Patent application title: System and Method for Entertaining and Producing a Fire Show
Trent Charles Farrer (Gresham, OR, US)
IPC8 Class: AF23D1446FI
Class name: Combustion process of combustion or burner operation controlling or proportioning feed
Publication date: 2010-11-04
Patent application number: 20100279237
A bowl that is configured for containing liquid such as water has a gas
distribution apparatus in the bowl beneath the surface of the liquid and
a gas source attached thereto. The gas distribution apparatus includes a
movable gas distribution conduit that may be controlled to move in a
predetermined pattern so that gas bubbles are emitted in a desired and
controlled manner, or alternately, includes a gas distribution plate that
causes gas bubbles to emit in a random manner. When the bubbles of gas
burst at the surface of the liquid they are ignited, resulting in
pleasant displays of flame.
1. An apparatus for generating a flame above a surface of liquid,
comprising:a container configured for holding liquid;a gas bubble
dispenser in the container, said gas bubble dispenser having a first gas
distribution conduit that is movable relative to the container and
configured for delivering gas out of a distal end of the conduit into
liquid held in the container in a predetermined pattern;a source of
combustible gas attached to the gas bubble dispenser; andan ignition
source for igniting gas when bubbles of gas burst at the surface of the
2. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the gas bubble dispenser is further defined by a second gas distribution conduit having a distal tip through which gas flows and which is positioned above the surface of the liquid.
3. The apparatus according to claim 2 including means for causing the first gas distribution conduit of the gas bubble dispenser to rotate relative to the container.
4. The apparatus according to claim 3 wherein the distal end of the first gas distribution conduit traces a path in a predetermined pattern.
5. The apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the path defines a circle.
6. The apparatus according to claim 5 including a circular dish held in the container and spaced apart from a bottom surface of the container so that said dish is positioned above said first gas distribution conduit, and wherein said distal end of said first gas distribution conduit traces a circle having a diameter that is smaller than the diameter of said dish.
7. The apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the distal end of the first gas distribution conduit traces a predetermined pattern that is not circular.
8. The apparatus according to claim 3 wherein the means for causing the gas bubble dispenser to rotate is defined by a motor connected to said gas bubble dispenser.
9. The apparatus according to claim 2 wherein the second gas distribution conduit defines a pilot light.
10. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein movement of the first gas distribution conduit is under the control of a computer processor.
11. An apparatus for generating a flame above a surface of liquid, comprising:a container configured for holding liquid;a source of combustible gas configured for delivering gas into the container at a gas entry point below the surface of the liquid; anda gas distribution plate positioned above the gas distribution point, said gas distribution plate defined by a gas distribution chamber that defines a chamber for receiving gas from the gas source, and plural gas paths radiating from said gas distribution chamber so that gas received in the gas distribution chamber is routed into said gas paths and emitted from the gas paths at distal ends thereof into the liquid as bubbles.
12. The apparatus according to claim 11 wherein the gas distribution plate further includes a seal around a peripheral edge thereof that defines a gas-tight seal between the container and the gas distribution plate.
13. The apparatus according to claim 11 including an ignition source for igniting gas when bubbles of gas burst at the surface of the liquid.
14. The apparatus according to claim 11 in which the gas paths are dimensioned to control the size of gas bubbles that emit from the paths.
15. A method of generating fire above the surface of a container of liquid, comprising the steps of:a) providing a container of liquid;b) providing a gas bubble dispenser in the container, said gas bubble dispenser having a gas distribution tip positioned under the surface of the liquid;c) connecting the gas bubble dispenser to a source of combustible gas;d) causing gas to flow to the gas bubble dispenser so that gas bubbles emit from the gas distribution tip;e) causing the gas distribution tip to move in a predetermined pattern in the liquid so gas bubbles burst at the surface in the predetermined pattern; andf) igniting the gas at the surface of the liquid when bubbles of gas bubbles burst.
16. The method according to claim 15 wherein the predetermined pattern is defined by a circle.
17. The method according to claim 15 wherein the predetermined pattern is non-circular.
18. The method according to claim 15 wherein movement of the gas distribution tip is under the control of a computer processor.
