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Title:
THERMAL INSULATION STRUCTURE FOR A LIQUID ENCLOSURE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/042369
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A thermal insulation structure for liquid enclosures (4) is provided. The thermal insulation structure improves the liquid enclosure's thermal insulation thereby requiring less work by external components to maintain the temperature within the liquid enclosure (4). The thermal insulation structure includes a cover (10) and/or a plug (3). Both the cover (10) and the plug (3) each include a plurality of layers, which contribute to their insulating properties.

Inventors:
HSU, Yaw Yuan (Xinyang Industrial Zone No. 858 Wengjiao Road, HaicangXiamen, Fujian 2, 361022, CN)
Application Number:
IB2017/055248
Publication Date:
March 08, 2018
Filing Date:
August 31, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
INTEX INDUSTRIES XIAMEN CO. LTD. (Xinyang Industrial Zone No. 858 Wengjiao Road, HaicangXiamen, Fujian 2, 361022, CN)
International Classes:
E04H4/10
Foreign References:
US3072920A1963-01-15
US8201285B12012-06-19
CN203487817U2014-03-19
US20050022297A12005-02-03
AU2006100736A42006-09-28
EP0984117A12000-03-08
CN206016342U2017-03-15
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Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. An insulation structure configured for use with a liquid enclosure, the insulation structure comprising:

a cover including an inner coating that faces the liquid enclosure and an outer coating that faces the ambient environment;

the inner coating including a thermal insulation layer comprising at least one insulating material; and

the outer coating including a reflective layer adjacent to the inner coating.

2. The insulation structure of claim 1 , wherein the thermal insulation layer defines an inflatable air chamber.

3. The insulation structure of claim 2, wherein the inflatable air chamber is filled with at least one insulating material.

4. The insulation structure of claim 3, wherein the at least one insulating material includes a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece.

5. The insulation structure of claim 1, wherein the reflective layer has a high refractive index to reflect incoming solar radiation.

6. The insulation structure of claim 5, wherein the reflective layer includes a polymer base layer coated with a metal coating layer.

7. The insulation system of claim 6, wherein:

the polymer base layer is selected from the group consisting of: oriented polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon and cast polypropylene; and

the metal coating layer is selected from the group consisting of: aluminum, nickel, and chromium.

8. The insulation system of claim 1, wherein the inner coating further including an external film that coats the thermal insulation layer.

9. The insulation system of claim 1, wherein the liquid enclosure includes a side wall coupled to a bottom wall to define a cavity that receives a liquid, the cover being sized to cover the cavity and hang at least partially over the side wall.

10. The insulation system of claim 1, wherein the outer coating further includes a flexible layer adjacent to the reflective layer, wherein the reflective layer is closer to the liquid enclosure.

11. An insulation structure configured for use with a liquid enclosure having a side wall coupled to a bottom wall to define a cavity that receives a liquid, the insulation structure comprising:

a plug sized for receipt in the cavity of the liquid enclosure, the plug including:

a first insulation layer;

a second insulation layer;

a third insulation layer positioned between the first insulation layer and the second insulation layer, wherein the third insulation layer is an inflatable air chamber.

12. The insulation structure of claim 11, wherein the first insulation layer includes at least one insulating material including: a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece.

13. The insulation structure of claiml 1, wherein the inflatable air chamber of the third insulation layer is filled with at least one insulating material including: a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece.

14. The insulation structure of claim 11, wherein the second insulation layer faces the liquid enclosure and the first insulation layer faces the ambient environment.

15. The insulation structure of claim 11, wherein the plug is configured to float on the liquid in the cavity of the liquid enclosure.

16. An insulation system configured for use with a liquid enclosure having a sidewall coupled to a bottom panel to define a cavity configured to contain a liquid, the insulation system comprising:

a cover including an inner coating that faces the liquid enclosure and an outer coating that faces the ambient environment;

the inner coating including a thermal insulation layer comprising at least one insulating material; and

the outer coating including a reflective layer adjacent to the inner coating; a plug coupled to the liquid enclosure and positioned intermediate the cover and the cavity, the plug further including:

a first insulation layer;

a second insulation layer;

a third insulation layer positioned between the first insulation layer and the second insulation layer.

