(19)
(11)EP 3 066 345 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
17.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/25

(21)Application number: 14875824.6

(22)Date of filing:  22.12.2014
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
F04D 29/44(2006.01)
F04D 25/06(2006.01)
F04D 29/66(2006.01)
A61M 16/00(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/IB2014/067201
(87)International publication number:
WO 2015/097632 (02.07.2015 Gazette  2015/26)

(54)

BLOWER FOR BREATHING APPARATUS

GEBLÄSE FÜR EINE ATEMVORRICHTUNG

SOUFFLANTE POUR APPAREIL RESPIRATOIRE


(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: 23.12.2013 US 201361920014 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
14.09.2016 Bulletin 2016/37

(73)Proprietor: Fisher&Paykel Healthcare Limited
East Tamaki, Auckland 2013 (NZ)

(72)Inventor:
  • BOTHMA, Johannes Nicolaas
    Auckland 2013 (NZ)

(74)Representative: Cornford, James Robert 
Forresters IP LLP Skygarden Erika-Mann-Strasse 11
80636 München
80636 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2013/020167
NZ-A- 577 485
US-A- 4 900 228
US-A1- 2013 251 560
GB-A- 205 112
US-A- 4 859 145
US-A1- 2008 310 978
  
      
    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 to a blower for a breathing apparatus, and in particular to a blower with a diffuser for increasing static pressure and/or reducing noise and/or mitigating pressure instabilities and/or managing reverse flow.

    [0002] GB 205 112 discloses centrifugal fans and pumps furnished with movable diffusion blades d and movable inlet guide blades f.

    Summary of invention



    [0003] It is an object of the present invention to provide a blower with improved static pressure and/or a blower that manages reverse flow.

    [0004] The present invention consists in a blower for a breathing apparatus according to claim 1.

    [0005] In the following, the diffuser vanes of claim 1 are also called "diffuser elements" or "planar diffuser elements".

    [0006] Preferably each diffuser element is offset from adjacent diffuser elements in the cascade.

    [0007] As specified in claim 1, the diffuser elements in each cascade are arranged spirally from the perimeter to the centre of the diffuser plate.

    [0008] Preferably the diffuser elements are aerofoils.

    [0009] Preferably the blower further comprises a circumferential diffuser elements arranged proximate the perimeter of the diffuser plate to direct airflow from the perimeter of the impeller to the planar diffuser elements. Preferably the planar diffuser elements in a cascade spiral from a corresponding circumferential diffuser element towards the centre of the diffuser plate.

    [0010] Another example, not part of the invention, consists in a blower for a breathing apparatus comprising: a housing with an inlet and outlet, a motor within the housing for rotating an impeller, a diffuser within the housing between the impeller and outlet, the diffuser comprising one or more circumferential rings with circumferential diffuser elements are arranged on the ring(s) to direct air to an outlet.

    [0011] Preferably the diffuser elements are arranged in cascades on the ring(s), each cascade comprising a series of diffuser elements.

    [0012] Preferably each diffuser element is offset from adjacent diffuser elements in the cascade.

    [0013] Preferably the diffuser element cascades are arranged on the inner surface of the one or more rings surrounding the impeller and optionally wherein for each cascade the diffuser elements are arranged in a helical manner. Preferably the diffuser elements are aerofoils.

    [0014] Preferably the blower comprises an annular ramped wall around the impeller to reduce flutter.

    [0015] In another aspect the present invention may consist in a blower according to claim 1 with multiple diffusers and impellers.

    [0016] Another example, not part of the invention, consists in a blower for a breathing apparatus comprising: a housing with an inlet and outlet, a motor within the housing for rotating an impeller, a diffuser within the housing between the impeller and outlet, the diffuser comprising diffuser elements, wherein the diffuser elements are arranged in cascades, each cascade comprising a series of diffuser elements.

    [0017] Also described, but not part of the invention, is a blower for a breathing apparatus comprising: a housing with an inlet and outlet, a motor within the housing for rotating an impeller, and a diffuser within the housing between the impeller and the outlet, the diffuser comprising aerofoil diffuser elements.

    [0018] Preferably the diffuser elements are arranged in cascades, each cascade comprising a series of diffuser elements offset from adjacent diffuser elements in the cascade.

    [0019] Preferably the diffuser element cascades are arranged on a diffuser plate parallel to the impeller, and optionally arranged spirally from the perimeter to the centre of the diffuser plate.

    [0020] Preferably the blower further comprises circumferential diffuser elements arranged proximate the perimeter of the diffuser plate to direct airflow from the perimeter of the impeller to the diffuser elements.

    [0021] Preferably each spirally arranged cascade spirals from a corresponding circumferential diffuser element to the centre of the diffuser plate.

    [0022] Preferably the diffuser comprises a circumferential ring around the impeller, and the diffuser elements are arranged on the ring that directs air to an outlet.

