Water cooler abstract
A thermoelectric water cooler or freezer including a thermoelectric
assembly having P-type and N-type semiconductor material connected
by junction bridges on their hot and cold junction sides. Heat exchange
means are connected to the hot junctions and heat exchange means
may be connected to the cold junction sides. The cold junction or
the heat exchange means associated with the cold junctions, such
as fins, extend upwardly and are adapted to be submerged in the
water to be cooled or frozen. If an ice freezer is desired, the
water is cooled until it freezes to a predetermined thickness on
the fins, at which time the electrical current through the thermoelectric
assembly is either interrupted or reversed for a short time allowing
the fin temperature to rise and release the ice which then floats
to the surface of the water where it is available for use.
Water cooler claims
What is claimed is:
1. A thermoelectric water cooling or freezing assembly comprising
semiconductor bodies of P-type and N-type semiconductor material
each having hot and cold sides of predetermined area with similar
sides adapted to be connected in series by junction bridges to form
thermocouples, said junction bridges including thin sheet metal
portions disposed edgewise with respect to the associated semiconductor
body with one edge in conductive contact with the associated side
of the semiconductor body and with the other edge adapted to be
associated with heat exchange means to the surrounding media, characterized
in that an individual heat exchange means is associated with each
cold junction bridge, said heat exchange means facing upwardly and
adapted to freeze at least one ice cube and container means are
provided to hold water in heat exchange with each of said heat exchange
2. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 1 wherein said junction
bridges comprise a pair of said thin sheet metal portions, one connected
to a P-type semiconductor body and the other to an N-type semiconductor
body and connecting means for interconnecting the thin sheet metal
portions to form junction bridges and connect the semiconductor
bodies in series.
3. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 1 wherein the individual
cold junction heat exchange means comprise aluminum with fins and
wherein the aluminum on at least the cold junction side is treated
to prevent electrolytic action.
4. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 3 wherein the aluminum
fins on the cold side face upwards and are tapered for quick release
of ice frozen on the same after the current to the thermoelectric
assembly is reversed or interrupted.
5. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 2 wherein the connecting
means for interconnecting the sheet metal elements are formed from
the same sheet metal from which the sheet metal elements are formed.
6. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 1 wherein the thin sheet
metal portions disposed edgewise to the surface of the semiconductor
bodies are supported by a non-conductive structure in the form of
insulation directly engaging both sides of said thin metal portions.
7. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 6 wherein said non-conductive
structure is sealed and forms the bottom of said water holding means.
8. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 7 wherein the thin sheet
metal portions protrude out of the sealed non-conductive insulation
structure for direct contact with water.
9. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 2 wherein the thin sheet
metal portions disposed edgewise to the surface of the semiconductor
bodies are supported by a non-conductive structure with the other
edge and the connecting means protruding out of the non-conductive
structure for direct contact with the water for cooling or ice freezing.
10. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 9 wherein said thin sheet
metal portions and connecting means form a cup or container volume
for cooling or freezing of water.
11. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 2 wherein the thin metal
portion disposed edgewise to the surface of the semiconductor bodies
are supported by a non-conductive structure with said connecting
means extending past the non-conductive structure for direct contact
with the water.
12. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 11 wherein said connecting
means is a flat metal plate.
13. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 11 wherein the connecting
means is a single tapered post or fin.
14. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 9 wherein said cold junction
bridge elements and connecting means are treated to prevent electrolytic
15. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 2 wherein the hot junction
bridge elements connecting means is substantially wrapped around
heat exchange means.
16. A thermoelectric assembly as in claim 15 wherein said heat
exchange means is a continuous ceramic heat conductive pipe treated
in sections to allow connecting means to be thermally affixed thereto.
Water cooler description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to thermoelectric assemblies
and more particularly to a water cooler or freezer incorporating
a thermoelectric heat pump assembly.
There has been a need for a simple, inexpensive water cooler or
ice freezer, particularly for use in the office or home. Presently,
such water coolers and freezers employ compressor systems, are inefficient
and expensive to operate. Of particular utility is a water cooler
and freezer which can be used in connection with bottled water.
