Title:
HEATING SYSTEMS UTILIZING STORED ENERGY AS A POWER SOURCE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a heating system. The heating system includes a heating element configured to heat a working fluid and a circulation system configured to circulate the working fluid through a circulation loop. The heating system further includes an energy storage device configured to store and discharge energy. The discharged energy comprises electricity delivered to the heating element and the circulation system. In addition, a recharging element is configured to charge the energy storage device.



Inventors:
Toland, Jeremiah (Hampton, NH, US)
Toland, Sean (Hampton, NH, US)
Application Number:
12/180800
Publication Date:
01/28/2010
Filing Date:
07/28/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
237/81
International Classes:
F24D3/02; F24D3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DECKER, PHILLIP
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jeremiah toland (Hampton, NH, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A heating system comprising: a heating element configured to heat a working fluid; a circulation system configured to circulate the working fluid through a circulation loop; an energy storage device configured to store and discharge energy, wherein the discharged energy comprises electricity delivered to the heating element and the circulation system; and a recharging element configured to charge the energy storage device.

2. The heating system of claim 1, wherein the energy storage device comprises at least one battery.

3. The heating system of claim 2, wherein the recharging element comprises a battery charger.

4. The heating system of claim 2, wherein the recharging element comprises an alternator operatively connected to a motor and the energy storage device, wherein the motor is configured to cause the alternator to charge the at least one battery.

5. The heating system of claim 1, wherein the heating element comprises a water heater.

6. The heating system of claim 1, further comprising a sensor configured to activate the recharging element when an energy content of the energy storage device is below a preset level.

7. The heating system of claim 1, wherein the energy storage device is configured to deliver power to the heating element and the circulation system during “peak” times and the recharging element is configured to recharge the energy storage device during “off-peak” times.

8. The heating system of claim 1, further comprising a sensor configured to detect a power outage and cause the energy storage system to deliver power to the heating element and the circulation system during the power outage.

9. The heating system of claim 1, wherein the working fluid comprises water and the circulation system comprises a circulation pump configured to circulate the water to baseboard heating elements.

10. The heating system of claim 1, further comprising an inverter operatively connected to the energy storage device, the heating element, and the circulation system, wherein the inverter is configured to convert direct current electricity discharged from the energy storage device to alternating current for use by the circulation system and the heating element.

11. A heating system comprising: a water heater; a circulation pump for circulating water throughout a circulation loop; at least one battery operatively connect to and configured to deliver electricity to the water heater and the circulation pump; and a recharging element configured to recharge the at least one battery.

12. The heating system of claim 11, the recharging element comprises a battery charger.

13. The heating system of claim 12, wherein the recharging element is powered by at least one solar cell.

14. The heating system of claim 11, wherein the recharging element is configured to active when an energy content of the at least one battery is below a preset level.

15. The heating system of claim 11, wherein the at least one battery is configured to deliver power to the water heater and the circulation system during “peak” times and the recharging element is configured to recharge the at least one battery during “off-peak” times.

16. The heating system of claim 11, further comprising an inverter operatively connected to the at least one battery, the water heater, and the circulation system, wherein the inverter is configured to convert direct current electricity discharged from the at least one battery to alternating current for use by the circulation system and the water heater.

17. A method for heating a space, the method comprising: converting stored energy into electrical energy, where the stored energy is stored onsite in an energy storage unit; utilizing the electrical energy to heat a working fluid; utilizing the electrical energy to circulate the working fluid throughout the space; and recharging the energy storage device.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein utilizing the electrical energy to circulate the working fluid comprises utilizing the electrical energy from the energy storage unit during “peak” times, wherein utilizing the electrical energy to heat the working fluid comprises utilizing the electrical energy from the energy storage unit during “peak” times, and wherein recharging the energy storage unit comprises recharging the energy storage device during “off-peak” times.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein utilizing the electrical energy to heat a working fluid and utilizing the electrical energy to circulate the working fluid comprising using the electrical energy to heat a working fluid and utilizing the electrical energy to circulate the working fluid during a power outage.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein recharging the energy storage device comprises determining when an energy content of the energy storage device is below a preset level.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present disclosure relates to systems and methods for conditioning a space. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to systems and methods for providing heating systems utilizing stored energy as a power source.

