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Title:
INTEGRATED FLUID CONTAINER AND ENGINE SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/170917
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A fluid circulation system for an engine including an engine unit, a casing disposed over a portion of the engine unit, and a dock integrated into the casing. The dock is configured to receive a fluid container comprising a fluid reservoir and a filter. The dock includes a first fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the fluid reservoir and a second fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the filter. A fluid supply path is provided from a pump to the dock.

Inventors:
ARORA, Krishan (Nexcel Office Unit 5-6 Portman Road, Reading RG30 1EA, RG30 1EA, GB)
CHAUNDY, Paul (Nexcel Office Unit 5-6 Portman Road, Reading RG30 1EA, RG30 1EA, GB)
CHILDS, Ian (Nexcel Office Unit 5-6 Portman Road, Reading RG30 1EA, RG30 1EA, GB)
FITZSIMONS, James,Brian (Nexcel Office Unit 5-6 Portman Road, Reading RG30 1EA, RG30 1EA, GB)
Application Number:
EP2019/056040
Publication Date:
September 12, 2019
Filing Date:
March 11, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
CASTROL LIMITED (Technology Centre Whitchurch Hill, Pangbourne, Reading RG8 7QR, RG8 7QR, GB)
International Classes:
F01M11/04; F16H57/04; F16N19/00; F16N37/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017051015A12017-03-30
WO2017193364A12017-11-16
Foreign References:
US20150291317A12015-10-15
US4075099A1978-02-21
US20130048088A12013-02-28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TOWLSON, Samantha Jayne (BP INTERNATIONAL LIMITED BP, Legal Technology Chertsey Road,Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex TW16 7LN, TW16 7LN, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A fluid circulation system for an engine comprising:

an engine unit comprising:

an engine,

a transmission,

fluid passages extending through the engine unit, and

a fluid collection container;

a casing disposed over a portion of the engine unit;

a dock integrated into the casing and configured to receive a fluid container comprising a fluid reservoir and a filter, the dock comprising:

a first fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the fluid reservoir, and

a second fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the filter;

a pump in fluid communication with the fluid passages and the fluid collection container; and

a fluid supply path from the pump to the dock.

2. The fluid circulation system of claim 1, wherein the casing covers the transmission such that the dock is disposed on the transmission.

3. The fluid circulation system of claim 1 or claim 2, further comprising a removable fluid container received in the dock.

4. The fluid circulation system of claim 1 or claim 2, wherein during an emergency event there is no relative movement between the engine unit and the fluid container.

5. The fluid circulation system of any one of claims 1-3, wherein the fluid container moves with the engine unit during an emergency event so as to reduce the likelihood of damage to the fluid container.

6. The fluid circulation system of claim 4 or claim 5, wherein the emergency event is an impact.

7. The fluid circulation system according to claim 1 or claim 2, further comprising a control valve configured to connect the fluid supply path to one of the first fluid port coupling or the second fluid port coupling.

8. The fluid circulation system of claim 7, wherein the control valve is disposed in the dock.

9. The fluid circulation system of claim 7 or claim 8, further comprising a fluid return path from the dock that is in fluid communication with the fluid passages and the fluid collection container.

10. The fluid circulation system of claim 9, wherein the second fluid port coupling includes an inlet and an outlet, and

wherein the outlet of the second fluid port coupling is connected to the fluid supply path and the inlet of the second fluid port coupling is connected to the return path.

11. The fluid circulation system of claim 9 or claim 10, wherein the dock further comprises a third fluid port coupling configured to receive a third fluid port coupling of the fluid container that is also associated with the fluid reservoir, and

wherein the third fluid port coupling is in fluid communication with the return path.

12. The fluid circulation system of claim 7 or claim 8, wherein the control valve is further configured to connect the first fluid port coupling to the return path.

13. The fluid circulation system of claim 3, claim 4 or claim 5, further comprising a transfer pump in fluid communication with the fluid reservoir and the first fluid port coupling, the transfer pump being configured to transfer fluid between the fluid reservoir and the engine unit.

14. The fluid circulation system of claim 3, claim 4 or claim 5, further comprising a scavenge pump in fluid communication with the with the fluid reservoir and the first fluid port coupling, the scavenge pump being configured to transfer fluid between engine unit and the fluid reservoir.

15. The fluid circulation system of claim 14, wherein the dock further comprises at least one further fluid port coupling.

16. A method of replacing a fluid in a fluid circulation system of an engine, the method comprising:

providing a fluid circulation system according to any of claims 7-14;

providing a first fluid container in the dock;

operating the control valve to connect the fluid supply path with the first fluid port

coupling; transferring spent fluid from the fluid collection container to the fluid reservoir using the pump;

removing the first fluid container from the dock;

providing a second fluid container comprising a fluid reservoir containing replacement fluid and a first fluid port coupling;

inserting the second fluid container into the dock so as to connect the first fluid port coupling of the dock with the first fluid port coupling of the fluid container; and allowing the replacement fluid to drain from the fluid reservoir of the second fluid

container to the fluid collection container.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the replacement fluid drains from the fluid reservoir of the second fluid container to the fluid collection container by the force of gravity.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein the replacement fluid is pumped out of the fluid reservoir of the second fluid container to the fluid collection container.

19. The method of claim 16, claim 17 or claim 18, wherein the replacement fluid drains to the fluid collection container through the supply path.

20. The method of claim 16, claim 17 of claim 18, wherein the dock further comprises a third fluid port coupling connected to a return path in fluid communication with the fluid passages and the fluid collection container so as to allow the replacement fluid to drain or be pumped to the fluid collection container through the return path.

