Title:
FLOATING PUMP
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A floating pump is provided that has a power system, a pumping system, a filtering system, a floatation system and a support structure. The power system has a power source and a drive shaft. The pumping system has a pumping conduit and a drive member. The filtering system is in fluid communication with the inlet. The floatation system has at least one float and the support structure supports the power, pumping, filtering and floatation systems. The pumping conduit has an inlet and an outlet. The drive member is operably connected to the drive shaft for inducing fluid flow through the pumping conduit. The at least one float has sufficient buoyancy to maintain the engine and/or drive shaft above a water line.



Inventors:
Cortes, Jorge Marcos (Surfside, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/668948
Publication Date:
07/31/2008
Filing Date:
01/30/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F04D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JACOBS, TODD D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AKERMAN LLP (WEST PALM BEACH, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A floating pump comprising: a power system having a power source and a drive shaft; a pumping system having a pumping conduit and a drive member, wherein the pumping conduit has an inlet and an outlet, and wherein the drive member is operably connected to the drive shaft for inducing fluid flow through the pumping conduit; a filtering system in fluid communication with the inlet; a floatation system having at least one float with sufficient buoyancy to maintain the drive shaft above a water line; and a support structure for supporting the power, pumping, filtering and floatation systems.

2. The pump of claim 1, wherein the drive member is a propeller in the pumping conduit.

3. The pump of claim 1, wherein the at least one float is first and second floats positioned along a substantial length of the support structure on opposing sides of the support structure.

4. The pump of claim 1, wherein the power source is an internal combustion engine.

5. The pump of claim 1, wherein the filtering system is a box-like structure having an open upper end and comprising a plurality of walls made from screen.

6. The pump of claim 1, wherein the drive shaft is substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the support structure.

7. The pump of claim 6, wherein the pumping system further comprises a right angle gear operably connected to the drive shaft and being substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the support structure.

8. The pump of claim 2, wherein the pumping system further comprises a diffuser downstream of the propeller.

9. The pump of claim 1, wherein the power source and the drive shaft are positioned along a center portion of the support structure.

10. A floating pump comprising: a power system having a power source and a drive shaft; a pumping system having a pumping conduit, at least one gear and a drive member, wherein the pumping conduit has an inlet and an outlet, and wherein the drive member is operably connected to the drive shaft via the at least one gear for inducing fluid flow through the pumping conduit; a filtering system in fluid communication with the inlet; a floatation system having at least one float with sufficient buoyancy to maintain the power source above a water line; and a support structure for supporting the power, pumping, filtering and floatation systems, wherein the power source, the drive shaft and the at least one gear are positioned along a center portion of the support structure.

11. The pump of claim 10, wherein a distance from a center point of the power source to a center point of the at least one gear is less than 0.75 of a length of the support structure.

12. The pump of claim 10, wherein a distance from a center point of the power source to a center point of the at least one gear is less than 0.5 of a length of the support structure.

13. The pump of claim 10, wherein a distance from a center point of the power source to a center point of the at least one gear is less that 0.4 of a length of the support structure.

14. The pump of claim 10, wherein the drive member is a propeller positioned in the pumping conduit and wherein the at least one float maintains the drive shaft above the water line.

15. The pump of claim 10, wherein the at least one float is first and second floats positioned along a substantial length of the support structure on opposing sides of the support structure.

16. The pump of claim 10, wherein the power source is an internal combustion engine.

17. The pump of claim 10, wherein the filtering system is a box-like structure having an open upper end and comprising a plurality of walls made from screen.

18. The pump of claim 10, wherein the drive shaft is substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the support structure and the at least one gear is substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the support structure.

19. The pump of claim 14, wherein the pumping system further comprises a diffuser downstream of the propeller.

20. A floating pump comprising: a power system having an engine and a drive shaft; a pumping system having a pumping conduit, at least one gear and a propeller, wherein the pumping conduit has an inlet and an outlet, and wherein the propeller is operably connected to the drive shaft via the at least one gear for inducing fluid flow through the pumping conduit; a floatation system having at least one float with sufficient buoyancy to maintain the engine and drive shaft above a water line; and a support structure for supporting the power, pumping, filtering and floatation systems, wherein the engine, drive shaft and at least one gear are positioned along a center portion of the support structure.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates in general to pumps and, more particularly, to pumps that can float during operation.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Pumping devices are well known and used in a variety of environments. Further known are floating pumps which can be used for a variety of different purposes such as drainage, dredging, irrigation, and the like.