BACKGROUND

Conventional heating systems require a constant supply of utilities, such as natural gas or electricity during operation to remain functional. This is inefficient in that during “peak” hours consumers may have to pay a premium for electricity and natural gas. In addition, systems that require a constant supply of natural gas or electricity will not work if there is a power outage or a disruption in the flow of natural gas due to gas leaks requiring the gas be shut off to avoid dangerous and explosive situations should the gas buildup.

SUMMARY

This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter. Nor is this Summary intended to be used to limit the claimed subject matter's scope.

Disclosed is a heating system. The heating system includes a heating element configured to heat a working fluid and a circulation system configured to circulate the working fluid through a circulation loop. The heating system further includes an energy storage device configured to store and discharge energy. The discharged energy comprises electricity delivered to the heating element and the circulation system. In addition, a recharging element is configured to charge the energy storage device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Non-limiting and non-exhaustive embodiments are described with reference to the following figures, wherein like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the various views unless otherwise specified.

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a heating system;

FIG. 2 is a schematic of a controller; and

FIG. 3 is a flow chart of a method for utilizing stored energy as a power source for a heating system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Various embodiments are described more fully below with reference to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof, and which show specific embodiments of the invention. However, embodiments may be implemented in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the following detailed description is not to be taken in a limiting sense.

Turning now to the figures, FIG. 1 illustrates a heating system 100 configured to utilize stored energy as a power source. The heating system includes a heating element 102, an energy storage device 104, a recharging element 106, and a circulation system 108. The circulation system 108 may include a circulation pump 110 and heater exchangers 112.

Note the heat exchangers 112 may be any type of heat exchanger capable of transferring heat from a working fluid to ambient. For example, non-limiting examples of heat exchangers include baseboard heaters, fin-tube heat exchangers, etc, such that energy (i.e. heat) may be transferred from a working fluid flowing though the heat exchangers to ambient air circulating throughout a room.

Examples of working fluids include, but are not limited to, water, non-flammable antifreeze, non petroleum based oils, etc. Examples of a heating element 102 include, but are not limited to, a water heater, a boiler, etc. Examples of the energy storage device 104 include, but are not limited to, one or more batteries and one or more fuel cells. Non-limiting examples of the recharging element 106 include a battery charger and a motor-alternator combination. For instance, the recharging element 106 may include a motor in electrical communication with the external power source 116 and connected to an alternator such that the motor turns the alternator and the alternator recharges the energy storage device 104.

During operation, a controller 114 may cause circulation pump 110 to cause the working fluid to flow through the heating element 102 and out to the heat exchangers 112. Examples of controllers include, but are not limited to, a thermostat, a programmable logic controller, a personal computer having software for controlling the heating system 100, etc. As the working fluid flows through the heating element 102, the working fluid is heated to a set temperature or to within an acceptable temperature range. Once the working fluid reaches the desired temperature, the working fluid may circulate to heat exchangers 112. As the working fluid flows through heat exchangers 112 energy is transferred from the working fluid to ambient.

Depending on how the controller 114 is programmed, the power used to operate the circulation pump 110 and the heating element 102 may come from the energy storage device 104 and an external power source 116.

For example, during “peak” hours when electricity rates are at their highest, the circulation pump 110 and the heating element 102 may obtain the power needed for their operation from the energy storage device 104. Then, during “off-peak” hours when electricity rates are lower, the recharging element 106 may then recharge energy storage device 104. The recharging element 106 obtains the power needed for its operation from an external power source 116 that may included, but is not limited to, a power outlet (i.e., a standard 110V or 220V electrical outlet), a solar cell, windmill, etc. It is to be understood that the storage device system may be used for such durations as the system allows for the purposes of the user, and not necessarily exclusively as a backup system.