17. The insulation system of claim 16, wherein the cover is integrally formed with the plug.

18. The insulation system of claim 16, wherein:

the first insulation layer and the second insulation layer of the plug each includes at least one insulating material including a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece; and

the third insulation layer of the plug is an inflatable air chamber.

19. The insulation system of claim 18, wherein the third insulation layer of the plug is filled with at least one insulating material including: a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece.

20. The insulation system of claim 15, wherein the second insulation layer of the plug faces the liquid enclosure and the outer coating of the cover faces the ambient environment.

Description:
THERMAL INSULATION STRUCTURE FOR A LIQUID ENCLOSURE

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority to the following Chinese patent application, the disclosure of which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference herein in its entirety:

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0002] The present disclosure relates to a thermal insulation structure for a liquid enclosure, and more particularly, to a thermal insulation structure for a pool or spa including a cover and/or a plug.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0003] When a pool or spa is unused, the temperature of the liquid in the pool or spa can change based on the temperature of the ambient environment. For example, in the case of an outdoor pool or spa, the temperature of the liquid may increase during daytime hours due to the presence of heat from the sun and decrease during nighttime hours due to the lack of heat from the sun. Additionally, in pools or spas with heating capabilities, additional energy may be required by the heating system to maintain the temperature of the liquid when the liquid temperature decreases due to heat dissipation.

[0004] Current thermal insulation methods involve applying a thermal insulation structure at a side wall of the pool or spa. However, this kind of thermal insulation structure does not mitigate the heat loss via the opening or water cavity of the pool or spa. Improvements in the foregoing are desired. SUMMARY

[0005] The present disclosure provides a thermal insulation structure for liquid enclosures where the thermal insulation structure improves the liquid enclosure's thermal insulation thereby requiring less work by external components to maintain the temperature within the liquid enclosure. The thermal insulation structure includes a cover and a plug. Both the cover and the plug each include a plurality of layers, which contribute to their insulating properties. According to an embodiment of the present disclosure, an insulation structure configured for use with a liquid enclosure is provided. The insulation structure includes: a cover including an inner coating that faces the liquid enclosure and an outer coating that faces the ambient environment; the inner coating including a thermal insulation layer comprising at least one insulating material; and the outer coating including a reflective layer adjacent to the inner coating. In one particular embodiment, the thermal insulation layer defines an inflatable air chamber. In another particular embodiment, the inflatable air chamber is filled with at least one insulating material. In yet another particular embodiment, the at least one insulating material includes a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece. In another particular embodiment, the reflective layer has a high refractive index to reflect incoming solar radiation. In another embodiment, the reflective layer includes a polymer base layer coated with a metal coating layer.

[0007] In another particular embodiment, the polymer base layer is selected from the group consisting of: oriented polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon and cast polypropylene; and the metal coating layer is selected from the group consisting of: aluminum, nickel, and chromium. In yet another particular embodiment, the inner coating further including an external film that coats the thermal insulation layer. In another embodiment, the liquid enclosure includes a side wall coupled to a bottom wall to define a cavity that receives a liquid, the cover being sized to cover the cavity and hang at least partially over the side wall. In another particular embodiment, the outer coating further includes a flexible layer adjacent to the reflective layer, wherein the reflective layer is closer to the liquid enclosure.

[0008] According to another particular embodiment of the present disclosure, an insulation structure configured for use with a liquid enclosure having a side wall coupled to a bottom wall to define a cavity that receives a liquid is provided. The insulation structure includes: a first insulation layer; a second insulation layer; a third insulation layer positioned between the first insulation layer and the second insulation layer, wherein the third insulation layer is an inflatable air chamber. In one particular embodiment, the first insulation layer includes at least one insulating material including: a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece. In another particular embodiment, the inflatable air chamber of the third insulation layer is filled with at least one insulating material including: a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece. In another particular embodiment, the second insulation layer faces the liquid enclosure and the first insulation layer faces the ambient environment. In another particular embodiment, the plug is configured to float on the liquid in the cavity of the liquid enclosure.