21. The method of claim 16, claim 17 or claim 18 further comprising, after inserting the second fluid container into the dock, operating the control valve so as to connect the first fluid port coupling to a return path in fluid communication with the fluid passages and fluid collection container so as to allow the replacement fluid to drain or be pumped to the fluid collection container through the return path.

22. The method of any one of claims 16-21, wherein the second fluid container includes a filter connected to a second fluid port coupling of the second fluid container, and wherein inserting the second fluid container into the dock connects the second fluid port coupling of the second fluid container with the second fluid port coupling of the dock.

23. The method of claim 22, further comprising operating the control valve to connect the supply path with the second fluid port coupling of the dock, and

circulating fluid through the filter using the pump.

24. An engine oil circulation system comprising:

an engine unit comprising:

an engine,

a transmission,

oil galleries extending through the engine, and

an oil sump;

a casing disposed over a portion of the engine unit;

a dock integrated into the casing and configured to receive an oil container comprising a fluid reservoir and an oil filter, the dock comprising:

a first fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the fluid reservoir, and a second fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the oil filter;

an engine oil pump in fluid communication with the oil galleries and the oil sump; and an oil path from the oil pump to the dock.

25. The engine oil circulation system according to claim 24, further comprising a control valve configured to connect the oil path to one of the first fluid port coupling or the second fluid port coupling.

26. A method of replacing oil in an engine oil circulation system, the method comprising: providing an engine oil circulation system according to claim 24;

providing a first oil container in the dock;

operating the control valve to connect the oil path with the first fluid port coupling; transferring used engine oil from the oil sump to the fluid reservoir using the engine oil pump;

removing the first oil container from the dock;

providing a second oil container comprising a fluid reservoir containing replacement engine oil and a first fluid port coupling;

inserting the second oil container into the dock so as to connect the first fluid port

coupling of the dock with the first fluid port coupling of the oil container; and allowing the replacement engine oil to drain from the fluid reservoir of the second oil container to the oil sump.

27. The method of claim 26 wherein the replacement engine oil drains from the fluid

reservoir by the force of gravity or is pumped out of the fluid reservoir.

Description:
INTEGRATED FLUID CONTAINER AND ENGINE SYSTEM

BACKGROUND

[0001] Many systems and apparatuses use one or more fluids for their operation. Such fluids are often liquids. For example, internal combustion engines use liquid lubricating oil to reduce friction between moving parts of the engine. Also, transmissions use transmission fluid. Often, these fluids need to be removed from the system or apparatus, either for treating or replacing the fluid.

[0002] Typically, the process for replacing the operating fluid of an engine is time consuming and complicated. For example, replacement of engine lubricating oil in a vehicle engine usually involves draining the lubricating oil from the engine sump. The process may also involve removing and replacing the engine oil filter. Such a procedure usually requires access to the engine sump drain plug and oil filter from the underside of the engine, may require the use of hand tools, and usually requires a suitable collection method for the drained lubricating oil.

OVERVIEW

[0003] Solutions for replacing the operating fluid of a system or vehicle through a simpler process have been developed. But often the construction of these solutions is complex and requires many parts including a number of conduits that run between filters and reservoirs for the operating fluid. Accordingly, even when the use of these systems may be convenient, the systems themselves can be complex and expensive. Furthermore, the addition of various components that contain operating fluid around the engine can present a safety hazard. In a high acceleration emergency event, parts of the engine may collide with the fluid containing components and cause an escape of potentially dangerous operating fluids. [0004] In view of the foregoing, a fluid circulation system that is easy to use, but is compact and made with fewer parts may be desirable.

[0005] Therefore, in one aspect, the disclosure provides a fluid circulation system for an engine comprising:

an engine unit comprising:

an engine,

a transmission,

fluid passages extending through the engine unit, and

a fluid collection container;

a casing disposed over a portion of the engine unit;

a dock integrated into the casing and configured to receive a fluid container comprising a fluid reservoir and a filter, the dock comprising:

a first fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the fluid reservoir, and

a second fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the filter;

a pump in fluid communication with the fluid passages and the fluid collection container; and

a fluid supply path from the pump to the dock.

[0006] ln one embodiment, the casing covers the transmission such that the dock is disposed on the transmission.

[0007] ln another embodiment, the fluid circulation system further comprises a removable fluid container received in the dock. [0008] In another embodiment, in an emergency event there is no relative movement between the engine unit and the fluid container.

[0009] In another embodiment, the fluid container moves with the engine unit during an emergency event so as to reduce the likelihood of damage to the fluid container.

[0010] In another embodiment, the emergency event is an impact.

[0011] In another embodiment, the fluid circulation system further comprises a control valve configured to connect the fluid supply path to one of the first fluid port coupling or the second fluid port coupling.

[0012] In another embodiment, the control valve is disposed in the dock.

[0013] In another embodiment, the fluid circulation system further comprises a fluid return path from the dock that is in fluid communication with the fluid passages and the fluid collection container.

[0014] In another embodiment, the second fluid port coupling includes an inlet and an outlet, the outlet of the second fluid port coupling is connected to the fluid supply path, and the inlet of the second fluid port coupling is connected to the return path.

[0015] In another embodiment, the dock further comprises a third fluid port coupling configured to receive a third fluid port coupling also associated with the fluid reservoir, and the third fluid port coupling of the dock is in fluid communication with the return path.

[0016] In another embodiment, the control valve is further configured to connect the first fluid port coupling to the return path. [0017] In another embodiment, the fluid circulation system includes a transfer pump in fluid communication with the fluid reservoir and the first fluid port coupling, the transfer pump being configured to transfer fluid between the fluid reservoir and the engine unit.