Another example of the controller 114 controlling operation of the circulation pump 110 and the heating element 102 may include controller 114 having a sensor and being configured to determine if there is a power outage. When there is a power outage, the controller 114 may cause the circulation pump 110 and the heating element 102 to obtain power from the energy storage device 104. When the power outage is over, the controller 114 may cause the circulation pump 110 and the heating element 102 to obtain power from the external source 116. In addition, the recharging element 106 may recharge the energy storage device 104. Also, the power system may be made applicable to numerous purposes not limited to, but including, air-conditioning. For the purpose of efficient power production or as an alternative to any other system that is powered by the use of electricity within the configured capabilities of the power system.

The controller 114 may also be programmed to the operate circulation pump 110 and the heating element 102 from power from the energy storage unit 104. When the controller 114 detects that the energy content of the energy storage unit 104 is below a preset level, the controller 114 may cause the circulation pump 110 and the heating element 102 to operate via power obtained from the external power source 116. During that time, the recharging element 106 may recharge the energy storage unit.

The heating element 102 and the circulation pump 110 may be alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC) electrical devices. In addition, the energy storage device may deliver either AC or DC current. When the current delivered by the energy storage device differs from that of the heating element 102 and the circulation pump 110 the current may be converted to the necessary current type via an electrical converter 118. For instance, if the heating element 102 and the circulation pump 110 operate via AC current, and the energy storage device 104 delivers DC current, the converter 118 may be an inverter that converts the DC current to AC current. In the alternative, if the energy storage device 104 delivers AC current and the heating element 102 and the circulation pump 110 operate on DC current, the converter 118 may be a rectifier that converts the AC current to DC current.

Referring now to FIG. 2, FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of the controller 114. Memory storage 204 and a processing unit 202 may be implemented in the controller 114. Any suitable combination of hardware, software, or firmware may be used to implement the memory storage 204 and the processing unit 202. For example, the memory storage 204 and the processing unit 202 may be implemented with the controller 114 or any of other computing devices 218, in combination with the controller 114. Examples of other computing devices 218 include but are not limited to, remote controls, computers at remote locations, internet servers, etc.

In a basic configuration, the controller 114 may include at least one processing unit 202 and a system memory 204. Depending on the configuration and type of computing device, the system memory 204 may include, but is not limited to, volatile (e.g., random access memory (RAM)), non-volatile (e.g., read-only memory (ROM)), flash memory, or any combination thereof. The system memory 204 may include the operating system 205, one or more programming modules 206, and may include program data 207. Examples of program data include the aforementioned routines for controlling the heating system 100 during power outages, “peak” and “off-peak” hours, etc that may be stored as application 220. The operating system 205, for example, may be suitable for controlling the controller's 114 operation. The basic configuration of controller 114 is illustrated in FIG. 2 by those components within a dashed line 208.

The controller 114 may have additional features or functionality. For example, the controller 114 may also include additional data storage devices (e.g., removable and/or non-removable) including, but not limited to, magnetic disks, flash drives, and memory sticks. Such additional storage is illustrated in FIG. 2 by a removable storage medium 209 and a non-removable storage medium 210. Computer storage media may include volatile and nonvolatile, removable and non-removable media implemented in any method or technology for storage of information, such as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules, or other data. The system memory 204, the removable storage 209, and the non-removable storage 210 are all computer storage media examples. Examples of the computer storage media include but are not limited to, RAM, ROM, electrically erasable read-only memory (EEPROM), flash memory or other memory technology, and any other medium which can be used to store information and which can be accessed by the controller 114. Any such computer storage media may be part of the controller 114. The controller 114 may also have input device(s) 212, such as a keyboard, a mouse, a touch input device, etc. The output device(s) 214, such as a display, may also be included.

