(19)
(11)EP 2 433 658 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
21.10.2015 Bulletin 2015/43

(21)Application number: 11182523.8

(22)Date of filing:  23.09.2011
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A61L 9/20(2006.01)
F24F 3/16(2006.01)

(54)

Air purifier

Luftreiniger

Purificateur d'air


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

(30)Priority: 24.09.2010 US 889977

(43)Date of publication of application:
28.03.2012 Bulletin 2012/13

(73)Proprietor: Dometic Corporation
Pompano Beach, FL 33069 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • Liptak, William Joseph
    West Palm Beach, FL Florida 33411 (US)

(74)Representative: Kransell & Wennborg KB 
P.O. Box 27834
115 93 Stockholm
115 93 Stockholm (SE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2007/086726
US-A1- 2008 152 548
US-A1- 2010 143 205
US-A1- 2002 050 479
US-A1- 2010 135 864
US-B1- 6 558 639
  
      
    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 OF THE INVENTION



    [0001] The present invention relates generally to an air purifier, and more particularly, to an air purifier utilizing a source of ultraviolet radiation and a photocatalyst.

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



    [0002] Boats and motor vehicles, such as a RV's and long distance or over the road trucks, may be configured to provide heating, ventilating, and/or air conditioning (HVAC) needs to various locations. For example, air conditioning units have been installed on boats to provide comfortable areas on the boat during warm weather. Various methods of cooling the air on the boat have been used, including non-refrigerant cooling system, though a system using a compressed refrigerant is the most common system in widespread use today. Such HVAC systems may additionally comprise air purifiers. US 201010143205 A 1, WO 2007/086726 A1, US 2002/050479 A1 and US 2010/135864 A1 disclose known air purifiers comprising an electromagnetic radiation source and a photocatalyst which are arranged in an airflow pathway through a housing. US 2008/0152548 A1 further discloses a flux multiplication system for sterilizing air, medical devices and other materials which system comprises a radiation source and a light trap which may be provided with a photocatalyst.

    [0003] However, space constraints within various vehicles can be problematic. For example, it is common for air conditioning ducting to be located within the walls of boats. Conventionally, the interior space of the walls was relatively large to accommodate ducting and/or large insulation for the ducting. However, many modern boats have greatly reduced the interior space of the walls by utilizing relatively smaller, high-performance ducting and/or insulation. As such, there is a greatly reduced spacing within the walls to provide additional components, such as in-line air purifiers, etc.

    BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



    [0004] The following presents a simplified summary of the invention in order to provide a basic understanding of some example aspects of the invention. This summary is not an extensive overview of the invention. Moreover, this summary is not intended to identify critical elements of the invention nor delineate the scope of the invention. The sole purpose of the summary is to present some concepts of the invention in simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented later.

    [0005] In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, an air purifier comprises a tubular body comprising a wall defining an interior space, a first opening to the interior space, and a second opening to the interior space. The air purifier further comprises an airflow pathway through the tubular body defined between the first and second openings. A photocatalyst is arranged within the interior space and along the airflow pathway, and a source of ultraviolet radiation is arranged to emit ultraviolet radiation onto at least a portion of the surface of the photocatalyst to activate the photocatalyst.

    [0006] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, an air purifier comprises a body comprising a wall defining an interior space, a first opening to the interior space, and a second opening to the interior space. The wall comprises an aperture extending therethrough. The air purifier further comprises an airflow pathway through the body defined between the first and second openings. A photocatalyst is formed on metalized foam arranged within the interior space and comprises a surface oriented in a direction along the airflow pathway. A source of ultraviolet radiation is arranged to emit ultraviolet radiation onto at least a portion of the surface of the photocatalyst to activate the photocatalyst. A cover is coupled to the body about the aperture and is configured to enclose the source of ultraviolet radiation such that substantially all of the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the source of ultraviolet radiation is directed towards the aperture.

    [0007] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, an air purifier comprises a body comprising a wall defining an interior space, a first opening to the interior space, and a second opening to the interior space. The air purifier further comprises an airflow pathway through the body defined between the first and second openings. A photocatalyst is arranged within the interior space and comprises a surface oriented in a direction along the airflow pathway. The photocatalyst further comprises turbulence structure to generate turbulent airflow along the airflow pathway. A source of ultraviolet radiation is arranged to emit ultraviolet radiation onto at least a portion of the surface of the photocatalyst to activate the photocatalyst.

