(19)
(11)EP 2 191 253 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
07.03.2018 Bulletin 2018/10

(21)Application number: 08833290.3

(22)Date of filing:  28.08.2008
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G01N 7/00  (2006.01)
G08B 17/10  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2008/074636
(87)International publication number:
WO 2009/042343 (02.04.2009 Gazette  2009/14)

(54)

SMOKE DETECTORS

RAUCHDETEKTOREN

DÉTECTEURS DE FUMÉE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MT NL NO PL PT RO SE SI SK TR

(30)Priority: 28.09.2007 US 864119

(43)Date of publication of application:
02.06.2010 Bulletin 2010/22

(73)Proprietor: Life Safety Distribution AG
8604 Hegnau (CH)

(72)Inventors:
  • PETROVIC, Dragan P.
    Geneva Illinois 60134 (US)
  • LUTEROTTI, Lorenzo
    Morristown, NJ 07962-2245 (US)

(74)Representative: Houghton, Mark Phillip et al
Patent Outsourcing Limited 1 King Street
Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1DZ
Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1DZ (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2004/102499
US-A- 3 771 286
US-B2- 6 515 589
WO-A1-2006/050569
US-A- 4 347 983
  
  • RIERA-FRANCO DE SARABIA E ET AL: "Ultrasonic agglomeration of micron aerosols under standing wave conditions", JOURNAL OF SOUND & VIBRATION, LONDON, GB, vol. 110, no. 3, 8 November 1986 (1986-11-08), pages 413-427, XP025886966, ISSN: 0022-460X, DOI: 10.1016/S0022-460X(86)80144-4 [retrieved on 1986-11-08]
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

FIELD



[0001] The invention pertains to aspirated smoke detectors. More particularly, the invention pertains to such detectors which include a source of acoustic waves which can be used to agglomerate airborne particulate matter into larger particles that then flow into a smoke sensor.

BACKGROUND



[0002] Optical sensing techniques, usable in smoke detectors, can be classified as transmission and light scattering techniques. Transmission measurements in early fire detection require impractically long optical paths. Intensity of the scattered signal depends on many factors besides the number of particles per unit volume and intensity of incident light. Modest improvements of light scattering signal at low smoke densities can be achieved by optimizing wavelength, scattering angle, detector sensitivity, intensity of the incident light, and polarization state of the incident light.

[0003] Acoustic agglomeration of aerosols and colloids is a well-known technique to manage fine particulate matter in pharmaceutical, environmental and other industrial applications. Basic concept is based on forming standing wave in acoustic resonator. Acoustic (usually ultrasound) pressure forces both small and large particles to jiggle along with air molecules. However, larger particles have larger slip factor and are not able to follow air movement (this is particularly true at ultrasonic frequencies) as well as smaller particles can. As result, aerosol particles experience increased collision frequency as compared to collision due to thermal motion alone.

[0004] Each collision may result in coagulation of particles where smaller particles disappear and larger particles emerge. As larger particles get formed, they tend to move to a location of one or more nodes in the acoustic field where they start to agglomerate (a phenomena called flocculation). If the field is powerful enough they tend to levitate. In sum, if a standing wave resonant acoustic field is established in a space containing a small concentration of aerosols then in a few seconds, those particles will coagulate into larger particles at nodes of the acoustic field.

[0005] Optical smoke detectors are advantageous in that they will respond to smoldering-type fires and potentially can provide early warnings thereof. Such technologies are also usually readily acceptable world wide.

[0006] There is thus a continuing need to improve performance of optical-type smoke detectors. Preferably, sensitivity could be increased without at the same time increasing incidences of false alarms. WO 2004/102499 A1 discloses a smoke detector according to the preamble of claim 1.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION



[0007] The present invention provides a detector as defined in claim 1. The detector may include the features of any one or more of dependent claims 2 to 11.

[0008] The present invention also provides a method as defined in claim 12.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0009] FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an apparatus which embodies the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0010] While embodiments of this invention can take many different forms, specific embodiments thereof are shown in the drawings and will be described herein in detail with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention, as well as the best mode of practicing same, and is not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiment illustrated.

[0011] In accordance with the invention, the size distribution function of smoke can be changed by applying a high intensity resonant acoustic field. An acoustic field forces particles to move along with the field but big particles do not follow the field as readily as small ones. Increased collision frequency of particles ultimately forms one large particle levitating in the node of the acoustic field that is much easier to detect using a conventional light scattering technique.

[0012] Advantageously, in embodiments of the invention, a light scattering signal can be amplified hundreds of times if all particles collapse into a single one at very low densities. This technique would work for any type of photoelectric detector. However, the preferred embodiment would be to apply the acoustic field to a flow path of an aspirated type detector.

