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Title:
QUICK COUPLING WITH LOWER SEPARATION FORCE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/126535
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A coupler (200) for a fluid coupling (10) is provided that includes a valve housing (210) and a valve member (230) with an inclined seal (260). The valve housing (210) has a through-passage (212) and a tapered valve seat (216) surrounding the through-passage (212). The valve member (230) is moveable along an axis (50) in the valve housing (210) between a closed position engaged with the valve seat (216) to block fluid flow through the through-passage (212) and an open position spaced from the valve seat (216) to allow fluid flow through the through-passage (212). The inclined seal (260) has a sealing surface (261) for engaging the valve seat (216) when the valve member (230) is in the closed position, which reduces the sealing diameter of the valve member (230) and enables a lower separation force for improved connection of the coupler (200) under pressure. The configuration of the valve member (230) with the inclined seal (260) may also improve flow performance and the durability of the valve member components.

Inventors:
KOLLER, Jason (1890 Park Ridge Drive, Chaska, Minnesota, 55318, US)
FOSE, Carter (3735 Texas Ave. S, St. Louis Park, Minnesota, 55426, US)
MARQUIS, Timothy (6448 Marlowe Ave. NE, Otsego, Minnesota, 55301, US)
Application Number:
US2016/015522
Publication Date:
August 11, 2016
Filing Date:
January 29, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PARKER-HANNIFIN CORPORATION (6035 Parkland Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio, 44124, US)
International Classes:
F16L1/26; F16L37/32; F16K1/38; F16K1/46
Foreign References:
US20130312846A12013-11-28
US20040211474A12004-10-28
US3500859A1970-03-17
GB2448220A2008-10-08
DE1242963B1967-06-22
NL1020775C22003-12-09
US2903235A1959-09-08
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BULSON, Don W. (1621 Euclid Ave, 19th FloorCleveland, Ohio, 44115, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

What is claimed is:

1 . A coupler for a fluid coupling, the coupler comprising:

a valve housing having a through-passage and a tapered valve seat surrounding the through-passage; and

a valve member moveable along an axis in the valve housing between a closed position engaged with the valve seat to block fluid flow through the through-passage and an open position spaced from the valve seat to allow fluid flow through the through-passage;

wherein the valve member has a radially outer beveled surface and includes an inclined seal having an inner inclined side surface inclined to a plane perpendicular to the axis, the inner inclined side surface being continuous with a radially outward sealing surface configured for engaging the valve seat when the valve member is in the closed position.

2. The coupler according to claim 1 , wherein the inclined seal has a radially inclined inner portion sandwiched between axially opposed surfaces of the valve member that are inclined to a plane perpendicular to the axis.

3. The coupler according to claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the sealing surface of the inclined seal extends between radially outer ends of inclined side faces of the inclined seal, the inclined side faces being inclined to a plane perpendicular to the axis.

4. The coupler according to claim 3 or any of the other preceding claims, wherein the axially opposed inclined surfaces of the valve member engage and shroud the respective inclined side faces of the inclined seal. 5. The coupler according to claim 4 or any of the other preceding claims, wherein the axially opposed inclined surfaces are parallel to each other or taper toward each other and compressively engage the corresponding parallel or tapered inclined side faces of the inclined seal.

6. The coupler according to claim 4 or any of the other preceding claims, wherein the inclined seal does not substantially protrude beyond a radially outermost portion of the valve member that is proximal and axially forward the inclined seal.

7. The coupler according to claim 3 or any of the other preceding claims, wherein the sealing surface is curved or chamfered; and

wherein at least one of the inclined side faces of the inclined seal is straight, curved, or stepped.

8. The coupler according to claim 2 or any of the other preceding claims, wherein the valve member comprises a valve body and a seal retainer;

wherein one of the axially opposed inclined surfaces of the valve member is a shoulder surface of the valve body; and

wherein the other axially opposed inclined surface of the valve member is a seal engaging surface of the seal retainer.

9. The coupler according to claim 8, wherein the seal retainer is disposed axially rearward from the inclined sealing surface for preventing engagement of the seal retainer with the valve seat.

10. The coupler according to claim 8 or claim 9, wherein the seal retainer is coupled to the valve body by at least one of: threading, welding, adhesive bonding, swaging and fastening.

1 1 . The coupler according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the valve member is a poppet valve having a poppet valve body extending between a forward end and a rearward end, the poppet valve body including:

a valve nose for engaging another valve member, the valve nose being axially forward the radially outer beveled surface of the poppet valve; and

a valve stem for slidably engaging a biasing spring, the valve stem being axially rearward the radially outer beveled surface of the poppet valve.

