|Publication number||WO2006124115 A2|
|Publication date||23 Nov 2006|
|Filing date||23 Mar 2006|
|Priority date||31 Mar 2005|
|Also published as||CA2602966A1, CN101548143A, US20060218951, WO2006124115A3|
|Publication number||PCT/2006/10658, PCT/US/2006/010658, PCT/US/2006/10658, PCT/US/6/010658, PCT/US/6/10658, PCT/US2006/010658, PCT/US2006/10658, PCT/US2006010658, PCT/US200610658, PCT/US6/010658, PCT/US6/10658, PCT/US6010658, PCT/US610658, WO 2006/124115 A2, WO 2006124115 A2, WO 2006124115A2, WO-A2-2006124115, WO2006/124115A2, WO2006124115 A2, WO2006124115A2|
|Inventors||James E. Pearson, Der Linde Robert J. Van|
|Applicant||Robertshaw Controls Company|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (5), Classifications (6), Legal Events (6)|
|External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet|
ROTARY AIR DAMPER WITH SHUTOFF BYPASS
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 This invention pertains to a damper that controls a flow of refrigerated air and heated air in a drawer associated with an appliance. More particularly, the invention relates to an air damper that can be employed with a temperature adjustment drawer that chills or defrosts either or both food and product.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 A typical appliance, such as a refrigerator-freezer, includes one or more dampers to control and divert air movement in the appliance. These dampers contain one or more doors and have been used, on occasion, by appliances to operate a temperature adjustment drawer. A temperature adjustment drawer is often a slidably removable and insertable chamber, bin, and/or compartment coupled to, or inside of, the appliance. These temperature adjustment drawers include several openings that can, using doors in the dampers to control and divert air movement, open or close a passageway to the freezer, evaporator and heater in the appliance.
 When a product such as, for example, soda is to be quickly chilled, a first door on damper opens and permits refrigerated air to enter the temperature adjustment drawer from the freezer. The refrigerated air circulates around the soda to quickly chill it. When the first door opens to permit refrigerated air to enter from the freezer, most likely a second door on the damper also opens such that the refrigerated air that has already circulated about the soda is expelled from the temperature adjustment drawer.
 In contrast, when food such as, for example, chicken or hamburger is to be defrosted, the first and second doors on the damper close and a third door on the damper opens to permit heated air to enter the temperature adjustment compartment or air to recirculate, including past a heating element. This heated air circulates around the chicken or hamburger to quickly defrost it. The process of alternatively chilling and defrosting food or a product in the temperature adjustment drawer can be repeated as desired by properly orchestrating the opening and closing of the several doors in the damper.  In other cases, instead of using a damper with numerous doors, several dampers having a single door are used to chill or defrost a food or product in the temperature adjustment drawer.
 While the chilling and defrosting systems that employ either a damper having several doors or numerous dampers having a single door do provide obvious benefits, the systems also have their drawbacks. For example, these systems require a complex control system capable of operating multiple dampers and/or doors.
 Thus, an apparatus that can alternatively quickly chill or quickly defrost a food or product using a single damper with a single door would be desirable. The invention provides such an apparatus. These and other advantages of the invention, as well as additional inventive features, will be apparent from the description of the invention provided herein.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 In one aspect, the invention provides a damper assembly for use in a refrigeration system. The damper assembly comprises a housing and a damper door assembly. The housing defines a damper door aperture and has a vertical flange and a horizontal flange. The damper door assembly has a damper door and a blocking wall. The damper door assembly is insertable into the damper door aperture and rotatable to alternatively position the blocking wall relative to the vertical flange and engage the damper door with the horizontal flange.
 When the blocking wall is positioned relative to the vertical flange, the damper door, the blocking wall, the vertical flange, and the housing form a first air flow aperture and a second air flow aperture. When the damper door and the horizontal flange are engaged, the damper door, the vertical flange, and the housing block the first air flow aperture, block the second air flow aperture, and form a conduit between the first air flow aperture and the second air flow aperture.
 hi another aspect, the invention provides a temperature adjustment system. The temperature adjustment system comprises a damper assembly, a temperature adjustment drawer, and a heater. The damper assembly includes a housing and a damper door assembly. The housing has a front portion and a back portion, defines a damper door aperture, and has a vertical flange and a horizontal flange. The damper door assembly has a damper door and a blocking wall. The damper door assembly is insertable into the damper door aperture and rotatable to alternatively position the blocking wall relative to the vertical flange and engage the damper door with the horizontal flange.
