Monday, March 30, 2009

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For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.
United States Patent 7,315,089
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Lambertson January 1, 2008

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Powertrain system comprising compressed air engine and method comprising
same


Abstract
A powertrain system comprises a compressed air supply apparatus, a
compressed air engine, a rotary power conversion apparatus and an
electrical power conversion apparatus. The compressed air engine is
configured for extracting energy from compressed air. The compressed
air engine receives compressed air from the compressed air supply
apparatus and produces rotary power through extraction of energy from
the compressed air. The rotary power conversion apparatus is connected
to the compressed air engine and is configured for converting the
rotary power of the compressed air engine to electrical power of a
first specification. The electrical power conversion apparatus is
connected to the rotary power conversion apparatus and is configured
for converting the first specification electrical power to electrical
power of a second specification different than the first specification.


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Inventors: Lambertson; Michael Carl (Westover, MD)
Appl. No.: 11/360,777
Filed: February 23, 2006

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Current U.S. Class: 290/1A ; 180/302; 290/4D; 290/45
Current International Class: B60K 3/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 290/1R,1A,4R,4D,40C,52 180/54.1,302



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References Cited [Referenced By]

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U.S. Patent Documents

774778 November 1904 Pratt
3693351 September 1972 Minkus
3765180 October 1973 Brown
3925984 December 1975 Holleyman
3980152 September 1976 Manor
4014172 March 1977 Jones
4018050 April 1977 Murphy
4060987 December 1977 Fisch et al.
4104955 August 1978 Murphy
4124978 November 1978 Wagner
4163367 August 1979 Yeh
4337842 July 1982 Spangler et al.
4355508 October 1982 Blenke et al.
4370857 February 1983 Miller
5296799 March 1994 Davis
5432383 July 1995 Kawamura
6044924 April 2000 Adli
6198174 March 2001 Nims et al.
6294842 September 2001 Skowronski
6367247 April 2002 Yancey
6508324 January 2003 Conley
6629573 October 2003 Perry
6862973 August 2005 Rehkemper et al.

Primary Examiner: Ponomarenko; Nicholas
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Simmons; David O. Galasso
& Associates, LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM
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Claims

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What is claimed is:

1. A powertrain system, comprising: a compressed air supply apparatus;
a compressed air engine configured for extracting energy from
compressed air, wherein the compressed air engine receives said
compressed air from the compressed air supply apparatus and wherein
said extracting produces rotary power; a rotary power conversion
apparatus connected to the compressed air engine, wherein the rotary
power conversion apparatus is configured for converting said rotary
power of the compressed air engine to electrical power of a first
specification; and an electrical power conversion apparatus connected
to the rotary power conversion apparatus, wherein the electrical power
conversion apparatus is configured for converting said first
specification electrical power to electrical power of a second
specification different than the first specification.

2. The powertrain system of claim 1 wherein: the rotary power
conversion apparatus includes an input-output coupling device and two
direct current (DC) electrical power generating devices; the
input-output coupling device of the rotary power conversion apparatus
is connected between the compressed air engine and each one of said DC
electrical power generating devices for enabling transfer of rotary
power from the compressed air engine to each one of said DC electrical
power generating devices; and each one of said DC electrical power
generation devices are electrically connected to the electrical power
conversion apparatus for providing DC electrical power to the
electrical power conversion apparatus.

3. The powertrain system of claim 2 wherein: the electrical power
conversion apparatus includes two DC-to-alternating current (AC)
inverters, an AC electric motor, an input-output coupling device and
an electrical power generating device; each one of said DC electrical
power generating devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus is
connected to a respective one of said DC-to-AC inverters such that
each one of said DC-to-AC inverters converts DC electrical power
supplied thereto to AC electrical power; a first one of said DC-to-AC
inverters is electrically connected to the compressed air supply
apparatus; a second one of said DC-to-AC inverters is electrically
connected to the AC electric motor; and the input-output coupling
device of the electrical power conversion apparatus is connected
between the AC electric motor and the electrical power generating
device of the electrical power conversion apparatus for transferring
rotary power from the AC electric motor to the electrical power
generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.

4. The powertrain system of claim 3, further comprising: a power
distribution apparatus electrically connected to the electrical power
generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus,
wherein the power distribution apparatus receives electrical power
from the electrical power generating device of the electrical power
conversion apparatus and wherein the power distribution apparatus is
configured for selectively outputting electrical power through a
plurality of power outlet portions thereof.

5. The powertrain system of claim 4, further comprising: an
acceleration module electrically connected to the power distribution
apparatus for enabling a stored electrical charge of the acceleration
module to be selectively outputted through at least one of said power
outlet portions of the power distribution apparatus, wherein the
acceleration module is configured for receiving an electrical power
from the power distribution apparatus for maintaining and replenishing
the stored electrical charge.

6. The powertrain system of claim 5, further comprising: a battery
apparatus including a battery and a power controller electrically
connected to the battery, wherein the power controller is electrically
connected to the compressed air supply apparatus for supplying
electrical power thereto, wherein electrical power from the battery is
selectively supplied to the compressed air supply apparatus by the
power controller of the battery apparatus when the compressed air
engine is inactive and wherein electrical power is selectively
supplied from the power distribution apparatus to the power controller
of the battery apparatus for enabling the battery to be recharged.

7. The powertrain system of claim 6, further comprising: a solar panel
electrically connected to the power controller of the battery
apparatus for supplying solar-generated electrical power to the power
controller of the battery apparatus thereby enabling the solar panel
to recharge the battery.

8. The powertrain system of claim 7, further comprising: a wind-driven
electrical power generator electrically connected to the power
distribution apparatus for enabling electrical power generated by the
wind-driven electrical power generator to be selectively outputted by
the power distribution apparatus.
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Description

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FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The disclosures made herein relate generally to powertrain systems
comprising a compressed air engine and, more particularly, to
powertrain systems having a compressed air engine coupled to an
electrical power conversion apparatus that is coupled to a power
transmission apparatus.

BACKGROUND

Vehicle powertrain systems that rely entirely on petroleum-based fuel
are used throughout the world. They are used in nearly all, if not
all, makes, models and types of cars, vans and trucks. From a
quantitative perspective, vehicles having these types of vehicle
powertrain systems outweigh those with electric and/or hybrid
powertrain systems by several magnitudes of order.

It is well known that powertrain systems that rely entirely on
petroleum-based fuel are detrimental to the global environment. They
are also detrimental to an economy of a country that is highly
dependent on imported crude oil as well as its national security.
These three adverse considerations make powertrain systems that rely
entirely on petroleum-based fuel highly undesirable with respect to
the global environment as well as to a country where such powertrain
systems are operated.

Therefore, a vehicle powertrain system that does not consume
petroleum-based fuel and that produces power from solar energy and
regenerative types of power generation techniques would be useful and
advantageous.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

