Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to Project Titan and more specifically to a deaeration device for a thermal system that could be used in Apple's future electric vehicle.
In Apple's patent background they note that liquid heating and/or cooling systems circulate a liquid media through a system. The liquid media travels between components before returning to its starting point, in what is commonly referred to as a thermal loop, a cooling loop, or a heating loop. Air can be introduced into the liquid media, for example, during filling, when the liquid media is added to the system. Air bubbles in the liquid media can cause corrosion to some portions of the system and can cause damage to some portions of the system. The presence of air in the liquid media can also reduce the thermal performance, flow rate, and heat capacity of the system.
Traditional high flow liquid cooling systems use a constant bleed. This means that some of the fluid flow that would otherwise be used to cool functional devices is constantly being lost back to the reservoir, which reduces efficiency. This efficiency loss has been considered acceptable in internal combustion engine designs, which by design operate at high temperatures and with relatively low efficiency.
Traditional low flow liquid cooling systems pass all of their fluid flow directly through a reservoir. While this approach is acceptable at low flow rates, at higher flow rates the liquid in the reservoir will become turbulent and aeration results.
Electric vehicles operate at higher efficiency levels as compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, and at much lower temperatures. The efficiency penalty of a constant-bleed deaeration system would have a detrimental impact on the overall effectiveness of the cooling system in an electric vehicle application.
Apple's granted patent covers a thermal system that includes a deaeration device that operates at high flow rates with much higher efficiency as compared to constant bleed systems.
As an example, the deaeration device may include a fluid flow path that extends through a reservoir and defines a reverse curve (i.e., an S-curve). The reverse curve creates a pressure differential between a first opening and a second opening. The first opening expels air and liquid into the reservoir. The second opening entrains liquid into the fluid flow path. A portion (e.g., a majority) of the liquid carried by the fluid flow path remains in the fluid flow path without entering the reservoir.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic illustration that shows a thermal system; FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration that shows a deaeration device of the thermal system.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below is a cross-section illustration that shows a deaeration device of the thermal system.
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Apple's patent FIG. 6 below is a side view illustration that shows a deaeration device; FIG. 7 is a perspective view that shows a reservoir of the deaeration device of FIG. 6; and FIG. 8 is a cross-section view of the reservoir of the deaeration device of FIG. 6, taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 6.