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1. WO2015094722 - ÉLECTROVANNE AYANT UN MÉCANISME DE RÉGULATION D'ARMATURE

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

SOLENOID VALVE HAVING ARMATURE REGULATING MECHANISM

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to a solenoid valve for cooking medium systems (e.g. , open/pressure fryers). Specifically, the invention relates to using a solenoid valve for transferring a cooking medium from a filtering system to a fry pot in a cooking apparatus.

2. Description of Related Art

Known cooking apparatuses, such as fryers, are used to cook various food products, e.g. , poultry, fish, potato products, and the like. Such cooking apparatuses may include one or more cooking chambers, e.g. , fryer pots, which may be filled with a cooking medium, e.g. , an oil, a liquid shortening, or a meltable- solid shortening. Such cooking apparatus also may include a heating element, e.g. , an electrical heating element, or a gas heating element, such as a gas burner and gas conveying tubes, which heat the cooking medium in the cooking chamber. A valve, e.g., a solenoid valve, may be located between the fry pot and a filtering system in order to transfer the cooking medium from the filtering system to the fry pot when the valve is actuated.

Known solenoid valves typically use a pull-type mechanism in which a solenoid is actuated to open the valve by "pulling" a component of the valve into the solenoid chamber, thus allowing the valve to open. However, in cooking apparatuses, solenoid valves used for moving shortening in which the component of the valve is pulled into the solenoid chamber may result in build-up of viscous and/or congealed cooking medium on the solenoid components, which may then cause the solenoid valve to stick in an open or closed state and limit functionality.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, a need has arisen for solenoid valve that may be successfully used to transfer cooking medium from one system to another. For example, the solenoid valve may be configured such that any media flowing through the valve does not enter a solenoid chamber or come in contact with a solenoid operator. Moreover, this solenoid valve may utilize a novel "push" mechanism to open the valve, and also utilize a self-cleaning and self-centering component of the valve that results in removal of excess cooking medium from the component that opens and closes the valve and ensures proper sealing.

In an embodiment of the invention, a solenoid valve may be configured to transfer cooking medium from a first system to a second system. The solenoid valve may comprise a solenoid and a valve body. The solenoid may comprise a solenoid coil and an armature shaft disposed to extend out of a bottom surface of the solenoid, the armature shaft configured to move into and out of the solenoid. The valve body may comprise a push rod, a valve chamber, a first sealing ring, a poppet, a second sealing ring, a poppet guide, and a spring. The push rod may be disposed to extend out of a top surface of the valve body, the push rod contacting the armature shaft and configured to move into and out of the valve body. The first sealing ring may be disposed around the push rod and configured to seal the valve chamber. The poppet may be disposed within the valve body, the poppet contacting a bottom portion of the push rod opposite the armature shaft, and the poppet including a projection. The poppet guide may be disposed within the valve body, the poppet guide including a through hole. In addition, the spring may be disposed between the poppet and the poppet guide and configured to position the poppet relative to the poppet guide. In an embodiment of the invention, upon energizing the solenoid coil to permit transfer of the cooking medium, the armature shaft may be configured to extend out of the bottom surface and push the push rod into the valve body, and the push rod may be configured to push the poppet toward the poppet guide by depressing the spring such that the projection of the poppet inserts into the through hole of the poppet guide.

Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention are apparent to persons of ordinary skill in the art in view of the following detailed description of embodiments of the invention and the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the embodiments of the present invention, needs satisfied thereby, and the objects, features, and advantages thereof, reference now is made to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.

Fig. 1 is a prospective view of a solenoid valve, according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 2 is a first side view of the solenoid valve, according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 3 is a sectional view of the solenoid valve along the imaginary line A-A shown in Fig. 2, according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 4 is a second side view of the solenoid valve, according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 5 is a disassembled view showing the components of the solenoid valve, according to an embodiment of the invention.

Figs. 6A-6C are disassembled views of certain components of the solenoid valve, according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 7 is a schematic view of the components of the solenoid valve in a closed state, according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 8 is a schematic view of the components of the solenoid valve in an open state, according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 9 is a schematic view of the solenoid valve, according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Preferred embodiments of the present invention, and their features and advantages, may be understood by referring to Figs. 1-9, like numerals being used for corresponding parts in the various drawings.

As depicted in Figs. 1, 2, and 4, a solenoid valve 10 may comprise a solenoid 20 and a valve body 30. Solenoid 20 may include a solenoid coil (not shown) and a plurality of wires 22 (e.g., two wires 22) for connecting to a power source. Solenoid 20 may be energized to 120V, 240V, or any other suitable voltage for opening the valve. Valve body 30 may include an inlet 50 and an outlet 52. Inlet 50 and outlet 52 may be National Pipe Thread (NTP) taper or any other suitable type of fitting connection, e.g., to be connected to a filtering system and a fry pot of a fryer. The plurality of wires 22 may be disposed adjacent a top surface 21 of solenoid 20, and a bottom surface 23 of solenoid 20 may be disposed opposite of top surface 21 and facing a top surface 31 of valve body 30. A bottom surface 33 of valve body 30 may be disposed opposite of top surface 31.

