Title:
Line-tuned compressed gas cooling systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pressurized gas source feeding an array of exhaust lines or conduits in association with a user-worn or retained garment is provided, thereby offering a portable cooling systems. The system is optionally adapted to provide powered cooling to locations where only very small and portable cooling systems can fit. Various user retainable appliances or articles may have cooling features incorporated therein including helmet and torso garments. The wearer of one such device integrating cooling features as described would experience cooling to the head or chest, respectively. Other user-wearable articles and associated cooling targets are contemplated as well. To provide the intended cooling effect, a conduit system in connection with a pressurized gas source is tuned, without nozzles or orifices, by way of various pipe-flow parameters to deliver a programmed distribution of cooling gas. Greater cooling effect may be targeted toward “hot” spots; alternatively, uniform cooling flow distribution may be achieved.



Inventors:
Defosset, Josh P. (Santa Cruz, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/910010
Publication Date:
08/31/2006
Filing Date:
08/02/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/86, 62/401
International Classes:
F25B9/00; F25D9/00; F25D23/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ALI, MOHAMMAD M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEVINE BAGADE HAN LLP (PALO ALTO, CA, US)
Claims:
The breadth of the present invention is to be limited only by the literal or equitable scope of the following claims. That being said, I claim:

1. A personal cooling system, comprising: a user-wearable article carrying a plurality of conduits, each conduit adapted to tolerate pressure between about 50 and about 500 psi, and having a terminal end open to direct a cooling flow at the user, the conduits alone, together, being tuned to delivery flow in a selected manner.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the selected manner comprises even flow in at least one region.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the selected manner comprises greater flow in at least one region over at least one other region.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the conduits are attached to the article.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the conduits are formed integrally with the article.

6. The system of claim 1, further comprising a programmed control system.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the control system is responsive to a measured condition of the user.

8. The system of claim 6, wherein the control system comprises a plurality of pre-set programs.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein parameters of the programs including a frequency of flow delivery and a duration of flow delivery are variables.

10. The system of claim 6, further comprising a user-retainable reservoir and control valve.

11. The system of claim 10, wherein the control valve is housed with the programmed control system.

12. The system of claim 10, wherein the control system is remotely located from the reservoir and control valve.

13. The system of claim 12, wherein a radio-frequency link is provided between the control system and control valve.

14. The system of claim 1, wherein the user-retained article comprises clothing.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein the clothing is a form of shirt.

16. The system of claim 15, wherein the conduits are tuned to delivery greater cooling flow to a user's underarms.

17. The system of claim 15, wherein the conduits are tuned to delivery even cooling flow across at least a portion of a user's chest.

18. The system of claim 1, wherein the user-retained article is a helmet.

19. The system of claim 18, wherein the conduits are tuned to delivery even cooling flow across at least a portion of a user's head.

20. The system of claim 18, further comprising a helmet-retained reservoir and control valve.

21. A method of cooling a user, the method comprising: providing a wholly user retained cooling system adapted to direct air at a user via a plurality of conduits from a reservoir; each conduit having a substantially constant cross-sectional area; introducing pressurized gas into a proximal end of at least some of the conduits; the gas expanding along the conduit line, dropping is pressure and exiting the conduits without further restriction, and gas contacting the user at a temperature reduced from that of the reservoir.

22. The system of claim 21, wherein a user controls a switch to effect the introducing.

23. The system of claim 21, wherein a user sets at least one of a flow pulse duration, intensity or pressure for the system.

24. The system of claim 23, wherein the introducing is controlled by a programmed processor.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This filing claims the benefit of Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/506,850 with a filing date of Sep. 30, 2003 which application is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to the cooling of people or such things as race or stock animals, etc. More particularly, certain aspects of the invention are directed to user-retained or portable cooling systems.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Devices to actively effect cooling fall into several basic categories. Heat pump type air-conditioning devices provide a closed loop system that compress and expand gas without releasing it in order to provide a low-temperature interface. These systems are heavy, but can be built to offer tremendous cooling loads.

