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Title:
BREAKAWAY COUPLING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/186806
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A breakaway coupling includes a body and a valve assembly inside the body. The body includes a fluid conduit and a shear groove between first and second portions. The shear groove is designed to crack, break, or separate under certain conditions. The valve assembly is designed to shut off fluid flow through the fluid conduit when the shear groove cracks, breaks, or separates. The valve assembly includes a valve seat, a sealing element, one or more pins, and a biasing member. The one or more pins hold the sealing element in an open position while the shear groove is in tack, and allow the sealing element to move to a closed position (with the help of the biasing member) in the event the shear groove cracks, breaks, or separates.

Inventors:
ROTH, Joseph P. (1675 Hickory Thicket Dr, Milford, Ohio, 45150, US)
CRUM, Michael (320 Marsha Jeanne Way, Dayton, Ohio, 45458, US)
JARNECKE, Dennis R. (7714 Division St, River Forest, Illinois, 60305, US)
WEJDMAN, Krzysztof (Wichrowe Wzgorza 35, Bibice, 32-087 Zielonki, Zielonki, PL)
VENKATACHALAPATHY, Narendar (#603, 2nd Cross 6th Main, 3rd Stage, 3rd Block,Basaveshwaranagar, Karnataka, Bangalor 9, 560079, IN)
Application Number:
US2016/029598
Publication Date:
November 24, 2016
Filing Date:
April 27, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
OPW - ENGINEERED SYSTEMS, INC. (2726 Henkle Drive, Lebanon, Ohio, 45036, US)
OPERATIONS TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (1700 South Mount Prospect Road, Des Plaines, IL, 60018, US)
International Classes:
F16K17/36; B60S5/02; B67D7/04; B67D7/34; F16K17/40; F16K21/04; F16L37/28
Foreign References:
US4872471A1989-10-10
US20130125989A12013-05-23
US20050022883A12005-02-03
US4827977A1989-05-09
US20080099704A12008-05-01
US4691941A1987-09-08
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STRINGHAM, John C. et al. (60 East South Temple, Suite 1000Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A breakaway coupling, comprising:

a body having a first portion, a second portion, a shear groove between the first and second portions, and a fluid conduit extending through the first portion, the second portion, and the shear groove, the shear groove being configured to crack, break, or separate between the first and second portions upon the application of a force above a predetermined threshold; and

a valve assembly disposed at least partially within the first portion of the body and being configured to shut off fluid flow through the fluid conduit when the shear groove cracks, breaks, or separates.

2. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 1, wherein the valve assembly comprises:

a valve seat disposed within the fluid conduit in the first portion of the body; and

a sealing element movably disposed within the fluid conduit in the first portion, the sealing element being movable between an open position and a closed position relative to the valve seat, the open position allowing fluid to flow between the sealing element and the valve seat, the closed position preventing fluid from flowing between the sealing element and the valve seat.

3. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 2, wherein the valve assembly further comprises a biasing member configured to move the sealing element from the open position to the closed position upon the application of the force above the predetermined threshold.

4. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 3, further comprising one or more pins that maintain the sealing element in the open position absent the occurrence of the application of the force above the predetermined threshold that would cause the shear groove to crack, break, or separate between the first and second portions.

5. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 1, wherein the first portion and the second portion each comprise a connection portion configured to connect the breakaway coupling to a fluid system component.

6. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 1 , wherein the shear groove comprises a groove machined in an outer surface of the body between the first portion and the second portion.

7. A breakaway coupling, comprising:

a body having:

a first portion, a second portion, and a shear groove between the first and second portions, the shear groove being configured to crack, break, or separate between the first and second portions upon the occurrence of an impact above a predetermined threshold; and

a fluid conduit extending through the first portion, the second portion, and the shear groove; and

a valve assembly disposed at least partially within the body and being configured to shut off fluid flow through the fluid conduit when the shear groove cracks, breaks, or separates, the valve assembly comprising:

a valve seat;

a sealing element that is movable between an open position and a closed position relative to the valve seat, the open position allowing fluid to flow between the sealing element and the valve seat, the closed position preventing fluid from flowing between the sealing element and the valve seat; one or more pins that maintain the sealing element in the open position absent the occurrence of an impact above the predetermined threshold that would cause the shear groove to crack, break, or separate between the first and second portions; and

a biasing member configured to move the sealing element from the open position to the closed position upon the occurrence of an impact above the predetermined threshold.

8. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, wherein the first portion comprises a connection portion configured to connect the breakaway coupling to a fluid system component.

9. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, wherein the second portion comprises a connection portion configured to connect the breakaway coupling to a fluid system component.

10. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, wherein the shear groove comprises a groove machined in an outer surface of the body.

11. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, wherein the shear groove comprises a ring or tube connecting the first portion and the second portion, the ring or tube having a thickness substantially less than a wall thickness of the first portion or the second portion.

12. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, wherein the valve seat is formed on an interior surface of the body and comprises at least one of a chamfered, beveled, or angled surface.

13. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, wherein the sealing element comprise a spherical member.

14. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 13, wherein the spherical member is formed of a nitrile rubber material and is configured to sealingly engage the valve seat when the sealing element is in the closed position.

15. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, wherein the sealing element comprises a plunger having a plunger face, the plunger face being configured to sealingly engage the valve seat when the sealing element is in the closed position.

16. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, further comprising an O- ring disposed between the sealing element and the valve seat, the O-ring facilitating sealing engagement between the sealing element and the valve seat.

17. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, wherein at least a portion of the sealing element has a shape selected from the group consisting of: spherical, cylindrical, conical, oval, and donut.

18. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 7, wherein the biasing member comprises a compression spring.

19. A breakaway coupling, comprising:

a first portion defining a portion of a fluid conduit extending through the breakaway coupling, the first portion comprising:

a first bridge disposed in the fluid conduit, the first bridge having one or more flow openings that allow fluid to flow therethrough and a pin opening extending therethrough;

a pin slidably disposed in the pin opening;

a sealing element disposed in the fluid conduit and in contact with the pin, the sealing element being movable between an open position and a closed position, the open position allowing fluid to flow through the fluid conduit, the closed position preventing fluid from flowing through the fluid conduit; and a biasing member disposed in the fluid conduit to bias the sealing element toward the closed position;

a second portion defining a portion of the fluid conduit extending through the breakaway coupling, the second portion comprising a second bridge disposed in the fluid conduit, the second bridge having one or more flow openings that allow fluid to flow therethrough and a bridge pin extending therefrom towards the sealing element, the bridge pin being configured to interact with the pin to urge the sealing element to the open position; and

a shear groove connecting the first portion and the second portion, the shear groove defining a portion of the fluid conduit extending through the breakaway coupling, the shear groove being configured to crack, break, or separate between the first portion and the second portion upon the application of a force above a predetermined threshold, the biasing member being configured to move the sealing element to the closed position upon cracking, breaking, or separation of the shear groove to shut off fluid flow through the fluid conduit.

20. A breakaway coupling as recited in claim 19, wherein the shear groove comprises a ring or tube connecting the first portion and the second portion, the ring or tube having a thickness substantially less than a wall thickness of the first portion or the second portion.

Description:
BREAKAWAY COUPLING

[0001] This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Patent Application No. 15/139,126, filed April 26, 2016, entitled BREAKAWAY COUPLING, which claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Patent Application No. 62/187,046, filed June 30, 2015, entitled BREAKAWAY COUPLING, and Indian Patent Application No. 2464/CHE/2015, filed May 15, 2015, entitled BREAKAWAY COUPLING. The entire content of each of the above applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

[0002] Exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure relate to fluid systems. More particularly, exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure relate to breakaway couplings that shut off fluid flow upon the occurrence of predefined conditions.

2. The Relevant Technology

[0003] In many fluid systems, fluids are transferred from one location to another via pipes or other conduits. Due to size, positioning, location, or the like, some portions of such fluid systems may be subject to impacts or other forces that can damage the fluid systems. For instance, a natural gas line may include a below-ground pipe, an above-ground meter (that tracks the amount of natural gas flowing through the line), and a connecting pipe that connect the meter to the below-ground pipe. Due at least in part to the size of the meter and the above-ground position of the meter and the connecting pipe, such connecting pipe and meter can be subject to impacts or other forces that can damage the connecting pipe or other portions of the system.

[0004] Depending on the location and type of fluid system involved, such damage can range from being a nuisance to being highly dangerous. For instance, if the fluid system is transporting pressurized air, damage to the system may result in the uncontrolled release of air into the surrounding environment, which is likely to be harmless in most situations. In the case of damage to a natural gas line, significant amounts of natural gas may be released into the surrounding environment before the leak is detected or shut off. The leaked natural gas may pose a serious danger to nearby humans, animals, structures, environment, and equipment, especially if the natural gas is exposed to a spark or flame. [0005] Accordingly, what is desired is a breakaway coupling that can quickly and reliably shut off the flow of fluid to a damaged portion of a fluid system.

