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Title:
HEAT EXCHANGER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/201401
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A machine (1) for making and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid food products comprises a container (102) for the product to be dispensed, a dispenser (103), a stirrer (105), a thermal system (2) having a circuit with a heat exchanger fluid flowing through it and including, along the circuit, a compressor (201), a condenser (202), a pressure reducing element (4), an evaporator (3) which includes an inlet aperture (307) for the heat exchanger fluid, a discharge aperture (308) for the heat exchanger fluid, a first tubular element (301) and a second tubular element (302), the second tubular element (302) being disposed inside the first tubular element (301) to define an annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid; the evaporator comprises a first collector ring (5), coaxial with the second tubular element (302) and externally in contact with the second tubular element (302) to define a collector chamber (505); the evaporator also comprises a collector aperture (506) in communication with the collector chamber (505) and with the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

Inventors:
KLØFT HENRIK (DK)
Application Number:
DK2019/000141
Publication Date:
October 24, 2019
Filing Date:
April 24, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KLOEFT HENRIK (DK)
International Classes:
A23G9/22; A23G9/28
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017214357A22017-12-14
WO2010151390A22010-12-29
WO2013070450A12013-05-16
Foreign References:
EP3384781A12018-10-10
EP2277386A22011-01-26
US20120137719A12012-06-07
EP3095332A12016-11-23
CN104848602A2015-08-19
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A machine (1 ) for making and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid food products, comprising:

- a container (102) for the product to be dispensed;

- a dispenser (103) which is connected to the container (102) and which can be turned on and off to allow or inhibit dispensing of the product from the container (102);

- a stirrer (105) rotatable about a respective axis of rotation (R) and mounted inside the container (102) to mix the product being processed;

- a thermal system (2) having a circuit with a heat exchanger fluid flowing through it and including, along the circuit:

- a compressor (201 );

- a condenser (202);

- a pressure reducing element (4);

- an evaporator (3) operatively associated with the container (102) of the product to be dispensed and including an inlet aperture (307) for the heat exchanger fluid, a discharge aperture (308) for the heat exchanger fluid, a first tubular element (301 ) and a second tubular element (302) coaxial with the first tubular element (301 ); the second tubular element (302) extending mainly along an axial direction parallel to the axis of rotation (R) and being disposed inside the first tubular element (301 ) to define an annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid between an outside surface of the second tubular element (302) and an inside surface of the first tubular element (301 );

characterized in that the evaporator (3) comprises a first collector ring (5) coaxial with the second tubular element (302) and externally in contact with the second tubular element (302), the first collector ring (5) defining a collector chamber (505) and also comprising a collector aperture (506) in communication with the collector chamber (505) and with the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid to allow fluid communication between the collector chamber (505) and the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

2. The machine (1 ) according to claim 1 , wherein the first collector ring (5) comprises a cylindrical wall (501 ), a first radial wall (502) and a second radial wall (503), the first radial wall (502) and the second radial wall (503) being in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element (302) to define the collector chamber (505).

3. The machine (1 ) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the first collector ring (5) comprises an additional collector aperture to form a plurality of collector apertures (506).

4. The machine (1 ) according to claim 3, wherein the plurality of collector apertures (506) is formed on the second radial wall (503) of the first collector ring (5) and the apertures are equispaced to allow the refrigerant fluid to be uniformly distributed.

5. The machine (1 ) according to any one of claims 2 to 4, wherein the inlet aperture (307) is disposed on the cylindrical wall (501 ) of the first collector ring (5).

6. The machine (1 ) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein a first axial end (305A) of the first tubular element (301 ) is in contact with a second radial wall (503) of the first collector ring (5).

7. The machine (1 ) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a second collector ring (6) to form a plurality of collector rings (5, 6), each having a respective collector chamber (505, 605) and a respective collector aperture (506, 606).

8. The machine (1 ) according to claim 7, wherein the second collector ring (6) is located upstream of the first collector ring (5) along a flow of the heat exchanger fluid directed from the inlet aperture (307) of the thermal system (2) to the discharge aperture (308) of the thermal system (2).

9. The machine (1 ) according to claim 8, wherein a second axial end wall (602) of the second collector ring (6).

10. The machine (1 ) according to any one of claims 7 to 9, wherein the second collector ring (6) comprises an additional collector aperture to form a plurality of collector apertures (606) formed on the first radial wall (602) of the second collector ring (6) and wherein the discharge aperture (308) is disposed on the cylindrical wall (601 ) of the second collector ring (6).

11. The machine (1 ) according to any one of claims 7 to 10, comprising a turbulence ring (7), coaxial with the second tubular element (302) and externally in contact with the second tubular element (302), the turbulence ring (7) defining a turbulence chamber (705) and wherein the first tubular element (301 ) comprises a first stretch (301 A), in contact with the first collector ring (5) and with the turbulence ring (7) to define a first portion (303A) of the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid, and a second stretch (301 B) in contact with the second collector ring (6) and with the turbulence ring (7) to define a second portion (303B) of the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

12. The machine (1 ) according to claim 11 , wherein a first radial wall (702) of the turbulence ring (7) comprises a first turbulence aperture (706A), in communication with the turbulence chamber (705) and with the first portion (303A) of the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid, and wherein a second radial wall (703) of the turbulence ring (7) comprises a second turbulence aperture (706B), in communication with the turbulence chamber (705) and with the second portion (303B) of the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

13. The machine (1 ) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the stirrer (105) is disposed on the outside of the first tubular element (301 ) to mix a fluid in contact with an outside surface of the first tubular element (301 ).

14. The machine (1 ) according to any one of claims 1 to 12, wherein the stirrer (105) is disposed on the inside of the second tubular element (302) to mix a fluid in contact with an inside surface of the second tubular element (302).

