Patent application title: ON-DEMAND COOKING APPARATUS
Star Manufacturing International, Inc.
Daniel J. Sovar (St. Louis, MO, US)
Thomas D. Vaughn (Ballwin, MO, US)
STAR MANUFACTURING INTERNATIONAL, INC.
IPC8 Class: AF24C312FI
Class name: Liquid or gaseous fuel gas safety attachments
Publication date: 2013-08-15
Patent application number: 20130206128
An on-demand cooking apparatus for use with a cooking device having a
housing, a fuel supply assembly, and a burner assembly mounted in the
housing and operatively connected to the fuel supply assembly to emit
fuel. An igniter operatively connects to the burner assembly to ignite
the fuel into a flame, and an activation assembly operatively connects to
the burner assembly, the fuel supply assembly, and the igniter. The
activation assembly engages the cooking device when the cooking device is
positioned in a first position relative to the burner assembly. The
cooking device can be moved for movement of the activation assembly to
allow flow of fuel from the fuel supply assembly to the burner assembly,
and the activation assembly signals the igniter to ignite the fuel into a
1. An on-demand cooking apparatus for use with a cooking device,
comprising: a housing; a fuel supply assembly; a burner assembly mounted
in the housing and operatively connected to the fuel supply assembly to
emit fuel; an igniter operatively connected to the burner assembly to
ignite the fuel into a flame; and an activation assembly configured for
operatively connecting to the burner assembly, the fuel supply assembly,
and the igniter, the activation assembly being configured to engage the
cooking device when the cooking device is positioned in a first position
relative to the burner assembly, so that the cooking device can be moved
for movement of the activation assembly to allow flow of fuel from the
fuel supply assembly to the burner assembly, and the activation assembly
signals the igniter to ignite the fuel into a flame.
2. The on-demand cooking device of claim 1, the activation assembly comprising: a bracket; an actuator valve operatively connected to the fuel supply assembly and the burner assembly, the actuator valve configured for actuation between and on position wherein fuel flows to the burner assembly and an off position wherein fuel does not flow to the burner assembly; wherein the actuator valve includes a biasing member that biases the actuator valve to the off position; a lever arm pivotally attached to the bracket and the actuator valve; a plunger rod pivotally connected to the lever arm; and a plunger attached to the plunger rod.
3. The on-demand cooking device of claim 1, the burner assembly comprising: a burner head defining a bore configured for receiving at least a portion of the activation assembly, and a plurality of apertures configured to emit fuel.
4. The on-demand cooking device of claim 1, the fuel supply assembly comprising: a fuel supply; a regulator operatively connected to the fuel supply; a manifold operatively connected to the regulator; and a control valve operatively connected to the manifold and configured for engagement by an operator for actuation of the control valve.
5. The on-demand cooking device of claim 1, the igniter comprising an electric spark generator.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This Non-Provisional application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/597,976 filed Feb. 13, 2012 and which is incorporated herein by reference.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
 Not Applicable.
 The present invention relates to an on demand cooking apparatus, and more particularly, to a gas cooking apparatus with a device for automatic ignition and shut-off of a burner.
 Gas cooking apparatus are commonly used in both commercial and residential applications, such as stoves, ranges, and hot plates. The operation of such cooking apparatus is typically controlled by control dials which allow cooks to adjust the flow of gas to individual burners and, thus, the flame intensity of each respective burner. While cooking, cooks frequently place and remove cooking appliances, such as pots and pans, onto and from the burners. Often, the cook does not timely engage the control dial to extinguish respective burners when removing cooking appliances. This is especially common in restaurant settings where the speed and volume of dishes prepared is high.
 Leaving burners on without any cooking appliances wastes fuel and is a safety hazard. Therefore, there is a need for an automatic ignition and shutoff device that turns a burner on when a cooking appliance is present and turns the burner off when the cooking appliance is not present without any engagement by a cook.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 In the accompanying drawings which form part of the specification:
 FIG. 1 is an exploded isometric view of an on-demand cooking apparatus;
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an on-demand cooking apparatus;
 FIG. 3 is an enlarged perspective view of the on-demand cooking apparatus;
 FIG. 4 is another enlarged perspective view of the on-demand cooking apparatus;
 FIG. 5 is a partially exploded isometric view of an activation assembly;
 FIG. 6 is a perspective section view of a plunger;
 FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of an on-demand cooking apparatus with an assembly bracket; and
 FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the assembly bracket mounted to the cooktop.
 Corresponding reference numerals indicate corresponding parts throughout the several figures of the drawings.
 The following detailed description illustrates the claimed invention by way of example and not by way of limitation. The description clearly enables one skilled in the art to make and use the disclosure, describes several embodiments, adaptations, variations, alternatives, and uses of the disclosure, including what is presently believed to be the best mode of carrying out the claimed invention. Additionally, it is to be understood that the disclosure is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangements of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The disclosure is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.
