. 2B. The interior sections of pressurized vessel 11 may be configured with one or more baffles, so as to move material 19 throughout the length of pressurized vessel 11 when pressurized vessel 11 is rotated. Whenever it is desired to remove material 19 from pressurized vessel 11, the pressurized vessel 11 may be configured so that the lid 12 and seat 14 are positioned at a bottom position of the pressurized vessel 11 for releasing any contents contained within pressurized vessel 11. During rotation of pressurized vessel 11, the seal between lid 12 and seat 14 is maintained at all times, regardless of the position of lid 12 and seat 14 around the exterior of pressurized vessel 11. If lid 12 is actuated by actuator 17 to an open position, material 19 contained within pressurized vessel 11 may be directed so as to fall out by gravity from the interior compartment of pressurized vessel 11.

FIG. 3 is a top view diagram 10 of pressurized vessel 11 shown with lid 12 in an open position. (FIG. 3 could also be a bottom view of pressurized vessel 11, as shown in FIG. 2B.) Irrespective of whether FIG. 3 is considered a top or bottom view of pressurized vessel 11, opening 23 inside seat 14 permits material 19 to pass into or out of pressurized vessel 11, depending upon whether pressurized vessel 11 is configured for loading (FIG. 1) or unloading (FIG. 2A).

In FIG. 3, actuator 17 communicates movement to couplings 26 and arms 28 which are connected to lid 12. As stated above, actuator 17 is connected to pressurized vessel 11 by mounts 21 which may be of any configuration so as to secure actuator 17 to pressurized vessel 11, as one of ordinary skill in the art would know.

As lid 12 is shown in an open position, the underside of lid 12 is visible, which is actually a portion of the interior of pressurized vessel 11 that comes into contact with material 19 and any other chemicals or solutions introduced into the interior portion of pressurized vessel 11. In order to maintain the seal between lid 12 and seat 14, one or more O-rings 29 or other sealing devices may be placed on lid 12 and/or on seat 14, so that when lid 12 contacts seat 14, a seal is created by O-ring 29 between lid 12 and seat 14. O-ring 29 maintains pressure in vessel 11 when lid 12 is closed.

FIG. 4 is a diagram 10 of the pressurized vessel 11 of FIG. 1 with lid 12 shown in a closed and locked position respective to seat 14. In this diagram, actuator 17 may be controlled so as to move lid 12 into physical contact with seat 14. More specifically, upon activation of actuator 17, actuator 17 causes coupling 26 to rotate, which moves arms 28 radially around coupling 26. Arms 28 are likewise connected to lid 12, which rotates lid 12 from an open position to a seated position in contact with seat 14.

In this nonlimiting example of FIG. 4, locking device 33 is configured so that lid 12 is locked and in a sealed relation to seat 14. It is when lid 12 and seat 14 are in physical contact that an equal seal is created by O-ring 29 (FIG. 3) around the inner circumference of lid 12 so that pressure may be increased within pressurized vessel 11. Stated another way, the sealing of lid 12 to seat 14 permits the pressure within pressurized vessel 11 to be increased so that any chemicals or other reagents inserted with material 19 within pressurized vessel 11 may react in a predetermined manner. Additionally, and as stated above, actuator 17 may actually be configured so as to maintain a predetermined seal rating between lid 12 and seat 14 until locking device 33 can be controlled so as to lock lid 12 to seat 14.

FIG. 5 is a close-up diagram of lid 12 and seat 14 with actuator 17 of FIG. 4. In FIG. 5, lid 12 is shown in a locked position respective to seat 14. As stated above, actuator 17 may be controlled so that couplings 26 are rotated so as to move arms 28 radially around shaft 25. In this radial movement of arms 28, which are each connected to lid 12, the result is that lid 12 is moved from an open position to a closed position in contact with seat 14.

When actuator 17 has placed lid 12 in contact with seat 14, locking device 33 may be controlled so as to cause locking arms 41, 42, 43, and 44 to be placed in contact with both lid 12 and seat 14. More specifically, when locking device 33 is activated, locking bar 36 is moved in a manner that rotates connector 38 and locking coupler 39, which is attached to locking arms 41, 42, 43 and 44. In this way, locking arms 41, 42, 43 and 44 are extended through guides 51, 52, 53 and 54, and also locking dogs 61, 62, 63 and 64, which are attached to seat 14.