15. A method for making and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid food products in a machine (1 ) for making and dispensing food products, comprising the following steps:

- holding the product in a container (102);

- mixing the product being processed inside the container (102) with a stirrer (105);

- thermally conditioning the product to be dispensed with a thermal system (2) which has a heat exchanger fluid flowing inside it and which includes a compressor (201 ), a condenser (202), a pressure reducing element and an evaporator (3) associated with the container (102) which holds the product to be dispensed;

characterized in that the step of thermally conditioning comprises a first step of collecting in which a first collector ring (5) defining a collector chamber (505) and having a collector aperture (506), receives the heat exchanger fluid, holds it temporarily in the collector chamber (505) and places it in fluid communication, through the collector aperture (506), with an annular chamber (303) which circulates the heat exchanger fluid in the evaporator (3) and which is in contact with the container (102).

16. The method according to claim 15, comprising a second step of collecting in which a second collector ring (6) receives the heat exchanger fluid, holds it temporarily in the respective collector chamber (605) and places it in fluid communication, through the respective collector aperture (606), with an annular chamber (303) which circulates the heat exchanger fluid.

17. The method according to claim 16, wherein the first step of collecting is a step of distributing, in which the first collector ring (5) receives the heat exchanger fluid from the pressure reducing element (204) through an inlet aperture (307) of the evaporator (3), and distributes it in the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid, and wherein the second step of collecting is a step of discharging, in which the second collector ring (6) receives the heat exchanger fluid in the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid and conveys it towards the compressor (201 ) through a discharge aperture (308) of the evaporator (3).

18. The method according to any one of claims 15 to 17, wherein the step of thermally conditioning comprises a step of induced turbulence, in which a turbulence ring (7) receives the refrigerant fluid through a first turbulence aperture (706A) from a first portion (303A) of the annular chamber (303) for circulating the heat exchanger fluid, located between the first collector ring (5) and the turbulence ring (7), and returns it through a second turbulence aperture (706B) into a second portion (303B) of the annular chamber, located between the turbulence ring (7) and the second collector ring (6).

Description:
DESCRIPTION

Attached to an application for an INDUSTRIAL INVENTION patent under the title:

“HEAT EXCHANGER”

*******

This invention relates to a machine for making and dispensing liquid and semi-liquid food products. A machine for making and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid food products is a machine designed to prepare substances which are used for the production, purely by way of example, of products such as ice cream, sorbets, soft ice cream, chilled patisserie products and granitas. In particular, such machines must have two basic properties: on the one hand they must be able to make the product being processed available and, on the other, they must be able to condition the product.

The machine thus has a container to hold the product being processed. Accessibility of the product is generally obtained through a dispensing mouth made on the container and controlled by a dispenser. The dispenser, controlled manually or automatically, may allow or inhibit dispensing of the product through the dispensing mouth.

The product conditioning could be mechanically and thermally. Mechanical conditioning is achieved by means of a stirrer. Usually, the stirrer is in sliding contact with at least part of the inside surface of the container in order to prevent the product from building up or freezing thereon.

Thermal conditioning, on the other hand, is fundamental to the preparation of the product, whether hot or cold. Thermal conditioning is achieved by designing an exchanger configured to exchange heat with the product being processed inside the container. More specifically, in preferred machines, the heat exchanger absorbs heat from the product being processed in order to cool it and give the right consistency to the end product to be dispensed. To allow cooling the product being processed, the machine comprises a refrigeration system. Known in the trade are refrigeration systems of several kinds which are more or less adaptable to specific machine requirements. In this regard, we can briefly refer to dry expansion refrigeration systems or refrigeration systems with flooded evaporators. Whatever the case, all refrigeration systems contain a heat exchanger fluid, specifically a refrigerant fluid, which circulates in the refrigeration system. The refrigerant fluid performs a refrigerating cycle by flowing sequentially through a compressor, which increases its pressure, a condenser, which extracts heat from it to return it to the liquid state, a pressure reducing element, which reduces its pressure, and lastly, an evaporator, in which the refrigerant fluid receives heat from its surroundings (in the case of the machine, it receives heat from the product being processed) and returns to the gaseous state.

The evaporator thus comprises a container, in which is contained the product to be cool and a chamber in which is contained the refrigerant fluid.

Known in the trade are machines which are used to make liquid or semi- liquid food products and which comprising a helical coil disposed inside the annular chamber. In this configuration, the refrigerant fluid is forced into the helical path. This solution, although it increases the heat exchange surface, has two major drawbacks. On the one hand, load loss is increased on account of the reduced cross section of the passageway for the refrigerant fluid and, on the other, heat exchange efficiency is further reduced because the refrigerant fluid in the coil undergoes progressive heating which leads to non-uniform heat exchange even along the circumferential direction.

This invention has for an aim to provide a machine for making and dispensing liquid and semi-liquid food products to overcome the above mentioned disadvantages of the prior art.

This aim is fully achieved by the machine for making and dispensing liquid and semi-liquid food products according to this disclosure as characterized in the appended claims.

According to one aspect of this description, a machine for making and dispensing liquid and semi-liquid food products comprises a container for the product to be dispensed.

In one embodiment, the container comprises a filler opening. The filler opening is configured to allow filling the container with product to be processed when necessary.

In one embodiment, the machine comprises a dispenser. The dispenser is connected to the container. The dispenser can be turned on or off to allow or inhibit dispensing of the product from the container. The dispenser has an 'on' position and an 'off position. In one embodiment, the machine comprises a dispensing mouth. The dispensing mouth is a point of access to the space inside the container. In the on position, the dispenser opens the dispensing mouth and places it in communication with the outside atmosphere to enable the product to be dispensed. In the off positon, the dispenser closes the dispensing mouth so that the product cannot be dispensed.