 When the blocking wall is positioned relative to the vertical flange, the damper door, the blocking wall, the vertical flange, and the housing form a first air flow aperture and a second air flow aperture. When the damper door is engaged with the horizontal flange, the damper door, the vertical flange, and the housing block the first air flow aperture, block the second air flow aperture, and form a conduit between the first air flow aperture and the second air flow aperture.
 A temperature adjustment drawer is proximate the back portion of the housing and a heater is disposed within the temperature adjustment drawer.
 In a further aspect, the invention provides a method of alternatively heating and cooling a drawer using a damper assembly having a rotatable damper door. The method comprises opening the damper assembly by rotating the damper door and permitting refrigerated air to flow into the damper assembly and the drawer. The refrigerated air is circulated through the drawer and then expelled from the drawer and the damper assembly. The damper assembly is closed by rotating the damper door to seal the damper assembly and the drawer. The air within the drawer is heated and the heated air is circulated through the drawer and the damper assembly.
 Other aspects, objectives and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:
 FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a rotary damper constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;
 FIG.2 is a front perspective view of the rotary damper (in shadow) of FIG.l illustrating damper door positioning therein and airflow therethrough when the damper door is in a open position;  FIG.3 is a front perspective view of the rotary damper of FIG.1 illustrating airflow therethrough when the damper door is in an open position;
 FIG.4 is a front perspective view of the damper door of FIG.2 disposed in the rotary damper (in shadow) of FIG.1 in a closed position;
 FIG.5 is a rear perspective view of the damper door of FIG.2 disposed in the rotary damper (in shadow) of FIG.1 in a closed position illustrating airflow therethrough;
 FIG.6 is a rear perspective view of the rotary damper of FIG.1 illustrating airflow therethrough in a closed position;
 FIG.7 is a top cross-section view of the rotary damper of FIG.3, taken along line 7-7, when coupled with a temperature adjustment drawer; and
 FIG.8 is a top cross-section view of the rotary damper of FIG.6, taken along line 8-8, when coupled with a temperature adjustment drawer.
 While the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit it to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 Referring to FIG. 1 , an exploded view of an embodiment of a damper 10 constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention is shown. Damper 10 includes housing 12 and a damper door assembly 14. Housing 12 defines a damper door aperture 16 at one end to accommodate insertion and rotation of the damper door assembly 14 therein. The housing 12 defines a first and a second air flow aperture 17, 19 separated by a vertical (as oriented in FIG. 1) flange 18. As will be discussed more fully below, this vertical flange 18 cooperates with a blocking wall 24 of the damper door assembly 14 to form separate air flow channels through the housing 12. The housing also includes or defines a horizontal flange 20 that runs the axial length of the housing. This flange 20 cooperates with the door 22 of the damper door assembly 14 to inhibit air flow through the housing 12 when the damper door assembly 14 is in a closed position.
 The damper door assembly 14 includes the damper door 22, a semicircular blocking wall 24, a circular geared end 26, and central pivot post 28 at an end of the door 22 .
opposite the geared end 26. In this embodiment, the door 22 is a flat, generally rectangularly-shaped appendage transverse to, and extending outwardly from, geared end 26. In a preferred embodiment, the door 22 includes a step 21 that engages with a door flange 23. The step 21 provides surfaces for creating a seal with the door flange 23 and between the first and second air flow apertures 17, 19. In this preferred embodiment, the step 21 and the door flange overlap to create a longer path for air that may leak between the first and second air flow apertures 17, 19. In conjunction with food-safe grease (which also provides lubrication), a better seal is formed by the step 21 and the door flange 23 than with a typical "flat-to-flat" fit.
