PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP1854673 27.12.2007
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0001854673
Titel Sanitärsystem für Fahrzeuge mit entfernbarem Vorratstank
Anmelder Thetford Corp., Ann Arbor, Mich., US
Erfinder Schagen, Frank, 4835 CB Breda, NL;
Dijkhoff, Sander, 2613 GT Delft, NL;
Van Breugel, Marjan, 3332 AL Zwijndrecht, NL;
Cornille, Thomas, Farmington Michigan 48336, US
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
Vertragsstaaten AT, BE, BG, CH, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, HU, IE, IS, IT, LI, LT, LU, LV, MC, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SE, SI, SK, TR
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 08.05.2007
EP-Aktenzeichen 070092127
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 14.11.2007
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 27.12.2007
IPC-Hauptklasse B60R 15/04(2006.01)A, F, I, 20071016, B, H, EP
IPC-Nebenklasse B60R 15/00(2006.01)A, L, I, 20071016, B, H, EP   

Beschreibung[en]
FIELD

The present teachings relates generally to sanitary systems for use in vehicles. More particularly, the present teachings relate to a sanitary system for a vehicle having a removable holding tank.

BACKGROUND

Vehicles, including but not limited to recreational vehicles ("RVs" in the United States and "Caravans" in Europe), tractor trailers, airplanes, boats, trains, and the like, often incorporate sanitation systems for the comfort and convenience of the occupants. In one particular type of known sanitation systems, a removable waste holding tank is adapted for use with a toilet positioned within an interior compartment of a recreational vehicle. Waste is transported by the toilet structure to the holding tank where it is stored. The holding tank can be conveniently removed from the recreational vehicle through an exterior access door and then transported to a waste disposal site for emptying.

To enable the holding tank to accept waste products from the toilet of the sanitary system, a waste holding tank of the above mentioned type generally includes a centrally disposed fill opening located within its top wall. A seal element surrounds the fill opening of the tank and includes an upper portion which seals against an outlet opening of the toilet bowl. So constructed, waste can be easily and sanitarily transferred into the holding tank.

United States Patent Nos. 4,776,631 ; 4,892,349 ; 5,031,249 ; 5,318,275 ; and 6,189,161 , all owned by the assignee of this application, show examples of the self-contained toilet systems of the type including a waste receptacle having a downwardly directed outlet opening and a storage compartment defined and located below the outlet opening along with a waste holding tank removably disposed within the storage compartment. These systems enable the vehicle operator to remove the holding tank from the vehicle through a small door in a wall of the vehicle. United States Patent Nos. 4,776,631 ; 4,892,349 ; 5,031,249 ; 5,318,275 ; and 6,189,161 are each incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

Waste disposal systems utilizing a removable holding tank have been in extensive use for more than ten years. These systems, such as those described in United States Patent Nos. 4,776,631 ; 4,892,349 ; 5,031,249 ; 5,318,275 ; and 6,189,161 , have proven to be effective and convenient, and have resultantly become popular in the marketplace. Since manufacture of sanitary systems of this type is typically not within the province of RV builders, an entirely self-contained system can be shipped from the sanitary system manufacturer to the RV builder and essentially all that the RV builder has to do is provide a space in which to mount it. In other words, the RV builder does not have to go to the trouble of separately mounting a toilet bowl on the floor, mounting a waste tank under the floor, connecting it to the toilet bowl outlet, or attaching the usual conduits and termination valves to the outside of the holding tank.

Despite the commercial success achieved by known sanitary systems, a need for continuous improvement in the pertinent art remains.

SUMMARY

In one particular form, the present teachings provide a sanitary system for a motor vehicle having a toilet, a base, a mobile holding tank and a pumping arrangement. The toilet is coupled to the base. The mobile holding tank is removably coupled to the toilet for receiving waste from the toilet and is stowable within a storage area defined by the base. The pumping arrangement includes a first portion carried by the base and a cooperating second portion carried by the mobile holding tank. The first portion engages the second portion when the mobile holding tank is positioned within the storage area so as to define a fluid path from the mobile holding tank to a remote waste storage tank for pumping of waste from the mobile holding tank to the remote waste storage tank.

