BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to arrangement of vehicle components
within an engine compartment, and in particular to an integrated air box, washer
reservoir and acoustic resonator unit.
Motor vehicle engine compartments must accommodate, in addition to
the vehicle's engine, a large variety of associated engine support system components,
such as the engine air intake and filtration system housings, engine cooling radiator,
hoses and fans, transmission cooling system components, electrical storage and distribution
system components, heating and air conditioning system components, etc. Additionally,
other non-drivetrain-related vehicle components, such as windshield wiper drive
mechanisms and windshield and headlight washer system components are often located
in the engine compartment if necessary or convenient.
Traditionally, engine and drivetrain support system components have
been individually designed and manufactured. Vehicle designers therefore have concentrated
on finding a suitable location in the engine compartment for each individual component
and adapting the component to the available space if necessary. This approach to
vehicle design necessarily involves compromises, particularly in smaller vehicles
where under-hood space is at a premium. For example, it may be desirable to locate
an engine air intake pipe and filter housing directly adjacent to an engine intake
manifold in order to minimize intake air flow resistance and thereby increase engine
power output by increasing the amount of air drawn into the engine during the intake
stroke. However, the air intake system typically ends up having its primary components
(such as its filter housing) located at some distance from the intake manifold due
to underhood space constraints, such as the need to fit the engine air intake pipe
and filter housing under a desired hood shape, the need to accommodate the presence
of other system components such as hoses, accessory belts, dipstick tubes, etc.
near the air intake, and the need to share the scarce available under-hood volume
with various components such as fluid reservoirs and the storage battery. The result
is less-than-optimum intake air flow through a long, contorted air intake path extending,
for example, between an air inlet near an inner fender and the engine intake manifold.
A further concern with current engine compartment arrangements is
the loss of a significant amount of under-hood space as a result of the need to
provide excess clearance between adjacent individual support system components.
Such clearance must be provided to ensure the components do not damage one another
due to, for example, relative motion during the operation of the vehicle or excessive
component-to-component heat transfer, and to provide sufficient clearance to facilitate
servicing of the components without undue interference from adjacent components.
Also becoming a greater concern is the need to meet increasingly strict
radiated noise standards, as well as customer expectations for minimal drivetrain-generated
noise in the passenger compartment. Previously, engine components have been formed
in ways which have not significantly reduced radiated noise. For example, Fig. 6
shows a cross-sectional view of a prior art component sidewall, with a plastic outer
wall 601 to which is bonded a corresponding pad 602, such as a fiber mat or foam
layer. Similarly, Figs. 7 and 8 show oblique inside views of a prior art plastic
outer wall shell 701 and a molded foam liner 801 which is bonded to the plastic
shell 701. These component sidewall structures have a number of practical disadvantages,
however. For example, in many applications the inner foam liner must be chemically
treated to provide fire resistance in the face of high underhood temperatures, the
fire-retardant chemicals are often toxic, and due to the high temperatures, simpler
(i.e., lower-cost) foam materials cannot be used. Further, because
the foam or fiber mat materials cannot be recycled with the plastic outer shell,
it must be separated from the shell, increasing recycling process difficulty and
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In view of the foregoing, it is an object of the present invention
to provide an integrated component to be located in an engine compartment of a vehicle
which provides more efficient utilization of the limited space in the compartment,
while allowing elimination of foam or fiber acoustic shield material. This object
is achieved by co-locating a plurality of compatible support system functions into
a single component, preferably where at least one of the integrated support system
sections is formed as a liquid-containing acoustic shield chamber.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an integrated
engine compartment component which can be produced at lower cost than the cost of
individual components for each of the integrated support systems.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an integrated
systems component which can be installed in a vehicle easier and at lower labor
and equipment costs than the costs associated with installing a plurality of individual
support system components.
It is a further object to provide an integrated systems component
which can be serviced and/or replaced in a vehicle in the field easier and at lower
labor costs than the costs of servicing and/or replacing a plurality of individual
support system components.
Another object is to provide integrated acoustic shielding in an integrated
systems component without use of insulating materials such as fibers or foam by
creation of an acoustic insulation chamber between outer and inner walls of the
integrated systems component.
A further object is to provide integrated acoustic shielding in an
integrated systems component in which an acoustic insulation chamber is at least
partially filled with a liquid such as a windshield cleaning fluid, air conditioning
refrigerant, or an engine coolant.
