Title:
Valve manifold assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A valve assembly for a refrigeration system having a casing comprising a plurality of apertures, a first rotatable valve member comprising a first passageway and a second rotatable valve member comprising a second passageway where the first and second valve members may be coupled to define various fluid passageways.



Inventors:
Borre, Robert (St. Louis Park, MN, US)
Vergara, Ralph (Savage, MN, US)
Plasek, Ronald A. (Lakeville, MN, US)
Ramachandran, Ajit (Savage, MN, US)
Sliger, Keith (Corunna, IN, US)
West, William G. (Eden Prairie, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/633243
Publication Date:
05/24/2007
Filing Date:
12/04/2006
Assignee:
Ritchie Engineering Company, Inc. (Bloomington, MN, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25B45/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
HEPPERLE, STEPHEN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VIDAS, ARRETT & STEINKRAUS, P.A. (Eden Prairie, MN, US)
Claims:
1. A valve assembly comprising: a casing comprising a first plurality of apertures and a second plurality of apertures; a first rotatable valve member comprising a first passageway arranged to provide fluid communication between at least two apertures of the first plurality of apertures, the first valve member having a plurality of orientations; and a second rotatable valve member comprising a second passageway arranged to provide fluid communication between at least two apertures of the second plurality of apertures, the second valve member coupled to the first valve member such that the orientation of the second passageway is fixed with respect to the orientation of the first passageway; the first plurality of apertures comprising a first aperture that is in fluid communication with the first passageway.

2. The valve assembly of claim 1, the first rotatable valve member comprising a ball valve.

3. The valve assembly of claim 1, wherein the first rotatable valve member is coupled to the second rotatable valve member by a spindle.

4. The valve assembly of claim 1, the first passageway comprising a first portion oriented orthogonal to a second portion.

5. The valve assembly of claim 4, the second passageway comprising a first portion oriented orthogonal to a second portion.

6. The valve assembly of claim 5, wherein the second portion of the first passageway is parallel to the second portion of the second passageway.

7. The valve assembly of claim 6, wherein the first portion of the first passageway is oriented along a z-axis, and the first portion of the second passageway is oriented along an x-axis.

8. The valve assembly of claim 4, the first passageway further comprising a third portion oriented orthogonal to the first portion and orthogonal to the second portion.

9. The valve assembly of claim 8, the third portion comprising a smaller cross-sectional area than one of the first portion and the second portion.

10. The valve assembly of claim 4, the second passageway comprising a T-shape.

11. A device comprising: a valve assembly having a plurality of orientations, the valve assembly comprising: a casing comprising a first plurality of apertures and a second plurality of apertures; a first valve comprising a first passageway arranged to provide fluid communication between at least two apertures of the first plurality of apertures; and a second valve comprising a second passageway arranged to provide fluid communication between at least two apertures of the second plurality of apertures, the orientation of the second valve fixed with respect to the orientation of the first valve; an intake port in fluid communication with an aperture of the first plurality of apertures; a compressor comprising a low pressure side and a high pressure side, the low pressure side in fluid communication with an aperture of the first plurality of apertures, the high pressure side in fluid communication with an aperture of the second plurality of apertures; a condenser comprising a high temperature side and a low temperature side, the high temperature side in fluid communication with an aperture of the second plurality of apertures; and a discharge port in fluid communication with the low temperature side of the condenser; wherein when the valve assembly is in a first orientation, the first valve provides fluid communication between the intake port and the low pressure side of the compressor, and the second valve provides fluid communication between the high pressure side of the compressor and the high temperature side of the condenser.

12. The device of claim 11, the first valve comprising a ball valve.

13. The device of claim 11, the first passageway comprising a first path and a second path, the first path having a greater cross-sectional area than the second path, the first path providing fluid communication between the intake port and the intake side of the compressor when the valve assembly is in the first orientation.

14. The device of claim 13, the valve assembly comprising a second orientation, wherein the second path provides fluid communication between the intake port and the intake side of the compressor, and the second valve provides fluid communication between the output side of the compressor and the condenser.

15. The device of claim 14, arranged for vapor recovery in the first orientation and arranged for liquid recovery in the second orientation.

16. The device of claim 14, wherein at least a portion of the first path is oriented orthogonal to at least a portion of the second path.

17. The device of claim 14, the second fluid passageway comprising a T-shape.

18. The device of claim 11, wherein when the valve assembly is in a second orientation, first valve and the second valve provide fluid communication between high temperature side of the condenser and the low pressure side of the compressor.

19. The device of claim 18, further comprising an inter-valve conduit arranged to provide fluid communication between the first valve and the second valve when the valve assembly is in the second orientation.

20. The device of claim 18, further comprising a purging line, the purging line arranged to provide fluid communication between the high pressure side of the compressor and the discharge port.

21. The device of claim 20, the purging line further comprising a restrictive orifice.

22. The device of claim 18, wherein when the valve assembly is in the second orientation, the high pressure side of the compressor is not in fluid communication with the second passageway.