BRIEF SUMMARY

[0006] Exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure relate to a breakaway coupling that can quickly and reliable shut off the flow of fluid to a damaged portion of a fluid system. For example, in one embodiment, a breakaway coupling includes a body and a valve assembly inside the body. The body includes a fluid conduit and a shear groove between first and second portions. The shear groove is designed to crack, break, or separate under certain conditions. The valve assembly is designed to shut off fluid flow through the fluid conduit when the shear groove cracks, breaks, or separates. The valve assembly includes a valve seat, a sealing element, one or more pins, and a biasing member. The one or more pins hold the sealing element in an open position while the shear groove is in tack, and allow the sealing element to move to a closed position (with the help of the biasing member) in the event the shear groove cracks, breaks, or separates.

[0007] These and other objects and features of the present disclosure will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the practice of the disclosed embodiments as set forth hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] To further clarify the above and other advantages and features of the present disclosure, a more particular description will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is appreciated that these drawings depict only typical embodiments and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope, nor are the drawings necessarily drawn to scale. The disclosure will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

[0009] Figures 1A-1C depict a fluid system and the use of an exemplary breakaway coupling therein;

[0010] Figure 2 illustrates a perspective view of an exemplary breakaway coupling according to the present disclosure;

[0011] Figure 3 illustrates a side elevational view of the exemplary breakaway coupling of Figure 2; [0012] Figure 4A is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary breakaway coupling of Figure 2;

[0013] Figure 4B is a cross-section view of the exemplary breakaway coupling of Figure 2 after first and second portions have been separated;

[0014] Figures 5A and 5B illustrate an exploded view and an exploded cross- sectional view of the exemplary breakaway coupling of Figure 2;

[0015] Figure 6A illustrates a cross-sectional view of a first portion of the exemplary breakaway coupling of Figure 2;

[0016] Figure 6B illustrates a another cross-sectional view of the first portion of the exemplary breakaway coupling of Figure 2;

[0017] Figure 6C illustrates a cross-sectional view of the exemplary breakaway coupling of Figure 2 looking towards the first portion thereof;

[0018] Figure 6D illustrates a cross-sectional view of the exemplary breakaway coupling of Figure 2 looking towards a second portion thereof;

[0019] Figure 7A-7B illustrate perspective views of another exemplary breakaway coupling and an installation tool according to another embodiment of the present disclosure; and

[0020] Figure 7C illustrates a cross-sectional view of the exemplary breakaway coupling of Figures 7A-7B.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0021] The present disclosure relates to a breakaway coupling that is designed to preferentially fail under certain conditions and shut off fluid flow therethrough in the event of a preferential failure. According to one embodiment, a breakaway coupling includes a body and a valve assembly inside the body. The body includes a fluid conduit and a shear groove between first and second portions. The shear groove is designed to crack, break, or separate under certain conditions. The valve assembly is designed to shut off fluid flow through the fluid conduit when the shear groove cracks, breaks, or separates. The valve assembly includes a valve seat, a sealing element, one or more pins, and a biasing member. The one or more pins hold the sealing element in an open position while the shear groove is in tack, and allow the sealing element to move to a closed position (with the help of the biasing member) in the event the shear groove cracks, breaks, or separates. [0022] Reference will now be made to the drawings to describe various aspects of exemplary embodiments of the disclosure. It is understood that the drawings are diagrammatic and schematic representations of such exemplary embodiments, and are not limiting of the present disclosure. While the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale, the drawings may be to scale for some embodiments. No inference should therefore be drawn from the drawings as to the dimensions of any embodiment or element, unless indicated otherwise. In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present disclosure. It will be obvious, however, to one of ordinary skill in the art that the present disclosure may be practiced without these specific details.

[0023] With reference first to Figures 1A-1C, a portion of an exemplary embodiment of a fluid system is indicated generally at 100. As used herein, "fluid" is not limited to liquids, but can include a variety of other compositions. For example, the term "fluid," as used herein, may include liquids, gases, liquid-gas combinations, slurries, liquid-solid combinations, gas-solid combinations, and liquid-solid-gas combinations.