In one embodiment of the present invention, a powertrain system
comprises a compressed air supply apparatus, a compressed air engine,
a rotary power conversion apparatus and an electrical power conversion
apparatus. The compressed air engine is configured for extracting
energy from compressed air. The compressed air engine receives
compressed air from the compressed air supply apparatus and produces
rotary power through extraction of energy from the compressed air. The
rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to the compressed air
engine and is configured for converting the rotary power of the
compressed air engine to electrical power of a first specification.
The electrical power conversion apparatus is connected to the rotary
power conversion apparatus and is configured for converting the first
specification electrical power to electrical power of a second
specification different than the first specification.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a vehicle comprises a
compressed air supply apparatus, a compressed air engine, a rotary
power conversion apparatus, an electrical power conversion apparatus,
a power distribution apparatus, a power transmission apparatus and an
output power control mechanism. The compressed air supply apparatus
includes a compressed air storage tank and an air compressor connected
to the compressed air tank for supplying compressed air to the
compressed air storage tank. The compressed air engine is connected to
the compressed air storage tank for receiving compressed air from the
compressed air storage tank and is configured for extracting energy
from the compressed air. The compressed air engine produces rotary
power through extraction of energy from the compressed air. The rotary
power conversion apparatus is connected to the compressed air engine
and includes an input-output coupling device and two direct current
(DC) electrical power generating devices. The input-output coupling
device of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected between
the compressed air engine and each one of the DC electrical power
generating devices for enabling transfer of rotary power from the
compressed air engine to each one of the DC electrical power
generating devices. The electrical power conversion apparatus includes
two DC-to-alternating current (AC) inverters, an AC electric motor, an
input-output coupling device and an electrical power generating
device. Each one of the DC electrical power generating devices of the
rotary power conversion apparatus is connected to a respective one of
the DC-to-AC inverters for supplying DC electrical power to the
respective one of the DC-to-AC inverters such that each one of the
DC-to-AC inverters converts the DC electrical power supplied thereto
to AC electrical power. A first one of the DC-to-AC inverters is
electrically connected to the compressed air supply apparatus and a
second one of the DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the
AC electric motor. The input-output coupling device of the electrical
power conversion apparatus is connected between the AC electric motor
and the electrical power generating device of the electrical power
conversion apparatus for transferring rotary power from the AC
electric motor to the electrical power generating device of the
electrical power conversion apparatus. The power distribution
apparatus is electrically connected to the electrical power generating
device of the electrical power conversion apparatus. The power
distribution apparatus receives electrical power from the electrical
power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.
The power distribution apparatus is configured for selectively
outputting electrical power through a plurality of power outlet
portions thereof. The power transmission apparatus is connected to a
power outlet portion of the power distribution apparatus. The output
power control mechanism is connected between the power transmission
apparatus and the power outlet portion connected to the power
transmission apparatus. The output power control mechanism enables an
amount of power outputted by the power transmission apparatus to be
selectively varied.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a method comprises a
plurality of operations. An operation is performed for extracting
energy from compressed air for producing rotary power. An operation is
performed for converting the rotary power to electrical power of a
first specification. Converting the rotary power includes transferring
the rotary power from the compressed air engine to an input portion of
a direct current (DC) electrical power generating device such that DC
electrical power is supplied at an output portion of the DC electrical
power generating device. An operation is performed for converting the
first specification electrical power to electrical power of a second
specification different than the first specification. Converting the
first specification electrical power includes inverting the DC
electrical power to alternating current (AC) electrical power, driving
an AC motor using the AC electrical power and transferring rotary
power of the AC motor to a DC generator such that DC electrical power
is supplied at an output portion of the DC generator.

Turning now to specific aspects of the present invention, in at least
one embodiment, the rotary power conversion apparatus includes an
input-output coupling device and two direct current (DC) electrical
power generating devices.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the input-output
coupling device of the rotary power conversion apparatus is connected
between the compressed air engine and each one of the DC electrical
power generating devices of the rotary power conversion apparatus for
enabling transfer of rotary power from the compressed air engine to
each one of the DC electrical power generating devices of the rotary
power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, each one of the
DC electrical power generation devices of the rotary power conversion
apparatus are electrically connected to the electrical power
conversion apparatus for providing DC electrical power from the DC
electrical power generating apparatuses of the rotary power conversion
apparatus to the electrical power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the electrical
power conversion apparatus includes two DC-to-alternating current (AC)
inverters, an AC electric motor, an input-output coupling device and
an electrical power generating device.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, each one of the
DC electrical power generating devices of the rotary power conversion
apparatus is connected to a respective one of the DC-to-AC inverters
such that each one of the DC-to-AC inverters converts DC electrical
power supplied thereto to AC electrical power.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a first one of
the DC-to-AC inverters is electrically connected to the compressed air
supply apparatus and a second one of the DC-to-AC inverters is
electrically connected to the AC electric motor.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the input-output
coupling device of the electrical power conversion apparatus is
connected between the AC electric motor and the electrical power
generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus for
transferring rotary power from the AC electric motor to the electrical
power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a power
distribution apparatus is electrically connected to the electrical
power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the power
distribution apparatus receives electrical power from the electrical
power generating device of the electrical power conversion apparatus
and the power distribution apparatus is configured for selectively
outputting electrical power through a plurality of power outlet
portions thereof.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, an acceleration
module is electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus
for enabling a stored electrical charge of the acceleration module to
be selectively outputted through at least one of the power outlet
portions of the power distribution apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a power
controller of a battery apparatus is electrically connected to the
compressed air supply apparatus for supplying electrical power to the
compressed air supply apparatus.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, electrical power
from a battery of the battery apparatus is selectively supplied to the
compressed air supply apparatus by the power controller of the battery
apparatus when the compressed air engine is inactive.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, electrical power
is selectively supplied from the power distribution apparatus to the
power controller of the battery apparatus for enabling the battery to
be recharged.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a solar panel is
electrically connected to the power controller of the battery
apparatus for supplying solar-generated electrical power to the power
controller of the battery apparatus thereby enabling the solar panel
to recharge the battery.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, a wind-driven
electrical power generator is electrically connected to the power
distribution apparatus for enabling electrical power generated by the
wind-driven electrical power generator to be selectively outputted by
the power distribution apparatus.

These and other objects, embodiments, advantages and/or distinctions
of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further
review of the following specification, associated drawings and
appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram view showing a powertrain system in
accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic view showing an embodiment of a vehicle
comprising a specific implementation of a powertrain system in
accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a powertrain system in accordance with the present
invention, which is referred to herein as the powertrain system 100.
As is discussed below in greater detail, the powertrain system 100
and, generally, powertrain systems in accordance with the present
invention includes a plurality of interconnected components that
facilitate extraction of energy from compressed air, conversion of
that energy to mechanical energy, conversion of that mechanical energy
to electrical power. The interconnected components further facilitate
selective and variable output of such electrical power, creation of
wind-generated electrical power and input of energy from external
energy sources. Electrical power is defined herein to include power
generated by electrical voltage and/or electrical current.

Referring now specifically to FIG. 1, a compressed air supply
apparatus 105 is connected to a compressed air engine 110 in a manner
enabling compressed air to be supplied to the compressed air engine
110 from the compressed air supply apparatus 105. The compressed air
supply apparatus 105 perform the functions of generating compressed
air, storing compressed air and regulating/converting electrical power
utilized for generating compressed air. The compressed air engine 110
extracts energy from the compressed air and produces rotary power
(i.e., power delivered via an output shaft). Compressed air engines
and compressed air supply apparatuses are well-known and the present
invention is not unnecessarily limited to a specific configuration of
compressed air engine or compressed air supply apparatus. Examples of
compressed air engine configurations are disclosed in United States
utility U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,104,955; 4,018,050; 4,370,857; 3,980,152;
3,765,180; 3,693,351; 6,862,973; 6,629,573; 6,367,247; 6,508,324;
4,014,172 and 774,778.

A rotary power conversion apparatus 115 is mechanically connected to
the compressed air engine 110 in a manner enabling the rotary power
produced by the compressed air engine 110 to be transferred to the
rotary power conversion apparatus 115. The rotary power conversion
apparatus 115 performs the function of converting rotary power
produced by the compressed air engine 110 to electrical power of a
first electrical specification. An example of electrical power of the
first specification is electrical power at a first voltage level, a
first electrical current level and a first configuration of electrical
current (e.g., alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC)).

It is disclosed herein that any number of means may be implemented for
coupling the compressed air engine 110 to the rotary power conversion
apparatus 115 and for converting rotary power to electrical power. In
one embodiment, a gearbox is coupled between an output shaft of the
compressed air engine 110 and an input shaft of an alternator or
generator of the rotary power conversion apparatus 115. In another
embodiment, a pulley and belt arrangement is coupled between an output
shaft of the compressed air engine 110 and an input shaft of an
alternator or generator of the rotary power conversion apparatus 115.
A skilled person will appreciate that the present invention is not
unnecessarily limited to a particular means for coupling the
compressed air engine 110 to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115
or to a specific component or set of components for converting (e.g.,
generating) electrical power from the rotary power.

An electrical power conversion apparatus 120 is electrically connected
to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115 in a manner enabling the
rotary power produced by the compressed air engine 110 to be
transferred to the rotary power conversion apparatus 115. The
electrical power conversion apparatus 120 performs the function of
converting electrical power of the first specification to electrical
power of a second electrical specification different than the first
specification. An example of electrical power of the second
specification is electrical power having a different voltage level
than the first electrical voltage, a current level different than the
first electrical current level and/or a configuration of electrical
current different than the first configuration of electrical current.