[0018] ln another embodiment, the fluid circulation system includes a scavenge pump in fluid communication with the fluid reservoir and the first fluid port coupling, the scavenge pump being configured to transfer fluid between the engine unit and the fluid reservoir.

[0019] In another embodiment, the dock further includes at least one further fluid port coupling.

[0020] ln another aspect, the disclosure provides a method of replacing a fluid in a fluid circulation system of an engine, the method comprising:

providing a fluid circulation system according to any of the above embodiments;

providing a first fluid container in the dock;

operating the control valve to connect the fluid supply path with the first fluid port

coupling;

transferring spent fluid from the fluid collection container to the fluid reservoir using the pump;

removing the first fluid container from the dock;

providing a second fluid container comprising a fluid reservoir containing replacement fluid and a first fluid port coupling;

inserting the second fluid container into the dock so as to connect the first fluid port

coupling of the dock with the first fluid port coupling of the fluid container; and allowing the replacement fluid to drain from the fluid reservoir of the second fluid

container to the fluid collection container. [0021] In another embodiment, the replacement fluid drains from the fluid reservoir of the second fluid container to the fluid collection container by force of gravity.

[0022] In another embodiment, the replacement fluid is pumped out of the fluid reservoir of the second fluid container to the fluid collection container.

[0023] In another embodiment, the replacement fluid drains to the fluid collection container through the supply path.

[0024] In another embodiment, the dock further comprises a third fluid port coupling connected to a return path in fluid communication with the fluid passages and the fluid collection container so as to allow the replacement fluid to drain or be pumped to the fluid collection container through the return path.

[0025] In another embodiment, the method further comprises, after inserting the second fluid container into the dock, operating the control valve so as to connect the first fluid port coupling to a return path in fluid communication with the fluid passages and the fluid collection container so as to allow the replacement fluid to drain or be pumped to the fluid collection container through the return path.

[0026] In another embodiment, the second fluid container includes a filter connected to a second fluid port coupling of the second fluid container, and wherein inserting the second fluid container into the dock connects the second fluid port coupling of the second fluid container with the second fluid port coupling of the dock.

[0027] In another embodiment, the method further comprises operating the control valve to connect the supply path with the second fluid port coupling, and circulating fluid through the filter using the pump. [0028] In another aspect, the disclosure provides an engine oil circulation system comprising: an engine unit comprising:

an engine,

a transmission,

oil galleries extending through the engine, and

an oil sump;

a casing disposed over a portion of the engine unit;

a dock integrated into the casing and configured to receive an oil container comprising a fluid reservoir and an oil filter, the dock comprising:

a first fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the fluid reservoir, and

a second fluid port coupling configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the oil filter;

an oil pump in fluid communication with the oil galleries and the oil sump; and an oil path from the oil pump to the dock.

[0029] In one embodiment, the engine oil circulation system further comprises a control valve configured to connect the oil path to one of the first fluid port coupling or the second fluid port coupling.

[0030] In another aspect, the disclosure provides a method of replacing oil in an engine oil circulation system, the method comprising:

providing an engine oil circulation system according to the above embodiment;

providing a first oil container in the dock;

operating the control valve to connect the oil path with the first fluid port coupling; transferring used engine oil from the oil sump to the fluid reservoir using the oil pump; removing the first oil container from the dock;

providing a second oil container comprising a fluid reservoir containing replacement engine oil and a first fluid port coupling;

inserting the second oil container into the dock so as to connect the first fluid port

coupling of the dock with the first fluid port coupling of the oil container; allowing the replacement engine oil to drain from the fluid reservoir of the second oil container to the oil sump.

[0031] ln another embodiment, the replacement engine oil drains from the fluid reservoir by the force of gravity or is pumped out of the fluid reservoir.

[0032] These as well as other aspects, advantages, and alternatives, will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art by reading the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0033] The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the methods and devices of the disclosure, and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, and sizes of various elements may be distorted for clarity. The drawings illustrate one or more embodiment(s) of the disclosure, and together with the description serve to explain the principles and operation of the disclosure.

[0034] F1G. 1 is a schematic side cross section of a fluid circulation system according to an embodiment of the disclosure;

[0035] F1G. 2 is a schematic side cross section of the fluid circulation system of FIG. 1 with certain components enlarged to show detail; [0036] FIG. 3 is schematic side cross section of a fluid circulation system according to another embodiment of the disclosure;

[0037] FIG. 4 is schematic side cross section of a fluid circulation system according to another embodiment of the disclosure;

[0038] F!G. 5 is schematic side cross section of a fluid circulation system according to yet another embodiment of the disclosure;

[0039] F1G. 6 is a schematic side cross section of a fluid circulation system according to another embodiment of the disclosure; and

[0040] FIGS. 7-8 show a flow chart of a method according to an embodiment of the disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0041] Example methods and systems are described herein. It should be understood that the words“example” and“exemplary” are used herein to mean“serving as an example, instance, or illustration.” Any embodiment or feature described herein as being an “example” or “exemplary” is not necessarily to be construed as preferred or advantageous over other embodiments or features. In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying figures, which form a part thereof. In the figures, similar symbols typically identify similar components, unless context dictates otherwise. Other embodiments may be utilized, and other changes may be made, without departing from the scope of the subject matter presented herein.

[0042] The example embodiments described herein are not meant to be limiting. It will be readily understood that the aspects of the present disclosure, as generally described herein, and illustrated in the figures, can be arranged, substituted, combined, separated, and designed in a wide variety of different configurations, all of which are explicitly contemplated herein.

[0043] Unless otherwise indicated, the terms“first,”“second,” etc. are used herein merely as labels, and are not intended to impose ordinal, positional, or hierarchical requirements on the items to which these terms refer. Moreover, reference to, e.g., a“second” item does not require or preclude the existence of, e.g., a“first” or lower-numbered item, and/or, e.g., a“third” or higher-numbered item.