23. The device of claim 14, wherein when the valve assembly is in a second orientation, the first valve and the second valve provide fluid communication between high pressure side of the compressor and the low pressure side of the compressor.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/003,946, filed Dec. 3, 2004, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/527,241 filed Dec. 5, 2003.

This application also claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/799,972, filed May 12, 2006.

The entire content of each of these priority applications is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to a valve assembly and more specifically to a valve assembly that may be used in a refrigerant recovery and reclaim machine.

Refrigerant recovery and reclaim machines and their use are known in the art. These machines generally include a plurality of valves and hose connections which must be operated in a predetermined sequence in order to achieve proper operation of the machine. The operation of valves, and the rearrangement of hose connections, may be subject to error when the predetermined procedure is not followed exactly. Errors may cause problems ranging from inefficient use of time to the undesirable release of refrigerant into the atmosphere.

There remains a need for a device which simplifies the process of recovering refrigerant and is less prone to operator error than existing recovery and reclaim machines.

All US patents and applications and all other published documents mentioned anywhere in this application are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

Without limiting the scope of the invention a brief summary of some of the claimed embodiments of the invention is set forth below. Additional details of the summarized embodiments of the invention and/or additional embodiments of the invention may be found in the Detailed Description of the Invention below.

A brief abstract of the technical disclosure in the specification is provided as well only for the purposes of complying with 37 C.F.R. 1.72. The abstract is not intended to be used for interpreting the scope of the claims.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, the valve assembly may generally include a casing comprising a first plurality of apertures and a second plurality of apertures. A first rotatable valve member may be disposed in the casing where the first rotatable valve member includes a first fluid/vapor passageway arranged to provide fluid/vapor communication between at least two apertures of the first plurality of apertures. The first valve member may have a plurality of different orientations. The valve assembly may also generally include a second rotatable valve disposed in the casing, the second rotatable valve member member comprising a second fluid/vapor passageway arranged to provide fluid/vapor communication between at least two apertures of the second plurality of apertures. The second valve member may be coupled to the first valve member such that the orientation of the second fluid/vapor passageway is fixed with respect to the orientation of the first fluid/vapor passageway. The first plurality of apertures may also comprise a first aperture that is in fluid/vapor communication with the first fluid/vapor passageway.

In at least one alternative embodiment, the invention may be formed of a valve assembly having a plurality of orientations. The valve assembly may comprise a casing having a first plurality of apertures and a second plurality of apertures, and a first valve having a first fluid/vapor passageway arranged to provide fluid/vapor communication between at least two apertures of the first plurality of apertures. The invention may also generally include a second valve disposed in the casing, the second valve comprising a second fluid/vapor passageway arranged to provide fluid/vapor communication between at least two apertures of the second plurality of apertures, where the orientation of the second valve may be fixed with respect to the orientation of the first valve. An intake port may also be in fluid/vapor communication with an aperture of the first plurality of apertures. A compressor comprising a low pressure side and a high pressure side may be in fluid/vapor communication with the system where, the low pressure side is in fluid/vapor communication with an aperture of the first plurality of apertures, the high pressure side is in fluid/vapor communication with an aperture of the second plurality of apertures. A condenser comprising a high temperature side and a low temperature side may also be provided where the high temperature side is in fluid/vapor communication with an aperture of the second plurality of apertures and a discharge port is in fluid/vapor communication with the low temperature side of the condenser. Generally, when the valve assembly is in the first orientation, the first valve provides fluid/vapor communication between the intake port and the low pressure side of the compressor, and the second valve provides fluid/vapor communication between the high pressure side of the compressor and the high temperature side of the condenser.

These and other embodiments which characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed hereto and forming a part hereof. However, for a better understanding of the invention, its advantages and objectives obtained by its use, reference should be made to the drawings which form a further part hereof and the accompanying descriptive matter, in which there are illustrated and described various embodiments of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A detailed description of the invention is hereafter described with specific reference being made to the drawings.

FIG. 1 shows an isometric view of an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly.

FIG. 2 shows an exploded view of an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly.

FIG. 3 shows a longitudinal cross-sectional view of an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 shows a recovery and reclaim device schematic using an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly.

FIG. 5 shows a recovery and reclaim device schematic using an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly during a recovery operation.

FIG. 6 shows a recovery and reclaim device schematic using an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly during a stop/prepurge operation.

FIG. 7 shows a recovery and reclaim device schematic using an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly during a purge operation.

FIG. 8 shows an alternative exploded view of an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly.

FIG. 9 shows an alternative recovery and reclaim device schematic using an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly.

FIG. 10 shows an alternative recovery and reclaim device schematic using an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly during a vapor recovery operation.

FIG. 11 shows an alternative recovery and reclaim device schematic using an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly during a liquid recovery operation.

FIG. 12 shows an alternative recovery and reclaim device schematic using an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly during a purge operation.

FIG. 13 shows an alternative recovery and reclaim device schematic using an embodiment of a valve manifold assembly during a pressure equalization operation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

While this invention may be embodied in many different forms, there are described in detail herein specific preferred embodiments of the invention. This description is an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the particular embodiments illustrated.

For the purposes of this disclosure, like reference numerals in the figures shall refer to like features unless otherwise indicated.