 As shown in FIGS. 1-5, an embodiment constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to as an on-demand cooking apparatus 10, includes a housing 12 shaped and sized to accommodate a plurality of burner assemblies 14. A fuel supply assembly 16 mounts within the housing 12 to operatively connect and regulate the flow of fuel from a fuel supply 18, such as natural gas or liquid propane gas, to each burner assembly 14. An activation assembly 20 operatively connects between the fuel supply assembly 16 and each burner assembly 14 to ignite or extinguish the burner assembly 14 based on the presence of a cooking appliance, such as a pot or pan, on the respective burner assembly 14.
 The housing 12 is generally rectangular with a bottom wall 21, sidewalls 22, a rear wall 24, a front control panel 26, and a cooktop 28, which are configured to accommodate four burner assemblies 14 and supported by feet 29. The cooktop 28 includes two removable brackets shaped and sized for supporting the activation assemblies 20 and burner assemblies 14. A removable drip tray 23 rests on the bottom wall 21. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the housing 12 can be configured to accommodate any number of burner assemblies 14. The housing 12 is preferably made from a corrosion resistant and heat resistant material, such as stainless steel. However, other materials can be substituted.
 The fuel supply assembly 16 comprises a regulator 30 operatively connected to the fuel supply 18 and a manifold 32 operatively connected to the regulator 30. Control valves 34 operatively connect to the manifold 32 and to respective activation assemblies 20 with supply lines 36. Dials 38 are operatively connected to respective control valves 34 for regulation of the flow of fuel to the respective activation assemblies 20. An operator rotates each dial 38 clockwise or counterclockwise to actuate the control valve 34 and increase or decrease the flow of fuel. Other control devices can be substituted for the dials 36, such as, electronic controls.
 Each burner assembly 14 includes a burner head 40 operatively connected to the activation assembly 20. The burner head 40 is generally an annular ring that defines a center bore 42 and a plurality of apertures 44 defined around an outside surface. The apertures 44 are shaped and sized to emit fuel for cooking/burning. The center bore 42 is sized and shaped to receive the upper parts of the activation assembly 20. The burner head 40 is preferably made from a metal material, such as brass or aluminum.
 A generally square grate 50 defines a generally annular opening 52 and an array of generally rectangular supports 54 that extend over the opening for support of cooking appliances. The grate 50 seats on the cooktop 28 so that the burner head 40 resides generally within the opening 52 and below the supports 54. The grate 50 can be any size and shape that supports a cooking appliance over the burner head for cooking.
 Each activation assembly 20 includes a generally S-shaped bracket 56 that is configured for mounting on the cooktop 28 for positioning the upper parts of activation assembly 20 generally in the center bore 42 of the burner assembly 14 (FIG. 5). The bracket 56 includes a generally C-shaped channel 58 that is generally vertically orientated, a generally horizontal and flat upper tab 60 extending perpendicularly from the upper edge of the channel 58, and a generally C-shaped lower tab 62 extending perpendicularly from the lower edge of the channel 58 in the opposite direction from the upper tab 60. Activation assembly 20 further comprises an actuator valve 64 that is mounted to the lower tab 62 and operatively connected to the supply line 36 and to the burner assembly 14 for actuation of the flow of the gas to the burner assembly between the "on" and "off" position. The valve 64 can have an "open" position that allows flow of gas from the supply line 36 to the burner assembly 14, and "closed" position which blocks the flow of gas from the supply line 36 to the burner assembly 14. The actuator valve 64 is preferably a piston valve, however, any suitable valve can be used such as a push button manual operation gas valve. However, other types of valves can be substituted, including, but not limited to a check-valve or shut-off valve. Valve 64 includes a biasing member, such as a spring, that biases the actuator upwardly to the "off" position. Assembly 20 further comprises a lever arm 66 is pivotally attached at one end to the channel 58, such as with a pin 68, along axis A-A, and pivotally attached at the opposite end to the lower end of a plunger rod 70, such as with a pin 72, along axis B-B. The actuator valve 64 pivotally connects to about the midpoint of the lever arm 66 so that the actuator valve 64 pivots the lever arm 66 upwardly and downwardly about axis A-A, in turn vertically raising and lowering the plunger rod 70.
 Assembly 20 further includes a plunger 73 attached to the upper end of the plunger rod 70. The plunger 73 has a generally hemispherically dome shaped section 74. Dome section 74 has a rounded hemispherically contoured upper surface 75 having a top surface 76 for contact with the bottom of a cooking device such as a skillet, pot, pan or the like. Dome section 74 has an annular planar outer bottom surface 74a.
