|Title of Invention||
"A WATER GENERATING DEVICE FOR EXTRACTING WATER FROM AMBIENT AIR"
|Abstract||A water generating device (28) for extracting water from ambient air, comprising a thermoelectric cooling device (7) having a cold side and a hot side. A cold sink (5) thermally coupled to the cold side of the cooling device (7), for cooling air that contacts the cold sink (5). A heat sink (6) thermally coupled to the hot side of the cooling device (7), for removing heat from the cooling device (7). One or more air moving means (2, 4) for directing a stream of ambient air past the cold sink (5), to cool the air below its dew point. The water generating device (28) characterized by an air duct (14) in which both the cold sink (5) and heat sink (6) are housed, wherein the air duct (14) comprises a ductwork diversion (8) for directing the air cooled by the cold sink (5) past the heat sink (6), to remove additional heat from the cooling device (7).|
|Full Text||The present invention relates to a water generating device for extracting water from ambient air.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In recent years, it is becoming more useful for people in both offices and in the home to drink bottled water rather than water from a water tap, Countless other situations exist where water is difficult to obtain or where the quality of available water leaves much to be desired. In many cases this also creates a need to carry the water from the place where it was purchased to the place where it will be used. Accordingly, there have been some attempts to provide on-site water generation to alleviate these problems. Virtually all of these attempts have utilized more traditional methods of conventional compressors, refrigerant, and evaporator and condenser coils. Some attempts have been made to extract water vapor from the air using thermoelectric technology on a small scale, such as with a closet dehumidifier. All known attempts have ignored the benefit of using cooled air for reasons other than cooling a small confined area, as is the case with refrigerators-found on aircraft.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a potable water generator designed to produce potable water from the ambient air using new and existing thermoelectric, sensing, and computational technologies and other known devices in a unique combination that safely and efficiently extracts potable water from the ambient air in a wider range of temperature and humidity
conditions than traditional refrigerant-based systems. This invention deals with maximizing the
efficiency of the dehumidification process by uniquely utilizing the cooled air to cool the heat
sink of the thermoelectric device, supplemented, as needed, with additional ambient air passed
over the heat sink. The invention also deals with controlling the air flow in relation to the
incoming ambient air temperature and the temperature of the cold sink as it relates to the dew
This invention provides for unique duct means that diverts and utilizes the
cooled processed air to further increase the efficiency of cooling the thermoelectric heat sink,
thereby significantly increasing the efficiency of the device.'This duct can be supplemented with
additional ambient air to further cool the heat sink as maybe required.
This invention provides an air duct that also serves as a means to capture the condensed
water vapor and divert it into the subsequent water treatment and/or storage in a closed,
This invention provides a repetitive means to determine the existing dew point of the
ambient air and a means to control the rate of ambient air flow over the cold sink, which allows
maximum condensation of the existing water vapor, with the minimum amount of expended
energy, and over a wider range of temperature and humidity extremes.
This invention provides a sterile inlet to the treatment or storage area (permanent or
temporary) of water condensed from the air by the strategic placement of an ultraviolet bulb at
the water exit from the air duct into the treatment or storage area. This invention also provides a
sterile exit from the water treatment system using the same strategically placed ultraviolet bulb at
the water exit point from the treatment system into the storage area and/or the exit point from the
storage area. On larger models, this may be accomplished with a second UV bulb.
This invention provides repetitive ultraviolet sterilization of the pretreated water, and
again as treated water, using the same strategically placed ultraviolet bulb, with ultraviolet
transmissive tubing. On larger models, this may be accomplished with a second UV bulb.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Other objects, features and advantages will occur to those skilled in the art from the
following description of the preferred embodiments, and the accompanying drawings, in which:
Figure 1 is a schematic side view of an embodiment of the invention. It depicts only the
features pertaining to this invention. It does not show all of the other features such as water and
air filters, ultraviolet exposures, power and electrical diagrams, cabinetry, and control panel;
Figure 2 is a schematic diagram of a preferred embodiment of the invention;
Figure 3 is a block diagram of the electronics, sensing and control system of a preferred
Figure 4 is a top schematic view of an alternative embodiment of the invention; and
Figure 5 is a partial schematic side cross-sectional view of another alternative
embodiment of the invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Water generating device 30 according to this invention, is shown in Figure 1.