The present invention employs thermoelectric assemblies where the
junction bridges are in the form of sheet metal strips disposed
edgewise with respect to the surface of the hot and cold junctions
of the semiconductor body. Such an assembly comprises junction bridges
either in the form of a sheet metal strip placed edgewise and provided
with a P-type body and one N-type body, or the junction bridges
can be in the form of two sub-couples each provided with a junction
bridge element in the form of a sheet metal strip placed edgewise
and connected with only one semiconductor body. The two sub-couples
are then connected to each other to form a junction bridge. A thermoelectric
assembly, thermoelectric couples and thermoelectric subcouples of
this type are described in our copending application Ser. No. 533258
filed Dec. 16 1974 and now U.S. Pat. No. 3943553.
OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF INVENTION
It is a general object of the present invention to provide a thermoelectric
assembly for water cooling or freezing having low thermal losses
between the hot and cold sides of the assembly.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a thermoelectric
assembly having maximum heat transfer between the cold junction
bridges and the water for efficient water cooling and rapid freezing
even at low temperature differences between the water and the cold
It is another object of the present invention to provide a water
cooler or freezer assembly which has minimum losses to the surrounds.
It is a furthr object of the present invention to provide an ice
freezer in which ice freezing takes place at high fin temperatures
and the corresponding temperature of the cold side of the semiconductor
bodies will remain only a few degrees Centigrade below freezing
which means high efficiency and coefficient of performance with
high freezing capacity in relation to input power.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide
a thermoelectric ice cooler or freezer with automatic release of
the ice from the surface on which it is frozen without the use of
It is still another object of the present invention to provide
an ice freezer in which freezing of new ice pieces is automatically
limited to the number of pieces that are able to be contained in
the ice storage vessel and that when the vessel is full of ice pieces,
these existing ice pieces will restrict releasing of new pieces.
The foregoing and other objects of the invention are achieved by
a thermoelectric water cooler or freezer which includes a thermoelectric
assembly having a plurality of thermocouples including bodies of
P and N-type semiconductor material interconnected by flat hot and
cold junction bridge elements disposed edgewise to the associated
surfaces of the bodies. Heat exchange means connected to the cold
junction side or the junction itself are directed upwardly to be
submerged in the water which is to be cooled or frozen to conduct
heat from the medium to the cold junctions and through the bodies
to the hot junctions.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
FIG. 1 is a partial view in perspective, partly in section, of
a plurality of rows of thermoelectric sub-couples connected in series
to form a thermoelectric assembly with the semiconductor bodies
and other parts of the electric circuit embedded in an insulating
FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate how two sub-couples in series are formed
from a single sheet of metal by cutting and bending the metal so
that a metal connector is formed between two sub-couples.
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of an ice freezer including a single
module of the type shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 5 is a sectional view of a water cooler comprising six rows
of modules of the type shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 6 shows a suitable electrical circuit for use with the thermoelectric
assembly of the water cooler or freezer.
FIG. 7 shows a sectional view of a row of thermoelectric sub-couples
connected in series to form a thermoelectric assembly with the semiconductor
bodies and other parts of the electric circuit embedded in an insulating
structure with the upper portion of the cold junction bridge elements
and their electrical connector in the shape of a cup with tapered
sides for ice freezing and where the connector between the hot side
junction bridge elements is cooled by a heat dissipating liquid.
FIG. 8 is a sectional view of an ice freezer-water cooler including
rows of modules of the type shown in FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 shows a thermoelectric assembly as in FIG. 7 in which the
cups are rounded.
FIG. 10 is a sectional view of a row of thermoelectric sub-couples
connected in a series to form a thermoelectric assembly where only
the electrical connecting means between the edgewise disposed vertical
cold junction bridge elements protrude from the sealed structural
non-conductive insulation material.