[0024] In the exemplary embodiment depicted in Figures 1A-1C, fluid system 100 is a natural gas conveying system. As can be seen in Figure 1A, fluid system 100 includes a connection pipe 102 that is connected to a below-ground natural gas line (not shown). Fluid system 100 also includes a meter 104 that monitors that amount of natural gas that flows through the below-ground natural gas line. Connected between the connection pipe 102 and meter 104 is a breakaway coupling 106. Meter 104 is in fluid communication with the below-ground natural gas line via connection pipe 102 and breakaway coupling 106 to enable meter 104 to monitor the flow of natural gas through the below-ground natural gas line.

[0025] As noted elsewhere herein, a portion of a fluid system, such as meter 104, may be susceptible to forces that can cause damage to the fluid system. For instance, as shown in Figures 1B-1 C, an automobile may collide with meter 104, thereby damaging fluid system 100. Other types of impacts or external forces may also cause damage to fluid system 100. By way of example, a lawnmower may impact a part of fluid system 100, thereby causing damage. Likewise, snow or ice falling from an adj acent building roof may also damage fluid system 100.

[0026] It will be appreciated that the components of fluid system 100 are merely exemplary. By way of example, breakaway coupling 106 may be employed in fluid system that does not include a meter. Rather, for instance, the meter 104 shown in Figures 1A-1 C may be replaced with a different fluid system component, such as an outlet pipe.

[0027] The damage caused to fluid system 100 can vary. If an external object impacts fluid system 100, a portion of fluid system 100 may crack, break apart, or separate. For instance, as shown in Figure IB, fluid system 100 may be impacted by an automobile with sufficient force to create a crack 107 in a portion of fluid system 100. In other situations, such as shown in Figure 1 C, fluid system 100 may be impacted with sufficient force to break or cause a separation in fluid system 100. Under normal circumstances, such cracking or breaking may allow for the release of natural gas (or other fluid) from fluid system 100.

[0028] Breakaway coupling 106, however, is designed for preferential failure and to limit or prevent leakage of fluid from fluid system 100. More specifically, breakaway coupling 106 is designed to fail at a specific location and upon certain occurrences (e.g., impacts or other external forces on fluid system 100 above a predetermined threshold). The preferential failure feature of breakaway coupling 106 is intended to prevent other portions of fluid system 100 from failing (e.g., cracking, breaking) when fluid system 100 is exposed to external forces or impacts. Breakaway coupling 106 also includes a valve arrangement that shuts off the flow fluid in at least a portion of fluid system 100 (e.g., the preferential failure area of breakaway coupling 106) to limit or prevent leakage of fluid from fluid system 100.

[0029] With attention to Figures 2-6D, additional details regarding an example embodiment of breakaway coupling 106 will be provided. As best seen in Figures 2- 5B, breakaway coupling 106 includes a body 108 that has a first portion 1 10, a second portion 1 12, and a shear groove 114 therebetween. As discussed in greater detail below, shear groove 1 14 is designed for preferential failure. That is, shear groove 114 is designed to predictably crack, break, or separate between first and second portions 110, 1 12 when fluid system 100 is exposed to external impacts or forces above a predetermined threshold.

[0030] Body 108 can be configured for connecting to other portions of fluid system 100. For instance, first portion 1 10 includes a connection portion 116 that can be connected to connection pipe 102 (Figure 1A). Connection portion 1 16 may include threads to facilitate connection to connection pipe 102. In the illustrated embodiment, connection portion 116 is designed to have external threads, such that connection portion 1 16 is configured as a male member that can be threadably inserted into a female threaded connection portion on connection pipe 102. In other embodiments, connection portion 1 16 can have other connection features, such as internal threads to make connection portion 1 16 a female connection. In still other embodiments, connection portion 1 16 may be configured to be welded to another component, such as connection pipe 102.

[0031] Similar to first portion 110, second portion 1 12 includes a connection portion 1 18 that can be connected to meter 104 (Figure 1A). Connection portion 1 18 may include threads to facilitate connection to meter 104. In the illustrated embodiment, connection portion 118 is designed to have internal threads, such that connection portion 1 18 is configured as a female member that can have threadably inserted therein a male threaded connection portion on meter 104. In other embodiments, connection portion 1 18 can have other connection features, such as external threads to make connection portion 1 18 a male connection. In still other embodiments, connection portion 1 18 may be configured to be welded to another component, such as a connection portion on meter 104.