Thermoelectric device 32 has cold sink 36 comprised of a number of cold sink fins 37 thermally
coupled to the cold side of device 32, and heat sink 38 comprised of heat sink fins 39 thermally
coupled to the hot side of device 32. Blower means 40 and/or 41 (such as fans) directs a stream
of ambient air past cold sink 36 to cool the air below its dew point to condense water droplets 42
from the air. This also cools the air. Passage means 34, which may be an air duct, is arranged to
direct the air cooled by cold sinlc 36 past heat sink 38. Since the air is cooled, more heat is drawn
away from heat sink 38, which increases the efficiency of device 32, thus extracting or
condensing more water from a given energy input. The air flow is depicted by arrows A, B, C, D
, E and F. The water collection, treatment, storage, and delivery are not shown in this drawing
for clarity purposes. A supplemental air flow of ambient air over heat sink fins 39 can be
achieved with an additional duct air entrance 43 and variable speed fan or blower 44 that blows
air in the direction of arrow F. For clarity their exact positioning is not shown.
A more complete preferred embodiment of the water generating device of this invention
is shown in Figure 2, wherein device 28 illustrates the components pertinent to this invention.
For clarity, it does not show additional known features that may be preferred or desired within a
completely successful device.
There is an incoming ambient air inlet 1 and a processed air outlet 3 at the ends of a
continuous air duct 14. Ambient air is drawn into the ductwork by variable-speed fan or blower 2
and forced throughout the ducting system. It may be supplemented by exit variable-speed fan or
blower 4, and/or additional duct air entrance 43 and variable speed fan or blower 44. For clarity
their exact positioning is not shown. Enclosed in this air duct is cold sink 5 and heat sink 6. One
or more thermoelectric devices 7 are positioned (in parallel and/or series, as desired) between the
hot and cold sinks to produce the temperature loss on the cold sink and temperature gain on the
As the cooled air leaves the cold sink 5 it is diverted directly over the heat sink 6 by
ductwork diversion 8, which increases the cooling capability of the heat sink as opposed to the
cooling capability using only ambient air, which by definition is warmer.
Ductwork 14 has a lower outlet 9 for the water that has condensed and collected in that
area of the air duct. Outlet 9 also serves as an inlet to the initial water storage and/or water
treatment system 10. The inlet to this storage or treatment system 10 is protected by an
ultraviolet light 15 which may also serve as a sterile inlet and/or an immediate water sterilizer by
bathing water passing through outlet 9 in ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light 15 can also be used
to sterilize air that enters water storage devices 11 and 16 as water is withdrawn from the storage
devices. This can be accomplished with an air passage comprising tubing or piping 22 and 23
with one end in a container and the other end located such that the end is bathed in light from
ultraviolet light 15. In this way, air is sterilized as it enters tubing or piping 22 and 23, thus
inhibiting contamination of the water in containers 11 and 16. Ductwork 14 also may contain
ultraviolet bulbs 18 and 17 to sterilize cold sink 5 and heat sink 6, respectively, as well as to
sterilize the air while in ductwork 14.
It is necessary that the incoming ambient air be cooled to the dew point in order to allow
the water vapor to condense from this air. Device 12 determines the dew point temperature of the
inlet air in a known fashion from the combined measurements of the incoming air of both
temperature and relative humidity that may exist at any given time. Device 12 will then control
the desired temperature of the cold sink (at least at or below the dew point) by determining the
cold sink temperature, and controlling the volume and speed of the incoming ambient air over
the cold sink by controlling, in turn, the operational speed of fan or blower 2, fan or blower 4,
and fan or blower 44. A sensor 21 for determining the temperature of the cold sink is also useful
for accomplishing this goal.
Ultimately, the treated water will be diverted to a permanent or removable container 11
from which the user may remove potable water. Container 11 could also be split into two
containers, 11 and 16, one of which could dispense hot water, and the other cold water. These
containers, whether one or two in number, and whether permanent or removable, can be plumbed
to any position on device 30, or to a remote storage area. For the provision of cooled and/or
heated water, water heating device 19 could heat the water in the storage container or as it is
extracted, and/or water cooling device 20 could be used to cool the water in the storage container
or as it is extracted.
