US20120167611A1 - Refrigerator with Liner Embossment - Google Patents

Refrigerator with Liner Embossment Download PDF

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Publication number
US20120167611A1
US20120167611A1 US12/980,476 US98047610A US2012167611A1 US 20120167611 A1 US20120167611 A1 US 20120167611A1 US 98047610 A US98047610 A US 98047610A US 2012167611 A1 US2012167611 A1 US 2012167611A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
compartment
embossment
refrigerator
liner
door
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US12/980,476
Inventor
Kristin Marie Weirich
Robert Thomas Mills
Craig Robert Vitan
Ratnakar Sahasrabudhe
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General Electric Co
Original Assignee
General Electric Co
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Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by General Electric Co filed Critical General Electric Co
Priority to US12/980,476 priority Critical patent/US20120167611A1/en
Assigned to GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY reassignment GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MILLS, ROBERT THOMAS, WEIRICH, KRISTIN MARIE, SAHASRABUDHE, RATNAKAR, VITAN, CRAIG ROBERT
Publication of US20120167611A1 publication Critical patent/US20120167611A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F25REFRIGERATION OR COOLING; COMBINED HEATING AND REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS; HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; MANUFACTURE OR STORAGE OF ICE; LIQUEFACTION SOLIDIFICATION OF GASES
    • F25DREFRIGERATORS; COLD ROOMS; ICE-BOXES; COOLING OR FREEZING APPARATUS NOT COVERED BY ANY OTHER SUBCLASS
    • F25D23/00General constructional features
    • F25D23/02Doors; Covers
    • F25D23/04Doors; Covers with special compartments, e.g. butter conditioners
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F25REFRIGERATION OR COOLING; COMBINED HEATING AND REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS; HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; MANUFACTURE OR STORAGE OF ICE; LIQUEFACTION SOLIDIFICATION OF GASES
    • F25DREFRIGERATORS; COLD ROOMS; ICE-BOXES; COOLING OR FREEZING APPARATUS NOT COVERED BY ANY OTHER SUBCLASS
    • F25D23/00General constructional features
    • F25D23/06Walls
    • F25D23/065Details
    • F25D23/066Liners

