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Title:
SPRAY UNIT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/234014
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a spray unit (10), comprising an axle (20), a body (30), and a plurality of blades (40). The axle is configured to rotate about an axis that extends in a longitudinal direction of the axle. The body is connected to the axle. The body is configured to receive liquid from a liquid reservoir (50). The plurality of blades is connected to the body. Each blade of the plurality of blades has a longitudinal axis that extends in a generally radial direction with respect to the axis of the axle. The plurality of blades are angularly spaced radially one from the other around the axis of the axle. Each blade of the plurality of blades comprises a central channel (60) that extends in the longitudinal axis direction of the blade. The central channel is configured to receive liquid from the liquid reservoir via the body. Each blade of the plurality of blades comprises one or more edge channels (70) that extend in a direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis direction of the blade. The one or more edge channels are connected to the central channel. The one or more edge channels are configured to receive liquid from the central channel. Each edge channel of the one or more edge channels has an open end that is distal to an end connected to the central channel.

Inventors:
CHAPPLE ANDREW (DE)
FAERS MALCOLM (DE)
Application Number:
EP2020/062981
Publication Date:
November 26, 2020
Filing Date:
May 11, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BAYER AG (DE)
International Classes:
B05B3/02; A01M7/00; B64C39/02; B64D1/18
Domestic Patent References:
WO2019130317A12019-07-04
WO2017106376A12017-06-22
Foreign References:
US3381922A1968-05-07
US2954932A1960-10-04
GB1447369A1976-08-25
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BIP PATENTS (DE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims:

1. A spray unit (10), comprising:

an axle (20);

a body (30); and

a plurality of blades (40);

wherein, the axle is configured to rotate about an axis that extends in a longitudinal direction of the axle;

wherein, the body is connected to the axle;

wherein, the body is configured to receive liquid from a liquid reservoir (50); wherein, each blade of the plurality of blades is connected to the body;

wherein, each blade of the plurality of blades has a longitudinal axis that extends in a generally radial direction with respect to the axis of the axle;

wherein, the plurality of blades are angularly spaced radially one from the other around the axis of the axle;

wherein, each blade of the plurality of blades comprises a central channel (60) that extends in the longitudinal axis direction of the blade, and wherein the central channel is configured to receive liquid from the liquid reservoir via the body;

wherein, each blade of the plurality of blades comprises one or more edge channels (70) that extend in a direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis direction of the blade, wherein the one or more edge channels are connected to the central channel, wherein the one or more edge channels are configured to receive liquid from the central channel; and

wherein, each edge channel of the one or more edge channels has an open end that is distal to an end connected to the central channel.

2. Spray unit according to claim 1, wherein the axle is configured to receive liquid from the liquid reservoir and communicate that liquid to the body.

3. Spray unit according to any of claims 1-2, wherein the blades are equally angularly spaced one from the other.

4. Spray unit according to any of claims 1-3, wherein the spray unit is configured to generate aerodynamic lift due to rotation of the body about the axis of the axle.

5. Spray unit according to any of claims 1-4, wherein each blade has a shape configured to generate aerodynamic lift.

6. Spray unit according to any of claims 1-5, wherein the spray unit is configured such that liquid is emitted from the one or more edge channels for each of the plurality of blades in the form of droplets.

7. Spray unit according to any of claims 1-6, wherein the one or more edge channels of a blade comprises a plurality of edge channels, and wherein the central channel and the plurality of edge channels for a blade are configured such that a quantity of liquid flowing down each of the edge channels per unit time is substantially the same.

8. Spray unit according to claim 7, wherein the central channel and the plurality of edge channels for a blade are configured such that the quantity of liquid flowing down each of the edge channels per unit time is substantially the same during rotation of the body about the axis of the axle.

9. Spray unit according to any of claims 1-8, wherein the one or more edge channels extend away from the central channel in a direction opposite to an intended rotation direction of the body.

10. Spray unit according to any of claims 1-9, wherein the one or more edge channels of each blade extend to a trailing edge (80) of each blade.

11. Spray unit according to any of claims 1-10, wherein the trailing edge of each blade comprises at least one portion having serrations (90) and/or extrusions (100).

12. A spray vehicle (200) comprising one or more spray units (10) according to any of claims 1-11.

13. Spray vehicle according to claim 12, wherein the spray vehicle is an unmanned aerial vehicle.

14. Spray vehicle according to claim 13, wherein the one or more spray units form one or more rotor blade units for the UAV.