Evaporative coolers (a.k.a. “swamp coolers”) use an open loop system typically relying on the evaporation of water to effect cooling. As evaporation occurs, the phase change energy of the liquid draws heat from the air. These systems work well in dry environments, but their efficiencies approach 0% as the relative humidity approaches 100%. Further, they do not work well in confined spaces, since when airflow approaches zero, so too does the evaporative cooling achieved. Still, certain cooling element inserts for garments (and, indeed, garments—vests—themselves) have been developed for soaking in water to cool by the evaporative process.

In a similar vein, other types of cooling garments have been developed that include pockets for various chillable inserts. Water, gel and more sophisticated phase change materials have been used as the thermal capacitance medium for such inserts. Endothermicly reactive packages (as in portable or on-demand ice packs) have been used in garments, helmets, etc. as well.

Still other wearable articles have been designed to include heat-exchange coils or conduits in communication with a circulating or flushing fluid source in order to cool or maintain workers or others exposed to extreme environmental conditions. The conduits and fluid in such articles may simply be provided for heat transfer purposes or, alternatively, to feed an evaporative cooling process.

As for other means of generating reduced temperatures, solid-state electronic Peltier devices are available. However, powering the same presents a mobility problem in terms of a direct electrical connection or carrying a power supply that can reduce portability. Another type of device known as a vortex tube runs on a compressed air input and outputs separate hot and cold air jets. Votrec Corporation has applied such technology to a system in which compressed air provided by a remote compressed gas source powers a vortex tube cooling apparatus which, in turn, pumps cooled air into a vest that is delivered to a user by way of a perforated lining. However, again system portability is limited by the requisite power source.

In contrast to all the above-referenced approaches, the present invention works by use of an expanding gas, preferably air. Highly pressurized gas is directed through a conduit network toward the skin of a user. In this manner, cooling is achieved both through an evaporative process as well as the low temperatures generated through gas expansion from high pressure to (low) ambient pressure.

In point of fact, both U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,438,707 and 6,009,713 to Horn also operate by directing expanding gas at a user. However, the implementation of the present invention differs dramatically. In regard to the '707 patent, it relies on relatively smaller holes or orifices in its feeder tubing to effect rapid expansion of gasses to effect cooling. As for the '713 patent, it discloses a glove including a plurality of conduits fed with pressurized from a gas source by way of a common manifold. No mention is made (or sign of effort shown) regarding controlling air flow delivery from the individual conduits. The glove is simply flooded with cooling air that spills out of the slits in the glove.

While the latter design may be adequate in the context of a practically unlimited compressed air supply (such as a “shop air” source), it is not suited for use on a portable basis. Where compressed gas resources are limited, a more refined approach would be desirable. Regarding the former approach, it would be desirable to provide a system that is suited for portable use, but does not require the additional expense or complexity required by the addition of terminal nozzles. As such, there exists a need for the present invention which offers comparatively elegant system, that is additionally conservative in relation to system resources.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention meets this need with a pressurized gas cooling system in which conduits or lines exhaust air directly (i.e., without a terminal nozzle) in which the lines are tuned together (i.e., in concert) to deliver desirable—be it even, or specifically targeted—cooling flow to effect maximum cooling efficiency given pressure source supplies. Thus, the present invention serves the dual purposes of providing a gas supply-efficient and structurally-efficient cooling system. In addition, those with skill in the art may observe still further advantages or benefits.

As for specifics of the system, it comprises a wearable or user-retained/retainable article or appliance such as a cap, glove(s), sock(s), pants, helmet or jersey, etc. with air-handling features to provide cooling my means of release of highly compressed gas directly onto the body to be cooled. Each embodiment of the subject compressed gas cooling system may further comprise a portable (e.g., user retained) reservoir to store the compressed gas.

A plenum or manifold incorporated in the wearable article is tuned to deliver fluid (gas) flow as desired. This is accomplished not with nozzles, but rather through the parameters of the conduits themselves. Namely, by way of those factors known to effect pipe flow (i.e., diameter, length, straightness vs. turns, surface finish, flowchannel or conduit shape, etc.)

A control system may be provided in the system. At minimum, a user articulable valve will be provided to appropriately regulate or step-down the tank pressures from between about 600 and about 3000 psi in a preferred range to about 50 and about 500 psi. In a simple system, the valve may simply be trigger actuated by a user in order to provide a blast or pulse of cooling when desired.