Abstract

A refrigerator includes a compartment defined by a liner, with a door configured to provide access into the compartment. A sub-compartment is mounted in the door and extends into the compartment in the closed position of the door. A cold plate assembly is operably configured within the liner to supply cold air to the sub-compartment. A raised embossment is defined in a compartment side wall of the liner at a location opposite from the cold plate assembly. The embossment is defined by a circumferentially extending ridge and a front face that extends into the compartment in a plane that is spaced from a plane of the compartment side wall. A receiver is configured in a wall of the sub-compartment and seals around the embossment in a closed position of the door.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present subject matter relates generally to refrigerators, and more particularly to a refrigerator with a sub-compartment in the fresh food section.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Generally, a refrigerator includes a freezer compartment and a fresh food compartment, which are partitioned from each other to store various foods at appropriate low temperatures.
  • It is now common practice to provide an automatic icemaker with a refrigerator. In a “side-by-side” type refrigerator where the freezer compartment is arranged to the side of the fresh food compartment, the icemaker is usually disposed in the freezer compartment and utilizes the cold air in the freezer compartment, which includes an evaporator disposed in the freezer compartment.
  • In a “bottom freezer” type refrigerator where the freezer compartment is arranged below or beneath a top mounted fresh food compartment, convenience necessitates that the icemaker is disposed in a thermally insulated sub-compartment configured in one of the top mounted fresh food compartment doors, with ice delivered through an opening on the door. In such an arrangement, provision must be made for providing adequate cooling to the sub-compartment to enable the icemaker to form ice and to store the ice.
  • In one approach, a “cold plate” is embedded in the liner of the fresh food compartment and includes a heat exchanger plate cooled by a refrigerant circulation loop that is an extension of the refrigerator's sealed refrigeration system. An elongated cutout is defined in the liner at the location of the cold plate and a grate or other covering is placed over the cutout. An opening in a wall of the sub-compartment aligns with and seals around the liner cutout (with a gasket) in a closed position of the fresh food compartment door such that cold air is directed from the cold plate, through the cutout and aligned passage, and into the sub-compartment. This arrangement, however, is not without drawbacks.
  • With the conventional design, the cutout hole in the liner induces areas of high stress in the liner. These stresses are increased by the thermal gradient between the cold plate and relatively warmer fresh food liner. The formation of visible frost on the cover and underlying cold plate components is also problematic. In addition, the gasket that seals the sub-compartment to the liner cutout is exposed to the very cold temperatures of the cold plate and is prone to freezing onto the liner.
  • Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide an improved mating connection between the refrigerator compartment liner and a door mounted sub-compartment that addresses at least certain of the disadvantages of the conventional design.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Aspects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the following description, or may be obvious from the description, or may be learned through practice of the invention.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, a refrigerator is provided with a compartment defined by a liner, for example a fresh food compartment defined by a fresh food liner. A door is configured with the compartment to provide access into the compartment and to seal the compartment in the closed position of the door. A sub-compartment is mounted in the door. This sub-compartment may, in one particular embodiment, include an icemaker and an ice storage bin. A cold plate assembly is operably configured within the compartment liner to supply cold air to the sub-compartment mounted in the door. A raised embossment is defined in a compartment side wall of the liner at a location opposite from the cold plate assembly. The embossment is defined by a circumferentially extending ridge and a front face that extend into the compartment and lie in a plane that is spaced from a plane of the compartment side wall. A receiver is configured in a wall of the sub-compartment and seals around the embossment in a closed position of the door.
  • Any number of openings may be defined in the front face of the embossment for conduction of cold air from the cold plate assembly to the receiver. The openings may be covered by any manner of grate or covering.
  • In a particular embodiment, the cold plate is disposed within the liner against the compartment side wall and the front face of the embossment is spaced from the cold plate assembly a distance defined by the raised ridge. The front face may be parallel to the plane of the compartment side wall, or may have a curved or other non-parallel profile.
  • In still a further embodiment, the receiver may include an opening into which the embossment extends in a closed position of the door. The receiver may further include a gasket seal at a location so as to seal against the compartment side wall outboard of the raised ridge in the closed position of the door. The gasket seal may be compressed below the plane of the front face of the embossment in the closed position of the door.