In another particular form, the present teachings provide a control panel for a sanitation system. The control panel includes a printed circuit board and an overlay. The overlay covers the printed circuit board and includes a substrate. The overlay further includes a plurality of control symbols printed on a back side of the substrate and one or more layers of semi-transparent ink applied to a front side of the substrate. The one or more layers of semi-transparent ink are sufficiently opaque to normally hide the plurality of control symbols until backlighting is provided to the plurality of control symbols.

In yet another particular form, the present invention provides a venting arrangement for a holding tank of a sanitary system. The venting arrangement includes a fluid path extending between the holding tank and the atmosphere. A tube defines a portion of the fluid path. The tube has a first end coupled to the holding tank. A fan is positioned in the fluid path. The fan is operative to draw odors from the holding tank. A filter is positioned in the fluid path between the tube and the fan for absorbing odors.

DRAWINGS

The present teachings will become more fully understood from the detailed description and the accompanying drawings, wherein:

Figure 1 is a front perspective view of a sanitary system for a motor vehicle constructed in accordance with the present teachings.

Figure 2 is a rear perspective view of the sanitary system for a motor vehicle of the present teachings, a toilet of the system shown cut-away for purposes of illustration.

Figure 3 is another rear perspective view of the sanitary system for a motor vehicle of the present teachings.

Figure 4 is another front perspective view of the sanitary system for a motor vehicle of the present teachings, the toilet again shown cut-away for purposes of illustration.

Figure 5 is an exploded, perspective view of a portion of a sanitary system for a motor vehicle.

Figure 6 is another exploded, perspective view of a portion of a sanitary system for a motor vehicle.

Figures 7A-7C represent a series of views illustrating insertion of the removable holding tank of the present teachings.

Figure 8 is another rear perspective view of the sanitation system in accordance with the present teachings, the sanitation system shown partially cut-away for purposes of illustration.

Figure 9 is a partially exploded view of the sanitation system in accordance with the present teachings, the holding tank removed from the system for purposes of illustration.

Figure 10 is a perspective view of the filter of the sanitation system in accordance with the present teachings.

Figure 11 is a top view of the filter of Figure 10.

Figure 12 is a front perspective view of a portion of the sanitation system in accordance with the present teachings, the sanitation system illustrated to include a control panel for electronically controlling various functions of the sanitation system, an enlarged view of the control panel in a quiet state shown in an inset.

Figure 13 is a perspective view of a portion of the sanitation system in accordance with the present teachings, an overlay of the control panel shown exploded from the remainder of the control panel for purposes of illustration.

Figure 14 is an enlarged front view of the overlay of the sanitation system in accordance with the present teachings, the overlay shown in a fully active state.

Figure 15 is an enlarged rear view of the overlay of the sanitation system in accordance with the present teachings.

DESCRIPTION OF VARIOUS ASPECTS

The following description is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the invention, its application, or uses.

With reference generally to the drawings, a sanitation system according to the present teachings is illustrated and generally identified at reference character 10. In one application, the sanitation system 10 may be used in a motor vehicle. The present teachings, however, have application to other uses.

The sanitation system 10 is illustrated to generally include a bowl assembly 12, a base 14 and a removable holding tank 16. The base 14 and the bowl assembly 12 may be built into a vehicle in any manner well known in the art. Reference in this regard may be made to commonly assigned U.S. Patent No. 4,776,631 , for example. The holding tank 16 is removably stowed within a storage compartment defined by the base 14.

The bowl assembly 12 defines a bowl 18. An associated seat 20 and cover 22 are hingedly mounted on bowl 18 in a conventional manner. Operation of the valve-blade (not shown) which closes an outfall beneath the bowl assembly 12 may be electronically or mechanically controlled. The particular manner of control is beyond the scope of the present teachings.

The holding tank 16 has a generally overall rectangular shape. A top wall defines an opening which is opened and closed by a valve blade (not shown) within the tank 16. When the tank 16 is stowed within the stowage compartment of the base 14, the opening registers in a sealed manner with the outlet from bowl 18, and the blade controls the passage from the bowl 18 into the holding tank 16. The holding tank opening automatically connects to and disconnects from the toilet bowl outlet in response to movement of the holding tank 16 into and out of the stowage compartment of the base 14. Further details concerning the operation of the blade of the system 10 are generally beyond the scope of the present teachings and are sufficiently described in commonly assigned U.S. Patent No. 4,776,631 referenced above.