[0044] Reference herein to“one embodiment” or“one example” means that one or more feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the example is included in at least one implementation. The phrases“one embodiment” or“one example” in various places in the specification may or may not be referring to the same example.

[0045] As used herein, a system, apparatus, device, structure, article, element, component, or hardware“configured to” perform a specified function is indeed capable of performing the specified function without any alteration, rather than merely having potential to perform the specified function after further modification. In other words, the system, apparatus, structure, article, element, component, or hardware “configured to” perform a specified function is specifically selected, created, implemented, utilized, programmed, and/or designed for the purpose of performing the specified function. As used herein,“configured to” denotes existing characteristics of a system, apparatus, structure, article, element, component, or hardware which enable the system, apparatus, structure, article, element, component, or hardware to perform the specified function without further modification. For purposes of this disclosure, a system, apparatus, structure, article, element, component, or hardware described as being“configured to” perform a particular function may additionally or alternatively be described as being“adapted to” and/or as being“operative to” perform that function.

[0046] In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth to provide a thorough understanding of the disclosed concepts, which may be practiced without some or all of these particulars. In other instances, details of known devices and/or processes have been omitted to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the disclosure. While some concepts will be described in conjunction with specific examples, it will be understood that these examples are not intended to be limiting.

[0047] FIG. 1 schematically illustrates a fluid circulation system for an engine, according to an example embodiment. Fluid paths of the fluid circulation system, such as conduits, passages, or pipes, are illustrated with solid lines, and fluid containers are identified by the undulating surface of a liquid (though in some embodiments the fluid may be gas).

[0048] Fluid circulation system 100 includes an engine unit 102 that comprises an engine 104, a transmission 106, a number of fluid passages 108 extending through the engine unit 102, and a fluid collection container 110. Further, the engine 104 includes an engine block 112, a cylinder head 114 and a cylinder head cover or valve cover 116. The particular embodiment of the fluid circulation system 100 depicted in FIG. 1 takes the form of an engine oil circulation system and the fluid passages 108 take the form of oil galleries that run through the different parts of the engine 104 to lubricate moving components of the engine 104. The oil galleries 108 return any oil passing therethrough to the fluid collection container 110, which is in the form of a sump or an oil pan. In other embodiments, the fluid circulation system may be a circulation system for a different fluid and the fluid passages may extend through different parts of the engine unit. For example, in some embodiments, the fluid circulation system may be a transmission fluid circulation system and the fluid passages may extend through the transmission of the engine unit. In such an embodiment, the fluid collection container may be a part of the transmission. Other fluids, fluid passage locations, and fluid collection containers are possible.

[0049] The fluid circulation system 100 further includes a casing 120 that is disposed over at least a portion of the engine unit 102. Possible examples of the casing 120 may include the valve cover 116 on the engine 104 or an external surface of any of the engine components. The casing 120 in the example embodiment shown in FIG. 1 takes the form of a transmission housing. A dock 122 is integrated into the casing 120 and is configured to receive a fluid container 140 that contains a fluid reservoir 142 and a filter 143. The dock 122 includes a first fluid port coupling 124 configured to receive a fluid port coupling of the fluid container 140 that is associated with the fluid reservoir 142 and a second fluid port coupling 126 configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the filter 143. In the particular embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the fluid container 140 takes the form of an oil container, and filter 143 takes the form of an oil filter. In one embodiment the oil container may be an oil cell, such as the NEXCEL precision lubrication system from Castrol Limited in the UK.

[0050] The fluid circulation system 100 also comprises a pump 150 that is in fluid communication with the fluid passages 108 and the fluid collection container 110. The pump 150 is in fluid communication with the dock 122 via a fluid supply path 152 so that the pump 150 can transfer fluid from the fluid collection container 1 10 to the dock 122. Likewise, the fluid port couplings of the dock 122 and the fluid container 140 allow fluid to pass between the fluid container 140 and the engine unit 102, as explained in further detail below.

[0051] The placement of the dock 122 directly on the casing 120 of a portion of the engine unit 102 may make the fluid circulation system 100 compact and may reduce the length of external fluid conduits between the fluid container 140 and the engine unit 102. Further, because the transmission 106 is typically smaller than the engine 104, providing the dock 122 on the transmission housing 120 may allow the fluid container 140 to fill areas around the transmission 106 and may form a more compact engine system.

[0052] The direct coupling of the fluid container 140 to the engine unit 102 also reduces the likelihood that any components of the engine unit 102 might collide with the fluid container 140 during an emergency event. For example, in embodiments where the engine unit 102 is part of a vehicle 190, an emergency event may include a high acceleration of the vehicle 190, the collision of the vehicle 190 with another structure, and/or undesirable relative movement of the components of the vehicle 190. Using the fluid circulation system of FfG. 1, during an emergency event, although the engine unit 102 may move relative to other components of the vehicle 190, there is no relative movement between the fluid container 140 and the engine unit 102. The fluid container 140 is likely to move together with the engine unit 102 based on its connection thereto. This is particularly the case when the emergency event is an impact. In most emergency events, the components of the engine unit 102 are the most rigid and have the most momentum. Accordingly, objects that collide with any components of the engine unit 102, such as other under-bonnet components, are most susceptible to damage. However, because the fluid container 140 is attached directly to the engine unit 102, it is least likely to collide with any of those components. Thus, the position of the dock 122 and the fluid container 140 may provide safety advantages over other placements of the fluid container 140.