    [0008] It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description present example and explanatory embodiments of the invention, and are intended to provide an overview or framework for understanding the nature and character of the invention as it is claimed. The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated into and constitute a part of this specification. The drawings illustrate various example embodiments of the invention, and together with the description, serve to explain the principles and operations of the invention.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0009] The foregoing and other aspects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which the present invention relates upon reading the following description with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

    [0010] FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an example air purifier;

    [0011] FIG. 2 is similar to FIG. 1, but shows an example cover in an alternative position;

    [0012] FIG. 3 illustrates a side view of the air purifier of FIG. 1 arranged in-line with example ducting;

    [0013] FIG. 4 illustrates an example photocatalyst; and

    [0014] FIG. 5 illustrates a front view of the air purifier of FIG. 1 arranged within an example wall space.

    DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS



    [0015] Example embodiments that incorporate one or more aspects of the present invention are described and illustrated in the drawings. These illustrated examples are not intended to be a limitation on the present invention. For example, one or more aspects of the present invention can be utilized in other embodiments and even other types of devices. Moreover, certain terminology is used herein for convenience only and is not to be taken as a limitation on the present invention. Still further, in the drawings, the same reference numerals are employed for designating the same elements.

    [0016] Turning to the example of FIG. 1, an air purifier 10 is shown. The following description of the air purifier 10 is done with reference to usage in a vehicle, including boats and motor vehicles, such as a RV's and long distance or over the road trucks, etc. The interior area of a vehicle is often limited and it is often desired to reduce components within the interior area to enlarge the available space within the vehicle. Accordingly, locating various components within the interior space of the walls, floor, ceiling, or other desired spaces, can reduce the interior area required to house such components of the air conditioning system. Reducing the interior space requirements also frees additional interior space for other vehicle components and/or creature comforts that might not otherwise be installed. However, it is understood that the air purifier 10 can also be utilized in any application where it is desired to provide heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) needs, including stationary buildings and the like.

    [0017] In the example described herein, the vehicle can include an air conditioning system that can comprise a wide variety of systems configured to condition (i.e., heat, cool, and/or purify) air at various locations interior or exterior of the vehicle, such as an interior cabin, about the driver compartment, etc. In various examples (not shown), the air conditioning system might include any or all of a compressor, a condenser coil, a condenser fan, an expansion valve, an evaporator coil, an evaporator fan, a heater core, a fan, a filter, a damper/valve, a control system, various interconnecting ducting, etc. The various components of the air conditioning system can be provided together as a single assembly that can be closely contained or even spread out about the vehicle through ducting, etc. Multiple air conditioning systems can also be provided.

    [0018] The air purifier 10 can be arranged variously about the vehicle, and can be in fluid communication with the air conditioning system via a duct 12 (e.g., see FIG. 3). A duct 12 is a pipe, tube or channel through which a fluid, such as air, can pass. The duct 12 can be flexible, rigid and/or insulated. For example, the duct 12 illustrated in FIG. 3 can be a 6-inch duct that is insulated with 1/4-inch to 1.5-inch thick insulation. To increase the interior area of a vehicle, the duct 12 may be hidden within a vehicle wall (e.g., see FIG. 5) below the floor (not shown) or in the celling (not shown). The duct 12 can also be disposed conspicuously within the interior area of a vehicle or disposed in another location. Conditioned air may pass through the air purifier 10 via the duct(s) 12. As such, the air purifier 10 can be located upstream or downstream of any of the various air conditioning components.

    [0019] The air purifier 10 includes a body 14 including a wall 16 defining an interior space 18. The body 14 further includes a first opening 20 to the interior space 18 and a second opening 22 to the interior space 18. For example, the first opening 20 can be disposed at one end of the body 14 and can form an inlet into the interior space 18, while the second opening 22 can be disposed at another end of the body 14 to form an outlet from the interior space 18, or vice-versa. As such, an airflow pathway can extend through the body 14 defined between the first and second openings 20, 22. The wall 16 can bound substantially all of the interior space 18 such that substantially all of the fluid that enters the air purifier 10 through the first opening 20 will subsequently exit though the second opening 22.

    [0020] In one example, the body 14 is a tubular body with a generally tubular geometry, such as a cylindrical geometry with generally circular cross-section, though the body 14 can also have various other cross-sectional geometries (e,g,, oval, square, rectangular, triangular, polygonal, etc.). A tubular body is beneficial to inhibit, such as prevent, eddies or the like in the fluid that flows along the airflow pathway. For example, it can be beneficial to reduce, such as eliminating, sharp corners (e.g., square corners, angled corners, etc.) of the body 14 within the interior space 18 that can disrupt air flow. The tubular shape enables air to flow through the air purifier 10 generally unimpeded by impact with corners, perpendicular walls, and the like that can cause static pressure and/or reduce air flow. Static pressure can be detrimental to performance and to some equipment in air conditioning systems. Moreover, the connected ducting 12 usually also has a similar cross-sectional geometry (e.g., circular, etc.) such that the air can flow generally unimpeded between the inlet/outlet ducting 12 and the air purifier 10 with little change in pressure, velocity, volume, etc. Because the efficiency of air conditioning systems is related to the amount of energy used to move air throughout a vehicle while performing the air conditioning functions, reducing such disruptions to the airflow can increase the overall efficiency of the air conditioning system by reducing the amount of energy used overall.