Figure 3 illustrates the relationships and interactivity between the operator control panel
43 (with switches 63, 64 and 65), the indicator panel 44, the central processing unit (CPU) 42,
and additional components that may or may not be present hi their entirety. Operator control
switches 43 may include on/off switch 63, normal operation switch 64, and efficiency operation
switch 65. The system may be enabled to operate hi what is called a "normal" mode, and what is
called an "efficiency" mode of operation. In the normal mode, operation is controlled with an
on/off switch. In this case, the unit will operate over a wide range of ambient conditions, and
actual water production rates will vary accordingly. In the efficiency mode of operation, the
system is programmed at the factory so that it will operate automatically only when water
production rates are at or above the rates specified by the programming. For example, the unit
may operate only when the dew point is such that the unit can make a specified volume of water
per specified time period, for example 2 gallons per day. If the conditions are not such that the
unit would make 2 gallons per day, while in the efficiency mode of operation the unit would not
run. This will assure satisfactory water production rates at minimal energy consumption.
Typically, when in efficiency mode the system would automatically sample ambient air
periodically, for example twice an hour, and as a result either turn on or turn off, as appropriate.
If the unit was not running before such sampling took place, the system would automatically turn
on the proper blower(s) or fan(s) to provide ambient air to the sensor, and if the dew point was
sufficient, the unit would then remain on and begin extracting water. If the dew point was
insufficient, the unit would shut down until the next sampling period.
The invention contemplates operating the system by means of various sources of
electricity. Peltier devices operate under direct current supply. The system may have power
conditioning means 71 that provides properly conditioned power to the unit, shown in FIG. 3 as
provided through controller 43. The exact manner in which the power is supplied would be
apparent to those skilled in the art. The system can be enabled to accept power from one or more
sources, such a AC power source 72 or DC power source 70. The power source or sources can
be line power available at the particular location, or a generator provided for the purpose, or
alternative sources of energy such as solar panels. Units with a practical size limitation can be
operated by the amount of power that can be supplied by solar panels, which allows the system
to be fully portable and used anywhere without the need for a power supply or a generator.
Other inputs to CPU 42 may include first ultraviolet sensor 50, additional ultraviolet
sensor(s) 51, reservoir full sensor 52, stored water temperature sensor 53 (of which there may be
two), reservoir water level sensor 54, cold sink temperature sensor 55, ambient air temperature
sensor 56, ambient humidity sensor 57, air filter efficiency sensor 58, air filter position sensor
59, water filter timed-out sensor 60, water filter volume sensor 61, and valid water filter sensor
62. These various sensors and their use in potable water generating systems are known in the art,
for example as disclosed in US patent nos. 5,106,512; 5,149,446; and 5,203,989, all incorporated
herein by reference.
The outputs of CPU 42 include one or more of the control of water pump 48, control of
thermoelectric device 47, control of a water cooler means 46, control of a water heater means 66,
and one or more controls as necessary to control the state and speed of the fans or blowers 45.
Also, indicators 44 are controlled by CPU 42.
When the user deactivates the water generating device with off switch 63, all functions
cease except the following: all UV lights remain on; the 1st UV sensor 50 continues to monitor
for inadequate UV transmission, which would cause CPU 42 to disable the unit from further
operation and signal the remedy to the user on the indicator panel 44; the 2nd UV sensor 51, if
present, performs in a similar manner; the water filter timed-out sensor 60 or the water filter
volume limit sensor 61 also causes the CPU to deactivate the unit and inform the user on the
indicator panel 44 of the reason why; the stored water temperature sensor(s) 53 causes the CPU
to activate the 2nd cooler means 46 to cool the stored water, and/or to activate water heating
means 66, to their factory-specified temperature(s).
Figures 4 and 5 schematically depict alternative embodiments of the invention, in which
other known components are not shown for clarity purposes. Figure 4 is a top view of the
entrance to air duct 83, in which is located hot or cold sink 80 with corrugated heat-exchange
fins 81 projecting therefrom. Corrugated fins contribute to a greater heat exchange rate as.
opposed to straight fins, due to both their greater surface area and the air flow turbulence created
by the corrugations. In this embodiment, the corrugations are parallel to the air flow. An
additional separate feature that contributes to a greater heat exchange rate is the incorporation
onto one or more sidewalls of duct 83 of one or more projecting artifacts 82, which direct air
away from the duct walls and thereby increase air turbulence, which increases the contact of the
air with the fins 81. Projection(s) 82 can take any desired shape, but are preferably roughly
triangular in cross-section to present a smooth ramp from which the air flow is directed toward
This flow is shown schematically in Figure 5. Artifacts 92-94 on the wall of duct 95
redirect air toward fins 91 (which are coupled to hot or cold sink 90), as depicted by air flow
direction indicating arrows G through L. This figure also depicts fins with corrugations that are
perpendicular to the air flow rather than parallel to it.
