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Патент USA US2106750

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Feb. 1, 1938.
Filed May 31, 1934
Patented Feb. 1, 1938
Nicholas E. Koch, Los Angeles, Calif.
Application May 31, 1934, Serial No. 728,459
13 Claims. .(Cl. 220—85)
My invention relates, in one respect, to an ap
paratus assembly by which an inert gas may be
contained in the upper part of a fuel tank in
which the fuel or gases from the fuel are apt to
5 develop with air, an explosive mixture.
A use for my invention is in connection with
fuel tanks used to supply internal combustion
engines in which usually, as the liquid fuel is
used from the tank, the upper portion of the tank
)0‘ becomes ?lled with air. This air with the vapors
given off by the fuel, frequently forms an ex
plosive mixture, which, if it explodes, will not
only destroy the tank and ignite the vapor, vbut
also probably ignite the fuel spread in the ex
plosion. Usually such tanks have an air vent
to allow in?ow of air as the liquid fuel is drawn
out of the tank.
An object and feature of my invention as re
gar-(ls the fuel tanks for supply of internal com
00 bustion engines is in ?owing part of the exhaust
gases of the engine into and through the fuel 7
tank adjacent the top in order to prevent entry
of air. This provides an inert gas in the top of
the fuel tank. When using my invention, the
?ller opening should have an air-tight cap.
Another feature of my invention in order to
prevent any ?ames from the exhaust gases from
reaching the tank is the employment of screens
preferably of ?ne mesh wire which will stop any
30 ?amesfrom reaching the contents of the tank.
Another use of my invention is‘ in preparing
fuel tanks for welding operations, or the like. It
has been found that even if the liquid fuel is
at ‘the tank discharge. When this test ?ame dies
out or the torch ?ame is blown out by the non
combustible gases from the tank, the tank may
be considered as safe for welding or similar oper
ations in which a ?ame or an electric arc is
Ol I
applied to the tank.
My invention is illustrated in the accompany
ing drawing, in which:
Fig. 1 is a perspective drawing somewhat in
diagram of the use of my invention in connection 10
with a fuel tank for maintaining an incombus
tible gas in the tank.
Fig. 2 is a perspective drawing in diagram
showing the application of my invention to an
empty fuel tank to be welded or the like in 15
which an inert gas is blown through the tank.
Fig. 3 is a longitudinal section on the line 37-3
of Fig. 1 through the ?ame trap.
Fig. 4 is a longitudinal section through the by
pass to the fuel tank of Fig. 1.
Referring first to the construction of Fig. 1, a
fuel tank is indicated by the numeral II. This
may be of an ordinary type used in connection
with supplying fuel for internal combustion en
gines and is illustrated as having a filler cap l2
which forms an air tight seal at the ?ller open
ing. The upper portion of the tank is provided
with a pipe ?tting I3, this being preferably at
one end and in the top and adjacent the other
end there is an outlet pipe ?tting I4. The ex
haust pipe from an internal combustion engine
is indicated at l5 having an open exhaust end
16. To this pipe there is connected a by-pass
apparently completely drawn out of the fuel tank pipe ll, the connection being by means of a T _
35 ‘that it is still dangerous to attempt to weld a . type of ?tting l8. In‘this T ?tting a by-pass 35
tank while there is air in such tank, as this air
mixing with any residual vapors or vapors aris
ing from fuel absorbed in the pores of the metal
of the tank, sometimes causes explosions. There?
fore, a further use of my ‘invention is in ?lling
empty fuel tanks with an inert gas and passing
this inert gas through the tank a su?cient pe
riod of time to form a non-combustible mixture
in the tank. I ?nd a ready means to supply the
45 inert gas is by using the explosion products of
combustion of an internal combustion engine,
forcing such exhaust gases in the tank through
the ?ller opening and driving the waste gases
through a discharge on another portion of the
50 tank. In this case, I preferably use screens of
a wire mesh fabric on the infeeding pipes and
the pipe provided for the out?ow. The screen on
the out?ow pipe is provided so that a test of the
gas to determine if it has combustible matter
is made by a torch, or the like, or a test ?ame
valve I9 is used. This valve has a seat 20 and
a valve ?ap 2| pivoted at 22 and having an oper
ating handle 23 for turning the flap to a desired
position to secure the amount of by-pass products
of combustion required.
‘ In order to prevent a ?ame from the exhaust
of an internal combustion engine reaching the
tank I utilize a ?ame trap designated by the as
sembly numeral 24. This trap is connected in
the by-pass pipe‘ i1 and comprises a shell 25 held 45
between a pair of collars 26, these collars being
secured to the pipe 11, and in this shell there is a
holder tube 21 with a plurality of transverse
screens 28.
These screens are preferably-made
of a wire mesh fabric. In order to cool the ?ame
trap a series of fins 29 are secured to the outside
of a shell. The exhaust gases, after passing
through the tank, are discharged through the exv
haust pipe l4’ connected to the pipe ?tting I 4.