A slightly more complex manner of control could involve a timer regulating any of a number of parameters from pulse frequency, length and/or pressure. Still further, by introduction of temperature sensing (e.g., sensing user skin temperature), sensing vasodialation such as by measuring local impedance, local humidity or another parameter, the system can be setup to provide automated cooling control prompted by actual user conditions or needs. The construction of such a control unit is within the abilities of those with skill in the art.

It may be desired to provide a fill system for outside source of compressed gas to fill the reservoir. Such provision will be especially beneficial in connection with a pressure vessel integrated into a unit such a helmet (be it a motorcycle helmet or of another type).

As stated previously, the subject invention is for use in connection a source of highly compressed gas source. Examples include two-stage air compressors (as popularized by paint-ball enthusiasts) a gas canister and dispenser (as popularized as bicycle tire inflation devices) or a custom reservoir charged to high pressure.

Accordingly, disposable-canister reservoirs may be used. Yet, it will sometimes be preferred that the reservoir is refillable—as in a miniature SCUBA tank (i.e., a “Spare Air” container) or a custom made container. Naturally, size will matter in relation to duration of use or ultimate cooling capacity considering the length of the use interval between fillings.

In one variation of the invention, the wearable article incorporating the fluid/gas conduits will be a vest or jersey in the style an athlete might wear. The vest would be worn close to the body and could feature small gage tubing running in a grid pattern throughout the fabric of the vest (the tubing, featuring a high degree of flexibility in order not to interfere with user activity). In such a case, the reservoir container could be roughly the size of a bar of soap and carried in a side or back pocket of the vest. Where more volume is required or a lower pressure reservoir is desired, a larger unit may be employed.

To minimize weight and system bulk or complexity, the reservoir canister could feature a dial switch with “Off-Low-High” settings (the Control System) as well as a valve stem much like that of a bicycle tube (the Fill System). The user would fill the reservoir from a source of high-pressure gas, set the control system to “Low” and experience cooling in the vest through a continuous stream or short bursts of compressed gas being emitted at various points close to the skin. Increasing the control mechanism to the “High” setting will increase the duration and/or frequency of the bursts or the flow rate of the continuous delivery of compressed gas to the wearer's body. Of course, other system and control configurations are possible as well, including those elaborated upon below.

In any case, by delivering gas in a compressed state, the gas is still expanding as it contacts the body of the wearer. Thus the Compressed Gas Cooling System utilizes Charles' Law of evaporative cooling which states that the temperature of any gas must drop as the pressure drops; this cooled gas provides for conductive heat transfer (cooling). Secondly, since the relative humidity of the gas originating from the high pressure reservoir is very low, it should provide for a high degree of evaporative cooling as the gas absorbs moisture from the body of the wearer and escapes the garment or such other apparatus the system may incorporate. This effect will be most pronounced in humid environments.

Finally, the Compressed Gas Cooling System advantageously allows for a minimum of impediments to the escaping gas, providing the user with the feeling of air moving by the cooling sites. That is to say, in the case of a jersey the construction is mesh or another fabric that is able to breathe, thereby allowing the decompressed/expanded air to escape from adjacent the user's body.

Whatever the case, a second embodiment of the invention comprises a head-worn element. One variation of this aspect of the invention comprises a motorcycle or other hard-shelled helmet (possibly a protective helmet such as a bicycle, football, lacrosse, fireman's, soldier's helmet) featuring a reservoir inside the body of the helmet or connected to the helmet and a system of tubing emerging in, or running throughout, the interior of the helmet as well as a control dial and fill valve. In this variation of the invention, the conduit system may take the form of a less flexible molded unit or more flexible tubing. The control system may be separated from the rest of the system and could communicate with the rest of the system via a wire, infrared signal, radio signal or other remote actuation means. This separation of the control unit from the rest of the system could provide for user input controlling degree of cooling from the handlebar of a motorcycle or any other two handed operation the user might be engaged in. Or, the control system could be located on any easy to access surface of the helmet. Naturally, the helmet variation of the invention will be adapted to deliver compressed gas to locations near the head of the wearer and provide cooling via the same principles stated in the earlier embodiment.