FIG. 11 is a thermoelectric assembly as in FIG. 10 in which the
bridge elements are freezing posts.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 1 shows a plurality of semiconductor bodies 11 of one conductivity
type and a plurality of semiconductor bodies 12 of opposite conductivity
type. The bodies are of P-type and N-type thermoelectric semiconductor
material and each body represents part of a thermoelectric sub-couple.
Each body 11 and 12 has opposite faces 13 and 14 16 and 17. The
faces 13 14 and 16 17 are connected to junction bridge tabs or
elements 18 19 and 21 22 respectively. The tab or element may
be a portion of a junction bridge element which is made of sheet
material and disposed at substantially right angles with respect
to the face of the semiconductor body as shown at 23 24 and 26
27 respectively. The junction bridge elements are made of conductive
sheet metal, preferably soft nickel-plated copper. Each junction
bridge element is provided with the tab 18 19 and 21 22 which
extends at right angles and is secured to the respective surfaces
13 14 and 16 17 respectively. The tab secured to the surface
has substantially the same area as the surface of the semiconductor
body whereby to minimize heat loss by heat interchange between tabs
across the semiconductor body.
The semiconductor sub-couples, including the material 11 together
with the connecting junction bridge elements, are joined on thier
cold side to the semiconductor sub-couples, including the material
12 by a conductive strap 31 electrically connected between the
two. The hot junction sides of the sub-couples 12 and 11 are interconnected
by a conductive strip 32 whereby the sub-couples, including material
11 12 are serially connected in a semiconductor thermoelectric
assembly with the cold junction sides connected to the upwardly
extending semiconductor bridge elements 24 27 and the hot junction
sides connected to the downwardly extending conductive bridge elements
23 26. D.C. electric current is applied to the assembly by connecting
to the element 24 or 23 of the first sub-couple and to the element
26 or 27 respectively, of the last sub-couple such as shown schematically
in FIG. 6 whereby the d.c. current passes serially through the
semiconductor material 11 and 12 of the assembly.
Referring particularly to FIG. 6 there is shown input terminals
36 which may be connected to an a.c. power source to apply the power
to an a.c.-to-d.c. converter 37 which provides a d.c. currrent output
to the switch 38. The switch 38 is adapted to connect the d.c. current
to the serially connected semiconductor elements via leads 39. A
timer 41 is associated with the input and serves to control the
switch 38 as will be presently described. As is well known, rather
than having an a.c.-to-d.c. converter, the power source may be d.c.
directly either from batteries or from a d.c. power source.
The bridge elements 24 27 on the cold junction side of the semiconductor
assembly are each thermally connected to aluminum fins, such as
fins 42 and 43 extending outwardly from a base 44 and thermally
connected to the junction bridge elements 24 and 27 as by screw
45. The bridge elements 23 26 on the hot junction side are likewise
connected to a heat exchange fin assembly which in this instance
includes fins 46 47 and 48 extending outwardly from a base member
49 and adapted to be thermally connected to sub-couples 23 26 by
a screw 50.
The upwardly and downwardly extending fins serve to provide a means
for heat exchange between the surrounds and the fins whereby heat
is transferred from one set of fins to the other via the thermoelectric
When used as a water cooler or freezer in accordance with the present
invention, the upwardly extending fins 42 43 are entirely submerged
in the water to be cooled whereby to remove heat from the water
and transfer it to the het dissipating fins 46 47 and 48 via the
action of the thermoelectric heat pump formed by the thermoelectric
assembly. To prevent electrolytic processes, the aluminum fins are
anodized or otherwise suitably treated before being connected to
the sub-couples 24 27.
The tips or upper portions of fins 42 and 43 are topped by a thermally
non-conductive plastic material 34 which prevents water frozen in
formed cups 74 from freezing together into a solid cake. The space
between the rows of upard facing fins is separated by a similar
non-conductive material 35. The space 74 formed between fins 42
and 43 and plastic separator 35 is, therefore, a contained space
where an individual piece of ice will form. When the ice piece is
released by the rise of temperature in fins 42 and 43 the ice floats
upward and water immediately takes its place to be frozen as the
temperature of fins 42 and 43 is again lowered.
