Title:
Universal thermoelectric module apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus with a thermoelectric heat pump assembly, an air circulation system, a structural plate, and an insulated interface. A preferred embodiment includes the thermoelectric heat pump assembly having a hot side and a cold side having a finned heat sink, a thermoelectric chip, a cold block, and a finned cold sink A preferred embodiment includes the heat think, thermoelectric chip, cold block, and finned cold sink arranged and secured together in a vertical assembly



Inventors:
Kitchens, Mark Charles (Athens, TX, US)
Wandres, Regis Marie-jean (Athens, TX, US)
Chiu, John (Taipei, TW)
Application Number:
11/290177
Publication Date:
05/31/2007
Filing Date:
11/30/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/3.2
International Classes:
F25B21/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ALI, MOHAMMAD M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mark Kitchens (Athens, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus comprising: a thermoelectric heat pump assembly; an air circulation system; a structural plate; and an insulated interface.

2. Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said thermoelectric heat pump assembly having a hot side and a cold side comprises a finned heat sink, a thermoelectric chip, a cold block, and a finned cold sink

3. Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus as claimed in claim 2 wherein said heat think, thermoelectric chip, cold block, and finned cold sink are arranged and secured together in a vertical assembly

4. Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said air circulation system comprises an electric rotor system coupled with a fan blade system

5. Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus as claimed in claim 4 wherein said air circulation system creates continuous motions of air

6. Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said structural plate fastens said thermoelectric heat pump assembly and said air circulation system in a generally longitudinal relationship enabling said continuous motions of air respectively across said finned heat sink and said finned cold sink.

7. Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said insulated interface is a semi-rigid insulating material having a generally quadrilateral shape

8. Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 where said insulated interface thermally insulates said hot side and said cold side of said thermoelectric heat pump assembly

9. Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus as claimed in claim 7 wherein said insulated interface further comprises perimeter compressible surface features where said perimeter compressible surface features form a dissengageable friction and thermal bond with an insulated vessel

Description:

Cross Reference to Related Applications

Not Applicable

Statement Regarding Federally Sponsored Research or Development

Not Applicable

Description of Attached Appendix

Not Applicable

Background of the Invention

This invention relates generally to the field of thermoelectric coolers and more specifically to a Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus. There are different types of consumer portable coolers on the market today, utilizing a variety of cooling technology. Some use passive cooling, such as ice coolers, some use active cooling such as compressor-based coolers or heat pumps type coolers. A common low-cost heat pump cooler today often uses thermoelectric technology as the cooling engine.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,319,937 to Fritsch discloses a consumer portable cooler utilizing a thermoelectric heat pump, also commonly known in this industry as a thermoelectric module. A thermoelectric module is a heat pump transferring heat from the inside of the cooler to the surrounding environment. A thermoelectric module generally consists of a cold side exposed to the inside of the cooler and a hot side exposed to the surrounding environment. A thermoelectric chip sandwiched between the cold side and the hot side provides the active mean of transferring heat from the cold side to the hot side.

There are many different commercial embodiments of thermoelectric coolers on the market today. Each have their own set of specifications and characteristics. As described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,319,937 to Fritsch, the invention discloses a thermoelectric cooler with a unique ventilation system. Such ventilation system is custom-made for this cooler and is an integral part of the cooler. Another prior art as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,073,789 to Lundblade also discloses a thermoelectric cooler with an integral thermoelectric module. In the inventions above, the thermoelectric module is an integral part of the cooler, the thermoelectric module is specifically designed to fit only this one cooler, repair or maintenance of the thermoelectric module requires extensive handling and disassembling.

Other inventions such as U.S. Pat. No. 5,301,508 to Kahl or U.S. Pat. No. 6,301,901 B1 to Coffee describe a thermoelectric cooler using a thermoelectric module where the thermoelectric module assembly is an integral one-piece engine that can be installed rapidly without complicated assembly. Such inventions improves the cooler's assembly process, however, each cooler design still utilizes a custom-designed thermoelectric module. Furthermore, such designs require the use of a mounting hardware between the thermoelectric module and the cooler increasing assembly labor and compromising good thermal insulation properties.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The primary object of the invention is to provide a one-piece thermoelectric heat pump assembly.

Another object of the invention is to provide a ready to use one-piece thermoelectric heat pump assembly.

Another object of the invention is to provide a one-piece thermoelectric heat pump assembly with a one-step installation process.

A further object of the invention is to provide a one-piece thermoelectric heat pump assembly easy to replace.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a cross-compatible one-piece thermoelectric heat pump assembly.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following descriptions, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein, by way of illustration and example, an embodiment of the present invention is disclosed.