In a second head-worn variation of the invention, the element is a soft cap or hat. Such a device could be worn alone or under a protective helmet such as a bicycle, football, lacrosse helmet or another type of gear, including a welders hood, etc. Due to the soft or pliable nature of this variation of the invention, the reservoir will typically be remotely located, together with any control system elements. These elements could be housed in a fanny-pack or another additional user-worn or retained structure.

In sum, the present invention includes systems comprising any of the features described herein. However configured, the present invention is directed to user-worn or retained portable cooling systems. The system may be adapted to provide powered cooling to locations where only very small and portable cooling systems can fit. To provide the intended cooling effect, a conduit system in connection with a pressurized gas source is tuned, without the use of reduced-diameter nozzles or orifices, by way of various pipe-flow parameters alone to deliver a programmed distribution of cooling gas. Greater cooling effect may be targeted toward a body's “hot” spots (underarms, etc.); in the alternative, uniform cooling flow distribution may also be achieved depending on the desired effect. What is important is that by tuning of the system's conduits a purposeful airflow pattern or delivery strategy is enabled. Methodology, especially in connection with such use and manufacture of the subject systems, also forms part of the present invention.

By virtue of the dual modes of cooling offered in the present invention, physically significant cooling as well as psychologically significant effects associated therewith can be achieved. It is a powerful feeling for a user to know that when hot and sticky sensations arise, that the subject invention will offer instantaneous relief with the simple push of a button (remotely or directly actuated) or continual relief by pulsed or periodic cooling flow as desired. By such use, a user is freed from certain discomfort as well as anxiety associated with heat exhaustion and dehydration. As such, athletes or other recreational users may better address the task at hand with improved confidence in their endurance and enhanced focus in the face of the elements—as well as the efficacy of their equipment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Each of the figures diagrammatically illustrates aspects of the invention. Of these:

FIG. 1A provides an assembly view a hard shelled helmet variation of the present invention; FIG. 1B provides and assembly view of a soft-cap variation of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A and 2B show the front and back or reverse, respectively, of a torso jersey or torso garment;

FIGS. 3, 4A and 4B provide more detailed views of three possible conduit/line or plenum subassembly portions of the subject compressed gas cooling system;

FIGS. 5A-5D show various views of a reservoir subassembly;

FIGS. 6 and 7 show additional perspective views of alternative pressure reservoirs;

FIGS. 8A-8C show various views of yet another reservoir;

FIGS. 9A, 9B, 10A, 10B and 11 illustrate aspects of a control system subassembly;

FIG. 12 is a flowchart operating one mode of operation of the subject system; and

FIGS. 13 and 14 provide detailed views of refill subassemblies as may be employed in the present invention.

Variation of the invention from that shown in the figures is contemplated. Fluid flow direction is indicated in many of the figures by arrows.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Before the present invention is described in detail, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to particular variations set forth and may, of course, vary. Various changes may be made to the invention described and equivalents may be substituted without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation, material, composition of matter, process, process act(s) or step(s), to the objective(s), spirit or scope of the present invention. All such modifications are intended to be within the scope of the claims made herein.

Methods recited herein may be carried out in any order of the recited events which is logically possible, as well as the recited order of events. Furthermore, where a range of values is provided, it is understood that every intervening value, between the upper and lower limit of that range and any other stated or intervening value in the stated range is encompassed within the invention. Also, it is contemplated that any optional feature of the inventive variations described may be set forth and claimed independently, or in combination with any one or more of the features described herein.

All existing subject matter mentioned herein (e.g., publications, patents, patent applications and hardware) is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety except insofar as the subject matter may conflict with that of the present invention (in which case what is present herein shall prevail). The referenced items are provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that the present invention is not entitled to antedate such material by virtue of prior invention.

Reference to a singular item, includes the possibility that there are plural of the same items present. More specifically, as used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “and,” “said,” and “the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. It is further noted that the claims may be drafted to exclude any optional element. As such, this statement is intended to serve as antecedent basis for use of such exclusive terminology as “solely,” “only” and the like in connection with the recitation of claim elements, or use of a “negative” limitation. Unless defined otherwise herein, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs.

