Patent application title: Pump System and Method of Use
Shane Weckerly (Bowling Green, KY, US)
Larry Joe Tipton (Bowling Green, KY, US)
HOLLEY PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS
IPC8 Class: AF04B4906FI
Class name: Pumps processes
Publication date: 2012-11-22
Patent application number: 20120294731
A multi-pump assembly and method of use including a housing and at least
two pumps contained within the housing is described, wherein each pump
has a performance level. In an embodiment, the performance level of each
pump is the same. In another embodiment, the performance level of each
pump is different. The assembly may also include a common electrical
inlet, a common fuel inlet connection, a common fuel outlet connection, a
pressure regulator, a final filter, an outlet check valve connected to
each pump, a plurality of over pressure relief valves connected to each
pump and an over pressure relief passage formed around the pumps in the
housing, an electronic controller capable of operating each pump
independently, a fuel filter and a pressure regulator in the housing to
form a returnless fuel supply, and/or a final filter. The assembly may be
used in a multiple carburetor or fuel injection applications.
1. A multi-pump assembly comprising: a housing; at least two pumps
contained in the housing; an outlet check valve inside each pump; and an
over pressure relief passage formed around the pumps in the housing;
wherein each pump has a performance level.
2. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 wherein the performance level of each pump is the same.
3. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 wherein the performance level of each pump is different.
4. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 further comprising a common electrical inlet.
5. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 further comprising a common fuel inlet connection.
6. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 further comprising a common fuel outlet connection.
7. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 further comprising a pressure regulator.
8. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 further comprising a final filter.
9. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 further comprising an electronic controller capable of operating each pump independently.
10. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 wherein the multi-pump assembly is capable of being used in a multiple carburetor or fuel injection applications.
11. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 further comprising a fuel filter and a pressure regulator in the housing to form a returnless fuel supply.
12. The multi-pump assembly of claim 1 further comprising a final filter.
13. A method of using a multi-pump assembly, wherein the pump assembly comprises: a housing; at least two pumps contained in the housing; an outlet check valve inside each pump; and an over pressure relief passage formed around the pumps in the housing; wherein each pump has a performance level; which method comprises the step of: controlling each pump individually.
14. The method of claim 13 further comprising integrating a pressure regulator.
15. The method of claim 13 further comprising integrating a final filter.
16. The method of claim 13 further comprising a fuel filter and a pressure regulator into the housing to form a returnless fuel supply.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 Not applicable.
REFERENCE TO APPENDIX
 Not applicable.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 The inventions disclosed and taught herein relate generally to devices pumps, and more specifically relate to high flow fuel pumps.
 2. Description of the Related Art
 The performance market has a segment that requires very high flow fuel pumps to supply the demands of large horsepower engines. The pumps are generally limited to these unique race engines. They contain warnings concerning their use for off-track applications due to the high current and flow recirculation requirements.
 Generally, electric fuel pump designs match the peak torque of the motor performance curve with the pumping element to achieve the desired flow at a pressure point. As a result, the current suppliers develop multiple pumps to address some of the known requirements in the market by grouping their product into horsepower rating brackets.
 This grouping is convenient for the supplier but can complicate the fuel management for the engine builder. If the horsepower is lower than the known bracket, the user would be forced to choose a higher flow pump and try to manage a high return flow. If the horsepower were higher than the known brackets, the user would be forced to try to stretch the pump flow by increasing the pump voltage, which then increases the flow. This option is not preferable to the pump supplier because these variables are not recognized in the pump development and pose a risk of inconsistent performance or pump damage.
 Currently, this need is met with very large and very expensive electric fuel pumps. These pumps require extensive investment dollars and development time to provide a reliable product. Therefore, a need exists to find a faster, less expensive and more reliable approach that offers full-race performance and off-track use.
 Additionally, some devices consist of self-sealed, in-line pumps. These devices are significantly large and heavier than is desired in all situations. These devices typically require disassembly to attach a wire harness and mount the assembly. Additionally, devices of this nature have a significant number of joints. Joints can potentially leak. Moreover, devices with self-sealed, in-line pumps typically are noisier because the pumps are exposed to the environment and are a solid mount to the inlet and outlet housings. There exists a need to provide an assembly that can contain more than one pump in a smaller and lighter configuration. There also exists a need to provide a less expensive and less complex configuration for this purpose. There also exists a need to offer a more convenient wiring solution. There also exists a need to reduce the number of joints to offer less potential leak exposure. Additionally, there exists a need to contain pumps so as to reduce noise. Finally, there exists a need to provide pumps that may be suspended inside a sealed housing in a manner that reduces or eliminates metal-to-metal connections.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The inventions disclosed and taught herein are directed to multiple fuel pumps that have been fully developed and endurance tested in the original equipment automotive industry. By matching the engine builder's pump flow and pressure requirement by grouping existing pumps into one assembly with a common inlet and outlet, this grouping could include at least two pumps, preferably two, three, or four pumps, depending on the unique requirements. Additionally, the present invention can sequence the pumps individually to stage the current draw and dramatically reduce the return flow to the tank. This will reduce the heat build up in the fuel, which reduces the opportunity for vapor lock to form.