Referring to FIGS. 1-3, an inventive valve manifold assembly 10 is depicted, which may comprise an outer casing 20, a plurality of fittings 12, a first valve member 30, a second valve member 40 and a rod or spindle 18.

The outer casing 20 may be made from any suitable material, such as brass, bronze, steel, aluminum, plastics, resin and/or any other desired material, and preferably defines a first internal cavity 22 (see FIG. 3) and a second internal cavity 24. A plurality of apertures 28 may extend through the various wall portions of the outer casing 20. Each aperture 28 may be constructed and arranged to receive and engage a fitting 12. For example, a fitting 12 may be machined to include threadings which may engage a threaded aperture 28.

The first valve member 30 and the second valve member 40 may each be fixed to the spindle 18 and thus may be arranged to rotate with the spindle 18. The first valve member 30 may be oriented within the first internal cavity 22 of the outer casing 20, and the second valve member 40 may be oriented within the second internal cavity 24 of the outer casing 20.

Each fitting 12 may include a fluid passageway 14 extending from one end of the fitting 12 to the other. As referred to herein, a fluid passageway or pathway may be adopted for passage of either refrigerant in a liquid phase or vapor phase or a combination of both a liquid and a vapor phase. The use of the term fluid passageway or pathway is not intended to limit the physical state or phase of refrigerant within the systems described herein. The term fluid is also intended to encompass refrigerant in either a liquid phase, a vapor phase or a combination of liquid or vapor phases. Each fitting 12 may be arranged to abut a valve member 30, 40 and may thus include a seat or sealing member 16 at one end. A sealing member 16 may comprise any suitable shape and be made of any suitable material capable of sealing against a valve member 30, 40. For example, a sealing member 16 may comprise a nylon ring. In embodiments where a valve member 30, 40 comprises a ball or includes a generally spherical shape, a portion of the sealing member 16 may include a spheroidal shape arranged to properly engage the outer surface of the ball. Each fitting 12, at the side opposite the sealing member 16, may be arranged to engage a bushing, T-fitting, hose or other fluid conduit, for example by the use of threadings or other coupling members.

It should be understood that the valve members 30, 40 are not limited to substantially spherical shapes. Valve members 30, 40 may have any suitable shape which provides for proper operation of the valve manifold assembly 10. For example, valve members 30, 40 may alternatively have a cylindrical shape and be rotatable about a longitudinal axis. Further, the shape of the first valve member 30 may differ from the shape of the second valve member 40 in some embodiments.

It should also be understood that fittings 12 are not required to be used. For example, in some embodiments, various apertures 28 in the outer casing 20 may be provided with a valve seat, and a valve member 30, 40 may abut the apertures 28 and may be contained between wall portions of the outer casing 20.

In some embodiments, some fittings 12 are not required to include a fluid passageway 14, and therefore may comprise a plug. For example, fitting 12z as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 comprises a plug. A plug may be arranged to engage the outer casing 20 and may include a seat or sealing member 16 which abuts a valve member 30, 40. A plug may be used in locations where the specific embodiment of the valve manifold assembly 10 is not required to include a fluid passageway at the location of the fitting 12.

An actuator 52 may be engaged to the spindle 18 or may otherwise be engaged to the valve members 30, 40. The actuator 52 may control actuation or rotation of the valve members 30, 40 through a plurality of stop positions. The actuator 52 and/or the valve members 30, 40 may be predisposed to stopping at any or all of the stop positions, for example by the use of a notched detent. In some embodiments, an actuator 52 may comprise a handle which may be operated by a technician. In some embodiments, an actuator 52 may comprise a motor, servomotor or the like, which may be operated by a computer or via an interface. In some embodiments, an interface may include a momentary switch or button for each stop position, and operation of a given momentary switch or button may cause the actuator 52 and valve members 30, 40 to assume an appropriate stop position orientation.

The first valve member 30 may include a first fluid pathway 32 which may comprise a first inlet traverseport 34 and a first outlet traverseport 36. The second valve member 40 may include a second fluid pathway 42 which may comprise a second traverseport 44 and a third traverseport 46.

Rotation of the valve members 30, 40, for example via the actuator 52, will align the various traverseports 34, 36, 44, 46 of the valve members 30, 40 with the fluid passageways 14 of various fittings 12 at each desirable stop position as described below.

Referring again to FIG. 1, with respect to one embodiment of a valve manifold assembly 10, the pathways provided for fluid flow will be identified individually. In some embodiments, the pathways may be provided through fittings 12. In some embodiments, for example when fittings 12 are not used, the pathways may be provided through the outer casing 20 or any other suitable portion of the device. The valve manifold assembly 10 may be provided with a first fluid inlet orifice 60, a second fluid inlet orifice 62, a third fluid inlet orifice 64, a fourth fluid inlet orifice 66, a first fluid outlet orifice 70, a second fluid outlet orifice 72 and a third fluid outlet orifice 74.

