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United States Patent Application 20170074570
Kind Code A1
Mackowiak; Jeffrey A. ;   et al. March 16, 2017

HIGH PRESSURE ICE MAKING DEVICE

Abstract

An ice making device and a method of making ice. A stream of water is pressurized by a water supply device so that a high pressure water can be supplied to a freezing surface in a housing. The housing is operated at a pressure that is greater than atmospheric pressure. The water supply device may comprise a pump, a pressurized water tank, or a chamber with two or more valves.


Inventors: Mackowiak; Jeffrey A.; (Oak Lawn, IL) ; Lindberg; Bruce; (Chicago, IL)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Howe Corporation

Chicago

IL

US
Family ID: 1000002165197
Appl. No.: 15/254320
Filed: September 1, 2016


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
62219378Sep 16, 2015

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: F25C 1/145 20130101; F25C 1/225 20130101; F25C 2700/02 20130101; F25C 2600/04 20130101; F25C 2400/14 20130101
International Class: F25C 1/14 20060101 F25C001/14; F25C 1/22 20060101 F25C001/22

Claims



1. An ice producing device comprising: a housing configured to be pressurized; at least one freezing surface disposed inside of the housing configured to produce ice; a refrigerant zone in thermal contact with the at least one freezing surface and disposed between an inlet and an outlet, the refrigerant zone configured to receive, via the inlet, a refrigerant so as to absorb heat from the at least one surface; a water supply device configured to receive water at a first pressure and provide a high pressure water at a second pressure, the second pressure being greater than the first; a water supply line configured to supply a stream of the high pressure water into the housing; and, a flaker disposed inside of the housing and configured to remove ice from the freezing surface.

2. The ice producing device of claim 1 wherein the water supply device comprises a water pump.

3. The ice producing device of claim 1 wherein the water supply device comprises a pressurized water tank.

4. The ice producing device of claim 1 wherein the water supply device comprises a chamber having two or more valves.

5. The ice producing device of claim 1 wherein the water supply device comprises a chamber having three or more valves.

6. The ice producing device of claim 1 wherein the water supply device comprises a chamber having at least four valves.

7. The ice producing device of claim 1 wherein the water supply device comprises a controller for controlling one or more valves associated with the water supply device, wherein the controller is in communication with the one or more valves associated with the water supply device.

8. The ice producing device of claim 1 further comprising a controller and at least one sensor in communication with the controller.

9. The ice producing device of claim 8 wherein the controller is in communication with the water supply device and configured to adjust the second pressure.

10. A process of producing ice, the process comprising: pressurizing a chamber in a housing; increasing a pressure of water from a water supply line to provide a high pressure water, the high pressure water having a pressure that is greater than the pressure of water in the water supply line; passing the high pressure water to the chamber in the housing; absorbing heat from the water in the chamber of the housing along a freezing surface to provide ice; and, removing the ice from the freezing surface.

11. The process of claim 10 wherein the pressure of the water is increased with a water supply device.

12. The process of claim 11 wherein the water supply device comprises a water pump.

13. The process of claim 11 wherein the water supply device comprises a pressurized water tank.

14. The process of claim 11 wherein the water supply device comprises a chamber having two or more valves.

15. The process of claim 11 wherein the water supply device comprises a chamber having three or more valves.

16. The process of claim 11 wherein the water supply device comprises a chamber having at least four valves.

17. The process of claim 10 further comprising: adjusting the pressure of the high pressure water.

18. The process of claim 17 further comprising: obtaining a process condition, wherein the pressure of the high pressure water is adjusted based upon the process condition.

19. The process of claim 18 wherein the process condition comprises at least one of: a pressure within the housing; a level of ice within the housing; and, a pressure within a vessel for high pressure water.

20. The process of claim 19 wherein the process condition is obtained by at least one sensor in communication with a controller configured to adjust the pressure of the high pressure water.
Description



RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/219,378 filed on Sep. 16, 2015, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to an ice making device, and more particularly to an ice making device that produces flaked or shaved ice under high pressure, as well as a process for making ice under high pressure.