It is disclosed herein that any number of means may be implemented for
converting electrical power of the first specification to electrical
power of the second specification. In one embodiment, a conversion
apparatus such as a DC-to-AC inverter is used for converting DC
electrical power supplied by the rotary power conversion apparatus 115
to AC electrical power. In another embodiment, electrical power of the
first specification is used to energize a motor that drives a voltage
generating device (e.g., a generator) that produces DC electrical
power of a second specification. A benefit of generating electrical
power of a first specification and then converting it to electrical
power of a second specification is that the operating parameters of
the compressed air engine (e.g., engine speed, torque, etc.) may lend
themselves to producing electrical power of the first electrical
specification whereas intended used of electrical power generated by
the powertrain system 100 may most efficiently use electrical power of
the second specification. A skilled person will appreciate that the
present invention is not unnecessarily limited to a particular means
for converting (e.g., generating) electrical power of the first
specification to electrical power of the second specification.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, the electrical
power conversion apparatus 120 performs the function of converting
electrical power of the first specification to electrical power of an
intermediate electrical specification different than the first
specification and then converts electrical power of the intermediate
specification to electrical power of the second electrical
specification different than the first specification or second
specification. For example, DC electrical power of a first
specification is converted to AC electrical power and the AC
electrical power is utilized for generating DC electrical power of a
second electrical specification. A portion of the AC electrical power
may be outputted from the electrical power conversion apparatus 120
without being used for generating DC electrical power of the second
specification. Furthermore, it is disclosed herein that conversion of
electrical power from a first specification to electrical power a
second specification may entail converting DC electrical power of a
first specification to DC power of a second electrical specification
without any intermediate output of AC electrical power. Similarly, it
is disclosed herein that conversion of electrical power from a first
specification to electrical power a second specification may entail
converting all available DC electrical power to AC electrical power.

The electrical power conversion apparatus 120 is electrically
connected to a power distribution apparatus 125 in a manner enabling
electrical power of the second electrical specification to be received
by the power distribution apparatus 125 from the electrical power
conversion apparatus 120. A wind-driven electrical power generator 130
is electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 125 in a
manner enabling electrical power generated by the wind driven
electrical power generator 130 to be supplied to the power
distribution apparatus 125. A skilled person will appreciate that the
present invention is not unnecessarily limited to a particular type of
wind-driven electrical power generator. The underlying functionality
is that the wind-driven electrical power generator 130 converts wind
currents (e.g., free wind currents, motion-induced wind currents, etc)
to electrical power and supplies that electrical power to the power
distribution apparatus 125 for distribution therefrom.

The power distribution apparatus 125 performs the function of enabling
electrical power supplied by the electrical power conversion apparatus
120 and the wind-driven electrical power generator 130 to be
selectively distributed to a power transmission apparatus 135. An
output power control mechanism 140 is connected to the power
distribution apparatus 125 for enabling the power applied to the power
transmission apparatus 135 to be selectively varied. In this manner,
the power distribution apparatus 125 and the output power control
mechanism 140 facilitate output power control jointly. In one
embodiment, the output power control mechanism 140 is movable between
a plurality of relative orientation and a magnitude of power outputted
from the power transmission apparatus 135 is dependent upon such
relative orientation. An example of the output power control mechanism
140 includes a rheostat or potentiometer in combination with a
manually adjustable device such as a switch or a pedal.

It is disclosed herein that, in other embodiments not specifically
shown, the output power control mechanism 140 is electrically
connected to the power transmission apparatus 135 as opposed to being
electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 125. In
such alternate embodiments, a prescribed amount of power (e.g., 100%
available power) is supplied from the power distribution apparatus 125
to the power transmission apparatus 135 and output power control of
the power transmission apparatus 135 is facilitated jointly by the
power transmission apparatus 135 and the output power control
mechanism 140.

The power transmission apparatus 135 is configured in accordance with
any number of known power transmission arrangements for converting
electrical power to mechanical power. In one embodiment, the power
transmission apparatus 135 is an electronic transmission (e.g., of a
vehicle). Such a power transmission apparatus receives electrical
power and converts the electrical power to mechanical power (e.g.,
rotary power at a shaft of a motor). By varying the magnitude of the
electrical power supplied to the power transmission apparatus 135
and/or by regulating application and/or magnitude of electrical power
within the power transmission apparatus 135, the corresponding power
outputted from the power transmission apparatus 135 is variable.

The electrical power conversion apparatus 120 is electrically
connected to the compressed air supply apparatus 105 in a manner
enabling electrical power from the electrical power conversion
apparatus 120 to be supplied to the compressed air supply apparatus
105. The electrical power supplied from the electrical power
conversion apparatus 120 to the compressed air supply apparatus 105
provides electrical power necessary for enabling the compressed air
supply apparatus 105 to generate compressed air that is supplied to
the compressed air engine 110. For example, in one embodiment of the
present invention, the electrical power conversion apparatus 120
supplies electrical power to an air compressor of the compressed air
supply apparatus 105.

A battery apparatus 145 is electrically connected between the
compressed air supply apparatus 105 and the power distribution
apparatus 125. Electrical power is supplied from the power
distribution apparatus 125 to the battery apparatus 145. Electrical
power from the battery apparatus 145 is supplied to the compressed air
supply apparatus 105. Electrical power supplied from the battery
apparatus 145 to the compressed air supply apparatus serves to
energize the compressed air supply apparatus 105 in situations where
electrical power is not capable of being supplied to the compressed
air supply apparatus 105 (e.g., when the compressed air engine 110 is
inoperable). In one embodiment, the battery apparatus 145 comprises a
plurality of battery cells (e.g., within a single battery or multiple
batteries) and a power controller that regulates electrical power
supplied to the battery cells and that converts (e.g., from DC to AC)
and/or regulates electrical power supplied from the battery cells to
the compressed air supply apparatus 105.

A solar panel 150 is electrically connected to the battery apparatus
145. The solar panel 150 converts solar energy to electrical power and
that electrical power is provided to the battery apparatus 145 for
recharging battery cells of the battery apparatus 145. A skilled
person will appreciate that the present invention is not unnecessarily
limited to a particular type of solar panel.

FIG. 2 shows an embodiment of a vehicle 200 comprising a specific
implementation of a powertrain system in accordance with the present
invention. It is disclosed herein that the powertrain system of the
vehicle 200 may be integrated into nearly any type of vehicle (e.g.,
passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, miliary vehicle, motorcycle,
etc). Accordingly, it is disclosed herein that the present invention
is not unnecessarily limited in implementation and utilization to any
specific type of vehicle.

Two compressed air engines 202 receive compressed air from a
compressed air storage tank 204. The compressed air engines 202 each
extract energy from the compressed air and output rotary power at a
respective output power portion (e.g., a rotating output shaft). The
rotating power is transferred to two DC electrical power generating
devices 206, thereby providing input power to the two DC electrical
power generating devices 206. An alternator and a generator are each
examples of DC electrical power generating devices in accordance with
the present invention. An input-output coupling device 208 is
connected between the compressed air engines 202 and each one of the
DC electrical power generating devices 206 for facilitating transfer
of rotary power from the compressed air engines 202 to each one of the
DC electrical power generating devices 206; A gearbox and a
pulley-belt arrangement are two examples of the input-output coupling
device 208.

In response to the rotary power being applied to the two DC electrical
power generating devices 206, the two DC electrical power generating
devices 206 each output DC electrical power. The DC electrical power
from a first one of the two DC electrical power generating devices 206
is provided to a first DC-to-AC inverter 210 and the DC electrical
power from a second one of the two DC electrical power generating
devices 206 is provided to a second DC-to-AC inverter 212. The DC-AC
inverts perform the function of transforming DC electrical power to AC
electrical power.

The AC electrical power of the first DC-to-AC investors 210 is
supplied to two air compressors 214, which jointly supply the
compressed air storage tank 204 with compressed air. The AC electrical
power of the second DC-to-AC inverter 212 is electrically connected to
two AC electric motors 216. The AC electric power from the second
DC-AC inverters facilitates electromotive rotation of the AC electric
motors 216. An input-output coupling device 218 is mechanically
connected between the AC electric motors 216 and a high-output DC
electrical power generating device 220 thereby providing for the
transfer of rotary power from the AC electric motors 216 to the
high-output DC electrical power generating device 220. The high-output
DC electrical power generating device 220 is characterized in that it
capable of outputting considerably more electrical current at a
respective specified voltage than are the DC electrical power
generating devices 206 that are mechanically connected to the
compressed air engines 206. The DC-to-AC invertors 210, the AC
electric motors 216, the input-output coupling device 218 and the
high-output DC electrical power generating device 220 are jointly an
embodiment of an electrical power conversion apparatus in accordance
with the present invention.

A power distribution apparatus 222 is electrically connected to the
high-output DC electrical power generating device 220. The power
distribution apparatus 222 receives electrical power from the
high-output DC electrical power generating device 220. The power
distribution apparatus 222 is configured for selectively outputting
electrical power through a plurality of power outlet portions (i.e.,
electrical connections where power output cables are connected).