[0053] The fluid circulation system 100 also includes a control system 154 that operates the pump 150 and may also operate valves of the fluid circulation system 100, as described in greater detail below. The control system 154 may include a memory 156 for storing instructions of certain methods of operation, as described in more detail below, and may include a processor 158 for carrying out those instructions.

[0054] The control system 154 may be in communication with a data reader 160 of the dock 122. The data reader 160 may be configured to read data stored by the fluid container 140. In some embodiments, the fluid container 140 may be configured to store identification data indicating, for example, a serial number, manufacturer details, service history data, service regime data, one or more property of one or more of the fluids contained therein, the vehicle with which the fluid container is designed to be used, container history data, engine history data of an engine with which the fluid container has been used, and so on, and may be configured to communicate the identification data to the control system 154 via the data reader 160. Further, the control system 154 may be configured to select, or update, a service interval or control regime based on fluid-quality data provided by one or more sensors located in the engine or the fluid container or on data provided from elsewhere.

[0055] FIG. 2 shows an enlarged view of the fluid container 140 and the dock 122 of the fluid circulation system 100, with other components of the fluid circulation system 100 schematically depicted. As explained above, the dock 122 includes a first fluid port coupling 124 and a second fluid port coupling 126. The first fluid port coupling 124 of the dock 122 cooperates with a first fluid port coupling 144 of the fluid container 140 that is in fluid communication with the fluid reservoir 142. Likewise, the second fluid port coupling 126 of the dock 122 cooperates with a second fluid port coupling 146 of the container 140 that is in fluid communication with the filter 143.

[0056] In operation, the pump 150 can transfer fluid to the dock 122 by way of a fluid supply path 152, and the fluid circulation system 100 can selectively direct the fluid into either the fluid reservoir 142 or the filter 143 using a control valve 128. The control valve 128 is coupled to the first fluid port coupling 124 by a first conduit 130 that is in fluid communication with the first fluid port coupling 124, and to the second fluid port coupling 126 by a second conduit 132 that is in fluid communication with the second fluid port coupling 126. In other embodiments, the control valve 128 may access the first fluid port coupling 124 and second fluid port coupling 126 directly. The control valve 128 may be operated by the control system 154 to connect the fluid supply path 152 to one of the first fluid port coupling 124, so as to transfer fluid into the fluid reservoir 142, or the second fluid port coupling 126, so as to transfer fluid to the filter 143.

[0057] The control valve 128 may be disposed within dock 122. This configuration reduces the amount of conduit that is needed to provide fluid to both the filter 143 and the fluid reservoir 142. In some embodiments, on the other hand, the control valve 128 is remote from the dock 122 and coupled to the dock by long conduits 130, 132 that extend out of the dock 122. For instance, the control valve 128 may be adjacent to the pump. It may be understood that the area of the dock 122 is that area of casing 120 that is adjacent to an installed fluid container 140.

[0058] In order to circulate the fluid to the fluid passages 108 in the engine unit 102, the fluid circulation system 100 may include a return path 134 that is in fluid communication with the fluid passages 108 of the engine unit 102 and the fluid collection container 110. Fluid communication between the return path 134 and the fluid container 140 may be achieved in a number of different ways. For example, in some embodiments, the second fluid port coupling 126 includes both an outlet port that feeds fluid to the filter 143 and an inlet port that receives fluid from the filter 143. The second fluid port coupling 146 of the fluid container 140 likewise has inlet and outlet ports that cooperate with the ports of the second fluid port coupling 126. The inlet port of the second fluid port coupling 126 that receives fluid from the filter 143 is in fluid communication with return path 134. Accordingly, when the control valve 128 is set to provide a fluid connection between the pump 150 and the filter 143, the fluid is circulated through the filter 143 and then is returned to the engine 104 through the return path 134.

[0059] The fluid reservoir 142 may also have access to the return path 134 in order to fill the fluid circulation system 100 with fluid from the fluid reservoir 142. For example, in some embodiments, the dock 122 includes a third fluid port coupling 138 configured to connect to a third fluid port coupling 148 of the fluid container 140. To prevent the fluid from draining out of the fluid reservoir 142 as it is being filled through the first fluid port coupling 124, a return valve 129 may control fluid access between the third fluid port coupling 138 and the return path 134. The return valve 129 may be controllable by the control system 154.

[0060] In the embodiment of the fluid circulation system 100, in which the fluid container 140 takes the form of an oil container, the fluid reservoir 142 may hold lubricating oil, for example, engine lubricating oil. Accordingly, the oil container in such embodiments can provide fresh, refreshed or unused lubricating oil which may conveniently replace a fluid container holding used or spent lubricating oil.

[0061] In some embodiments, the lubricating oil comprises at least one base stock and at least one lubricating oil additive. Suitable base stocks include bio-derived base stocks, mineral oil derived base stocks, synthetic base stocks, and semi synthetic base stocks. Suitable lubricating oil additives, for example engine lubricating oil additives, may be organic and/or inorganic compounds, as will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art. In some embodiments, the lubricating oil includes a range of 60% to 90% by weight base stock and 40% to 10% by weight additives. The lubricating oils may be mono-viscosity grade or multi-viscosity grade engine lubricating oil. Examples of suitable lubricating oil include single purpose lubricating oil and multipurpose lubricating oil.

[0062] The fluid circulation system may be used in or with a wide variety of different machines that utilize an engine. For example, the fluid container can be used with a vehicle for holding or processing an engine oil, a transmission fluid, or another fluid. Such a vehicle can be a car, a boat, a motorcycle, a train or an airplane, for example. The fluid circulation system may be similarly used with other apparatuses that also include an engine, such as a lawnmower, a generator, a compressor or a hand tool, such as a chainsaw, hedge trimmer or leaf blower.