    [0023] Preferably the diffuser elements are arranged in cascades, each cascade comprising a series of diffuser elements, wherein each diffuser element in the cascade is offset from adjacent diffuser elements in the cascade.

    [0024] Preferably the diffuser element cascades are arranged on the inner surface of one or more rings surrounding the impeller and optionally wherein for each cascade the diffuser elements are arranged in a helical manner.

    [0025] Preferably a blower is provided as above with multiple diffusers and impellers.

    [0026] In embodiments, diffuser elements redirect reverse flow such that the reverse flow moves in the same direction as forward flow. This helps to reduce blade pass noise caused by pressure instabilities. When the reverse flow reaches the volute in which the impeller sits, it is substantially moving in the same direction as the forward flow and can easily join the stream. Otherwise, a 'whirring' sound can be heard because reverse flow moving in the opposite direction causes motor slowing/stalling.

    [0027] In this specification where reference has been made to patent specifications, other external documents, or other sources of information, this is generally for the purpose of providing a context for discussing the features of the disclosure. Unless specifically stated otherwise, reference to such external documents is not to be construed as an admission that such documents, or such sources of information, in any jurisdiction, are prior art, or form part of the common general knowledge in the art.

    [0028] The term "comprising" as used in this specification means "consisting at least in part of". When interpreting each statement in this specification that includes the term "comprising", features other than that or those prefaced by the term may also be present. Related terms such as "comprise" and "comprises" are to be interpreted in the same manner.

    [0029] To those skilled in the art to which the invention relates, many changes in construction and widely differing embodiments and applications of the invention will suggest themselves without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. The disclosures and the descriptions herein are purely illustrative and are not intended to be in any sense limiting. The invention envisages constructions of which the following gives examples only.

    Brief description of the drawings



    [0030] Preferred embodiments of the invention will be described with reference to the drawings, of which:

    Figure 1 shows a perspective drawing of a blower for a CPAP apparatus or similar with a diffuser comprising aerofoil diffuser elements according to a first embodiment.

    Figure 2 shows a bottom perspective view of a diffuser plate of the diffuser with diffuser elements.

    Figures 3a, 3b show a top perspective transparent view of the diffuser showing the diffuser elements in a top diffuser plate and diffuser elements between the top and bottom diffuser plates.

    Figure 4 shows a top perspective view of the blower showing forward airflow from the diffuser elements through an axial outlet.

    Figure 5 shows a top perspective view of the blower showing reverse airflow along the diffuser elements.

    Figure 6a shows reverse airflow on a bottom perspective view of the top diffuser plate with diffuser elements.

    Figure 6b shows reverse airflow on a bottom perspective transparent view of the diffuser showing the diffuser elements.

    Figures 7a, 7b show partial perspective and cross-section views of the diffuser with a flow guide.

    Figure 8 shows a perspective drawing of a multistage blower for a CPAP apparatus or similar with multiple diffusers with diffuser elements.

    Figures 9a, 9b, 9c show perspective drawings of a blower for a CPAP apparatus or similar with a diffuser comprising diffuser elements in a ring according to a second embodiment which is not part of the invention.

    Figures 10a-10c show a diffuser comprising diffuser elements in a ring in further detail.

    Figures 11a-11e show the forward and reverse airflow in the second embodiment.

    Figure 12 shows a possible impeller.


    Detailed description of preferred embodiments


    Axial inlet/axial outlet embodiment



    [0031] Figure 1 shows a blower according to the present invention comprising a diffuser with diffuser elements (in the form of protrusions) that reduce noise, produce the required static pressure from dynamic (airflow) pressure and/or mitigate pressure instabilities and/or manages reverse flow so that reverse flow moves in the same direction as forward flow. The diffuser elements take the form of aerofoils, which promote the Coanda effect. The blower can be used in any suitable breathing apparatus such as a continuous positive airway pressure apparatus (CPAP), bi-level apparatus, autotitration apparatus, high flow therapy apparatus, ventilation apparatus or any other suitable breathing apparatus that would benefit from such a blower. Details of such breathing apparatus, and details of how a blower described herein would be utilised in such a breathing apparatus, will be known to those skilled in the art, and need not be described here. We refer to PCT/NZ2007/00328 published as WO 2008/056993 as an example. The blower 10 of Figure 1 is an axial inlet/axial outlet blower. It comprises a housing 10a with an axial inlet 2 for ingress of ambient air, and an axial outlet 3 for outlet of (pressurised) air flow to provide to a patient either directly by a suitable conduit and patient interface, or via a humidification apparatus. The blower 10 comprises a motor 4 for driving an impeller 16. The motor 4 could be any suitable motor for driving an impeller 16 in this type of application, such as (but not restricted to) the low inertia motor described in PCT application PCT/NZ2013/000124 published as WO 2013/009193. Those skilled in the art will be well versed in the types of motors that could be used, so a full description is not required here, although a brief description will be provided. The motor comprises a stator 1 surrounding a rotor 6. The rotor 6 is coupled to a shaft 5 that is connected to the impeller 16. The shaft 5 rotates on bearings 9a, 9b held in elastomeric mounting discs 7a, 7b. The discs 7a, 7b are coupled to a stator frame 8 coupled to the stator 1 to hold the shaft/rotor assembly in a compliant manner inside the stator 1.