 Depending from the lower part of dome section 74 is an annular skirt 76 which extends into a lower floor 77. Floor 77 has a generally annular lower surface 77a. A mounting plate 79 can be secured to the bottom floor surface 77a, as by a spot welding. Plate 79 has a central threaded bore 81 that receives the threaded upper end of plunger rod 70 to secure the plunger rod 70 to plunger 73. A lock nut 83 can be threadingly received about the threaded upper end of rod 70, and located so that its upper surface abuts the lower surface 85 of plate 79, to hold plunger 73 in a selected fixed position relative to rod 70. Plate 79 can have a cylinder extension 87 that extends upwardly through a circular central opening in floor 77, as shown in FIG. 6.
 Plate 79 could alternatively have a planar top surface without extension 87, and can be thicker than shown. Plate 79 can be of an oblong shape, or can have other shapes such as circular, rectangular or square. Preferably the dome section 74 and skirt 76 together constitute a unitary member, but alternatively they can be separate but integral pieces. Plate 79 can also alternatively be unitary with the floor 77.
 When the assembly 20 is installed, its bracket 56 is positioned relative to the cook top 28 so that the plunger 73 is located generally within the center bore 42 of burner head 40. When no force is exerted upon the plunger 73 the activation assembly 20 is in an "off" position with the plunger 73 positioned so that its upper surface 75 is located to have its top contact surface 76 above the plane of the grate 50. In such position the bottom 74a of dome section 74 is preferably generally level with the plane of the grate 50. When a cooking device such as a pot is placed to rest upon the dome top surface 76, the plunger rod 70 is forced downwardly and the plunger 73 is moved so that the top of the dome surface 76 is generally at the same level as the plane of the grate 50.
 The hemispherical shape of the plunger 74 allows a cooking device to contact and depress the plunger 74 downwardly to the "on" position at almost any angle. For instance, a cooking device can be placed vertically downward onto the plunger 74. Alternatively, a cooking device can slide horizontally across the faces of the adjacent grates 50, from one grate 50 to another grate 50, to contact the rounded plunger upper surface 75 of plunger 74. Due to the hemispherical shape of the plunger 73 dome surface 75, this horizontal contact will create a downward force vector to force the plunger 73 downwardly into the "on" position. Furthermore, any contact between the cooking device and the plunger 73 at any other angle will also force the plunger 74 downwardly into the "on" position. This wide range of engagement provides the operator with a greater degree of convenience when operating the on-demand cooking apparatus. The plunger dome section 74 preferably has the hemispherical shape illustrated, although other configurations could be used to accomplish the objective to allow the transmittal of downward force, such as a trapezoidal prism or a truncated pyramid shape, a generally hemi-ellipsoid shape, arch-shaped surface, or the like.
 An igniter 80 is mounted to the cooktop 28 for each burner assembly 14, and is positioned relative to the burner head 40 for ignition of the fuel into a flame. The igniter 80 is preferably an electric spark generator, such as a spark plug or electrode, which connects to an electrical supply. However, any suitable type of igniter can be used, such as a pilot light, which operatively connects to the manifold 32, such as with tubing 33 and connectors 35. The igniter 80 is operatively connected to the activation assembly 20, so that when the activation assembly 20 moves to the "on" position, the igniter 80 activates for ignition of the fuel into a flame.
 In an alternate embodiment shown in FIGS. 7-8, the on-demand cooking apparatus 10 includes an assembly bracket 90 mounted to the cooktop 28 and positioned to aid installation of the activation assembly 20. The bracket 90 is generally Z-shaped with a generally vertical middle section 91, a base 92 for mounting to the cooktop 28, such as with fasteners or welding, and an upper bracket section 94 defining a hole 96 for receiving the plunger rod 70. During assembly, the edge of the hole 96 generally supports and aids alignment of the plunger rod 70.
 In operation, the operator rotates the dial 36 to allow a selected flow of gas from the fuel supply 18 to the activation assembly 20. The operator places a cooking device such as a skillet, pot, pan or the like, onto a grate 50 over a selected burner assembly 14, so that the device engages a respective plunger 73. The cooking device moves the plunger 73 and plunger rod 70 downwardly to the "on" position, which in turn pivots the lever arm 66 downwardly and moves the actuator valve 64 to the on position to allow gas to flow to the burner assembly 14 and emit from the apertures 44 of the burner head 40. The activation assembly 20 signals the igniter 80 to ignite the emitting fuel into a flame. When the operator removes the cooking device from the grate 50, the valve biasing member moves to valve 64 to the "off" position, with the plunger 73 extended fully upwardly. The dial 36 can be rotated back to the "off" position if desired.
 Changes can be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the disclosure, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
Patent applications in class Safety attachments
Patent applications in all subclasses Safety attachments