It is another object to provide integrated acoustic shielding in at
least one fluid-filled chamber of an integrated support systems component which
is connected to a vehicle fluid system and increases the working volume of the fluid
system while not consuming significant underhood space.
In one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, there is provided
an integrated engine compartment component comprising an engine intake air box with
an air-cleaning filter element, a washer fluid reservoir and an acoustic resonator.
The integration of these system components provides a number of advantages.
By sharing common divider walls in the integrated component, no underhood space
must be wasted to provide clearance between the components. The integrated component
thus may utilize significantly less under-hood engine compartment volume. The engine
compartment space made available by the smaller component may be used, for example,
to improve arrangements of other components or allow additional system components
to be moved into the engine-compartment (e.g., allowing a cruise control actuator
located in the space between an inner and outer fender to be moved into the engine
compartment to enhance its serviceability). The smaller integrated component may
also ease engine compartment wire and hose routing problems. Alternatively, rather
than decreasing the under-hood volume required by integrated component, portions
of the integrated compartment may be made larger than possible with individual components
to provide additional capacity, such as additional washer fluid and/or a larger
intake air filtration element.
The integration of the engine intake air box, resonator chamber and
washer fluid reservoir also offers the advantages of lower production costs. Costs
for component manufacturers may be reduced because less material is needed to manufacture
an integrated component than several individual system components, and the manufacturer
may have lower tooling and other related manufacturing equipment costs (e.g., fewer
Vehicle manufacturers should also benefit from lower costs with an
integrated engine compartment component, as the single component unit should be
easier and faster to install as compared to installation of a plurality of individual
components, decreasing labor and related installation costs (e.g., fewer mounting
fasteners, fewer installation tools, etc.).
Further, vehicle maintenance facilities, and ultimately consumers,
should benefit from cost savings from the integrated component, as servicing and/or
removal of the component from the vehicle should be faster and easier than with
several individual system components which must be separately handled.
Additional recycling benefits are realized from manufacture of the
outer and inner shells made from the same recyclable material, such as hydrolysis-resistant
plastics, eliminating the need for separating and disposing of an inner foam or
In another illustrative embodiment, a chamber of the integrated engine
compartment component is formed between an outer shell of the component and an inner
wall. The chamber may be left hollow or, as in this embodiment, be connected to
an engine coolant circuit and contain engine coolant, with the engine coolant performing
as an acoustic insulator, dampening noise generated in other chambers of the integrated
support systems component. Advantageously, if coolant is stored in such an acoustic
chamber, heat carried by the engine coolant may be used to maintain windshield washer
fluid in an adjacent chamber of the integrated engine compartment component above
its freezing point.
A further exemplary embodiment includes a plurality of integrated
engine compartment components located in an engine compartment, each with at least
one acoustic chamber formed between outer and inner walls of the component. A plurality
of the acoustic chambers contain a vehicle fluid, such as washer fluid, engine coolant
or a lubricating oil, to provide increased fluid system working volume and/or to
increase fluid heat dissipation. Other acoustic shielding chambers may remain partially
filled, or even empty hollow spaces.
In this embodiment, sufficient additional working volume may be provided
to allow elimination of a separate, dedicated engine coolant expansion tank, further
increasing available engine compartment space. In such an arrangement, components
normally located on the separate expansion tank would be integrated into one or
more of the plurality of integrated component chambers, such as the coolant system
filler spout and cap, pressure equalization valve, and vent valve.
In a further embodiment, a fluid-containing acoustic chamber in each
of the plurality integrated components is connected to a specific portion of an
engine fluid system. For example, one engine coolant-containing fluid chamber may
be connected to a cylinder head portion of the engine coolant circuit, while a second
integrated component may be connected to a engine block portion of the engine coolant
circuit. Alternatively, where sufficient engine compartment space is available,
a single acoustic chamber may be formed with individual sub-chambers, with each
sub-chamber serving a different portion of a fluid system. With either such embodiment,
fluid flow control to and/or from individual chambers or sub-chambers and their
respective fluid system portions may also be controlled by an electronic flow control
computer, for example, in response to engine coolant flow requirements in different
portions of the engine. Such a controller could, for example, selectively control
flow from the individual coolant circuit portions, or in the case of a full load
demand, the flow can be combined to maximize heat transfer from the coolant. Advantageously,
most, if not all, of the cooling circuit management elements, such as flow control
valves, thermostats, a water pump and temperature sensors, can be combined in a
single module on the integrated support systems component.