[0009] According to yet another embodiment of the present disclosure, an insulation system configured for use with a liquid enclosure having a sidewall coupled to a bottom panel to define a cavity configured to contain a liquid is provided. The insulation system includes: a cover including an inner coating that faces the liquid enclosure and an outer coating that faces the ambient environment; the inner coating including a thermal insulation layer comprising at least one insulating material; and the outer coating including a reflective layer adjacent to the inner coating; a plug coupled to the liquid enclosure and positioned intermediate the cover and the cavity, the plug further including: a first insulation layer; a second insulation layer; a third insulation layer positioned between the first insulation layer and the second insulation layer. In one particular embodiment, the cover is integrally formed with the plug. In another embodiment, the first insulation layer and the second insulation layer of the plug each includes at least one insulating material including a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece; and the third insulation layer of the plug is an inflatable air chamber. In yet another particular embodiment, the third insulation layer of the plug is filled with at least one insulating material including: a polymer sponge or foam, mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece. In another particular embodiment, the second insulation layer of the plug faces the liquid enclosure and the outer coating of the cover faces the ambient environment. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] The above-mentioned and other features and advantages of this disclosure, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and will be better understood by reference to the following description of embodiments of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0011] FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of an insulated liquid enclosure with a thermally insulated cover in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0012] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of an insulated liquid enclosure with a thermally insulated plug in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0013] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an insulated liquid enclosure with the thermally insulated cover of FIG. 1 and the thermally insulated plug of FIG. 2; and

[0014] FIG. 4 is a detailed, cross-sectional view of a thermally insulated outer coating of the thermally insulated cover of FIG. 1 ;

[0015] FIG. 5 is a detailed, cross-sectional view of a thermally insulated inner coating of the thermally insulated cover of FIG. 1 ; and

[0016] FIG. 6 is a detailed, cross-sectional view of the thermally insulated plug of FIG. 2.

[0017] Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. The exemplifications set out herein illustrate exemplary embodiments of the invention and such exemplifications are not to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention in any manner.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0018] For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings, which are described below. The embodiments disclosed below are not intended to be exhaustive or limit the invention to the precise form disclosed in the following detailed description. Rather, the embodiments are chosen and described so that others skilled in the art may utilize their teachings. It will be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. The invention includes any alterations and further modifications in the illustrative devices and described methods and further applications of the principles of the invention which would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates.

[0019] Referring to FIG. 1, a liquid enclosure 4, such as a swimming pool or spa, is provided having an internal cavity 40 where liquid 41 resides between side walls 42 and bottom wall 44. Side walls 42 of the illustrative liquid enclosure 4 are inflatable structures, but it is also within the scope of the present disclosure for side walls 42 to include a non-inflatable liner coupled to a frame, for example. Also, the illustrative liquid enclosure 4 is an above-ground structure, but it is also within the scope of the present disclosure for liquid enclosure 4 to be a built-in or below-ground structure.

[0020] A cover 10 is coupled to the liquid enclosure 4 and covers internal cavity 40 of liquid enclosure 4 and liquid 41 contained therein. Cover 10 also hangs over the side walls 42 toward bottom wall 44 of liquid enclosure 4 in FIG. 1. At least one fastening structure (not shown), such as a rope or elastic cord, may be used to tie or otherwise secure the cover 10 to side walls 42 of liquid enclosure 4. Other suitable fastening structures may include clips, pins, snaps, fasteners, etc.

[0021] Cover 10 insulates liquid enclosure 4 from external or ambient environmental conditions. As shown in FIG. 1, cover 10 includes an outer coating 1 that faces the ambient environment and at least one inner coating 2 that faces liquid enclosure 4. Although a single inner coating 2 is shown in FIG. 1 , it is within the scope of the present disclosure for a plurality of inner coatings 2 to be stacked on outer coating 1.