As described in commonly assigned U.S. Patent No. 4,776,631 , the holding tank 16 may be removed from the remainder of the system 10 for emptying. For example, the holding tank 16 may be removed through an exterior access door of a recreational vehicle or caravan. In this manner, the holding tank 16 may easily and quickly be removed for emptying.

The system 10 may additional include a pumping arrangement 100 (see Figure 3, for example) for the pumping of waste from the holding tank 16. Through the incorporation of such an arrangement, the frequency of removing the holding tank 16 for emptying or cleaning may be significantly reduced. In this regard and in the manner to be addressed herein, the waste from the holding tank 16 may be pumped from the holding tank 16 to an on-board holding tank (not particularly shown) or a sewage system (not particularly shown).

With particular reference to Figure 4 and the exploded views of Figures 5 and 6, the pumping arrangement 100 may generally include a base assembly 102 and a cooperating holding tank assembly 104. The base assembly 102 may be carried by the base 14 of the sanitation system 10 and may include a tube connection 106 and seal 108 carried by a plate 110. The plate 110 may be secured to the base 14 of the system 10 in any conventional manner. In one application, the plate 110 may be secured with a pair of screws (not shown). The seal 108 provides a water-tight connection. The tube connection 106 may be coupled at one end to the plate 110 for rotation about a generally vertically extending axis. At its other end, the tube connection 106 may be coupled to a flexible tubing 112 which in turn is connected to a remote holding tank through a pump.

The plate 110 may slidably support a cover 114. The cover 114 selectively opens an aperture 115 defined by the plate 110. The aperture provides fluid communication with the tube connection 106. A retaining member or clicker 116 is biased by a spring 118 to normally retain the cover 114 in a closed position. Various other known mechanisms may be employed for retaining the plate 114 in a closed position.

The cooperating holding tank assembly 104 may include a tube 120. As shown in broken lines in Figure 2, the tube 120 may extend down into the holding tank 16 through an opening 122. An o-ring may provide a fluid-tight seal with the holding tank 16. The tube 120 may include a receiving member 124 at an upper end thereof. As discussed below, the plate 110 and the receiving member 124 are adapted to slidably couple together. A cover 126 is slidably received by the receiving member 124. In this regard, the receiving member 124 and cover 126 may include cooperating flanges or other structure that permits sliding movement of the cover 126 relative to the receiving member. The cover 126 selectively opens an upper end of the tube 120. The o-ring 108 may provide a fluid-tight seal with the cover 126. A retaining member or clicker 130 is based by a spring 132 to normally retain the cover 126 in a closed position. Again, various other known mechanisms may be employed for retaining the cover 126 in a closed position.

The general operation of the system 10 as it relates to the pumping arrangement 100 will be described with particular reference to Figures 7A through 7C. In Figure 7A, the holding tank 16 is inserted into the storage chamber defined by the base 14. In Figure 7B, the holding tank 16 is further inserted and the plate 110 and the receiving member 124 align and are ready for coupling. In Figure 7C, the holding tank 16 is fully connected. The spring loaded clickers 116 and 130 ensures that the covers 114 and 126 only move when the holding tank 16 is installed or removed. Upon installation (see Figure 7C) the covers 114 and 126 translate to respectively open the aperture of the plate 110 and the upper end of the tube 120. When the tube 112 is attached to the tube connection 106, a fluid path is established between the removable holding tank 16 and the remote holding tank of the vehicle, for example.