[0032] Aspects of shear groove 1 14 are selected in a manner consistent with the intended use and operating conditions for breakaway coupling 106. As noted above, shear groove 1 14 is intended to predictably crack, break, or separate between first and second portions 110, 1 12 when fluid system 100 is exposed to external impacts or forces above a predetermined threshold. Accordingly, geometrical features of shear groove 1 14, such as the size, shape, and/or thickness of shear groove 114, may be determined with reference to such predetermined threshold.

[0033] Shear groove 114 is generally configured to remain materially unaffected by the normal system operating conditions to which it may be exposed. However, when fluid system 100 is exposed to external forces above a predetermined threshold, shear groove 114 will predictably crack, break, or separate between first and second portions 1 10, 112 (as shown in Figures IB, 1C) to prevent other portions (e.g., connection pipe 102) from cracking or breaking.

[0034] Shear groove 114 may be formed in various ways to provide the preferential failures features of breakaway coupling 106. For instance, shear groove 114 may be formed as a machined groove around all or a portion of the circumference of body 108. Although the illustrated embodiment shows shear groove 1 14 as a groove machined into the extemal surface of body 108, shear groove 114 may be a groove machined into the internal surface of body 108.

[0035] Aspects of the groove geometry, such as the length, width and depth, may determine the force threshold at which shear groove 114 will crack, break or separate. Thus, for instance, as illustrated in Figures 4A and 5B, at least a portion of shear groove 1 14 may have a thickness (between internal and extemal surfaces) that is substantially less than the thickness of the rest or other portions of body 108.

[0036] In other embodiments, shear groove 1 14 may take a form other than a groove machined into body 108. For instance, shear groove 114 may take the form of a relatively thin ring or tube welded or brazed over, or onto, adj acent ends of first and second portions 1 10, 112. The relatively thin ring or tube may therefore connect first and second portions 1 10, 1 12 together under normal operating conditions and prior to exposure of fluid system 100 to external forces above a predetermined threshold. Upon exposure of fluid system 100 to external forces above the predetermined threshold, however, the relatively thin ring or tube may preferentially and predictably crack, break, or separate between first and second portions 1 10, 112. Any other arrangement of comparable functionality may alternatively be employed to form or create shear groove 114.

[0037] As can also be seen in Figures 4A and 5B, body 108 at least partially defines a fluid conduit 120 extending through breakaway coupling 106. Disposed at least partially within fluid conduit 120 is a valve assembly that is discussed in greater detail below. Under normal conditions, fluid enters fluid conduit 120 through an opening 122 in first portion 110. The fluid then flows through the portion of fluid conduit 120 within the first portion 110, then through the portion of fluid conduit 120 inside of shear groove 114, through the portion of fluid conduit 120 within second portion 1 12, and finally out of an opening 124 in second portion 1 12. The fluid conduit 120 and the components of the valve assembly can be designed for optimal or desired aerodynamic flow of fluid (e.g., to minimize or limit flow resistance) through breakaway coupling 106. For instance, the size, shape, orientation, and the like of the surfaces of the fluid conduit, flow channels, and valve assembly components can be selected to achieve a desired flow through breakaway coupling 106.

[0038] Under normal operating conditions, the valve assembly allows fluid to flow through fluid conduit 120, and thus through breakaway coupling 106. If, however, fluid system 100 (Figures 1A-1 C) is exposed to extemal forces above a predetermined threshold and shear groove 114 cracks, breaks, or separates between first and second ends 110, 112, the valve assembly closes to limit or prevent fluid from flowing out of the cracked, broken, or separated shear groove 1 14.

[0039] In the illustrated embodiment, the valve assembly includes a sealing element 126 and a seat 128. Sealing element 126 can take a variety of forms. In the illustrated embodiment, for instance, sealing element 126 comprises a spherical member that can be formed of various materials, such as a nitrile rubber. In other embodiments, sealing element 126 may be formed in non-spherical shapes. By way of example, sealing element 126 may be formed in cylindrical, conical, oval, donut, or other shapes. In an example alternative embodiment, sealing element 126 can take the form of a plunger with a plunger face that sealingly engages seat 128. In any event, sealing element 126 can take substantially any form so long as it is able to sealingly engage seat 128.

