(19)
(11)EP 3 006 348 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
13.04.2016 Bulletin 2016/15

(21)Application number: 14188511.1

(22)Date of filing:  10.10.2014
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B64F 1/36  (2006.01)
B60K 15/073  (2006.01)
(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
Designated Extension States:
BA ME

(71)Applicant: Illinois Tool Works Inc.
Glenview, IL 60025 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • Tindall, Leslie
    Ashford, Kent TN23 1DZ (GB)

(74)Representative: Verbrugge, Vivien François Emeric 
ITW Group France Intellectual Property 3-5 rue Saint Georges
75009 Paris
75009 Paris (FR)

  


(54)Enhanced fuel tank for mobile ground power unit


(57) The invention relates to a Mobile ground power unit (1) for supplying power to an aircraft parked on the ground, the ground power unit (1) comprising
- an engine (10) and
- an electric generator (20), whereby the electric generator (20) is configured to be driven by the engine (10),
- a housing (30) whereby the engine (10) and the electric generator (20) are disposed within the housing (30),
- a fuel tank (50), wherein the fuel tank (50) comprises a wall (51) that forms at least one channel (52) that allows air to pass from one side (50.1) of the fuel tank (50) to another side (50.2) of the fuel tank (50).
The invention further relates to a fuel tank for a ground power unit (1).




Description


[0001] This invention relates to ground power units (GPU) for supplying power to an aircraft parked on the ground.

[0002] Such a ground power unit is disclosed in US 5,253,891 A. It usually comprises an engine, driving an electric generator, both inserted in a housing to protect it from environmental influences.

[0003] The inventor found it very disadvantageous that it is difficult to get fresh, dry air to the generator for cooling the generator, because of the lack of space where the generator is usually located.

[0004] The object of the invention therefore was to provide fresh, dry air to the generator.

[0005] This object is achieved by the subject matter of the independent claims; preferred embodiments are specified by the dependent claims.

[0006] Particularly, this object is achieved by a mobile ground power unit for supplying power to an aircraft parked on the ground, the ground power unit comprising
  • an engine, which is preferably a combustion, particularly preferable diesel engine, and
  • an electric generator, whereby the electric generator is configured to be driven by the engine,
  • a housing whereby the engine and the electric generator are disposed within the housing,
  • a fuel tank, wherein the fuel tank comprises a wall that forms at least one channel that allows air to pass from one side of the fuel tank to another side of the fuel tank.


[0007] The object of the invention is also achieved by a fuel tank for a ground power unit wherein the ground power unit comprises
  • an engine, which is preferably a combustion engine, and
  • an electric generator, wherein the electric generator is configured to be driven by the engine,
  • a housing whereby the engine and the electric generator are disposed within the housing,
wherein the fuel tank comprises a wall that forms at least one channel that allows air to pass from one side of the fuel tank to another side of the fuel tank.

[0008] Thereby, dry clean and cool air can be drawn from below the GPU without spending much more space for suitable ducting components, as the tank itself acts as a ducting component. As a very beneficial side effect, the inventor found out, that the air passing the fuel tank is cooling the fuel inside the fuel tank.

[0009] Preferably, the mobile ground power stands on wheels. Usually, it is equipped with a towing arm. The GPU is preferably set up to output 28 V of direct current and/or 115 V 400 Hz of alternating current. Preferably, the electric energy is carried from a generator to a connection on the aircraft via cables, for example a 3 phase 4-wire insulated cable capable of handling 261 A (90 kVA).

[0010] Preferably, the housing of the ground power unit is a component or group of components that surrounds the engine and/or the generator at least partially, particularly at the sides and/or the top of engine and/or generator. The housing is preferably the outer shell of the ground power unit.

[0011] The generator in a GPU requires dry, clean and cool air for cooling. A large volume of air is required which means that the precipitation can be drawn in if the intake opening is exposed to the weather. Another issue with modern diesel engines is keeping the fuel cool. Diesel fuel is used as a coolant to cool the injector pump and is returned warm to the fuel tank. The fuel returning from the injector pump gradually increases the temperature of the tank. If the fuel temperature exceeds the limits defined by the engine manufacturer then an additional fuel intercooler is required. By drawing the generator cooling air through a, preferably molded, duct in the fuel tank it is possible to remove heat from the fuel without having to add a separate cooler to the fuel circuit.

[0012] Preferably, the other side of the fuel tank is a side approximately perpendicular to the one side, particularly preferable it is the other side of the fuel tank is approximately parallel vis-à-vis the one side. Preferably, the tank is located below generator and engine.

[0013] In a further preferred embodiment of the GPU or the fuel tank according to the present invention, the fuel tank is rotor molded or rotor cast, or a rotor molded or rotor cast component, preferably out of plastic, e.g. Polyethylene.

[0014] One of the down sides of using polyethylene tanks is that the material insulates the fuel better than steel tanks and it is more likely that fuel coolers are required. However, by incorporating the channel into the fuel tank, this down side is compensated for and one can on the other side benefit from the advantages a rotor molded / cast component offers (e.g., low cost, impact resistance, chemical resistance, etc.). Therefore, one can use a rotor molded/cast tank, esp. Polyethylene tank, without increasing the fuel temperature.

[0015] Preferably, the channel is located in the tank at a position that is - when the tank is disposed inside the housing of the GPU - below and vis-a-vis the generator or below and at one side of the generator such that the generator is in between the channel and an ventilator and therefore and air stream will hit the generator. Particularly preferably, the channel is positioned precisely at a generator air intake.