With particular reference to Figures 8 through 11 the sanitation system 10 may generally include a venting arrangement 200 for the venting of holding tank fumes. The venting arrangement 200 defines a path between the removable holding tank 16 and atmosphere outside the vehicle. In a manner described in more detail in U.S. Patent No. 7,032,255 , the flexible tube 202 leads at least partly through the interior of the holding tank 16 without being in fluid communication with the interior of the holding tank 16. Arrows are provided in Figure 8 to generally indicate the direction of flow. U.S. Patent No. 7,032,255 is hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

Odors may be drawn out of the holding tank 16 with a fan 204. The fan 204 may be positioned within a recess 206 defined in a lower base portion 208 of the housing 14. A filter 210 may be disposed between an end of the flexible tube 202 and the fan 204. Similar to the fan 204, the filter 210 may be disposed in the recess 206 of the lower base portion 208. The filter 210 may comprise a box-like structure constructed of cardboard or other similar disposable material. The filter 210 may define a fluid path between an upper opening 212 and a lower opening 214. An odor absorbing media such as charcoal may be disposed in the fluid path between the upper opening 212 and the lower opening 214. The filter 210 may be quickly and easily replaced.

The recess 206 of the lower base portion 208 may be covered with a plate 218. The plate 218 may define an opening 220 for directly engaging the flexible tube 202. Removal of the plate 218 facilitates the quick and easy removal and replacement of the filter 210. Such removal and replacement of the filter 210 need not require removal of the fan. Location of the fan 204 after the filter 210 may further function to minimize chemical corrosion by the gasses that pass through the fan 204.

The sanitation system 200 may additionally include a control panel 220 for electronically controlling various functions of the toilet 12. One exemplary location for the control panel 220 on the toilet 12 is shown in Figure 12. It will be understood that other locations may be employed within the scope of the present teachings. For example, the control panel 220 may be located remotely from the toilet 12.

In one particular application, the control panel 220 may be operative to control features such as flushing, waste transfer from the holding tank, blade actuation, the fan 204. The control panel 220 may also provide visual indicators for water tank level, holding tank level and the like. It will be understood that button control of features such as flushing, waste transfer from the holding tank 16, blade actuation and fan control are generally conventional insofar as the present teachings are concerned. Similarly, control panel indicators for water tank level and holding tank level are conventional insofar as the present teachings are concerned.

The control panel 220 may generally include a printed circuit board (PCB) 222 and an overlay 224. The overlay 224 may include an adhesive layer and may be placed over the PCB 222 to seal the PCB 222 from moisture and other contaminants. As will be discussed, the overlay 224 may function to allow the control panel 220 to operate in a quiet state and an active state. The quiet state is shown in Figure 12, for example. The active state is shown in Figure 14, for example.

The overlay 224 may be formed of a plastic substrate and may include various symbols printed on the back of the substrate. A reverse side of the overlay 224 is shown in Figure 15. The various symbols may include, for example, a waste transfer button icon 230, an electronic blade button icon 232, a fan button icon 234, a water tank level indicator 236, and a holding tank indicators 240. A front side of the substrate may be printed with one or more layers of semi-transparent ink. A flush button indicator 238 may be printed over the one or more layers of semi-transparent ink. The one or more layers of semi-transparent ink are sufficiently opaque that the symbols printed on the back of the substrate are not visible without backlighting. Such backlighting for selectively illuminating the various symbols may be provided on the PCB 222. Circles around the icons 230, 232 and 234 in Figure 14 indicate illumination of these icons.

The control panel 220 normally operates in a quiet state (see Figure 12, for example) in which only the flush button icon is visible (e.g., no back lit illumination). In this manner, none of the backlights of the PCB 222 is illuminated and the remaining symbols are hidden. By hiding the remaining symbols, the appearance of the control panel 220 is simplified for users that may not be completely familiar with vehicle toilets. Furthermore, hiding of the remaining symbols removes an unnecessary temptation to push the other controls. By hiding symbols selectively, only one overlay 224 needs to be produced for use with sanitary systems having different features (e.g., fan, electric blade, waste transfer) installed. In this manner, only features installed are backlit on the PCB 22 and visible on the overlay 224.

Before using the toilet 12, the user activates the toilet 12 by pushing the flush button icon 238. This action activates the fan 204. Visual feedback is provided through the overlay 224 by a flashing symbol. A timer automatically shuts off the fan after a predetermined period (e.g., five minutes).