Contemporary floating pumps are typically connected to a power source which includes a drive motor. The drive motor is connected to a drive shaft and a propeller which creates flow from an inlet to an outlet of the pump. Floatation devices are provided for buoyancy.

Depending upon the pumping capacity of the floating pump, the power source and resulting torque can be very large. Such a large torque can provide instability to the floating pump, especially during start up and through acceleration to steady state operation. Stability is of great concern for large floating pumps where workers need access to the components of the pump. Contemporary floating pumps have sought to provide stability by positioning the engine and drive assembly on opposing sides of the structure with an elongated, submerged drive shaft connecting them. However, such configurations reduce power transmission efficiency and reduce pumping torque.

Typically, the floating pump is positioned in an environment containing debris and the like. Filtering of such debris is often employed so that the various components of the floating pump can be protected from the debris and/or the debris is not pumped through to the dispensing point. The type and amount of filtering can have an effect on the efficiency of the pumping. Where a high degree of filtering is used, the majority of debris will be isolated from the pump components and/or the dispensing point. Of course, such a high degree of filtering can impede flow to the inlet of the pump and reduce the volume of flow. Where a low degree of filtering is used, a large amount of debris can gain access to the pump components and/or the dispensing point. Such a low degree of filtering can increase the risk of failure through debris damage to the pump components, as well as increase the risk of blockage.

The type of debris can impact the effectiveness of the filtering being employed. For example, cages and the like, which surround moving parts of the pump assembly, can be effective against large, rigid debris, such as wood but are ineffective against smaller, flexible debris, such as rope or other discarded flexible material. Where moveable parts, especially submerged rotating drive shafts, are not protected from this type of flexible debris, the result can be failure of the pump. Such flexible material can penetrate the cage and wrap about the submerged rotating drive shaft resulting in transmission and/or engine failure.

Thus, there is a need for a floating pump that addresses the above-described drawbacks. There is a further need for such a floating pump that protects the pump components from debris, while maintaining pumping efficiency. There is yet a further need for such a floating pump that provides stability even during start up and through acceleration to steady state operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure provides a stable device for pumping fluids while floating in a pool or reservoir of the fluid. The exemplary embodiment protects the pump components from debris, while maintaining pumping efficiency. The exemplary embodiment provides stability even during start up and through acceleration to steady state operation.

In one aspect, a floating pump is provided comprising: a power system having a power source and a drive shaft; a pumping system having a pumping conduit and a drive member; a filtering system in fluid communication with the inlet; a floatation system having at least one float; and a support structure for supporting the power, pumping, filtering and floatation systems. The pumping conduit has an inlet and an outlet. The drive member is operably connected to the drive shaft for inducing fluid flow through the pumping conduit. The at least one float has sufficient buoyancy to maintain the drive shaft above a water line.

In another aspect, a floating pump is provided comprising: a power system having a power source and a drive shaft; a pumping system having a pumping conduit, at least one gear and a drive member; a filtering system in fluid communication with the inlet; a floatation system having at least one float with sufficient buoyancy to maintain the power source above a water line; and a support structure for supporting the power, pumping, filtering and floatation systems. The power source, the drive shaft and the at least one gear are positioned along a center portion of the support structure. The pumping conduit has an inlet and an outlet. The drive member is operably connected to the drive shaft via the at least one gear for inducing fluid flow through the pumping conduit.

In another aspect, a floating pump is provided comprising: a power system having an engine and a drive shaft; a pumping system having a pumping conduit, at least one gear and a propeller; a floatation system having at least one float with sufficient buoyancy to maintain the engine and drive shaft above a water line; and a support structure for supporting the power, pumping, filtering and floatation systems. The engine, drive shaft and at least one gear are positioned along a center portion of the support structure. The pumping conduit has an inlet and an outlet. The propeller is operably connected to the drive shaft via the at least one gear for inducing fluid flow through the pumping conduit

The drive member can be a propeller in the pumping conduit. The at least one float can be first and second floats positioned along a substantial length of the support structure on opposing sides of the support structure. The power source may be an internal combustion engine. The filtering system can be a box-like structure having an open upper end and comprising a plurality of walls made from screen. The drive shaft can be substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the support structure. The pumping system may also have a right angle gear operably connected to the drive shaft and being substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the support structure. The pumping system may also have a diffuser downstream of the propeller. The power source and the drive shaft can be positioned along a center portion of the support structure.