  • The profile or shape of the embossment may vary. In one embodiment, the embossment has a generally rectangular profile with radiused corners. In another embodiment, the embossment may have an elliptical profile.
  • These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description and appended claims. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth in the specification, which makes reference to the appended figures, in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary refrigerator that may incorporate aspects of the invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a sub-compartment configured on a fresh food compartment door of a refrigerator;
  • FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the sub-compartment with the rear panel removed;
  • FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of an embodiment of a raised embossment mated with a receiver in the sub-compartment;
  • FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a raised embossment;
  • FIG. 6 is a front view of an alternative embodiment of a raised embossment;
  • FIG. 7 is a front view of still another embodiment of a raised embossment; and
  • FIG. 8 is a front view of yet another embodiment of a raised embossment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Reference now will be made in detail to embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, not limitation of the invention. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.
  • FIG. 1 depicts a refrigerator 10 in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the invention. The refrigerator 10 has a casing 12 that defines an upper fresh food compartment 14 with a frontal access opening through doors 16 and 18, and a lower freezer compartment 20 a frontal access opening through door 22. The type of refrigerator depicted in FIG. 1 is generally referred to as a French-style refrigerator wherein the fresh food compartment 12 is configured above the freezer compartment 20 and includes two French doors 16, 18. In an alternate embodiment, a single door can be used instead of the dual doors 16, 18.
  • It should be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to any particular type or style of refrigerator, and that the refrigerator 10 depicted in FIG. 1 is for illustrative purposes only.
  • The casing 12 of the refrigerator 10 includes a top wall 24, bottom wall 28, and opposite sidewalls 26. A mullion 30 (FIG. 2) connects the two sidewalls 26 to each other and separates the fresh food compartment 14 from the freezer compartment 20. As is known in the art, the casing 12 includes an outer case wall 34 and a liner 32 (FIG. 4), with a thermal insulation layer 36 disposed between the outer case wall 34 and liner 32.
  • Each of the doors 16, 18 is mounted to the casing 12 by a top hinge 38 and a bottom hinge 40 and are rotatable between an open position for accessing the respective part of the fresh food compartment 14, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, and a closed position for closing the respective part of the fresh food compartment 14, as shown in FIG. 1.
  • An ice/water dispenser 42 is configured in the door 16 of the fresh food compartment 12. This dispenser 42 is serviced by a sub-compartment 50 (FIG. 2) mounted on the back side of the door 16. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the sub-compartment 50 includes end (top and bottom) walls 51 and side walls 53 that extend into the fresh food compartment 14 in the closed position of the door 16. A removable panel 58 covers the internal components of the sub-compartment 50. In the particular illustrated embodiment, these components may include an ice maker 52 and ice storage bin 54, as depicted in FIG. 3. A fan 56 may also be provided for circulating cold air within the sub-compartment 50.
  • It should be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to any particular construction and function of the sub-compartment 50. For example, the sub-compartment 50 may be configured as a cold storage compartment accessible through the front of the door 16.
  • According to FIGS. 3 through 5 in particular, a receiver 78 is formed into one of the side walls 53 of the sub-compartment 50. The receiver 78 is particularly configured for mating with a raised embossment 66 (described in greater detail below) when the door 16 is in the closed position. The receiver 78 defines an opening 80 into the sub-compartment 50. For example, referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, it can be readily seen that the circulation fan 56 draws cold air in through the opening 80 in order to cool the internal components of the sub-compartment 50, which in this case is the ice maker 52 and ice storage bin 54. The receiver 78 includes any manner of suitable gasket 82 that compresses and seals against the liner wall 32 when the door 16 is in the closed position. In particular, the gasket 82 seals around the raised embossment 66 so as form an essentially airtight seal around the embossment 66.
  • In order to provide a source of cold air to the sub-compartment 50, a cold plate assembly 60 is disposed within (behind) the liner 32 against a compartment side wall 68 that mates with the receiver 78 in the closed position of the door 16. In the illustrated embodiment, the compartment side wall 68 is the left-hand wall of the liner 32. The cold plate assembly 60 may include refrigerant tubes 62 that are an extension loop of the refrigerator's sealed refrigeration system. The tubes 62 extend from the refrigeration system (typically configured within an equipment compartment of the refrigerator 10) up through the casing side wall 26. In particular, referring to FIG. 4, the refrigerant coils 62 are embedded within the side wall 26 between the outer casing wall 34 and the liner wall 32 and are connected to the refrigerator's sealed system via supply and return lines 63.