The valve manifold assembly 10 may define a first valve portion 48 and a second valve portion 50. The first valve portion 48 may comprise the first valve member 30, and may further include the second fluid inlet orifice 62, the fourth fluid inlet orifice 66 and the first fluid outlet orifice 70. The fluid orifices 62, 66, 70 provided for the first valve portion 48 may or may not be in fluid communication with the first fluid pathway 32 of the first valve member 30 at various rotational orientations of the first valve member 30, as will be described with respect to operation of the valve manifold assembly 10. The second valve portion 50 may comprise the second valve member 40, and may further include the first fluid inlet orifice 60, the third fluid inlet orifice 64, the second fluid outlet orifice 72 and the third fluid outlet orifice 74. The fluid orifices 60, 64, 72, 74 provided for the second valve portion 50 may or may not be in fluid communication with the second fluid pathway 42 of the second valve member 40 at various rotational orientations of the second valve member 40, as will be described with respect to operation of the valve manifold assembly 10.

Referring to FIG. 2, the shape and orientation of the first fluid pathway 32 within the first valve member 30 and the second fluid pathway 42 within the second valve member 40 are depicted with respect to one embodiment of the invention. The first fluid pathway 32 may comprise the first inlet traverseport 34 and the first outlet traverseport 36. The first inlet traverseport 34 may be oriented with a longitudinal axis spanning in the direction of a y-axis as shown on the coordinate axis 26. The first outlet traverseport 36 may be oriented with a longitudinal axis spanning in the direction of a z-axis. Thus, the first outlet traverseport 36 may be oriented with a longitudinal axis orthogonal to the longitudinal axis of the first inlet traverseport 34. The second fluid pathway 42 may comprise the second traverseport 44 and the third traverseport 46. The second traverseport 44 may be oriented with a longitudinal axis spanning in the direction of the y-axis and may be parallel to the first inlet traverseport 34. The third traverseport 46 may be oriented with a longitudinal axis spanning in the direction of an x-axis of the coordinate axis 26. Thus, the third traverseport 46 may be oriented with its longitudinal axis orthogonal to the longitudinal axis of the second traverseport 44 and orthogonal to the longitudinal axis of the first outlet traverseport 36.

FIGS. 5-7 show the orientation of the fluid pathways 32, 42 of the valve members 30, 40 at various stop positions of the actuator 52. In a first stop position as depicted in FIG. 5, the first inlet traverseport 34 may be aligned with the second fluid inlet orifice 62 and the first outlet traverseport 36 may be aligned with the first fluid outlet orifice 70. Therefore, the first valve member 30 is oriented to allow fluid communication between the second fluid inlet orifice 62 and the first fluid outlet orifice 70. The second valve member 40 may be oriented to allow fluid communication between the third fluid inlet orifice 64 and the second fluid outlet orifice 72, as the second traverseport 44 may be aligned with the third fluid inlet orifice 64 and the third traverseport 46 may be aligned with the second fluid outlet orifice 72.

FIG. 6 depicts the orientation of the fluid pathways 32, 42 of the valve members 30, 40 at a second stop position. The orientation of the valve members 30, 40 at the second stop position may be rotated 90° from that of the first stop position. The first inlet traverseport 34 may be aligned with an aperture 28 or orifice 68 that is not used in some embodiments. The first outlet traverseport 36 may be aligned with the first fluid outlet orifice 70. The second valve member 40 may be oriented to allow fluid communication between the first fluid inlet orifice 60 and the second fluid outlet orifice 72, as the second traverseport 44 may be aligned with the second fluid outlet orifice 72 and the third traverseport 46 may be aligned with the first fluid inlet orifice 60.

FIG. 7 depicts the orientation of the fluid pathways 32, 42 of the valve members 30, 40 at a third stop position. The orientation of the valve members 30, 40 at the third stop position may be rotated 90° from that of the second stop position and 180° from that of the first stop position. The first valve member 30 may be oriented to allow fluid communication between the fourth fluid inlet orifice 66 and the first fluid outlet orifice 70, as the first inlet traverseport 34 may be aligned with the fourth fluid inlet orifice 66 and the first outlet traverseport 36 may be aligned with the first fluid outlet orifice 70. The second valve member 40 may be oriented to allow fluid communication between the first fluid inlet orifice 60 and the third fluid outlet orifice 74, as the second traverseport 44 may be aligned with the first fluid inlet orifice 60 and the third traverseport 46 may be aligned with the third fluid outlet orifice 74.

The valve manifold assembly 10 may be used as part of a recovery and reclaim device. FIG. 4 depicts a recovery and reclaim device 8 which uses an embodiment of the valve manifold assembly 10. The second fluid inlet orifice 62 may be in fluid communication with a suction bulkhead 80. The first fluid outlet orifice 70 may be in fluid communication with the intake side of a compressor 82. The output side of the compressor 82 may be in fluid communication with the third fluid inlet orifice 64. The first fluid inlet orifice 60 may also be in fluid communication with the output side of the compressor 82, for example by using a first external fluid conduit 93 and a first T-fitting 92. The second fluid outlet orifice 72 may be in fluid communication with an input side of a condenser 84. The fourth fluid inlet orifice 66 may also be in fluid communication with the second fluid outlet orifice 72, for example by using a second external fluid conduit 95 and a second T-fitting 94. An output side of the condenser 84 may be in fluid communication with a discharge bulkhead 90. Preferably, a first check valve 86 may be used between the condenser 84 and the discharge bulkhead 90 which may be oriented to allow flow only from the condenser 84 to the discharge bulkhead 90. The third fluid outlet orifice 74 may also be placed in fluid communication with the discharge bulkhead 90, preferably using a second check valve 88 oriented to allow flow only from the third fluid outlet orifice 74 to the discharge bulkhead 90.