As shown in FIG. 5, locking arm 41 extends through guide 51 which, in one nonlimiting example, is a metal arch secured to the top portion of lid 12 with an opening allowing locking arm 41 to pass therethrough. Locking dog 61 is a similar arch to guide 51, but locking dog 61 is instead attached to seat 14.

Returning to FIG. 1, guide 53 is shown on lid 12 as an arch allowing locking arm 43 to pass through the opening 56 of guide 53. Likewise, locking dog 63 is an integral part of seat 14, as shown in FIG. 1, but it is configured so that locking arm 43 may extend through the opening 66 of locking dog 63. Once locking device 33 causes locking arms 41-44 to be extended beyond locking dogs 61-64, lid 12 is properly sealed to seat 14 so that the treatment process of material 19 may take place.

As a nonlimiting example, locking device 33 may be an hydraulic cylinder. In another nonlimiting example, locking device 33 may be an electric device. One of ordinary skill in the art would know of other devices that may operate as locking device 33.

FIG. 6 is a diagram of the lid 12 and seat 14 of FIG. 5, but with lid 12 shown in an unlocked position respective to seat 14. In this nonlimiting example, locking device 33 may be controlled so that locking arm 36 causes connector 38 and coupler 39 to rotate such that locking arms 41, 42, 43 and 44 are retracted from the openings within locking dogs 61, 62, 63 and 64.

In at least this nonlimiting example, locking arms 41-44 do not retract completely out of the opening (i.e., opening 56 in guide 53) of guides 51-54, even though another nonlimiting example could be configured where they do. Instead, locking arms 41-44 retract to clear the openings of locking dogs 61-64 (i.e., opening 66 of locking dog 63). In this way, lid 12 may be opened as locking arms 41-44 are free and clear of locking dogs 61-64 on seat 14.

It should be understood, however, that the locking arms 41-44 are moved based upon the movement of locking device 33 and locking arm 36 that rotates connector 38 and coupler 39 about a center point on lid 12. Stated another way, connector 38 moves the end of each locking arm at its connection point to connector 38 along an arc centered at or near lid 12. Because locking arms 41-44 are coupled by bolts or other coupling means to the rotating device 39, linear movement is essentially created respective to locking dogs 61-64 and guides 51-54 to allow for the locking and unlocking of lid 12 respective to seat 14.

One of ordinary skill in the art would know that the lid assembly 12 and seat 14 may be constructed of bolts, pins, or other locking, attaching and fastening devices so as to achieve the desired seals according to this disclosure. One of ordinary skill in the art would also know that lid 12, seat 14, as well as the related components, such as rotating arm 28 may be constructed of any one of a variety of materials, including metals, plastics, etc.

Locking arms 41-44 may be constructed with a pin or extrusion on the bottom side so as to track along the length of the locking arm into the opening of locking dogs 61-64. More specifically and as an additional nonlimiting example, the top portion of lid 12 may contain one or more tracks so that locking arms 41-44 may be configured with one or more pins to travel within said tracks. The tracks in lid 12 may be fashioned in a manner to direct the travel of locking arms 41-44 for locking and unlocking operations, as described above.

FIG. 7 is an alternate embodiment diagram of lid 12 shown in FIG. 1 with locking arm 43 having a pin and a track 77 positioned in the outer surface of base 71 of lid 12. In this nonlimiting example, track 77 is configured extending from near the center of lid 12 to a point near or at the outer circumference of base 71. As yet another nonlimiting example, track 77 may instead be fashioned in a base 71 in a portion of the linear direction between lid 12 center and the outer circumference. Nevertheless, irrespective of these nonlimiting examples, including a track in this manner assists in guiding locking arm 43 (as well as the other locking arms 41, 42, and 44) through guides 51-54 and on through locking dogs 61-64 for locking (and also unlocking) lid 12 from seat 14.

FIG. 8 is a diagram of exemplary locking arm 43 shown with pin 74 that may be positioned in track 77 of FIG. 7. In this nonlimiting example, pin 74 extends a predetermined distance below the bottom surface of locking arm 43 so as to travel within track 77. One of ordinary skill in the art would know that pin 74 may be positioned at one or more locations along the length of locking arm 43, and the position shown in FIG. 8 is merely exemplary and not intended to be limiting upon this disclosure.

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 embodiment(s) 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.