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Title:
A TIRE PRESSURE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/044588
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A tire pressure management apparatus including a control unit in fluid communication with a reservoir and at least one wheel assembly. The control unit includes a housing (14) with a major housing portion (76) and a cover member (74). The control unit further includes a control valve assembly (32) in fluid communication with the reservoir, and a manifold or fluid conduit adapter part (80) having a first portion (86) in fluid communication with a second portion (88). Additionally, the first portion (86) is in fluid communication with the control valve assembly (32). A pressure sensor (26) is at least partially located in the first portion (86) of the fluid conduit adapter part (80). Further, at least one channel valve assembly (36) is in fluid communication with the second portion (88) and said at least one wheel assembly.

Inventors:
GILLEN KURT P (US)
BLESSING CHRISTOPHER D (US)
Application Number:
US2016/050715
Publication Date:
March 16, 2017
Filing Date:
September 08, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
DANA HEAVY VEHICLE SYS GROUP (US)
International Classes:
B60C23/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2013119498A22013-08-15
WO2014151418A12014-09-25
WO2014151418A12014-09-25
Foreign References:
US20140224399A12014-08-14
US201562201712P2015-08-06
US201562201696P2015-08-06
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHURR, Donald, A. et al. (LLCFour Seagate - 8th Floo, Toledo OH, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tire pressure management apparatus, comprising:

a control unit in fluid communication with a reservoir and at least one wheel assembly;

said control unit comprising:

a housing having a major housing portion and a cover member, a control valve assembly in fluid communication with said reservoir,

a fluid conduit adapter part having a first portion and a second portion in fluid communication, wherein said first portion is in fluid communication with said control valve assembly,

a pressure sensor at least partially located in said first portion, and

at least one channel valve assembly in fluid communication with said second portion and said at least one wheel assembly.

2. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein:

said fluid conduit adapter part said first portion and said second portion define a sidewall opening; and

said fluid conduit adapter part sidewall opening is sealingly coupled with said major housing portion.

3. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim , wherein:

said fluid conduitadapter part comprises a modular component separable from said housing.

4. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein:

said fluid conduit adapter part second portion defines at least one perforation whereby said fluid conduit adapter part is in fluid communication with at least one channel valve assembly.

5. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein:

a first side of said fluid conduit adapter part is sealingly coupled with said major housing portion,

a second side of said fluid conduit adapter part is sealingly coupled with said control valve assembly and said at least one channel valve assembly, and saidfluid conduit adapter part, said control valve assembly, and said at least one channel valve assembly are disposed between said major housing portion and said cover member.

6. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein:

said fluid conduit adapter part first portion comprises a greater height than said second portion.

7. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein:

said fluid conduit adapter part first portion includes a first wall defining an aperture, whereby a portion of said pressure sensor is disposed through said first wall and at least a portion of said pressure sensor is located in said fluid conduit adapter part first portion.

8. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 7, wherein:

said first wall of said fluid conduit adapter part comprises an upper wall thereof.

9. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 2, wherein:

a seal member is located about said sidewall opening of fluid conduit adapter part, whereby said seal member is disposed between said major housing portion said adapter part. O. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said major housing portion comprises:

a groove in said major housing portion, and

said seal member is aMeast partially disposed in said groove.

11. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said fluid conduit adapter part comprises:

a groove in said fluid conduit adapter part about said sidewall opening, and

said seal member is at least partially disposed in said groove.

12. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein:

said pressure sensor is in electrical communication with an electronic control portion; and

said electronic control portion outputs signals to said control valve assembly and said at least one channel valve assembly to determine an operating state thereof.

13. The tire pressure management apparatus according to claim 12, -wherein:

said electronic control portion is located within the control unit housing.

Description:
TITLE

A TIRE PRESSURE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/216,044 filed on September 9, 2015, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

The presently disclosed subject matter relates to a control unit for a tire pressure management system and the tire pressure management system made therewith.