[0013] In an aspect of the invention, airflow is controlled by the aspiration system rather than by environmental conditions and acoustic trapping would be under better control. In such conditions it is possible to vary the duration of levitation period and monitor growth of the resulting particle that can be correlated to the fire conditions. Another advantage of the aspirated system is that power consumption is usually are not as critical as it is with spot-type photoelectric detectors. Yet another benefit is that spatial restrictions on the system are not stringent and it would be possible to confine the acoustic field to a detector enclosure.

[0014] Finally, additional sensing techniques can be used in combination to improve nuisance immunity of the system. This may include use of multiple color scattering signals, additional gas sensors or monitoring heating of particles upon illumination by a high-intensity light source, by photothermal beam deflection or other suitable technique all without limitation.

[0015] A detector 10 in accordance with the invention is illustrated in Fig. 1. Detector 10 includes an inflow port 12 which is coupled a flow pipe 14 carried by a housing 16. The pipe 14 provides a bounded, internal flow path for ambient particulate carrying atmosphere.

[0016] In one aspect of the invention, a dust filter 18 can be included in the flow path formed by the pipe 14. Those of skill will understand that filtering element 18 is optional.

[0017] Detector 10 incorporates an ultrasonic piezoelectronic transducer 20 which generates a high intensity acoustic field which can be coupled to a region 24 in the flow path formed by the pipe 14. The region 24 can be a bounded region in which the acoustic field is generated as would be understood by those of skill in the art.

[0018] The transducer 20 could resonate at a 40 kilohertz rate with a selected, even, number of wave lengths. Those of skill will understand that a transducer, such as a transducer 20 can generate an ultrasonic standing wave on the order of 140dB in the region 24. Such a field is capable of levitating selected air borne particulate matter, for example smoke particles.

[0019] In accordance with the invention, when the transducer 20 generates the acoustic field in the region 24 particulate agglomeration occurs at nodes of the field therein. In one aspect of the invention, the field generated in the region 24 functions as an acoustic trap for very small particles. Alternately, it can be considered an integrating effect which creates a plurality of larger particles when then move from the field into a housing 28 for an optical-type smoke sensor or smoke detector.

[0020] Those of skill in the art will understand that a variety of configurations of optical smoke sensor 28 could be used in combination with the transducer 20. In one aspect of the invention, the field generated in the region 24 could extend to an interior region of a housing 28-1 of the sensor 28. In this embodiment housing 28-1 can be eliminated exposing the elements of sensor 28. An expanded housing 28-2 could include both the field in the region 24 and the sensor 28 as shown in phantom. In this embodiment the agglomerated particles could be detected by sensor 28 while still in the acoustic field.

[0021] The housing 28-1 for 28-2 of the sensor 28 can incorporate a light source, for example a light emitting diode, and an off-set sensor, such as a photo diode, to detect scattering of light due to the agglomerated particles formed in region 24 by the acoustic field.

[0022] A control unit 30 can be coupled to the transducer and the sensor 28. Those of skill will understand that the control unit could include a programmable processor and associated control software as well as interface circuits to properly drive the transducer 20 and to generate signals to the optical sensor 28 to energize the light source therein.

[0023] Signals from the optical smoke sensor 28 could be coupled to the control unit 30 for analysis and a determination as to the existence of one or more predetermined smoke related conditions. As those in skill of the art will understand predetermined conditions could include a pre-alarm condition, or a fire alarm condition all without limitation.

[0024] The unit 10 can also incorporate an optional aspiration device, such as a fan, 34 which is also coupled to the control unit 30. It will be understood that a variety of fans, blowers or other mechanical movable devices could be used all without limitation. Electronic aspirating devices also come within spirit and scope of the present invention.

[0025] Control unit 30 could vary the flow rate induced by the device 34 to adjust "growth time" of the particles. Unit 30 also variably controls the transducer 20 to alter the field 24 as would be understood by those of skill the art.

[0026] Additionally, a microphone 28-3 can be located in the vicinity of the sensing region of smoke sensor 28. The control unit 30 could modulate illumination of the optical source in sensor 28. Signals responsive thereto could be fed to control unit 30 from microphone 28-3 to provide an audible indicator thereto as to the presence of particles that absorb light. Sensor 28 could also include an ionization-type smoke sensor, a gas sensor and a thermal sensor, all coupled to control unit 30 to provide multi-criteria sensing.

[0027] Ambient atmosphere which has traveled through the flow path formed by pipe 14 exits detector 10 via outflow port 40.