19. The method according to claim 18 wherein movement of the gas distribution tip is synchronized with music.
20. The method according to claim 19 including the step of causing lights to illuminate under the control of the computer processor and in synchronization with the music.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to an apparatus for generating a flame, and more particularly, the invention relates to an apparatus for generating a flame above a surface of a liquid from a combustible gas that is bubbled through the liquid to the surface where it is ignited.
In addition to their utilitarian properties, many people find both flames and fire aesthetically pleasing--hence the ubiquitous use of fireplaces and candles and the like. Similarly, water features such as fountains, ponds, streams are also very soothing to many people. It is not surprising therefore that inventors have combined both fire and water in a variety of different ways in order to make aesthetically pleasing and entertaining displays and there are numerous technologies for facilitating the displays.
There are numerous known systems for generating a flame above a body of liquid, typically water, for the ornamental and visual effects that can be created. Many of these are large systems found in resort settings such as Las Vegas, and are used primarily for entertainment. Although there are many different types of systems, they generally involve the ignition of combustible gas above the surface of the water, and often include a variety of colored lighting elements and fountains and the like. Such large-scale entertainment systems are enjoyable but tend to be complex and expensive, and therefore not applicable to most consumer settings.
The present invention relates to apparatus that is designed primarily for the home consumer market and is defined by a bowl that is configured for containing liquid such as water, and a gas source combined with apparatus to cause the gas to bubble through the liquid. When the bubbles of gas burst at the surface of the liquid they are ignited, resulting in pleasant displays of flame. The invention comprises various embodiments that allow for variation in the pattern of gas bubble ignition, the timing of ignition, and may include lights and other features as detailed below.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention will be better understood and its numerous objects and advantages will be apparent by reference to the following detailed description of the invention when taken in conjunction with the following drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first illustrated embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a portion of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, and more particularly, the gas distribution system.
FIG. 4 is a top view of a component of an illustrated embodiment according to the present invention that includes a central gas bubble dispersion plate.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the lower side of a gas bubble dispersion plate according to the embodiment shown in FIG. 4.
In the following description, the use of "a," "an," or "the" can refer to the plural. All examples given are for clarification only, and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.
Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, a first apparatus 2 for entertaining and producing a fire show comprises a bowl 4 having a lip 6, a support frame 8, a dish 10, a plurality of rocks 12 (or other decoration), a vertical gas exhaust 14, lights 16, gas hose 18, electrical apparati 20, and dish support 22.
The bowl 4 is a container configured to hold a liquid, such as water illustrated with dashed lines in FIG. 1, and may take any shape. For instance, in FIGS. 1 and 2, the bowl 4, when viewed from above, has the shape of a square, but when viewed from the side (or a cross section) has a concave or partial circle shape. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, a bowl 104 has a circular shape when viewed from above, although any the bowl 4 (or 104) may take on any shape such that the bowl can contain a liquid. The bowl 4 (and other components of the system 2, including dish 10, support frame 8, etc.) may further comprise any hard material, such as metal, glass, or ceramic, but may also include plastic, wood, or any other material. While the apparatus 2 burns a combustible fuel, the system is safe and there is no risk that the bowl 4, if composed of a combustible material, will burn. In practice it has been found that the preferred depth of the water held in the bowl should be no less than about 6 inches, and no greater than about 12 inches at the position where the gas bubbles burst at the surface of the liquid. It will be appreciated that these dimensions may be varied somewhat without adversely affecting the performance of the invention.
The bowl 4 comprises a lip 6 or raised extension that preferably rises between 1 and 3 inches above the surface of the water (or liquid) contained in bowl 4. This will help ensure that wind will not extinguish the fire show occurring above the water surface. The lip 6 may ascend at the same angle as the edge of bowl 4 or may be substantially vertical or horizontal (as shown in FIG. 1).
The support frame 8 is configured to support the bowl 4, its liquid contents, and other elements of the system 2. The support frame 8 may be designed to break, collapse, or fall apart when exposed to a weight exceeding a certain limit or threshold, such as 20 or 30 pounds. This is a safety feature to prevent a small child from climbing on the system 2 and drowning in the water contained in bowl 4. Any known method for causing the breakage or collapse of support frame 8 is within the scope of the present invention, including building the support frame 8 of a sufficiently thin gauge metal to allow it to bend when subjected to a sufficient force or weight, including scissor-type hinges or other collapsing or folding apparati, etc.