[0040] In addition or as an alternative to the shape and material used to enable sealing element 126 to sealingly engage seat 128, one or more seals (e.g., O-rings) may be used in conjunction with sealing element 126 to create a sealing engagement between sealing element 126 and seat 128. For instance, an O-ring may be mounted on either seat 128 or on a plunger face of sealing element 126 so that when sealing element 126 moves toward seat 128, the O-ring creates a sealing engagement therebetween.

[0041] As with sealing element 126, seat 128 can take various forms. In the illustrated embodiment, seat 128 comprises a chamfered, beveled, or angled surface formed on the interior of body 108 and is configured to sealingly engage with sealing element 126.

[0042] Under normal operating conditions, sealing element 126 is spaced apart from seat 128 (Figure 4A), thereby allowing fluid to flow therebetween. If shear groove 1 14 cracks, breaks, or separates between first and second ends 110, 1 12, sealing element 126 moves into sealing engagement with seat 128 to limit or prevent additional flow of fluid therebetween, as shown in Figure 4B. As a result, the amount of fluid that is allowed to escape through the cracked, broken, or separated shear groove 1 14 is limited to, at most, the fluid that has already flowed between sealing element 126 and seat 128.

[0043] Sealing element 126 can be held in the open position (Figure 4A) or allowed to move to the closed position (e.g., when sealing element 126 sealingly engages seat 128 as shown in Figure 4B) in various ways. According to the illustrated embodiment, the valve assembly includes a biasing member 130 that biases or urges sealing element 126 toward seat 128 and the closed position. Biasing member 130 is illustrated as a compression spring, but can be any other suitable type of biasing mechanism.

[0044] Biasing member 130 is disposed within fluid conduit 120 and between sealing element 126 and a retention mechanism 132 so as to urge or bias sealing element 126 toward seat 128. Retention mechanism 132 can include a washer 134 that contacts biasing member 130 and a retention ring 136 that prevents axial movement of washer 134 and biasing member 130 in the direction of opening 122. Retention ring 136 can be received and held in a groove 138 formed in the interior surface of body 108. In other embodiments, retention mechanism 132 can take other forms, including soldier, adhesives, cement, clips, brackets, and the like.

[0045] As noted above, sealing element 126 can be held in an open position to allow fluid to flow through fluid conduit 120 prior to shear groove 1 14 cracking, breaking, or separating. Holding sealing element 120 in the open position can be accomplished by overcoming the biasing force of biasing member 130 with a bridge and pin arrangement as described below. The components of the bridge and pin arrangement can be considered part of the valve assembly.

[0046] In the illustrated embodiment, the bridge and pin arrangement includes a first bridge 140 in first portion 1 10 and a second bridge 142 in second portion 1 12. As illustrated in Figure 6C, first bridge 140 has flow openings 144 to allow fluid to flow therethrough. Similarly, as shown in Figure 6D, second bridge 142 has flow openings 146 to allow fluid to flow therethrough. The flow openings 144, 146 can be arranged in various patterns and have varying shapes. For instance, the flow openings 144, 146 can include four wedge shaped openings, as with flow openings 144 shown in Figure 6C. Alternatively, the flow openings 144, 146 can be circular openings. The flow openings 144, 146 can include fewer or more than four openings. Likewise, the flow opening can have a wedge, circular, or any other suitable shape and can be arranged on first and second bridges 140, 142 in any suitable regular or irregular partem.

[0047] According to the illustrated embodiment, first bridge 140 is integrally formed with body 108. For instance, body 108 may be formed of a solid material and the open portions therein may be machined out or otherwise formed therein, thereby leaving bridge 140 therein. The flow openings 144 and a pin opening 148 (described below) may be machined out of or otherwise formed in bridge 140. In other embodiments, first bridge 140 may be formed separately from body 108 and mounted therein, such as in the manner described below regarding second bridge 142.

[0048] Unlike bridge 140, bridge 142 is formed separately from body 108 and mounted therein. More specifically, according to the illustrated embodiment, bridge 142 is formed with a circular disk that is inserted into fluid conduit 120 through opening 124. Bridge 142 is mounted in a fixed axial position within second portion 112. In particular, bridge 142 is held in the fixed position between a shoulder 150 formed in the interior surface of body 108 and a retention ring 152. Retention ring 152 can be received and held in a groove 154 formed in the interior surface of body 108. In other embodiments, retention ring 144 can be replace or augmented with other retention mechanisms, such as soldier, adhesives, cement, clips, brackets, and the like. Shoulder 150 can prevent or limit axial movement of bridge 140 in the direction away from opening 124 and retention ring 144 can prevent or limit axial movement of bridge 140 in the direction toward opening 124. In other embodiments, bridge 142 may be integrally formed with body 108.