 In accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure, a multi-pump assembly and method of use of such an assembly are described, the multi-pump assembly including a housing and at least two pumps contained in the housing, wherein each pump has a performance level. In accordance with one aspect of this embodiment, the performance level of each pump is the same. In accordance with a further aspect of this embodiment, the performance level of each pump is different. The assembly may also include a common electrical inlet, a common fuel inlet connection, a common fuel outlet connection, a pressure regulator, a final filter, an outlet check valve inside each pump, an over pressure relief passage formed around the pumps in the housing, an electronic controller capable of operating each pump independently, a fuel filter and a pressure regulator in the housing to form a returnless fuel supply, and/or a final filter. The assembly may be used in a variety of applications, including in a multiple carburetor or fuel injection applications.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
 The following figures form part of the present specification and are included to further demonstrate certain aspects of the present invention. The invention may be better understood by reference to one or more of these figures in combination with the detailed description of specific embodiments presented herein.
 FIG. 1 illustrates a cross-sectional, partial side view of an embodiment of the invention;
 FIG. 2 illustrates an exploded view of an embodiment of the invention; and
 FIG. 3 illustrates a cross-sectional, partial side view of an application of an embodiment of the invention.
 While the inventions disclosed herein are susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, only a few specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and are described in detail below. The figures and detailed descriptions of these specific embodiments are not intended to limit the breadth or scope of the inventive concepts or the appended claims in any manner. Rather, the figures and detailed written descriptions are provided to illustrate the inventive concepts to a person of ordinary skill in the art and to enable such person to make and use the inventive concepts.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 The Figures described above and the written description of specific structures and functions below are not presented to limit the scope of what Applicants have invented or the scope of the appended claims. Rather, the Figures and written description are provided to teach any person skilled in the art to make and use the inventions for which patent protection is sought. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that not all features of a commercial embodiment of the inventions are described or shown for the sake of clarity and understanding. Persons of skill in this art will also appreciate that the development of an actual commercial embodiment incorporating aspects of the present inventions will require numerous implementation-specific decisions to achieve the developer's ultimate goal for the commercial embodiment. Such implementation-specific decisions may include, and likely are not limited to, compliance with system-related, business-related, government-related and other constraints, which may vary by specific implementation, location and from time to time. While a developer's efforts might be complex and time-consuming in an absolute sense, such efforts would be, nevertheless, a routine undertaking for those of skill in this art having benefit of this disclosure. It must be understood that the inventions disclosed and taught herein are susceptible to numerous and various modifications and alternative forms. Lastly, the use of a singular term, such as, but not limited to, "a," is not intended as limiting of the number of items. Also, the use of relational terms, such as, but not limited to, "top," "bottom," "left," "right," "upper," "lower," "down," "up," "side," and the like are used in the written description for clarity in specific reference to the Figures and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention or the appended claims.
 Applicants have created a device capable of providing a housing, which contains at least two fuel pumps. This invention may include matching or mixing pumps to meet the specifications and needs of the engine. Moreover, this invention offers the advantage of common electrical, fuel inlet, and fuel outlet connections. This arrangement may also allow for options for controlling the pumps individually based on various input choices. Additionally, this invention offers the option for integrating a pressure regulator and/or final filter for complete fuel system management.
 Turning now to the figures, FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary two-pump configuration in accordance with aspects of the present invention. In this embodiment, two pumps 12 and 14 are shown arranged side-by-side within a common housing 10. These pumps 12 and 14 may operate singly, or simultaneously so as to provide the specified flow of fluid during engine operation.
 Those skilled in the art will recognize that pumps 12 and 14 may be matched in performance levels, or be different in performance levels. This allows for the pairing of flow and pressure options to permit a more accurate matching to the engine builder's specifications. The result is an optimized pump performance for current, pressure, and flow. Each pump 12 and 14 has an outlet check valve 16 and 18, respectively, to hold fuel pressure when the voltage is not applied or when they are turned off.