  • The cold plate assembly 60 may further include any manner of suitable heat exchange plate 64 that is disposed against the refrigerant coils 62, as particularly depicted in FIG. 4. The construction and operation of the cold plate assembly 60 is well known to those skilled in the art and need not be described in detail herein.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the cold plate assembly 60 is configured essentially directly against the inside surface of the liner wall 32 that defines the compartment side wall 68 against which the receiver 78 seals in the closed position of the door 16.
  • As mentioned, a raised embossment 66 is defined in the compartment side wall 68 of the liner 32 at a location opposite from the cold plate assembly 60. The embossment 66 is defined by a circumferentially extending ridge 72 that extends inward from the plane 70 of the compartment side wall 68, as particularly illustrated in FIG. 4. The embossment 66 includes a front face 74 defined within the perimeter of the ridge 72. The front face 74 extends in a plane 76, as depicted in FIG. 4. This plane 76 may be parallel to the plane 70 of the compartment side wall 68. In other embodiments, the front face 74 of the embossment 66 may have a curvature or radius as compared to the flat plane 70 of the compartment side wall 68. The embossment 66, and in particular the front face 74, thus extends into the fresh food compartment 14 and is spaced from the plane 70 of the compartment side wall 68 by a height or distance dictated by the contours of the raised ridge 72.
  • One or more openings are defined in the front face 74 of the embossment 66 and are covered by any manner of suitable covering 86. The openings and respective coverings 86 provide for a desired degree of air flow through the front face 74 of the embossment 66. The heat exchange plate 64 (which is cooled by the refrigerant coils 62) cools the air adjacent to the plate 72, which is drawn into the sub-compartment 50 by way of the circulation fan 56. As can be readily appreciated from FIG. 4, the gasket 82 provides an essentially airtight seal around the embossment 66 in the closed position of the door 16 such that cold air from the cold plate assembly 60 is efficiently used only for cooling sub-compartment 50 in the closed position of the door.
  • The front face 74 of the embossment 66 is thus spaced from the heat exchange plate 64, as depicted in FIG. 4. This space tends to minimize the formation of frost on the covers 86 and front face 74, which would tend to block air flow through the covers 86 and significantly diminish the efficiency of the overall system. In addition, the frost is generally an undesired aspect from the consumer standpoint in that it is mistaken as an indication of a malfunction with the refrigerator 10.
  • Again referring to FIG. 4, in a particularly desirable embodiment, the embossment 66 has a height relative to the plane 70 of the compartment side wall 68 so as to extend into the opening 80 in the receiver 78 in the closed position of the door 16. In other words, the gasket seal 82 is compressed below the plane 76 of the front face 74 of the embossment 66 in the closed position of the door. This configuration tends to further isolate the gasket 82 from the effects of the cool temperatures from the heat exchange plate 64, thereby preventing freezing of the gasket 82 onto the compartment side wall 68 or premature failure of the gasket 82.
  • By configuring the embossment 66 with a raised profile relative to the plane 70 of the compartment side wall 68, it has been found that the stresses inherent with simply cutting a hole or passage in the liner 32 are significantly reduced, particularly at the corners of the embossment 66. Thus, the likelihood of cracking of the liner 32 in the area of the cold plate assembly 60 is significantly reduced.
  • It should be readily appreciated that the profile of the raised ridge 72 may vary widely within the scope and spirit of the invention. In the illustrated embodiment, the ridge 72 is defined by a continuously curved line that merges from a convex to a concave shape. In other embodiments, the ridge 72 may have an essentially flat, planar wall that may be at any relative angle to the compartment side wall 68.
  • It should also be readily appreciated that the invention is not limited to any particular profile or shape of the embossment 66. In the embodiment, depicted in FIGS. 3 through 5 and 6, the embossment 66 has a generally rectangular shape with radiused corners. The curvature of the corners may be empirically determined based on the expected stresses in the various materials.
  • FIG. 7 depicts an embodiment wherein the embossment 66 is generally elliptical and includes substantially straight edge portions. In an alternate embodiment (not illustrated), the straight edge portions may also have a curvature.
  • FIG. 8 depicts yet another embodiment wherein the embossment 66 has a generally oval configuration.
  • This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the invention, including making and using any devices or systems and performing any incorporated methods. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims, and may include other examples that occur to those skilled in the art. Such other examples are intended to be within the scope of the claims if they include structural elements that do not differ from the literal language of the claims, or if they include equivalent structural elements with insubstantial differences from the literal languages of the claims.