The central part or core of the assembly shown in FIG. 1 containing
the semiconductors and the junction bridge elements joined by the
connectors represents the electric circuit and is embedded in a
structure 51 of insulating material such as foam insulation, which
material serves to support the assembly and form the top and bottom
of the same. According to the invention, the exposed parts of the
structure between the aluminum base plate 44 of the fins and the
top and bottom of the assembly are covered or filled with a water-proof
plastic compound such as epoxy 52 which prevents water from entering
the inside of the assembly. This top portion of the assembly forms
the corresponding bottom of the water container when the assembly
is used as a water cooler or freezer.
Referring particularly to FIGS. 2 and 3 there is shown an assembly
which forms from a single piece of metal, the sub-couple junctions
24 27 and the interconnecting member 31 or the sub-couples 23
26 and their interconnecting member 32 from a single piece of sheet
material. This member is formed from a single piece of material
by cutting, stamping and bending. Referring to FIG. 2 the member
is cut to the shape shown including, for example, a portion 24 and
a portion 27 forming the junction bridge element, a portion 19 and
a portion 22 defining the tabs and a portion 31 defining the interconnecting
member. Slits 53 are formed in the junction element 24 while slits
54 are formed in the junction element 27. The cut-out sheet is then
bent as shown in FIG. 3 to form the tabs 19 22 the junction bridge
elements 24 27 the interconnecting element 31 with the upwardly
extending portions of the elements for connection to the associated
cooling fins. The depth of slits 53 and 54 enable junction bridge
elements 27 and 24 to protrude up into grooves 28 and 29 respectively,
in base plate 44 maximizing thermal connection. The screw 45 may
be considered unnecessary if the fit of junction bridges 27 and
24 is snug enough to assure a tight fit. A hole 56 may be formed
in the connector 31 to provide means for securing the fins to the
assembly by means of a screw 45 such as shown in FIG. 1. It is apparent
that the same structure can form tabs 18 21 bridge elements 23
26 and interconnecting element 32.
There has been provided a compact, easily constructed, well protected,
strong and highly efficient thermoelectric heat pump assembly.
FIG. 4 illustrates how the assembly of FIG. 1 is used for a water
cooler or freezer. The assembly is placed at the bottom of a water
container 61 which is suitably secured and sealed to the edge and
end portions of the assembly whereby it may be filled with the water
62 to a level such as shown at 63 and which completely submerges
the upwardly extending heat exchange fins 42 43. The container
61 may be a plastic or metal container which is suitably sealed
to the thermoelectric assembly by means of epoxy or the like.
The container 61 is completely surrounded by insulating material
64 of suitable thickness which minimizes heat transfer from the
water 62 to the surrounds. The outer surface of the insulating material
64 is protected by a housing 66. A top insulating cap 67 may fit
within the housing 66 and rest on top of the insulating material
64 to completely enclose the water. The lower portion of the container
66 extends downwardly and is provided with supports 68. The lower
portion of the housing serves to mount an air circulating means
69 such as a fan, which causes air to circulate past the heat dissipating
fins 46 47 and 48 as shown by the arrows 71. A faucet 72 may be
provided to withdraw cold water from the cooler.
As previously described, the top surface of the thermoelectric
assembly is suitably sealed by an epoxy or the like where the insulating
material 51 is sealed. The housing, of course, will also serve to
house the electrical system illustrated in FIG. 6 whereby to provide
power for the thermoelectric assembly and also power to the fan
69 as shown in FIG. 6.
The water cooler or freezer shown in FIG. 4 operates in the following
manner. When d.c. current is applied to the thermoelectric assembly
and the container 61 is filled with water to a level above the fins,
such as indicated by the level line 63 the thermoelectric assembly
acts as a heat pump cooling the fins 42 below the freezing point.