12. The coupler according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the coupler is a male coupler or a female coupler. 13. The coupler according to claim 12, wherein the male coupler is slidably coupled with a female coupler.

14. The coupler combination according to claim 13, wherein the female coupler has a valve member that is identical to the valve member of the male coupler.

15. The coupler according to any preceding claim, wherein the coupler has a sleeve guide in the through-passage, the sleeve guide having:

radially outer guide supports for concentrically supporting the sleeve guide in the through-passage;

a central bore through which a stem of the valve body extends; and a spring in the central bore operable to bias the valve member toward the closed position. 16. The coupler according to any of claims 1 to 14, wherein the coupler has a cylindrical guide support configured to surround and concentrically support the valve member in the through-passage.

17. The coupler according to claim 16, wherein the cylindrical guide support has one or more axial through-passages.

18. The coupler according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the inclined seal is made of polyether ether ketone (PEEK) or other rigid

thermoplastic.

19. A poppet valve for a quick-connect coupler being axially moveable in a central bore of a valve housing between a closed position for engaging a valve seat and an open position spaced from the valve seat, the poppet valve comprising:

a valve body; an inclined seal; and a seal retainer;

wherein the valve body has:

a longitudinal axis extending between a forward end and a rearward end of the valve body;

a beveled surface for engaging the valve seat, the beveled surface extending inwardly from a radially outer portion of the valve body and being forwardly inclined to a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis; and

a sloped shoulder surface opposite the beveled surface, the sloped shoulder surface extending inwardly from the radially outer portion of the valve body and being rearwardly inclined to a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis;

wherein the seal retainer has a sloped seal retaining surface opposing the sloped shoulder surface and being axially spaced therefrom, the sloped seal retaining surface being rearwardly inclined to a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis;

wherein the inclined seal is disposed between the sloped shoulder surface of the valve body and the sloped seal retaining surface of the seal retainer, the inclined seal having an inner inclined side surface and an axially opposite outer inclined side surface, the inner inclined side surface being configured to engage the sloped shoulder surface and the outer inclined side surface being configured to engage the sloped seal retaining surface; and

wherein the inclined seal has a sealing surface extending between radially outer ends of the respective inclined side surfaces of the inclined seal, the sealing surface radially protruding beyond the radially outer portion of the valve body for engaging the valve seat when the poppet valve is in the closed position. 20. The poppet valve according to claim 19, wherein the sloped shoulder surface covers the entire inner inclined side surface of the inclined seal;

wherein the sloped seal retaining surface covers the entire outer inclined side surface of the inclined seal; and wherein the inclined seal does not substantially protrude beyond the radially outer portion of the valve body that is proximal the inclined seal.

21 . The poppet valve according to claim 19 or claim 20, wherein the beveled surface and the sloped shoulder surface extend inwardly from a radially outermost surface of an intermediate portion of the valve body; wherein the poppet valve further includes:

a valve nose for engaging another poppet valve, the valve nose extending axially forward from the intermediate portion; and

a valve stem for slidably engaging a biasing spring, the valve stem extending axially rearward from the intermediate portion.

22. The poppet valve according to claim any of claims 19 to 21 , wherein the inclined seal is a conical seal.

Description:
QUICK COUPLING WITH LOWER SEPARATION FORCE

Related Applications

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/1 12,448 filed February 5, 2015, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

Field of Invention

The present invention relates generally to fluid couplings, and more particularly to a fluid coupler with a valve member that provides lower separation force during coupling.

Background

Fluid couplings of the quick connect/disconnect type are often used for connecting hydraulic fluid lines in subsea applications. These quick connect couplings generally include a male coupler and a female coupler mated together. The male coupler generally includes a cylindrical body having a nipple portion at one end for engaging with the female coupler. The female coupler generally includes a cylindrical body with a longitudinal bore having a relatively larger diameter at one end for slidably receiving the nipple portion of the male coupler. The male and female couplers include connections at their respective opposite ends to facilitate connection to hydraulic fluid lines. When the nipple portion of the male coupler is inserted into the receiving end of the female coupler, fluid flow may be established through flow passages in each coupler. Each coupler may be provided with a valve member, such as a poppet valve. When the male and female couplers are connected together, the respective valve members engage one another, and are axially moved from respective valve seats to allow fluid to flow through passages in the mated coupling. When the male and female couplers are disconnected, the valve members disengage to automatically close the flow passages and block fluid flow.