In another embodiment, in order to enhance heat dissipation from a
fluid in an acoustic shield chamber, the shell material (as well as supporting molded
in ribs) may be made of so-called "CoolPolymers," plastics with high heat-conduction
capacity. The chambers and/or sub-chambers also may be formed with transparent or
translucent sections through which fluid level may be ascertained. Level detection
alternatively could be provided with level sensors in the chambers monitored by
an electronic control unit, which in turn could provide a remote indication or illuminate
a light source in the appropriate low chamber to aid its identification. With the
latter arrangements, unnecessary power use could be avoided by supplying the indicator
light with current only when the engine compartment hood is open.
Further embodiments comprise the following features:
- the integrated component is formed from a molded synthetic resin material,
- the air filtration section has a removable cover at a top of the integrated
housing arranged to permit replacement of the filtration element from the top of
the integrated housing, and the washer fluid section inlet is located at the top
of the integrated housing adjacent to the air filtration section removable cover,
- at least a majority of the washer fluid section is arranged alongside the air
- the acoustic resonator section is located adjacent to the air filtration section
outlet, and the acoustic resonator section opening is connected to the engine air
intake immediately downstream of the air filtration section outlet,
- the integrated engine compartment component is formed by assembly of a plurality
of subassembly portions,
- the plurality of subassembly portions includes a top cover portion, a middle
portion and a base portion,
- at least one part of the top cover portion is removable, and
- at least one part of the top cover portion is removable in a manner that permits
removal of the filter element from the air filtration section or introduction of
washer fluid into the washer fluid reservoir section.
Other objects, advantages and novel features of the present invention
will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when
considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Figure 1 is an oblique view of a first side of an integrated engine
compartment component in accordance with an illustrative embodiment of the present
Figure 2 is an oblique view of the opposite side of the integrated
engine compartment component in accordance with the embodiment of the present invention
shown in Fig. 1.
Figure 3 is an oblique top view of a middle portion of the integrated
engine compartment component in accordance with the embodiment of the present invention
shown in Figs. 1 and 2, oriented as shown in Fig. 2.
Figure 4 is an oblique bottom view of the middle portion of the integrated
engine compartment component shown in Fig. 3.
Figure 5 is a cross-section view of an acoustic chamber section of
another embodiment of an integrated engine compartment in accordance with the present
Figure 6 is a cross-section view of a prior art component sidewall
Figure 7 is an oblique inner-side view of a prior art component sidewall
Figure 8 is an oblique inner-side view of a prior art component sidewall
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS
Figures 1 and 2 provide external views of one embodiment of the present
invention, wherein an integrated engine compartment component 10, formed of a molded
synthetic resin material, e.g., polyamide, houses an engine air intake volume with
an air filtration element, a resonator chamber, and a washer fluid reservoir.
Integrated component 10 in this embodiment is formed in three principal
subassembly portions: a base portion 12; a middle body portion 14; and a top cover
portion 16. The base portion 12 in this embodiment forms the bottom walls of the
washer fluid and resonator chambers, and therefore is joined to the middle portion
14 in a manner which seals and isolates the chambers, for example by friction welding
or with a conventional plastic-compatible adhesive. The top cover portion 16 is
releasably and sealably located on middle portion 14 by sealing flange 15 and retaining
clips 17. The retaining clips 17 may be readily released to permit the top cover
portion 16 to be removed for inspection and/or replacement of the air filtration
element (not illustrated) located directly beneath top cover 16.
Air inlet 18, also known as a dirty air duct, directs air from the
environment into the air intake volume. After the incoming air has passed through
the air filtration element, it leaves the air intake volume through air outlet 21,
also known as a clean air duct. In the present embodiment, air outlet 21 is arranged
at a side of the top cover portion 16, and the top cover portion 16 is inset into
the top of middle portion 14 such that the outlet duct does not protrude above integrated
component 10. This compact design minimizes the overall height of the integrated
component, further freeing space in the engine compartment. In addition, this arrangement
permits a component such as a mass air flow ("MAF") sensor 13 to be mounted to the
integrated component 10 in a position that is well protected from accidental damage
and heat radiated by other engine compartment components, such as exhaust manifolds.
Referring now to Figs. 3 and 4, the arrangement of the internal volumes
of integrated engine compartment component 10 will be described.