The machine comprises a stirrer. The stirrer is configured to mix the product in the container. In one embodiment, the stirrer is rotatable about a respective axis of rotation. The stirrer is mounted inside the container to mix the product being processed. In one embodiment, the stirrer is a rotary blade. In one embodiment, the stirrer is a translating stirrer.

The machine comprises a thermal system.

In one embodiment, the thermal system is a refrigeration system.

In one embodiment, the thermal system is a refrigeration system which performs a dry expansion cycle. In one embodiment, the thermal system is a refrigeration system which works with a flooded evaporator.

The thermal system comprises a circuit with a heat exchanger fluid flowing through it. The thermal system comprises a compressor along the circuit. The thermal system comprises a condenser along the circuit. The thermal system comprises a pressure reducing element along the circuit. The thermal system comprises an evaporator along the circuit.

In one embodiment, the thermal system comprises a phase separator. In one embodiment, the heat exchanger fluid is a refrigerant fluid.

The evaporator is associated with the container. By "associated" is meant that the evaporator might be part of the container or have some parts in common therewith.

The evaporator comprises an inlet aperture. The inlet aperture is configured to allow the heat exchanger fluid from the pressure reducing element to flow into it.

The evaporator comprises a discharge aperture. The discharge aperture is configured to allow the heat exchanger fluid to be discharged in the direction of the compressor.

In one embodiment the evaporator comprises a first tubular element. In one embodiment the evaporator comprises a second tubular element. The second tubular element is coaxial with the first tubular element. The second tubular element is smaller in diameter than the first tubular element. In one embodiment, the first tubular element extends mainly along an axial direction parallel to the axis of rotation of the stirrer. In one embodiment, the second tubular element extends mainly along an axial direction parallel to the axis of rotation of the stirrer.

In one embodiment, the second tubular element is disposed inside the first tubular element to define an annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid. The annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid is formed between the inside surface of the first tubular element and the outside surface of the second tubular element.

In one embodiment, the evaporator comprises a first collector ring. The first collector ring is coaxial with the second tubular element. The first collector ring is externally in contact with the second tubular element. The term "externally" means that the first collector ring is in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element. In one embodiment, the first collector ring defines a collector chamber. In one embodiment the collector ring may comprise four walls and may be hollow. In another embodiment, the collector ring may comprise three walls disposed in the shape of a C. It should be noted that the term "ring" should not be understood as limiting the scope of protection to a single component made as one piece. The ring might also be made up of a plurality of components acting in conjunction with each other and with other parts of the machine to perform the function of a collector chamber. For this purpose, the embodiment where the ring is composed of only two walls extending in a plane which has at least one component along the direction perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the stirrer is also intended to fall within the scope of protection.

In one embodiment, the first collector ring comprises a collector aperture. In one embodiment, the collector aperture is in communication with the collector chamber and with the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid to allow fluid communication between the collector chamber and the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid. In one embodiment, the first collector ring comprises a cylindrical wall. The first collector ring comprises a first radial wall. The first collector ring comprises a second radial wall.

It should be noted that by the term "radial" is not meant a wall that is necessarily perpendicular to an axial direction parallel to the axis of rotation of the stirrer but a wall whose projection onto a plane perpendicular to the axis of rotation is not zero. In other words, the set of radial walls includes all those walls which are inclined to a plane perpendicular to the axis of rotation at an angle smaller than or greater than ninety degrees.

In one embodiment, the first and second radial walls are in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element to define the collector chamber. In that embodiment, the collector chamber is delimited by the respective inside surfaces of the cylindrical wall and of the first and second radial walls, and by the outside surface of the second tubular element. It is specified that in the embodiment where the first radial wall and the second radial wall of the ring are not joined to the cylindrical wall, the collector chamber is delimited by the respective inside surfaces of the first radial wall, of the second radial wall and of the first tubular element and by the outside surface of the second tubular element.

The first collector ring allows distributing the heat exchanger fluid in optimal manner in the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

The embodiments disclosed, characterized in that the distance between the first and the second tubular element is very small, further allow to reduce the refrigerant fluid quantity, reducing consequently the costs related to it.

Moreover, the small amount of the refrigerant fluid usefully enables a very quick control of the temperature of the refrigerant fluid itself.

The evaporator, as it has been described, further presents the substantial advantage of an easy manufacturing. In fact, during the manufacturing step, high tolerance are limited to the collector ring.

In one embodiment, the first collector ring comprises an additional collector aperture. The additional collector aperture and the collector aperture together form a plurality of collector apertures.

In one embodiment, the plurality of collector apertures is formed on the second radial wall of the first collector ring. In another embodiment, the plurality of collector apertures is formed on the first radial wall of the first collector ring. In one embodiment, the flow cross section of the plurality of collector apertures extends in a direction which has at least one component that is perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the stirrer.

In one embodiment, the plurality of collector apertures is equispaced to allow the refrigerant fluid to be uniformly distributed. Thanks to this feature, the properties of the heat exchanger fluid in the evaporator at a certain position, along a direction parallel to the axis of rotation are uniform along the entire circumferential extension of the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the inlet aperture of the evaporator is disposed on the cylindrical wall of the first collector ring. In an embodiment in which the ring is made up of the first and the second radial wall, which are separate from each other, the inlet aperture is formed on the first tubular element.

The first tubular element comprises a first axial end and a second axial end.

In one embodiment, the first axial end of the first tubular element is in contact with the second radial wall of the first collector ring. In another embodiment, in which the first collector ring comprises only the first radial wall and the second radial wall, the first and second radial walls of the first collector ring are in contact with the inside surface of the first tubular element and with the outside surface of the second tubular element to define the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the machine comprises a second collector ring. In this embodiment, the machine comprises a plurality of collector rings. In one embodiment, one or more of all the features described for the first collector ring also apply to the second collector ring and, more generally speaking, to each collector ring of the plurality.