A typical subsea application constitutes a high-pressure system that imposes high axial forces on the male and female couplers during the coupling operation and during use. The high pressures are exerted in such a way as to urge separation of the couplers, which places increased loading on the connection mechanism that holds the couplers together. In addition, the increased pressure acting against the valve member forces the valve member toward the closed position, which increases the force required for unseating the valve member and connecting the couplers together. To reduce such loads for connecting the couplers together, the couplers may be designed with pressure balanced valve members, or with low separation force valve members.

However, the force necessary to join the couplers and the resultant tendency of the couplers to separate remain characteristic problems in the art, particularly with respect to the separation force needed to unseat the valve members during connection under pressure. In addition, the high-pressure cyclic loading of such systems continue to cause problems with the durability of the valve member components, and the high force fluid flow causes damage to the valve seals, such as by shearing, wash-out, or abrasion.

Summary of Invention

The present invention provides a coupler having a valve member with an inclined seal that reduces the sealing diameter of the valve member and enables a lower separation force for unseating the valve member to improve connection of the coupler under pressure. The configuration of the inclined seal also enables the valve member to have a greater axial thickness at its radially outer seating surface, which maintains the strength and burst pressure performance of the valve member. The valve member may engage and seal against the radially outer seating surface while simultaneously providing a configuration that improves flow performance, reduces seal extrusion, and reduces loading and premature cyclic failure of the valve member. In addition, the valve member may be configured to improve the protective shrouding of the inclined seal, which may reduce seal shearing, seal wash-out, or seal abrasion due to high-force fluid flow.

According to an aspect of the invention, a coupler is provided for a fluid coupling, the coupler comprising a valve housing having a through-passage and a tapered valve seat surrounding the through-passage; and a valve member moveable along an axis in the valve housing between a closed position engaged with the valve seat to block fluid flow through the through-passage, and an open position spaced from the valve seat to allow fluid flow through the through- passage. The valve member has a radially outer beveled surface and includes an inclined seal having an inner side inclined surface that is inclined to a plane perpendicular to the axis and that is continuous with a radially outward sealing surface configured for engaging the valve seat when the valve member is in the closed position.

Embodiments of the invention may include one or more of the following additional features separately or in combination.

For example, the coupler may include the inclined seal having a radially inner portion sandwiched between axially opposed surfaces of the valve member that are inclined to a plane perpendicular to the axis.

The sealing surface of the inclined seal may extend between radially outer ends of inclined side faces of the inclined seal, wherein the inclined side faces are inclined to a plane perpendicular to the axis.

The axially opposed inclined surfaces of the valve member may engage and shroud the respective inclined side faces of the inclined seal for reducing seal shearing or seal abrasion caused by fluid flow.

The inclined seal may be configured to not substantially protrude beyond a radially outermost portion of the valve member and/or valve body that is proximal the inclined seal.

Additional exemplary features may include the valve member comprising a valve body and a seal retainer; wherein one of the axially opposed inclined surfaces of the valve member is a shoulder surface of the valve body, and wherein the other axially opposed inclined surface of the valve member is a seal engaging surface of the seal retainer.

The seal retainer may be disposed axially rearward the inclined sealing surface for preventing engagement of the seal retainer with the valve seat.

Also according to the invention, the coupler may be a male coupler or a female coupler. The male or female coupler may each have identical valve members, such as poppet valves, and may be coupled together to form a fluid coupling, which may be a fluid coupling of the quick connect/disconnect type. According to another aspect of the invention, a poppet valve for a quick- connect coupler is provided that is axially moveable in a central bore of a valve housing between a closed position for engaging a valve seat and an open position spaced from the valve seat. The poppet valve comprises a valve body, an inclined seal, and a seal retainer.

The poppet valve body has a longitudinal axis extending between a forward end and a rearward end of the valve body. The valve body may also include a beveled surface for engaging the valve seat, with the beveled surface extending inwardly from a radially outer portion of the valve body and being forwardly inclined to a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis. The valve body may also include a sloped shoulder surface opposite the beveled surface, with the sloped shoulder surface extending inwardly from the radially outer portion of the valve body and being rearwardly inclined to a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis.

The poppet valve seal retainer may have a sloped seal retaining surface opposing the sloped shoulder surface and being axially spaced therefrom, with the sloped seal retaining surface being rearwardly inclined to a plane

perpendicular to the longitudinal axis.