Certain types of vehicles, such as commercial vehicles, benefit from having the tire pressure of their wheel assemblies periodically adjusted for optimal performance. Tire pressure management systems such as, for example, central tire inflation systems can be utilized to manually and/or automatically adjust the pressure within one or more wheel assemblies. Tire pressure management systems provide a vehicle the versatility of adjusting tire pressures while the vehicle is stationary or in motion. For example, the tire pressure of one or more, wheel assemblies in fluid communication with a tire inflation system may be decreased to increase tire traction, or increased to reduce rolling resistance and increase the vehicle's fuel efficiency and tire lifespan. In addition, tire inflation systems increase a vehicle's maneuverability over differing terrains and reduce maintenance requirements.

, Typically, tire pressure management systems include a control unit. Tire pressure management contror units house valving and other plumbing utilized to direct pressurized-air through the system. Therefore, conventional control Units known in tire pressure management systems are complex and expensive.

Thus, it would-be advantageous to develop a control unit that was less expensive and required less space than the known control units. A tire pressure management system utilizing the control unit would also be desirable and have certain advantages over the known systems. SUMMARY

The presently disclosed subject matter describes the principles of a tire pressure management apparatus. The tire pressure management apparatus includes a control unit in fluid communication with a reservoir and at least one wheel assembly. The control unit includes a housing with a major housing portion and a cover member, a control valve assembly in fluid communication with the reservoir, and a fluid conduit adapter part. The fluid conduit adapter part has a first portion and a second portion in fluid communication. The first portion is in fluid communication with the control valve assembly. A pressure sensor is at least partially located in the first portion of the fluid conduit adapter part. Further, at least one channel valve assembly is in fluid communication with the second portion and said at least one wheel assembly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings are incorporated herein as part of the specification and illustrate the principles of the presently disclosed subject matter. The advantages described above, as well as other advantages of the presently disclosed subject matter, will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description when considered in the light of the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an embodiment of a tire pressure management system in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of an embodiment of a control unit of the tire pressure management system of F!G. 1 ;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the control unit of FIG. 2 with a portion of the control unit housing removed;

FIG. 4 is a rear view o the control unit of FIG. 2 with another portion of the control unit housing removed;

FIG. 5 is an isometric rear view of FIG. 4; and

FIG. 6 is-a cross-sectional vie-w of the control unit of FIG. 2 through line

6-6. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS It is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative orientations and step sequences, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the specific assemblies, articles and features illustrated in the attached drawings, and described in the following specification are simply exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts. Hence, specific dimensions, directions, or other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed are not to be considered as limiting, unless expressly stated otherwise. Also, although they may not be, like elements in various embodiments may be commonly referred to with like reference numerals within this section of the application.

A control unit for a tire pressure management system and the tire pressure management system made therewith are described intra. An embodiment of the tire pressure management system 10 is illustrated in FIG. 1. The tire pressure management system 10 may be provided on a vehicle (not depicted). Certain embodiments of the tire pressure management system 10 may be utilized with,, but are notJimited to use with, commercial vehicles, military vehicles, off-highway vehicles, passenger vehicles, electric vehicles, autonomous or semi-autonomous driving vehicles, light and heavy duty vehicles, and manufacturing equipment. Furthermore, it would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that the tire pressure management system 10 could have industrial, locomotive, military and aerospace applications.

In certain embodiments, the tire pressure management system 10 may operate as described in published PCT patent application no. WO 2014/ 151418, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

The fire pressure management system 10 is configured to adjust tire pressure. In an embodiment, the tire pressure management system 10 may be utilized to increase the tire pressure. However, in another embodiment, the tire pressure management system 10 may be utilized to both increase and decrease the tire pressure. The iire pressure management system 10 is described herein in connection with a fluid. For the purposes of describing the tire pressure management system 10, the fluid will hereinafter be referred to as air. However, alternative fluids are capable of being utilized in the tire pressure management system 10.

