Title:
TANK FLAP MODULE HOUSING WITH INTEGRATED WATER DRAIN VALVE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tank flap module housing is provided for a vehicle, more preferably a passenger car, with a trough body and an opening for the liquid drainage of liquids, such as water or fuel, present in the trough body. Here, a flexible means for covering the opening is provided, which is arranged in such a manner that it opens the opening upon reaching of an adequately high liquid level (h) in the tank flap module housing.



Inventors:
Zentner, Christian (Wiesbaden, DE)
Application Number:
12/427498
Publication Date:
10/29/2009
Filing Date:
04/21/2009
Assignee:
GM GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY OPERATIONS, INC. (Detroit, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D51/04
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Primary Examiner:
REIS, RYAN ALEXANDER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LKGlobal (GME) (SCOTTSDALE, AZ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tank flap module housing, comprising: a trough body; an opening for drainage of a liquid in the trough body, and a flexible means adapted to cover the opening and arranged in such a manner that the flexible means opens the opening upon reaching of an adequately high liquid level.

2. The tank flap module housing according to claim 1, wherein the flexible means is a sealing lip.

3. The tank flap module housing according to claim 1, wherein the flexible means is a flap.

4. The tank flap module housing according to claim 1, wherein the flexible means is a valve.

5. The tank flap module housing according to claim 1, wherein the flexible means is a film hinge.

6. The tank flap module housing according to claim 1, wherein the flexible means is manufactured of a fuel-resistant plastic.

7. The tank flap module housing according to claim 6, wherein the fuel-resistant plastic is EPDM.

8. The tank flap module housing according to claim 6, wherein the fuel-resistant plastic is PP.

9. The tank flap module housing according to claim 1, wherein the flexible means is injection-molded for connection with the trough body.

10. The tank flap module housing according to claim 1, wherein the trough body is embodied as a two-component trough body.

11. The tank flap module housing according to claim 1, wherein the opening can be opened at a liquid level (h) from about 1 mm.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to German Patent Application No. 102008020538.9, filed Apr. 24, 2008, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a tank flap module housing with a trough body and an opening for the liquid drainage of liquids present in the trough body, such as for example water or fuel.

BACKGROUND

Tank flap module housings with a module body and an opening for the liquid draining of the aforementioned kind are known in the prior art. Tank flap module housings of this kind serve for the joining of a tank connection of the motor vehicle with a body of said motor vehicle.

When refueling it frequently occurs that fuel is still present in the refueling nozzle which on removing the refueling nozzle tends to drip off near the tank connection. In addition to this, a careless user can overfill the tank so that fuel again runs out of the filler neck. Furthermore, the filler necks are regularly covered through tank flaps for aerodynamic reasons towards the body side. The tank flaps however are never completely tight so that when driving in rain, water can collect in the tank flap module. The tank flap module housings are therefore embodied trough-shaped in a lower region in order to be able to accommodate the aforementioned liquids (e.g., fuel or water), without fuel getting on to the vehicle body and without water collected in the tank flap module housing runs into the tank during refueling.

For the drainage of the aforementioned liquids an opening is regularly provided in the lower region of the mostly trough-shaped trough body, through which the water or the fuel can drain. In the prior art a hose is usually arranged on this opening which from the opening leads to the vehicle under floor. Liquids which accumulate in the trough body can thus be discharged to the bottom.

Problematic with this solution known from the prior art is that swirled-up dirt is able to get into the trough body through the connecting hose and that the trough body becomes dirty as a result. In the worst case the dirt can enter the tank on refueling and cause more rapid clogging of the gasoline filter.

Furthermore, the provision of drain hoses is problematic since the inner walls of the hoses become moist during the drainage of fuel or water, as a result of which swirled-up dirt adheres to the walls of the hoses and can lead to clogging of the hose.