The inclined seal may be disposed between the sloped shoulder surface of the valve body and the sloped seal retaining surface of the seal retainer. The inclined seal may have an inner inclined side surface and an axially opposite outer inclined side surface, with the inner inclined side surface being configured to engage the sloped shoulder surface and the outer inclined side surface being configured to engage the sloped seal retaining surface. The inclined seal may have a sealing surface extending between radially outer ends of the respective inclined side surfaces of the inclined seal, and the sealing surface may radially protrude beyond the radially outer surface of the valve body for engaging the valve seat when the poppet valve is in the closed position.

Additional exemplary features may include the sloped shoulder surface covering or shrouding the entire inner inclined side surface of the inclined seal, wherein the sloped seal retaining surface covers the entire outer inclined side surface of the inclined seal, and wherein the inclined seal does not substantially protrude beyond the radially outer portion of the valve body that is proximal the inclined seal.

In some embodiments, the poppet valve may optionally have the beveled surface and the sloped shoulder surface extending inwardly from a radially outermost surface of an intermediate portion of the valve body, wherein the poppet valve further includes a valve nose for engaging another poppet valve, with the valve nose extending axially forward the intermediate portion; and a valve stem for slidably engaging a biasing spring, with the valve stem extending axially rearward the intermediate portion.

The following description and the annexed drawings set forth certain illustrative embodiments of the invention. These embodiments are indicative, however, of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the invention may be employed. Other objects, advantages and novel features according to aspects of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings

The annexed drawings, which are not necessarily to scale, show various aspects of the invention.

Fig. 1 is a cross-sectional side view of a fluid coupling having a male coupler and female coupler according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 2 is an end view of the fluid coupling according to Fig. 1 .

Fig. 3 is a close-up cross-sectional side view of a prior art coupler with the valve member in a closed position.

Fig. 4 is a close-up cross-sectional side view of the male coupler according to Fig. 1 with the valve member in a closed position.

Fig. 5 is a cross-sectional side view of a fluid coupling having a male coupler and female coupler according to another exemplary embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 6 is an end view of the fluid coupling in Fig. 5. Detailed Description

The principles of the present invention have particular application to quick connect/disconnect fluid couplings for subsea applications, and thus will be described below chiefly in this context. It will of course be appreciated, and also understood, that principles of this invention may be applicable to other fluid couplings where it is desirable to provide lower separation force for connection under pressure, to improve durability of the valve member components, and/or to improve protection and durability of the valve seal.

Turning now to Fig. 1 , a cross-sectional side view of an exemplary fluid coupling 10 is shown. The coupling 10 comprises a female coupler 100 and a male coupler 200, which are shown in their coupled configuration. The male coupler 200 includes a generally cylindrical body 210 (also referred to as a valve housing 210), a through-passage 212, and a valve member 230. An end view of the fluid coupling 10 is shown in Fig. 2.

The male coupler body 210 may be threaded at one end, and may have a fitting 208, or other suitable connecting means for connecting the male coupler 200 to a manifold plate or hydraulic fluid line (not shown). The male coupler body 210 tapers to a nipple portion 21 1 at an opposite end, which is adapted for being slidably received by the female coupler 100, as will be described in further detail below.

The through-passage 212 of the male valve housing 210 may be a central bore that extends between opposite ends of the valve housing 210 along a longitudinal axis 50. The through-passage 212 may have several variations in diameter and may be a stepped bore with a first, larger diameter bore section 215 having an inner surface that surrounds the through-passage 212 and extends axially within the valve housing 210 toward a tapered valve seat 216; and a second, smaller diameter bore section 217 that extends from the tapered valve seat 216 toward the opposite end through the nipple portion 21 1 of the male valve housing 210.

The valve member 230 may be a poppet valve which is slidably received and axially moveable within the through-passage 212 of the male valve housing 210. The valve member 230 generally includes a valve body 233 having a longitudinal axis 50 that extends between a forward end 231 (toward the nipple portion 21 1 ) and an opposite rearward end 232 (away from the nipple portion 21 1 ). The valve body 233 also generally includes a conical head 237 with a radially outer beveled surface 241 that is dimensioned to seat and seal with the tapered valve seat 216 when the valve member 230 is in a closed position. The valve member 230 also generally includes a valve seal 260 that is located proximal the conical head 237 and which engages and seals with the valve seat 216 for blocking fluid flow through the through-passage 212 in the closed position. The valve seal 260 may generally be held on the valve body 233 with a seal retainer 270, which will be described in detail below.

The conical head 237 of the valve body 233 may be an intermediate portion 237 of the valve body 233, and the valve member 230 may further include a valve nose 235 extending axially forward from the apex of the conical head 237 through the second bore section 217. The valve nose 235 may be dimensioned with a smaller diameter than the diameter of second bore section 217 for providing an annular flow passage that enables fluid flow through valve housing 210. The valve body 233 may also include a valve stem 239 that extends axially rearward from the intermediate portion 237, and which may be slidably received in a valve guide 290.