[0063] The fluid port couplings of the fluid circulation system, for example the couplings between the dock and the fluid container provide a fluid connection when the couplings are attached. In some embodiments, the fluid port coupling connection is configured to allow fluid flow in a single direction. For example, the connected fluid port couplings may provide a fluid connection for a single fluid path and one or both of the couplings may include a check valve ln other embodiments, the fluid port coupling connection may provide fluid flow in two directions. For example, the fluid port coupling connection may form a single fluid path with unrestricted flow in both directions. Alternatively, in some embodiments, the fluid port coupling connection may form more than one fluid path, such that liquid may flow in one direction through one fluid of the connection and in the opposite direction through a second fluid path of the fluid port coupling connection fn this case, both paths may include check valves without restricting flow in either direction.

[0064] F1G. 3 shows another example embodiment of a fluid circulation system of the disclosure with an alternative arrangement providing fluid communication between the fluid reservoir and the return path. In the fluid circulation system 300, the control valve 328 may have several operating states. In a normal operating state, the control valve 328 connects the fluid supply path 352 to the second conduit 332 that is connected to the outlet port 326 leading to the filter 343. The control valve 328 also connects the inlet from the filter 343 to the return path 334. In this state of the control valve 328, the pump 350 circulates fluid through the filter 343 and the fluid passages 308, returning the fluid to the fluid collection container 310. When the control valve 328 is in a second state, shown on the left side of the control valve 328 in FIG. 3, the fluid supply path 352 is connected to the first conduit 330 and the remaining paths are closed. In this state, the pump 350 transfers fluid to the fluid reservoir 342. In the third state of the control valve 328, depicted on the right side of the control valve 328 in FIG. 3, the first conduit 330 is connected to the return path 334, and any fluid in the fluid reservoir 342 is allowed to drain back to the fluid collection container 310. While the control valve 328 is shown as a single unit with three positions, in other embodiments, the control valve 328 may be formed to provide the described or other functions.

[0065] FIG. 4 shows another example embodiment of a fluid circulation system of the disclosure where fluid in the reservoir drains to the collection container without using the return path. Under normal operation of the fluid circulation system 400, the control valve 428 connects the fluid supply path 452 to the filter 443 so that the pump 450 can circulate fluid through the filter 443, the fluid passages 408 and back to the fluid collection container 410. In order to fill the fluid reservoir 442, the control valve 428 places the fluid supply path 452 in fluid communication with the fluid reservoir 442 of the fluid container 440, so that the pump 450 can drive fluid into the fluid reservoir 442. To drain the fluid reservoir 442, the fluid supply path 452 is again connected to the fluid reservoir 442, but the pump 450 is not activated. The fluid may then drain from the fluid reservoir 442 through the engine oil pump 450. In some embodiments, if the pump is unidirectional, the fluid may flow through a bypass 451 around the pump 450. For example, the fluid supply path 452 may include a bypass 451 around the pump 450 that is closed when the pump 450 is running, but is open when the pump 450 is off.

[0066] In some embodiments, the fluid container includes a transfer pump for extracting fluid from the fluid circulation system and/or for transferring fluid from the reservoir to the circulation system. For example, such an embodiment is shown in FIG. 5. Fluid circulation system 500 comprises a fluid container 540 coupled to a dock 522. The fluid container 540 includes a fluid reservoir 542, a filter 543 and fluid port couplings 544, 546 and 548. The fluid couplings 544, 546 and 548 are connected to the fluid port couplings 524, 526 and 528 of the dock 522 in a manner similar to the above-described embodiments. The fluid container 540 is coupled to a transfer pump 545 for transferring fluid between the fluid reservoir 542 and the other components of the fluid circulation system 500, such as the fluid collection container 510. In some embodiments, the transfer pump 545 may be in fluid communication with the fluid collection container 510 in order to transfer the fluid to the fluid collection container 510. In other embodiments, the transfer pump 545 may utilize the fluid supply path 552 or another independent path to feed fluid into the fluid collection container 510. Further, in some embodiments, the transfer pump 545 allows the fluid circulation system 500 to utilize the fluid reservoir 542 without a direct connection between the fluid reservoir 542 and the pump 550 of the engine 502. For example, the engine oil pump 550 may be used to pump fluid through the filter 543 and the fluid passages 508, while the transfer pump 545 is used to provide fluid from the fluid reservoir 542 or extract fluid into the fluid reservoir 542.

[0067] FIG. 6 shows another example embodiment of a fluid circulation system of the disclosure with an alternative arrangement providing fluid communication between the fluid reservoir and the return path. In the fluid circulation system 600, a two-way control valve 620 is provided to enable fluid to flow between the first conduit 630 into the fluid reservoir 642 and the second conduit 632 leading to the inlet port 626 of the filter 643. In a first state of the two-way control valve 620, fluid is able to flow into the first conduit 630 such that the pump 650 transfers fluid through fluid supply path 652 to the fluid reservoir 642. In the second state of the control valve 620, the second conduit 632 is connected to inlet 626 of the filter 643, such that the pump 650 transfers fluid to the filter 643. The fluid is then circulated through outlet port 628 of the filter 643 to fluid collection container 610 via return path 634.

[0068] In the examples above FIG. 4, FIG. 5 and FIG. 6 the transfer of the fluid between the fluid reservoir and the fluid collection container via draining using gravity may be done whilst the engine unit is switched off. The transfer of fluid between the fluid reservoir and the fluid collection container via either the transfer pump or the engine oil pump may take place whilst the engine unit is running.