    [0032] The shaft 5 of the motor 4 extends through an aperture in a shield 12. The shield 12 comprises a flat plate 12a with an annular wall that locates within the housing 10a, and has an annular channel on its underside formed by two protruding walls extending downwards and residing on the stator 1 of the motor 4. The shaft 5 is coupled to an impeller 16, which resides in the housing 10a above the flat plate 12a. The impeller is shown in Figure 13 by way of example, but can take any suitable configuration such as that shown in PCT/NZ2013/000124 published as WO 2013/009193, for example. A diffuser 17 is positioned in the housing 10a above the impeller 16, and comprises a bottom diffuser plate (diffuser support substrate) 17a and a top diffuser plate (diffuser support substrate) 17b. The top diffuser plate 17b also forms the top of the housing 10a to create an interior volume with the housing 10a and the flat plate 12a. The top diffuser plate 17b has a central aperture 15. An annular tube 14 extends from the central aperture 15, which together form the axial outlet 3. Dynamic airflow generated by the impeller 16 flows up through the diffuser 17 and out through the axial outlet 3.

    [0033] The diffuser 17 will be described in more detail with respect to Figures 2 and 3. With reference to Figure 2, the top diffuser plate 17b comprises a circumferential/annular wall 21 with circumferential diffuser elements e.g. 20 formed on the internal surface of the wall.

    [0034] As shown in Figure 2, each circumferential diffuser element 20 can be in the form of an aerofoil. The aerofoil takes the form of an aerofoil/wing shape/teardrop shape formed as a vane/protrusion. The aerofoil promotes the Coanda effect. Aerofoils can be defined by a NACA number and in the present invention the aerofoils preferably have a NACA number in the 6000-8000 range.

    [0035] In the preferred embodiment, multiple circumferential diffuser elements 20 are spaced evenly around the internal surface of the annular wall 21, although any suitable number or arrangement could be implemented. In a manner to be described in more detail later, airflow generated by the rotating impeller 16 passes to the circumferential diffuser elements 20, which direct the airflow up to the gap between the top diffuser plate 17b and the bottom diffuser plate 17a. Preferably, the number of circumferential diffuser elements 20 on the annular wall 21 is prime and does not equal the number of impeller blades in order to reduce noise/resonances.

    [0036] Referring to Figures 3a, 3b, the diffuser 17 also comprises further planar diffuser elements e.g. 30 that extend between the bottom diffuser plate 17a and the top diffuser plate 17b. Planar diffuser elements on the top surface of the bottom diffuser plate 17a are integrally formed with the bottom surface of the top diffuser plate 17b. The top 17b and bottom 17a diffuser plates are integrally formed.

    [0037] Each planar diffuser element 30 is preferably formed as an aerofoil/wing-shaped/teardrop shaped protrusion/vane promoting a Coanda effect. Again, the aerofoils preferably have a NACA number in the 6000-8000 range. As such, circumferential diffuser elements 20 and planar diffuser elements 30 formed in this manner can be termed "Coanda diffuser elements".

    [0038] Each planar diffuser element 30 (and optionally each circumferential diffuser element 20) comprises a rounded leading edge, for example 30a, with two opposed curved lateral edges, for example 30b and 30c, one convex and one concave. The two lateral edges, for example 30b and 30c, converge at and join at a curved endpoint, for example 30d, in an elongated tail to create the aerofoil shape.

    [0039] The planar diffuser elements are arranged into a plurality of cascades. Each circumferential diffuser element 20 on the annular wall 21 has a corresponding/respective series/cascade/succession of planar diffuser elements 31 arranged in a cascading manner. The planar diffuser element e.g. 31a of a cascade 31 has its leading edge proximate the outlet tail of a corresponding circumferential diffuser element 20 on the annular wall 21. As such, the circumferential diffuser element could also (optionally) be considered part of the cascade. The next planar diffuser element e.g. 31b is optionally stepped slightly offset in the X and/or Y direction from the tail of the first planar diffuser element 31a, and each subsequent planar diffuser element e.g. 31c in a cascade is optionally offset in a similar manner from the respective preceding planar diffuser element 31b. The planar diffuser elements 31a-31c of each cascade 31 are arranged and orientated in a manner such that they lie in a curved spiral line 40 (visible in Figure 4) from the outlet tail of the circumferential diffuser element 20 towards the centre aperture 15 of the top diffuser plate 17b, in a spiral-like arrangement. There is a spacing between each series of spirally arranged planar diffuser elements 31a-31c and the spacing increases from narrower to wider as the series spirals towards the centre of the diffuser plate 17a.