The valve guide 290 may be a generally sleeve shaped member with a central bore having an inner surface that surrounds the valve stem 239 of the valve body 233 and supports and guides the valve member 230 for enabling enhanced stability during sliding axial movement. The valve guide 290 also surrounds a helical biasing spring 298 disposed within the central bore of the valve guide 290. The valve guide 290 and the biasing spring 298 both surround the valve stem 239, and the biasing spring 298 engages the valve member 230 for biasing the valve member 230 toward the closed position.

The valve guide 290 may be slidably disposed in the through-passage 212 and positioned within the larger diameter first bore section 215. The valve guide 290 may have a radially outer surface with a diameter that is sized smaller than the diameter of first bore section 215, and which provides an annular flow passage for enabling fluid flow through the valve housing 210. The valve guide 290 may also include radially outer guide supports 292 that support the valve guide 290 concentrically within the first bore section 215. There may be two or more guide supports 292 circumferential ly spaced about the radially outer surface of the valve guide 290, and the guide supports 292 may be positioned toward the forward and rearward ends of the valve guide 290. In order to secure the valve guide 290 in the first bore section 215, an annular stop collar 294 is provided toward the rearward end of the first bore section 215 for abutting the rearward guide supports 292. The annular stop collar 294 may be secured within the first bore section 215 with an annular retaining ring 296.

Still referring to Fig. 1 , the female coupler 100 will now be described in detail, with similar reference numerals referring to similar structures. The female coupler 100 includes a generally cylindrical body 1 10 (also referred to as a valve housing 1 10), a through-passage 1 12, and a valve member 130. The female coupler body 1 10 may be threaded at one end, and may have a fitting 108, or other suitable connecting means for connecting the female coupler 100 to a manifold plate or hydraulic fluid line (not shown). The female coupler body 1 10 has a receiving portion 1 1 1 at the opposite end, which is adapted for receiving the nipple portion 21 1 of the male coupler 200.

The through-passage 1 12 of the female valve housing 1 10 may be a central bore that extends between opposite ends of the female valve housing 1 10 along a longitudinal axis 50. The through-passage 1 12 may have several variations in diameter and may be a stepped bore with a first, larger diameter bore section 1 15 having an inner surface that surrounds the through-passage 1 12 and extends axially within the valve housing 1 10 toward a tapered valve seat 1 16. The through-passage 1 12 also includes a second, smaller diameter bore section 1 17 that extends from the tapered valve seat 1 16 and connects with a receiving bore section 1 18 located at the opposite end of the valve housing 1 10. The receiving bore section 1 18 may be a relatively larger diameter bore section being so dimensioned for receiving the outer diameter of the nipple portion 21 1 of the male coupler 200.

The female valve member 130 may be a poppet valve that is slidably received and axially moveable within the through-passage 1 12 of the female valve housing 1 10. The female valve member 130 generally includes a valve body 133 having a longitudinal axis 50 that extends between a forward end 131 (toward the receiving portion 1 1 1 ) and an opposite rearward end 132 (away from the receiving portion 1 1 1 ). The valve body 133 also generally includes a conical head 137 with a radially outer beveled surface 141 that is dimensioned to seat and seal with the tapered valve seat 1 16 (also referred to as a conical or beveled valve seat) when the female valve member 130 is in a closed position. The valve member 130 also generally includes a valve seal 160 that is located proximal the conical head 137 and which engages and seals with the valve seat 1 16 for blocking fluid flow through the through-passage 1 12 in the closed position. The female valve member 130 may be substantially similar, or even identical to, the male valve member 230, and thus only the male valve member 230 has been described in general above and in further detail below. Also similar to the male coupler 200, the female coupler 100 may include a valve guide 190, a biasing spring 198, an annular stop collar 194, and other similar components.

