Title:
Air conditioning system for a garment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An air conditioning system for a garment that is worn over the clothing of an individual that utilizes a thermoelectric heating and cooling system that allows an individual to control the temperature under the garment. The garment protects the individual from extreme external temperatures in the environment. The system also prevents the buildup of humidity within the garment since the air that is heated or cooled by the thermoelectric device is dehumidified before it enters the garment. The air conditioning mechanism is mounted in a self-contained environment that is insulated from the ambient air temperature in the environment.



Inventors:
Warren, Ray (Phoenix, AZ, US)
Application Number:
11/067097
Publication Date:
08/31/2006
Filing Date:
02/25/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/3.5, 62/259.3
International Classes:
F25B21/02; A41B1/00; A41D1/00; F25D23/12
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NALVEN, EMILY IRIS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VENJURIS, P.C. (PHOENIX, AZ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An air conditioning system for retaining comfort in extreme temperatures comprising: a. An air conditioner, said air conditioner further comprising a: i. a casing, said casing further comprising an interior space, a first side, a second side, and an exhaust valve wherein each of the first and second sides further comprise hole; ii. a thermoelectric heating and cooling device, said thermoelectric heating and cooling device further comprising a first plate and a second plate wherein said thermoelectric heating and cooling device is secured to the second side of the casing such that said second plate of said thermoelectric heating and cooling device fits within said hole of said second side of the casing and is not exposed to the interior space of the casing; iii. a power source said power source is coupled to said thermoelectric heating and cooling device; iv. a heat sink; said heat sink further comprising a contact plate and at least one fin such that said at least one fin is connected substantially perpendicular to said contact plate wherein said contact plate is coupled to said first plate of said thermoelectric heating and cooling device; v. a fan, said fan is coupled to said power source and to said first side of the casing such that the fan is exposed to ambient air through said hole of the first side of the casing; vi. a switch; said switch further comprising a first and second position and is coupled to said power source; a) such that when said switch is in the first position, said power source delivers a direct current to said thermoelectric heating and cooling device so that the temperature of said first plate will rise above ambient air temperature thereby causing the temperature of said heat sink to approach the temperature of said first plate of said thermoelectric heating and cooling device; said fan becomes activated so that said fan draws ambient air into said casing such that said air is forced into contact with said at least one fin of said heat sink thereby raising the temperature of said air; b) such that when said switch is in the second position, said power source delivers a direct current to said thermoelectric heating and cooling device so that the temperature of said first plate will drop below ambient air temperature thereby causing the temperature of said heat sink to approach the temperature of said first plate of said thermoelectric heating and cooling device; said fan becomes activated so that said fan draws ambient air into said casing such that said air is forced into contact with said at least one fin of said heat sink thereby lowering the temperature of said air; vii. a tube; said tube further comprising a first end and a second end wherein the first end of said tube is connected to said exhaust valve of said casing; viii. a protective garment; a) said protective garment to be worn on top of at least one article of clothing on an individual such that said garment allows exposure of said individual's hands, feet, and face; b) said protective garment further comprising an intake valve such that the second end of said tube is coupled to said intake valve wherein said air is expelled from said casing into said tube and into said protective garment thereby changing the temperature within said protective garment to a temperature that approaches the temperature of said first plate; b. a carrying container, said carrying container further comprising a first hole and a second hole such that said air conditioner is enclosed within said carrying container wherein said fan is exposed to ambient air through said first hole and said second plate of said thermoelectric heating and cooling device physically resides outside of said carrying container through said second hole so that said second plate is exposed to ambient air wherein said carrying container is worn on top of said protective garment.

2. The air conditioning system in claim 1 wherein said protective garment is constructed of a plastic material.

3. The air conditioning system in claim 1 wherein said protective garment is constructed of a vinyl material.

4. The air conditioning system of claim 1 wherein said protective garment further comprises a hood wherein said hood is worn on the head of said individual so that the face of said individual remains exposed to ambient air.

5. The air conditioning system of claim 1 wherein said container is a backpack.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to temperature and climate-controlled suits that are worn by humans to protect them from extreme external temperatures in the environment. Specifically, the present invention pertains to low-cost self-contained climate-controlled suits that are worn by humans that keep a person's skin temperature constant without moisture buildup inside the suit.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the extreme winter and summer temperatures, it is often uncomfortable, if not difficult, to move about outdoors. Travel is even more difficult in certain parts of the country such as the Arizona desert in summer, or in Minnesota during winter where temperatures can range from 110 degrees to as low as −30 degrees. While most individuals cope in the extreme cold temperatures by wearing layers of clothing in an effort to secure body heat, it would be desirable to have a portable means to provide heat that would reduce the need to wear many layers of clothing. Likewise, in the summer, many professionals are required to wear business suits that are very uncomfortable in high temperatures and high humidity. It would also be desirable to provide a portable means to cool a person who must wear uncomfortable clothing outdoors to maximize comfort.