[0003] Ice may be produced in a device by application of water onto one or more freezing surfaces of the device. A refrigerant is provided to the device and is in thermal contact with the one or more freezing surfaces. As the refrigerant absorbs heat from the water, the water will freeze on the freezing surface(s), forming a layer of ice. The ice layer thickness and ice production rate can be determined by several variables including but not limited to, the water application rate and the rate at which the refrigerated surface absorbs the heat from the water as ice is formed, to name a few. An ice removal blade can rotate along the freezing surface(s) and score, or otherwise scrape and break, the ice to remove the ice from the freezing surface(s) and clear the surface. The separated ice may fall out of the bottom of the device into, for example a collection container. Water can be re-applied to the freshly cleared surface, starting the process all over again. Thus, the device can continuously produce a pressurized source of ice, which can be beneficial and desirable in many commercial and industrial applications such as pressurized conveyance of ice.

[0004] Since source water is typically supplied at pressures about 2.7 to 3.4 atm (40 to 50 psi), such devices may not properly operate if the pressure of the chamber is much higher than the pressure of the source water supply.

[0005] Therefore, it would be desirable to have a device and process in which the pressure of the water supplied to the ice making device is greater than the pressure of the source water.

[0006] It would be further desirable to have a device and process in which the pressure of the pressure of the water supplied to the ice making device is approximately the same as the pressure within the device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] A new ice making device and a method for producing ice have been invented in which a water supply device is utilized to increase the pressure of a water stream to provide a high pressure water stream. The term "high pressure" is in relation to the supply of water to the ice making device and means that the pressure of the water at the outlet of the water supply device is higher or greater than the pressure at the inlet of the water supply device. The high pressure water can be supplied to an internal chamber of a device that is pressurized, and in which the ice may be formed. This allows the ice to be produced in a pressurized environment.

[0008] Therefore, in one aspect of the present invention, the present invention may be broadly characterized as providing an ice producing device comprising: a housing configured to be pressurized; at least one freezing surface disposed inside of the housing configured to produce ice; a refrigerant zone in thermal contact with the at least one freezing surface and disposed between an inlet and an outlet, the refrigerant zone configured to receive, via the inlet, a refrigerant so as to absorb heat from the at least one surface; a water supply device configured to receive water at a first pressure and provide a high pressure water at a second pressure, the second pressure being greater than the first; a water supply line configured to supply a stream of the high pressure water into the housing; and, a flaker disposed inside of the housing and configured to remove ice from the freezing surface.

[0009] It is contemplated that the water supply device comprises a water pump.

[0010] It is also contemplated that the water supply device comprises a pressurized water tank.

[0011] It is further contemplated that the water supply device comprises a pressurized water tank.

[0012] It is still further contemplated that the water supply device comprises a chamber having two or more valves. The water supply device may comprise a chamber having three or more valves. The water supply device may comprise a chamber having at least four valves.

[0013] It is also contemplated that the water supply device comprises a controller for controlling one or more valves associated with the water supply device. The controller may be in communication with the one or more valves associated with the water supply device.

[0014] It is further contemplated that the ice producing device also comprises a controller and at least one sensor in communication with the controller. It is contemplated that the controller is in communication with the water supply device and configured to adjust the second pressure.

[0015] In a second aspect of the present invention, the present invention may be broadly characterized as providing a process of producing ice by: pressurizing a chamber in a housing; increasing a pressure of water from a water supply line to provide a high pressure water, the high pressure water having a pressure that is greater than the pressure of water in the water supply line; passing the high pressure water to the chamber in the housing; absorbing heat from the water in the chamber of the housing along a freezing surface to provide ice; and, removing the ice from the freezing surface.

[0016] It is further contemplated that the pressure of the water is increased with a water supply device. The water supply device comprises a water pump, a pressurized water tank, a chamber having two or more valves, a chamber having three or more valves, a chamber having at least four valves or a combination thereof.

[0017] The process may include adjusting the pressure of the high pressure water. It is also contemplated that the process includes obtaining a process condition, wherein the pressure of the high pressure water is adjusted based upon the process condition. The process condition may comprise at least one of: a pressure within the housing; a level of ice within the housing; and, a pressure within a vessel for high pressure water. The process condition may be obtained by at least one sensor in communication with a controller configured to adjust the pressure of the high pressure water.