[0016] In a further preferred embodiment according to the present invention the wall of the fuel tank is surrounding the channel except for an inlet opening and an outlet opening of the channel.

[0017] Thereby, the effective surface for cooling the fuel is high. The channel is completely passing through the tank which also provides for an advantageous air flow.

[0018] In a further preferred embodiment according to the present invention the channel has an inlet on the bottom side of the fuel tank and an outlet on the top side of the fuel tank.

[0019] Thereby, cool dry air is able to enter from below and to be drawn through the tank vertically. This enables an effective air flow with short flow distances.

[0020] Embodiments of the present invention will now be described - by way of example only - with reference to the accompanying drawings, whereby

Fig. 1 a is a sketch of a GPU according to the invention, having a fuel tank according the invention,

Fig. 2a-2f are drawings of a GPU according to the invention based on Fig. 1 a and incorporating as well many of the advantageous preferred features.



[0021] Fig. 1 is showing a side view of a GPU 1 according to the invention having a fuel tank 50 according the invention. The GPU 1 comprises an engine 10 and an electric generator 20. The electric generator 20 is configured to be driven by the engine 10. The GPU 1 comprises a housing 30 whereby the engine 10 and the electric generator 20 are disposed within the housing 30. The fuel tank comprises 50 a wall 51 that forms at least one channel 52 that allows air to pass from one side 50.1 of the fuel tank 50 to another side 50.2 of the fuel tank 50.

[0022] This allows having an air intake into the housing through the fuel tank 50, resulting in less space needed for this function and additional cooling of the fuel.

[0023] Fig. 2a-2f are showing a GPU 1 according to the invention based on Fig. 1 a and 1 b incorporating as well many of other advantageous preferred features. Fig. 2a is a side view, Fig. 2b a frontal view, Fig. 2c and d cross-sectional views, wherein in Fig. 2d, the canopy is retracted, Fig. 2e a section through the fuel tank and Fig. 2f the complete fuel tank.

[0024] The housing 30 features as a component 31 a canopy 31.1, which preferably is rotor molded or rotor cast, and which covers at least the upper side of the engine 10 and the generator 20.

[0025] The GPU 1 comprises a fuel tank 50 below generator and combustion engine, wherein the fuel tank 50 comprises a wall 51 that forms at least one channel 52 that allows air to pass from one side 50.1 of the tank to another side 50.2 of the fuel tank 50. The wall 51 of the fuel tank 50 is surrounding the channel 52 except for an inlet opening 52.1 and an outlet opening 52.2 of the channel 52. The channel 52 has an inlet on the bottom side of the fuel tank 50, which is the side 50.1, and an outlet on the top side of the fuel tank 50, which is the side 50.2. The channel 52 is located in the tank 50 at a position that is below and at one side of the generator 20 such that the generator 20 is in between the channel 52 and a ventilator 60 of the liquid cooling aggregate and therefore, an air stream will hit the generator 20. The channel 52 is furthermore positioned precisely at a generator 20 air intake. In Fig. 2c, the air flow due to the channel 22 is depicted by dashed arrows.

[0026] With this invention, a better fuel tank for a GPU is provided. Incorporating a channel through the fuel tank enhances the possibilities for better air circulation and it even helps cooling the fuel. The subject matter described in this application (applicant's reference 65757) is also connected to further inventions, described in two additional applications marked with applicant's reference 65755 and 65756, which are hereby incorporated by reference.

Reference signs



[0027] 
1
ground power unit
10
engine
20
generator
30
housing
31
rotor molded or rotor cast component
31.1
canopy
50
fuel tank
50.1
one side of fuel tank
50.2
other side of fuel tank
51
wall
52
channel
52.1
inlet opening
52.2
outlet opening
60
ventilator of the liquid cooling aggregate



Claims

1. Mobile ground power unit (1) for supplying power to an aircraft parked on the ground, the ground power unit (1) comprising

- an engine (10) and

- an electric generator (20), whereby the electric generator (20) is configured to be driven by the engine (10),

- a housing (30) whereby the engine (10) and the electric generator (20) are disposed within the housing (30),

- a fuel tank (50)
characterized in that
the fuel tank (50) comprises a wall (51) that forms at least one channel (52) that allows air to pass from one side (50.1) of the fuel tank (50) to another side (50.2) of the fuel tank (50).


 
2. Ground power unit (1) according to one of the previous claims, wherein the fuel tank (50) is rotor molded or rotor casted.
 
3. Ground power unit (1) according to one of the previous claims, wherein the wall (51) of the fuel tank (50) is surrounding the channel (52) except for an inlet opening (52.1) and an outlet opening (52.2) of the channel (52).
 
4. Ground power unit (1) according to one of the previous claims, wherein the channel (52) has an inlet on the bottom side of the fuel tank (50) and an outlet on the top side of the fuel tank (50).
 
5. Fuel tank (50) for a ground power unit (1) wherein the ground power unit (1) comprises

- an engine(10) and

- an electric generator (20), wherein the electric generator (20) is configured to be driven by the engine (10),
characterized in that the fuel tank (50) comprises a wall (51) that forms at least one channel (52) that allows air to pass from one side (50.1) of the tank to another side (50.2) of the fuel tank (50).


 




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