Imported: 10 Mar '17 | Published: 27 Nov '08
USPTO - Utility Patents
The device 1 for supplying a hydraulic brake fluid, termed a downstream hydraulic fluid, to a hydraulic brake circuit of a motor vehicle equipped with a clutch comprises an enclosure 2 intended to contain said hydraulic fluid, said enclosure 2 being provided with at least one outlet nozzle 20 and with an inlet orifice 21. The enclosure 2 forms a downstream portion 30 of a reservoir 3, said reservoir 3 comprising an upstream portion 31 forming an upstream enclosure 4 intended to collect a hydraulic fluid, termed an upstream hydraulic fluid, from the clutch of said vehicle; the upstream enclosure 4 comprises at least one nozzle, termed an inlet nozzle 40, serving to transfer said upstream hydraulic fluid toward the upstream enclosure 4; the inlet orifice 21 is an intermediate orifice 21 whereby the upstream enclosure 4 opens into the downstream enclosure 2, the intermediate orifice 21 being equipped with a means 5 for filtering the upstream hydraulic fluid.
The invention relates to the field of motor vehicles and more specifically to a brake fluid reservoir supplying the hydraulic brake and clutch circuits.
In a general manner, a hydraulic brake circuit comprises a brake fluid reservoir containing a hydraulic fluid, this fluid being intended to transmit a hydraulic pressure to the brakes of the front and rear wheels that is formed by the movement of a piston in a master cylinder when the driver of the vehicle actuates a braking means, for example the brake pedal.
There are other hydraulic systems in motor vehicles, particularly the clutch, which can use the same hydraulic fluid as the hydraulic brake circuit. In order to simplify the hydraulic circuits, a common hydraulic fluid reservoir is used for both circuits, namely for the brake circuit and for the clutch circuit. These reservoirs are typically made of plastic in the form of two shells assembled by welding.
Since the hydraulic absorption of the brake circuit increases with wear on the friction elements, there is a progressive loss of brake fluid, which means that brake fluid should be periodically added to the reservoir so as to keep a substantially constant fluid level in the brake fluid reservoir. By contrast, wear on the clutch usually results in hydraulic fluid being driven back into the reservoir. There is thus a transfer of hydraulic fluid from the reservoir toward the brake. If a common hydraulic fluid reservoir is used for the brake circuits and the clutch circuits, there may occur a progressive transfer of hydraulic fluid from the clutch toward the brake. This liquid may be loaded with solid, metal or non-metal, particles or debris which detach, by abrasion or any other mechanism, from the metal walls with which the fluid is in contact. The largest dimension of these particles or debris is typically between 100 and 500 m.
They can be entrained into the brake circuit, where their presence is particularly undesirable. Specifically, anti-lock braking systems (ABS) typically include electronically operated valves which are generally solenoid ball valves; these solenoid valves can become impaired when solid particles or debris passes through them. Similarly, an ABS-type system includes seals which are liable to become impaired if they come into contact with solid particles or debris.
The problem that the present invention is intended to solve is that of positioning, at a suitable point in the hydraulic brake or clutch circuit, a filtration means which makes it possible to confine the solid particles or debris entrained by the hydraulic fluid without any risk of this filtration means clogging up during use.
The invention relates to a device for supplying a hydraulic brake circuit which, by means of filtration, prevents brake circuits from being contaminated with particles originating from the hydraulic clutch circuit.
The device for supplying a hydraulic brake fluid, termed a downstream hydraulic fluid, to a hydraulic brake circuit of a motor vehicle equipped with a hydraulically controlled clutch comprises an enclosure intended to contain said hydraulic fluid, said enclosure being provided with at least one outlet nozzle supplying said hydraulic circuit, and with an inlet orifice allowing said downstream hydraulic fluid to be introduced into said enclosure so as to compensate for any loss or consumption of said downstream hydraulic fluid in said hydraulic brake circuit.
It is characterized in that:
a) said enclosure is an enclosure, termed a downstream enclosure, forming a portion, termed a downstream portion, of a reservoir, said reservoir comprising a portion, termed an upstream portion, forming an enclosure, termed an upstream enclosure, intended to be supplied with a hydraulic fluid, termed an upstream hydraulic fluid, from the clutch of said vehicle,
b) said upstream enclosure comprises at least one nozzle, termed an inlet nozzle, said inlet nozzle serving to transfer said upstream hydraulic fluid from said clutch toward said upstream enclosure,
c) said inlet orifice is an intermediate orifice whereby said upstream enclosure opens into said downstream enclosure, said intermediate orifice being equipped with a means for filtering said upstream hydraulic fluid so as to continuously convert said upstream hydraulic fluid, typically loaded with solid particles, into said downstream hydraulic fluid devoid of solid particles and thus fit for supplying said brake circuit.