    [0040] The bottom diffuser plate 17a also preferably comprises an annular/circumferential wall with a ramped inner surface 19 (also called a "wedge"). This provides a recirculation path for impeller airflow to reduce flutter (it "hides" the blade pass). This works in a manner such as that described in WO2010/126383 filed also by the present applicants.

    [0041] The operation of the blower 10, and in particular the nature of the air flow in the diffuser 17, will now be described with reference to Figure 4. As the impeller 16 rotates, airflow is generated at the outer circumference/perimeter of the impeller 16. During forward flow the air is wicked downstream along the gradual sloping aerofoil shape of the circumferential diffuser elements 20 as indicated by the arrows in Figure 2 and 3b. Air enters the gap between the diffuser plates 17a/17b from the circumferential diffuser elements 20 with a high tangential velocity as depicted by the lighter coloured flow lines e.g. 41 extending from the circumference of the blower 10 from the circumferential diffuser elements 20 as shown in Figure 4. The aerofoil shape of the circumferential diffuser elements 20 slightly increases the speed of airflow leaving the 'tail' of the circumferential diffuser element 20, which helps the flow adhere to the planar diffuser elements 31a-31c on the top side of the bottom diffuser plate 17a.

    [0042] Figure 4 shows flow lines 41 that demonstrate the (in this case) clockwise movement of the airflow through the cascades e.g. 31 of planar diffuser elements 31a-31c shown on the top side of the bottom diffuser plate 17a (top diffuser plate 17b removed for clarity). The darkness of the line corresponds to flow velocity, with lighter lines corresponding to lower flow velocities and darker lines corresponding to higher flow velocities. The Coanda effect gives the airflow a tendency to "stick" to the outer surface of the aerofoil of a particular planar diffuser element 31a-31c, and the movement along an aerofoil slows down the flow, converting the dynamic pressure of the airflow to static pressure. Additionally, as the airflow moves along the curve e.g. 30b on the front of the aerofoil of a planar diffuser element e.g. 30, the flow gains a little extra velocity (due to Bernoulli's principle) (most visible, for example, at point E Figure 4) that can be converted to static pressure downstream. The diffused flow then collects in the middle and exits the axial outlet 3 at point F in Figure 4. The gaps between planar diffuser elements 31a-31c in a cascade 31 help to promote the Coanda effect and to promote the tendency for air flow to "stick" to the cascade 31. As the airflow passes from one diffuser element e.g. 31a to another e.g. 31b in a cascade 31, the airflow "re-engages" with the diffuser element, thus promoting airflow to remain closer to the cascade 31 of diffuser elements along the entire length. The illustrated diffuser 17 contrasts with a single continuous spiral diffuser, from which airflow will "detach" from the diffuser much earlier.

    [0043] Figure 5 shows flow lines e.g. 50 that demonstrate the movement of reverse airflow from the patient through the aerofoil diffuser element cascade in the blower 10. The diffuser configuration handles reverse flow also. As gases enter the blower from the axial outlet 3, they curve around the aerofoils in such a way that towards the perimeter of the blower 10, they can re-enter the forward stream - not opposed to the rotary motion of the impeller 16, but instead aligned with or at least not moving against the direction of the rotary motion of the impeller 16. This effect is promoted by the gaps between each circumferential diffuser elements 20 and planar diffuser element 31a-31c in a cascade of elements 31 to provide alternative paths for reverse flow. Figures 6a and 6b show light (Figure 6a) and dark (Figure 6b) arrows similar to those shown in Figures 3a and Figures 3b, except indicating possible motion of flow lines under reverse flow. As can be seen, the flow lines of Figures 5 to 6b move roughly in the same tangential direction relative to the impeller 16 as in Figure 2. This redirection of air flow using the aerofoils significantly reduces audible noise resulting in shearing upon exhalation into the blower assembly.

    [0044] Therefore, the combination of diffuser elements arranged in cascade spirals improves static pressure and provides a path for reverse flow.

    [0045] While preferably the diffuser elements 20, 30 are aerofoil shaped, this is not essential. The aerofoil shaped diffuser elements 20, 30 described in this embodiment are preferable, although not essential. The diffuser elements 20, 30 could simply be used without the aerofoil shape. The use of circumferential diffuser elements 20 in the present invention reduces blade pass noise. The pulsating and unsteady flow stream created by traditional diffuser vanes is softened by the distance that these diffuser elements 20 are placed away from the blade tips (proximity reduced).