As the water temperature adjacent the fins is lowered, the surface
of the fins is covered with a thin sheet of clear ice 73 which continues
to grow as power is applied. The freezing absorbs heat from the
water, which heat together with the heat generated by the electric
current is dissipated by the fins 46 47 and 48 to the surrounding
air. After a predetermined time, a predetermined amount of ice 73
is formed on the fins. Current is then either interrupted with the
result that the heat from the surrounding air is leaked through
the assembly to bottom fins 42 43 thereby melting the ice adjacent
the fins and allowing the ice 73 to float upwardly to the surface.
Preferably, a timer such as shown in FIG. 6 is included which serves
to reverse the direction of current to more rapidly heat the fins
and release the ice. When ice is required, the insulating top 67
is removed and the individual floating ice pieces can be obtained
by use of spoon, fork or the like.
An important feature of the present invention is that the ice is
automatically released from the fins by the interruption or reversal
of current to the heat lamp pump assembly and no mechanical means
are required for release of the ice. By the use of slightly inclined
fin surfaces, the time required for release of ice is considerably
shortened thereby conserving on energy.
FIG. 5 shows a row of six of the thermoelectric heat pump assemblies
just described. These are disposed in a housing 81. As before, there
is provided a water container 82 which is suitably sealed to the
assembly and is adapted to hold the water 83 to a level such as
shown at 84. The water container 82 is surrounded by insulating
material 80 disposed between the container and housing 81. As before,
the housing serves to support the assembly and at the bottom of
the housing a fan 85 is provided for circulating air past cooling
fins 46 47 and 48 to dissipate heat to the surrounds. A suitable
insulated cap 86 is provided at the top. The housing also includes
a support 89 adapted to receive a water bottle 87 which extends
downwardly with its mouth at the water level 84. Cooled water can
be removed from the container 82 by means of a suitable faucet 88
and as the water level 84 drops below the mouth of the bottle, additional
water flows into the container thereby maintaining the level until
the bottle is empty. The thermoelectric assemblies are suitably
secured to one another and sealed whereby to provide the bottom
for the water container 82. Again, a suitable power supply such
as shown in FIG. 6 is associated with the water cooler. However,
in this instance, the circuit may be simplified since a timer is
not required for the release of ice. On the other hand, the container
may be taller and the assembly may provide for both ice freezing
and water cooling as desired.
FIG. 7 shows a thermoelectric assembly having maximum heat transfer
between the cold junction bridges and the water for maximum efficiency
in water cooling and freezing. The water is in contact with the
cold junction bridge and freezes within the confines of the bridge
itself. The assembly consists of a plurality of semiconductor bodies
91 of one conductivity type and a plurality of semiconductor bodies
92 of opposite conductivity type. The bodies are of P-type and N-type
thermoelectric semiconductor material and each body represents part
of a thermoelectric sub-couple. Each body 91 and 92 is connected
to the extremities of vertical elements 101 102 and 103 104 respectively.
The elements are substantially parallel with respect to the face
of the semiconductor bodies and have substantially the same width
as the semiconductor bodies. The elements are arranged whereby they
do not have any interfacing surfaces beyond the semiconductor bodies.
The semiconductor sub-couples, including the material 91 together
with the connecting junction bridge elements 101 and 103 are joined
on their cold side to the semiconductor sub-couples, including the
material 92 by a conductive sheet metal piece 97 made from similar
material as the vertical elements and electrically connected between
the two elements 101 and 103 to form the junction bridge. The hot
junction sides of the bodies 91 and 92 are connected with vertical
elements 102 104 and in electrical contact with each respectively.
Thereby, the sub-couples including semiconductor bodies 91 92 are
serially connected in a semiconductor thermoelectric assembly with
the cold junction sides connected to the upwardly extending conductive
bridge elements 101 103 and the hot junction sides connected to
the downwardly extending conductive bridge elements 102 104.
The upward facing vertical elements 101 and 103 are slanted to
form inclined surfaces. The vertical elements 101 and 103 are joined
together by a sheet metal piece 97 which forms the bottom of a cup.
The enclosed portions of elements 101 103 form the side walls of
the cup respectively. The cup that is formed in this manner when
closed at the front and back by a suitable plastic material 108
is capable of containing water for cooling or freezing. The elements
101 103 are bent inclined so that when the ice formed is released,
it is easily released. The space between the inclined surfaces is
provided with heat insulating walls 108 to define individual ice
cups which will provide ice cubes.