Figs. 3 and 5-8 depict the internal components of solenoid valve 10. Specifically, Fig. 3 depicts a sectional view of solenoid valve 10 along the imaginary line A- A shown in Fig. 2, Fig. 5 shows a picture of the disassembled components of solenoid valve 10, Figs. 6A-6C depict the poppet-poppet guide configuration, Fig. 7 depicts the solenoid valve 10 in a closed state (i.e., no cooking medium is moving though valve body 30), and Fig. 8 depicts the solenoid valve 10 in an open state (i.e., cooking medium is passing through valve body 30).

Solenoid 20 may comprise a plurality of threaded studs 56 and an armature shaft 24 disposed at substantially the center of bottom surface 23. The plurality of threaded studs 56 may be located close to an edge of bottom surface 23. Each of the plurality of threaded studs 56 may be configured to be inserted into each of a plurality of holes 60 on valve body 30 and securely fasten to valve body 30 using a plate 46 that contacts a bottom surface 33 of valve body 30 and plurality of nuts 48 that contacts plate 46 (see Fig. 3).

Armature shaft 24 may be configured to protrude a predetermined distance out of solenoid 20. Armature shaft 24 may also be configured to be movable into and out of solenoid 20 along a direction substantially perpendicular to bottom surface 23. For example, when the solenoid coil within solenoid 20 is energized (i.e., an open state), armature shaft 24 may be configured to be pushed a predetermined distance out of solenoid 20 (see Fig. 8). When the solenoid coil is not energized (i.e., a closed state), armature shaft 24 may be configured to maintain (or move back to) an armature shaft resting position (see Fig. 7).

A first o-ring 26 (e.g., a nitrile rubber o-ring) may be disposed to surround armature shaft 24 at bottom surface 23. First o-ring 26 may be located a predetermined distance from an end of armature shaft 24 that protrudes out of solenoid 20. First o-ring 26 may be configured to seal solenoid 20 and prevent cooking medium from entering along the sides of armature shaft 24 into an internal chamber (not shown) of solenoid 20. In addition, a retaining ring 28 may be disposed below o-ring 26, and may be configured to retain armature shaft 24 in the armature shaft resting position by abutting armature shaft 24 in the resting position (i.e., the closed state; see Fig. 7).

Valve body 30 may comprise a push rod 32, a second o-ring 34 (e.g., a first FDA polymer o-ring, which may be a FDA Viton® polymer o-ring), a poppet 36, a sealing washer 38, a return spring 40, a poppet guide 42, a third o-ring 44 (e.g., a second FDA polymer o-ring, which may be a FDA Viton® polymer o-ring), and a valve chamber 54. Push rod 32 may be configured to protrude a predetermined distance out of top surface 31 of valve body 30 and contact armature shaft 24. In addition, push rod 32 may be configured to move into and out of valve body 30. In one embodiment, when the solenoid coil within solenoid 20 is energized (i.e., an open state), armature shaft 24 is configured to be pushed a predetermined distance out of solenoid 20 and move push rod 32 a predetermined distance into valve body 30 (see Fig. 8), thus opening valve chamber 54 (discussed below). Thus, when the solenoid coil is not energized (i.e., a closed state), armature shaft 24 is configured to move back to the armature shaft resting position, allowing push rod 32 to move back to a push rod resting position (see Fig. 7).

Second o-ring 34 may be disposed to surround push rod 32 at a position below top surface 31 of valve body 30. Second o-ring 34 may be configured to seal valve chamber 54 and prevent any cooking medium within valve chamber 54 from exiting valve chamber 54 along push rod 32. An advantage of this configuration is that it results in a non-wetted pin design in which the cooking medium flowing through valve body 30 does not enter the solenoid chamber within solenoid 20 or come into contact with the solenoid coil. Moreover, in this configuration, armature shaft 24 and at least a portion of push rod 32 located above second o-ring 34 are not subjected to contact with the cooking medium, and are instead situated outside the cooking medium path that is sealed off with second o-ring 34.

Poppet 36 may be disposed below push rod 32, and disposed to contact push rod 32 at a position opposite armature shaft 24. As depicted in Figs. 6A-6C, top surface 70 of poppet 36 may include a cavity 74. Bottom surface 72 may include a rod-like protrusion 76 disposed at substantially the center of bottom surface 72. Sealing washer 38 may rest along the edge of top surface 70 of poppet 36, and may be configured to seal valve chamber 54 in the closed position {see Fig. 7) such that cooking medium cannot pass through valve chamber 54 from inlet 50 to outlet 52.