In one embodiment, the second collector ring is located downstream of the first collector ring along a flow of the heat exchanger fluid directed from the inlet aperture of the thermal system to the discharge aperture of the thermal system.

In one embodiment, the second axial end of the first tubular element is in contact with the first radial wall of the second collector ring. In another embodiment, in which the second collector ring comprises only the first radial wall and the second radial wall, which are separate from each other, the first and second radial walls of the second collector ring are in contact with the inside surface of the first tubular element and with the outside surface of the second tubular element to define the collector chamber of the second collector ring.

In one embodiment, the second collector ring comprises an additional collector aperture. In this embodiment, the second collector ring comprises a plurality of collector apertures.

In one embodiment, the plurality of collector apertures of the second collector ring are formed on the first radial wall of the second collector ring. In one embodiment, the plurality of collector apertures of the second collector ring is formed on the second radial wall of the second collector ring.

In one embodiment, the first collector ring and the second collector ring in the machine are operatively disposed in such a way that they are rotated by a flat angle (180°) relative to each other.

In one embodiment, the discharge aperture of the evaporator is disposed on the cylindrical wall of the second collector ring.

In another embodiment, in which both the first and the second collector rings comprise only the first and the second radial wall, respectively, the inlet and discharge apertures are disposed on the first tubular element. In this embodiment, the inlet aperture is formed at an axial position of the first tubular element which corresponds to the collector chamber of the first collector ring. In this embodiment, the discharge aperture is formed at an axial position of the first tubular element which corresponds to the collector chamber of the second collector ring.

In one embodiment, the machine comprises a turbulence ring. The turbulence ring is coaxial with the second tubular element. In one embodiment, the turbulence ring is externally in contact with (the outside surface of) the second tubular element. The turbulence ring defines a turbulence chamber.

In one embodiment the first tubular element comprises a first stretch. The first stretch of the first tubular element is in contact with the first collector ring and with the turbulence ring to define a first portion of the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment the first tubular element comprises a second stretch. The second stretch of the first tubular element is in contact with the second collector ring and with the turbulence ring to define a second portion of the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, a first radial wall of the turbulence ring comprises a first turbulence aperture. The first turbulence aperture is in communication with the turbulence chamber and with the first portion of the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, a second radial wall of the turbulence ring comprises a second turbulence aperture. The second turbulence aperture is in communication with the turbulence chamber and with the second portion of the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the turbulence ring comprises a first plurality of turbulence apertures disposed on the first radial wall of the turbulence ring. In one embodiment, the turbulence ring comprises a second plurality of turbulence apertures disposed on the second radial wall of the turbulence ring.

In one embodiment, the first plurality of turbulence apertures and the second plurality of turbulence apertures are disposed along a circumference of the turbulence ring at different circumferential positions. This forces the fluid to follow a circumferential path which increases its turbulent motion and thus its heat exchange efficiency. In other words, when it enters the first plurality of turbulence apertures in an axial direction, the heat exchanger fluid does not meet the second plurality of turbulence apertures but the second wall of the turbulence ring. To be able to continue flowing, the heat exchanger fluid is thus forced to undergo a circumferential displacement which allows it to reach the second plurality of turbulence apertures through which it can again flow in an axial direction towards the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

In other embodiments, the first plurality of turbulence apertures and the second plurality of turbulence apertures are disposed along a circumference of the turbulence ring at the same circumferential positions. This characteristic allows to reduce the pressure losses. In one embodiment, the machine comprises a plurality of collector rings. In one embodiment, the machine comprises a plurality of turbulence rings. The presence of the plurality of turbulence rings confers the evaporator an high strengthening which allows it to work with very high pressure od the refrigerant fluid. This characteristic is reflected in the possibility to exploit the refrigeration system upon a larger range of physic parameters (such as pressure and temperature) to reach also the trans critical refrigerant cycle (that, for instance, allows the use of the CO2 as refrigerant fluid).

In one embodiment, the stirrer is disposed on the outside of the first tubular element to mix a fluid in contact with an outside surface of the first tubular element.

In another embodiment, the stirrer is disposed on the inside of the second tubular element to mix a fluid in contact with an inside surface of the second tubular element.

In one embodiment, the machine comprises an actuator.

In one embodiment, the machine comprises a control unit. The control unit is configured to control the components of the machine as a function of working data. The working data can, in one embodiment, be entered by the user from a user interface.

In one embodiment, the machine comprises a seal system connected to the first tubular element and to the stirrer.

The seal system is configured to allow the stirrer to receive motion from the actuator while maintaining the seal inside the second tubular element which the stirrer rotates in.

In one embodiment, the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid is less than 1 mm in diameter. In one embodiment, the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid is between 1 mm and 1.2 mm in diameter. In one embodiment, the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid is greater than 1.2 mm in diameter.

For diameter of the annular chamber we would intend the radial extension of the annular chamber along the radial direction. According to one aspect of this description, this disclosure provides a method for making and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid food products. Preferably, the method relates to the production of cold or iced liquid or semi-liquid food products such as ice cream, sorbets, soft ice cream, chilled patisserie products and granitas. In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of holding the product in a container.

In one embodiment, the method comprises of step of preparing a thermal system including a compressor, a condenser, a pressure reducing element and an evaporator associated with the container which holds the product to be dispensed.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of mixing the product being processed inside the container with a stirrer.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of thermally conditioning the product to be dispensed with a thermal system which has a heat exchanger fluid flowing inside it and which includes a compressor, a condenser, a pressure reducing element and an evaporator associated with the container which holds the product to be dispensed.

In one embodiment, the step of thermally conditioning the product is a step of cooling the product. In another embodiment, the step of thermally conditioning the product is a step of heating the product.