The distance from a center point of the power source to a center point of the at least one gear can be less than 0.75 of a length of the support structure. The distance from a center point of the power source to a center point of the at least one gear may also be less than 0.5 of a length of the support structure. The distance from a center point of the power source to a center point of the at least one gear can be less that 0.4 of a length of the support structure. The drive member may be a propeller positioned in the pumping conduit and the at least one float can maintain the drive shaft above the water line.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pump according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a another perspective view of the pump of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the pump of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front view of the pump of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the pump of FIG. 1 with the floatation system removed;

FIG. 6 is a top view of the pump of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the pump of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a front view of the pump of FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the pumping system of the pump of FIG. 1 with a portion of the pumping conduit in phantom;

FIG. 10 is a plan view of the pumping system of FIG. 9 with a portion of the pumping conduit in phantom;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the gear thruster and propeller of the pumping system of FIG. 9;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the diffuser of the pumping system of FIG. 9;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the support structure of the pump of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the pump of FIG. 1 with the power system and pumping system removed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Exemplary embodiments described herein are directed to a floating pump. Aspects will be explained in connection with one possible embodiment of the floating pump, but the detailed description is intended only as exemplary. An exemplary embodiment is shown in FIGS. 1-14, but the present disclosure is not limited to the illustrated structure or application.

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, a floating pump is shown and generally referred to by reference numeral 10. Pump 10 has a power system 100, a pumping system 200, a filtering system 300, a support structure 400 and a floatation system 500. Pump 10 can be used in a variety of environments and provides for high volume pumping with stability and safety of operation. Pump 10 is connectable to a dispensing conduit 20 that can be run to a desired dispensing point. The particular type, length and diameter of the dispensing conduit 20 can be chosen to facilitate the pumping operation, for example, a high volume, flexible transfer conduit can be used with the pump 10. Such a high volume, flexible transfer conduit 20 can be made from high density polyethylene piping, but the present disclosure contemplates other types of dispensing conduits being used with pump 10 including rigid conduits. Pump 10 can be used both with or without the dispensing conduit 20. While the pump 10 typically is used for pumping water, the present disclosure contemplates pump 10 being used for the pumping of any type of fluid or mixture of fluids.

Power system 100 can be an internal combustion engine 110, such as a diesel marine engine, or can be another power source, such as an electric engine. The engine 110 is mounted to the support structure 400 so as to be held at a sufficient distance from the fluid or water line 30 to avoid contact therewith. To provide stability to the pump 10, engine 110 can be mounted in a center or middle portion 430 of the support structure 400 between the rear and front portions 410 and 420. As can be seen clearly in FIG. 3, the engine 110 and the right angle gear 210, which will be discussed later in greater detail, are centrally located along the support structure which adds stability to the pump 10 even during initial start up and acceleration through steady state operation.

The particular mounting structure and/or technique used for connecting the engine 110 to the support structure 400 can be chosen to provide structural integrity, while maintaining ease of assembly and cost-effectiveness. In the exemplary embodiment of pump 10, opposing angle brackets 120 are positioned along a substantial portion of the underside of the engine 110 and connected to the support structure 400.

Power system 100 has a drive shaft 130 that is connected to engine 110 and right angle gear 210 to transfer the power of the engine to the pumping system 200. Drive shaft 130 is preferably of a shortened length to avoid loss of transmission efficiency and reduction of torque. Drive shaft 1 30 is held at a sufficient distance from the water line 30 to avoid contact therewith and is preferably positioned parallel to the longitudinal axis of, and/or centered with, the support structure 400 to further increase stability of the pump 10. By centrally locating the engine 110 and right angle gear 210, the length of the drive shaft 130 can be minimized and stability can be imparted to the pump 10. As shown in FIG. 7, the distance d, from the center point C1 of the engine 110 to the center point C2 of the right angle gear 210 is preferably less that 0.75 of the total length d2 of the support structure, more preferably less that 0.5 of the total length d2 of the support structure, and most preferably less that 0.40 of the total length d2 of the support structure. In the exemplary embodiment, the distance d1 from the center point C1 of the engine 110 to the center point C2 of the right angle gear 210 is about 88 inches and the total length d2 of the support structure is about 240 inches. The width of the support structure is about 114 inches. However, the present disclosure contemplates other dimensions being used. By centrally disposing the weight of the pump 10 with respect to the support structure 400, the stability of the pump is improved even during initial start up and through acceleration to steady state operation, and the transmission efficiency is also increased by shortening of the drive shaft 130.