    [0021] The body 14 can be constructed variously, and can comprise a wide range of materials such as metal (e.g., aluminum, steel, etc.), plastics (e.g,, thermoplastics), and/or composites. In one example, the body 14 can be a tubular body that is formed from a tubular structure, such as generally rigid pipe or the like. In another example, the wall 16 of the body 14 can include a sheet of material, such as flat sheet metal, that is formed (e.g., bent, wrapped, etc.) into the generally tubular geometry. For example, the sheet of material can include a first edge 24 and a second edge 26, and the body 14 can be formed into the tubular geometry by overlapping the first and second edges 24, 26 of the wall 16 at an overlapped seam region 28. The first and second edges 24, 26 can be removably or non-removably coupled together, such as by adhesives, welding, or fasteners 30 (e,g., rivets, bolts, screws, etc.) extending through the overlapped seam region 28 (see also FIG. 5). Alternatively, the first and second edges 24, 26 can be removably or non-removably coupled together with substantially no overlap (e.g., butt joint, fold over joint, etc.). It is also contemplated that a tubular structure can be cut lengthwise to provide the first and second edges 24, 26, if desired. It is understood that the body 14 can also be formed in various other manners, such as being cast, molded, extruded, etc.

    [0022] In addition or alternatively, a wrap 32 or the like can extend at least partially, such as completely, around the body 14 to provide insulation, and/or to maintain the first and second edges 24, 26 being coupled together. The wrap 32 can also inhibit, such as prevent, condensation build-up on the body 14. For example, the wrap 32 can be 1/4" foam insulation that can be held in place by gaffer's tape, though other sizes/types of insulation are contemplated.

    [0023] To purify the air flowing along the airflow pathway, the air purifier 10 further includes both a source 36 of ultraviolet radiation, and a photocatalyst 34 capable of purifying the air by utilizing a photoreaction. The source 36 of ultraviolet radiation can be arranged to emit ultraviolet radiation into the body 14 such that the air flowing along the airflow pathway is exposed to the ultraviolet radiation. Additionally, the photocatalyst 34 can be arranged variously within the interior space 18. In one example, the photocatalyst 34 can include a surface 38 spaced apart from the wall 16 such that the surface 38 is disposed within the airflow pathway. The source 36 of ultraviolet radiation is arranged to emit ultraviolet radiation into the interior space 18, such as onto at least a portion of the photocatalyst 34 to activate the photocatalyst 34. The source 36 of ultraviolet radiation can be arranged to emit ultraviolet radiation onto at least a portion, such as all, of the surface 38 to activate the photocatalyst 34. Thus, the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation can operate to purify the air in cooperation with, the photocatalyst 34.

    [0024] Additionally, as shown in FIG. 3, the surface 38 can be oriented along the airflow pathway, such as in a direction generally parallel to the direction of the airflow pathway (e.g., lengthwise along the air purifier 10) for contact with the air moving along the airflow pathway. This orientation can greatly reduce, such as eliminate, air resistance through the air purifier 10 so there is general no noticeable decrease in air flow. Further, the surface 38 can extend at least partially, such as substantially completely, along the interior space between the first and second openings 20, 22 to increase the surface area for increased contact with the airborne contaminants.

    [0025] Generally, photocatalytic air purification occurs when airborne contaminants physically touch a catalyst in the presence of UV light. The photocatalyst 34 purifies airborne contaminants that pass through the air purifier 10 and contact the surface of the photocatalyst 34, As air re-circulates through the air conditioning system, it makes multiple passes through the air purifier 10 for continuously improving purification levels. Photocatalytic air purification occurs when airborne contaminants physically touch the catalyst. The molecules of pollutants, odors, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and/or biological contaminants (e.g., mold spores, bacteria, viruses, etc.) that come in contact with the photocatalyst are reconfigured into non-toxic elements. Additionally, the ultraviolet radiation reduces biological contaminants (e.g., mold spores, bacteria, viruses, etc.) that pass through the air purifier 10. As a result, significantly cleaner, healthier air exits the air purifier 10. Indeed, the air purifier 10 can output water vapor and/or carbon dioxide.