Dish 10 is connected to the bowl 4 via dish support 22. Dish 10 may have the shape of a plate, bowl, or surface with a peripheral lip or raised extension to hold decorative rocks 12 in place. Dish support 22 preferably supports the dish 10 above a lower surface of the bowl 4, such as between 0.5 and 2 inches, in order to allow for the placement and movement of rotating bubble disperser 30 (FIG. 3). Decorative rocks 12 may include rocks, pebbles, marbles, or any other decorative element. In the center of dish 10 (and decorative rocks 12) protrudes vertical gas exhaust 14 of rotating bubble disperser 30, from which flammable gas is emitted. The vertical gas exhaust 14 may be configured to be above or below a surface of the liquid contained in bowl 4, but is preferably above. The exhaust 14 may be designed to emit gas at a slow and steady stream to provide for a "pilot light" to keep the fire burning above the liquid surface and to re-ignite the gas should it extinguish.
Lights 16 are shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 to be located along the diagonals of square-shaped bowl 4, although they may be located anywhere within or on bowl 4, preferably in such a manner that they are submerged when the bowl 4 is filled with the liquid. Lights 16 may be any known lights, such as incandescent or LED, and may be of any color, combination, intensity, and power consumption. Further, the system 2 may include a computer processor 23 connected to lights 16 and configured to cause the lights to illuminate in a predetermined fashion, such as in a predetermined sequence, timing, color scheme, changing intensity/brightness, and so forth. Further, the processor 23 may be configured to cause the lights to pulsate or change in accordance with music that is playing either through the processor or remotely from the processor. In the latter case, the processor may include a microphone and may be designed to sense the music (e.g., a beat to the music) and then output a signal to the lights 16 in accordance with a preprogrammed association with the music (such as flashing the lights or changing the colors or sequencing the lights to the beat of the music). The system 2 may include one or more, preferably at least four, lights 16.
The gas hose 18 connects a source of combustible fuel such as a bottle of propane 19, natural gas, etc., to the rotating bubble disperser 30 via one or more valves including a check valve 21 shown schematically inline in hose 18. For instance, in addition to the one-way check valve 21, another valve may be an on-off valve, another may be a safety release or pressure relief valve, and so forth. Check valve 21 is a conventional backflow preventer valve that allows gas to flow in one direction through the valve (i.e., from the bottle of propane to the bubble dispenser 30), but will not allow water or other liquid to flow in the reverse direction into the gas supply line 18. In another embodiment, another valve may be a variable solenoid valve that may be connected to or controlled by a computer processor such as processor 23, thus allowing the flow rate of combustible gas through rotating bubble disperser 30 to be adjusted in real time, such as in accordance with a program that depends on music. In other words, in place or in addition to the embodiment in which a computer processor is connected to the lights 16 to cause them to illuminate according to a program that depends on the sound or beat of music, the variable solenoid valve may be connected to the processor and configured to variably open or close according to a program that depends on the sound or beat of music. Such a valve (or lights 16) may alternatively or in addition be controlled by other factors and sensors, such as a light level, a time of day, a time of year, a temperature, and so forth. For instance, the variable solenoid valve may be programmed to open more when the temperature is low in order to provide greater heat of combustion, as well as to compensate for the fact that the combustible fuel pressure may be lower when the temperature is lower. Further, the lights 16 may be programmed to illuminate when the sun goes down, etc.
Electrical apparati 20 may include a wall outlet plug, batteries, capacitors, wiring, transformers, electrical sparking devices, and so forth. The apparati 20 may be configured to power lights 16, a processor 23 (if any), a valve, a combustion ignition system, and so forth.
Referring now to FIG. 3, the system 2 of FIG. 1 is shown without dish 10 and decorative rocks 12, exposing the rotating bubble disperser 30 which comprises a vertical conduit 32 (having vertical gas exhaust 14), a horizontal conduit 34 (having horizontal gas exhaust 36 at the distal end thereof), a T-joint 38, a first gear 40, and a second gear 42.