The combination a) to c) of the means characteristic of the invention makes it possible to solve the problems addressed. Specifically, by purifying and transferring the upstream hydraulic fluid from the clutch chamber, it makes it possible to provide the additional brake fluid necessary to compensate for the losses of brake fluid or hydraulic fluid in the brake circuit without requiring an external input of brake fluid.
The device according to the invention additionally has the advantage of being compact, which means that it can be easily installed in a motor vehicle.
As can be observed from FIG. 5a, said reservoir 3 can comprise an outer wall 32, said outer wall 32 being traversed by said outlet 20 and inlet 40 nozzles and comprising a bottom portion 320 forming a base, a lateral portion 321 forming a side wall and an upper portion 322 forming a crown, and an inner wall 33 forming, together with said filtration means 5, a partition of said reservoir 3 which isolates said upstream 4 and downstream 2 enclosures. Other vertical or substantially vertical bulkheads (not shown) extend from its base and over some of the height of the reservoir.
As can be seen from FIGS. 5a and 5b, said upstream enclosure 4 can form a container body 4 equipped with a wall, termed an upstream wall 41, comprising an opening 42, typically an upper opening 42, cooperating with said filtration means 5, one portion of said upstream wall 41 forming said inner wall 33, the other portion of said upstream wall 41 forming a wall, termed a common wall 10, with said outer wall 32, said common wall 10 being traversed by said inlet nozzle 40, typically perpendicular to said common wall 10. Said common wall 10 can comprise a first common wall 10a forming part of said lateral portion 321 of said reservoir 3.
Furthermore, said common wall 10 can comprise a second common wall 10b forming part of said bottom portion 320 of said reservoir 3.
According to another configuration, which has not been illustrated by a figure, said common wall 10 can optionally comprise a third common wall forming part of said upper portion 322 of said reservoir 3.
As illustrated in FIGS. 4a and 4b, said reservoir 3 can be a reservoir 3 made of plastic comprising a shell, termed a lower shell 34, and a shell, termed an upper shell 35, said lower 34 and upper 35 shells being molded parts 34, 35 assembled by their assembly flanges, said lower shell 34 having a flange, termed an upper assembly flange 340, cooperating with a flange, termed a lower assembly flange 350, of said upper shell 35 in an assembly plane 36 so as to form said reservoir 3.
As illustrated in FIGS. 1a and 1b, said container body 4 forming said upstream enclosure 4 can be an axial container body 4 having an axial direction 43, said body 4 comprising a base 410, a lateral skirt 411 having a typically circular cross section in a plane perpendicular to said axial direction 43, and said opening 42 typically having said cross section.
According to the invention and as illustrated in FIGS. 2a to 3b, said filtration means 5 can form a composite filtration element 5 comprising a peripheral portion 50 assembled in a sealed manner to said container body 4, 4, and a filtering central portion 51.
Said filtering central portion 51 can form a filter cloth 51 and said peripheral portion 50 can form an annular part 50 made of plastic overmolding the whole of a peripheral edge 510 of said filter cloth 51 so as to secure said filter cloth 51 to said annular part 50, and such that all of said upstream fluid flowing from said upstream enclosure 4 toward said downstream enclosure 2 passes through said filter cloth 51 in order to rid said upstream fluid of said solid particles.
According to one configuration illustrated in FIGS. 3a and 3b, said annular part 50 can be a part termed a short annular part 50a, said short annular part 50a essentially comprising an annular sealing lip 500.
In one advantageous embodiment, said filter cloth 51 has a mesh size of between 50 and 250 m, preferably between 100 and 150 m. By way of example, a mesh size of 120 m is very suitable. Said central filtering portion 51 can be formed of polyamide (PA) or polypropylene (PP).
According to another configuration illustrated in FIGS. 2a and 2b, said annular part 50 can be a part termed a long annular part 50b, said long annular part 50b comprising said sealing lip 500 and an axial projection 501 designed to slide inside said container body 4, 4, said axial projection 501 advantageously comprising a cut-out portion 502 facing said inlet nozzle 40.