As depicted in FIG. 2, a plurality of drive motors 224 are provided
for turning a front and/or a rear tractive means (e.g., wheels) of the
vehicle 200. Each of the drive motors 224 is electrically connected to
a respective power outlet portion of the power distribution apparatus
222. An output power control mechanism 225 is connected to the power
distribution apparatus 222. The output power control mechanism 225
includes a pedal portion connected to a device such as, for example, a
potentiometer or rheostat that enables a relative position of the
pedal portion to be correlated to a desired amount of electrical power
output (e.g., 30% of maximum power output) applied from the power
distribution apparatus 222 to the drive motors 224. In this manner,
electrical power may be applied to the drive motors in a variable
manner thus facilitating speed control of the vehicle 200. The
plurality of drive motors 224 is an embodiment of a power transmission
apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

It is disclosed herein that the plurality of drive motors 224 may be
replaced with another configuration of power transmission apparatus,
such as one with a centralized motor or motors and power transfer
means for transferring power to one or more wheels of the vehicle 200.

A plurality of acceleration modules 226 are electrically connected to
the power distribution apparatus 222. Each one of the acceleration
modules 226 holds a stored electrical charge and is configured for
enabling the stored electrical charge to be rapidly discharged. In one
embodiment, the acceleration modules 226 each include a capacitive
portion (e.g., a large capacitor) that holds a stored electrical
charge and enables it to be rapidly discharged. Through its electrical
connection to the power distribution apparatus 222, the stored charges
of the acceleration modules 226 can be selectively outputted to the
power transmission apparatus through a power outlet portion of the
power distribution apparatus 222. Discharge of the stored electrical
charges serves to boost electrical power applied to the drive motors
224, thereby aiding in acceleration of the vehicle 200. The
acceleration modules 226 receive electrical power from the power
distribution apparatus 222 for maintaining and replenishing the stored
electrical charges.

A plurality of batteries 228 are electrically connected to a power
controller 230. The power controller 230 is electrically connected to
the air compressors 214 for supplying electrical power from the
batteries 228 to the air compressors 214. The electrical power
supplied from the batteries 228 is selectively supplied to the air
compressors 214 by the power controller 230 when the compressed air
engines 202 are inactive and electrical power is selectively supplied
from the power distribution apparatus 222 to the power controller 230
for enabling the batteries 228 to be recharged. The power controller
230 converts power as necessary (e.g., converting from DC electrical
power to AC electrical power) and regulates control of the electrical
power to the air compressors (e.g., supplies electrical power when the
compressed air engines 202 are inactive and a pressure level of
compressed air within the compressed air storage tank 204 drops below
a prescribed level). The batteries 228 and the power controller 230
are jointly an embodiment of a batter apparatus in accordance with the
present invention.

A solar panel array 232 is electrically connected to the power
controller 230. The solar panel array 232 converts solar energy to
electrical power (i.e., solar-generated electrical power). The
electrical power generated by the solar panel array 232 is supplied
from the solar panel 232 to the power controller 230 for enabling the
batteries to be recharged. It is disclosed herein that the solar panel
array 232 may be made up of a plurality of discrete solar panels
positioned at different locations on the vehicle 200. For example a
first solar panel may be attached to a front bumper of the vehicle 200
and a second solar panel may be attached to a rear bumper of the
vehicle 200.

A plurality of wind-driven electrical power generators 234 are
electrically connected to the power distribution apparatus 222 for
enabling electrical power generated by the wind-driven electrical
power generators 234 to be supplied to and selectively outputted from
the power distribution apparatus. The wind-driven electrical power
generators 234 each include a venturi air duct portion 236 expose to a
forward facing portion of the vehicle 200. The venturi air duct
portion 236 of each one of the wind-driven electrical power generators
234 serves to gather air as the vehicle 200 moves through the air and
accelerate the gathered air through a turbine portion of the
wind-driven electrical power generators 234 thereby rotating the
turbine portion and an attached electrical power generating device.
Rotation of the attached electrical power generating device causes
generation of the electrical power that is supplied to the power
distribution apparatus 222 from a respective one of the wind-driven
electrical power generators 234.

A skilled person will appreciate that specifications for components
and/or apparatuses of a powertrain system in accordance with the
present invention are relative and based on, for example, desired
power output of the powertrain system. Thus, detailed specifications
for certain components and apparatuses discussed herein are not
specifically disclosed. Accordingly, a skilled person will appreciate
that specific aspects of such components and apparatuses do not
unnecessarily limit the present invention. It is the functionality,
interaction and interconnection between such components and/or
apparatuses of a powertrain apparatus in accordance with the present
invention that provide the underlying basis for the operation and
usefulness of the present invention because the detailed
specifications for components and apparatuses of a powertrain system
in accordance with the present invention are dependent on an intended
use of such powertrain system.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the
accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown
by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the present
invention may be practiced. These embodiments, and certain variants
thereof, have been described in sufficient detail to enable those
skilled in the art to practice embodiments of the present invention.
It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized
and that logical, mechanical, chemical and electrical changes may be
made without departing from the spirit or scope of such inventive
disclosures. To avoid unnecessary detail, the description omits
certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding
detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the
specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended
to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be
reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended
claims. For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM OR WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Federal Circuit Upholds USPTO?s Authority to Issue Final Rules and
Concludes that Certain Final Rules Are Consistent with the Patent Act

USPTO is not Implementing Final Rules at this Time

WWW.USPTO.GOV
On March 20, 2009, the Federal Circuit issued a decision addressing
(i) whether the Claims and Continuation Final Rules fall within the
scope of the USPTO?s rulemaking authority and (ii) whether the Final
Rules are contrary to the Patent Act. The Court concluded that the
Final Rules were all within the agency?s rulemaking authority. The
Court also concluded that Final Rule 114 (requests for continued
examination), Final Rule 75 (claims), and Final Rule 265 (examination
support documents) are consistent with the Patent Act, but that Final
Rule 78 (continuations) violates the Patent Act. The Court remanded
several issues to the district court. The litigation remains pending.
The Final Rules will not be implemented until further notice.

For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use

United States Patent 7,322,592
WWW.USPTO.GOV
Francis, et al.
January 29, 2008

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Aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use


Abstract
An aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use are disclosed. In
one form, an aerodynamic cycling apparatus includes a main frame
including a rear wheel mount and a front wheel mount. The main frame
includes a light-weight material and a front wheel is coupled to the
front wheel mount. A front wheel cover substantially covers an
interior portion of the front wheel. A gearless rear wheel is coupled
to the rear wheel mount and includes a rear wheel cover substantially
covering an interior portion of the rear wheel.


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Inventors: Francis; Nalan A. (St. Croix, VI), Francis; Marilyn S.
(St. Croix, VI)
Appl. No.: 10/999,556
Filed: November 30, 2004

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Related U.S. Patent Documents

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Application Number Filing Date Patent Number Issue Date
60533681 Dec., 2003


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Current U.S. Class: 280/152.2 ; 280/281.1; 280/288.4; 296/78.1
Current International Class: B62D 35/00 (20060101)
Field of Search: 280/87.01,281.1,152.2,288.4,152.1 D12/181,182 296/78.1



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References Cited [Referenced By]

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U.S. Patent Documents

D97461 November 1935 Bregman
2926927 March 1960 Enright
4326728 April 1982 Tatch
4732428 March 1988 Monte
D299220 January 1989 Trusky
4813583 March 1989 Carpenter
D301438 June 1989 Hanamura
5121937 June 1992 Lawwill
5131727 July 1992 Johnson
5275067 January 1994 Lew
D345725 April 1994 Camfield et al.
5324059 June 1994 Bryne
5603553 February 1997 Klieber et al.
D435817 January 2001 Lai
6450516 September 2002 Nall, III

Primary Examiner: Ellis; Christopher P.
Assistant Examiner: Walters; John D
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM
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Parent Case Text

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CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent
Application having Ser. No. 60/533,681 filed Dec. 31, 2003 entitled
"Coast-2-Coast", having a common applicant herewith.
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Claims

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What is claimed is:

1. An aerodynamic cycling apparatus comprising: a main frame including
a rear wheel mount and a front wheel mount, the main frame constructed
of light-weight materials and no mechanical drive assembly; a front
wheel coupled to the front wheel mount, the front wheel including a
front wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the
front wheel; a gearless rear wheel coupled to the rear wheel mount,
the rear wheel including a rear wheel cover substantially covering an
interior portion of the rear wheel; a front aerodynamic cover
substantially surrounding the front wheel and a front portion of the
main frame, the front aerodynamic cover formed to allow placement of a
user's legs between the main frame and the front aerodynamic cover; a
rear aerodynamic cover substantially covering the rear wheel and a
rear portion of the main frame; a rear spoiler coupled to the rear
aerodynamic cover; and a rear view mirror assembly integrated as a
part of the front aerodynamic cover to allow the user to view objects.

2. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the main frame
comprises an elongated frame.

3. The apparatus as recited in claim 2 wherein the main frame further
comprises: a length at least five (5) feet; and a height no greater
than three (3) feet.

4. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the main frame
comprises a braking system operably coupled to at least one of the
front wheel and the rear wheel.

5. The apparatus as recited in claim 4 wherein the main frame
comprises aluminum.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the main frame comprises titanium.

7. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the front and rear
aerodynamic covers comprise a plastic material.

8. The apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein the front and rear
aerodynamic covers comprise a fiberglass material.

9. An apparatus for use with a coasting bicycle to provide
aerodynamics during comprising: a front aerodynamic cover operable to
be coupled to a front portion of a main frame of a bicycle along each
side of a front wheel of the bicycle, the front aerodynamic cover
sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of the front wheel's
laterally exposed face; and a rear aerodynamic cover operable to be
coupled to a rear portion of a main fame of the bicycle along each
side of the rear wheel of the bicycle, the rear aerodynamic cover
sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of the rear wheel's
laterally exposed faces.

10. The apparatus as recited in claim 9 further comprising: a front
wheel cover operable to be coupled to the front wheel to substantially
cover an interior portion of the front wheel; and a rear wheel cover
operable to be coupled to the rear wheel to substantially cover an
interior portion of the rear wheel.

11. The apparatus as recited in claim 10 further comprising a rear
spoiler operable to be coupled to a rear portion of the main frame of
the bicycle.

12. The apparatus as recited in claim 9 further comprising a rear
spoiler operable to be coupled to the rear aerodynamic cover.

13. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the front aerodynamic cover
includes at least one rear view mirror.

14. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the front and rear aerodynamic
covers comprise a plastic material.

15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the main frame comprises aluminum.
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Description

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FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The invention relates generally to cycling, and more particularly to
an aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use.

BACKGROUND

Road bikes today are constructed from a variety of materials, ranging
from the traditional steel alloy to aluminum, titanium, magnesium and
carbon fiber composites, to combinations of materials. Each of these
materials has their own favorable aspect. Steel alloys are known to
produce pliable frames that can be "tuned" for a particular type of
riding. Aluminum frames are among the stiffer frames and are thus
suitable for heavier riders or those that engage in high-energy
pedaling. Titanium and carbon-fiber frames are more exotic, with
better strength-to-weight ratios than steel or aluminum, but are
higher in cost. The current trend among high-end frames is to use a
combination of materials, such as aluminum or titanium for the main
part of the frame and using carbon-fiber for the front and rear
portions of the frame.

When designing race bikes, two of the most important variables are its
weight and aerodynamic drag. In order to reduce wheel weight and
improve aerodynamic efficiency, racing bikes have fewer spokes; a
typical number is 24. In some situations, the resulting weaker wheel
may not be suitable for heavier loads, landing jumps, etc., since this
could cause spokes to break. To reduce both air resistance and
friction on the road, tires are thin and smooth. Drop handlebars and
optional handlebar extensions are combined with a raised seat post in
order to put the rider in a more aerodynamic posture. However, what is
lacking is reducing the drag incurred from a rider being present on
the cycle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other advantages, features and characteristics of the invention, as
well as methods, operation and functions of related elements of
structure, and the combinations of parts and economies of manufacture,
will become apparent upon consideration of the following description
and claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, all of which
form a part of the specification, wherein like reference numerals
designate corresponding parts in the various figures, and wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a side view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle
according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of an aerodynamic coasting
bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 3 illustrates a side perspective view of an elongated aerodynamic
coasting bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

An aerodynamic coasting bicycle and method of use are provided. In one
form, an aerodynamic cycling apparatus comprises a main frame
including a rear wheel mount and a front wheel mount wherein the main
frame includes light-weight materials and no mechanical drive
assembly. The aerodynamic cycling apparatus further includes a front
wheel coupled to the front wheel mount and a front wheel cover
substantially covering an interior portion of the front wheel. A
gearless rear wheel is coupled to the rear wheel mount and includes a
rear wheel cover substantially covering an interior portion of the
rear wheel.

In a particularized form, an aerodynamic coasting bicycle includes an
elongated frame having a front aerodynamic cover substantially
surrounding a front wheel of the bicycle and a front portion of the
elongated frame. The front aerodynamic cover is formed to allow
placement of a user's legs between the elongated frame and the front
aerodynamic cover. The bicycle further includes a rear aerodynamic
cover substantially covering the rear wheel and a rear portion of the
elongated frame. In this manner, a reduction in drag caused by wind
resistance is reduced allowing the aerodynamic coasting bicycle to
accelerate at a greater rate during use.

FIG. 1 illustrates a side view of an aerodynamic coasting bicycle
according to one embodiment of the invention. Aerodynamic coasting
bicycle 10 includes a main frame 11, a front wheel 17, a rear wheel 19
and a seat 15. Each wheel includes a height of approximately twenty
(20) inches and a width of approximately (23) millimeters. Through
providing wheel having the disclosed dimension, minimal roll
resistance is realized during use thereby allowing for greater
acceleration and operating speeds of bicycle 10. Bicycle 10 further
includes a front aerodynamic cover 12 coupled to a front portion of
main frame 11 and a rear aerodynamic cover 16 coupled to a rear
portion of main frame 11. Bicycle 10 further includes a windshield 21
made of a clear plastic or plexiglass material and a rear view mirror
assembly 13 coupled to and/or integrated as a part of front
aerodynamic cover 12.

Main frame 11 is formed from one or more light-weight materials such
as aluminum, titanium, steel alloys, carbon fiber, or other types of
light-weight materials having sufficient strength and durability for
providing a bicycle frame. Main frame 11 is constructed for durability
and strength with each joint being welded. Front aerodynamic cover 12
is formed to provide a streamlined shroud 14 for reducing wind
resistance of aerodynamic coasting bicycle 10 when used. Front
aerodynamic cover 12 is sized to allow a user to place a portion of
their legs between shroud 14 and main frame 11 (not expressly shown).
As such, aerodynamic cover 12 is sized such that it is sized and
positioned at a distance from main frame 11 to allow for a user to
place a portion or all of their legs along main frame 11 and behind
front aerodynamic cover 12. In one embodiment, front aerodynamic cover
12 is coupled to front fork 62 and may be varied in width from
approximately five (5) to fifteen (15) degrees allowing for
aerodynamic variability of front aerodynamic cover 12 and ultimately
bicycle 10 during use.

Front aerodynamic cover 12 and rear aerodynamic cover 16 may be formed
from one or more types of light-weight materials such as plastic,
thermoplastics, fiberglass, polyethylene, polypropylene and the like
such that a light-weight aerodynamic properties may be achieved. Each
cover may also be finished or coated with a paint, glossy finish, wax,
etc. to reduce wind resistance along each surface.

Front wheel 17 further includes a front wheel cover 18 and rear wheel
19 includes a rear wheel cover 20. Each cover substantially covers the
interior portion of each wheel to further enhance aerodynamics of
bicycle 10. Each cover may be coupled to a portion of one or more
wheel supports such as conventional wheel spokes using coupling
mechanisms such as clips, plastic tie-straps, and the like. Each cover
substantially covers the interior portion of each wheel to further
enhance aerodynamics of bicycle 10. Each cover may be coupled to a
portion of one or more wheel supports such as conventional wheel
spokes using coupling mechanisms such as clips, plastic tie-straps,
and the like. Each cover may be made of light-weight materials such as
plastic, thermoplastics, fiberglass, polyethylene, polypropylene and
the like such that a light-weight aerodynamic properties may be
achieved.