As summarized above, any user-retainable or wearable article with (or for use with) a reservoir to store a compressed gas, a line-tuned (as opposed to nozzle tuned) conduit system to deliver the expanding gas to the sites that will be cooled, a valve and control system controlling the release of compressed gas from the reservoir to the conduit system or plenum, and an optional fill system allowing an outside source of compressed gas to fill the reservoir, embodies the Compressed Gas Cooling System. However, three particular variations are focused on below for illustrative purposes only. These variations of the invention include: a torso cooling garment, a hard-shelled helmet cooling system, and a cap-based cooling system.

Turning now to the figures, FIG. 1A provides an assembly view a hard shelled helmet 0 variation of the invention. The helmet shown is a full-face motorcycle helmet. Alternatively, the helmet could be a motorcycle helmet of another style, of another style, an auto racing helmet, a bicycle helmet, or a contact sport helmet—such as a football or lacrosse helmet, etc. FIG. 1B shows another head-worn variation of the invention. Here a cap 2 is illustrated. FIGS. 2A and 2B show the front and back or reverse, respectively, of a torso jersey or torso garment 4 according to the present invention. Other possible garment formats may include a vest, tank top, etc.

Some of the differences between these systems include (as shown): the hard-shelled helmet embodiment including a reservoir 6 directly integrated into the foam liner structure of the helmet, while the cap 2 includes a reservoir in a pack 10, whereas the cooling jersey features a reservoir 6 located in a rear pocket of the garment as shown.

Next, the plenum lines 12 of the torso garment 4 must be flexible while the plenum lines 12 of the hard shell helmet could be moderately rigid. The lines in the cap may be of either nature. Finally, due to the integration of the reservoir into the foam in the hard-shelled helmet embodiment, the fill system 14 in the helmet embodiment is considerably longer than the fill system 14 shown on the torso garment 4 or as may be provided in connection with the reservoir 6 housed within pack 10 in association with the cap variation 2 of the invention.

A common characteristic between these helmet and torso embodiments of the invention, however, concerns a lightly arced-rectangular reservoir 6 of similar volume. Furthermore, the helmet embodiment could use the same remote-type reservoir employed in/with the torso garment or cap variations of the invention shown. The integrated unit shown in the helmet is merely preferred for this application by virtue of its space efficiency and coordinated use with the available structure.

As for the cap or jersey/shirt embodiment, the cooling lines or conduits would likely be routed under the fabric or be housed in pockets therein. In any case, by virtue of the remote reservoir contained in each system, once the compressed gas supply is exhausted it will be changed-out or refilled in order to continue use. To refill the modular reservoir, the user would remove the reservoir from the garment 4 or pack 10 pocket and attach a supply of compressed gas to the Fill System. In the helmet embodiment, the user would remove the helmet and attach a supply of compressed gas to the fill system 14, located near the rear perimeter of the helmet.

Another optional feature of the invention concerns a capped feed line 8 could connected to manifold lines 12. In this manner, a single reservoir could feed two user-retained cooling systems. In this case, jersey 4 and optionally cap 2.

FIGS. 3, 4A and 4B provide more detailed views of three possible conduit or plenum subassembly portions of the subject compressed gas cooling system. All feature the ability to deliver, via delivery legs or conduits 12, highly compressed gas to cooling sites.

FIG. 3 shows a semi-rigid plenum or conduit system 12, such as might be used on a hard-shelled helmet. Detail “A” illustrates is where the plenum would attach to a control system (described in detail below). The other highlighted sections illustrate the “tuned system” nature of the conduit system.

Like a combustion engine exhaust system, each delivery leg of the plenum should or must have similar or equal friction to the other delivery legs. Without this “tuning” the system would be imbalanced and would supply greater cooling to the shortest delivery legs. As shown in detail “B”, the use of a supplemental “S” bend can be employed to add flow resistance of the shorter delivery conduits or legs 16 in order to balance the flow output of all delivery legs. In the alternative, tuning might be accomplished using surface roughness (variable or uniform) and different diameter sections to provide greater flow resistance/impedance.

Detail “C” illustrates that each of the delivery legs has a final aperture that faces the body to be cooled—in this case the wearer's head. Further, observe that no nozzle is provided at the distal end of the tubing; the gas exhausts through substantially straight-gauge tubing (at least over the distal end of a given conduit).