In view of the foregoing, at least one object is to further develop a tank flap module housing of the known kind in that the entry of dirt in the tank flap module housing is effectively prevented and that the risk of clogging of the drain is reduced. In addition, other objects, desirable features and characteristics will become apparent from the subsequent summary and detailed description, and the appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and this background.

SUMMARY

A tank flap module housing is provided according to an embodiment of the invention with a trough body and an opening for the liquid drainage of liquids, such as water or fuel, present in the trough body, which provides a flexible means for covering the opening. The flexible means is arranged in such a manner that it opens the opening once an adequately high liquid level in the tank flap module housing is reached.

The opening of such a tank flap module housing is thus normally sealed towards the bottom through the flexible means. Dust or other dirt cannot enter the tank flap module housing from the outside through the opening. The flexible means opens the opening only when the liquid level in the tank flap module housing is adequately high, for example upon refueling or when rainwater has entered from the outside.

When providing a hose to be connected to the opening, cleaning of the hose is additionally made possible through the flexible means since the liquid in the tank flap module housing exits in surges depending on the concrete embodiment of the flexible means, as a result of which the liquid runs through the hose with higher energy.

A tank flap in the sense according to embodiments of the invention comprises all possible closures (e.g., also screw closures and the like).

Surprisingly it has been shown that pressure develops within the trough body while driving which causes stronger adherence of the flexible means to the opening. For this reason the flexible means opens the opening while driving only at higher liquid levels than when stationary. While driving it is thus ensured that the opening is not continuously opened, whereas the opening during refueling is opened already at substantially smaller liquid quantities.

With the tank flap module housing according to an embodiment of the invention all applicable safety regulations can be satisfied. To reduce the fire and explosion hazard on refueling, the fuel must drain off even with very small quantities. However since the refueling of the vehicle always takes place with the vehicle stationary, fuel which on refueling of the vehicle drips into the trough body, has to be briskly discharged through the opening that can be very easily opened. While driving, only water must usually be discharged so that there is no ignition hazard.

According to a first advantageous embodiment of the tank flap module housing, the flexible means is embodied as sealing lip, flap, film hinge or valve. More preferably sealing lips can be manufactured particularly cost-effectively since these, for example, can be manufactured as one-piece injection-molded parts without expensive molds, and without hinges or the like. Even with hinges and valves advantages in terms of sealing and susceptibility to dirt can be achieved.

A fuel-resistant plastic has proved to be a suitable material for the flexible means. Preferably the fuel-resistant plastic is an elastomer. EPDM as well as PP have proved to be suitable fuel-resistant materials. With the help of these materials the tank flap module housings can be manufactured particularly cost-effectively and durably.

A further particular embodiment is obtained if the flexible means is injection-molded on to the trough body. This makes possible particularly cost-effective manufacture of the tank flap module housing and brings about particularly reliable connection of the flexible means to the opening.

As an alternative to this it can be provided that instead of a flexible means injection-molded on a means can be provided which can be positively attached. Such positive connections facilitate the repair in the event of a defect since a defective flexible means can be simply replaced.

Furthermore the trough body is preferably embodied as two-component trough body. Here, a hard component and a soft component are provided. The trough body itself advantageously consists largely of a hard component. Glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene (GFK-PP) has proved to be particularly suitable. Connection to the tank filler neck is preferably realized out of a soft component. EPDM has proved to be particularly suitable here.

Forming the trough body as two-component trough body on the one hand facilitates the assembly of the trough body and on the other hand guarantees certain flexibility between trough body and filler neck, which increases the durability. For the trough body is secured to the sidewalls of the vehicle body, whereas the tank is usually secured in the floor region of the vehicle. While driving, relative displacements can occur between sidewall and floor region however.

Preferably the two-component trough body is injection-molded in a single injection molding operation, and soft component and hard component merge with each other to form a material connection. The flexible means according to the invention in this case can be co-attached during both the injection molding process as well as in an additional injection molding process.

Preferably the tank flap module housing is embodied in such a manner that the opening can be opened at a liquid level from about 1 mm.