As illustrated in FIG. 1 , the tire pressure management system 10 comprises a control unit 12. The control unit 12 is configured such that it may determine the tire pressure of one or more wheel assemblies and, if needed, increase or decrease the tire pressure thereof. The control unit 12 is also configured to enable the venting of one or more portions of the tire pressure management system 10.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-3, the control unit 12 comprises a housing 14. An electronic control portion Ϊ6 and a pneumatic control portion 18 are provided within the housing 14. The electronic control portion 6

communicates with the pneumatic control portion 8 to direct pressurized air through the tire pressure management system 10.

The electronic control portion 16 may include a microprocessor 24 operating under the control of a set of programming instructions, which may also be referred to as software. The electronic control portion 16 may include a memory (not depicted) in which programming instructions are stored. The memory may also store identification codes, ttre pressure records, and/or user inputs over a period of time.

The electronic control portion 16 may receive input signals from a pressure sensor 26, a power supply 28 and one or more additional sensors (not depicted) such as, for example, a load sensor and a speed sensor. The load sensor and the speed sensor may each be conventional in the art. The pressure sensor 26 may also be referred to as a pressure transducer and will be discussed in greater detail intrar The pneumatic control portion 18 provides feedback to the electronic control portion 16 via the pressure sensor 26. The electronic control portion 16 may also receive input signals from an operator control device 30.

The operator control device -30 may allow an operator of the vehicle to exert a pre-determined level of control over the tire pressure management system 0. The operator control device 30 may be conventional in the art. The operator control device 30 permits an operator of the vehicle to transmit control signals to the electronic control portion 16 to adjust the tire pressure. The electronic control portion 16 outputs signals to one or more members of the pneumatic control portion 18. In an embodiment, the electronic control portion 16 outputs signals to a plurality of valve assemblies 32, 36, 36A, 36B, 36C of the pneumatic control portion 18. The output signals may be electrical current. Electrical current may be received by a control valve assembly 32 and/or one or more channel valve assemblies 36, 36A, 36B, 36C to place a desired valve assembly in an open position or a closed position. Similarly, electrical current can be removed from the control valve assembly 32 and/or one of more channel valve assemblies 36, 36A, 36B, 36C to place a desired assembly in an open position or a closed position. The electronic control portion 16 may also output signals to a display device (not depicted). The display device may be included as a part of the operator control device 30 or may be a freestanding device.

The control valve assembly 32 is provided within the housing 14 and an air supply port 42 is provided as a portion of the control valve assembly 32.

The control valve assembly 32 is in fluid communication with a first fluid conduit 38 and an air supply circuit 40. The first fluid conduit 38 is provided as a portion of the pneumatic control portion 18 and is provided within the housing 14. In certain embodiments, the control valve assembly 32 is utilized to communicate a first flow or bleed of pressurized air to the first fluid conduit 38 and to communicate a second flow of pressurized air to the first fluid conduit 38. The flowrate of the second flow of pressurized air is greater than the flowrate of the first flow of pressurized air. In other embodiments, the control valve assembly 32 is utilized to vent the first fluid conduit 38. In still further embodiments, the control valve assembly 32 is utilized as a throttle for decreasing the tire pressure. In an embodiment, the control valve assembly 32 is as described in U.S. patent application-serial no. 62/201 ,712, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

In an embodiment, a channel valve assembly 36, 36A, 36B, 36C is provided for each wheel assembly 58, 58A, 58B, -58C and each is attached to and in fluid communication with the irst fluid conduit 38. Each channel valve assembly 36, 36A, 36B, 36C enables fluid communication between the first fluid conduit 38 and a fluid control circuit 60, 60A, 60B, 60C. In an embodiment, the channel valve assemblies 36, 36A, 36B, 36C are similarly configured and each is as described in U.S. patent application serial no.

62/201 ,696, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

Also, in an embodiment, each fluid control circuit 60, 60A, 60B, 60C may be similarly configured. Thus, for describing the features of the fluid control circuits 60, 60A, 60B, 60C, only the fluid control circuit 60 will be referred to intra. The fluid control circuit 60 may comprise one or more fluid conduits 62, a rotary joint assembly 64 and/or a hose assembly (not depicted).