Protrusion 76 of poppet 36 may be configured to reside and move within a hole 84 in a top surface 80 of poppet guide 42. Hole 84 may be a through-hole that extends through poppet guide 42 from top surface 80 to a bottom surface 82 in a direction substantially perpendicular to both top surface 80 and bottom surface 82. This configuration has the advantage that the position of protrusion 76 within poppet 36 may allow for poppet 36 to be self-centering to ensure proper sealing with metal to metal contact between protrusion 76 of poppet 36 and poppet guide 42. In addition, poppet guide 42 may include a side hole 86 disposed along the sides of poppet guide 42.

Poppet 36 and poppet guide 42 may be positioned such that a spring 40 is disposed between poppet 36 and poppet guide 42. Specifically, as depicted in the exemplary embodiment of Fig. 6C, spring 40 contacts bottom surface 72 of poppet 36, and top surface 80 of poppet guide 42 (more specifically, top surface 80 of poppet guide 42). In a poppet resting position (i.e., a closed state), poppet 36 may be disposed to reside within hole 84 on top surface 80 of poppet guide 42 at a predetermined distance away from bottom surface 82 (see Fig. 7). However, when poppet 36 is pushed toward poppet guide 42 with a force strong enough to depress spring 40 (i.e., an open state), protrusion 76 may be moved such that a portion of protrusion 76 approximately contacts bottom surface 82 of poppet guide 42, thus moving sealing washer 38 in direction away from push rod 32 and allowing cooking medium to enter valve chamber 52 (see Fig. 8). In such an embodiment, when the solenoid coil within solenoid 20 is energized, armature shaft 24 depresses push rod 32 a predetermined distance, which consequently extends poppet 36 into poppet guide 42, allowing the cooking medium to flow from inlet 50, through valve chamber 54, and out through outlet 52. The cooking medium may move along two different paths, one path along the push rod 32 and another path between poppet 36 and poppet guide 42 (see Fig. 8). When the force pushing spring 40 is released, spring 40 pushes poppet 36 away from poppet guide 42 and back into the poppet resting position (i.e., the closed position; see Fig. 7). This spring return force may be an amount of force sufficient to overcome the viscosity of congealed oil that could potentially build up over time, for example, between 5 to 15 pounds of force.

The poppet-poppet guide configuration has numerous advantages.

First, this configuration results in a self-cleaning poppet system. Poppet 36 (specifically, protrusion 76) may be designed with tight tolerances for a close fit inside poppet guide 42. Due to the small amount of space between poppet 36 and poppet guide 42, a substantial portion of the cooking medium sticking to the surface of protrusion 76 may be scraped off when poppet 36 extends into poppet guide 42, resulting in a self-cleaning configuration. In addition, any residual cooking medium not scraped off poppet 36 may be forced out of side hole 86 disposed along the sides of poppet guide 42, thus minimizing build-up of cooking medium within poppet guide 42.

Fig. 9 is an alternative representation of solenoid 10, and shows inlet 50 and outlet 52.

The advantages of the preferred embodiments include: an improved opening characteristic of solenoid valve 10 that involves pushing, rather than pulling (i.e., in traditional solenoid valves), poppet 36 open to allow cooking medium to flow through; a non-wetted pin design in which the cooking medium flowing through valve body 30 does not enter the solenoid chamber or come into contact with the solenoid operator (e.g., the solenoid coil), and also does not contact armature shaft 24 or the portion of push rod 32 located above second o-ring 34 that is used to seal off valve chamber 54; a self-cleaning poppet design that allows for poppet guide 42 to scrape excess cooking medium off the surface of projection 76 of poppet 36 when poppet 36 is depressed into poppet guide 42, decreasing the chances of poppet failure due to sticking/movement issues; and a self-centering poppet design that allows for proper sealing and movement of poppet 36 within hole 84 of poppet guide 42. Thus, this improved solenoid valve is designed to overcome the problem of viscous cooking medium that may build up on the internal components of a traditional solenoid valve (e.g., the solenoid coil, the solenoid chamber, the pulling mechanism that pulls open to open the valve and allow cooking medium to pass through) over time, resulting in sticking issues and failure of the solenoid valve. For example, preliminary tests have shown that this improved design may result in a life improvement of 4.25 times beyond the traditional solenoid valve life, when measured in terms of complete cooking cycles.

While the invention has been described in connection with preferred embodiments, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that other variations and modifications of the preferred embodiments described above may be made without departing from the scope of the invention. Other embodiments will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art from a consideration of the specification or practice of the invention disclosed herein. The specification and the described examples are considered as exemplary only, with the true scope and spirit of the invention indicated by the following claims.