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Graphene-drum pump and engine systems

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Graphene-drum pump and engine systems


The present invention relates to pump systems and engine systems having graphene drums. In embodiments of the invention, the graphene drum can be utilized in the main chambers and/or valves of the pumps and engines.

Browse recent Clean Energy Labs, LLC patents - Austin, TX, US
Inventor: Joseph F. Pinkerton
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120308415 - Class: 4174131 (USPTO) - 12/06/12 - Class 417 
Pumps > Motor Driven >Electric Or Magnetic Motor >Collapsible Wall Pump >Diaphragm Type

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120308415, Graphene-drum pump and engine systems.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to: provisional U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 61/301,209, filed on Feb. 4, 2010, entitled “Graphene-Drum Pump and Engine Systems,” which provisional patent application is each commonly assigned to the Assignee of the present invention and is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety for all purposes.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to pump systems and engine systems having graphene drums.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

Graphene membranes (also otherwise referred to as “graphene drums”) have been manufactured using process such as disclosed in Lee el al. Science, 2008, 321, 385-388. PCT Patent Appl. No. PCT/US09/59266 (Pinkerton) (the “PCT US09/59266 Application”) described tunneling current switch assemblies having graphene drums (which graphene drums generally having a diameter between about 500 nm and about 1500 nm). As described in the PCT US09/59266 Application, which is incorporated herein by reference, the graphene drum is capable of completely sealing the chamber formed by the graphene drum (i.e., the graphene drum provides a complete seal to fluids inside and outside the chamber). A graphene membrane is atomically thin.

In embodiments of the present invention, graphene drums are employed in pump systems and engine systems, such as to replace pistons and valves in conventional pumps and engines. Advantages of utilizing graphene drums (and other electrically conductive drums that are atomically thin) in such systems include: a. Higher power density (because graphene drum “piston/valves” can operate in the MHz range (i.e., at least about 1 MHz) instead of the approximately 100 Hz range of conventional pumps and engines). b. Higher efficiency (because graphene can withstand high temperatures and no oil is required for graphene diaphragm motion). c. Quiet operation (because an operating frequency in the MHz range is not perceived by humans). d. Smaller size, as compared to conventional pumps and engines. e. More precise fluid flow.

For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 7,008,193 (Najafi) (“the Najafi Patent”) is directed to a MEMS-fabricated microvacuum pump assembly that utilizes a diaphragm made of a metal with a polymer layer on each side that is not atomically thin. Accordingly, the pump assembly is limited to kHz operation (resulting in slow pump speed) and requires a relatively high voltage to actuate (to overcome the inertia and stiffness of a thick diaphragm). It is believed that, unlike graphene drums and other atomically thin, electrically conductive drums, the MEMS-fabricated microvacuum pump assembly of the Najafi Patent cannot maintain a high vacuum on one side. This would be disadvantageous because a vacuum enables a high electric field (and, thus, a high actuation force, between the gate and the diaphragm without arcing). The Najafi Patent also appears to be a high wear device because the pump and valve membranes of the MEMS-fabricated microvacuum pump assembly require repeated physical contact with other parts of the pump assembly to operate properly. This is disadvantageous compared to embodiments of the present invention in that the present invention does not require the graphene drum or other atomically thin, electrically conductive drum to come in contact with other parts of the pump to work.

As used herein, a “gaphene-drum pump system” is a pump system that utilizes one or more gaphene drums (such as a pump system that utilizes an array of graphene drums). A “graphene-drum pump” is a pump that utilizes a graphene drum, such as a pump that utilizes the graphene drum to displace the fluid during operation of the pump. A “graphene-drum engine system” is an engine system that utilizes one or more graphene drums (such as an engine system that utilizes an array of graphene drums). A “graphene-pump engine” is an engine that utilizes a graphene drum, such as an engine that utilizes a graphene drum to displace fluid during operation of the engine.

As a graphene drum may be between about 500 nm and about 1500 nm in diameter (i.e., around one micron in diameter), millions of graphene-drum pumps could fit on one square centimeter of a graphene-drum pump system or graphene-drum engine system. In other embodiments, the graphene drum may be between about 10 μm to about 20 μm) in diameter and have a maximum deflection between about 1 μm to about 3 μm (i.e., a maximum deflection that is about 10% to 15% of the diameter of the graphene drum). As used herein, “deflection” of the graphene drum is measured relative to the non-deflected graphene drum (i.e., the deflection of a non-deflected graphene drum is zero).

In some instances, it is advantageous to use two or more graphene membranes stacked on top of one another for use as a unit (such as for use as a diaphragm). Such a stack of two or more graphene membranes are referred to as a “multi graphene-membrane stack.” While each of the individual graphene membranes of a multi graphene-membrane stack is atomically thin, the multi graphene-membrane stack itself generally is not. For instance, a multi graphene-membrane stack of a dozen graphene membranes generally would have a thickness of about 4 nm.

Alternatively, other types of electrically conductive membranes (also referred to as “electrically conductive drums”) that are atomically thin may be utilized in lieu of graphene membranes in embodiments of the present invention, such as, for example, graphene oxide membranes. A stack of two or more electrically conductive membranes are referred to as a “multi electrically-conductive-membrane stack.”

Moreover, the electrically conductive membranes or the multi electrically-conductive-membrane stack may include a thin (i.e., several nanometers in thickness) protective coating to protect the electrically conductive membranes from oxidation or corrosive fluids. For instance, a protective coating of graphene oxide or tungsten can be applied to a graphene drum.

In general, in one aspect, the invention features a pump that includes a cavity having a diaphragm. The diaphragm is operable to change the volume capacity of the cavity. The pump further includes an upstream valve connected to the cavity. The upstream valve is operable to be in an open position such that fluid can flow through the upstream valve into the cavity. The upstream valve is also operable to be in a closed position such that fluid cannot flow through the upstream valve into the cavity. The pump further includes a downstream valve connected to the cavity. The downstream valve is operable to be in an open position such that fluid can flow from the cavity through the downstream valve. The downstream valve is also operable to be in a closed position such that fluid cannot flow from the cavity through the downstream valve. At least one of the cavity, upstream valve, or downstream valve of the pump includes an electrically conductive drum. The electrically conductive drum is atomically thin.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120308415 A1
Publish Date
12/06/2012
Document #
13577422
File Date
02/03/2011
USPTO Class
4174131
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
04B43/04
Drawings
10



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