Further, each wheel assembly 58, 58A, 58B, 58C may be similarly configured. Thus, for describing the features of 1he wheel assembly 58, 58A, 58B, 58C, only the wheel assembly 58 will be referred to intra. The wheel assembly 58 comprises a tire 66 and a wheel rim 68. An axle may be coupled to the wheel rim 68. Space 70 between the tire 66 and the wheel rim 68 is configured to house pressurized air.

The pressurized air housed within the spaGe 70 may be referred to herein as "tire pressure." Tire pressure is increased-by the addition of pressurized air into the space 70 and decreased by the removal of air from the space 70. In an embodiment, it may be desirable that the tire pressure is equal to a target tire pressure. The target tire pressure may be selected by an operator of the vehicle. After the target tire pressure is selected, it may be programmed into the control unit 12 via the electronic control portion 16. The target tire pressure can also be pre-programmed into the control unit 12. To ascertain if the tire pressure is equal to the target tire pressure, the tire pressure may be determined by, for example, the pressure sensor 26. As noted supra, the control unit 12 is configured to enable determining the tire pressure.

In an embodiment, the wheel valve 54 is coupled with the wheel assembly 58, The wheel valve 54 separates the fluid control circuit 60 from the wheel assembly 58 and is utilized to retain pressurized air therein. Also, the wheel valve 54 allows the wheel assembly 58 to selectively communicate with the control unit 12 via the fluid control circuit 60. The wheel valve 54 may be of the check valve variety or the control valve variety. The tire pressure management system 10 includes a source of pressurized air 44. Pressurized air is supplied to the control unit 12 from the source of pressurized air 44 via the air supply circuit 40. In an embodiment, the source of pressurized air 44 comprises a reservoir 46 such as, for example, a wet tank. In an embodiment, a compressor 48 is attached to the vehicle and in fluid communication with the wet tank via a supply conduit 50. The air compressor 48 supplies pressurized air to the wet tank for storage therein. In certain embodiments, a drier 52 is interposed in the air supply circuit 40 for removing water from the air. A filter (not depicted) may also be interposed in the air supply circuit 40.

The pressurized air is utilized to determine the tire pressure and, if needed, open one or more wheel valves 54 to increase the tire pressure. The pressurized air provided in the air supply circuit 40 and supplied from the source of pressurized air 44 comprises air at a certain pressure. The pressure sensor 26 measures the pressure of the pressurized air provided in the air supply circuit 40. In certain embodiments, it may be desirable that at the time the measurement is practiced the pressurized air provided in the air supply circuit 40 is at a pressure which is greater than the tire pressure. In an embodiment, the pressure of the pressurized air provided in the air supply circuit 40 may be equal to or greater than the target tire pressure so that the tire pressure can, if needed, be increased to the target tire pressure. In an embodiment, the pressure of the air provided in the air supply circuit 40 is equal to the target tire pressure plus 5 psig or more.

The pressure sensor 26 is provided within the housing 14 and is in fluid communication wit the first fluid conduit 38. More particularly, and as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, a portion 96rof the pressure sensor 26 is located within a portion of the first fluid conduit 38. The pressure sensor 26 measures -the pressure of the air within the first fluid conduit 38. Thus, when the source of pressurized air 44 is in fluid communication with the first fluid conduit 38, the pressure sensor 26 can measure the pressure of the air from the source ot pressurized air 44 by measuring the pressure of the air in the first fluid conduit 38. Also, during certain operations, the pressure sensor 26 may measure the pressure of the air in a selected fluid control circuit 60, 60A, 60B, 60C by measuring the pressure of the air in the first fluid conduit 38. Once the pressure of the air in the first fluid conduit 38 has been measured, the pressure sensor 26 can send a signal to the electronic control portion 16.