Fig. 1 shows the fluid coupling 10 in a state in which the male coupler 200 and female coupler 100 are coupled together with their respective valve members 130, 230 being spaced from the valve seats 1 16, 216 in an open position for allowing fluid flow through the through-passages 1 12, 212. The operation of coupling together the male coupler 200 and the female coupler 100 is as follows. When the male coupler 200 is connected to the corresponding female coupler 100, the valve nose 235 in the male coupler 200 contacts a corresponding valve nose in the female coupler 100. The biasing spring 298 in each coupler 100, 200 compresses to provide a connecting force for unseating the respective valve members 130, 230 (i.e., separation force), which overcomes the opposing fluid force that is urging the valve member 230 closed. As the respective valve members 130, 230 are unseated through axial movement that spaces the valve members 130, 230 from the valve seats 1 16, 216, the valve members 130, 230 are in an open position that allows fluid to flow through the male coupler 200 via its through-passage 212, and through the female coupler 100 via its through-passage 1 12. When the male coupler 200 is disconnected from the female coupler 100, the respective biasing springs 298 in each coupler axially move the valve members 130, 230 forward to the closed position in which the respective conical heads 137, 237 and valve seals 160, 260 engage and seal against the respective valve seats 1 16, 216 for blocking fluid flow through the through-passages 1 12, 212.

Aspects of the present invention will now be discussed in further detail below with a comparison between Fig. 3 (prior art) and Fig. 4, showing an exemplary embodiment of the invention that improves over the prior art. Turning to Fig. 4, a close-up cross-sectional side view of the male valve member 230 is shown toward the closed position. The valve member 230 has a valve body 233, an inclined seal 260, and a seal retainer 270. As described above with reference to Fig. 1 , the valve body 233 has a longitudinal axis 50 extending between a forward end 231 and a rearward end 232 of the valve body 233. As further shown in Fig. 4, the valve body 233 has a radially outer beveled surface 241 that forms a portion of the conical head 237. The beveled surface 241 extends inwardly from a radially outer portion 243 of the valve body 233 and is forwardly inclined to a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 50. In this manner, the beveled surface 241 may be configured for engaging the valve seat 216, and may be particularly configured for engaging the valve seat 216 at its radially outer portion with an incline that increases the size of the annular flow passage therebetween. The valve body 233 also includes a sloped shoulder surface 247 opposite the beveled surface 241 , which forms a valve body shoulder portion 245 therebetween. The sloped shoulder surface 247 extends inwardly from the radially outer portion 243 of the valve body 233 and is rearwardly inclined to a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 50 for engaging and shrouding one side of the inclined seal 260.

The valve member 230 may also include a sloped seal retaining surface 271 axially opposing the sloped shoulder surface 247 and being rearwardly inclined to a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 50 for engaging and shrouding an opposite side of the inclined seal 260. The axially opposed inclined surfaces 247, 271 may be parallel to each other or may taper toward each other, and the axial spacing between the sloped shoulder surface 247 and sloped seal retaining surface 271 may form a seal groove 250 in which the inclined seal 260 is arranged. The sloped seal retaining surface 271 may form a portion of the valve body 233, or the sloped seal retaining surface 271 may form a portion of a seal retainer 270 that is coupled to the valve body 233. The seal retainer 270 may have a radially outermost surface 273 proximal the inclined seal 260, and the sloped seal retaining surface 271 may extend inwardly from this radially outermost surface 273. The seal retainer 270 may be coupled to the valve body 233 by threading, welding, adhesive bonding, swaging, fastening, and/or other suitable attachment means. As the seal retainer 270 is coupled to the valve body 233, the sloped seal retaining surface 271 may compress the inclined seal 260 against the sloped shoulder surface 247. A shoulder portion 275 may be provided on the seal retainer 270 for engaging the valve body 233 and preventing overcompression.

Still referring to Fig. 4, a cross-sectional side view of one-half of the inclined seal 260 is shown. The inclined seal 260 has a radially inner portion 262 that is rearwardly inclined to a plane perpendicular to the axis 50. The inclined seal 260 may be generally conical shaped, or may be in the form of coned-disc seal such as a Bellville washer, or may be in the shape of a beveled washer. The inclined seal 260 has an inner inclined side surface 263, an axially opposite outer inclined side surface 265, and a radially outward sealing surface 261 having a portion configured to engage the valve seat 216 for blocking fluid flow. The inner inclined side surface 263 may be continuous with the radially outward sealing surface 261 , and the sealing surface 261 may extend between radially outer ends of the respective inclined side surfaces 263, 265.

As shown in Fig. 4, the radially inclined inner portion 262 is sandwiched between the axially opposed inclined surfaces 247, 271 of the valve member 230. The inner inclined side surface 263 may be configured to engage the sloped shoulder surface 247, and the outer inclined side surface 265 may be configured to engage the sloped seal retaining surface 271 . The inclined side surfaces 263, 265 may be parallel to each other, or the respective inclined side surfaces 263, 265 may be stepped, curved or tapered toward each other for improving retention of the inclined seal 260 in the seal groove 250, provided the radially inner portion 262 is generally inclined in the manner described above. The sealing surface 261 may be curved, chamfered, or have a compound surface.