In one embodiment, the step of thermally conditioning the product comprises a first step of collecting. In this first step of collecting, a first collector ring defining a collector chamber and having a collector aperture, receives the heat exchanger fluid in the collector chamber. In this first step of collecting, the first collector ring holds the heat exchanger fluid temporarily in the collector chamber. In this first step of collecting, the first collector ring allows a fluid communication, through the collector aperture, between the collector chamber of the first collector ring and an annular chamber which circulates the heat exchanger fluid and which is in contact with the container. In one embodiment, in the first step of collecting, the first collector ring performs a step of diverting the flow. In this step of diverting the flow, the first collector ring receives the heat exchanger fluid in a radial direction perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the stirrer and places it in communication with the chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid in an axial direction parallel to the axis of rotation of the stirrer.

This step of diverting makes for a more uniform distribution of the heat exchanger fluid, thereby increasing the efficiency of the system.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a second step of collecting. In this second step of collecting, a second collector ring receives the heat exchanger fluid. In this second step of collecting, the first collector ring holds the heat exchanger fluid temporarily in the respective collector chamber. Through the respective collector aperture, the second collector ring places the collector chamber in fluid communication with the annular chamber which circulates the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the first step of collecting is a step of distributing. In this step of distributing, the first collector ring receives the heat exchanger fluid from the pressure reducing element in the radial direction through an inlet aperture of the evaporator. In this step of distributing, the first collector ring distributes the heat exchanger fluid in the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid. In one embodiment, in this step of distributing, the first collector ring distributes the heat exchanger fluid in the axial direction in the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the second step of collecting is a step of discharging. In this step of discharging, the second collector ring receives in the axial direction the heat exchanger fluid in the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid. In this step of discharging, the second collector ring conveys the heat exchanger fluid towards the compressor through a discharge aperture of the evaporator.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of induced turbulence. In one embodiment, the step of induced turbulence is included in the step of thermally conditioning. In the step of induced turbulence, a turbulence ring receives the refrigerant fluid through a first turbulence aperture. In one embodiment, in the step of induced turbulence, a turbulence ring receives the refrigerant fluid through a first turbulence aperture from a first portion of the annular chamber for circulating the heat exchanger fluid, located between the first collector ring and the turbulence ring. In one embodiment, in the step of induced turbulence, the turbulence ring returns the heat exchanger fluid through a second turbulence aperture into a second portion of the annular chamber, located between the turbulence ring and the second collector ring.

This and other features will become more apparent from the following description of a preferred embodiment, illustrated by way of non-limiting example in the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 illustrates a machine for making and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid food products;

Figure 1A illustrates the machine of Figure 1 and shows also a pre- mixing tank;

Figure 2 schematically represents the layout of a dry expansion refrigerating system;

Figures 3A and 3B are, respectively, a first perspective view and a second perspective view of an evaporator of the machine of Figure 1 ;

Figures 4A and 4B are, respectively, a first side view and a second side view of the evaporator of Figure 3A;

Figure 5 shows a detail of a collector ring of the evaporator of figure 3A;

Figure 5A shows a cross-section of an embodiment of the evaporator according to the invention;

- Figure 5B shows a cross-section of an embodiment of the evaporator according to the evaporator of figure 3A;

Figures 5C shows a detail of a turbulence ring of the figure 5A or

5B; Figure 6 shows a cross section of the evaporator of Figure 3A rotated by a right angle relative to the cross section of Figure 5;

Figure 6A shows a detail of the cross section of Figure 6;

Figure 7 shows an exploded view of the evaporator of Figure 3A;

Figure 7A illustrates a first collector ring, a second collector ring and a turbulence ring;

Figure 8 illustrates an embodiment of the evaporator of Figure 3A.

Figure 9 illustrates an embodiment of the evaporator.

With reference to the drawings, the numeral 1 denotes a machine for making and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid food products. The products may also be cold or iced products such as, by way of non-limiting example, granitas, ice creams, sorbets, chilled patisserie products or soft ice creams.

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a frame 101.

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a container 102. The container 102 is configured to hold the product being processed before it is dispensed to a user. In one embodiment, the container 102 is cylindrical in shape. In this embodiment, the container 102 has an axis of symmetry S.

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a dispenser 103. In one embodiment, the dispenser 103 is connected to the container 102. The dispenser 103 has two operating positions: an 'on' position, in which it enables the product to be dispensed, and an 'off position, in which it prevents the product from being dispensed.

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a dispensing mouth. The dispensing mouth 104 is in communication with the outside atmosphere and with an internal space 102' inside the container 102. The dispensing mouth 104 is connected to the dispenser 103. In the on position of the dispenser 103, communication between the internal space 102' inside the container 102 and the outside atmosphere is enabled. In the off position of the dispenser 103, communication between the internal space 102' inside the container 102 and the outside atmosphere is inhibited.

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a stirrer 105. In one embodiment, the stirrer 105 is configured to rotate about a respective axis of rotation R inside the container 102. In one embodiment, the axis of rotation of the stirrer 105 and the axis of symmetry S of the container 102 coincide. In one embodiment, the stirrer 105 comprises a blade keyed to a shaft. The stirrer 105 is configured to mix the product being processed and prevent it from forming encrusted, frozen blocks.

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises an actuator 106. The actuator 106 is configured to drive the stirrer 105. In one embodiment, the actuator 106 is an electric motor which is engaged with the shaft of the stirrer 105 to transmit torque to the stirrer 105.

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a control unit 107 configured to control the components of the machine 1 as a function of working data entered by a user.

In one embodiment, the control unit 107 is connected to the actuator 106. In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a user interface.

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises at least one sensor 108. In one embodiment, the at least one sensor 108 is configured to check that product is effectively dispensed when the dispenser 103 is turned on. In one embodiment, the at least one sensor 108 is configured to check that product is effectively dispensed when the stirrer 105 is turned on. In one embodiment, the control unit 107 is connected to the at least one sensor 108.