Bicycle 10 is provided as a non-mechanical bicycle that relies on
gravity to provide acceleration during use. For example, a user may
position bicycle 10 along a hillside or course having a downward slope
to allow a user to coast downhill along a surface. As the user
initiates bicycle 10 down a slope, each aerodynamic element of bicycle
10 contributes to increasing the overall acceleration or propulsion of
bicycle 10 through reducing wind resistance that traditional downhill
bicycles encounter. For example, wind resistance of a user typically
decelerates conventional bicycles. As such, a user using bicycle 10
having front aerodynamic cover 18 allows a user to be positioned
behind front aerodynamic cover 18 and windshield 21 thereby reducing
wind friction that may be caused by a user. Additionally, through
bicycle 10 having a rear aerodynamic cover 16, turbulent wind currents
may be streamlined away from main frame 11 allowing for an overall
decrease in drag that may occur as bicycle 10 accelerates downhill. In
this manner, through providing a non-mechanical bicycle made of
light-weight materials and aerodynamic covers, wind resistance is
reduced and acceleration of bicycle 10 is increased during use.

FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of an aerodynamic coasting
bicycle according to one embodiment of the invention. An aerodynamic
coasting bicycle 25 includes a front aerodynamic cover 26 covering a
substantial portion of a front wheel 27 of bicycle 25. Front
aerodynamic cover 26 further includes rear view mirrors 28 positioned
to allow a user to view objects behind or along side bicycle 25 during
use. A windshield 29 further enhances aerodynamics of bicycle 25
allowing a user to be positioned behind windshield 29 to reduce wind
resistance of a user while allowing the user visibility.

Front aerodynamic cover 26 is operable to be coupled to a front
portion of a main frame of bicycle 25 along each side of front wheel
of bicycle 25. Front aerodynamic cover 26 is sized to cover at least
fifty (50) percent of front wheel 17. Similarly, a rear aerodynamic
cover (not expressly shown) is operable to be coupled to a rear
portion of a main fame of bicycle 25 along each side of the rear wheel
of the bicycle and sized to cover at least fifty (50) percent of the
rear wheel of the bicycle. In this manner, a substantial portion of
wind resistance, turbulence, drag, etc. that may be encountered during
use of bicycle 25 may be reduced thereby increasing the overall
acceleration of bicycle 25.

FIG. 3 illustrates a side perspective view of an aerodynamic coasting
bicycle illustrating a reduced frame height according to one
embodiment of the invention. A downhill racing bicycle 60 that lacks a
conventional mechanical gear system and includes stainless steel or
aluminum foot pegs 56 for allowing a user to rest their feet during
use. Bicycle 60 further includes an elongated frame 40 having a front
wheel mount 41 coupling a front wheel 42 having a front wheel cover
43. Bicycle 60 further includes a rear wheel mount 44 coupling a rear
wheel 45 having a rear wheel cover 46. A front aerodynamic cover 47
includes a windshield 48 and is coupled to a front portion of front
wheel mount 41 using front mounting brackets 51 and a rear aerodynamic
cover 49 is coupled to a rear portion of elongated frame 40 using rear
mounting brackets 52. Front mounting brackets 51 and rear mounting
brackets 52 may be coupled to various locations along elongated frame
40 as needed to securely couple front aerodynamic cover 47 and rear
aerodynamic cover 49. In one embodiment, front and rear mounting
brackets 51 and 52 may be secured using threaded nut and bolts, wing
nuts, etc. allowing for each aerodynamic cover to be removed and
replaced as needed. Durable plastic coupling mechanisms may also be
considered for securely coupling front and rear mounting brackets 51
and 52. In another embodiment, front and rear mounting brackets 51 and
52 may be welded to elongated frame 40 to permanently couple front
aerodynamic cover 47 and rear aerodynamic cover 49 to elongated frame
40.

To further enhance aerodynamics of bicycle 60, elongated frame 40 may
include a height 55 no greater than three (3) feet and a length 54 of
no greater than, for example, fifty (50) inches as measured from front
axel to rear axel. Through providing a bicycle having a reduced height
and elongated frame, a lower profile or exposed surface area may be
realized thereby reducing the amount of drag that may be produced
during use. Bicycle 60 further includes a spoiler 53 coupled that may
be coupled to elongated frame 40 and/or rear aerodynamic cover 49 and
positioned behind seat 50. Spoiler 53 provides additional aerodynamic
enhancement through reducing drag and providing a downward force to
bicycle 60 during use. Spoiler 53 may be adjusted in a vertical
direction and at various angles as needed to reduce back drafts that
may result during use. For example, mechanical height and angle
actuators or linkage may be used to increase or decrease the height
and angle of spoiler based on the overall operational height of a
user. Actuators or linkage may include brackets having a track for
position spoiler 53 through various angles. Additionally, a height
adjuster may include a first tube coupled to spoiler 53 and an sized
to slidingly engage and fit within a second tube mounted to a rear
portion of elongated frame 40. Height adjuster may include a series of
apertures positioned vertical and sized to allow a spring actuated
nipple to engage an aperature and allow for increasing and decreasing
the overall height of spoiler 53.

Rear aerodynamic cover 49 may also include an adjustable foot
placement saddle 59 that allows a user to place their feet along rear
aerodynamic cover 49 during use. In this manner, a reduction in wind
resistance may be realized by a user placing their feet on foot pegs
56 or by a user placing their feet within foot placement saddle 59
thereby altering the center of gravity of a user as needed and
enhancing the speed of bicycle 60 during use.

Bicycle 60 is well suited for downhill racing through providing a
light-weight bicycle having increased aerodynamic to optimize
acceleration through non-mechanical propulsion means. For example,
bicycle 60 lacks gears, linkage, chains, etc. used on a conventional
bicycle. In this manner, a lightweight bicycle having streamlined
aerodynamics may be provided to minimize drag that may be encountered
due to wind resistance while allowing bicycle 60 to accelerate
efficiently.

Bicycle 60 further includes a mechanical or hydraulic brake system 57
that includes front and/or rear disc brakes and at least on actuator
(not expressly shown) for slowing and stopping bicycle 60 during use.
Additionally, bicycle 60 includes handlebars 58 operatively coupled to
elongated frame 40 for providing directional control of bicycle 60.

Note that although an embodiment of the invention has been shown and
described in detail herein, along with certain variants thereof, many
other varied embodiments that incorporate the teachings of the
invention may be easily constructed by those skilled in the art.
Benefits, other advantages, and solutions to problems have been
described above with regard to specific embodiments. However, the
benefits, advantages, solutions to problems, and any element(s) that
may cause any benefit, advantage, or solution to occur or become more
pronounced are not to be construed as a critical, required, or
essential feature or element of any or all the claims. Accordingly,
the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific form set
forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such
alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably
included within the spirit and scope of the invention. For more
information please go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

Wind powered streetlight

United States Patent
WWW.USPTO.GOV
7,321,173
Mann
January 22, 2008

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Wind powered streetlight


Abstract
A streetlight for illuminating a portion of an adjacent roadway. The
streetlight includes three vertical support members with a rotatable
axle mounted intermediate thereto. Superposed on the vertical support
members is a light assembly. A plurality of wind receptacles, having a
hub, at least one support arm and at least one cup shaped
wind-capturing device are operatively connected to the axle. The wind
receptacles act to harness air current and rotate the axle, which is
operatively connected to an electrical generator. The electrical
current from the generator is stored in a power storage unit. The
streetlight further includes photovoltaic cells for supplying power to
the light assembly.


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Inventors: Mann; Harjit (Edgbaston Birmingham W. Midlands, GB)
Appl. No.: 11/347,927
Filed: February 6, 2006

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Current U.S. Class: 290/55 ; 290/44
Current International Class: F03D 9/00 (20060101); H02P 9/04 (20060101)
Field of Search: 290/55,54,44,43 416/111,119,132B 415/4.2,4.5,2.1,7,905,906



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References Cited [Referenced By]

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U.S. Patent Documents

3877836 April 1975 Tompkins
3897170 July 1975 Darvishian
4200904 April 1980 Doan
4329593 May 1982 Willmouth
4364709 December 1982 Tornquist
4419587 December 1983 Benton
4508972 April 1985 Willmouth
5997252 December 1999 Miller
6661113 December 2003 Bonin
2004/0047723 March 2004 Horjus
2005/0263057 December 2005 Green
2007/0115663 May 2007 Weiser et al.