The inclined seal 260 may be made of polyether ether ketone (PEEK) or other rigid thermoplastics having similar mechanical and chemical resistance properties. The rigid thermoplastic, such as PEEK, may be machined or formed into the shape of the inclined seal 260. The inclined seal 260 may also be made from elastomeric materials, such as suitable rubber-based materials.

Still referring to Fig. 4, the valve member 230 is shown in the closed- position. However, pressure may further act upon the valve member 230 to move the valve member 230 forward and compress the inclined seal 260 until the valve head 237 engages the valve seat 216. So as to enable a sealing engagement of the inclined seal's sealing surface 261 with the valve seat 216 in the closed position, the sealing surface 261 may protrude beyond the radially outermost surface of the valve body shoulder portion 245. More particularly, the sealing surface 261 may engage the valve seat 216 proximal a radially

forwardmost portion of the inclined seal 260 for reducing the sealing diameter, and the sealing surface 261 may also engage the valve seat 216 tangentially to a curve of the sealing surface 261 for reducing the sealing contact area. By reducing the sealing diameter and/or sealing contact area when the valve member 230 is in the closed position, a lower separation force for overcoming opposing fluid pressure and unseating the valve member 230 may be provided, which improves the connectability of the coupler under pressure. For example, the valve member 230 with the inclined seal 260 may reduce the separation force by as much as 40% when compared to the prior art valve member 330 shown in Fig. 3, which has a disc-shaped valve seal 360 perpendicular to the axis 50 and engages the valve seat 316 at an increased diameter portion. In other words, the reduced sealing diameter provided by the inclined seal 260 according to the exemplary valve member 230 reduces the separation force for connection under pressure when compared to the prior art valve member 330 having an increased sealing diameter.

Further according to an embodiment of the invention, the configuration of the inclined seal 260 may provide improved strength and burst pressure performance of the valve member 230 by enabling an increased axial thickness of the valve body shoulder portion 245. In other words, by configuring the inclined seal 260 in the manner described above, the inclined seal 260 is able to compress against the valve seat 216 such that the valve body beveled surface 241 may engage and seal against the valve seat 216 at a radially outer portion of the beveled surface 241 when the valve member 230 is in the closed position. This radially outer seating surface of the valve body 233 corresponds to the forward inclined surface of the valve body shoulder portion 245, the strength of which may have an effect on burst pressure performance. By providing the rewarwardly inclined inclined seal 260, the sloped shoulder surface 247 may also rearwardly incline and diverge from the beveled surface 241 , so as to increase the axial thickness of the shoulder portion 245. By maximizing the axial thickness of the shoulder portion 245 in this manner, the strength and burst pressure performance of the valve member 230 may be maintained. Such benefits may be realized all while maintaining the reduced sealing diameter of the inclined seal 260, which reduces the load on the valve member 230.

Moreover, the strength of the shoulder portion 245 may be maintained even as the beveled surface 241 is inwardly inclined to a degree that increases the size of the annular flow passage between the beveled surface 241 and valve seat 216, which may improve flow performance. In contrast, when looking to reduce the sealing diameter of the prior art valve member 330 shown in Fig. 3, the valve seal 360 would typically be shifted axially forward, which would lead to thinning of the valve body shoulder portion 345, thus reducing the strength and burst pressure performance of the valve member 330.

Since the valve member 230 may be capable of engaging the valve seat

216 at the radially outer seating surface of the beveled surface 241 in the manner described above, the seal retainer 270 may not need to engage with the valve seat 216 for preventing the valve member 230 from exiting the valve housing 210 when forced toward the closed position. Instead, the seal retainer 270 may be disposed axially rearward of the inclined sealing surface 261 for preventing engagement of the seal retainer 270 with the valve seat 216. This may reduce loading on the threads of the seal retainer 270 and prevent decoupling of the seal retainer 270 from the valve body 233. In addition, the reduced loading on the valve member 230 due to the reduced sealing diameter, coupled with the improved distribution of stresses due to the inclined seal 260 configuration, may also improve the cyclic durability of the seal retainer 270 or other valve member 230 components. Seal extrusion of the inclined seal 260 may also be reduced in a similar manner. Further according to an embodiment of the invention, the axially opposed inclined surfaces 247, 271 of the valve member 230 may compressively engage and protectively shroud the inclined seal 260. In this manner, the sloped shoulder surface 247 may cover the entire inner inclined side surface 263 of the inclined seal 260; and the sloped seal retaining surface 271 may cover the entire outer inclined side surface 265. For example, the inclined seal 260 may be configured to not protrude beyond the radially outermost side surface 273 of the seal retainer 270 that is proximal the conical seal 260. More particularly, although the inclined seal 260 may protrude beyond the radially outermost surface 243 of the valve body shoulder portion 245 for engaging the valve seat 216, the inclined seal 260 may also be configured to not substantially protrude beyond the the radially outermost surface 243 of the valve body shoulder portion 245 to protectively shroud the inclined seal 260. For example, the inclined seal 260 may be configured such that no more than 20%, preferably no more than 10%, of the inclined seal 260 substantially protrudes beyond the radially outermost surface 243, as measured in cross-section by the overall length of the inclined side of the inclined seal 260 from the radially outermost portion to the radially innermost portion of the inclined seal 260. By shrouding the inclined seal 260 in this manner, the inclined seal 260 may be more resistant to seal shearing, seal abrasion, or seal wash-out that may be caused by high force fluid flow, and which is a known problem with the prior art configuration that is shown in Fig. 3.