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a pre-mixing tank 109. The pre-mixing tank 109 is connected to the container 102 by means of a filler pipe 109'. The filler pipe 109' leads into the container 102 through a filler opening 109".

In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a mixer 110. The mixer 1 10 is configured to mix the product inside the premixing tank 109 before being transferred into the container 102. In one embodiment, the machine 1 comprises a thermal system 2. The thermal system 2 contains a heat exchanger fluid which circulates inside the thermal system 2 itself. In one embodiment, the thermal system is a refrigeration system 2 in which a refrigerant fluid circulates.

Hereinafter, the "heat exchanger fluid" will be referred to as "refrigerant fluid" and the "thermal system" will be referred to as "refrigeration system 2". It is understood that use of these terms is not intended to limit the scope of protection afforded by this disclosure in that what is described is only an embodiment of the thermal system and of the heat exchanger fluid.

The drawing shows a standard refrigerating cycle. In this case, too, this is not intended as limiting the system represented in the drawing but only as an example of a thermal system. The refrigeration system 2, in other embodiments known to a person of average skill in the art, might be an absorption refrigeration system, a dry expansion system or a flooded evaporator system.

In one embodiment, the refrigeration system 2 comprises a compressor

201. The compressor 201 is configured to increase the pressure of the refrigerant fluid.

In one embodiment, the refrigeration system 2 comprises a condenser

202. The condenser 202 extracts heat from the refrigerant fluid and allows the latter to condense. The condenser 202 is located downstream of the compressor 201 in a circulation direction V of the refrigerant fluid.

In one embodiment, the refrigeration system 2 comprises a phase separator 203. The phase separator 203 is configured to separate the liquid phase from the non-condensed phase. The phase separator 203 is located downstream of the condenser 202 in the circulation direction V of the refrigerant fluid.

In one embodiment, the refrigeration system 2 comprises a pressure reducing element 204. In one embodiment, the pressure reducing element 204 is a throttle valve 204A. The pressure reducing element 204 is located downstream of the compressor 201 in a circulation direction V of the refrigerant fluid.

In one embodiment, the refrigeration system 2 comprises an evaporator 3. The evaporator 3 is configured to remove heat from the product being processed.

In one embodiment, the container 102 is associated with the evaporator 3. In one embodiment, the evaporator 3 and the container 102 have some parts in common. In one embodiment, the container 102 and the evaporator 3 coincide. In one embodiment, the container 102 is part of the evaporator 3.

In one embodiment the evaporator 3 comprises a first tubular element

301. The first tubular element 301 extends mainly along an axial direction parallel to the axis of symmetry S of the container 102.

In one embodiment the evaporator 3 comprises a second tubular element

302. The second tubular element 302 extends mainly along an axial direction parallel to the axis of symmetry S of the container 102. In one embodiment, the second tubular element 302 is smaller in diameter than the first tubular element 301.

The second tubular element 302 is disposed inside the first tubular element 301 to define an annular chamber 303 for circulating the heat exchanger fluid (hereinafter "annular circulation chamber 303").

In one embodiment the second tubular element 302 coincides with the container 102 of the machine 1.

In one embodiment, the evaporator 3 comprises an inlet aperture 307 configured to allow the refrigerant fluid from the pressure reducing element 204 to flow into it.

In one embodiment, the evaporator 3 comprises a discharge aperture 308 configured to allow the refrigerant fluid to flow out of the evaporator 3.

The machine 1 comprises a seal system 4.

In one embodiment, the second tubular element 302 comprises an actuator opening 302A. The actuator opening 302A allows the shaft of the stirrer 105 to pass through and to be connected to the actuator 106. In one embodiment, the actuator opening 302A is configured to house the seal system 4 which is in turn keyed to the shaft of the stirrer 105 or to the shaft of the actuator 106.

In one embodiment, the filler opening 109" is formed on the second tubular element 302 to allow filling the container 102 (of the second tubular element 302) with product being processed.

In one embodiment, the evaporator 3 comprises a first collector ring 5.

In one embodiment, the first collector ring 5 is a single, integral component. In other possible embodiments, the first collector ring 5 may be made up of a plurality of parts which are not integral before assembly but which, in use, perform the same function as an integral ring. This embodiment is described further down with reference to Figure 8.

In one embodiment, the first collector ring 5 comprises a cylindrical wall 501. In one embodiment, the first collector ring 5 comprises a first radial wall 502. In one embodiment, the first collector ring 5 comprises a second radial wall 503.

In one embodiment, the first radial wall 502 and the second radial wall 503 of the first collector ring 5 each have a respective lower cylindrical edge 502', 503'. In this embodiment, the first collector ring 5 has the shape of a C in which the first radial wall 502 and the second radial wall 503 are connected to the cylindrical wall 501.

In another embodiment, not illustrated in the accompanying drawings, the ring may comprise a further cylindrical wall to connect the first radial wall and the second radial wall at the respective ends of them opposite to those connected to the cylindrical wall 501.

In one embodiment, the first collector ring 5 comprises an access aperture 504. The access aperture 504 is, in one embodiment, formed on the cylindrical wall 501. In other embodiments, the access aperture 504 might be formed on the first radial wall 502 or on the second radial wall 503. In the embodiments disclosed the inlet aperture (307) and access aperture (504) to the first collector ring are shown as radically extending apertures. However, it should be noted that the apertures can have other orientations than radically, e.g. such as tangentially or parallel with the axis of the first collector ring. Additionally, said apertures can be oriented in any direction between and including radically and tangentially, radically and axially and axially and tangentially. However it is considered important that the speed of the coolant is not reduced to an extent that allow for a substantial separation of the coolant in liquid and a steam phase in the first collector ring. At present an essentially tangentially extending aperture, as illustrated in Fig. 9, is considered to be the most advantageous.