As commented upon above, the conduit system for the jersey again illustrated in FIGS. 4A and 4B offers a more flexible plenum that what may be used in the helmet. Detail “D” (like Detail A in FIG. 3, above) shows where the plenum would attach to the control system or reservoir. While this connection point is shown near the rear quarter of the garment, there are a variety of locations on the garment where the reservoir 6 and control system elements could reside.

Detail “E” again highlights the “tuned” or “balanced” nature of the system. In this case, each of the supply conduit legs 16 is tuned to have equal friction (thus, equal cooling at each dispensing site) by controlling the relationship between the number of bends, the internal diameter, and the length of each delivery leg. The shorter legs have more bends or a smaller internal diameter, while the longer legs are straighter or have larger internal diameters in order to equalize the cooling at each dispensing site (i.e., over at least one region or area to be cooled by airflow delivered by the conduit system).

Further in this regard, Detail “F” notes that each of the delivery conduit legs 16 has a final aperture which faces the body to be cooled, in this case the wearer's torso. The indicated branch 18 of the conduit system directing cooling flow toward the neck of a user.

The placement of the branches of the cooling system will be determined by any of a variety of factors, including the subject anatomy. For example, with respect to cooling the head a more evenly distributed flow pattern may be desired. Yet, one may want to concentrate cooling toward the front of the head so cooling flow might spill-over onto the user's face where much perspiration is likely to occur. Such an approach might help dry the user's brow and aid in avoiding introducing sweat in the eyes. In a shirt or jersey, concentration of cooling to the neck (by virtue of the large blood supply therethrough) and underarms (as a well-known “hot spot”) may be preferred. However, the conduit system may be designed to delivery uniform flow over a larger area or just add more cooling sites wherein the neck and underarm cites receive greater or preferential volumes.

In addition, with a cooling system as described, switches or valves 20 may be included in order to turn “off” a given branch of the conduit system in order to maximize cooling in another area or to conserve pressurized gas sources. As with other aspects of control of the present invention, these valves could simply be use articulated or manipulated by the control system. In any case, the system can have a shut-off so as to limit cooling to a single path. However, the cooling system according to the present invention will have a plurality of cooling lines tuned to deliver respectively desired amounts of cooling flow when in an “on” condition.

FIGS. 5A-5D show various views of one possible embodiment of the reservoir subassembly portion of the subject compressed gas cooling system. Additional reservoir variations are shown in FIGS. 6-8. All three embodiments feature the ability to hold a quantity of highly compressed gas.

FIGS. 5A-5D shows a lightly arced rectangular reservoir 6, such as might be used in a hard-shelled helmet or torso-cooling garment. The upper surface 22 features fracture lines or crevices 24. These small fracture lines provide a controlled mechanism for failure in the case of tremendous impact.

This fracture safety mechanism is to be positioned away from the user in a hard-shelled helmet or torso-cooling garment. Should the user receive an impact, such as being hit by a car, these fracture crevices would ensure that the cracks, which would could appear on the pressurized reservoir in the case of direct contact, face away from the user and allow the compressed gas a path to escape without the user risking undue cooling from the sudden release of compressed gas were it directed toward the user's body.

Additional features of the reservoir include tails or ports 26 for connection to a control valve component of the control system. This location is where gas leaves the reservoir to enter the control valve, and, if open, to pass on to the delivery conduits for delivery to a cooling site. As second tail connector or port 28 may be provided for a connection point to the systems fill subsystem. In which case, it is in by way of port 28 that compressed gas enters the reservoir from the fill system.

FIG. 6 shows a more generalized version of reservoir 6 than that shown in FIGS. 5A-5D. The simplified reservoir in FIG. 6 displaying a purely rectangular shape, such as might be used in a remote reservoir embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 shows a more generalized version of the reservoir system, displaying a cylindrical shape, such as might be used in the remote reservoir embodiment shown in FIG. 1B for use with a soft cap or another type of system. Such a reservoir may be made of aluminum steel or of another construction. It may be constructed similarly to the Spare Air™ product (e.g., models 300 PKYEL, 300PK-N, 170 PKYEL) produced by Submersible Systems, Inc.