Claims (12)

1. A refrigerator, comprising:
a compartment defined by a liner;
a door configured to provide access into said compartment;
a sub-compartment mounted in said door;
a cold plate assembly operably configured within said liner to supply cold air to said sub-compartment;
a raised embossment defined in a compartment side wall of said liner at a location opposite from said cold plate assembly, said embossment defined by a circumferentially extending ridge and a front face that extends into said compartment in a plane that is spaced from a plane of said compartment side wall; and
a receiver configured in a wall of said sub-compartment, said receiver sealing around said embossment in a closed position of said door.
2. The refrigerator as in claim 1, further comprising at least one opening defined in said front face of said embossment, and a cover mounted in said front face over said opening.
3. The refrigerator as in claim 2, wherein said front face is spaced from said cold plate assembly a distance defined by said ridge.
4. The refrigerator as in claim 3, wherein said cold plate assembly is disposed within said liner against said compartment side wall of said liner.
5. The refrigerator as in claim 1, wherein said receiver comprises an opening into which said embossment extends in a closed position of said door, said receiver further comprising a gasket seal at a location so as to seal against said compartment side wall outboard of said raised ridge in the closed position of said door.
6. The refrigerator as in claim 5, wherein said gasket seal is compressed below said plane of said front face in the closed position of said door.
7. The refrigerator as in claim 1, wherein said embossment comprises a rectangular profile having radiused corners.
8. The refrigerator as in claim 1, wherein said embossment comprises an elliptical profile.
9. The refrigerator as in claim 1, wherein said compartment is a fresh food compartment and said sub-compartment comprises an icemaker and ice cube storage bin.
10. A refrigerator, comprising:
a fresh food compartment defined by a liner;
a door configured to provide access into said compartment;
a sub-compartment mounted in said door, said sub-compartment comprising an ice maker and ice storage bin;
a cold plate assembly operably configured within said liner to supply cold air to said sub-compartment;
a raised embossment defined in a compartment side wall of said liner at a location opposite from said cold plate assembly, said embossment defined by a circumferentially extending ridge and a front face that extends into said compartment in a plane that is spaced from a plane of said compartment side wall; and
a receiver configured in a wall of said sub-compartment, said receiver further comprising an opening into which said embossment extends and a gasket seal disposed so as to seal around said raised ridge against said compartment side wall in the closed position of said door.
11. The refrigerator as in claim 10, further comprising at least one opening defined in said front face of said embossment, and a cover mounted in said front face over said opening.
12. The refrigerator as in claim 10, wherein said cold plate assembly is disposed within said liner against said compartment side wall and spaced from said front face of said embossment.
US12/980,476 2010-12-29 2010-12-29 Refrigerator with Liner Embossment Abandoned US20120167611A1 (en)

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Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20050210909A1 (en) * 2004-03-24 2005-09-29 Lg Electronics Inc. Cold air guide structure of ice-making chamber of cold chamber door
US20060086130A1 (en) * 2004-10-26 2006-04-27 Anselmino Jeffery J Ice and water dispenser on refrigerator compartment door
US20080307823A1 (en) * 2005-02-01 2008-12-18 Lg Electronics Inc. Refrigerator
US20090052161A1 (en) * 2007-08-23 2009-02-26 Lee Seung-Mok Refrigerator having lamp apparatus

Patent Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20050210909A1 (en) * 2004-03-24 2005-09-29 Lg Electronics Inc. Cold air guide structure of ice-making chamber of cold chamber door
US20060086130A1 (en) * 2004-10-26 2006-04-27 Anselmino Jeffery J Ice and water dispenser on refrigerator compartment door
US20080307823A1 (en) * 2005-02-01 2008-12-18 Lg Electronics Inc. Refrigerator
US20090052161A1 (en) * 2007-08-23 2009-02-26 Lee Seung-Mok Refrigerator having lamp apparatus

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Owner name: GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, NEW YORK

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:WEIRICH, KRISTIN MARIE;MILLS, ROBERT THOMAS;VITAN, CRAIG ROBERT;AND OTHERS;SIGNING DATES FROM 20101213 TO 20101217;REEL/FRAME:025552/0614

STCB Information on status: application discontinuation

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