    [0026] Additionally, the photocatalyst 34 of the instant application can be formed on various base materials. In one example, the base material can be metalized foam to provide a three-dimensional photocatalytic structure. This minutely intricate construction provides a greatly increased surface area for holding the molecular catalytic coating, such as approximately 2200% more surface area as compared to a simple screen structure or flat surface, though it is understood that various base materials could be used to provide a desired amount of surface area. Thus, the photocatalyst on metalized foam can create a much greater contact surface for increased purification results. The metalized foam can be provided alone, or can be at least partially held in a supporting frame. For example, as shown in FIG. 4, the metalized foam can be enclosed in a supporting wire frame 35. For example, the wire frame 35 can be provided as a sheet-like material that is wrapped about the metalized foam. The wire frame 35 can provide mechanical support for the metalized foam within the interior space 18, and/or can provide protection from damage or the like.

    [0027] The photocatalyst 34 can be removably or non-removably mounted within the interior space in various manners. For example, the photocatalyst 34 can be coupled to an inner portion of the wall 16 in various manners, including fasteners, brackets, welding, adhesives, etc. In addition or alternatively, a portion of the photocatalyst 34 can be captured (e.g., clamped, fastened, etc.) between the first and second edges 24, 26 in the overlapped seam region 28 to couple the photocatalyst 34 to the body 14 in a cantilever manner. For example, one edge 37 of the photocatalyst 34 can be bent at an angle (e.g., perpendicular or oblique), and the bent portion can be captured between the first and second edges 24, 26. The photocatalyst 34 can be coupled to the body 14 in the overlapped seam region 28 at the same time it is formed into the tubular geometry when the first and second edges 24, 26 are coupled together, or the photocatalyst 34 can be coupled in the overlapped seam region 28 at a later time. The photocatalyst 34 can even be coupled to the body 14 through the same fasteners 30 used to secure the first and second edges 24, 26 together. It is also contemplated that the wire frame 35 can facilitate mounting the photocatalyst 34 within the interior space 18. In addition or alternatively, the photocatalyst 34 can be applied to at least a portion of the inner surface of the wall 16, such as by adhesives, spray coating, etc.

    [0028] The photocatalyst can include a coating of one or more various inorganic oxide particles, such as titanium dioxide. The titanium dioxide can permeate the three-dimensional structure of the metalized foam to provide a greatly increased area for reacting with the airborne contaminants. The titanium-dioxide catalyst is restructured at the molecular level to have an increased number of contact surfaces. This formation puts 70% larger molecules on the contact surface and dramatically improves reactivity with contaminants.

    [0029] The ultraviolet ("UV") radiation can be provided by the source 36 in a variety of forms, including but are not limited to, sunlight, appropriately filtered incandescent bulbs, electron beam radiation, and/or lamps that emit radiation incident to an electrical discharge, such as fluorescent lamps, mercury vapor tamps, arc lamps, sodium lamps, zenon lamps, gallium lamps, or other types or even combinations thereof, including other structure or materials capable of emitting ultraviolet radiation. In one example, low-pressure or highpressure mercury vapor discharge lamps can be used, which generate "UV" radiation incident to the mercury discharge, to cure the sealant layer. Lamps of this type generally having intensities of 20 W/cm to 400 W/cm may be used. Ultraviolet radiation sources having an emission wavelength of about 180 nm to about 450 nm are preferred. It can be beneficial to utilize a source 36 of ultraviolet radiation that has germicidal emission wavelength equal to or greater than about 254 nm to avoid generating ozone (or an insignificant amount of ozone), and/or an accumulation of undesirable substances on the photocatalyst 34.

    [0030] For example, as shown in FIG. 2, the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation can be a removable or non-removable UV bulb constructed of glass, metal, quartz., or plastic. The air purifier 10 can utilize one or more sources 36 of ultraviolet radiation. For example, a pair of UV bulbs are illustrated in FIG. 2, and the dual bulbs can provide relatively greater intensity and/or service coverage to activate more of the photocatalytic material for high-performance results. The UV bulb can have various geometries, such cylindrical, u-shaped, torodial, bulbous, or various other geometries. The UV bulb can similarly have various cross-sectional geometries, such as circular, oval, square, rectangular, triangular, polygonal, etc. In addition or alternatively, the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation can be oriented along the airflow pathway and extend at least partially along the interior space between the first and second openings 20, 22. In one example, the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation can be oriented substantially parallel to the direction of along the airflow pathway (e.g., lengthwise along the air purifier 10) to increase the area over which the ultraviolet radiation can be emitted. Such orientation can also provide the air flow with a longer exposure to the purifying UV radiation, to reduce biological contaminants like mold spores, bacteria, and viruses.