[0028] One form of an optical smoke detector, such as a detector 28, is disclosed in the U.S. Patent No. 5,764,142 entitled "Fire Alarm System With Smoke Particle Discrimination" assigned to the assignee hereof.

[0029] It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the specific apparatus illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred. It is, of course, intended to cover by the appended claims all such modifications as fall within the scope of the claims.


Claims

1. A smoke detector comprising:

a housing (16);

a flow path (14) for ambient atmosphere carried by the housing;

a source of ultrasonic signals (20) carried by the housing, wherein the source is adapted to generate a resonant acoustic field of a predetermined intensity (24) in at least a portion of the flow path where the source comprises an ultrasonic transducer (20); an aspirating element (34) that induces movement of ambient atmosphere along the flow-path; and

a smoke sensor (28) coupled to the path the sensor receives particulate matter, carried by the ambient atmosphere in the flow path subsequent to that particulate matter having been exposed to the acoustic field;

characterized in that the acoustic field is adapted to coagulate particulate matter carried by the ambient atmosphere prior to that particulate matter entering a sensing region of the sensor and wherein signals from the smoke sensor are coupled to a control unit (30) for analysis and a determination as to the existence of one or more predetermined smoke related conditions.
 
2. A detector as in claim 1 which includes an aspirating element that induces movement of ambient atmosphere along the flow-path.
 
3. A detector as in claim 1 where the sensor comprises at least one of an optical-type sensor, an ionization-type sensor, a gas sensor and a thermal sensor.
 
4. A detector as in claim 1 where the aspirating element moves the particulate matter to a sensing region of the sensor.
 
5. A detector as in claim 1 where the acoustic field coagulates particulate matter carried by the ambient atmosphere prior to that particulate matter entering a sensing region of the sensor.
 
6. A detector as in claim 1 where the sensor comprises one of an optical-type or an ionization-type sensor particulate sensor.
 
7. A detector as in claim 6 where the sensor comprises a photo-electric type smoke sensor.
 
8. A detector as in claim 6 where the acoustic field extends, in part, into the sensing region.
 
9. A detector as in claim 8 where the aspirating element includes an electrically actuatable flow inducing member.
 
10. A detector as in claim 9 where control circuits are coupled to the aspirating element.
 
11. A detector as in claim 10 which includes a filter in the flow path.
 
12. A smoke sensing method comprising:

producing by an aspirating element (34) a flow of particulate carrying ambient atmosphere to be sensed;

generating with an ultrasonic transducer (20) a resonant acoustic field of a selected intensity to form agglomerated particles;

directing the flow through the field thereby producing a flow of coagulated particles;

sensing with a smoke sensor (28) the coagulated particles and determining the existence of one or more predetermined smoke related conditions.


 


Ansprüche

1. Rauchdetektor, umfassend:

ein Gehäuse (16);

einen Strömungsweg (14) für Umgebungsluft, die vom Gehäuse befördert wird;

eine Quelle von Ultraschallsignalen (20), die vom Gehäuse befördert werden, wobei die Quelle zum Erzeugen eines akustischen Resonanzfeldes einer vorbestimmten Intensität (24) in mindestens einem Teil des Strömungswegs ausgelegt ist, wobei die Quelle einen Ultraschallschwinger (20) umfasst;

ein Ansaugelement (34), das Bewegung von Umgebungsluft entlang des Strömungswegs induziert; und

einen Rauchsensor (28), der mit dem Weg gekoppelt ist, wobei der Sensor Partikeln empfängt, die von Umgebungsluft im Strömungsweg befördert werden, nachdem die Partikeln dem akustischen Feld ausgesetzt wurden;

dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das akustische Feld so ausgelegt ist, dass es von der Umgebungsluft beförderte Partikeln verfestigt, bevor diese Partikeln in eine Erfassungsregion des Sensors eintreten, und wobei Signale vom Rauchsensor zur Analyse und einer Bestimmung im Hinblick auf das Vorliegen einer oder mehrerer vorgegebener rauchbezogener Bedingungen in eine Steuereinheit (30) eingekoppelt werden.


 
2. Detektor nach Anspruch 1, der ein Ansaugelement umfasst, das Bewegung von Umgebungsluft entlang des Strömungswegs induziert.
 
3. Detektor nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Sensor mindestens einen von einem optischen Sensor, einem Ionisationssensor, einem Gassensor und einem Thermosensor umfasst.
 
4. Detektor nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Ansaugelement die Partikeln zu einer Erfassungsregion des Sensors bewegt.
 
5. Detektor nach Anspruch 1, wobei das akustische Feld von der Umgebungsluft beförderte Partikeln verfestigt, bevor diese Partikeln in eine Erfassungsregion des Sensors eintreten.
 