15. Spray vehicle according to claim 12, wherein the spray vehicle is a land vehicle.

Description:
SPRAY UNIT

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a spray unit, and to a vehicle having one or more of the spray units.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The general background of this invention is the application of herbicides and pesticides to crops. The spray liquid must be atomised. This is typically done using hydraulic nozzles. A more sophisticated approach is to use spinning discs. Both approaches require specific pumps, pipes, electric motors. When the vehicle spraying the herbicide/pesticide is a drone or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the dedicated spray technology adds weight, that is detrimental to the operation of the UAV

There is a need to address these issues for UAV spraying platforms and for ground based spraying platforms.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It would be advantageous to have improved means for the spraying of herbicides and pesticides, such as insecticides.

The object of the present invention is solved with the subject matter of the independent claims, wherein further embodiments are incorporated in the dependent claims. It should be noted that the following described aspects and examples of the invention apply also for the spray unit, the vehicle having one or more spray unit.

In a first aspect, there is provided a spray unit, comprising:

an axle;

a body; and

a plurality of blades.

The axle is configured to rotate about an axis that extends in a longitudinal direction of the axle. The body is connected to the axle. The body is configured to receive liquid from a liquid reservoir. Each blade of the plurality of blades is connected to the body. Each blade of the plurality of blades has a longitudinal axis that extends in a generally radial direction with respect to the axis of the axle. The plurality of blades are angularly spaced radially one from the other around the axis of the axle. Each blade of the plurality of blades comprises a central channel that extends in the longitudinal axis direction of the blade. The central channel is configured to receive liquid from the liquid reservoir via the body. Each blade of the plurality of blades comprises one or more edge channels that extend in a direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis direction of the blade. The one or more edge channels are connected to the central channel, and the one or more edge channels are configured to receive liquid from the central channel. Each edge channel of the one or more edge channels has an open end that is distal to an end connected to the central channel.

In other words, a rotational spray unit is provided that has a number of rotor blades, where liquid runs within the blades and exits the trailing edges of the blades, thereby efficiently forming liquid droplets as the spray unit rotates.

Thus, the rotor blades of the spray unit can be configured to provide a downwash of air to entrain the droplets that generated from liquid emitted from the blades as they rotate, and can thus force the droplets into the crop, thereby increasing the efficiency of spraying. Additionally, the rotor blades of the spray unit can be configured to provide lift, and can augment and/or replace the lift providing normal rotor blades of a UAV, thereby reducing weight of the UAV, that can then fly for longer and/or carry a greater load. Thus, the blades in being connected to the body can be connected in a rotational manner, such that if required the angle of attack of the all the blades can be changed to provide lift and the angle of attack can be altered cyclically, analogously to that for a helicopter, in order to provide directed forward motion and/or turning motion without having to move the axle.

In an example, the axle is configured to receive liquid from the liquid reservoir and communicate that liquid to the body.

In an example, the blades are equally angularly spaced one from the other.

In an example, the spray unit is configured to generate aerodynamic lift due to rotation of the body about the axis of the axle.

In an example, each blade has a shape configured to generate aerodynamic lift. In an example, the spray unit is configured such that liquid is emitted from the one or more edge channels for each of the plurality of blades in the form of droplets.

In an example, the one or more edge channels of a blade comprises a plurality of edge channels, and wherein the central channel and the plurality of edge channels for a blade are configured such that a quantity of liquid flowing down each of the edge channels per unit time is substantially the same.

In an example, the central channel and the plurality of edge channels for a blade are configured such that the quantity of liquid flowing down each of the edge channels per unit time is substantially the same during rotation of the body about the axis of the axle.

In an example, the one or more edge channels extend away from the central channel in a direction opposite to an intended rotation direction of the body.

In an example, the one or more edge channels of each blade extend to a trailing edge of each blade.

In an example, the trailing edge of each blade comprises at least one portion having serrations and/or extrusions.

In this manner, the trailing edge being formed in this way assists in droplet formation and at the same time limits small droplet production and enables the size distribution to be controlled by the the size and/or shape of the serrations and/or extrusions.

In a second aspect, there is provided a spray vehicle comprising one or more spray units according to the first aspect.

In an example, the spray vehicle is an unmanned aerial vehicle.

In an example, the one or more spray units form one or more rotor blade units for the UAV.