The present invention addresses these concerns by providing a suit that may be worn over clothing while maintaining a stable temperature and humidity level within a confined space of the suit. The temperature inside the suit may be kept at a constant temperature through the use of a combination thermoelectric heater/cooler that is housed within a backpack. An intake fan is exposed to the elements and ingests air from the outside into the backpack where it passes over a large heat sink that is either cool or hot depending on how the heater/cooler is set. When the air passes over the heat sink, the temperature of the air is either raised or lowered depending on the temperature of the heat sink. The air is then forced out of the backpack into the suit through a narrow tube that his connected to the suit.

The suit is made from plastic, vinyl or other suitable non-porous material. The suit is constructed so that it can cover a large portion of the human body over clothing, yet leave the hands, feet, and face exposed to the environment. When the air is delivered from the backpack to the suit through the tube, it circulates throughout the suit so that the person within the suit remains in a comfortable constant-temperature and low-humidity environment. The air is expelled through openings in the suit near the neck area or around the hands and feet area.

DISCUSSION OF THE PRIOR ART

Temperature controlled suits are known in the prior art. More specifically, suits that are used to cover an entire person's body that are cooled or heated using an external source of conditioned air are discussed in the prior art. Other similar temperature-controlled and air conditioned suits are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,064,448, 2,540,547, 3,085,405, 3,085,405, 5,197,294, and French Patent No. FR2619315.

While these devices aim to function as air conditioned suits, and while each invention disclosed in the respective patents may disclose a feature of the present invention, none of the above-listed patents disclose the combination of features in the present invention either individually or in combination with each other in such a way that it would have been obvious to do so at the time the present invention was conceived.

In addition, there is a need in the art for a device which can function as both a thermoelectric air conditioner that works in combination with a lightweight plastic or vinyl suit worn over other clothing that maximizes throughput of air, yet minimizes the level of humidity under the suit. A device of this type is disclosed by the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Broadly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a source for heating and cooling a space confined under a garment.

It is a further object of the present invention that the source for heating and cooling the space is a thermoelectric heating and cooling unit.

It is a further object of the present invention that the thermoelectric heating and cooling unit be confined within a closed space.

It is a further object of the present invention that a fan or other wind-producing device be used to deliver air in contact with the thermoelectric device to cool or heat the air.

It is a further object of the present invention that the heated or cooled air is delivered through a tube from the closed space to inside of the garment.

It is a further object of the present invention that the garment be worn over at least one layer of clothing that is worn by a person.

It is a further object of the present invention that the thermoelectric device is capable of switching from heating to cooling functionality by means of a switch.

It is a further object of the present invention that the air delivered to the garment contains minimal humidity.

The description of the invention which follows, together with the accompanying drawings should not be construed as limiting the invention to the example shown and described, because those skilled in the art to which this invention appertains will be able to devise other forms thereof within the ambit of the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of the backpack that encloses the thermoelectric apparatus and the delivery tube;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the thermoelectric apparatus from the front of the device;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the thermoelectric apparatus from the rear of the device;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the thermoelectric apparatus showing the front panel of the apparatus removed;

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of the thermoelectric apparatus showing the rear panel of the apparatus removed;

FIG. 5 is a side cross-sectional view of the thermoelectric apparatus showing the general path of how ambient air is ingested into the apparatus and is expelled from the apparatus;

FIG. 5A is a side cross-sectional view of the thermoelectric apparatus showing the thermoelectric apparatus encased within the backpack;

FIG. 6 is a front view of a person wearing the suit over a layer of clothing with the thermoelectric apparatus connected to the suit;

FIG. 6A is a rear view of a person wearing the suit over a layer of clothing with the thermoelectric apparatus connected to the suit.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

By way of one example of many to serve as background in understanding the present invention, FIG. 1 shows a thermoelectric heating and cooling apparatus 100 enclosed within a backpack 120. The backpack 120 has two straps 130 for wearing around an individual's shoulders as shown in FIG. 6. Referring back to FIG. 1, a fan cover 110 is embedded within an opening in the rear of the backpack 120. The fan cover 110 receives air that is ingested into the backpack 120 from a fan 210 as shown in FIG. 2. Referring to FIG. 1, a tube 140 receives air that is expelled from the backpack 120 and travels down the length of the tube 140 until it is forced into a suit 420 as shown in FIG. 6. A connector 150 is used to connect to a receiving port on the suit 420 as shown in FIG. 6a.