In some embodiments, a first pressure equalization orifice 68 may be used. A first pressure equalization orifice 68 may be positioned such that the first pressure equalization orifice 68 is in fluid communication with the first fluid outlet orifice 70 when the first valve member 30 is at the second stop position. The first pressure equalization orifice 68 may be used in conjunction with a Constant Pressure Regulator (CPR) valve 98 installed between the first fluid outlet orifice 70 and the intake side of the compressor 82. The CPR valve 98 may be arranged to receive refrigerant from the first fluid outlet orifice 70, flash liquid refrigerant to vapor and regulate the pressure of vapor reaching the compressor 82. A third external fluid conduit 96 may connect at one end to the first pressure equalization orifice 68 and at the other end to the fluid line running between the CPR valve 98 and the compressor 82, for example using a third T-fitting 97. When the first valve member 30 is at the second stop position, pressure on opposite sides of the CPR valve 98 may be equalized.

A recovery and reclaim device 8 having an embodiment of the valve manifold assembly 10 may be used to recover refrigerant from a mechanical refrigeration system such as a refrigerator, air conditioner, etc. FIGS. 5-7 depict an embodiment of a recovery and reclaim device 8 during various stages of a recovery operation. A port of the refrigeration system (not shown) may be connected to the suction bulkhead 80 of the recovery and reclaim device 8, and a storage device (not shown) may be connected to the discharge bulkhead 90.

FIG. 5 shows the actuator 52 and the fluid pathways 32, 42 of the valve members at a first stop position, where the first fluid pathway 32 may connect the second fluid inlet orifice 62 and the first fluid outlet orifice 70, and the second fluid pathway 42 may connect the third fluid inlet orifice 64 and the second fluid outlet orifice 72. The first stop position may be used in a recovery operation, wherein the first valve portion 48 of the valve manifold assembly 10 may place the suction bulkhead 80 in fluid communication with the suction side of the compressor 82, and the second valve portion 50 of the valve manifold assembly 10 may place the output side of the compressor 82 in fluid communication with the input side of the condenser 84. Refrigerant may be drawn from the refrigeration system through the suction bulkhead 80, second fluid inlet orifice 62, first fluid pathway 32, first fluid outlet orifice 70, compressor 82, third fluid inlet orifice 64, second fluid pathway 42, second fluid outlet orifice 72, condenser 84, first check valve 86 and dispensed through the discharge bulkhead 90.

After a desired amount of refrigerant has been removed from the refrigeration system during a recovery operation, the recovery and reclaim device 8 may be configured for a stop/prepurge operation as depicted in FIG. 6. The actuator 52 and valve members may be oriented in the second stop position, wherein the first fluid pathway 32 may connect the first pressure equalization orifice 68 and the first fluid outlet orifice 70, and the second fluid pathway 42 may connect the first fluid inlet orifice 60 and the second fluid outlet orifice 72. Refrigerant in the recovery and reclaim device 8 may be drawn from the first fluid pathway 32 through the first fluid outlet orifice 70, compressor 82, first fluid inlet orifice 60, second fluid pathway 42, second fluid outlet orifice 72, condenser 84, first check valve 86 and dispensed through the discharge bulkhead 90.

In some embodiments, a CPR valve 98 may be installed between the first fluid outlet orifice 70 and the intake side of the compressor 82. Preferably, a third external fluid conduit 96 may be used to allow fluid communication between the first pressure equalization orifice 68 and a line between the CPR valve 98 and the compressor 82. During a stop/prepurge operation, pressure on opposite sides of the CPR valve 98 may be equalized. High pressure remaining between the first fluid outlet orifice 70 and the CPR valve 98 is allowed to pass back through the first fluid outlet orifice 70, first fluid pathway 32, first pressure equalization orifice 68, third external fluid conduit 96 and reach the downstream side of the CPR valve 98 when the first valve member 30 is placed in the second stop position.

FIG. 7 shows an embodiment of the valve manifold assembly 10 oriented for a purge operation. The actuator 52 and valve members may be oriented in the third stop position, wherein the first fluid pathway 32 may connect the fourth fluid inlet orifice 66 and the first fluid outlet orifice 70, and the second fluid pathway 42 may connect the first fluid inlet orifice 60 and the third fluid outlet orifice 74. The fluid path provided allows for fluid communication between the first check valve 86, the condenser 84, the fourth fluid inlet orifice 66 and the second fluid outlet orifice 72 via the second T-fitting 94, the first fluid pathway 32, the first fluid outlet orifice 70, the compressor 82, the first fluid inlet orifice 60 and the third fluid inlet orifice 64 via the first T-fitting 92, the second fluid pathway 42, the third fluid outlet orifice 74, the second check valve 88 and the discharge bulkhead 90.