[0018] In a third aspect of the present invention, the invention present may be broadly characterized as providing a process for producing ice as described herein.

[0019] In a fourth aspect of the present invention, the present invention may be broadly characterized as providing device for producing ice as described herein.

[0020] In a fifth aspect of the present invention, the present invention may be broadly characterized as providing device for producing ice according to one or more embodiments herein.

[0021] In one, any, or all of the embodiments of present invention, the pressure of the water may be increased with a water supply device.

[0022] In one, any, or all of the embodiments of present invention, the water supply device may comprise a water pump.

[0023] In one, any, or all of the embodiments of present invention, the water supply device may comprise a pressurized water tank.

[0024] In one, any, or all of the embodiments of present invention, the water supply device may comprise more than one pressurized water tank.

[0025] In one, any, or all of the embodiments of present invention, the water supply device may comprise a chamber having two or more valves.

[0026] In one, any, or all of the embodiments of present invention, the water supply device may comprise a chamber having three or more valves.

[0027] In one, any, or all of the embodiments of present invention, the water supply device may comprise a chamber having at least four valves.

[0028] In one, any, or all of the embodiments of present invention, the water supply device may comprise a controller configured to control the sequencing the valves for the purpose of controlling water pressure, water level, and water flow to the ice maker.

[0029] In one, any, or all of the embodiments of present invention, the water supply device may comprise a sensor, such as a water sensor, level sensor, pressure sensor or the like.

[0030] These and other aspects and embodiments of the present invention will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art based upon the following description of the drawings and detailed description of the preferred embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0031] The figures in the appended drawing will make it possible to understand how the invention can be produced. In these figures, identical reference numbers denote similar elements.

[0032] FIG. 1 is a top and side perspective view of an ice making device according to one or more embodiments of the present invention.

[0033] FIG. 2 is a side cross sectional view of a portion of an ice making device according to one or more embodiments of the present invention.

[0034] FIG. 3 is a top and side perspective view of another ice making device according to one or more embodiments of the present invention.

[0035] FIG. 4 is a top and side perspective view of another embodiment of an ice making device according the present invention.

[0036] FIG. 5 is another top and side perspective view of still another embodiment of an ice making device according the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0037] As mentioned above, a new ice making device and a method for making ice have been invented. The device and method both generally utilize a water supply device to increase water pressure. A stream of relatively high pressure water can be passed to a freezing chamber having at least one freezing surface. The freezing chamber is under pressure as well (i.e., has a pressure greater than atmospheric). The water will flow down the at least one freezing surface and a refrigerant or coolant will absorb heat therefrom, resulting in the water freezing and forming ice. The ice may be removed from the freezing surface and used as desired. By producing the ice under pressure, the ice can be used in pressurized applications.

[0038] Accordingly, with reference to the attached drawings, one or more embodiments of the present invention will now be described with the understanding that the described embodiments are merely preferred and are not intended to be limiting.

[0039] As shown in FIG. 1, a device 10 according to one or more embodiments of the present invention includes a housing 12, preferably having a cylindrical shape and preferably arranged during use with its axis in a substantially vertical orientation. While the housing 12 is described and depicted as having a cylindrical shape, other shapes are also contemplated to be used with the present invention, for example, square, rectangular, and the like. Additionally, although not depicted as such, a horizontal orientation may also be used. The housing 12 includes a top 14 and a bottom 16 both of which are sealed to allow the housing 12 to be pressurized (i.e., have a pressure greater than atmospheric). Preferred pressures include pressures greater than atmospheric pressure, including, but not limited to pressures of about 10 atm (150 psi).

[0040] A pressurized air supply line 20 may extend through an end cap 18 at the top 14 of the housing 12. The source of the pressured air in the pressurized air supply line 20 is not important to the understanding or practicing of the present invention. Additionally, a high pressure water supply line 22 extends through the end cap 18 at the top 14 of the housing 12 to provide water into the housing 12 (discussed in more detail below). The housing 12 further includes a refrigerant return line 24 and a refrigerant supply line 26.