In this way, instead of mounting dedicated spray units on a drone or UAV to create spray, the drone propellers are themselves used to atomise the liquid. In this manner, weight is saved and the spray droplets are automatically entrained within the downwash produced by the propellers, increasing the efficiency of spraying and reducing spray drift.

In an example, the spray vehicle is a land vehicle.

Advantageously, the benefits provided by any of the above aspects equally apply to all of the other aspects and vice versa.

The above aspects and examples will become apparent from and be elucidated with reference to the embodiments described hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Exemplary embodiments will be described in the following with reference to the following drawings:

Fig. 1 shows a schematic set up of an example of a spray unit;

Fig. 2 shows a schematic set up of an example of a vehicle comprises a spray unit; and

Fig. 3 shows a representation of parts of an exemplar spray unit.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

Fig. 1 shows an example of a spray unit 10. The spray unit has an axle 20, a body 30, and a plurality of blades 40. The axle is configured to rotate about an axis that extends in a longitudinal direction of the axle. The body is connected to the axle. The body is configured to receive liquid from a liquid reservoir 50. Each blade of the plurality of blades is connected to the body. Each blade of the plurality of blades has a longitudinal axis that extends in a generally radial direction with respect to the axis of the axle. The plurality of blades are angularly spaced radially one from the other around the axis of the axle. Each blade of the plurality of blades comprises a central channel 60 that extends in the longitudinal axis direction of the blade. The central channel is configured to receive liquid from the liquid reservoir via the body. Each blade of the plurality of blades comprises one or more edge channels 70 that extend in a direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis direction of the blade. The one or more edge channels are connected to the central channel. The one or more edge channels are configured to receive liquid from the central channel.

Each edge channel of the one or more edge channels has an open end that is distal to an end connected to the central channel. According to an example, the axle is configured to receive liquid from the liquid reservoir and communicate that liquid to the body.

According to an example, the blades are equally angularly spaced one from the other.

According to an example, the spray unit is configured to generate aerodynamic lift due to rotation of the body about the axis of the axle.

According to an example, each blade has a shape configured to generate aerodynamic lift.

According to an example, the spray unit is configured such that liquid is emitted from the one or more edge channels for each of the plurality of blades in the form of droplets.

According to an example, the one or more edge channels of a blade comprises a plurality of edge channels. The central channel and the plurality of edge channels for a blade are configured such that a quantity of liquid flowing down each of the edge channels per unit time is substantially the same.

According to an example, the central channel and the plurality of edge channels for a blade are configured such that the quantity of liquid flowing down each of the edge channels per unit time is substantially the same during rotation of the body about the axis of the axle.

In an example, the central channel for each blade is located within the blade. Thus, the central channel can be completely within the blade, enabling the blade to have optimized aerodynamic upper and lower surfaces. However, the central channel can is effect be a tube that runs along a surface of the blade, such as on the bottom surface. The central channel can indeed run along the trailing edge of the blade, and have holes facing

“backwards”. Thus, the edge channels can be formed by the holes in the wall of the tube of the central channel and have a length substantially equal to a thickness of the tube, in at least one embodiment.

In an example, the one or more edge channels for a blade are located within the blade.

According to an example, the one or more edge channels extend away from the central channel in a direction opposite to an intended rotation direction of the body.

According to an example, the one or more edge channels of each blade extend to a trailing edge 80 of each blade.

According to an example, the trailing edge of each blade comprises at least one portion having serrations 90 and/or extrusions 100.

In an example, the extrusions are solid.

In an example, the extrusions are hollow.

Fig. 2 shows an example of a spray vehicle 200 that has one or more spray units 10 as described with respect to Fig. 1.

According to an example, the spray vehicle is an unmanned aerial vehicle.

In an example, the one or more spray units are configured to provide substantially all of the aerodynamic lift required for aerial operation of the UAV.

According to an example, the one or more spray units form one or more rotor blade units for the UAV.

In an example, the UAV has no further rotor blade units in addition to the one or more spray units.

According to an example, the spray vehicle is a land vehicle. Thus, the spray units provide an effective and efficient manner to spray pesticide, insecticide, and herbicide, and where the spray unit can create a downwash of the required magnitude to entrain the spray droplets and force them into foliage as required. The spray unit and vehicle having one or more spray units are now described in more detail with respect to specific embodiments, where reference is made to Fig. 3. This relates to a spray unit that also provides lift for a UAV that is spray a crop, but as described above the spray unit need not generate lift and can be used with a land based, non-flying vehicle.