Fig. 3 is a view from above of middle portion 14; Fig. 4 is a view from the bottom
of middle portion 14. As illustrated in Fig. 3, the dirty air side of air intake
volume 22 is the largest compartment within middle portion 14. Air inlet 18 feeds
air into air intake volume 22 though inlet hole 24. The air in the lower portion
of air intake volume 22 then passes upward through a plate-style air filtration
element (not illustrated) which is clamped between filter ledge 26 and top cover
16 (omitted in this view for clarity). Adjacent to the air intake volume 22 are
vertical chambers 28 and 30, the interiors of which are visible in the bottom view
of middle portion 14 shown in Fig. 4. Chamber 28 is a reservoir for washer fluid.
Chamber 30 is a resonator chamber which communicates with air outlet 21 in a manner
discussed further, below. The bottom of both chambers 28 and 30 are closed in this
embodiment by base 12.
Resonator chamber 30 is connected through a vent hole 32 and hose
34 to air outlet duct 21, such that air pressure pulses may freely pass between
the outlet duct and the resonant chamber and be reflected back toward the outlet
duct as engine operating conditions dictate.
The washer fluid reservoir 28 includes a fill aperture 36 which is
closed by a low-profile cap 38 which minimizes the overall height of the integrated
component 10. Located at the bottom of reservoir 28 in base 12 is a washer fluid
pump (not illustrated), which is powered via an electrical connection 40. The base
12 also has a washer fluid outlet (not illustrated) and a trough 42 which accommodates
a washer fluid hose (not illustrated) connected to the washer fluid outlet. Both
electrical connection 40 and trough 42 are molded into base 12 in a manner that
both protects the washer fluid hose and the pump electrical connection from accidental
damage and minimizes the height of integrated component 10.
A further aspect of the present invention is illustrated in Fig. 5.
This figure shows a cross-section view of a sidewall of an integrated engine compartment
component embodiment, such as may be formed with integrated engine compartment component
10 shown in Figs. 1-4. For example, integrated compartment 10 may be formed with
an outer wall 501, which is located over a wall of one or more of the integrated
chambers. In Fig. 5, an outer wall of the washer fluid chamber 28 forms an inner
wall 502 of acoustic chamber 503. Also schematically illustrated are engine coolant
inlet tube 504 and engine coolant outlet tube 505, through which engine coolant
may enter, and be drawn from, acoustic chamber 503.
Because the chamber 503 may extend over a large fraction of the outer
surface of the integrated component 10, the chamber may have a large internal volume
while not significantly increasing the outer dimensions of the component. This volume
may be used to increase the working volume of the engine coolant circuit, which
can be particularly advantageous when the vehicle is operated at high engine load
during high ambient air temperatures. If the additional volume is great enough,
the acoustic chamber 503 may, in addition to damping noise generated in the integrated
component (such as air flow noise in air intake chamber 22 and resonator chamber
30), serve as a replacement for the usual engine coolant expansion tank. This can
lower overall vehicle component costs by eliminating an additional underhood container,
while also freeing additional engine compartment space for other uses. In this embodiment,
outer shell 501 also has a translucent portion (not illustrated) through which the
volume of coolant in the acoustic chamber may be viewed, and a filler cap and vent
as used with an expansion tank (not illustrated) at an upper surface of the outer
The outer shell 501 and inner shell 502 may be joined to one another
by any of a number of well-known techniques, such as with adhesives or by plastic
welding. Alternatively, because it is desirable to form the outer and inner shells
from the same recyclable plastic material, chamber 503 may be formed in one piece
using conventional molding techniques such as blow molding or GID or WIT processes.
Whether formed from one or more plastic pieces, because the chamber shells 501,
502 of integrated engine compartment component 10 are formed from the same recyclable
material, the component 10 may be easily recycled without the need to separate any
dissimilar, non-recyclable shell lining materials.
An example of a particularly highly integrated component would incorporate
the above acoustic chamber, as well as housing the majority of the components required
for management of an engine coolant system, including a coolant pump (also referred
to as a "water pump"), thermostat, and temperature sensor.
The foregoing disclosure has been set forth merely to illustrate the
invention and is not intended to be limiting. For example, the integrated engine
compartment component of the present invention may incorporate features of other
systems than a washer fluid reservoir, intake air box, or resonator chamber, such
as an electrical distribution fuse panel or a fuel vapor-recovery charcoal canister
volume. Similarly, the integrated engine compartment component need not be formed
from three portions (top, middle and base), but may be assembled or otherwise formed
from fewer or more numerous portions, as desired. Since modifications of the disclosed
embodiments incorporating the spirit and substance of the invention may occur to
persons skilled in the art, the invention should be construed broadly to include
all variations within the scope of the appended claims and equivalents thereof.