FIG. 2 shows the parts of the thermoelectric heating and cooling apparatus 205. A thermoelectric heating and cooling apparatus utilizes the Peltier effect, which utilizes bimetallic plates 225 that are connected to a low voltage D.C. power source such as batteries 270. The surfaces of the bimetallic plates 225 become cold on one plate and hot on the other when a direct current is applied across the plates 225. The surface area of the first plate 226 is in direct contact with the rear surface area of a heat sink 220. The second plate 227 of the bimetallic plates 225 is insulated from the first plate 226 but is secured to the first plate by the insulation. The surface area of the second plate 227 faces outward and must reside outside of the front casing 250. The front casing 250 receives the combination of the heat sink 220 and bimetallic plates 225 so that the heat sink 220 and the first plate 226 are enclosed entirely within the front casing 250. A tube receiver 260 is secured to the front casing so that the tube 140 may be secured to the tube receiver 260 by means of the connector 150.

A rear casing 240 contains the fan cover 110 that is comprised of numerous holes 230 that allow for air to flow into the rear casing 240. A fan 210 is secured to the rear casing 240 directly over the fan cover 110. When the fan 210 is activated, it serves to draw ambient air in from the outside environment and into the rear casing 240. The rear casing 240 and the front casing 250 are joined together to form a unit 320 with a chamber 315 as shown in FIG. 5. A switch 200 is secured to the rear casing 240. When the switch 200 is in the “on” position, it draws current from the batteries 270 and activates the fan 210 and the bimetallic plates 225. The fan 210 is unidirectional and will only draw air in from the outside environment. As mentioned previously, when current is applied across the bimetallic plates 225, the first plate 226 will become hot or cold depending upon whether the switch 200 is in the “hot” or “cold” position.

As shown in FIG. 5, if it is assumed that the switch 200 is in the “hot” position, the first plate 226 will heat substantially to a temperature that is significantly higher than the ambient air temperature. When the first plate 226 is in direct contact with the heat sink 220, the temperature of the heat sink 220, which is made from a material that is an excellent conductor of heat, will approach the temperature of the first plate 226. When the fan 210 draws air 300 into the rear casing 240 and generally follows the path 310, the air 300 will come into direct contact with the heat sink 220. Likewise, the temperature of the air 300 will heat up significantly and approach the temperature of the heat sink 220 in the immediate vicinity of the heat sink 220. Once the temperature of the air 300 is heated in the immediate vicinity of the heat sink 220, the remaining air in the enclosed area within the front casing 240 and rear casing 250 will also become heated. This is primarily due to the heat sink 220, the fan 210 and the first plate 226 are all enclosed within the two casings.

When the air pressure in the chamber 315 becomes greater than the ambient air pressure, the heated air 300 will enter the cap 260, will flow into the tube 140 and enter into the suit 420 as shown in FIG. 6. It is imperative that the second plate 227 remain outside of the chamber 315 to prevent the cold temperature of the second plate 227 from canceling the effects of the warm temperature of the first plate 226. When the switch 200 is moved to the “cold” position, the exact opposite effects occur that make the temperature of the first plate 226 drop significantly below the ambient temperature, while the temperature of the second plate will rise substantially. FIG. 5A shows how the unit 320 is enveloped by the backpack 120.

FIG. 6 shows an individual 400 wearing the suit 420. It is important that the suit 420 be made of plastic or vinyl so that when the air 300 is received into the suit 420, that the air 300 does not escape through the suit 420. It is also imperative that the suit 420 be worn on top of other clothing to minimize direct contact with the individual's skin. The hands, feet, and face of the individual 400 are not covered. In fact, the incoming air 300 should only escape in minimal amounts from the area near the neck of the individual 400. Because the air 300 that is produced emerges from a thermoelectric heating or cooling apparatus, the air is far less humid. Thus, when the air 300 enters the suit 420, the humidity in the air 300 will be substantially diminished. FIG. 6A shows the suit 420 being worn with the backpack 120 being worn.

While the inventive apparatus, as well as a method of heating and cooling ambient air and directing into a suit that is worn over clothing as described and claimed herein shown and disclosed in detail is fully capable of attaining the objects and providing the advantages hereinbefore stated, it is to be understood that it is merely illustrative of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention and that no limitations are intended to the detail of construction or design herein shown other than as defined in the appended claims.

Although the invention has been described in detail with reference to one or more particular preferred embodiments, persons possessing ordinary skill in the art to which this invention pertains will appreciate that various modifications and enhancements may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the claims that follow.