In one particular embodiment, said sealing lip 500 can cooperate in a sealed manner with a flange 412 of said container body 4, 4, advantageously by means of an annular weld.
As can be seen from FIGS. 1b, 3c and 5b, said container body 4, 4 can comprise at least one inner radial projection 44 providing a predetermined axial positioning for said filtration means 5 with respect to said container body 4, 4.
As illustrated in FIGS. 4a to 5a, said device 1 can comprise a means 6 for detecting the level of said downstream hydraulic fluid in said downstream enclosure 2.
It can be seen from these same figures that said reservoir 3 can comprise an upper opening 37 closed by a removable cap 38 so as to allow a filling, for example an initial filling, of said downstream enclosure 2 with hydraulic brake fluid.
As illustrated in FIG. 5a, said assembly plane 36 can be a horizontal plane 36, said horizontal assembly plane 36, being intended to be located preferably above the level of said downstream hydraulic fluid in said downstream enclosure 21.
According to the invention, said filtration means 5 can have a filtering area ranging from 0.15 cm2 to 100 cm2, preferably from 2 cm2 to 20 cm2, and preferably still from 3 cm2 to 10 cm2. This large filtering area has an advantage over an installation of the filtration means in a hydraulic line, since hydraulic lines generally have quite a small diameter of around 4 or 5 mm. Owing to the large filtering area, the filtration means is not at risk of being obstructed by the particles and debris which it retains.
Moreover, given the installation of the filtration means 5 in the supply reservoir 3 and given its geometric arrangement, most of the retained particles and debris drop to the bottom of the upstream portion 31 of said reservoir 3, where they are not at risk of being entrained into the outlet nozzles 20. However, it would not constitute a departure from the scope of the present invention to design the filtration means to extend vertically and/or obliquely. According to the findings observed by the Applicant, the device according to the invention makes it possible to use the same filter cloth throughout the life of the device in the knowledge that, given the method, namely welding, used to assembly the two shells which form said device, it is virtually impossible to replace said filter cloth.
Typically, said downstream enclosure 2 and said upstream enclosure 4 can have storage capacities respectively designated CV and CM such that the ratio CV/CM ranges from 3 to 30.
The figures correspond to exemplary embodiments of devices 1 or parts of devices 1 according to the invention.
Two configurations of the device 1, which is represented particularly in FIGS. 4a and 4b, were manufactured:
a) according to a first configuration, the filtration means 5 comprises an annular part with a short skirt 50a as represented in FIGS. 3a and 3b,
b) according to a second configuration, the filtration means 5 comprises an annular part with a long skirt 50b as represented in FIGS. 2a and 2b.
For that purpose: upper shells 35, 35 were manufactured or made available by molding a plastic, for example a polypropylene; a first configuration 34a of lower shell 34, 34 tailored to said annular part 50a with a short skirt was manufactured, as illustrated in FIGS. 5a and 5b; a second configuration 34b of lower shell 34, 34 tailored to said annular part 50b with a long skirt was manufactured, as illustrated in FIGS. 1a and 1b, the lower shells 34, 34, 34a, 34b being formed by molding a thermoplastic, for example a polypropylene. In this case, as can be seen from FIGS. 1a, 1b and 3c, said upstream enclosure 4, 4, 4 comprises a plurality of radial projections 44 and 44 intended to cooperate with the axial projection 501 of the long annular part 50b; the detection means 6 was formed or made available and it was assembled to said upper shell 35, 35; two configurations of said filtration means 5, 5 were formed or made available, a first configuration 50a according to FIGS. 3a and 3b and a second configuration 50b according to FIGS. 2a and 2b. Filtration means 50a, 50b were manufactured for example by overmolding the edge 510 of a circular portion of filter cloth 51 into said annular plastic part 50 forming said peripheral portion 50; the filtration means 50a, 50b was assembled in a sealed manner to the corresponding lower shell 34a, 34b, for example by welding the annular sealing lip 500 to the opening 42 of said upstream enclosure 4 and, for example, to the flange 412 of the lateral skirt 411 forming said upstream wall 41; finally, the edges 340, 350 of the shells 34, 35 were welded to one another so as to form said plastic reservoirs 3, 3.
Upper shells 35, 35 and lower shells 34, 34, 34a, 34b made of polyamide were also manufactured.
Advantageously, filter cloths 51 consisting of PP were used in the case of shells made of PP and cloths made of PA were used in the case of shells made of PA, so as to make it easier to weld the filter cloth 51 to the lower shell 34, 34, 34a, 34b.