[0022] As shown in FIG. 4, outer coating 1 of cover 10 includes a flexible layer 11 and a reflective layer 12, where flexible layer 11 is illustratively positioned outside of reflective layer 12. That is, reflective layer 12 is closer to liquid 41 of liquid enclosure 4 and flexible layer 11 is closer to the ambient environment. The physical properties of flexible layer 11 and reflective layer 12 serve to insulate liquid enclosure 4 from external or ambient environmental conditions. Flexible layer 11 may be porous (i.e., have holes) or transparent to at least partially expose the underlying reflective layer 12 to the ambient environment while also insulating the underlying liquid enclosure 4. Flexible layer 11 may be made of a woven material, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) patch material, PVC netting material, or another suitable film material. Reflective layer 12 has a high refractive index to reflect incoming solar radiation that passes through flexible layer 11 away from liquid 41 in liquid enclosure 4, rather than absorbing and transmitting the radiation to liquid 41 in liquid enclosure 4. Thus, reflective layer 12 may avoid undesired heating of liquid 41 in liquid enclosure 4. Reflective layer 12 may be made of a metallized film or another material having a high refractive index. Metallized films have insulating properties and are resistant to radiation. Exemplary metallized films include a polymer base layer, such as oriented polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon, or cast polypropylene, and a thin metal coating layer , such as aluminum, nickel, or chromium. However, it is contemplated that other metallized films may also be used. Flexible layer 11 and reflective layer 12 also cooperate to prevent heat/energy dissipation and evaporation from liquid enclosure 4 to the ambient environment by providing a physical barrier over the entirety of internal cavity 40 of liquid enclosure 4.

[0023] As shown in FIG. 5, inner coating 2 of cover 10 includes an insulation layer 21 that is coated by an external film 22. External film 22 may be waterproof to help protect the underlying insulation layer 21, if necessary. External film 22 may be made of PVC film material, PVC netting material, or another suitable film material. Insulation layer 21 may include one or more insulating materials each having a low thermal conductivity to resist heat transfer to and from liquid 41 in liquid enclosure 4. Insulation layer 21 may define an inflatable air chamber with an air valve (not shown). When cover 10 is in use, the air chamber of insulation layer 21 may be filled with air, which has a low thermal conductivity. When cover 10 is not in use, the air chamber of insulation layer 21 may be deflated for storage. Instead of or in addition to air, insulation layer 21 may include other insulating materials such as polymer sponges or foams (e.g., polyurethane (PU) foam, PVC foam, expanded polyethylene (EPE) foam (i.e., pearl wool)), mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece, for example. In embodiments where these insulating materials are used inside the air chamber, the materials may be capable of collapsing and folding when the air chamber is deflated to facilitate storage of cover 10.

[0024] Referring now to FIG. 2, a plug 3 is sized for receipt in internal cavity 40 of liquid enclosure 4 in a manner that spans and closes internal cavity 40 of liquid enclosure 4 such that cavity 40 is not exposed to the external environment (e.g., ambient temperature conditions, etc.). Plug 3 may include a cover body 5 integrally connected or otherwise coupled to plug 3. The illustrative cover body 5 rests atop the side walls 42 of liquid enclosure 4 and allows plug 3 to hover over liquid enclosure 4 such that plug 3 closes cavity 40 of liquid enclosure 4 as mentioned earlier. Plug 3 may have a lower density than liquid 41, which enables plug 3 to float on liquid 41 and may eliminate the need for cover body 5.

[0025] As shown in FIG. 6, plug 3 further includes a plug body 20 that includes a first or upper layer 31, a second or lower layer 33, and a third or intermediate layer 32 positioned between first layer 31 and second layer 33. First layer 31 and second layer 33 may be made of insulating materials similar to those described above with respect to insulation layer 21, such as polymer sponges or foams (e.g., polyurethane (PU) foam, PVC foam, expanded polyethylene (EPE) foam (i.e., pearl wool)), mineral wool, cellulose insulation, fiber insulation, or fleece, for example. Third layer 32 may define an inflatable air chamber with an air valve (not shown). When plug 3 is in use, the air chamber of third layer 32 may be filled with air, which has a low thermal conductivity. When plug 3 is not in use, the air chamber of third layer 32 may be deflated for storage. It is also within the scope of the present disclosure to fill the air chamber of third layer 32 with insulating materials, as described above with respect to insulation layer 21.

[0026] Referring to FIG. 3, a combined insulation structure 30 is used to cover liquid enclosure 4 and provide thermal insulation to liquid enclosure 4 and liquid 41 within cavity 40. Insulation structure 30 is removably coupled to liquid enclosure 4 and includes both cover 10 and plug 3. The central portion of cover 1 may be integrally formed with or otherwise coupled to plug 3. Cover 10 and plug 3 of the combined insulation structure 30 may have the same properties as previously described herein with respect to FIGS. 1-2 and 4-6.

[0027] While this invention has been described as having exemplary designs, the present invention can be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains and which fall within the limits of the appended claims.