The sealing of a drain opening through a flexible means, more preferably a flexible means injection-molded on, can be provided in the motor vehicle area more preferably in the passenger car area wherever a liquid drain must be provided for technical reasons. For door, doorsill as well as water drain of a convertible top can be mentioned as examples.

Further objectives, features as well as advantageous application possibilities of the invention are obtained from the following description of an exemplary embodiment by means of the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will hereinafter be described in conjunction with the following drawing figures, wherein like numerals denote like elements, and:

FIG. 1 illustrates a section through a tank flap module housing according to an embodiment of the invention in a schematic representation with a flexible means in a closed position; and

FIG. 2 illustrates a section through a tank flap module housing according to an embodiment of the invention in a schematic representation with a flexible means in an opened position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following detailed description is merely exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit application and uses. Furthermore, there is no intention to be bound by any theory presented in the preceding background and summary n or the following detailed description.

FIG. 1 shows a schematic cross section through a tank flap module housing 2 according to the invention with a trough body 4.

The trough body 4 is embodied as two-component trough body with a soft component 4.1 and a hard component 4.2. The soft component 4.1 consists of ethylene-propylene-dien rubber (EPDM) and with an opening 6 constitutes a connection to a tank filler neck which is not shown. The hard component 4.2 consists of glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene (GRP-PP). Soft component 4.1 and hard component 4.2 are manufactured in one injection molding operation and thus form a material connection with each other.

The tank flap module housing 2 according to an embodiment of the invention is closed off towards the vehicle outside through a tank flap 8. Instead of a tank flap 8 a screw connection or the like can also be provided.

In the lower region of the trough body 4 an opening 10 is provided through which liquid accumulated in the lower region of the trough body 4, for example water or fuel, can drain off. The opening 10 is sealed through a sealing lip 14.

The sealing lip 14 is directly injection-molded on to the opening 10. Here, the sealing lip 14 is secured to the opening 10 only on one side, on the other side the sealing lip 14 is free. The sealing lip 14 is embodied so that it rests against the opening 10 with slight pre-stress and completely closes off the opening 10 in that it rests against the edges of the opening 10 all around.

The contact forces of the sealing lip 14 while driving are increased in that in the interior of the trough body 4 a vacuum is formed relative to the outer region of the motor vehicle, through which the sealing lip 14 is sucked on to the opening 10. Because of this the closing forces with which the sealing lip 14 seals the opening 10 change as a function of the driving state of the vehicle. To overcome the closing forces a liquid level h must materialize in the trough body 4 while driving that is higher than with a standing vehicle. Because of this it is achieved on the one hand that on refueling even smallest quantities of fuel can drain off, whereas the opening 10 while driving is only opened when an adequate amount of water, for example through rain, has collected within the trough body 4. At the same time, with the provision of a drain hose which is not shown, a certain cleaning effect can be achieved through this.

The triggering liquid level h according to the exemplary embodiment with stationary vehicle is set to about 1 mm.

FIG. 2 shows the tank flap module housing 2 according to an embodiment the invention with opened sealing lip 14. As soon as the liquid 12 has reached an intended minimum height h of 1 mm (see FIG. 1), the sealing lip 14 is pressed from a contact position on the opening 10 in to an open position through the liquid pressure thus created. The liquid 12 can drain off through the opening 10.

While at least one exemplary embodiment has been presented in the foregoing summary and detailed description, it should be appreciated that a vast number of variations exist. It should also be appreciated that the exemplary embodiment or exemplary embodiments are only examples, and are not intended to limit the scope, applicability, or configuration in any way. Rather, the foregoing summary and detailed description will provide those skilled in the art with a convenient road map for implementing an exemplary embodiment, it being understood that various changes may be made in the function and arrangement of elements described in an exemplary embodiment without departing from the scope as set forth in the appended claims and their legal equivalents.





 
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