Primary Examiner: Gonzalez; Julio
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Galasso; Raymond M. Galasso & Associates LP
WWW.GAPATENTS.COM
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Claims

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What is claimed is:

1. A light fixture for illuminating a portion of an adjacent roadway
comprising: at least three vertical support members, said vertical
support members configured in a tripod pattern, said vertical support
members having a first end and a second end, said first end of said
vertical support members superposed on mounting bases, said mounting
bases configured to provide horizontal structural support; an axle,
said axle being intermediate said vertical support members, said axle
having a first end and a second end, said axle being rotatable; a
light assembly, said light assembly for illuminating a portion of said
roadway, said light assembly superposed on said second end of said
vertical support members, said light assembly having two portions,
said portions being perpendicular to said vertical support members,
said portions oppositely extending outward from said vertical support
members; a primary wind receptacle, said primary wind receptacle
operatively connected to said second end of said axle, said primary
wind receptacle for harnessing air currents, said primary wind
receptacle being configured to rotate said axle, said primary wind
receptacle further including a hub, said hub surroundably mounted to
said second end of said axle, four arms, said arms contiguous with
said hub, said arms being perpendicular to said hub, four wind
capturing devices, said wind capturing devices mounted to said arms
distal to said hub, said wind capturing devices being configured to be
cup-shaped, said wind capturing devices having a convex shaped bottom;
a plurality of secondary wind receptacles, said secondary wind
receptacles being operatively connected to said axle, said secondary
wind receptacles intermediate said light assembly and said mounting
bases, said secondary wind receptacles for harnessing air currents; a
power supply, said power supply operatively connected to said first
end of said axle, said power supply being configured to generate
electrical current.

2. The light fixture as recited in claim 1, wherein said secondary
wind receptacles further include four cup-shaped wind capturing
devices, said wind capturing device having circumferentially disposed
thereon a magnetized ring.

3. The light fixture as recited in claim 2, and further including
three magnetized panels, said panels mounted on said vertical support
members, said magnetized panels having the opposite magnetic pole from
said magnetized ring.

4. The light fixture as recited in claim 3, and further including a
power storage unit, said power storage unit for receiving electrical
currents from said power supply, said power storage unit for providing
electrical current to said light assembly.

5. The light fixture as recited in claim 4, and further including
three horizontal support members, said horizontal support members
intermediate said vertical support members, said horizontal support
members being interposed said light assembly and said mounting base.

6. The light fixture as recited in claim 5, wherein said power supply
is an alternator.
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Description

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FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a light powered by natural resources,
more specifically but not by way of limitation, a light for
illuminating a portion of a roadway that is powered by a series of
wind receptacles and photovoltaic cells to facilitate the generation
and storage of electrical energy required to illuminate the light.

BACKGROUND

People frequently travel at night by many methods on roads and
highways. Government municipalities frequently provide lighting to
illuminate a portion of the roads that are frequently traveled to
increase the safety conditions of these areas. Traditional street
lights are most often powered by the municipal's electrical system.

One problem with traditional powered streetlights is that they require
a source of electricity. Electricity sources that are commonly used
comprise of a municipal electrical grid that is used to power a
certain geographical area. The streetlight must be wired into this
grid in order to produce light. Most often, natural gas or coal is
used to generate power for the electrical grids that power most urban
areas. As energy commodities are in a state of high demand,
conservation of the use of these commodities is preferred.

Traditional street lights are also limited to certain geographical
areas due to their need for a presence an electrical grid to interface
with in order to receive the electricity needed for operation. Rural
areas often do not have the electrical infrastructure required to
supply electricity to streetlights. Traditional streetlights are
routinely not placed in rural areas as the installation costs are
usually prohibitive as municipal electricity grids may not be
available to supply power. Having the ability to place a streetlight
in rural areas would facilitate an increase in safety conditions in
these areas.

Accordingly, there is a need for a street light that does not required
interfacing with an municipal electrical system and is capable of
generating and storing electricity aided by several natural resource
powered devices such as but not limited to wind powered and/or
photovoltaic cells.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is the object of the present invention to provide a street light
for illuminating a portion of a street or highway that does not
require the use of electricity from a municipal electrical grid.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a street
light that uses a combination of wind receptacles and photovoltaic
cells to generate electricity necessary for the operation of the
streetlight to provide illumination for a portion of a street or
highway.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a
streetlight that includes a device for storing electrical current that
is generated by a natural power source such as but not limited to
sunlight or wind.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a streetlight
that promotes the conservation of energy commodities such as coal or
natural gas.

To the accomplishment of the above and related objects the present
invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying
drawings. Attention is called to the fact that the drawings are
illustrative only. Variations are contemplated as being a part of the
present invention, limited only by the scope of the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the present invention may be had by
reference to the following Detailed Description and appended claims
when taken in conjunction with the accompanying Drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of the present
invention; and

FIG. 2 illustrates a detailed view of an embodiment of a wind
receptacle of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the embodiments in FIGS. 1 and 2, wherein like elements
are designated with identical reference numbers and wherein various
elements are not necessarily drawn to scale. In particular, in FIG. 1
there is illustrated a streetlight 100 that is constructed according
to the principles of the present invention.

The streetlight 100 comprises a plurality of vertical support members
50. The vertical support members 50 are configured in a tripod pattern
with each vertical support member 50 being positioned angled outward
from the center axle 70. The vertical support members 50 are
configured to form the structural support for the streetlight. The
vertical support members 50 are manufactured from conventional square
metal tubing that are non-corrosive metal. Good results have been
achieved using aluminum or galvanized steel. Although the vertical
support members 50 are illustrated in the drawing submitted herewith
as square tubes, it is further contemplated within the scope of the
present invention that numerous different shapes and sizes of
conventional metal tubing could be used in placed of and/or in
conjunction with the square tubing illustrated and perform the desired
function suggested herein. Furthermore, it is contemplated within the
scope of the present invention that numerous different configurations
and quantities of the vertical support members 50 are possible to
achieve the desired functionality as suggested herein.

Each vertical support member 50 has a first end 121 and a second end
123. Each first end 121 is secured to a mounting bracket 120. The
mounting bracket 120 is contiguous with and generally perpendicular to
the vertical support member 50. The mounting bracket 120 is secured to
the vertical support member 50 by traditional mechanical methods such
as but not limited to welding. The mounting bracket 120 functions to
secure the vertical support member 50 to the mounting base 122. Each
vertical support member 50 is superposed on a mounting base 122 and
secured with the mounting bracket 120. The mounting base 120 is
manufactured from conventional durable material such as concrete.

The mounting base 122 functions to provide a stable horizontal support
structure for the street light 100 upon positioning on a variety of
terrains that are typical of roadside conditions. Distally positioned
from the mounting base 122 underneath the light assembly 20 and
intermediate each vertical support member 50 are a plurality of
horizontal support members 60. The horizontal support members 60 are
positioned in order to provide structural support for the vertical
support members 50. The horizontal support members 60 are fastened to
the vertical support member 50 by conventional mechanical or other
suitable methods such as but not limited to welding.

Although the drawings submitted herewith illustrate three horizontal
support members 60, it is further contemplated within the scope of the
present invention that numerous configurations and quantities of the
horizontal support members 60 could be used in place of and/or in
conjunction with the horizontal support members 60 illustrated to
provide the functionality as suggested herein.

The second ends 123 of each vertical support member 50 are fastened
together near the apex 124 by suitable methods such as welding. The
vertical support members 50 are fastened near the apex 124 with
sufficient space therebetween for the center axle 70 to extend
upwardly through and permit rotation thereof.

Superposed to the second ends 123 of the vertical support members 50
and generally perpendicular thereto is the light assembly 20. The
light assembly 20 is comprised of two generally equal portions 21.
Each portion 21 of the light assembly 20 extends opposite each other
and outward from the vertical support members 50. The light assembly
20 is fastened to the vertical support members 50 with conventional
mechanical fasteners such but not limited to bolts.

The light assembly 20 further comprises a plurality of photovoltaic
cells 10. The photovoltaic cells 10 are conventional photovoltaic
cells that convert light energy into electrical current. The
electrical current generated from the photovoltaic cells 10 is
transmitted to a power storage unit 130. The electrical transmission
is delivered by insulated copper wiring. The photovoltaic cells 10
superposed on each portion 21 are secured by a fastener 40. The
fastener 40 is a suitable rigid material that is flat and extends
substantially across the length of the portion 21. The fastener 40 is
manufactured from non-corrosive metal and is secured to the light
assembly 20 by conventional mechanical methods such as but not limited
too screws.

A center axle 70 is present having a first end 71 and a second end 72.
The second end 72 of the center axle 70 upwardly projects through the
light assembly 20. The center axle 70 is a suitable rigid material
such as but not limited to a non-corrosive metal. The center axle 70
extends from above the light assembly 20 downward to operatively
connect with the electrical generator 125. The center axle 70 is
mounted intermediate the vertical support members 50 and is mounted so
as to allow complete rotation thereof. Mechanically fastened to the
second end 72 of the axle 70 is a hub 110. The hub 110 is rotatably
mounted to the second end 72 of the center axle 70. The hub 110 is
secured to the second end 72 of the center axle 70 by suitable
mechanical methods such as but not limited to bolts.