[0049] Second bridge 142 can also include or have connected thereto a bridge pin 156. As can be seen in Figures 4A-5B, bridge pin 156 extends towards sealing element 126. Bridge pin 156 is configured to interact with a pin 158 to hold sealing element 126 in the open position as shown in Figure 4 A. Pin 158 is slidably received within pin opening 148 in first bridge 140. Pin 158 includes a head 160 that engages or interacts with sealing element 126. In some embodiments, pin 158 and sealing element 126 may be connected or integrally formed.

[0050] As can be seen in Figure 4A, when breakaway coupling 106 is assembled, bridge pin 156 and pin 158 are aligned with one another such that pin 158 is moved toward opening 122. Pin 158 engages with sealing element 126 such that movement of pin 156 towards opening 122 causes sealing element 126 to also move towards opening 122, thereby allowing fluid to flow through fluid conduit 120. As sealing element 126 moves towards opening 122, biasing member 130 is compressed, thereby storing potential energy.

[0051] When fluid system 100 is impacted or otherwise acted upon by an outside force sufficient to cause shear groove 114 to crack, break, or separate, pins 156, 158 move out of alignment with one another, as shown in Figure 4B. When pins 156, 158 are not aligned with one another, the stored potential energy in biasing member 130 causes biasing member 130 to expand, which pushes sealing element 126 and pin 158 toward second portion 112. Movement of sealing element 126 toward second portion 112 causes sealing element 126 to engage seat 128, as shown in Figure 4B. Biasing member 130 may act upon sealing element 126 with sufficient and continuous force to cause sealing element 126 to sealingly engage seat 128 to limit or prevent fluid from flowing thereby.

[0052] In the illustrated embodiment, bridge pin 156 includes a pointed or tapered tip 162 that interacts or engages pin 158. Although pin 158 is not illustrated with a pointed or tapered tip, pin 158 could also or alternatively include such a tip. Including a pointed or tapered tip on one or both of pins 156, 158 can allow the valve assembly to be more responsive to impacts or external forces on fluid system 100. For instance, if fluid system 100 experiences an impact or external force that is strong enough to cause shear groove 1 14 to merely crack, but not break wide open or completely separate, the pointed or tapered tip 162 may still allow pins 156, 158 to move out of alignment with one another, thereby allowing sealing element 126 to move to the closed position.

[0053] Attention is now directed to Figures 6A and 6B, which illustrate two cross- sectional views of first portion 110 from an axial perspective. As can be seen, the interior surface of body 108 includes alternating ridges 164 and recesses 166. Ridges 164 act as guides for biasing member 130 and sealing element 126. More specifically, ridges 164 limit the amount of radial movement of biasing member 130 and sealing element 126 relative to a longitudinal axis of body 108, while still allowing and guiding biasing member 130 and sealing element 126 as they move axially.

[0054] It will be appreciated that the number and arrangement of ridges 164 may be modified as desired or needed. It will also be understood that guides may extend from biasing member 130 and/or sealing element 126 rather than or in addition to being formed on the interior surface of body 108. For instance, sealing element 126 may include guides extending therefrom that interact with the interior surface of body 108 to center sealing element 126 therein, while still allowing sealing element 126 to move axially through body 108.

[0055] Recesses 166 may be formed in the interior surface of body 108 and may form at least a portion of fluid conduit 120. For instance, fluid may flow through recesses 166 and around biasing member 130 and/or sealing element 126 (at least when sealing element 126 is in the open position).

[0056] Attention is now directed to Figures 7A-7C, while illustrate another embodiment of a breakaway coupling 200 that is similar to breakaway coupling 106 as well as an installation tool 202 that can be used to install breakaway coupling 200. Breakaway coupling 200 can be similar or identical to breakaway coupling 106 in many respects. Accordingly, the following discussion will focus on the features of breakaway coupling 200 that are different than breakaway coupling 106. It will be appreciated, however, that the following features may be incorporated into breakaway coupling 106 and/or the features of breakaway coupling 106 may be incorporated into breakaway coupling 200.

[0057] As with breakaway coupling 106, breakaway coupling 200 includes a body 204 having a first portion 206, a second portion 208, and a shear groove 210 therebetween. The body 204 can include connection portions 212, 214 on opposing ends thereof to enable the body to be connected between components of a fluid system. The connection components 212, 214 may be female or male connection components.