[0041] Inside of the housing 12, as shown in FIG. 2, an interior chamber 28 is provided which includes at least one surface 30 that comprises a freezing surface 32. The freezing surface 32 is in thermal contact with a refrigerant zone 34 that has an inlet 38 for the refrigerant (via the refrigerant supply line 26) and an outlet 36 for the refrigerant (via the refrigerant return line 24). The refrigerant zone 34 may comprise a flooded design, wherein the refrigerant zone 34 is entirely filled with refrigerant, or a circuited design, wherein the refrigerant zone 34 includes one or more flow paths for the refrigerant. It is believed that the circuit design is more advantageous to the flooded design because of greatly reduced refrigerant inventory and more simple piping and controls. A refrigerant is supplied into the refrigerant zone 34 via the refrigerant supply line 26 where it can absorb heat from water on the freezing surface 32 (forming ice). The refrigerant return line 24 allows for refrigerant to be removed from the refrigerant zone 34. The refrigerant supply and removal is known in the art. See, U.S. Pat. Publ. No. 2016/0123647, the entirety of which is incorporated herein.

[0042] A water distributor 39 will receive the water from the high pressure water supply line 22 (see, FIG. 1) and distribute the water onto the freezing surface 32. The refrigerant will absorb heat from the water, resulting in the water freezing and forming ice on the freezing surface 32. A flaker 40, also disposed in the interior chamber 28, will score or scrape ice off of the freezing surface 32. The water distributor 39 and the flaker 40 may be disposed on a shaft 42 that rotates. The shaft 42 may be driven by a motor (not shown) as is known in the art. The ice, in the depicted embodiment, after being scraped off of the freezing surface 32, can pass through the bottom 16 of the housing 12 via gravity. Other configurations may also be used.

[0043] As mentioned above, in devices in which the housing 12 is pressurized, it may be desirable to increase the pressure of the water with a water supply device 52. Accordingly, as shown in FIG. 1, a water supply line 54 is configured to provide water from a municipal or other source to the device 10. As mentioned above, the pressure of the water in the water supply line 54 is typically between 2.7 to 3.4 atm (40 to 50 psi), but may be lower than 2.7 atm (40 psi) or as high as 4.1 atm (60 psi), or even higher. However, this may still be lower than the pressure in the housing 12. In any case, the pressure of the water in the water supply line 54 is at a pressure lower than the pressure of the housing 12 of the ice making device 10. The water supply line 54 provides water to the water supply device 52, which in this embodiment comprises a water pump 56 configured to increase the pressure of the water.

[0044] After the pressure of the water has been increased, for example, via the water pump 56, the water may be passed to a reservoir 58 via a conduit 60. As will be appreciated, the pressure of the water in the conduit 60 is greater than the pressure of the water in the water supply line 54. From the reservoir 58, the water may be supplied to the housing 12 via the high pressure water supply line 22 and any excess water may be returned to the reservoir 58 via a conduit 58a. In some embodiments, the pressure of the water may be increased above the operating pressure of the ice making device 10. In some embodiments the pressure of the water in the high pressure water supply line 22 may be about the same as or more than the pressure in the housing 12.

[0045] Turning to FIG. 3, another embodiment of the present invention is shown in which the water supply device 52 of the ice making device 10a comprises a pressurized water tank 62 which also receives the pressurized air via the pressurized air supply line 20. More specifically, the water supply line 54 again provides water from the municipal or other source to the pressurized water tank 62. It is contemplated that once the amount of water in the pressurized water tank 62 reaches a certain level, a valve 64 in the water supply line 54 may be closed, while a valve 66 in the pressurized air supply line 20 may be opened. The opening of valve 66 in the pressurized air supply line 20 will increase the internal water pressure within the pressurized water tank 62 to levels at or above the pressure inside of the housing 12. As with the previous embodiment, the conduit 60 passes the high pressure water to the reservoir 58 so that it may be supplied to the housing 12 via the high pressure water supply line 22 and the excess water may be returned to the reservoir 58 via the conduit 58a.

[0046] Once the water in the reservoir 58 is exhausted, the high pressure air supply to the pressurized water tank 62 may be interrupted (by closing the valve 66 in the pressurized air supply line 20) allowing the pressure within the pressurized water tank 62 to equalize. Once the pressure in the pressurized water tank 62 is below the pressure of the water in the water supply line 54, the pressurized water tank 62 may be refilled with plant water supply at normal pressures by opening the valve 64 in the water supply line 54. This will allow the process to continue so long as ice is needed or desired. Preferably, the pressurized water tank 62 is sized so that a suitable, uninterrupted ice production can be provided.