The controller 114 may also contain a communication connection 216 that may allow the controller 114 to communicate with other computing devices 218, such as over a network in a distributed computing environment (i.e., an intranet or the internet). The communication connection 216 is one example of communication media. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media may include wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as acoustic, radio frequency (RF), infrared, BLUETOOTH, and other wireless media.

As stated above, a number of program modules and data files may be stored in the system memory 204, including the operating system 205. While executing on the processing unit 202, the programming modules 206 (e.g., application 220) may perform processes including, for example, one or more method stages as described below with reference to FIG. 3. The aforementioned process is an example, and the processing unit 202 may perform other processes.

In addition, embodiments of the invention may be practiced within a general purpose computer or in any other circuits or systems. For example, the controller 114 may be practiced in an electrical circuit comprising discrete electronic elements, packaged or integrated electronic chips containing logic gates, a circuit utilizing a microprocessor, or on a single chip containing electronic elements or microprocessors.

Turning now to FIG. 3, FIG. 3 is a flow chart setting forth the general stages involved in a method 300 for providing a heating system utilizing stored energy as a power source. Method 300 may be implemented using the controller 114 in conjunction with the heating system 100 as described in more detail above with respect to FIG. 2. Ways to implement the stages of method 300 will be described in greater detail below. Method 300 may begin at starting block 302 and proceed to stage 304 where the controller 114 may determine if the heating system 100 (i.e., the circulating pump 110, the heating element 102, and the controller 114) is to be powered from the energy storage device 104.

If the controller 114 determines that the heating system 100 should not obtain power from the energy storage device 104, then the heating system obtains power from the external power source 116. For example, the controller 114 may determine that the energy storage device 104 does not contain enough energy to operate the heating system 100 and therefore has to obtain power from the external power source 316. In addition, the controller 114 may determine if the energy storage device 104 needs to be recharged 312.

If the controller 114 determines that the heating system 100 is to obtain power from the energy storage device 104, power from the external power supply 116 is halted and the heating system 100 obtains power from the energy storage device 104. For example, the controller 114 may be running the programming modules 206. The programming modules 206 may be such that the heating system 100 obtains power from the energy storage device 104 during “peak” hours. The controller 114 may compare the current time to a list of “peak” hours stored in the system memory 204. If the current time is within the “peak” hours listed, the controller 114 causes the heating system 100 to obtain power from the energy storage device 104. In other configurations, the controller 114 may cause the heating system 100 to obtain power from the energy storage device 104 during a power outage.

From stage 304, where the controller 114 may determine if the heating system 100 (i.e., the circulating pump 110, the heating element 102, and the controller 114) is to be powered from the energy storage device 104, method 300 may advance to stage 306 where power is obtained from the energy storage device 104 and is converted from stored energy to electrical energy. For example, the chemical energy of a battery may be converted to electrical energy. In addition, if needed, the current of the electrical energy may be converted from AC to DC or vice versa via the converter 118. For instance, DC current from a battery may be converted to AC current via an inverter for powering the heating element 102 and circulation pump 110.

Once the stored energy has been converted to electrical energy in stage 306, method 300 may continue to stage 308 where the electrical energy is used to heat the working fluid. For instance, if the heating element 102 is a water heater and the working fluid is water, the electrical energy powers the water heater, which heats the water.

In addition, once the electrical energy has been used to heat the working fluid in stage 308, method 300 may continue to stage 310 where the electrical energy is used to circulate the working fluid. For instance, if the working fluid is water, the electrical energy powers the circulation pump 110 to circulate the water to the heat exchangers 112.

As the working fluid is being circulated in stage 310, the controller 114 may monitor the energy storage device 104 to determine if the energy storage device 104 needs to be recharged (stage 312). If the controller 114 determines that the energy storage device 104 needs to be recharged, then the recharging element 106 may recharge the energy storage device 104 (stage 314) and the heating system 100 may obtain power from the external power source 116 (stage 318).