    [0031] In addition or alternatively, it is beneficial to locate the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation at least partially, such as completely, outside of the airflow pathway so as to reduce pressure loss through the air purifier 10. Thus, the wall 16 of the body 14 includes an aperture 40 extending therethrough, and the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation can be arranged to emit the ultraviolet radiation onto the surface 38 of the photocatalyst 34 via the aperture 40. As shown in FIGS. 1-3, the source 36 can be disposed substantially completely outside of the interior space 18. The aperture 40 can be configured to be at least as large as the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation, and can be much larger, to enable the source 36 to emit ultraviolet radiation over a relatively large portion, such as all, of the photocatalyst 34. For example, the aperture 40 can be oriented substantially parallel to the direction of the airflow pathway, similar to the source 36.

    [0032] Additionally, the air purifier 10 can include a cover 42 coupled to the body 14 and configured to enclose the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation such that substantially all of the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the source 36 is directed towards the aperture 40. For example, the source 36 can emit ultraviolet radiation omnidirectionally. Thus, the cover 42 can be formed of a material that is opaque to, and preferably reflective of, ultraviolet radiation so that substantially all of the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the source 36 can be directed towards the photocatalyst 34. The cover 42 can comprise a wide range of materials such as plastics (e.g., thermoplastics), composites, metal (e.g., aluminum, steel, etc.). In one example, the cover 42 can be formed of sheet metal that is bent, wrapped, etc. into the desired shape. The cover 42 can also include various coatings, inserts, etc., and/or seals about the edges, that are opaque to and/or reflective of ultraviolet radiation to inhibit, such as prevent, leakage of ultraviolet radiation. In addition or alternatively, the interior of the wall 16 can also include materials, coatings, etc, that are opaque to and/or reflective of ultraviolet radiation to increase the amount of the photocatalyst 34 (e.g., upper and lower surfaces, sides, edges, etc.) exposed to the ultraviolet radiation.

    [0033] The cover 42 can be removably or non-removably coupled to the body 14. In one example, the cover 42 can be completely removably from the body 14. In another example, as shown in FIG. 2, one edge 44 of the cover 42 can be pivotally coupled to the body 14 to permit access for maintenance or replacement of the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation. Another portion of the cover 42, such as another edge, can include structure to secure the cover 42 to the body 14 when it is in a closed position. The cover 42 can include an outward lip 43 or the like along said other edge to facilitate attachment of the cover to the body 14. For example, the cover 42 can include one or more fasteners 46, such as thumb screws, clips, brackets, or the like, that can be located on the outward lip 43 for removably securing the cover 42 to the body 14.

    [0034] In addition or alternatively, the cover 42 can further include a socket 48 configured to removably receive the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation, The socket 48 can include electrical structure directly or indirectly coupled to the source 36 for providing electrical power thereto, such as a connector block and/or wires 49 or the like. The socket 48 can also provide mechanical support for the source 36. The socket 48 can also provide strain relief support for external electrical wires or connector block from the vehicle that provide power to the source 36. In addition or alternatively, the cover 42 can include various mechanical supports to maintain the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation within the cover 42. For example, the cover 42 can include one or more spring dips 50, brackets, fasteners, etc. to facilitate removal and replacement of the source 36.

    [0035] In addition or alternatively, the air purifier 10 can further include turbulence structure configured to generate turbulent airflow along the airflow pathway. For example, the turbulent airflow can create a vortex action (i.e., spiral action) through the interior space 18 that increases, such as maximizes, surface contact of the airflow with the photocatalyst 34 to thereby increase, such as maximize, air purification. Various turbulence structure can be used. In one example, as shown in FIG. 1, the turbulence structure can include one or more fins 52 or the like disposed within the interior space 18 for imparting turbulence to the airflow. The fin(s) 52 can be provided variously within the interior space, such as coupled to an inner surface of the wall 16, etc. For example, the fin(s) 52 can impart a spin to the air flow to create a vortex action through the interior space 18. In other examples, not shown, the turbulence structure can include any or all of louvers, dampers, axial flow plates, etc. disposed variously about the air purifier 10, such as about the first and/or second openings 20, 22 and/or wall 16, etc.