Referring again to FIG. 4, in some embodiments, a second pressure equalization orifice 69 may be used to equalize pressure in the recovery and reclaim device 8. For example, in embodiments where a CPR valve 98 and the first pressure equalization orifice 68 are not used, it would be desirable to place the second pressure equalization orifice 69 in fluid communication with the downstream side of the first check valve 86, for example by using a fourth external fluid conduit 99. When the actuator 52 and valve members 30, 40 are placed into a fourth stop position, the first fluid pathway 32 may allow fluid communication between the second pressure equalization orifice 69 and the first fluid outlet orifice 70. Pressure on the downstream side of the first check valve 86 may pass through the second pressure equalization orifice 69, the first fluid pathway 32 and the first fluid outlet orifice 70 to reach the intake side of the compressor 82 and equalize pressures on opposite sides of the compressor 82.

In some embodiments, an actuator 52 and the valve members 30, 40 may include a plurality of stop positions. In some embodiments, a first stop position may be oriented 90° of rotation away from a second stop position. A third stop position may be oriented 90° away from the second stop position and 180° away from the first stop position.

In some embodiments, the actuator 52 and valve members 30, 40 may be continuously rotatable about a full 360° of rotation or more. In some embodiments, the actuator 52 and valve members 30, 40 may be rotatable less than 360°. For example, all of the desired stop positions may be included in less than 360° of rotation. From a starting orientation, the actuator 52 and valve members 30, 40 may be placed at the first stop position for a recovery operation. The actuator 52 and valve members 30, 40 may be rotated in a first direction to the second stop position for a prepurge operation. The actuator 52 and valve members 30, 40 may then be rotated in the first direction to the third stop position for a purge operation. The actuator 52 and valve members 30, 40 may then be rotated in a second direction back to the starting orientation.

FIG. 8 shows another embodiment of a valve manifold assembly 10. The first valve member 30 comprises another embodiment of the first fluid pathway 32, and the second valve member 40 comprises another embodiment of the second fluid pathway 42.

The first fluid pathway 32 comprises a first portion 36a oriented along the z-axis, a second portion 37 oriented downwardly along the -y-axis, and a third portion 39 oriented along the x-axis. The third portion 39 comprises a smaller cross-sectional area than the second portion 37. The first portion 36a is similar to the first outlet traverseport 36 as described with respect to the embodiment of FIG. 2.

The second fluid pathway 42 comprises a T-shape and includes a first portion 44a oriented along the y-axis, a second portion 46a oriented along the x-axis, and a third portion 47 oriented along the −x-axis. The first portion 44a comprises the stem of the T-shape, and the second and third portions 46a, 47 comprise the top of the T-shape. The first portion 44a and the second portion 46a are similar to the second traverseport 44 and third traverseport 46, respectively, as described with respect to the embodiment of FIG. 2.

The outer casing 20 comprises a plurality of apertures 28 associated with each valve member 30, 40. In at least one embodiment, the outer casing 20 comprises three apertures 28 per valve member 30, 40, specifically a first aperture 66a, a second aperture 70a and a third aperture 62a associated with the first valve member 30, and a fourth aperture 64a, a fifth aperture 72a and a sixth aperture 60a associated with the second valve member 40. The first, second and third apertures 66a, 70a, 62a and the first valve member 30 can collectively comprise the first valve portion 48 (see FIG. 3), and the fourth, fifth and sixth apertures 64a, 72a, 60a and the second valve member 40 can collectively comprise the second valve portion 50 (see FIG. 3).

The valve manifold assembly 10 can be used as part of a refrigerant recovery and reclaim device. FIG. 9 shows a schematic for an embodiment of a recovery and reclaim device 8 that uses the embodiment of the valve manifold assembly 10 shown in FIG. 8. The device 8 can be configured for a plurality of operations based upon the orientation of the valve manifold assembly 10, such as vapor recovery, liquid recovery, purge and pressure equalization/off. One possible orientation is illustrated in each of FIGS. 10-13, as indicated by the rotational orientation of the actuator 52.

FIG. 9 depicts the flow paths between the valve assembly 10 and other components of the device 8. A suction bulkhead 80 is in fluid communication with the first valve portion 48, specifically with the first aperture 66a. A low pressure side 75 of the compressor 82 is in fluid communication with the first valve portion 48, specifically with the second aperture 70a. A high pressure side 85 of the compressor 82 is in fluid communication with the second valve portion 50, specifically with the fourth aperture 64a. A high temperature side 77 of the condenser 84 is in fluid communication with the second valve portion 50, specifically with the fifth aperture 72a. A low temperature side 87 of the condenser 84 is in fluid communication with a discharge bulkhead 90.

An inter-valve conduit 91 can provide fluid communication between the first valve portion 48 and the second valve portion 50, specifically between the third aperture 62a and the sixth aperture 60a.