[0069] In another aspect, the disclosure provides a method of replacing a fluid in a fluid circulation system of an engine. An example embodiment of such a method is shown in a simplified flow chart in FIG. 7. Although the blocks in FIG. 7 are illustrated in a sequential order, these blocks may also be performed in parallel, and/or in a different order than those described herein. Also, the various blocks may be combined into fewer blocks, divided into additional blocks, and/or removed based upon the desired implementation. Further, while method 700 is disclosed below with reference to one particular embodiment of the fluid circulation system of the disclosure, namely fluid circulation system 100 of FIGS 1 and 2, the method may be performed using other embodiments of the system. [0070] At block 702, method 700 includes providing a fluid circulation system 100. The fluid circulation system includes

an engine unit 102 comprising an engine 104, a transmission 106, fluid passages 108 extending through the engine unit 102, and a fluid collection container 110; a casing 120 disposed over a portion of the engine unit 102;

a dock 122 integrated into the casing 120 and configured to receive a fluid container 140 comprising a fluid reservoir 142 and a filter 143, the dock 122 comprising a first fluid port coupling 124 configured to receive a fluid port coupling 144 associated with the fluid reservoir 142, and a second fluid port coupling 126 configured to receive a fluid port coupling 146 associated with the filter 143;

a pump 150 in fluid communication with the fluid passages 108 and the fluid collection container 110;

a fluid supply path 152 from the pump 150 to the dock 122; and

a control valve 128 configured to connect the fluid supply path 152 to one of the first fluid port coupling 124 or the second fluid port coupling 126.

[0071] At block 704, method 700 includes providing a first fluid container 140 in the dock

122.

[0072] At block 706, method 700 includes operating the control valve 128 to connect the fluid supply path 152 with the first conduit 130.

[0073] At block 708, method 700 includes transferring spent fluid from the fluid collection container 110 to the fluid reservoir 142 using the pump 150. For example, after the fluid has circulated through the fluid circulation system 100 to such an extent that the operative properties of the fluid are diminishing, the fluid can be transferred from the fluid collection container 110 to the fluid reservoir 142 for replacement.

[0074] At block 710, method 700 includes removing the first fluid container 140 from the dock 122. For example, with the spent fluid held in the fluid reservoir 142 the fluid container 140 can be removed from the dock 122 by disconnecting the fluid container 140 and lifting the fluid container 140 out of the dock 122 using a handle.

[0075] As shown in FIG. 8, at block 712, method 700 further includes providing a second fluid container 140 comprising a fluid reservoir 142 containing replacement fluid and a first fluid port coupling.

[0076] At block 714, method 700 includes inserting the second fluid container 140 into the dock so as to connect the first fluid port coupling 124 of the dock 122 with the first fluid port coupling 144 of the second fluid container 140.

[0077] At block 716, method 700 further includes allowing the replacement fluid to drain from the fluid reservoir 142 of the second fluid container 140 to the fluid collection 110 container by the force of gravity ln some embodiments, the replacement fluid may drain to the fluid collection container through the fluid supply path, for example using a bypass 451 as shown in FIG. 4 and explained above. In other embodiments, the replacement fluid may drain to the fluid collection container 110 through a return path 134 that is in fluid communication with the fluid passages 108 and the fluid collection container 110. For example, in some embodiments, the draining of the replacement fluid may include opening a return valve to connect the fluid reservoir 142 to the return path 134. In other embodiments, the control valve 328 is operated to connect the first fluid port coupling to the return path. For example, control valve 328 of the fluid circulation system 300 may couple first fluid port coupling 324 to return path 334. As an alternative to draining the replacement fluid by gravity, in other embodiments, the replacement fluid may be pumped to the fluid collection container 110 by a transfer pump (for example, transfer pump 545 in the fluid circulation system 500 of FIG. 5) or by an engine oil pump (for example the engine oil pump 550 in the fluid circulation system 500 of FIG. 5).

[0078] In some embodiments, the method 700 may include, at block 718, operating the control valve 128 to connect the supply path 152 with a second fluid port coupling of the dock 122 and circulating fluid through a filter 143 in the second fluid container 140 using the pump 150.

[0079] In another aspect, the disclosure provides a method for replacing oil in an engine oil circulation system. The method may be similar in form to the method 700.

[0080] Aspects of the methods described herein may be performed by the control system 154 through the execution, by the processor 158, of instructions stored in the memory 156. For example, upon receiving an indication through a user input 159 that the fluid in the fluid circulation system 100 is to be changed, the control system 154 may execute instructions to operate the control valve 128 to disconnect the pump 150 from fluid communication with the filter 143 and provide fluid communication between the pump 150 and the fluid reservoir 142. As a result, the pump 150 discontinues circulating fluid through the filter 143. Further, the pump 150 may then transfer the used fluid from the fluid collection container 110 to the fluid reservoir 142.

[0081] Moreover, when the control system 154 receives an indication through the data reader 160 that a new fluid container 140 has been received in the dock 122, the control system 154 may execute instructions to open the return valve 129 so as to allow fluid from the fluid reservoir 142 to drain to the fluid collection container 110.

[0082] In another embodiment, a so-call dry-sump system may be integrated into the casing that is disposed over at least a portion of an engine unit. A dry-sump engine is one where oil is not stored in an engine sump when the engine is turned off. FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram of a dry-sump engine fluid circulation system according to an embodiment of the disclosure. The dry-sump engine fluid circulation system 900 comprises an engine unit 902 that comprises an engine 904, a transmission (not shown), a number of fluid passages (not shown) extending through the engine unit 902 and a fluid collection container 910. Further, the engine 904 includes an engine block (not shown), a cylinder head (not shown) and a cylinder head cover of valve cover (not shown). The particular embodiment of the dry-sump engine fluid circulation system 900 depicted in FIG. 9 takes the form of an engine oil circulation system and the fluid passages take the form of oil galleries that run through the different parts of the engine 904 to lubricate moving components of the engine 904. The oil galleries return any oil passing therethrough to the fluid collection container 910, which is in the form of a sump.