Referring to FIGS. 5-12, the right angle gear 210 is operably connected to a gear spool 220 and gear thruster 230 in order to provide rotational drive to a propeller or other drive member 250. Right angle gear 210 is preferably positioned perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of, and/or centered with, the support structure 400 to further increase stability of the pump 10. The right angle gear 210 is preferably positioned above the water line 30. Such a positioning facilitates maintenance of the gear 210, reduces the effects of corrosion and allows for use of a component with less sealing requirements. Gear spool 220 and gear thruster 230 are preferably encased in housings 225 and 235, respectively.

Housing 235, which is positioned in the pumping conduit 265, preferably has a vane-like structure, e.g., an upstream enlarged leading edge and a downstream reduced trailing edge, to facilitate flow through the conduit and/or reduce turbulence prior to the fluid contacting the propeller 250. Power system 200 can also have other fluid directing components, such as, for example, dome shaped housing 237 positioned upstream of propeller 250 which can also reduce turbulence and/or increase pumping efficiency by directing fluid flow towards the propeller blades 255. While the exemplary embodiment uses a gear spool 220 and gear thruster 230 to transfer power from the shortened drive shaft 130 to the propeller 250, the present disclosure contemplates other arrangements and configurations of transmission components, e.g., belts, chain drives and combinations thereof, to transmit the power and provide fluid flow through the pumping system 200.

Propeller 250 is positioned in pumping conduit 260 downstream of the inlet 265. The pumping conduit 260 can have a diffuser 270 along a downstream portion thereof. Diffuser 270 can have diffuser vanes 275, as well as a dispensing flange 280 and a diffuser bracket 285. The particular size and shape of the diffuser 270 can be chosen to facilitate flow through the dispensing conduit 20 to the dispensing point. The diffuser 270 and vanes 275 can reduce turbulence by promoting a more gradual reduction in fluid velocity. The diffuser 270 can have an increasing diameter in the downstream direction to further reduce turbulence and facilitate flow to the dispensing point. While in the exemplary embodiment of pump 10 the vanes 275 are fixed to the casing of diffuser 270, the present disclosure contemplates the use of rotating vanes and combinations of rotating and non-rotating vanes.

The particular size, shape, configuration and number of vanes 275, as well as the size and shape of the propeller 250 and diffuser 270 can be chosen to facilitate flow through the pumping system 200 and can be chosen based upon other factors, such as, for example, reducing damaging conditions including cavitation. While the exemplary embodiment uses a propeller 250 as a drive member to provide for fluid flow preferably by axial flow pumping, the present disclosure contemplates other drive or pumping members being utilized by the floating pump 10, including, but not limited to, open impellers, closed impellers, and diaphragms, as well as other types of pumping systems, such as, for example, internal gear pumps, lobe pumps, peripheral pumps, pitot pumps, progressive cavity pumps, vane pumps, viscous drag pumps and vortex pumps.

Dispensing flange 280 is preferably an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) flange to facilitate mounting with dispensing conduit 20. However, the present disclosure contemplates other types of flanges, as well as other types of mounting structures and techniques, being utilized with the outlet of the pumping system 200 to facilitate connection with the dispensing conduit 20. A diffuser bracket 285 can also be provided along an outer portion of the casing of the diffuser 270 and/or pumping conduit 260, which allows for connection of the conduit and/or diffuser to the support structure 400.

Filtering system 300 can have one or more walls 310 that define an inner volume or reservoir 330 that is in fluid communication with the inlet 265 of the pumping system 200. In the exemplary embodiment of pump 10, walls 310 are a base 315 and four side walls 320 that define a box-like structure 325 having an open upper end. The base 315 preferably covers a substantial portion of the support structure 400 in order to increase the size of volume 330. The size and shape of box-like filtering system 325 provides for increased surface area for flow into the volume 330 and then into the inlet 265. The walls 310 can be made from various materials that provide strength against penetration from debris but allow for a sufficient flow into the volume 330 such as a reinforced screen. Different materials can also be used for the base 315 as compared to the sidewalls 320.