The thermoelectric assembly is designed to be placed at the bottom
of a vessel containing water such as is illustrated in FIG. 8. The
upwardly facing cups are automatically filled by liquid in the vessel
and cooling or freezing can take place. Heat is removed from the
water contained in the junction bridge cup itself whereby to transfer
it to the hot junction side of the thermoelectric assembly via the
action of the thermoelectric heat pump formed by the thermoelectric
The hot junction side of the assembly is in the form of downward
facing elements 102 and 104 and a connecting strap 98 which is wrapped
substantially around a ceramic non-electrical but thermal conductive
pipe 105 made from a material such as aluminum-oxide or beryllium-oxide.
The elements 102 and 104 similar to elements 101 and 103 increase
in width from their minimum width at the top where they contact
the semiconductor bodies 91 and 92 gradually to their maximum width
at the lower portion where they are connected by strap 98. The ceramic
pipe 105 is in a known manner metallized on the outside in sections
so that the connecting strap 98 is soldered on the inside to the
outside of the ceramic pipe 105 thereby reducing to a minimum any
thermal resistance. Cooling liquid 106 flows in the pipe 105 to
absorb heat from the fluid being frozen together with the heat generated
by the electric current in the thermoelectric heat pump. It may
be advantageous from a manufacturing point of view to have the heat
dissipating means run parallel to the direction of the row of cups
or electrical circuits. FIG. 7 shows the heat dissipating ceramic
pipe 105 with attached electrical connectors 98 assembled perpendicular
to the direction of the row of cold junction cups. The hot junction
bridge elements 102 and 104 can easily be reoriented to allow the
heat dissipating means to lay in the same vertical plane and parallel
to the electical circuit as is shown in FIG. 8. In the alternative,
the pipe may run in the direction shown in FIG. 7.
The cold junction elements 101 and 103 where they form freezing
surfaces for the water, do not necessarily have to be flat to form
roughly rectangular ice cubes with slightly tapered sides, but they
can also be rounded to completely surround the freezing area such
as shown at 103a and 101a, FIG. 9 to form rounded ice cubes. In
that case, the connecting piece 97a can be a round flat disc forming
the bottom of the cup. The sides of the round cup are tapered outward
to allow for easy release of the round ice cubes. In FIG. 9 rows
of cold junction bridge cups are shown having a freezing post 109.
The freezing post 109 is soldered or in other ways in maximum thermal
contact with the connecting strip or disc 97a. The freezing post
greatly reduces the freezing time required to form each ice cube.
The post 109 should be tapered to allow for immediate release of
the ice when the current is either interrupted or reversed. The
cold junction cups with or without the freezing post are preferably
chromed on the inside to avoid excessive oxidation.
FIG. 10 shows a thermoelectric assembly with a plurality of semiconductor
bodies connected in series with vetical elements 112 113 114 and
115 positioned edgewise with respect to the face of the semiconductor
bodies. The vertical elements 112 and 114 are joined electrically
on the cold side by a metal conductor 111 which metal conductor
111 protrudes out of the sealed structural insulation material 118
and 120. The conductor may be a flat metal piece 111 FIG. 10 or
may be a solid post 110 FIG. 11 made from a like material as elements
112 and 114. The lower portions of elements 112 and 114 are no wider
than the semiconductor bodies 116 and 117 but increase in width
towards the top to allow a better thermal contact with conductor
111 or 110 but it is most important that the least amount of area
be exposed to the hot junction elements 113 and 115 even though
insulation material 120 surrounds the elements.
The hot side or junction and heat dissipating means are identical
to those described in FIG. 1 with the junction bridge cut out of
one piece of sheet metal as described in FIG. 2 and bent as described
in FIG. 3 and attached to heat dissipating aluminum fins as described
in FIG. 1. The electrical hook-up is identical to that of FIG. 6.