The coupler provided by the present invention thus improves upon prior art couplers and fluid couplings by providing a coupler 200 having a valve member 230 with an inclined seal 260. The configuration of the inclined seal 260 may reduce the sealing diameter of the valve member 230 and enables a lower separation force for improved connection of the coupler 200 under pressure. The configuration of the valve member 230 that supports the inclined seal 260 in this manner also enables the valve member 230 to have a greater axial thickness at the radially outer seating surface of the shoulder portion 245, which maintains the strength and burst pressure performance of the valve member 230. With the strength of the valve member 230 being maintained, the valve member 230 may engage and seal against the radially outer seating surface, while simultaneously providing a configuration that may improve flow performance, reduce seal extrusion, and/or reduce loading and premature cyclic failure of the seal retainer 270. Also, the inclined seal 260 may be protectively shrouded by the valve body 233 and/or seal retainer 270, which may reduce seal shearing, seal wash-out, or seal abrasion due to the high-force fluid flow.

Turning now to Fig. 5 and Fig. 6, another exemplary embodiment of a fluid coupling 300 is shown. The fluid coupling 300 is substantially the same as the above-referenced fluid coupling 10, and consequently the same reference numerals are used to denote structures corresponding to the same or similar structures in the fluid couplings 10 and 300. In addition, the foregoing

description of the fluid coupling 10 is equally applicable to the fluid coupling 300 except as noted below. Moreover, it will be appreciated that aspects of the fluid couplings may be substituted for one another or used in conjunction with one another where applicable.

In the illustrated embodiment of Figs. 5 and 6, the fluid coupling 300 includes cylindrical guide supports 392 for each of the valve members 130 and 230, instead of having a plurality of guide supports (e.g., 292) circumferentially spaced about the radially outer surface of the valve guides 190 and 290 at the axial ends thereof. The cylindrical guide supports 392 may be configured to surround and concentrically support the respective valve members 130 and 230 within the respective bores. The cylindrical guide supports 392 may be

positioned toward the rearward axial ends of the respective valve members 130 and 230. The cylindrical guide supports 392 may have one or more axial through-passages 400 for enabling fluid flow across the guide supports 392. The plurality of through-passages 400 may each have an opening 402 in an axial end wall 404 of the cylindrical guide support 392, and the openings 402 may be circumferentially spaced about the longitudinal axis 50.

Although the invention has been shown and described with respect to a certain embodiment or embodiments, it is understood that equivalent alterations and modifications will occur to others skilled in the art upon the reading and understanding of this specification and the annexed drawings. For example, although the fluid coupling has been described for use in subsea applications with a multi-coupling manifold, the coupling or coupler may be used in other fluid coupling applications, or with individual quick couplings that have ball locking connection mechanisms, or the like. Also, the valve member has been described with reference to a poppet valve, however it should be understood that the valve member may be any type of valve member that is axially moveable in a valve housing between an open and closed position. In addition, with particular regard to the various functions performed by the above described elements (components, assemblies, devices, compositions, etc.), the terms (including a reference to a "means") used to describe such elements are intended to correspond, unless otherwise indicated, to any element which performs the specified function of the described element (i.e. , that is functionally equivalent), even though not structurally equivalent to the disclosed structure which performs the function in the herein illustrated exemplary embodiment or embodiments of the invention. In addition, while a particular feature of the invention may have been described above with respect to only one or more of several illustrated embodiments, such feature may be combined with one or more other features of the other embodiments, as may be desired and advantageous for any given or particular application.