In one embodiment, the first collector ring 5 is in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element 302. In one embodiment, the lower cylindrical edge 502' of the first radial wall 502 is in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element 302. In one embodiment, the lower cylindrical edge 503' of the second radial wall 503 is in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element 302.

In one embodiment, the respective lower cylindrical edges 502', 503' of the first and second radial walls 502 and 503 are in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element 302 to define a collector chamber

505.

In one embodiment, the first collector ring 5 comprises a collector aperture

506. In one embodiment, the first collector ring 5 comprises a plurality of collector apertures 506. The plurality of collector apertures 506 is configured to place the collector chamber 505 in communication with the annular circulation chamber 303.

In one embodiment, the first tubular element 301 comprises a first end 305A having a respective first end edge 305A. In one embodiment, the first tubular element 301 comprises a second end 305B having a respective second end edge 305B'.

In one embodiment, the second radial wall 503 of the first collector ring 5 is in contact with the first end 305A of the first tubular element 301. In one embodiment, the second radial wall of the first collector ring 5 is in contact with the first end edge 305A' of the first tubular element 301.

In one embodiment, the plurality of collector apertures 506 is formed on the second radial wall 503 of the first collector ring 5.

In one embodiment, the plurality of collector apertures 506 is embodied by a plurality of grooves 506' formed on the lower cylindrical edge 503' of the second radial wall 503.

In one embodiment, the plurality of collector apertures 506 are disposed along the circumference of the first collector ring 5, equally spaced to be able to collect the refrigerant fluid uniformly.

In one embodiment, the first collector ring 5 is a distribution ring. This term is used to mean that the first collector ring 5 is configured to receive the refrigerant fluid through the access aperture 504, distribute the fluid to the entire collector chamber 505 and then cause it to flow into the annular circulation chamber 303.

In this embodiment, the access aperture 504 coincides with the inlet aperture 307 of the evaporator 3.

In one embodiment, the evaporator 3 comprises a second collector ring 6. In this embodiment, it may be observed that the evaporator 3 comprises a plurality of collector rings 5, 6.

The second collector ring 6 comprises one or more of the features described above with reference to the first collector ring 5. Thus, in one embodiment, the second collector ring 6 may comprise one or more of the following features:

- a cylindrical wall 601 ;

- a first radial wall 602;

- a second radial wall 603;

- a lower cylindrical edge 602' of the first radial wall 602;

- a lower cylindrical edge 603' of the second radial wall 603;

- a plurality di collector apertures 606; - an access aperture 604;

- a collector chamber 605;

- a plurality of grooves 606'.

In one embodiment, the second collector ring 6 is a discharge ring. This term is used to mean that the second collector ring 6 is configured to receive the refrigerant fluid from the annular circulation chamber 303, distribute the fluid to the entire respective collector chamber 605 and then convey it into the circuit in the direction of the compressor 201 through the access aperture 604. In this embodiment, the access aperture 604 of the second collector ring 6 coincides with the discharge aperture 308 of the evaporator 3.

More specifically, it is noted that in this embodiment - where the second collector ring 6 is a discharge ring - the second collector ring 6 is located downstream of the first collector ring 5 in the direction of circulation V of the refrigeration system 2.

More specifically, it is stressed that in one embodiment, the difference between the first collector ring 5 and the second collector ring 6 lies in their positioning in use. In effect, the second collector ring 6 is rotated about its diameter by a flat angle (180°) relative to the position of the first collector ring 5.

In one embodiment the evaporator 3 comprises a first stretch 301 A of the first tubular element 301. In one embodiment the evaporator 3 comprises a second stretch 301 B of the first tubular element 301.

In one embodiment, the inside surface of the first stretch 301 A of the first tubular element 301 and the outside surface of the second tubular element 302 define a first portion 303A of the annular circulation chamber 303.

In one embodiment, the inside surface of the second stretch 301 B of the first tubular element 301 and the outside surface of the second tubular element 302 define a second portion 303B of the annular circulation chamber 303.

In one embodiment, the evaporator 3 comprises a turbulence ring 7. In one embodiment, the turbulence ring 7 is in contact with the second tubular element 302. In one embodiment, the turbulence ring 7 is in contact with the first tubular element 301.

In one embodiment, the turbulence ring 7 comprises a cylindrical wall 701. In one embodiment, the turbulence ring 7 comprises a first radial wall 702. In one embodiment, the turbulence ring 7 comprises a second radial wall 703.

In one embodiment, the first radial wall 702 and the second radial wall 703 each comprise a lower cylindrical edge 702', 703'.

In one embodiment, the turbulence ring 7 is in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element 302 to define a turbulence chamber 705.

In one embodiment, the lower cylindrical edge 702' of the first radial wall 702 of the turbulence ring 7 is in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element 302.

In one embodiment, the lower cylindrical edge 703' of the second radial wall 703 of the turbulence ring 7 is in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element 302.

In one embodiment, the respective lower cylindrical edges 702', 703' of the first and second radial walls 702 and 703 of the turbulence ring 7 are in contact with the outside surface of the second tubular element 302 to define the turbulence chamber 705.

In one embodiment, the turbulence ring 7 comprises a first plurality of turbulence apertures 706A. In one embodiment, the turbulence ring 7 comprises a second plurality of turbulence apertures 706B.

In one embodiment, the first plurality of turbulence apertures 706A is disposed on the first radial wall 702 of the turbulence ring 7. In one embodiment, the second plurality of turbulence apertures 706B is disposed on the second radial wall 703 of the turbulence ring 7.

In one embodiment, the first plurality of turbulence apertures 706A leads into the turbulence chamber 705 and into the first portion 303A of the annular circulation chamber 303.

In one embodiment, the second plurality of turbulence apertures 706B leads into the turbulence chamber 705 and into the second portion 303B of the annular circulation chamber 303.