 Blocking wall 24 is a semicircular-shaped flange or appendage that extends transversely from door 22 and is generally parallel with geared end 26. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the flange 24 is positioned approximately midway between the two ends of the door 22. As will be discussed more fully below, this flange 24 cooperates with the flange 18 of housing 12 to define the two flow paths 17, 19 through the housing while allowing the damper door assembly 14 to rotate therein.
 Geared end 26 and pivot post 28 are disposed at opposing distal ends of damper door 22 and have axially-aligned centers. Geared end 26 is a wheel or disc having a plurality of teeth 30 about at least a portion of periphery 32. The portion preferably including an arc of approximately ninety degrees to allow the door 22 to be rotated between its open and closed positions. Pivot post 28 is a smooth, round protuberance that is engageable with an aperture, slot, or the like in housing 12 to provide a pivot point about which the door 22 rotates and to provide support for one end thereof.
 In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the damper 10 also includes a gear 34, motor 36, and cover 38. Gear 34 may be a single gear having two concentric sets of gear teeth about a periphery of two different diameter portions of the gear 34, or may be constructed from two gears of different diameters aligned on a common axis, to provide speed reduction and torque multiplication. The motor 36 includes a worm gear 37 coupled to the output shaft of the motor. The motor driven worm gear 37 is engageable with and operable to drive and rotate gear 34 and consequently through the engagement of gear 34 with the portion 30 of geared end 26 to drive and rotate the damper door assembly 14 in either a forward or reverse direction (i.e., clockwise or counter-clockwise) to open and close the damper 10.
 Cover 38 is a piece of material attachable to housing 12 such that the cover conceals all or a portion of one or more components of damper 10 such as, for example, geared end 26, gear 34, and motor 36 from view. This cover also prevents these components from being removed from the damper 10.
 An assembled damper 10 is illustrated in FIGS. 2-6. To construct damper 10, damper door assembly 14 is inserted into damper door aperture 16 until post 28 is received in or engages an aperture in housing 12. Once seated therein, the blocking wall 24 is aligned with flange 18 to define the separation between the two air flow channels 17, 19 therethrough. The geared end 26 of the damper door assembly 14 engages or is positioned in the damper door aperture 16 to close off that opening and form the other wall of flow channel 17.
 After damper door assembly 14 has been inserted into aperture 16, the gear 34 and motor 36 are positioned such that the teeth on the smaller diameter portion of gear 34 are mated with teeth 30 on damper door assembly 14 and the worm gear 37 of motor 36 is mated with teeth on the larger diameter portion of gear 34. hi this arrangement, actuation of motor 36 causes gear 34 and, consequently, damper door assembly 14 to rotate. Finally, cover 38 is placed in abutting relationship with housing 12 and secured to the housing.
 Damper 10 can be placed in an "open" position, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3 and 7, or in a "closed" position, as shown in FIGS. 4-6 and 8, by rotating damper door assembly 14 into a particular position. For example, when damper 10 is in the open position (see FIGS. 2, 3 and 7), blocking wall 24 and vertical flange 18 are vertically aligned and rotatably positioned to jointly form a sealing wall 40 within housing 12. Sealing wall 40 essentially bisects housing 12 in this embodiment and therefore, with door 22 and portions of housing 12, defines the flow paths 17 and 19 through the housing 12 as discussed above. This allows air to flow through the damper assembly 10 as illustrated by flow arrows 66, 68. One skilled in the art will recognize that the flow of air through the assembly 10 can occur in either direction in the air flow channels 17, 19. The direction of flow arrows 66, 68 are illustrative of one embodiment of the present invention as installed in a particular application as will be discussed more fully below.