 Moreover, the pumps 12 and 14 also have over pressure relief valves 20 and 22, respectively. In the unlikely event of a system blockage while the pumps 12 and 14 are energized, the over pressure relief valves 20 or 22 will open at safe pressure above system pressure. The fuel will be discharged into the cavity 24 around the pumps 12 and 14, respectively. This fuel can then pass around the housing inlet O-ring cushions 32 and 34 through slots 26 provided within the housing and recirculate back to the inlets of the pumps 12 and 14. This prevents pump damage and excessive system pressure that could result in a major fuel leak.
 FIG. 2 illustrates an exploded view of the housing 10 for the fuel pumps. Pumps 12 and 14 are shown in relation to the housing and associated seals which make up the assembly of the present disclosure. The housing inlet O-ring seal 28 and housing outlet O-ring seal 30 allow for the sealing of the pumps 12 and 14 inside the housing 10, which is preferably made of an appropriate metal (e.g., aluminum, steel, or metal alloys), although any other suitable material, such as carbon fiber or suitable polymeric materials as appropriate.
 The pumps 12 and 14 are shown with pump O-rings 32 and inlet strainers 34, respectively. The pump O-rings 32 act together to prevent metal-to-metal vibration noise during operation of the pump assembly.
 Moreover, the pumps 12 and 14 are fitted at one end into inlet housing 36, which may be held in place by fasteners 38. In a preferred embodiment, the fasteners 38 are assembly screws, although any other suitable attachment means may be used. The housing 10 also preferably includes mounting holes 40 to allow for the assembled housing 10 to be mounted onto the vehicle or other application.
 Turning to the outlet end of the pumps 12 and 14, fuel tubes 42 and 44 connect and seal pumps 12 and 14 to the pump outlet, respectively. An outlet housing 54 is shown expanded above the fuel tubes 42 that may be held in place by fasteners 56. In a preferred embodiment, the fasteners 56 are assembly screws, although any other appropriate attachment means may be used for securing the outlet housing 54 to the housing 10, as appropriate.
 As also illustrated in FIG. 2, a bulkhead connector 58 is included to seal wires (not shown) that pass through and connect to the pumps 12 and 14. This connector 58 may be held in place by a retainer ring 60 or other suitable retaining means. Those skilled in the art will recognize that any number of wires or similar means may be connected to the pumps 12 and 14 via this connector 58. O-rings 59 may be included as appropriate so as to seal connector 58 within the mounting hole of housing 54.
 FIG. 3 illustrates a cross-sectional view a preferred embodiment of the present disclosure in a representative configuration. In this embodiment, the housing 10 is shown such that pumps 12 and 14 are positioned in a typical operational orientation. The area around the pumps 12 and 14 illustrates the over pressure relief passage through a plurality of slots 26 that may be used to return fuel to the pump inlets when either of the over pressure relief valves 20, 22 are actuated by excessive pressure within one or both of the pumps 12, 14.
 The bulkhead connector 58 acts to seal wires 64 that pass through and connect to the pumps 12 and 14, powering the pumps. The outlets of pumps 12 and 14 are connected via fuel filter 66 to engine 68.
 An alternative embodiment includes operating the pumps independently with an electronic controller. This could be activated by staging their operation based on engine RPM, air flow, fuel flow, throttle position or pressure drop as examples of trigger signals. Another alternative embodiment would be the use of this invention in a multiple carburetor application.
 Another embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 3, includes incorporating the fuel filter 66 and pressure regulator 70 into a regulator housing 74 to form a returnless fuel supply such that fuel is returned to the tank 72 via the regulator 70. This embodiment reduces the potential for heating the fuel by returning it to the tank from the pump assembly instead of the engine fuel rail. Another embodiment includes integrating the final filter 66 option only.
 Further, the various methods and embodiments of the invention can be included in combination with each other to produce variations of the disclosed methods and embodiments. Discussion of singular elements can include plural elements and vice-versa.
 The order of steps can occur in a variety of sequences unless otherwise specifically limited. The various steps described herein can be combined with other steps, interlineated with the stated steps, and/or split into multiple steps. Similarly, elements have been described functionally and can be embodied as separate components or can be combined into components having multiple functions.
 The inventions have been described in the context of preferred and other embodiments and not every embodiment of the invention has been described. Obvious modifications and alterations to the described embodiments are available to those of ordinary skill in the art. The disclosed and undisclosed embodiments are not intended to limit or restrict the scope or applicability of the invention conceived of by the Applicants, but rather, in conformity with the patent laws, Applicants intend to fully protect all such modifications and improvements that come within the scope or range of equivalent of the following claims.
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