The conduits 32, 34 are rotatably connected via T-joint 38 to a source such as a bottle of propane 19, which is not shown in FIG. 3 but is as detailed above with respect to FIG. 1, or other combustible gas via gas hose 18, again as detailed above, so that gas traveling through gas hose 18 (and the installed valves) also travels through conduits 32, 34. The rotating bubble disperser 30 is preferably rotatably connected or affixed to the bowl 4 and/or dish 10, such that the vertical conduit 32 passes through the dish 10 and/or rocks 12, and horizontal conduit 34 can be rotated (about an axis parallel to vertical conduit 32) underneath the dish 10. The second gear 42 is connected to a motor (not shown) or other mechanical powering device, and engaged with first gear 40 (which may be larger or smaller than second gear 42) so that the motor causes the rotating bubble disperser 30 to rotate via interaction between gears 40, 42. The motor may also be connected to and/or controlled by a computer processor such as processor 23, so that it can be turned on or off, and its speed altered or varied, by the preprogrammed processor and/or in response to sensors. As an example similar to that given previously, a microphone could detect the beat of music and the processor could cause the motor to spin synchronously or in response to the music.
The system 2 may include an electric ignition system, shown schematically at reference number 21 in FIG. 2, such as a spark generator (which may include a spark plug, transformers, and so forth), a piezoelectric device, or any other means for igniting a flammable gas. For instance, an igniter may be located at or near the vertical gas exhaust 14 to allow ignition of the pilot light, and/or there may be one or more igniters around the periphery of the bowl 4 corresponding to where gas (that is emitted at horizontal gas exhaust 36) bubbles up and surfaces from the liquid surface, to allow this gas to be ignited. The electrical igniter may be hand- or human-operated, allowing a user to ignite the gas after the valve has been opened and gas is flowing through the rotating bubble disperser 30. Alternatively or in addition, a computer processor 23 may be connected to and programmed to cause the igniter to ignite according to certain conditions, such as if the fire extinguishes (a heat or light sensor may be connected to the processor to detect this issue), or at a certain time of day or according to certain weather conditions.
In operation, the apparatus 2 may be turned on by opening an "on" valve (which may or may not be performed at least in part by a computer processor) of the flammable gas, allowing gas to flow through the rotating bubble disperser 30. Further, the motor may be turned on (again, which may or may not be performed at least in part by a computer processor), causing the rotating bubble disperser 30 to rotate. The igniter may be turned on so that gas that is released, such as from vertical gas exhaust 14 (which may or may not provide for a pilot light), can be ignited. As gas is emitted through the distal tip of horizontal gas exhaust 36, it bubbles upward through the liquid (water) and, when it reaches the surface, it is ignited with air by either or both of the pilot light (burning at the center of the dish 10 via vertical gas exhaust 14) or heat from the burning of previous flammable gas bubbles. As the rotating bubble disperser 30 continues to rotate, the bubbles bubble upward toward the surface of the liquid in what appears to be a circle or spiral, producing the appearance of burning gas "chasing" itself around the bowl 4 and rocks 12. The lights 16 may be illuminated at the same time, and any aspect of the lights, the rotating speed, the gas emission (and thus combustion) rate, and so forth may be adjusted manually and/or by the computer processor 23.
A length of the horizontal conduit 34 may be greater, less than, or approximately the same as a radius of dish 10. If less, then bubbles emitted from horizontal gas exhaust 36 may contact and travel up the outer side of dish 10. Alternatively or in addition, the horizontal conduit 34 may be designed (such as at least partially out of a flexible rubber or plastic) such that the horizontal gas exhaust 36 conforms to a predetermined shape or path. For instance, the dish 10 may be specially shaped, like as a star or heart or any other shape, and the horizontal gas exhaust 36 may travel along the periphery (e.g., via a track, via a spring-type force of a rubber tube pressing against the periphery, etc.), causing the "chasing fire" to be created in the shape of the predetermined shape. Further, the horizontal conduit 34 need not actually be horizontal; this is merely a designation for explanation of the invention. Ultimately, the rotating bubble disperser 30 may be designed, shaped, or configured in any way to cause the path of gas bubbles to the liquid surface to take on any preferred path, design, shape, or display.