 In contrast, when damper 10 is in the closed position (see FIGS. 4-6 and 8), a portion of blocking wall 24 is displaced from a portion of vertical flange 18 such that an air flow path 48 between the flow channels 17, 19 on one side of the damper door 22 is formed as may best be seen in FIGS. 5, 6 and 8 by flow arrow 74. The edge portions 46 of door 22 sealably engage with horizontal flange 20 and a top portion 50 of housing 12 to prevent air flow straight through the housing 12.  In one application for which the damper assembly 10 of the present invention is particularly well suited, the damper 10 is disposed within a typical appliance (not shown) such as a refrigerator-freezer, hi such an application, a "front" portion 56 of housing 12 is coupled to the air flow channels to and from the evaporator or freezer compartment (not shown) of the appliance and a "back" portion 58 of the housing is coupled to a temperature adjustment drawer 60 as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. Temperature adjustment drawer 60 may include a heater 62 to provide warming and also includes an air flow barrier 64 that extends between the two channels 17 and 19 therein. Heater 62 is operable to heat air within temperature adjustment drawer 60. Barrier 64 is vertically aligned with the vertical flange 18 and promotes the circulation of air within the temperature adjustment drawer 60 as will be described.
 hi operation, damper 10 is selectively manipulated from the open position to the closed position, and vice versa, in order to quickly chill or defrost food or a product 52 placed in the temperature adjustment drawer 60. As illustrated in FIG. 7, when damper 10 is in the open position (i.e., the "quick chill" mode), heater 62 is "off and refrigerated air from a freezer compartment in the appliance is able to flow into the drawer 60 via flow channel 17 as shown by chill arrow 66. The refrigerated air passes over and around food or a product 52 that has been placed in the drawer. The refrigerated air then flows back to the freezer compartment, either directly or via the evaporator, through the air flow channel 19 as shown by air flow arrow 68. Thus, the flow of refrigerated air through channel 17, around barrier 64 and through the temperature adjustment drawer 60, and back through channel 19 quickly chills the food or product 52 disposed in temperature adjustment drawer 60 when damper 10 is in the open position.
 In one embodiment, once the temperature in drawer 60 reaches a desired temperature, or when quick chill is not desired, the damper assembly 10 is commanded to close the damper door 22 to prevent the flow of chilled air into the drawer 60. This configuration is illustrated in FIG. 8. Instead of allowing chilled air to flow into the drawer, air within the drawer is simply allowed to circulate therein as illustrated by air flow arrow 72. However, those skilled in the art will also recognize that the air flow may be reversed from that shown by arrow 72. Indeed, there may be no circulation in the drawer 60 once the temperature in the drawer reaches equilibrium throughout.
 Somewhat similarly, as also illustrated in FIG. 8, a "quick thaw" mode may be initiated when the damper 10 is closed (or the damper is closed when the quick thaw mode is desired). Once the damper door 22 has closed to inhibit air flow to and from the freezer compartment, the heater 62 is switched on and begins to heat the air in temperature adjustment drawer 60 proximate the heater. Differing air temperatures in temperature adjustment drawer 60, or a fan (not shown), cause the heated air to begin circulating through the temperature adjustment drawer 60 as shown, for example, by air flow arrows 72 and 74. Resultantly, a flow of heated air circulates from proximate heater 62, through temperature adjustment drawer 60, around barrier 64, over and around food or a product 52, through conduit 48 in the damper 10, and then finally back to the heater. This flow of heated air quickly defrosts food or a product 52 disposed in temperature adjustment drawer 60 when damper 10 is in the closed position.
 AU references, including publications, patent applications, and patents, cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.
 The use of the terms "a" and "an" and "the" and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) is to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms "comprising," "having," "including," and "containing" are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning "including, but not limited to,") unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., "such as") provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non- claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.
 Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|KR20020077423A *||Title not available|
|US4920758 *||18 Jul 1988||1 May 1990||Whirlpool Corporation||Refrigerator temperature responsive air outlet baffle|
|US5477699 *||21 Nov 1994||26 Dec 1995||Whirlpool Corporation||Evaporator fan control for a refrigerator|
|US5752568 *||18 Oct 1994||19 May 1998||Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.||Refrigerator having a compartment for fermenting food and a food container for use therewith|
|US20050011218 *||15 Jul 2003||20 Jan 2005||Robertshaw Controls Company||Flow-through rotary damper providing compartment selectivity for a multi-compartment refrigerator|
|Cooperative Classification||F25D2400/28, F25D2317/0666, F25D31/005, F25D17/045|
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