Although specific features of this invention are shown in some drawings and not others,
this is for convenience only as each feature may be combined with any or all of the other features
in accordance with the invention.
Other embodiments will occur to those skilled in the art and are within the following
1. A water generating device (28) for extracting water from ambient air,
a thermoelectric cooling device (7) having a cold side and a hot side,
a cold sink (5) thermally coupled to the cold side of the cooling device (7), for cooling air that contacts the cold sink (5);
a heat sink (6) thermally coupled to the hot side of the cooling device (7), for removing heat from the cooling device (7);
one or more air moving means (2, 4) for directing a stream of ambient air past the cold sink (5), to cool the air below its dew point,
the water generating device (28) characterized by:
an air duct (14) in which both the cold sink (5) and heat sink (6) are housed, wherein the air duct (14) comprises a ductwork diversion (8) for directing the air cooled by the cold sink (5) past the heat sink (6), to remove additional heat from the cooling device (7).
2. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, having dew point sensor means (12) for determining the dew point of the ambient air.
3. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, in which at least one of the air moving means (2, 4) accomplishes a variable air speed.
4. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 3, having a controller means (45), responsive to the dew point sensor means (12), that controls the speed of at least one of the variable-speed air moving means (2, 4) in response to the ambient air dew point.
5. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, having a condensed water outlet (9) in the air duct (14), to allow the condensed water to pass out of the duct (14).
6. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 5, in which the air duct (14) is arranged with a lowest area, and the condensed water outlet (9) is in the bottom of the duct (14) in its lowest area.
7. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 5, having an ultraviolet light (15) proximate the outlet (9), to irradiate condensed water exiting the duct (14) through the outlet (9), to sterilize the water.
8. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 5, having a water storage device (11) for holding condensed water passed out of the duct (14) through the outlet (9).
9. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, having a temperature sensor (21) for determining the temperature of the cold sink (5).
10. The water generating device (28) a claimed in claim 9, having a controller means (45), responsive to both the temperature sensor (21) and the dew point sensor (12) means, that controls the speed of the variable-speed air moving means (2, 4), to maintain the cold sink (5) below the dew point of the ambient air.
11. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, having an ultraviolet light (18) proximate the cold sink (5).
12. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, having an ultraviolet light (17) proximate the heat sink (6).
13. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, further including means (12) for periodically sampling the dew point of the ambient air.
14. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 13, enabled for an efficiency mode of operation in which the device (28) is operated only when the dew point is at least at a predetermined level.
15. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, in which the air duct (14) defines an ambient air entrance (43) that communicates with the heat sink (6), and further comprising an air moving means (44) in fluid communication with such entrance (43) to allow additional ambient air to be moved across the heat sink (6), to enhance cooling of the heat sink (6).
16. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, having means (66) to heat stored water.
17. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, having means (46) to cool stored water.
18. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, having solar power
generating means operatively coupled to the water generating device for
providing power to operate the water generating device (28).
19. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 1, wherein at least one of the heat sink (6) and the cold sink (5) comprise corrugated fins (37, 39).
20. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 19, wherein the corrugations of the fins (37, 39) are parallel to the air flow through the air duct (14).
21. The water generating device (28) as claimed in claim 19, wherein the corrugations of the fins (37, 39) are perpendicular to the air flow though the air duct (14).
|Indian Patent Application Number||4858/DELNP/2005|
|PG Journal Number||32/2008|
|Date of Filing||24-Oct-2005|
|Name of Patentee||JAMES J. REIDY|
|Applicant Address||1260 MAIN STREET, HOLDEN, MA 01520-1020,UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.|
|PCT International Classification Number||C02F|
|PCT International Application Number||PCT/US2004/008861|
|PCT International Filing date||2004-03-23|