As shown in Fig. 3, instead of mounting separate spray units, such as spinning discs to the drone to create the spray, the drone propellers are themselves used to atomise the liquid. The label“A” signifies a spin direction of the blades, the axle of the rotor blade body by“B”, liquid flow for the blade from a reservoir by“C”. A sheet of liquid that is funnelled to the blade is signified by“D”, channels at the trailing edge of the blade by Έ”, flow to the edge channels by“F”, and the liquid drops are represented at“G”. The propeller blades are made hollow, mounted on a disc body to which the spray liquid is fed. The liquid is channelled into the hollowed out axis of the propeller blade, where one or more channels take the liquid out to the trailing edge of the blade. Centrifugal forces help in feeding the liquid through the blades as they spin, augmented if necessary by an appropriate pumping system. Thus, the liquid flow can be turned on and off whilst the propellers spin, and the amount of liquid sprayed can vary for a constant rotation speed. At the points of exit on the trailing edge atomisation occurs through breakup of the spray liquid from the extension of the spray liquid ligaments caused by the momentum from the rotation of the blades.

The characteristics of spraying from the exit of each channel depend on the size and rotational speed of the propeller, and the position on the pitch of the blade, and the liquid flow rate. This will affect the droplet size distribution generated at that point on the trailing edge of the propeller. It has been found that the size of the central channel can be matched to required spraying characteristics. Thus, the channel can be wider or narrow as required, and can be restricted at one or more positions along its length, to in effect vary a divergence of the channel along its length in real time. Also, the side channels can be sized as required, and can also have variable constrictions. In this way, the amount of liquid reaching the trailing edge can be controlled by through variation of channel widths as required, such that for example larger amounts of liquid reach parts of the blade that are moving faster.

Thus, the tendency of the faster moving part of the blade to produce smaller droplets than the slower moving part of the blade can be overcome. Also, this effect can be further controlled through appropriate variation, if necessary, of a flow rate from a pumping system.

The trailing edge of the blade can be clean, serrated, or have extrusions (solid or hollow) to assist droplet formation whilst limiting small droplet production (satellites, etc.). Droplets will have a tendency to be thrown outwards from the blade, like a spinning disc, so a proportion of the blade is clear of droplet generation so that the droplets produced are entrained by the airflow moving down from the rotor blades. Furthermore, the atomisation points along the trailing edge are distributed both in distance from the centre of rotation and atomisation volume to deliver a uniform deposit of product on the target ( e.g ., any crop).

The width, angle, and curvature of the blades can be varied as a function of its radial distance from the centre of rotation to optimise both the atomisation of the spray liquid and the uniformity of the spray deposition on the target area. Droplets can be generated by small propellers mounted underneath and between the main lift propellers. These small propellers can be used to generate not only the droplets, but a directed airflow by moving the motors on their axes. Thus, droplet generation, lift, and directional control are all obtained from one unit. Similarly, droplets can be generated from the main drive blades of gyrocopters and helicopters. To mitigate contamination of the structures below the blades, sets of rotor blades can be located outboard of the main structure of the UAV - thus for example, four rotor blades at extreme comers of a UAV can be used for lift, and manoeuvring of the UAV and also for spraying, with the main body of the UAV at a central position and where the rotor blade units are not directly above the body.

It has to be noted that embodiments of the invention are described with reference to different subject matters. In particular, some embodiments are described with reference to method type claims whereas other embodiments are described with reference to the device type claims. However, a person skilled in the art will gather from the above and the following description that, unless otherwise notified, in addition to any combination of features belonging to one type of subject matter also any combination between features relating to different subject matters is considered to be disclosed with this application.

However, all features can be combined providing synergetic effects that are more than the simple summation of the features.

While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, such illustration and description are to be considered illustrative or exemplary and not restrictive. The invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. Other variations to the disclosed embodiments can be understood and effected by those skilled in the art in practicing a claimed invention, from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the dependent claims. In the claims, the word“comprising” does not exclude other elements or steps, and the indefinite article“a” or“an” does not exclude a plurality. A single processor or other unit may fulfill the functions of several items re-cited in the claims. The mere fact that certain measures are re-cited in mutually different dependent claims does not indicate that a combination of these measures cannot be used to advantage. Any reference signs in the claims should not be construed as limiting the scope.