    [0046] A wedge 19 also helps in reducing blade tip disturbance in a manner described above and the aerofoils may take a portion of the velocity in the annular vortex (phantom impeller) leaving enough velocity there to maintain a stable source of spinning fluid (gas) to draw from.

    [0047] Referring to the single stage and multistage blower described below, the gradual negative 'rake' or introduction ('scoop') to the top layer provided by the aerofoils is in contrast to other scoops used in centrifugal compressors in that the gradual aerofoil scoop is more efficient and less disruptive to the main flow stream - thus this scoop creates less blade pass tonal noise than those other scoops. Additionally the aerofoil shape of the recession/'tongue' slightly increases the speed of flow leaving the 'tail' of the recession, which helps the flow adhere to the Coanda effect on the top side of the diffuser plate as described in the next two paragraphs.

    [0048] The teardrop aerofoil diffuser elements are cascading and are slightly stepped out of place with one another. As the air moves from the Coanda recess onto the plate, the air may still have a tendency to stick to the inside of the aerofoil, but then the air moves across the aerofoil and collects additional velocity when moving off the 'head' of the next aerofoil (which it strikes because of the stepped nature of the aerofoils) - the additional velocity makes the air more likely to follow to the Coanda effect and ride along the outside of the aerofoil. The cascading aerofoils give the air several chances to change sides, and because of this a more even distribution/diffusion of roughly laminar flow lines occurs both along the aerofoils and in between the cascades of aerofoils.

    [0049] In the illustrated Figure 1, flow moving along the planar diffuser elements 30 from the ends of the circumferential diffuser elements 20 to the central aperture 15 is redirected such that at least a portion of the substantially tangential movement of the flow induced by the impeller 16 is translated into substantially axial movement through the annular tube 14. When changing direction in this space, flow vortices may be generated that consume additional mechanical energy ('shock loss') and increase the resistance to flow of the gas passageway defined between the bottom diffuser plate 17a and the axial outlet 3. Decreasing the amount of mechanical energy and resistance to flow will minimize pressure loss and decrease the generation of heat and/or noise caused by such vortices.

    [0050] In some configurations, and as illustrated in Figures 7a, 7b, a flow guide 70 can be placed on the bottom diffuser plate 17a. The flow guide 70 promotes a relatively smooth redirection of flow from the diffuser 17 such that shock loss is reduced. As shown in Figures 7a, 7b, the flow guide 70 comprises an annular structure beginning at the bottom diffuser plate 17a. The flow guide 70 is co-axial with the central aperture 15. The annular structure extends towards the annular tube 14 and tapers in diameter towards a point x. The taper of the flow guide 70 increases in severity along the length of the flow guide 70, imparting to the flow guide 70 a 'bullet' or 'torpedo' shape. In the shown configuration, the flow guide 70 is integrally formed or in the form of a single continuous part together with the bottom diffuser plate 17a.

    [0051] In some configurations, the flow guide 70 may be horizontally offset from the central aperture 15. In some configurations, the taper of the flow guide 70 may be constant along the length of the flow guide 70. In some configurations, the average taper of the flow guide 70 along the length of the flow guide 70 may be 6 or about 6 degrees. In some configurations, the flow guide 70 may be a separate component from the bottom diffuser plate 17a. The flow guide 70 may be joined with the bottom diffuser plate 17a using other means, including but not limited to the use of adhesives or welding (e.g. high frequency or ultrasonic welding). In some configurations, the flow guide 70 may be attached to the bottom diffuser plate 17a, top diffuser plate 17b, and/or annular tube 14. In some configurations, the flow guide 70 may comprise other shapes, including but not limited to columnar, cylindrical, conical, frustoconical or pyramidal shapes.

    [0052] Additionally, in some configurations, sections of the top diffuser plate 17b defining the central aperture 15 may be bevelled or arcuate instead of flat or sharp. Smoothing the introduction to the central aperture 15 can discourage the formation of flow vortices that lead to shock loss. According to the invention, it is not necessary for the blower/diffuser to have circumferential elements. In one possible embodiment, the blower diffuser will only have planar diffuser elements.

    [0053] The diffuser 17 described in the first embodiment can be utilised in a multistage blower, such as that shown in Figure 8. Some means of diffusion is required between stages and a multistage blower can be used to convert as much dynamic pressure as possible to static pressure so that successive impellers can impart as much additional dynamic pressure as possible. Generally, a multi-stage blower system is capable of much quieter operation than a single-stage blower system, and particularly for a wearable CPAP apparatus, the mitigation of stalling sounds during reverse flow is highly desired because the blower would be much closer to the face than it would be in a non-wearable CPAP system.