While specific examples have been described in the specification and illustrated in the drawings, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalence may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the present teachings as defined in the claims. Furthermore, the mixing and matching of features, elements and/or functions between various examples may be expressly contemplated herein so that one skilled in the art would appreciate from the present teachings that features, elements and/or functions of one example may be incorporated into another example as appropriate, unless described otherwise above. Moreover, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the present teachings without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it may be intended that the present teachings not be limited to the particular examples illustrated by the drawings and described in the specification as the best mode of presently contemplated for carrying out the present teachings but that the scope of the present disclosure will include any embodiments following within the foregoing description and any appended claims.

The description of the present teachings are merely exemplary in nature and, thus, variations that do not depart from the gist of the invention are intended to be within the scope of the invention. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention.


Anspruch[en]
A sanitary system for a motor vehicle, the system comprising: a bowl assembly; a base, the bowl assembly coupled to the base; a mobile holding tank removably coupled to the toilet for receiving waste from the toilet and stowable within a storage area defined by the base; and a pumping arrangement including a first portion carried by the base and a cooperating second portion carried by the mobile holding tank; wherein the first portion engages the second portion when the mobile holding tank is positioned within the storage area so as to define a fluid path from the mobile holding tank to a remote waste storage tank for pumping of waste from the mobile holding tank to the remote waste storage tank. The sanitary system of claim 1, wherein the first portion slidably engages the second portion. The sanitary system of claim 2, wherein the first portion defines a first aperture in fluid communication with the pumping arrangement and the second portion defines a second aperture in fluid communication with the mobile holding tank. The sanitary system of claim 3, wherein the first and second apertures are normally closed and opened upon engagement between the first and second portions. The sanitary system of claim 4, wherein at least one of the first and second apertures is associated with a cover for selectively covering the at least one of the first and second apertures. The sanitary system of claim 5, wherein the cover is spring biased to a closed position. A venting arrangement for a holding tank of a sanitary system, the venting arrangement comprising: a fluid path extending between the holding tank and the atmosphere; a fan positioned in the fluid path, the fan operative to draw odors from the holding tank; and a filter positioned in the fluid path between the tube and the fan for absorbing odors. The venting arrangement of claim 7, in combination with the sanitary system, the sanitary system including a bowl assembly, the holding tank positioned in a housing and removably coupled to the bowl assembly. The venting arrangement of claim 7, wherein the fluid path extends at least partially through the holding tank without being in fluid communication with an interior of the tank. The venting arrangement of claim 7, wherein the filter is a disposable filter. The venting arrangement of claim 7, wherein the filter includes an upper opening in communication with the tube, a lower opening in communication with the fan and an odor absorbing media positioned between the upper opening and the lower opening. The venting arrangement of claim 11, wherein the upper opening is located proximate a first end of the filter and the lower opening is located proximate a second end of the filter. The venting arrangement of claim 7, wherein the filter may be removed from the sanitation system without removal of the fan. The venting arrangement of claim 8, wherein the filter and the fan are disposed below the holding tank. The venting arrangement of claim 14, wherein the fan is disposed below the filter. A control panel for a sanitation system, the control panel comprising: a printed circuit board electronically associated with various functions and monitorings of the sanitation system, the printed circuit board carrying a plurality of lamps; and an overlay covering the printed circuit board, the overlay including a substrate, at least one layer of semi-transparent ink carried by the substrate and a plurality of opaque control symbols carried on a back of the overlay, the at least one layer of semi-transparent ink being sufficiently opaque to normally hide the plurality of control symbols until backlighting is provided by one or more lamps of the plurality of lamps. The control panel of claim 16, wherein the at least one layer of semi-transparent ink is printed to the back of the substrate and the plurality of control symbols printed on the at least one layer of semi-transparent ink.






IPC
A Täglicher Lebensbedarf
B Arbeitsverfahren; Transportieren
C Chemie; Hüttenwesen
D Textilien; Papier
E Bauwesen; Erdbohren; Bergbau
F Maschinenbau; Beleuchtung; Heizung; Waffen; Sprengen
G Physik
H Elektrotechnik

Anmelder
Datum

Patentrecherche

Patent Zeichnungen (PDF)

Copyright © 2008 Patent-De Alle Rechte vorbehalten. eMail: info@patent-de.com