Extending outward from the hub 110 and generally perpendicular thereto
is a plurality of support arms 112. The support arms 110 are flat bars
manufactured of a suitable rigid, non-corrosive material such as
aluminum. Contiguous with the end of the support arms 110 distally
positioned from the hub 110 are the wind capturing devices 135.

The wind capturing devices 135 comprise a wall 138 and a bottom 140.
The wall 138 and the bottom 140 are integrally formed to create a
substantially hollow compartment with an opening. The wall 138 and
bottom 140 are manufactured from a suitable moldable material such as
but not limited to thermoplastic. The wind capture devices 135 are
generally cup shaped with the bottom 140 being contiguous with the
wall 138 and convex thereto. The wind capturing devices 135 functions
to temporarily retain available air currents from passing automobile
traffic or weather conditions and move the primary wind receptacle 30
in a clockwise direction.

As the primary wind receptacle 30 rotates the center axle 70 will
rotate in a clockwise direction. Although the wind capturing devices
135 are illustrated being configured in a cup shape with a convex
bottom, it is further contemplated within the scope of the present
invention that the wind capturing devices 135 could be manufactured in
numerous different shapes and sizes in place of and/or in conjunction
with the wind capturing devices 135 as illustrated herein.

Movement of the primary wind receptacle 30 causes the center axle 70
that is operatively connected thereto via the hub 110 to rotate. As
the primary wind receptacle 30 rotates the center axle 70 the first
end 71 of the center axle 70 activates the electrical generator 125.
The electrical generator 125 is a conventional alternator that
generates an electrical current. The current generated from the
electrical generator 125 is transmitted via insulated copper wiring to
the power storage unit 130. The power storage unit 130 receives
electrical current from the electrical generator 130 and the
photovoltaic cells 10 as described herein. The power storage unit 130
is connected to the light assembly with insulated copper wire or other
suitable electrical wire. The electrical current stored in the power
storage unit 130 is used to illuminate the light assembly 20 for a
desired period of time. It is further contemplated within the scope of
the present invention that intermediate the power storage unit 130 and
the light assembly 20 is a light sensitive switch. The switch would
act to close the electrical circuit between the power storage unit 130
and the light assembly 20 during the nighttime hours and activate
illumination of the light assembly 20. Alternatively, a conventional
timer could be used to activate the illumination of the light assembly
20.

Interposed the apex 124 and the electrical generator 125 rotatably
mounted to the center axle 70 are a plurality of secondary wind
receptacles 80. The secondary wind receptacles 80 are constructed
similar to the primary wind receptacle as described herein. The
secondary wind receptacles 80 comprise a hub 81, a plurality of
support arms 82, and a cup-shaped wind-capturing device 83.
Circumferentially disposed thereon the wind-capturing device 83 of the
secondary wind receptacles 80 proximate to the opening 84 is a
magnetic ring 85. The magnetic ring 85 functions to assist the
secondary wind generators 80 clockwise rotation and subsequent
rotation of the center axle 70. As the secondary wind receptacles 80
rotate as a result of air movement, the magnetic ring 85 interacts
with the magnetized panels 90 secured to the vertical support members
90. The magnetized panels 90 are magnetic polar opposites of the
magnetic ring 85. As the secondary wind receptacle 80 is rotated about
the center axle 70 from air currents, provided by passing automobile
traffic or weather conditions, the magnetic ring 85 acts to increase
the rotational speed by repelling the temporarily adjacent magnetic
ring 85. Increasing the rotational speed of the secondary wind
receptacles 80 facilitates the generation of more electrical current
produced from the electrical generator 125 that is operatively
connected to the first end 71 of the center axle 70. Although a
plurality of secondary wind receptacles 80 are shown in the drawings
submitted herewith, it if further contemplated that different
quantities and shapes of secondary wind receptacles 80 could be used
in place of and/or in conjunction with the secondary wind receptacles
80 as described herein. It is further contemplated to be within the
scope of this invention that the spacing of each of the secondary wind
receptacles 80 with respect to each other can be equally proportioned
such that maximum performance is obtained.

The electrical generator 125 is superposed to the power storage unit
130. It is contemplated within the scope of the present invention that
the electrical generator 125 and the power storage unit 130 can be
mounted beneath the terrain upon which the streetlight 100 has been
installed or be secured above ground. It is further contemplated
within the scope of the present invention that the power storage unit
130 has sufficient capacity to provide electrical current to
illuminate the light assembly 20 as needed for typical demands for
operating the street light 100 throughout extended periods of darkness.

Now referring in particular to FIG. 2, a detailed view of a secondary
wind receptacle 200 is illustrated. The secondary wind receptacle 200
consists of a hub 210 that is generally cylindrical in shape. The hub
210 is manufactured from a suitable rigid, non-corrosive material such
as aluminum. Centrally positioned in the hub 210 and extending the
entire length thereof, is an axle aperture 205. The axle aperture 205
is of suitable shape to interconnect with the center axle 70,
illustrated in FIG. 1. Although the axle aperture 205 is illustrated
as being square in shape, it is contemplated within the scope of the
present invention that the axle aperture 205 could consist of numerous
different shapes to correspond with the shape of material used to
construct the axle 70. Contiguous with the hub 210 and extending
outward there from are a plurality of support arms 215. The support
arms 215 are flat rectangular shaped bars that are manufactured from a
suitable rigid material such as but not limited to aluminum.
Integrally formed with the support arms 215 distally positioned from
the hub 210 is a magnetic ring 225. The magnetic ring 225 is
manufactured from a magnetized metal. The magnetic ring 225 is
circumferentially disposed around the wind-capturing device 240
proximate to the opening. The wind-capturing device 240 is secured to
the magnetic ring 225 by suitable chemical or mechanical methods.
Magnets 260 are secured to support members 90 and operate as described
herein above. The wind-capturing device 240 comprises a wall 242 and a
bottom 244 to form a substantially hollow container 248 with an
opening. The container 248 is generally cup shaped with a convex
bottom in order to efficiently capture any ambient air currents.
Although the wind capturing devices 240 are illustrated as being
cup-shaped with a convex bottom, it is contemplated within the scope
of the present invention that the wind capturing devices could be
numerous different shapes and sizes and achieve the functionality as
suggested herein. It is further contemplated within the scope of the
present invention that different quantities of wind capturing devices
240 could be used and achieve the desired functionality of the
secondary wind receptacle 200 as suggested herein.

Referring in particular to FIG. 1, a description of the operation of
the streetlight 100 is as follows. The mounting bases 122 are prepared
in a location where the streetlight 100 is desired. Although it is
desirable to position the streetlight 100 adjacent to a highway or
street, it is contemplated that the streetlight 100 could be utilized
anywhere illumination is desired. Furthermore, scaled-down embodiments
could be utilized for areas such as but not limited to sidewalks. Once
the mounting bases 122 are prepared, the streetlight 100 is superposed
on the mounting bases 122. Requisite operable connections from the
center axle 70 to the electrical generator 125 are completed along
with the necessary wiring connections as described herein.

Once the complete streetlight 100 is in place the photovoltaic cells
10 capture the available sunlight and convert the sunlight into
electrical current whereby it is then transferred via an insulated
copper wire to the power storage unit 130. Additionally, any available
wind current is captured by the primary wind receptacle 30 and the
secondary wind receptacles 80. The captured air currents rotate the
primary wind receptacle 30 and the secondary wind receptacles 40
causing the center axle 70 which is operatively connected thereto to
rotate. The center axle 70 is interconnected with the electrical
generator 125. The rotating center axle 70 activates the electrical
generator 125 and produces an electrical current. The current is
transferred from the electrical generator 125 to the power storage
unit 130 via insulated copper wire to be stored for use in
illuminating the light assembly 20. The light assembly 20 is
illuminated by an automated timer or a light sensitive switch to
illuminate during hours of darkness with electrical current from the
power storage unit 130.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the
accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown
by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the present
invention may be practiced. These embodiments, and certain variants
thereof, have been described in sufficient detail for those skilled in
the art to practice the present invention. It is to be understood that
other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical changes
may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the present
invention. The description may omit certain information known to those
skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description, is therefore,
not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but
on the contrary it is intended to cover such alternatives,
modifications, and equivalents as can be reasonably included within
the spirit and scope of the appended claims. For more information
please go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.