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, there is disclosed Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus comprising: a thermoelectric heat pump assembly, an air circulation system, a structural plate, and an insulated interface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings constitute a part of this specification and include exemplary embodiments to the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. It is to. be understood that in some instances various aspects of the invention may be shown exaggerated or enlarged to facilitate an understanding of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the invention.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a partial exploded view of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the invention.

FIG. 7 is a partial cross sectional view of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a cross sectional view of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Detailed descriptions of the preferred embodiment are provided herein. It is to be understood, however, that the present invention may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but rather as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed system, structure or manner. Turning first to FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 there is shown a perspective view of the present invention 10. FIG. 1 displays the hot side of the invention and FIG. 2 displays the cold side of the present invention. There is shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 the insulated interface 20 and structural plate 30. FIG. 1 reveals the hot side visible portion of the thermoelectric heat pump assembly 40 with the finned heat sink 41 visible. FIG. 2 reveals the cold side visible portion of the thermoelectric heat pump assembly 40 with the finned cols sink 42 visible. FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 also reveal the air circulation system 60 composed of an electric rotor system 61 visible in FIG. 1 and a fan blade system where in this preferred embodiment there is shown in FIG. 1 the hot side fan blade 62 and shown in FIG. 2 the cold side fan blade 63.

Now turning to FIG. 3, there is shown an exploded view of the present invention 10. FIG. 3 reveals the elements of the thermoelectric heat pump assembly 40 such as the finned heat sink 11 and finned cold sink 42. Finned heat sink 41 and finned cold sink 42 sandwich in between them the thermoelectric chip 43 and cold block 44. As in any thermoelectric modules, the thermoelectric chip 43 provides the heat transfer ability to the thermoelectric heat pump assembly 40, the cold block 44 provides physical distance between the hot side and cold side of the thermoelectric heat pump assembly 40, finned heat sink 41 allows thermoelectric heat pump assembly 40 to radiate heat while finned cold sink 42 allows thermoelectric assembly 40 to absorb heat. Also shown in FIG. 3 is the insulated interface 20, structural plate 30 and the air circulation system 60 composed of electric rotor system 61 and fan blade system hot side fan blade 62 and cold side fan blade 63.

In accordance with an important claim of this invention there is shown in FIG. 3 the finned heat sink 41, thermoelectric chip 43, cold block 44 and finned cold sink 42 arranged in a vertical assembly and secured together to structural plate 30 using fasteners 101 and 102. In accordance with another important claim of this invention air circulation system 60 composed of hot side fan blade 62, electric rotor system 61, and cold side fan blade 63 fastens to structural plate 30 using fasteners 103 and 104. Gasket 105 and gasket 106 provide thermal and noise insulation between structural plate 30 and other parts of the invention.

Also in accordance with important claims of the present invention 10, FIG. 3 shows insulated interface 30. Insulated. interface 30 is made of semi-rigid insulated material such as insulation grade expanded polystyrene or other similar materials. Insulated interface 30 is of generally quadrilateral shape and thermally insulates the cold side from the hot side of the thermoelectric heat pump assembly 40.

Lastly, as shown in FIG. 3, structural plate 30 fastens thermoelectric heat pump assembly 40 and air circulation system 60 in a generally longitudinal relationship enabling continuous motions of air across finned heat sink 41 and finned cold sink 42.

Now turning to FIG. 4 there is shown an exploded assembly view of the present invention 10 assembled with an insulated vessel 70 and a cosmetic outside cover 80. Invention 10 fits within cavity 71 of insulated vessel 70. In accordance with an important claim of the present invention insulated interface 20 has perimeter compressible surface features 21.

FIG. 5 shows the present invention 10 assembled in insulated vessel 70 viewed from the hot side.

FIG. 6 shows the present invention 10 assembled in insulated vessel 70 viewed from the cold side.

FIG. 7 Shows a partial section view of the present invention 10 assembled in insulated vessel 70, showing insulated interface 20 fitting within cavity 71 and where insulated interface 20 perimeter compressible surface features 21 form a dissengageable friction and thermal bond with cavity 71 of insulated vessel 70. FIG. 8 shows a sectional view of the present invention 10 installed in insulated vessel 70 where it shows a dissengageable tight compressed fit between insulated interface 20 at the physical junction between perimeter compressible features 21 and cavity 71.

In conclusion, and in accordance with the claims of the present invention, this specification discloses a Universal Thermoelectric Module Apparatus that is a one-piece thermoelectric heat pump assembly and than can be installed or removed without the use of tools or fasteners with an insulated vessel where the insulated vessels physical characteristics and application can change, the same invention can fit in a wide varieties of applications.

While the invention has been described in connection with a preferred embodiment, it is not intended to limit the scope of the invention to the particular form set forth, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.