As described supra, the first fluid conduit 38 is in fluid communication with the pressure sensor 26 and the control valve assembly 32. In addition, the first fluid conduit 38 is selectively in fluid communication with a chamber 56. The chamber 56 is in fluid communication with the atmosphere via a vent passage 72, which is illustrated in FIG. 1. The first fluid conduit 38 is also attached to and in fluid communication with one or more channel valve assemblies 36, 36A, 36B, 36C.

When a selected channel valve assembly 36, 36A, 36B, 36C is energized, the first fluid conduit 38 is in fluid communication with the

corresponding fluid control circuit 60, 60A, 60B, 60C. The fluid control circuit 60, 60A, 60B, 60C is capable of fluid communication with the wheel assembly 58, 58A, 58B, 58C via the wheel valve 54, 54A, 54B, 54C. When the first fluid conduit 38 is in fluid communication with one of the fluid control circuit 60, 60A, 60B, 60C, a flow of air from the source of pressurized air 44 can be directed to the desired wheel assembly 58, 58A, 58B, 58C via the control valve assembly 32, the channel valve assembly 36, 36A, 36B, 36C, the fluid control circuit 60, 60A, 60B, 60C and the wheel valve 54, 54A, 54B, 54Ο.

The control unit housing 14 may be formed from a polymeric material and comprises a cover member 74 and a major housing portion 76. The cover member 74 is attached to the major housing portion 76 via one or more fasteners 78 as is illustrated in FIG. 2. The control valve assembly 32 and the channel valve assemblies 36, 36Ά, 36B, 36C are provided in and attached to the major housing portion 76 as is illustrated in FIG. 3.

Also, the first fluid conduit 38 is provided within the control unit housing 14. In an embodiment, the major housing portion 76 of the control unit housing 14 partially defines the first fluid conduit 38. The first fluid conduit 38 is also partially defined by a fluid conduit adapter part 80. In this embodiment, a portion 82 of the major housing portion 76 that partially defines the first fluid conduit 38 is provided adjacent the fluid conduit adapter part 80 (see FIG. 6). Referring now to FIGS. 4-6, one side of the fluid conduit adapter part 80 defines a sidewall opening. A seal member 84 is provided about the sidewall opening of the fluid conduit adapter part 80 between the fluid conduit wall portion 82 of the major housing portion 76, which partially defines the first fluid conduit 38, and the fluid conduit adapter part 80. In an embodiment, the sidewall opening of the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is parallel with a

longitudinal axis of the fluid conduit adapter part 80. In an embodiment, the sidewall opening of the adapter portion 80 may extend the height and length of the fluid conduit adapter part 80. In other embodiments, the sidewall opening may extend only a portion of the height and length of the fluid conduit adapter part 80.

The fluid conduit adapter part 80 is an elongated member that comprises a first portion 86 and a second portion 88. In an embodiment, the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is a modular component manufactured separately from the housing 14. The fluid conduit adapter part 80 may be sealingly located between the major housing portion 76 and the control valve assembly 32 and the valve assemblies 36, 36A, 36B, 36C during assembly of the control unit 12. The first portion 86 is attached to and in fluid communication with the second portion 88. In an embodiment, the first portion 86 and the second portion 88 are formed in a unitary manner. The fluid conduit adapter part 80 may be formed from a polymeric material and by an injection molding process.

However, persons having skill in the relevant arts will recognize that the fluid conduit adapter part 80 may be formed from additional materials, including but not limited to, aluminum, carbon fiber reinforced polymer, titanium, and metal alloys.

In an embodiment, where the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is produced via injection molding, the fluid conduit adapter part 80 does- not require secondary machining or cross passage plugs. Therefore, the design of the fluid conduit adapter part 80 reduces manufacturing and assembly time. The complexity of an injection mold utilized to produce the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is also reduced by the design of the fluid conduit adapter part 80.