[0047] Turning to FIG. 4, another embodiment is shown in which the water supply device 52 of the ice making device 10b comprises an airlock-type vessel (or chamber) 68 having at least one, and preferably, two or more valves 70a, 70b, 70c, 70d. The valves 70a, 70b, 70c, 70d preferably comprise solenoid valves that are in communication with each other (or a controller 100). The valves 70a, 70b, 70c, 70d will open and close in a circuit or pattern to provide a supply of high pressure water to the housing 12.

[0048] For example, a first valve 70a in the water supply line 54 may be opened, while the remaining valves 70b, 70c, 70d are closed. This will allow standard pressure water to enter the vessel 68.

[0049] The first valve 70a may be closed, and a second valve 70b in the pressurized air supply line 20 may be opened. The remaining valves 70b, 70c may remain closed. This configuration will allow the pressure within the vessel 68 to increase by means of the entering high-pressure air supply.

[0050] The second valve 70b may be closed and a third valve 70c in the conduit 60 to the reservoir 58 may be opened. The remaining valves 70a, 70d may remain closed. This will allow the high pressure water to pass from the vessel 68 to the reservoir 58 to be supplied to the device 10 as needed.

[0051] The third valve 70c may be closed and the fourth valve 70d in a vent line 72 may be opened. The remaining valves 70a, 70b may remain closed. This will allow the high pressure air in the vessel 68 to be vented to the atmosphere and the vessel 68 will return to atmospheric pressure.

[0052] The fourth valve 70d may be closed and the first valve 70a in the water supply line 54 may be opened. Thus, the circuit or process may repeat as needed to supply the ice making device 10c with high pressure water. It is contemplated that the water level in the reservoir 58 and/or the amount of water entering the housing 12 will determine the frequency this circuit occurs in order to allow continuous ice making.

[0053] Turning to FIG. 5, another embodiment of an ice making device 10c is shown which is similar to the ice making device 10b depicted in FIG. 4 and discussed above. However, in the ice making device 10c in FIG. 5, the vessel 68 comprises both the reservoir 58 and the water supply device 52, and the device includes a controller 80.

[0054] The controller 80 is in communication with the valves 70, 70b, 70c, 70d and controls the sequence and timing of the opening and closing of the valves 70a, 70b, 70c, 70d, such as the sequence described above with respect to FIG. 4. The controller 80 may be in communication with one or more sensors configured to provide a process condition, such as, for example, a pressure sensor 82 associated with the housing 12, a pressure sensor 84 associated with the vessel 68, a level sensor 86 associated with the vessel 68, or an ice senor 88 disposed on, for example the vessel 68 or a collection chamber (not shown) disposed beneath the vessel 68. It is also contemplated that the controller 80 may be configured to adjust the pressure of the water supplied to the housing 12 based upon the pressure of the housing 12. Thus, if the pressure in the housing 12 is lowered, the controller 80 may recalibrate and provide water that is similarly adjusted. Additionally, the controller 80 may control the sequence and timing of the opening and closing of the valves 70a, 70b, 70c, 70d to increase the pressure in the housing 12, the pressure of the water supplied to the housing, or both. This may be in response to a command from a computer interface (not shown).

[0055] In any configuration, the use of the controller 80 for the sequence and timing of the opening and closing of the valves 70a, 70b, 70c, 70d may allow for a continuous supply of high pressure water to the ice making device 10c, and may also provide for the ice making device 10c to adjust operating parameters.

[0056] It will be appreciated that other designs and configurations for a water supply device may be used to provide high pressure water to a pressurized ice machine. By providing high pressure water the device is believed to more consistently produce ice that can be used in applications for high pressure.

[0057] As is apparent from the foregoing specification, the invention is susceptible of being embodied with various alterations and modifications which may differ particularly from those that have been described in the preceding specification and description. It should be understood that we wish to embody within the scope of the patent warranted hereon all such modifications as reasonably and properly come within the scope of our contribution to the art.

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