The filtering system 300 can prevent unwanted debris from entering the pumping conduit 260. Due to the configuration of the power system 100 and the pumping system 200 which have the drive shaft 130 and right angle gear 210 above the water line 30, as well as the gear spool 220 and gear thruster 220 encased in housings 225 and 235, respectively, any damage to the power and pumping systems by penetration of such unwanted debris is reduced or eliminated. This protection is provided to the device 10 without a reduction of transmission efficiency or reduction of torque. Additionally, the box-like structure 325 is only required to protect or isolate the inlet 265 of the pumping conduit 260 since the components of the pumping system are protected by the conduit 260 and their respective housings 225, 235 and 237, while the components of the power system 100 are protected by their positioning above the water line 30. The particular size of the openings or screening of the box-like structure 325 can be chosen based upon the degree of filtering and/or protection desired in consideration of the amount of flow therethrough.

Fluid flow is schematically represented in FIG. 10 by arrow A indicating flow into the inlet 265 and arrow B indicating flow out of the diffuser 270. Where a dispensing conduit 20 is connected to the pumping conduit 260, such as by flange 280, the fluid flow continues along the dispensing conduit to the dispensing point. The inlet 265 is supplied the fluid by the volume or reservoir 330 defined by box-like structure 325. The combination of right angle gear 210 and gear thruster 230 provides a Z-drive for pump 10. The Z-drive configuration allows for horizontal suction without the need for a flow guide deflector or shroud. Pumping System 200 as shown in FIG. 9 can be provided as a modular package that is independent of the support structure 400 and the floatation system 500.

Referring to FIG. 13, in order to provide strength and stability to pump 10, support structure 400 is preferably made from a number of beams that are welded together via a water tight weld. Although, the present disclosure contemplates other connection structures and techniques being used for the support structure 400, as well as integrally forming some or all of the support structure. The beams can be of box tube design, e.g., carbon steel box tube, such as beams 440, 445, 450 and 452, although other beam structures are contemplated by the present disclosure, such as I-beams. Other structural members can be used such as C-channels 455, L-angle brackets 460, flat brackets 465 and bent brackets 470. To provide additional rigidity and strength to the support structure 400, gussets 475 can be welded or otherwise connected between beams and/or other structural members, and preferably are positioned at a 45 degree angle with respect to adjacent beams and/or other structural members.

Support structure 400 preferably provides a structure with a sufficient height to allow the various components described above to be held above the water line 30 to avoid contact with, or prolonged exposure to, the water or other fluid. The particular dimensions chosen for the support structure 400 can vary depending upon the size and weight of the components of power, pumping and filtering systems 100, 200 and 300. In the exemplary embodiment of pump 10, a rectangular structure is provided having a length that is more than twice the width of the structure. Such a configuration provides stability for the floating pump 10, although other shapes and/or dimensions for the support structure 400 are also contemplated by the present disclosure.

Referring to FIG. 14, a floatation system 500 is provided that has one or more floats or pontoons 510. In the exemplary embodiment of pump 10, there are two floats 510 that are of equal size and which are positioned along a substantial length of opposing sides of the support structure 400. However, the present disclosure contemplates the use of a single float or more than two floats, and the particular shape of the floats can be chosen to facilitate assembly while maintaining buoyancy, for example, a single float having a U-Shape with the open-end of the float in proximity to the pumping conduit 260 can be used.

The floats 510 can be made from a material that provides sufficient buoyancy to maintain the power system 100 above the water line 30. In the exemplary embodiment of pump 10, floats 510 can be made of reinforced fiberglass and can be filled with foam, such as, for example, segmented closed cell foam. However, the present disclosure contemplates the floats 510 being made from different materials and being filled with different materials and/or not filled with any material, as long as the floats 510 provide the required buoyancy for the pump 10. In a preferred embodiment, the fiberglass floats 510 have support ribs therein, e.g., honeycomb ribs, to provide structural integrity for the floats.

The structural integrity of the floats 510 allows workers to walk along the floats to access the components of the pump 10, such as the engine 110, for operation, maintenance and the like. The floats 510 preferably have gripping surfaces along a top portion of the floats and more preferably along the entire top portion of the floats. The gripping surface can be made from various material or combinations of materials. In the exemplary embodiment of pump 10, a gel coat is provided to the entire float 510 for protection and a non-slip coating is applied along the top surface of each of the floats. The present disclosure also contemplates the use of other non-slip or gripping features for the floats 510 including chevrons and the like along the floats.

The foregoing description is provided in the context of an exemplary embodiment of a floating pump. Thus, it will of course be understood that the invention is not limited to the specific details described herein, which are given by way of example only, and that various modifications and alterations are possible within the scope of the invention as defined in the following claims.