    [0036] In yet another example, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the photocatalyst 34 can include turbulence structure. In one example, the photocatalyst 34 can include fins (not shown) or other structure to impart a spin on the air flow. In another example, the turbulence structure can include at least a first portion 54 of the photocatalyst 34 arranged at an angle α relative to a second portion 56 of the photocatalyst 34. Various portions of the photocatalyst 34, such as portion(s) of the surface 38 and/or edge(s), can be arranged at angles relative to each other. The angle(s) can be provided by sharp angles, curves, etc. Additionally, the various portions arranged at an angle can be disposed in various planes, including lengthwise along the airflow pathway, transverse to the airflow pathway, etc. The wire frame 35 can be bendable to facilitate maintaining a desired angle, shape, etc. of the photocatalyst 34.

    [0037] For example, at least a portion of the photocatalyst 34 can have a generally S-shaped geometry 58 oriented along the direction of the airflow pathway (e.g., extending lengthwise along the air purifier 10). The S-shaped geometry 58 can include one or more edge(s) 60 of the photocatalyst 34, such an edge that extends outward into the airflow pathway, and/or can include some of the surface 38 of the photocatalyst 34. As shown in FIG. 4, the generally S-shaped geometry 58 can include both the edge 60 and a portion of the surface 38, The example generally S-shaped geometry 58 illustrated in FIG. 4 was created by bending the photocatalyst 34 on a 5-inch radius tube (e.g., which can provide a constant or changing angle α), though it is understood that various other bend radii (e.g., 2-inch radius tube through 10-inch radius tube, etc.) can also be used. As a result, air flowing along the photocatalyst 34 will generate turbulent airflow along the airflow pathway that can create a vortex action through the interior space 18. It is also understood that various portions of the photocatalyst 34 arranged at an angles to each other can also have other geometries, such as a U-shaped geometry, L-shaped geometry, etc. Even with such turbulence structure, it is understood that the surface 38 can still be oriented in a direction substantially parallel to the direction of the airflow pathway.

    [0038] Turning now to FIGS. 3 and 5, an example installation is shown of the air purifier 10 hidden within an example vehicle wall space 70 bounded by a pair of example walls 72 (or other vehicle structure). The air purifier 10 could also be hidden in the floor, ceiling, etc. As illustrated, the amount of available space within the vehicle wall space 70 is limited, The air purifier 10 is considered to be an in-duct design. That is, the air purifier 10 is directly coupled to the ducting 12 such that if the ducting 12 fits in a particular space (e.g., in a vehicle wall space 70, floor, ceiling, etc.), then the air purifier 10 should also fit. Additional benefits of in-duct (i.e., in-line) design are that the size of the body 14 generally matches the size of the ducting 12, and the overall air purifier 10 is compact for easy installation. Either or both of the first and second openings 20, 22 of the body 14 can include structure to facilitate removably or non-removably coupling the ducting 12 thereto. The ducting 12 can be held in place through various clamps, fasteners, adhesives, welding, gaffer's tape, friction fit, etc.

    [0039] Thus, the limited amount of space within the vehicle wall space 70, for example limited by a width W between the walls 72, can thereby limit the amount of equipment used therein. Thus, the overall width D of the air purifier 10, including the width of the body 14 and the wrap 32 (i.e., insulation), should be substantially equal to or less than the width W. As shown in FIG. 5, is it understood that the width D of the air purifier 10 may not include the extra width provided by the cover 42 because such extra width can be accommodated by rotating or otherwise positioning the air purifier 10 within the vehicle wall space 70. For example, where the body 14 has a generally cylindrical geometry and the ducting has a corresponding generally circular cross-section, the air purifier 10 can be selectively rotatable about a longitudinal axis (e.g., about the airflow pathway, etc.) to achieve a desired installation orientation. Spacing may be provided in the vehicle wall space 70 for opening the cover 42 for maintenance of the source 36 of ultraviolet radiation. It is understood that the air purifier 10 can be removably or non-removably supported variously within the vehicle wall space 70, such as by the ducting 12, the wall(s) 72, insulation, brackets, and/or other support(s).


    Claims

    1. An air purifier (10), comprising:

    a tubular body (14) comprising a wall (16) defining an interior space (18), a first opening (20) to the interior space (18), and a second opening (22) to the interior space (18);

    an airflow pathway through the tubular body (14) defined between the first and second openings (20, 22);

    a photocatalyst (34) arranged within the interior space (18); and

    a source of ultraviolet radiation (36) arranged to emit ultraviolet radiation onto at least a portion of the surface of the photocatalyst (34) to activate the photocatalyst

    characterized in that the photocatalyst is arranged along the airflow pathway

    and that the air purifier further comprises a turbulence structure configured to generate turbulent airflow along the airflow pathway which turbulence structure comprises at least a first portion (54) of the photocatalyst being arranged at an angle relative to a second portion (56) of the photocatalyst (34) and wherein at least a portion of the photocatalyst (34) has a generally S-, U- or L-shaped geometry oriented along the direction of the airflow pathway.