The first portion 86 defines a space 90 for housing and transferring pressurized air. A portion 96 of the pressure sensor 26 is positioned within the first portion 86. The first portion 86 has a first opening 92 in an upper wall 94 that is engaged with a portion of the pressure sensor 26 and a fifth opening 97 in a lower wall 99 that is engaged with another portion of the pressure sensor 26. The upper wall 94 and the lower wall 99 are separated from each other by the space 90. A first seal member 98 is provided at the interface of the first opening 92 and the pressure sensor 26 and a second seal member 101 is provided at the interface of the fifth opening 97 and the pressure sensor 26 to prevent pressurized air from escaping from the fluid conduit adapter part 80 at the interfaces. The first portion 86 also has a second opening (not depicted) and a third opening (not depicted) which are provided in a sidewall 100 to provide fluid communication with a first portion and a second portion of the control valve assembly 32, respectively. Thus, the first portion 86 of the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is in fluid communication with separate portions of the control valve assembly 32. The sidewall 100 is provided in a perpendicular relationship with the upper wall 94 and the lower wall 99.

A seal member (not depjcted) may be provided at the interface of the second opening and the first portion of the control valve assembly 32 and a separate seal member (not depicted) may be provided at the interface of the third opening and the second portion of the control valve assembly 32 to prevent pressurized air from escaping from the pneumatic portion 18 of the control unit 12. A fourth opening 102 is provided in the first portion 86 to enable fluid communication between the first portion 86 and the second portion 88 of the fluid conduit adapter part 80.

The second portion 88 defines another space 93 for housing and transferring pressurized air. On a first end, the second portion 88 of the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is in fluid communication with the first portion 86. The second portion 88 is also in fluid communication with each valve assembly 36, 36A, 36B, 36C. Separate perforations 104, 104A, 104B, 104C are provided in the second portion 88 to enable fluid communication with each valve assembly 36, 36A, 36B, 36C. As illustrated in FIG. 6, a seal member 106 is provided at each interface between the openings and the valve assemblies 36, 36A, 36B, 36Ό to prevent pressurized air from escaping from the pneumatic portion 18 of the control unit 12. To form the first fluid conduit 38, the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is secured to the major housing portion 76 of the control unit housing 1 . When the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is secured to the major housing portion 76, the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is provided between the control valve assembly 32 and the channel valve assemblies 36, 36A, 36B, 36C and the portion 82 of the major housing portion 76 partially defines the first fluid conduit 38. In an embodiment, the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is also provided between fasteners 108, 108A utilized to secure the control valve assembly 32 and the channel valve assemblies 36, 36A, 36B, 36C to the control unit housing 14. The fluid conduit adapter part 80 may be provided between a plurality of upper fasteners 108 and a plurality of lower fasteners 108A. The upper fasteners 108 and lower fasteners 108A may be utilized to align the fluid conduit adapter part 80 with the portion 82 of the major housing portion 76 that partially defines the first fluid conduit 38.

During assembly of the control unit 12, after the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is provided between the upper fasteners 108 and lower fasteners 108A and aligned as described above, the fluid conduit adapter part 80 may be urged toward and positioned adjacent the major housing portion 76. The fluid conduit adapter part 80 may be urged toward the major housing portion 76 until the fluid conduit adapter part 80 abuts the major housing portion 76. In an embodiment, the portion 82 of the major housing portion 76 comprises a wall of the first fluid conduit 38, where the wall extends the height and length of fluid conduit adapter part 80.

In this position, the fluid conduit adapter part 80 is provided in a sealed relationship with the major housing portion 76 utilizing the seal member 84. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the seal member 84 is provided around a perimeter 1 110 of the first portion 86 and the second portion 88 of the fluid conduit adapter part 80. The seal member 84 is provided at the interface between the fluid conduit adapter part 80 and the major housing portion 76 to prevent

pressurized air from escaping from the first fluid conduit 38.

From the foregoing detailed description, it will be apparent that various modifications/ additions, and other alternative embodiments are possible without departing from the scope and spirit of the subject matter disclosed herein. While various embodiments have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example, and not limitation. Persons skilled in the relevant arts will recognize that the disclosed subject matter may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. The embodiments described above are therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative, not restrictive.