6. Detektor nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Sensor einen Partikelsensor vom optischen Typ oder vom Ionisationstyp umfasst.
 
7. Detektor nach Anspruch 6, wobei der Sensor einen photoelektrischen Rauchsensor umfasst.
 
8. Detektor nach Anspruch 6, wobei sich das akustische Feld zum Teil in die Erfassungsregion erstreckt.
 
9. Detektor nach Anspruch 8, wobei das Ansaugelement ein elektrisch betätigbares, strömungsinduzierendes Element umfasst.
 
10. Detektor nach Anspruch 9, wobei Steuerschaltungen mit dem Ansaugelement gekoppelt sind.
 
11. Detektor nach Anspruch 10, der ein Filter im Strömungsweg umfasst.
 
12. Raucherfassungsverfahren, umfassend:

Erzeugen eines Stroms von zu erfassender, Partikeln befördernder Umgebungsluft durch ein Ansaugelement (34);

Erzeugen eines akustischen Resonanzfeldes einer ausgewählten Intensität, um angehäufte Partikeln zu bilden, mit einem Utraschallschwinger (20);

Leiten des Stroms durch das Feld, um dadurch einen Strom von verfestigten Partikeln erzeugen;

Erfassen der verfestigten Partikeln mit einem Rauchsensor (28) und Bestimmen des Vorliegens einer oder mehrerer vorgegebener rauchbezogener Bedingungen.


 


Revendications

1. Détecteur de fumée comprenant :

un boîtier (16) ;

un chemin d'écoulement (14) pour l'atmosphère ambiante transportée par le boîtier ;

une source de signaux ultrasonores (20) transportée par le boîtier, dans lequel la source est adaptée pour générer un champ acoustique résonant d'une intensité prédéterminée (24) dans au moins une portion du chemin d'écoulement où la source comprend un transducteur ultrasonore (20) ;

un élément aspirant (34) qui induit un déplacement de l'atmosphère ambiante le long du chemin d'écoulement ; et

un capteur de fumée (28) couplé au chemin où le capteur reçoit de la matière particulaire, transportée par l'atmosphère ambiante dans le chemin d'écoulement après que cette matière particulaire a été exposée au champ acoustique ;

caractérisé en ce que le champ acoustique est adapté pour faire coaguler la matière particulaire transportée par l'atmosphère ambiante avant que cette matière particulaire entre dans une région de détection du capteur et dans lequel des signaux provenant du capteur de fumée sont couplés à une unité de commande (30) pour une analyse et une détermination quant à l'existence d'une ou de plusieurs conditions prédéterminées liées à la fumée.


 
2. Détecteur selon la revendication 1, qui comporte un élément aspirant qui induit un déplacement de l'atmosphère ambiante le long du chemin d'écoulement.
 
3. Détecteur selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le capteur comprend au moins l'un parmi un capteur de type optique, un capteur de type ionisation, un capteur de gaz et un capteur thermique.
 
4. Détecteur selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'élément aspirant déplace la matière particulaire vers une région de détection du capteur.
 
5. Détecteur selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le champ acoustique fait coaguler la matière particulaire transportée par l'atmosphère ambiante avant que cette matière particulaire entre dans une région de détection du capteur.
 
6. Détecteur selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le capteur comprend l'un parmi un capteur particulaire de capteur de type optique et un capteur particulaire de capteur de type ionisation.
 
7. Détecteur selon la revendication 6, dans lequel le capteur comprend un capteur de fumée de type photo-électrique.
 
8. Détecteur selon la revendication 6, dans lequel le champ acoustique s'étend, en partie, dans la région de détection.
 
9. Détecteur selon la revendication 8, dans lequel l'élément aspirant comporte un organe d'induction d'écoulement actionnable électriquement.
 
10. Détecteur selon la revendication 9, dans lequel des circuits de commande sont couplés à l'élément aspirant.
 
11. Détecteur selon la revendication 10, qui comporte un filtre dans le chemin d'écoulement.
 
12. Procédé de détection de fumée comprenant :

la production par un élément aspirant (34) d'un écoulement d'atmosphère ambiante transportant des particules à détecter ;

la génération, à l'aide d'un transducteur ultrasonore (20), d'un champ acoustique résonant d'une intensité sélectionnée pour former des particules agglomérées ;

l'orientation de l'écoulement à travers le champ produisant ainsi un écoulement de particules coagulées ;

la détection, à l'aide d'un capteur de fumée (28), des particules coagulées et la détermination de l'existence d'une ou de plusieurs conditions prédéterminées liées à la fumée.


 




Drawing






REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description