    [0054] The multistage blower shown in Figure 8 has the same elements as shown in Figure 1, except that there are multiple impellers and diffusers in series (each stage comprising an impeller and diffuser), with the impeller of each stage coupled to the output shaft of the motor. The diffuser and impeller of each stage have the same configuration as described with reference to Figure 1. In Figure 8, a series of four diffuser/impeller stages are shown, but any suitable number of stages could be provided. As shown, a motor output shaft 5 extends through the housing 10a of the blower 10. A motor 4 is provided at the bottom of the blower 10, as previously described in relation to Figure 1. Stage I comprises an impeller 90a and first diffuser 91a. Airflow passing through the first diffuser 91a exits axially through the top diffuser plate into the bottom plate of the next stage where the impeller 90b of stage II imparts further energy/velocity into the airflow. The airflow passes through the aerofoils of the stage II diffuser 91b into the diffuser element cascades 31 of the stage II diffuser 91b and then out into the impeller 90c of stage III and through the stage III diffuser 91c. This continues through all the stages until the final stage is reached and the diffused air from that stage is passed through the axial outlet 3.

    Axial inlet, radial outlet embodiment



    [0055] In an alternative embodiment, which is not part of the invention, the blower could be in an axial inlet-radial outlet configuration. Referring to Figures 9a, 9b and 9c, the blower 92 comprises a housing 93 including a top plate 94 forming an interior region within the housing. The top plate 94 has a central aperture 95 for axial air input, and an outlet 96 radially extending from the housing. Preferably, the outlet 96 is a symmetrical radial outlet. Namely, the outlet extends radially out along a line "A" extending from the centre of the blower through the perimeter/housing of the blower. This contrasts to a more tangential type outlet which extends from the housing but along a line "B" offset from a centre line extending from the centre of the blower through the perimeter/housing. An annular wall 97 within the housing creates an annular volute 98, from which the radial outlet extends, and a plate 99 with a central aperture 99a is provided for creating an impeller region within the housing and separating the motor from the impeller. The motor shaft extends through the aperture and connects to an impeller that sits in the impeller region. A diffuser ring (annular diffuser support substrate) 100 with diffusion elements e.g. 101a, 101b is situated within the volute 98 within the housing 93. The diffusion ring 100 can be seen in Figures 10a-10c. The diffusion ring 100 comprises (circumferential/ring) diffusion elements e.g. 101a, 101b on the interior surface, the elements/vanes being preferably aerofoil shaped, such as described in the previous embodiment. Several diffuser rings 100 can be stacked vertically 101 within the volute 98. Preferably the diffuser rings 100 are slightly offset (in a similar manner to the planar diffuser elements as described in the previous embodiment) from one another with respect to the elements 101a, 101b to create a sequence of cascading diffuser elements 101 such that moving in an axial direction where each cascade comprises offset elements that spiral in a helical manner around the circumference of the impeller on the inner surface of the rings.

    [0056] In another embodiment they are not separate rings, but rather a single elongated cylinder (which can still be termed a "ring" or annular support substrate) with an inner surface for the elements. This is similar to the arrangement in the first embodiment, but rather than the cascade of diffuser elements 101 being arranged on a flat plate 17a in a horizontal plane, the ring/circumferential diffuser elements can be arranged vertically/axially on the interior of an annular surface created from the inner surface of the stacked diffuser rings 100. The angle between the offset ring diffusion elements 101a, 101b in the stack is preferably around 12° as shown in Figure 10b.

    [0057] During operation the motor rotates the impeller, and the impeller generates an air flow at its perimeter. The high velocity air flow at the parameter is pulled by the Coanda effect to the diffusion elements 101a, 101b on the rings and diffused in a similar manner to that explained in relation to the first embodiment, except only that the flow is diffused axially rather than radially. The axial diffusion creates static pressure and the airflow passes through the radial outlet.

    [0058] Figures 11a, 11b, 11c show forward airflow, with lighter colour showing high velocity air flow, and darker colour showing lower velocity air flow. As can be seen, high velocity dynamic airflow pressure at the inlet is converted to low velocity static airflow pressure at the outlet by way of the diffuser. Figures 11d, 11e show reverse flow.

    Alternative embodiments



    [0059] The embodiments described are not exhaustive of the possible configurations that a blower could take. Cascading (preferably) aerofoil diffuser elements of a given size (on the top of the diffuser plate and/or a diffuser ring arrangement) could take other possible sizes, shapes, or configurations. Having a (preferably) aerofoil diffuser element that is too short, or having too many diffuser elements will reduce the continuity necessary for the Coanda effect to be exhibited, while having an diffuser element that is too long will allow the boundary layer to stagnate to the effect that the Coanda effect will not be seen. Also enough space is required between the diffuser elements to accommodate the movement of reverse flow in order to bring about the redirection effect depicted. While an axial inlet/axial outlet blower could be used with a wearable CPAP device, this is not preferable as it is awkward. An axial inlet-radial outlet (relative to the impeller) blower as described in the second embodiment would be preferred. The feature of the above blower system is separated diffusion elements that can be cascaded, which can be readily implemented in an axial-radial blower system, as described above.