[0083] The dry-sump engine fluid circulation system 900 further includes a casing 920 that is disposed over at least a portion of the engine unit 902. Possible examples of the casing 920 may include the valve cover on the engine 904 of an external surface of any of the engine components. In FIG. 9 the casing 920 takes the form of the transmission housing. A dock 922 is integrating into the casing 920 and is configured to receive a fluid container 940 that contains a fluid reservoir 942 and a filter 943. The dock 922 includes a first fluid port coupling 924 configured to receive a fluid port coupling of the fluid container 940 that is associated with the fluid reservoir 942 and a second fluid port coupling 926 configured to receive a fluid port coupling associated with the filter 943. In the particular embodiment shown in FIG. 9, the fluid container 940 takes the form of an oil container, and filter 943 takes the form of an oil filter. In one embodiment the oil container may be an oil cell, such as the NEXCEL precision lubrication system from Castrol Limited in the UK.

[0084] In addition to these fluid port couplings, the dock 922 includes at least one further fluid port coupling. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 9 a de-aerator fluid port coupling 990 in the dock 922 is configured to receive a corresponding de-aerator fluid port coupling 992 in the fluid container 940. The de-aerator fluid port coupling 992 in the fluid container 940 is connected to a fluid de-aeration device 994 provided to remove any entrained gas in fluid leaving the engine unit 902 before the fluid enters the fluid reservoir 942. The fluid container 940 may also include a breather port (not shown), which, depending upon the design of the dry-sump engine fluid circulation system 900 may also be configured to connect to a fluid port coupling provided in the dock 922 in the event that any gas is intended to vent via the engine unit 902 rather than directly to air (as depicted in FIG. 9).

[0085] The placement of the dock 922 directly on the casing 920 of a portion of the engine unit 902 may make the fluid circulation system 900 compact and may reduce the length of external fluid conduits between the fluid container 940 and the engine unit 902. Further, because the transmission is typically smaller than the engine 904, providing the dock 922 on the transmission housing 920 may allow the fluid container 940 to fill areas around the transmission and may form a more compact engine system.

[0086] The direct coupling of the fluid container 940 to the engine unit 902 also reduces the likelihood that any components of the engine unit 902 might collide with the fluid container 940 during an emergency event. For example, in embodiments where the engine unit 902 is part of a vehicle, an emergency event may include a high acceleration of the vehicle, the collision of the vehicle with another structure, and/or undesirable relative movement of the components of the vehicle. Using the fluid circulation system of FIG. 9, during an emergency event, although the engine unit 902 may move relative to other components of the vehicle, there is no relative movement between the fluid container 940 and the engine unit 902. The fluid container 940 is likely to move together with the engine unit 902 based on its connection thereto. This is particularly the case when the emergency event is an impact. In most emergency events, the components of the engine unit 902 are the most rigid and have the most momentum. Accordingly, objects that collide with any components of the engine unit 902, such as other under-bonnet components, are most susceptible to damage. However, because the fluid container 940 is attached directly to the engine unit 902, it is least likely to collide with any of those components. Thus, the position of the dock 922 and the fluid container 940 may provide safety advantages over other placements of the fluid container 940.

[0087] Rather than utilize a transfer pump 545 as in the embodiment of the disclosure depicted in FIG. l,the dry-sump engine fluid circulation system 900 makes use of the engine scavenge pump 945 to pump fluid between the fluid collection container 910 and the fluid reservoir 942. In use, fluid may be transferred from the fluid collection container 910 using the scavenge pump 945 via a first fluid conduit 930 to the dock 922, and then via the de-aerator fluid port couplings 990, 992 into the de-aeration device 994. From here fluid enters the fluid reservoir 942, where it may be transferred into the filter 943 via the first fluid port coupling 924 and a second fluid conduit 931 via a pressure pump 944 and optionally, a fluid cooler 946 to the second fluid port coupling 926 and into the filter 943. From here fluid exits the filter 943 and the fluid container 940 and enters the oil galleries of the engine unit 904 via a third fluid conduit 933. [0088] The dry-sump engine fluid circulation system 900 also includes a control system 954 that operates the pumps 945, 950 and may also operate valves of the dry-sump engine fluid circulation system 900, as described in greater detail below. The control system 954 may include a memory 956 for storing instructions of certain methods of operation, as described in more detail below, and may include a processor 958 for carrying out those instructions.

[0089] The control system 954 may be in communication with a data reader 996 of the dock 922. The data reader 996 may be configured to read data stored by the fluid container 940. In some embodiments, the fluid container 940 may be configured to store identification data indicating, for example, a serial number, manufacturer details, service history data, service regime data, one or more property of one or more of the fluids contained therein, the vehicle with which the fluid container is designed to be used, container history data, engine history data of an engine with which the fluid container has been used, and so on, and may be configured to communicate the identification data to the control system 954 via the data reader 996. Further, the control system 954 may be configured to select, or update, a service interval or control regime based on fluid-quality data provided by one or more sensors located in the engine or the fluid container or on data provided from elsewhere.

[0090] In the embodiment of the fluid circulation system 900, in which the fluid container 940 takes the form of an oil container, the fluid reservoir 942 may hold lubricating oil, for example, engine lubricating oil. Accordingly, the oil container in such embodiments can provide fresh, refreshed or unused lubricating oil which may conveniently replace a fluid container holding used or spent lubricating oil.

[0091] It will be apparent to those sldlled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the processes and devices described here without departing from the scope of the disclosure. Thus, it is intended that the present disclosure cover such modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.