     
    2. The air purifier of claim 1, wherein the wall (16) of the tubular body (14) comprises a sheet of material comprising a first edge (24) and a second edge (26), and the tubular body (14) is formed by overlapping the first and second edges (24, 26) of the wall (16).
     
    3. The air purifier of claim 2, wherein a portion (37) of the photocatalyst (34) is captured between the overlapped first and second edges (24, 26) to couple the photocatalyst (34) to the tubular body (14).
     
    4. The air purifier according to any claims 1-3, wherein the wall comprises an aperture extending therethrough, and the source of ultraviolet radiation emits the ultraviolet radiation onto the surface of the photocatalyst via the aperture.
     
    5. The air purifier of claim 4, further comprising a cover (42) coupled to the tubular body (14) and configured to enclose the source of ultraviolet radiation (36) such that substantially all of the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the source of ultraviolet radiation (36) is directed towards the aperture (40).
     
    6. The air purifier of claim 5, wherein the cover (42) further comprises a socket (48) configured to removably receive the source of ultraviolet radiation (36).
     
    7. The air purifier according to any of claims 1-6, wherein the photocatalyst (34) comprises a coating of titanium dioxide.
     
    8. The air purifier according to any of claims 1-7, wherein the photocatalyst (34) is formed on metalized foam.
     
    9. The air purifier according to any of claims 1-8, wherein the photocatalyst (34) comprises a surface (38) spaced apart from the wall (16) and oriented in a direction substantially parallel to the direction of the airflow pathway.
     
    10. The air purifier according to any of claims 1-9, wherein the source of ultraviolet radiation (36) is oriented substantially parallel to the direction of the airflow pathway.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Luftreiniger (10), der Folgendes umfasst:

    einen röhrenförmigen Körper (14), der eine Wand (16), die einen Innenraum (18) definiert, eine erste Öffnung (20) in den Innenraum (18) und eine zweite Öffnung (22) in den Innenraum (18) umfasst;

    einen Luftströmungsweg durch den röhrenförmigen Körper (14), der zwischen der ersten und der zweiten Öffnung (20, 22) definiert ist;

    einen Photokatalysator (34), der innerhalb des Innenraums (18) angeordnet ist; und

    eine Quelle für ultraviolette Strahlung (36), die angeordnet ist, um ultraviolette Strahlung auf mindestens einen Abschnitt der Fläche des Photokatalysators (34) zu emittieren, um den Photokatalysator zu aktivieren,

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der Photokatalysator entlang des Luftströmungswegs angeordnet ist,

    und dass der Luftreiniger ferner eine Turbulenzstruktur umfasst, die ausgestaltet ist, um eine turbulente Luftströmung entlang des Luftströmungswegs zu erzeugen, wobei die Turbulenzstruktur mindestens einen ersten Abschnitt (54) des Photokatalysators umfasst, der in einem Winkel zu einem zweiten Abschnitt (56) des Photokatalysators (34) angeordnet ist, und wobei mindestens ein Abschnitt des Photokatalysators (34) eine allgemein S-, U- oder L-förmige Geometrie aufweist, die entlang der Richtung des Luftströmungswegs ausgerichtet ist.


     
    2. Luftreiniger nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Wand (16) des röhrenförmigen Körpers (14) eine Platte aus Material umfasst, die einen ersten Rand (24) und einen zweiten Rand (26) umfasst, und der röhrenförmige Körper (14) durch Überlappen des ersten und des zweiten Randes (24, 26) der Wand (16) gebildet ist.
     
    3. Luftreiniger nach Anspruch 2, wobei ein Abschnitt (37) des Photokatalysators (34) zwischen den sich überlappenden ersten und zweiten Rändern (24, 26) ergriffen ist, um den Photokatalysator (34) an den röhrenförmigen Körper (14) zu koppeln.
     
    4. Luftreiniger nach einem der Ansprüche 1 - 3, wobei die Wand ein Loch umfasst, das sich durch sie hindurch erstreckt, und die Quelle für ultraviolette Strahlung die ultraviolette Strahlung über das Loch auf die Fläche des Photokatalysators emittiert.
     
    5. Luftreiniger nach Anspruch 4, der ferner eine Abdeckung (42) umfasst, die an den röhrenförmigen Körper (14) gekoppelt ist und ausgestaltet ist, um die Quelle für ultraviolette Strahlung (36) derart zu umschließen, dass im Wesentlichen die gesamte durch die Quelle (36) für ultraviolette Strahlung emittierte Strahlung in Richtung des Lochs (40) gerichtet wird.
     