    [0060] The cascading diffuser element configuration could be used in nearly any blower type, including but not limited to axial-inlet axial-outlet, axial-inlet radial-outlet, axial-inlet tangential outlet, radial-inlet radial-outlet, radial-inlet tangential-outlet, tangential-inlet tangential outlet, etc. The teardrop configuration initially discussed dealt with an axial-inlet axial-outlet type blower with diffusion happening when flow moved over the teardrop plate outwardly to inwardly. Many directions of diffusion are possible as long as the cascading diffusion elements are used.

    [0061] The invention is defined by the appended claims and only by these.


    Claims

    1. A blower (10) for a breathing apparatus comprising:

    a housing (10a) with an inlet (2) and outlet (3),

    a motor (4) within the housing (10a) for rotating an impeller (16),

    a diffuser (17) within the housing (10a) between the impeller (16) and outlet (3), the diffuser (17) comprising a plate (17a) with diffuser vanes (30), wherein the diffuser vanes (30) are arranged in cascades (31) on the plate (17a), each cascade comprising a series of diffuser vanes (31a-31c) that spirals towards a centre of the plate (17a),

    wherein a spacing between each cascade (31) increases from narrower to wider as the cascade spirals towards the centre of the plate (17a),

    wherein the diffuser includes a second plate (17b) and the diffuser vanes (30) extend between the plate (17a) and the second plate (17b),

    characterised in that

    the diffuser vanes (30), the plate (17a) and the second plate (17b) are integrally formed.


     
    2. The blower according to claim 1 wherein each diffuser vane (30) is offset from adjacent diffuser vanes in the cascade (31).
     
    3. The blower according to claim 1 or 2 wherein the diffuser vanes (30) include a rounded leading edge (30a) and two opposed curved lateral edges (30b, 30c).
     
    4. The blower according to claim 3 wherein the diffuser vanes (30) are aerofoils.
     
    5. The blower according to any one of claims 1 to 4 further comprising circumferential diffuser elements (20) arranged proximate the perimeter of the diffuser plate (17a) to direct airflow from the perimeter of the impeller (16) to the diffuser vanes (30).
     
    6. The blower according to any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the blower (10) includes an axial inlet (2) for ingress of ambient air, and an axial outlet (3) for outlet of air flow; and the plate (17a) includes a flow guide (70) configured to promote a smooth redirection of flow from the diffuser (17) towards the axial outlet (3).
     
    7. The blower according to claim 6, wherein the flow guide (70) extends from the plate (17a) and tapers in diameter towards a point.
     
    8. The blower according to claim 6 or 7, wherein the axial outlet (3) includes an annular tube (14) extending from a central aperture (15).
     
    9. The blower according to any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein the blower (10) includes multiple diffusers (17) and multiple impellers (16).
     
    10. The blower according to any one of claims 1 to 9, comprising an annular ramped wall (19) around the impeller (16), to reduce flutter.
     
    11. The blower according to claim 10, wherein the plate (17a) includes the annular ramped wall (19).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Gebläse (10) für ein Atemgerät, umfassend:

    ein Gehäuse (10a) mit einem Einlass (2) und einem Auslass (3),

    einen Motor (4) innerhalb des Gehäuses (10a) zum Drehen eines Laufrads (16),

    einen Diffusor (17) innerhalb des Gehäuses (10a) zwischen dem Laufrad (16) und dem Auslass (3), wobei der Diffusor (17) eine Platte (17a) mit Diffusorschaufeln (30) umfasst, wobei die Diffusorschaufeln (30) in Kaskaden (31) auf der Platte (17a) angeordnet sind, wobei jede Kaskade eine Reihe von Diffusorschaufeln (31a-31c) umfasst, die sich in Richtung eines Zentrums der Platte (17a) schraubt,

    wobei sich ein Abstand zwischen jeder Kaskade (31) von schmaler zu breiter erhöht während sich die Kaskade in Richtung des Zentrums der Platte (17a) schraubt, wobei der Diffusor eine zweite Platte (17b) einschließt und sich die Diffusorschaufeln (30) zwischen der Platte (17a) und der zweiten Platte (17b) erstrecken, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Diffusorschaufeln (30), die Platte (17a) und die zweite Platte (17b) integral geformt sind.


     
    2. Gebläse nach Anspruch 1, wobei jede Diffusorschaufel (30) von benachbarten Diffusorschaufeln in der Kaskade (31) versetzt ist.
     
    3. Gebläse nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei die Diffusorschaufeln (30) eine gerundete Vorderkante (30a) und zwei gegenüberliegende gekrümmte laterale Kanten (30b, 30c) einschließt.
     