A purge line 78 can connect the high pressure side 85 of the compressor 82 to the discharge bulkhead 90. One end of the purge line 78 can connect between the high pressure side 85 of the compressor 82 and the second valve portion 50, for example using a t-fitting 92. The purge line 78 can be used during a purge operation. Desirably, the purge line 78 is not used during refrigerant recovery operations. Therefore, the purge line 78 can include a restrictive orifice 79 that prevents refrigerant from bypassing the second valve portion 50 and condenser 84 during refrigerant recovery operations. The size of the restrictive orifice 79 can be selected such that the pressure required for refrigerant to pass through the purge line 78 is greater than the pressure required for refrigerant to pass through the second valve portion 50 and condenser 84. In some embodiments, the cross-sectional area of the restrictive orifice 79 is less than or equal to one-tenth the cross-sectional area of the purge line 78.

FIG. 10 shows the device 8 with the actuator 52, and thus the valve members 30, 40 in a first orientation, for example arranged for a vapor refrigerant recovery operation. Examples of the valve members 30, 40 are shown outside of the casing 20 to provide an easier understanding of the orientation of the fluid pathways 32, 42. The first fluid pathway 32 provides fluid communication between the first aperture 66a and the second aperture 70a via the first and second portions 36a , 37. The third portion 39 is not in communication with an aperture 28 of the outer casing 20, and therefore does not provide a refrigerant flow path. The second fluid pathway 42 provides fluid communication between the fourth aperture 64a and the fifth aperture 72a via the first and second portions 44a, 46a. The third portion 47 is not in communication with an aperture 28 of the outer casing 20, and therefore does not provide a refrigerant flow path.

Thus, in a first valve assembly orientation, the first valve portion 48 provides fluid communication between the suction bulkhead 80 and the low pressure side 75 of the compressor 82, and the second valve portion 50 provides fluid communication between the high pressure side 85 of the compressor 82 and the high temperature side 77 of the condenser 84. When the compressor 82 is turned on, it provides suction to the suction bulkhead 80. Refrigerant can be drawn from the suction bulkhead 80 through the first aperture 66a, through the first valve member 30, through the second aperture 70a and into the compressor 82. The refrigerant is then forced out the high pressure side 85 of the compressor 82, through the fourth aperture 64a, through the second valve member 40, through the fifth aperture 72a, through the condenser 84 and out the discharge bulkhead 90.

FIG. 11 shows the device 8 with the actuator 52, and thus the valve members 30, 40 in a second orientation, for example arranged for a liquid refrigerant recovery operation. The first fluid pathway 32 provides fluid communication between the first aperture 66a and the second aperture 70a via the first and third portions 36a, 39. The second portion 37 is not in communication with an aperture 28 of the outer casing 20, and therefore does not provide a refrigerant flow path. The second fluid pathway 42 provides fluid communication between the fourth aperture 64a and the fifth aperture 72a via the first and third portions 44a, 47. The second portion 46a is not in communication with an aperture 28 of the outer casing 20, and therefore does not provide a refrigerant flow path.

Thus, in a second valve assembly orientation, the first valve portion 48 provides fluid communication between the suction bulkhead 80 and the low pressure side 75 of the compressor 82, and the second valve portion 50 provides fluid communication between the high pressure side 85 of the compressor 82 and the high temperature side 77 of the condenser 84. When the compressor 82 is turned on, it provides suction to the suction bulkhead 80. Refrigerant can be drawn from the suction bulkhead 80 through the first aperture 66a, through the first valve member 30, through the second aperture 70a and into the compressor 82. The refrigerant is then forced out the high pressure side 85 of the compressor 82, through the fourth aperture 64a, through the second valve member 40, through the fifth aperture 72a, through the condenser 84 and out the discharge bulkhead 90.

Refrigerant flow through the device 8 in the second orientation (liquid recovery) is similar to flow through the device 8 in the first orientation (vapor recovery), except for the specific portions of the valve members 30, 40 that are used. In the first valve member 30, the first orientation (vapor—see FIG. 10) uses the larger-area second portion 37 while the second orientation (liquid—see FIG. 11) uses the smaller-area third portion 39. The smaller-area third portion 39 forces liquid refrigerant to phase change into vapor before entering the compressor 82. Thus, the area of the third portion 39 can be selected to have any value that is suitable for performing the aforementioned function. In some embodiments, the cross-sectional area of the third portion 39 may be equal to, or less than, one-half of the cross-sectional area of the second portion 37. In some embodiments, the cross-sectional area of the third portion 39 is equal to, or less than, one-tenth of the cross-sectional area of the second portion 37. In some embodiments, the diameter of the third portion 39 is equal to, or less than, one-third of the diameter of the second portion 37.

FIG. 12 shows the device 8 with the actuator 52, and thus the valve members 30, 40 in a third orientation, for example arranged to purge refrigerant from the device 8. The first fluid pathway 32 provides fluid communication between the second aperture 70a and the third aperture 62a via the first and second portions 36a, 37. The third portion 39 is not in communication with an aperture 28 of the outer casing 20, and therefore does not provide a refrigerant flow path. The second fluid pathway 42 provides fluid communication between the fifth aperture 72a and the sixth aperture 60a via the first and third portions 44a, 47. The second portion 46a is not in communication with an aperture 28 of the outer casing 20, and therefore does not provide a refrigerant flow path.