After the controller 114 determines the energy storage device 104 does not need recharging or does need recharging, method 300 may then end at stage 320. Note that once method 300 ends at stage 320, method 300 may immediately begin again at stage 302 such that the controller 114 is constantly monitoring the energy storage device 104 and controlling whether or not the heating system 100 is obtaining power from the energy storage device 104 or the external power source 116.

Referring back to FIG. 1, an actual implementation of the heating system 100 can be described. For example, the energy storage device 104 may be a collection of batteries (i.e., six), such as a 12 V 245 Amp Hour AGM battery manufactured by ADAVANCE AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY, part no. 8A8D. The heating element 102 may be a hot water heater having a 2,000 Watt, 120V heating element such as a WHIRLPOOL 19 gallon electric water heater, model no. E1F20US015V. The circulation pump 110 may be a 0.74 AMP pump, such as a NRF-9F/LW model manufactured by BELL GOSSET. The converter 118 may be an inverter such as a 6000 W inverter manufactured by HUGE having a model no. PW600-12.

During operation the batteries deliver DC power to the inverter. The inverter converts the DC power from the batteries to AC current that can be used by the heating element 102, the circulation pump 110, and the controller 114. The heating element 102 may heat water to a temperature of 190° F. After the water has reach 190° F. the circulation pump 110 may circulate the heated water to the heat exchangers 112 to heat ambient air.

As the batteries lose power, during times the heating system 100 is not operational, or as otherwise directed by the controller, the recharging element 106 can recharge the batteries. While the batteries are being recharged, or as otherwise directed by the controller 114, the heating system 100 can obtain power for the external power source 116. The recharging element 106 may be a battery charger such as that manufactured by SCHUMACHER ELECTRIC having model no. SE-4020 200/40/10A. In addition, the recharging element 106 may be motor coupled to an alternator. For instance, a 0.5 HP 115V motor such as that manufactured by A.O. SMITH having model no. GF2054 may be connected to a 40 AMP, 5,000 RPM alternator, such as that distributed by JONES RACING PRODUCTS having model no. AL-9101-A-NS. As the motor turns the alternator, the alternator will charge the batteries. The motor is connected to the external power source 116.

Note that while the heating system 100 has been described in the context of a system used to heat ambient spaces (i.e. homes, room, etc.), it is contemplated that the heating system may be utilized for different purposes without departing from the spirit and scope of this disclosure. For example, the heating system 100 may be a hot water delivery system where the heated water is not utilized to heat ambient spaces. For instance, the heated water may be delivered to sinks, showers, tubs, etc.

Reference may be made throughout this specification to “one embodiment,” “an embodiment,” “embodiments,” “an aspect,” or “aspects” meaning that a particular described feature, structure, or characteristic may be included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, usage of such phrases may refer to more than just one embodiment or aspect. In addition, the described features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments or aspects. Furthermore, reference to a single item may mean a single item or a plurality of items, just as reference to a plurality of items may mean a single item. Moreover, use of the term “and” when incorporated into a list is intended to imply that all the elements of the list, a single item of the list, or any combination of items in the list has been contemplated.

One skilled in the relevant art may recognize, however, that the invention may be practiced without one or more of the specific details, or with other methods, resources, materials, etc. In other instances, well known structures, resources, or operations have not been shown or described in detail merely to avoid obscuring aspects of the invention.

While example embodiments and applications of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the precise configuration and resources described above. Various modifications, changes, and variations apparent to those skilled in the art may be made in the arrangement, operation, and details of the methods and systems of the present invention disclosed herein without departing from the scope of the claimed invention.

The above specification, examples and data provide a description of the manufacture and use of the invention. Since many embodiments of the invention can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, the invention resides in the claims hereinafter appended.