    4. Gebläse nach Anspruch 3, wobei die Diffusorschaufeln (30) Tragflächen sind.
     
    5. Gebläse nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, das ferner zirkumferenzielle Diffusorelemente (20) umfasst, die nahe dem Umfang der Diffusorplatte (17a) angeordnet sind, um den Luftstrom vom Umfang des Laufrads (16) zu den Diffusorschaufeln (30) zu leiten.
     
    6. Gebläse nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 5, wobei das Gebläse (10) einen axialen Einlass (2) zum Eintritt von Umgebungsluft und einen axialen Auslass (3) zum Auslass von Luftströmung einschließt; und die Platte (17a) eine Strömungsführung (70) einschließt, die ausgelegt ist, eine reibungslose Umleitung der Strömung vom Diffusor (17) in Richtung des axialen Auslasses (3) zu begünstigen.
     
    7. Gebläse nach Anspruch 6, wobei sich die Strömungsführung (70) von der Platte (17a) erstreckt und sich im Durchmesser in Richtung eines Punkts verjüngt.
     
    8. Gebläse nach Anspruch 6 oder 7, wobei der axiale Auslass (3) ein ringförmiges Rohr (14) einschließt, das sich aus einer mittigen Öffnung (15) erstreckt.
     
    9. Gebläse nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 8, wobei das Gebläse (10) multiple Diffusoren (17) und multiple Laufräder (16) einschließt.
     
    10. Gebläse nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 9, das eine ringförmige Rampenwand (19) um das Laufrad (16) herum umfasst, um Flattern zu reduzieren.
     
    11. Gebläse nach Anspruch 10, wobei die Platte (17a) die ringförmige Rampenwand (19) einschließt.
     


    Revendications

    1. Soufflante (10) pour un appareil respiratoire comprenant :

    un boîtier (10a) avec une entrée (2) et une sortie (3),

    un moteur (4) à l'intérieur du boîtier (10a) pour faire tourner une hélice (16),

    un diffuseur (17) à l'intérieur du boîtier (10a) entre l'hélice (16) et la sortie (3), le diffuseur (17) comprenant une plaque (17a) avec des ailettes de diffuseur (30), dans laquelle les ailettes de diffuseur (30) sont agencées en cascades (31) sur la plaque (17a), chaque cascade comprenant une série d'ailettes de diffuseur (31a-31c) qui se déplacent en spirale vers un centre de la plaque (17a),

    dans laquelle un espacement entre chaque cascade (31) augmente d'étroit à large à mesure que la cascade se déplace en spirale vers le centre de la plaque (17a),

    dans laquelle le diffuseur inclut une deuxième plaque (17b) et les ailettes de diffuseur (30) s'étendent entre la plaque (17a) et la deuxième plaque (17b),

    caractérisé en ce que

    les ailettes de diffuseur (30), la plaque (17a) et la deuxième plaque (17b) sont formées d'un seul tenant.


     
    2. Soufflante selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle chaque ailette de diffuseur (30) est décalée des ailettes de diffuseur adjacentes dans la cascade (31).
     
    3. Soufflante selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans laquelle les ailettes de diffuseur (30) incluent un bord d'attaque arrondi (30a) et deux bords latéraux incurvés opposés (30b, 30c).
     
    4. Soufflante selon la revendication 3, dans laquelle les ailettes de diffuseur (30) sont des surfaces portantes.
     
    5. Soufflante selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4 comprenant en outre des éléments diffuseurs périphériques (20) agencés à proximité du périmètre de la plaque de diffuseur (17a) pour diriger le flux d'air du périmètre de l'hélice (16) vers les ailettes de diffuseur (30).
     
    6. Soufflante selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 5, dans laquelle la soufflante (10) inclut une entrée axiale (2) pour l'admission de l'air ambiant, et une sortie axiale (3) pour la sortie du flux d'air ; et la plaque (17a) inclut un guide de flux (70) configuré pour promouvoir une redirection régulière du flux du diffuseur (17) vers la sortie axiale (3).
     
    7. Soufflante selon la revendication 6, dans laquelle le guide de flux (70) s'étend depuis la plaque (17a) et diminue en diamètre vers un point.
     
    8. Soufflante selon la revendication 6 ou 7, dans laquelle la sortie axiale (3) inclut un tube annulaire (14) s'étendant d'une ouverture centrale (15).
     
    9. Soufflante selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 8, dans laquelle la soufflante (10) inclut des diffuseurs multiples (17) et des hélices multiples (16).
     
    10. Soufflante selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 9, comprenant une paroi annulaire inclinée (19) autour de l'hélice (16) pour réduire le flottement.
     
    11. Soufflante selon la revendication 10, dans laquelle la plaque (17a) inclut la paroi annulaire inclinée (19).
     




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    Cited references

    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