FIGS. 8A-8C shows a second custom reservoir 6 as may be employed in the present invention. This device may too include dimples 24 in its surface for the purpose of fracture control in a manner similar to that described above. This version of the reservoir is preferably formed of a polymer such as high strength nylon (e.g., Trogamid TX-7389 from Degussa Huls) possibly with reinforcing fibers (e.g., from 10 to 50% the final alloy by weigh) by way of high pressure nitrogen assisted injection molding techniques to form the internal cavity. An exceptionally strong plastic is required for the highest pressure applications. A preferred candidate in this regard is Ticona Celstran PA6-GF50-01 50% Long Fiber Reinforced Nylon which features an ultimate tensile strength of 35500 psi and a tensile modulus of 2320 kpsi.

Using this material, for a vessel with internal chamber diameters about 1 inch designed to a safety factor of 2.0 for handling 8000 psi internal pressure Ticonna Celstran PA6-GF50-01 Nylon, with a wall thickness of about 0.29 inches is called for. Other material may require different thickness for such application.

In view of its form factor and polymeric construction, an ergonomically-shaped pressure vessel as shown in FIG. 8A will advantageously include at least one internal septum or baffle wall 32. It could be co-molded with the shell 34 material with interlock holes 36 to geometrically interlock the reservoir outer walls and this stress-bearing member. In order to facilitate the insert or co-molding process referred to, it is required that the thermal deflection temperature be higher in the baffle material than the resin used to mold the exterior walls of the pressure vessel. Accordingly, a good candidate material is Chevron Phillips Xtel XK2040 Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) which has a thermal deflection temperature of 482 deg. F. Other options include Phenolic, carbon fiber, a metallic member such as aluminum or titanium alloy, or hi-temp Nylon.

The purpose of the baffles or septum walls/member(s) is to allow the pressure vessel to approximate cylindrical body pressure vessel performance, but with an exterior shape that is not round in section (i.e., without the ergonomic drawbacks of an actual exterior cylinder form factor). Baffle holes 38 may be provided to equalize pressure between adjacent chambers “C” in such an arrangement.

In any case, the reservoir variation in FIGS. 7 and 8A-8C are shown with a common feature of single input/output port 26. This may require that the fill and control system share a port. The systems may be integrated so that the control system opens the control valve not only to dispense gas but also during the fill cycle. Other arrangements are possible as well, including “Y” valve or dual-port arrangements.

In addition, it should be appreciated that further variation in reservoir shapes may be provide in addition to those shown. Yet, for carrying against the body or inclusion in a helmet or another wearable appliance, it may be desirable that the structure is curved or otherwise ergonomically shaped in a manner similar to the examples shown.

FIGS. 9A, 9B, 10A, 10B and 11 illustrate aspects of the control system subassembly 8. The control system comprises of a valve 40 and a user control or input 42, which together are responsible for metering the gas dispensed from the reservoir to the tuned-line system to effect cooling.

This valve is preferably capable of metering extremely high pressures (generally between 300 and 8,000 psi). As shown, the valve may be a simple normally-closed valve. As illustrated in FIG. 9A, compressed gas travels from through control valve 40 to the plenum delivery system when the valve is open (the user control component 42 will determine when the valve mechanism is in the open or closed position).

Typically, an actuation rod 44 is responsible for opening the valve in response to an input. A receptacle portion of the valve 46 will typically receive the reservoir. Often valve 40 may include a return spring 48, to provide the normally closed operation.

Naturally, any of a variety of valve types from various manufactures may be employed in the present invention. For instance, Magnatrol Valve Corporation (Hawthorn, N.J.) sells various suitable valves. In addition, it contemplated that a regulator 50 may be provided intermediate the valve and reservoir to step-down the pressure as diagrammatically illustrated in FIG. 11. Typically, an oil-less system would be preferred in this regard—though not necessary. Suitable (or adaptable) regulators are available through Thermo Electron Corporation (Fuquay, N.C.). Still further, a regulator component may be built-in to or integrated in the valve assembly.

However the valve/regulator is constructed or provided, FIGS. 10A and 10B show simple user control mechanisms. Element 52 is simply a push button to be used for dispensing gas through valve 40; whereas element 54 is a pivot lever. All manner of cams, rods, cables and other means of directly routing a user's input force to open the control valve may alternatively or additionally be employed.

In FIG. 11 a remote actuation user control system 60 is displayed. A remote actuation type of user control could allow the user to set the cooling level from a location independent of the rest of the subject compressed gas cooling system.