In FIGS. 10 and 11 the freezing surface or cooling surface is the
connecting piece of the junction bridge itself. The spaces between
the cold junction bridges are filled with an electrically and thermally
non-conductive material 118. The non-conductive material 118 prevents
the individual pieces from freezing together into one solid flat
cake of ice. The ice or cooling of water takes place on the junction
bridge itself and has maximum heat transfer between the cold junction
bridge and the water.
When an assembly uses only flat connectors 111 then the thermoelectric
assembly described in FIG. 10 may be placed either flat or at any
angle in contact with a liquid. When the assembly is submerged,
ice floats to the top, regardless of angle.
A freezing post such as in FIG. 11 is preferably used when the
assembly is intended to be submerged in a horizontal position. The
tapered post 110 can be attached to the middle of a flat conductor
111 and then ice is frozen on top of plate 111 and around post 110.
This provides more rapid freezing.
As previously described, FIG. 8 shows how the assembly of FIG.
7 is used for a water cooler of an ice maker. Only one row is shown
out of several parallel similar rows in the thermoelectric assembly.
The assembly is placed at the bottom of a water container which
is suitably secured and sealed to the edge and end portions of the
assembly whereby it may be filled with the water 132 to a level
as shown at 131 and which completely submerges the upwardly facing
junction bridge cups and also submerges the lower edge of an inclined
plane 135 which is placed in such a position as to permit the skimming
of the individual ice pieces along the surface and gently push them
up out of the water. A means is shown whereby blades 136 used for
skimming the cubes are mechanically arranged so that the blades
skim across the surface of the floating ice water mixture in one
direction and dips down deep enough to engage at least one layer
of ice cubes. The skimmer may be activated by a hand crank 137 and
turned only as long as to attain the desired quantity of ice cubes,
or known means may be arranged whereby an electrical motor will
activate the skimmer when electrical switch 138 is activated. The
depth of the water vessel allows for a large amount of stored ice
pieces. By storing the ice floating in water in the vessel and only
removing the pieces as required, the water temperature remains very
close to the freezing point. As a result, once the ice maker has
cooled down the initial supply of water and produced three or four
sets of ice, the ice maker can be said to have reached its state
of equilibrium and from that point on ice freezing is very rapid.
When a quantity of ice is removed, the water level drops and as
a result fresh water is introduced into the tank through valve 140
which is actuated by a float 141. This float mechanism and water
inlet is separated from the main water and ice storage vessel by
the vessel wall; however, several small holes 133 allow free passage
of water between the two chambers. The reason for keeping the float
mechanism separated from the main tank is that ice pieces cannot
contact the float mechanism. The fresh water that is introduced
through the small holes 133 does not raise the temperature of the
water unless almost all of the ice has been removed. The result
is that the thermoelectric heat pump assembly works with very small
temperature differences which is ideal from a theoretical thermoelectric
point of view and the coefficient of performance far exceeds those
of compressor or absorption refrigeration means.
The water vessel or reservoir 130 is provided with a faucet 134
for draining. Filling takes place as described via valve 140 controlled
by float body 141. It is necessary to maintain the salt and mineral
content of the water within tolerable limits. As freezing takes
place, salt and other minerals are rejected by the freezing water,
and the concentration of salt and minerals in the water increases.
If the water is used as a source for a drinking fountain and water
is regularly used, then the problem of salt and mineral concentration
is of negligible concern. Otherwise, the freezer must be drained
when the concentration increases.
FIG. 8 shows arrangement of the heat dissipating ceramic pipe attached
to an inlet header 147 and outlet header 148 connected to a drain
via pipe 149. The headers 147 and 148 need not be ceramic. Header
147 is attached to main cold water supply.
Thus, there has been provided a thermoelectric water cooler and/or
ice freezer with storage means and whereby individual ice pieces
automatically float up and away from their freezing location. Means
are provided for removing the ice from its storage vessel when desired.
Means are provided for automatically filling when the level of the
water drops. The water cooler and ice freezer works at a higher
coefficient of performance than conventional freezing or cooling
means. It is simple in design and economical in construction.