    6. Luftreiniger nach Anspruch 5, wobei die Abdeckung (42) ferner eine Buchse (48) umfasst, die ausgestaltet ist, um die Quelle für ultraviolette Strahlung (36) abnehmbar aufzunehmen.
     
    7. Luftreiniger nach einem der Ansprüche 1 - 6, wobei der Photokatalysator (34) eine Beschichtung aus Titandioxid umfasst.
     
    8. Luftreiniger nach einem der Ansprüche 1 - 7, wobei der Photokatalysator (34) auf Metallschaum gebildet ist.
     
    9. Luftreiniger nach einem der Ansprüche 1 - 8, wobei der Photokatalysator (34) eine Fläche (38) umfasst, die von der Wand (16) beabstandet ist und in einer Richtung im Wesentlichen parallel zur Richtung des Luftströmungswegs ausgerichtet ist.
     
    10. Luftreiniger nach einem der Ansprüche 1 - 9, wobei die Quelle für ultraviolette Strahlung (36) im Wesentlichen parallel zur Richtung des Luftströmungswegs ausgerichtet ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Purificateur d'air (10), comprenant :

    un corps tubulaire (14) comprenant une paroi (16) définissant un espace intérieur (18), une première ouverture (20) sur l'espace intérieur (18) et une seconde ouverture (22) sur l'espace intérieur (18) ;

    un chemin d'écoulement d'air à travers le corps tubulaire (14) défini entre les première et seconde ouvertures (20, 22) ;

    un photocatalyseur (34) disposé à l'intérieur de l'espace intérieur (18) ; et

    une source de rayonnement ultraviolet (36) disposée de manière à envoyer un rayonnement ultraviolet sur au moins une partie de la surface du photocatalyseur (34) afin d'activer le photocatalyseur,

    caractérisé en ce que le photocatalyseur est disposé le long du chemin d'écoulement d'air

    et en ce que le purificateur d'air comprend en outre une structure à turbulence configurée pour générer un écoulement d'air turbulent le long du chemin d'écoulement d'air, laquelle structure à turbulence comprend au moins une première partie (54) du photocatalyseur disposée selon un angle par rapport à une seconde partie (56) du photocatalyseur (34) et dans lequel au moins une partie du photocatalyseur (34) a une géométrie globalement en forme de S, U ou L orientée le long de la direction du chemin d'écoulement d'air.


     
    2. Purificateur d'air selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la paroi (16) du corps tubulaire (14) comprend une feuille de matériau comprenant un premier bord (24) et un second bord (26), et le corps tubulaire (14) étant formé en superposant les premier et second bords (24, 26) de la paroi (16).
     
    3. Purificateur d'air selon la revendication 2, dans lequel une partie (37) du photocatalyseur (34) est saisie entre les premier et second bords (24, 26) superposés afin de coupler le photocatalyseur (34) au corps tubulaire (14).
     
    4. Purificateur d'air selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 - 3, dans lequel la paroi comprend une ouverture s'étendant à travers celle-ci, et la source de rayonnement ultraviolet envoyant le rayonnement ultraviolet sur la surface du photocatalyseur via l'ouverture.
     
    5. Purificateur d'air selon la revendication 4, comprenant par ailleurs un couvercle (42) couplé au corps tubulaire (14) et configuré pour enfermer la source de rayonnement ultraviolet (36) de manière à ce que sensiblement l'ensemble du rayonnement ultraviolet émis par la source de rayonnement ultraviolet (36) soit envoyé vers l'ouverture (40).
     
    6. Purificateur d'air selon la revendication 5, dans lequel le couvercle (42) comprend en outre une douille (48) configurée pour recevoir de manière détachable la source de rayonnement ultraviolet (36).
     
    7. Purificateur d'air selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 - 6, dans lequel le photocatalyseur (34) comprend un revêtement de dioxyde de titane.
     
    8. Purificateur d'air selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 - 7, dans lequel le photocatalyseur (34) est formé sur de la mousse métallisée.
     
    9. Purificateur d'air selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 - 8, dans lequel le photocatalyseur (34) comprend une surface (38) espacée par rapport à la paroi (16) et orientée dans une direction sensiblement parallèle à la direction du chemin d'écoulement d'air.
     
    10. Purificateur d'air selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 - 9, dans lequel la source de rayonnement ultraviolet (36) est orientée sensiblement parallèlement à la direction du chemin d'écoulement d'air.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description