Referring now to FIG. 4, a second illustrated embodiment of apparatus 102 for entertaining and producing a fire show comprises a bowl 104 (which may as described with reference to bowl 4) having a lip 106 (which may be as described with reference to lip 6), and a bubble dispersion plate 108 located preferably in the center of the bowl 104. The bowl 104 is filled with a liquid, and the second system 102 preferably includes a dish and decorations (like dish 10 and rocks 12 in FIG. 1), which are not shown. Underneath the plate 108, flammable gas is bubbled, plumbed, or directed upward, and the plate 108 (which will be discussed more with reference to FIG. 5) is configured to disperse these bubbles in different paths, so that they bubble upward through the liquid and burn above the liquid in a somewhat random (or "dancing") formation or display, as shown with the arrows emanating from dispersion plate in FIG. 4. Other features of the second system 102 (such as the support, ignition system, computer processor, lights, etc.) may be similar to that disclosed with reference to first system 2.
Referring now to FIG. 5, the bubble dispersion plate 108 includes gas collection chamber 110, plural gas paths 112, path walls 114, and peripheral seals 116. The plate 108 is preferably, but need not be, circular in shape. The gas collection chamber 110 is a chamber in which flammable gas can collect (from a source below) and then allow the passage of gas to and through paths 112. In FIG. 5, the gas collection chamber 110 is shown as a recess or concavity into which gas bubbles can collect and congregate.
The gas paths 112 allow gas to travel from the gas collection chamber 110 to the liquid surface via bubbling up through the liquid. There are preferably at least five paths 112 (and preferably at least six, and more preferably at least eight) because with fewer than five paths 112, it may be difficult to sustain combustion with an ongoing flame at the liquid surface. The paths 112 may but need not be spaced apart evenly.
Further, the bubbles should be sufficiently large, which implies and requires that the path 112 dimensions should be sufficiently large. In one aspect, they are preferably at least about 1/2 inch in cross sectional width, and more preferably at least 1 inch in cross sectional width. Path walls 114 define the sides of gas paths 112 and contact (and preferably seal) with the surface of the bowl 104. Peripheral seals 116 are located between adjacent paths 112 and seal with the surface of bowl 104, so that the only escape for flammable gas that has accumulated in the gas collection chamber 110 is via gas paths 112 and bubbling upward to the liquid surface.
In operation, the apparatus illustrated in FIG. 4 may be turned on by opening an "on" valve (which may or may not be performed at least in part by a computer processor) of the flammable gas, allowing gas to flow into bowl 104 underneath the plate 108 and into the gas collection chamber 110. An electrical igniter may be turned on or activated so that gas that is released from one or more of paths 112 can be ignited. As gas is emitted from chamber 110 and through paths 112, it bubbles upward through the liquid (water) and, when it reaches the surface, it is ignited with air by either or both of a pilot light (which may be burning at the center of a dish or decorative display contained thereon) or heat from the burning of previous flammable gas bubbles. As bubbles randomly emit from different paths 112, the bubbles rise upwardly toward the surface of the liquid in what appears to be a random and unpredictable dance, producing the appearance of burning gas "dancing" around the bowl 104. The lights (if any) may be illuminated at the same time, and any aspect of the lights, the gas emission (and thus combustion) rate, and so forth may be adjusted manually and/or by a computer processor.
In both embodiments, in order to ensure that previously combusting gas bubbles ignite subsequent bubbles, the size of the systems 2, 102 should be appropriately limited. For instance, the length of horizontal conduit 34 should be sufficiently short, such as less than 8 inches and more preferably less than or about 5 inches, and the diameter of plate 108 should be sufficiently small, such as less than 16 inches and more preferably less than or about 10 inches.
Further, any controlling of the systems 2, 102 may be done manually or by a computer processor 23 via a remote control. For instance, a radiotransmitter may be used to instruct the system 2 to increase the speed of rotating of the rotating gas disperser 30, the color or illumination of lights 16, and so forth.
In other embodiments, a moving or dancing flame or illumination can be created by combining a moving flammable gas discharge with a container of liquid. For instance, a "river" of water may flow around a bar, table, or other location. Within the river may be located a movable conduit through which flammable gas is emitted and bubbles up through the river and is ignited and burns on the water surface, producing a chasing or dancing flame. The speed, direction, etc., of the moving conduit may be altered or varied manually or using a processor.
While the present invention has been described in terms of a preferred embodiment, it will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill that the spirit and scope of the invention is not limited to those embodiments, but extend to the various modifications and equivalents as defined in the appended claims.
Patent applications by Trent Charles Farrer, Gresham, OR US
Patent applications in class Controlling or proportioning feed
Patent applications in all subclasses Controlling or proportioning feed