A solenoid or servo 62 acts in place of direct user input as in the previous approaches. The value of providing servo control is to enable the user to set the cooling level or actuate the device on-demand from a wrist strap, handlebar or steering wheel or other remote location.

In the case of remote actuation is connected via one or more wires, the connection may be made between the input unit and solenoid 62. On the other had, an intermediate unit 64 providing battery pack, electronics, infrared, ultrasonic or radio-frequency relay may be provided an carried or retained by the user-worn article. Such an approach can lighten the input means 42—-whatever form it takes.

As for various means of providing user input in a remotely-actuated system, details “G”, “H” and “I” provide examples thereof. Detail G illustrates a dial, whereas detail H shows a simple push button. Detail I illustrates a wireless interface sending a remote signal 66.

As for the dial embodiment, it may operate as an “Off-Low-High” dial similar to the switch used for intermittent windshield wipers on modern automobiles. When in “Low” mode, the system would provide short bursts of compressed gas or slowly feed a continuous stream of compressed gas to the user; when turned up to “High” the frequency of the burst or duration of the bursts or flow rate of the continuous stream of compressed gas would increase. Of course, other means pre-set control routines may be adopted as well as user-programmed approaches. In fact, the system may be programmed (via a processor—for example in unit 64 to offer a standard cooling or bio-feedback routine with information gathered by optional thermocouple sensors 66 or other means to effect automated control). In which case, the user input may take the form of an interactive screen (either on-board, as a portable user input or in connection with a typical computer or other electronic input means).

With or without a means of user input (possibly for reason as a programming means or even an override—in order to deliver additional cooling) a program routine such as illustrated by the flowchart in FIG. 12 may be provided. The algorithm represented therein may be hard-wired or programmed logic. In the later case, a user may be afforded the option of selecting from a variety of settings to effect various levels of cooling, or customize the system set points. Such modification may be desired to account for a user's individual cooling needs, or a requirement to conserve fuel (compressed gas) supplies given the context in which the system is to be used.

The body temperature check may be provided by way of qualitative feedback from the user and/or electronic means such as a thermocouple sensor or a non-contact sensor (e.g., laser, infrared). Still further, “temperature” may be determined in reference to secondary indicia such as measurement of vasodilatation, perspiration, blood flow, etc. using known techniques.

Of course, all of the above-reference modes of control are merely exemplary—though certain ones will clearly present certain advantages in terms of basic cost or efficacy.

Finally, FIGS. 13 and 14 detail possible fill system subassembly 14 portions of the subject compressed gas cooling system. Detail “J” in FIG. 14 shows a fill conduit 70 following the contour of the helmet. The conduit may be integrally formed, but is preferably a discrete high pressure line. Options in this regard include braid-reinforced structure, metal conduits or high strength polymeric tubing such as PEEK.

The Fill System is responsible for allowing the user to attach a supply of compressed gas and allowing that compressed gas to enter the reservoir. The preferred embodiment of the Fill System is a tube or hose, with minimal expansion under pressure characteristics, which includes at least a valve 72 to allow user access, with the other end connected to the reservoir.

In the variation in detail J, valve 72 is a high-pressure valve such as a bicycle or automobile tube or tire valve, or, like the quick-disconnect fittings popular in industrial pneumatic applications. Any such valve must be capable of holding inside the highly pressurized gas from the Reservoir Assembly (likely at 300 to 8,000 psi). Point 74 shows the connection point to the reservoir. Actually, if desired, it is also possible for the valve referred to earlier in this section could instead be located at this end of the fill line or system instead.

The length of the fill tubing 70 is variable. Some applications, like a particular hard shelled helmet design as shown will require a longer length between the reservoir and the user fill point. While other applications, like a torso cooling garment as shown may only require a very long length between these components as shown in detail K. Actually, in some instances, it will be possible to eliminate the fill conduit altogether (for example where valve body 40 is itself adapted to accept a pressure recharging input.

As for other constructional details of the present invention, materials and manufacturing techniques may be employed as within the level of those with skill in the relevant art. Though the invention has been described in reference to several examples, optionally incorporating various features, the invention is not to be limited to that which is described or indicated as contemplated with respect to each embodiment or variation of the invention.