Thus, in a third valve assembly orientation, the first valve portion 48 provides fluid communication between the low pressure side 75 of the compressor 82 and the inter-valve conduit 91, and the second valve portion 50 provides fluid communication between the inter-valve conduit 91 and the high temperature side 77 of the condenser 84. The compressor 82 is then arranged to draw refrigerant out of the condenser 84. When the compressor 82 is turned on, refrigerant from up to the first check valve 86 is drawn through the condenser 84 in a reverse direction from that of either recovery operation associated with the first or second orientations. The refrigerant exits the condenser 84 via the high temperature side 77, is pulled through the fifth aperture 72a, through the second valve member 40, through the sixth aperture 60a, through the inter-valve conduit 91, through the third aperture 62a, through the first valve member 30, through the second aperture 70a and through the compressor 82. Refrigerant exits the compressor 82 on the high pressure side 85, and exits the device 8 via the purge line 78. Refrigerant will not bypass the purge line 78 in the t-fitting 92 because the fourth aperture 64a is not in fluid communication with the second fluid pathway 42.

FIG. 13 shows the device 8 with the actuator 52, and thus the valve members 30, 40 in a fourth orientation, for example arranged to equalize pressures on either side 75, 85 of the compressor 82. The first fluid pathway 32 provides fluid communication between the second aperture 70a and the third aperture 62a via the first and third portions 36a, 39. The second portion 37 is not in communication with an aperture 28 of the outer casing 20, and therefore does not provide a flow path. The second fluid pathway 42 provides fluid communication between the fourth aperture 64a and the sixth aperture 60a via the second and third portions 46a, 47. The first portion 44a is not in communication with an aperture 28 of the outer casing 20, and therefore does not provide a flow path. The high pressure side 85 of the compressor 82 is in fluid communication with the low pressure side 75 via the first valve portion 48, the inter-valve conduit 91 and the second valve portion 50.

Each valve portion 48, 50 can be configured for a plurality of different fluid flow configurations. The fluid pathway 32, 42 of each valve member 30, 40, combined with the various apertures 28 of the casing 20, allow for many possible flow paths.

The first fluid pathway 32 is generally configured for fluid flow out of the first outlet traverseport/first portion 36, 36a which always remains in fluid communication with the first fluid outlet orifice/second aperture 70, 70a. Referring to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2-7, fluid will generally flow into the first fluid pathway 32 via the first inlet traverseport 34, which can be in fluid communication with a number of orifices 62, 68, 66, 69 depending upon the rotational orientation of the actuator 52. Referring to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 8-13, fluid can flow into either the second portion 37 (see FIGS. 10 and 12) or the third portion 39 (see FIGS. 11 and 13) depending upon the rotational orientation of the actuator 52.

The second fluid pathway 42 can be configured for flow in multiple directions. Referring to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2-7, in some orientations, fluid can flow in via the second traverseport 44 and out via the third traverseport 46 (see FIGS. 5 and 7). In another orientation, fluid can flow in via the third traverseport 46 and out via the second traverseport 44 (see FIG. 6). Referring to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 8-13, the t-shape of the second fluid pathway 42 provides for multiple possible flow paths across the various portions 44a, 46a, 47, and for multiple flow directionality. In one orientation, fluid can flow in via the first portion 44a and out via the second portion 46a (see FIG. 10). In other orientations, fluid can flow in via the third portion 47 and out via the first portion 44a (see FIGS. 11 and 12). Note that in FIG. 11, fluid flows in via the fourth aperture 64a of the casing 20 and out via the fifth aperture 72a, while in FIG. 12, fluid flows in via the fifth aperture 72a and out via the sixth aperture 60a. In another orientation, fluid flows across the top of the t-shape, between the second portion 46a and the third portion 47.

The above disclosure is intended to be illustrative and not exhaustive. This description will suggest many variations and alternatives to one of ordinary skill in this field of art. All these alternatives and variations are intended to be included within the scope of the claims where the term “comprising” means “including, but not limited to”. Those familiar with the art may recognize other equivalents to the specific embodiments described herein which equivalents are also intended to be encompassed by the claims.

Further, the particular features presented in the dependent claims can be combined with each other in other manners within the scope of the invention such that the invention should be recognized as also specifically directed to other embodiments having any other possible combination of the features of the dependent claims. For instance, for purposes of claim publication, any dependent claim which follows should be taken as alternatively written in a multiple dependent form from all prior claims which possess all antecedents referenced in such dependent claim if such multiple dependent format is an accepted format within the jurisdiction (e.g. each claim depending directly from claim 1 should be alternatively taken as depending from all previous claims). In jurisdictions where multiple dependent claim formats are restricted, the following dependent claims should each be also taken as alternatively written in each singly dependent claim format which creates a dependency from a prior antecedent-possessing claim other than the specific claim listed in such dependent claim below.

This completes the description of the preferred and alternate embodiments of the invention. Those skilled in the art may recognize other equivalents to the specific embodiment described herein which equivalents are intended to be encompassed by the claims attached hereto.