[0058] As with shear groove 1 14, shear groove 210 is designed for preferential failure (e.g., predictably crack, break, or separate between first and second portions 206, 206) when fluid system is exposed to extemal impacts or forces above a predetermined threshold. Breakaway coupling 200 also includes a valve assembly therein that is similar or identical to the valve assembly in breakaway coupling 106 and which is designed to stop the flow of fluid through breakaway coupling 200 when shear groove 210 fails.

[0059] In the illustrated embodiment, body 204 may be formed (e.g., machined) from a bar stock that has a hexagonal cross-sectional shape. As a result, connection component 214 has a hexagonal outer cross-sectional shape. The hexagonal shape of connection component 214 can facilitate installation of breakaway coupling 200. For instance, the hexagonal shape enables an installation tool (such as tool 202 or a wrench) to securely hold and/or turn connection component 214 during installation.

[0060] First portion 206 may also include exterior surfaces that facilitate installation of breakaway coupling 200. In the illustrated embodiment, for instance, first portion 206 includes opposing flat surfaces 216. As with the hexagonal shape of connection component 214, the opposing flat surfaces 216 enables an installation tool (such as tool 202 or a wrench) to securely hold and/or turn connection component 214 during installation.

[0061] Figures 7 A and 7B illustrate an example installation tool 202 that can be used to install breakaway coupling 200. As illustrated, installation tool 202 has a generally C-shaped cross-section with open ends and an open side. More specifically, tool 202 includes opposing legs 218, 220 connected together by a side wall 222. The open side of tool 202 is opposite to side wall 222 and allows tool 202 to receive breakaway coupling 200 therein. The open ends allow the ends of breakaway coupling 200 to extend out of tool 202 when breakaway coupling 200 is longer than tool 202.

[0062] In the illustrated embodiment, the interior surfaces of opposing legs 218, 220 are spaced apart a first distance along a first length of tool 202 and a second distance along a second length of tool 202. More specifically, opposing legs 218, 220 include interior surfaces 224, 226 that are spaced apart to allow first portion 206 of breakaway coupling 200 to be received therebetween. The distance between interior surfaces 224, 226 may correspond to the distance between opposing surfaces 216 so that tool 202 can grip first portion 206 during installation of breakaway coupling 200. Similarly, opposing legs 218, 220 include interior surfaces 228, 230 that are spaced apart to allow second portion 208 of breakaway coupling 200 to be received therein. The distance between interior surfaces 228, 230 may correspond to the distance between opposing surfaces of second portion 208 so that tool 202 can grip second portion 208 during installation of breakaway coupling 200.

[0063] Specific attention is now directed to Figure 7C, which illustrates a cross- sectional view of breakaway coupling 200. Extending through breakaway coupling 200 is a fluid conduit 232. Disposed within fluid conduit 232 is a valve assembly that is substantially similar or to identical to the valve assembly in breakaway coupling 106. One notable distinction between breakaway couplings 106 and 200 is that breakaway coupling 200 includes guide ridges 234 that are formed separate from body 204. In the illustrated embodiment, guide ridges 234 are connected to retention ring 236. As with ridges 164, guide ridges 234 act as guides for biasing member 238 and sealing element 240. As with recesses 166, the area between guide ridges 234 forms at least a portion of fluid conduit 232, thereby allowing fluid to flow around biasing member 238 and sealing element 240. [0064] Another distinction between breakaway couplings 106 and 200 is that the first bridge 242 of breakaway coupling 200 is formed separate from body 204, whereas the first bridge 140 of breakaway coupling 106 is integrally formed with body 108. In the illustrated embodiment, first bridge 242 can be inserted into fluid conduit 232 through the open end in second portion 208. First bridge 242 may be held in place with a retention ring, friction fit, welding, adhesive, or the like. First bridge 242 may also be held in place with pin 244. More specifically, pin 244 may have a retention ring 246 disposed thereon that presses and hold first bridge 242 in place within fluid conduit 232. Similar to breakaway coupling 106, breakaway coupling 200 includes a bridge pin 248 that urges the pin 244 towards the sealing element 240 to open fluid conduit 232. In addition to urging sealing element 240 to the open position, the interaction between pin 244 and bridge pin 248 also urges retention ring 246 of pin 244 against first bridge 242 to help maintain first bridge 242 in place.

[0065] The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.