In one embodiment (for example illustrated in fig. 5a), the evaporator 3 comprises an additional turbulence ring 7’, to form a plurality of turbulence rings.

In one embodiment, illustrated in Figure 8, the first collector ring 5, the second collector ring 6 and the turbulence ring 7 are illustrated in an alternative embodiment falling within the scope of protection of the claims. More specifically, in this embodiment, the first collector ring 5, the second collector ring 6 and the turbulence ring 7 each comprise a respective first radial wall 502, 602, 702 and second radial wall 503, 603, 703. The two respective walls of each ring are, however, connected in use by the first tubular element 301. In this embodiment, the inlet aperture 307 and the discharge aperture 308 are formed on the first tubular element 301 . The inlet aperture 307 and the discharge aperture 308 are formed on the first tubular element 301 , at the collector chamber 505 of the first collector ring 5 and of the collector chamber 605 of the second collector ring 6, respectively.

In this embodiment, the first radial wall 502 and the second radial wall 503 of the first collector ring 5 each comprise a respective upper cylindrical edge.

In this embodiment, the first radial wall 602 and the second radial wall 603 of the second collector ring 6 each comprise a respective upper cylindrical edge.

In this embodiment, the first radial wall 702 and the second radial wall 703 of the turbulence ring 7 each comprise a respective upper cylindrical edge. In one embodiment, the evaporator 3 is located in the internal space 102' inside the container 102 and the stirrer 105 is configured to rotate with its blade disposed on the outside surface of the first tubular element 301. In one embodiment, the container 102 corresponds to the second tubular element and the stirrer 105 is configured to rotate with its blade in contact with the inside surface of the second tubular element 302.

This disclosure provides a method for making and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid food products. Preferably, the method relates to the production of cold or iced liquid or semi-liquid food products such as ice cream, sorbets, soft ice cream, chilled patisserie products and granitas. In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of holding the product in a container 102.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of dispensing. In the step of dispensing, a dispenser 103 varies its position from on to off and vice versa, to allow or inhibit dispensing of the product from the container 102.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of pre-mixing. In the step of pre-mixing, a pre-mixing tank 109 contains a semi-finished product and mixes it using a mixer 110.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of filling the container 102. In this step, the semi-finished product in the pre-mixing tank 109 is channelled through a filler pipe 109' into the container 102 by way of a filler aperture.

In one embodiment, the method comprises of step of preparing a thermal system 2 including a compressor 201 , a condenser 202, a pressure reducing element 204 and an evaporator 3 associated with the container 102 which holds the product to be dispensed.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of mixing the product being processed inside the container 102 with a stirrer 105.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of compressing a heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of condensing a heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of separating the phases of the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of decompressing the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of evaporating the heat exchanger fluid.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of thermally conditioning the product to be dispensed with the thermal system 2, which has a heat exchanger fluid flowing inside it. In one embodiment, the step of evaporating the heat exchanger fluid coincides with the step of thermally conditioning the product being processed.

In one embodiment, thermal conditioning comprises a step of receiving the heat exchanger fluid through an inlet aperture 307.

In one embodiment, the step of receiving the heat exchanger fluid occurs inside a first collector ring 5.

In one embodiment, thermal conditioning comprises a step of redistributing the heat exchanger fluid throughout the space inside a collector chamber 505, defined by the first collector ring 5.

In one embodiment, thermal conditioning comprises a step of feeding the fluid into a first portion 303A of an annular circulation chamber 303 through a collector aperture 506 formed on the first collector ring 5. In one embodiment, the step of feeding the fluid occurs through a plurality of collector apertures 506 formed on the first collector ring 5.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of exchanging heat. In this step, the heat exchanger fluid, contained in a first portion 303A of the annular circulation chamber 303 flows in a circulation direction V and exchanges heat with the product being processed.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of induced turbulence.

In the step of induced turbulence, the heat exchanger fluid flows from the first portion 303A of the annular circulation chamber 303 and into a turbulence ring 7. In one embodiment - where the turbulence ring 7 is provided with a first plurality of turbulence apertures 706A disposed on a first radial wall 702 of the turbulence ring 7 - the refrigerant fluid reaches a turbulence chamber 705 defined by the turbulence ring 7. In one embodiment - where the turbulence ring 7 is provided with a second plurality of turbulence apertures 706B disposed on a second radial wall 703 of the turbulence ring 7 - the step of induced turbulence comprises a step of diverting the flow of the heat exchanger fluid. This diversion is due to the fact that the second plurality of turbulence apertures 706B is not aligned with the direction of the heat exchanger fluid when it enters the turbulence chamber 705. In effect, when it enters the turbulence chamber 705, the heat exchanger fluid collides with the second radial wall 703 and is diverted in the direction of the second plurality of turbulence apertures 706B.

In one embodiment, the step of induced turbulence comprises a step of returning the heat exchanger fluid into a second portion 303B of the annular circulation chamber 303.

In one embodiment, thermal conditioning comprises an additional step of exchanging heat, which occurs in the second portion 303B of the annular circulation chamber 303.

In one embodiment, thermal conditioning comprises a step of discharging the heat exchanger fluid through a discharge aperture 308.

In one embodiment, the step of discharging the heat exchanger fluid occurs inside a second collector ring 6.

In one embodiment, the method comprises a step of receiving the heat exchanger fluid from the second portion 303B of the annular circulation chamber 303 and causing it to flow into a respective collector chamber 605 of the second collector ring 6 through a respective plurality of collector apertures 606 on the second collector ring 6.

In one embodiment, thermal conditioning comprises a step of conveying the heat exchanger fluid throughout the space inside the collector chamber 605.

In one embodiment, thermal conditioning comprises a step of discharging the heat exchanger fluid from the collector chamber 606 of the second collector ring 6 through the discharge aperture 308 and towards the compressor 201 of the thermal system 2.