In the operation of my invention to supply a 55
2,106,750 ‘
noncombustible, that is, an inert gas, in the upper buretor the engine will cease operation, thus
portion of the fuel tank instead of allowing air to showing that the vtank is?lled with an inert gas.
?ll in this tank as.-the fuel is exhausted, a small
A test of the gas discharged at 35 may also
amount only of the exhaust gases need be passed be made by means of a torch which, when held
through the tank and the connection should be close to the waste gas outlet, will be blown out
through the upper portion of the tank above the when the inert‘ gases blow through the tank, 5
fuel level.
and when the tank is properly“v ?lled with inert
Ordinarily, a liquid fuel tank is provided with ‘gases it is safe to perform a welding ‘operation
a small air inlet opening, usually in the closure
10 cap, to allow entry of air, as the liquid fuel is
used, but this air with the vapors from the oil
fuel are apt to form an explosive mixture.
.is prevented by my invention. The by-pass ?ap
valve 2| may be regulated so that the desired
16 portion of the exhaust from the internal combus
tion engine exhausting through the pipe l5'may
be forced into the top of the tank through the
?tting l3 and the surplus inert gas over that nec
essary to take the place of the fuel used by the
engine is exhausted through the pipe ?tting l4
and outlet pipe M’,
The ?ame trap 24, as shown in detail in Fig.
3, prevents any ?ame which may be blown
through the'pipe l5 and by-pass pipe I1 enter
Various changes may be made in the details 10
of construction without departing from the spirit
or scope of the invention as de?ned in the ap
vI claim: »
1. In a device as described, a fuel tank having 15
a ?ller opening with a closure means therefor,
an inlet pipe connected to an upper portion of
the tank, said tank having an outlet adjacent
an upper portion and remote from the inlet
pipe, an exhaust pipe adapted for connection to 20
an internal combustion engine and‘ having a dis
charge opening, the inlet pipe being connected to
the exhaust pipe, and a by-pass valve to by-pass
a portion of the exhaust gases from the exhaust
ing the fuel tank; and in order to .maintain pipe through the inlet pipe to the tank.
the screens cool, and also to cool the exhaust'
.2. In a device as claimed in claim 1, a closure
gases entering the tank I employ the cooling ?ns plug for. the tank forming a closure after re
29 or an equivalent cooling mechanism.
<moval of the inlet pipe, a pipe insertable through
In Fig. 2 I illustrate my invention as applied
80 to ?lling a tank designated ‘by the numeral 30
which is to have a welding or other job per
formed thereon. As above mentioned, it is
sometimes difficult even after emptying a liquid
‘ fuel tank or a tank which has had'a combusti-'
ble fuel to thoroughly exhaust the explosive gas
or vapors in the tank and,_therefore, it is dan
gerous to weld such tanks until there is assur
ance that there is nojexplosive mixture in the
_ tank. (I found that a simple manner of ?lling
the tank withan inert gas is to use a ?lling
pipe 3| which receives the exhaust of an internal
combustion engine. This pipe has a discharge
end 32 which is inserted through the ?lling
‘opening 33 of the tank after removal of the clo
451 sure cap. The same ?ame arresteror ?ame trap
24 is used as in connection with Fig. 1 although
in this case, as it is immaterial whether or not
the gas is hot, the cooling ?ns would be omitted.
At the exhaust end I also preferably use a ?ame
50 arrester 34 which may be of the same construc- '
tion as the ?ame trap 24 but the cooling ?ns
In the operation of the construction of Fig. 2,
/on the tank.
after the' fuel tank is ‘emptied of all fuel the ex
haust gases from an internal combustion engine
are blown through the tank for a period of time
until it is judged that the air and any explosive
gas or vapors in the tank have been exhausted.
A test may be made by initially ignitingthe air
60 and vapors blown from the ?ame, trap. 34 at its
outlet end 35 and this» gas and ?ame will burn
as long as a combustible mixture is being forced
out of the tank but when the exhaust gases com
mence to ?ow through the pipe l4’ and the
?ame arrester 34 'the ?ame is extinguished.
The object of the ?ame‘ trap on the outlet is
to prevent the test ?ame from working into the
tank and causing an explosion.
Another wayrof testing to ?nd if» the tank‘ has
70 an inert mixture therein is by connecting a hose
on the outlet 35 and-taking this to the air inlet
of the carburetor of a gasoline or equivalent
engine. While air is being drawn from the
' tank ‘the engine will keep going but when the
inert used gases enter the air intake of ‘the car
the ?ller opening of the tank, said pipe being
connected to the exhaust of an internal corn,
bustion engine.
3. In the method of rendering a fuel tank n0}:
explosive, comprising exhausting the major por
tion of the exhaust gases of ‘an internal come
bustion engine'to atmosphere and by-passing a 85
minor portion of said gases through the upper
part of a fuel tank to' atmosphere to thereby ex
haust the explosive gases in the tank or to dilute
such gases a sufficient amount to prevent an ex
4. In the method as claimed in claim 3, cooling
the by-pass exhaust gases prior to ?owing such
gases into the tank.
5. In the method of rendering a fuel tank non
explosive, comprising emptying the fuel tank of
fuel, then ?owing an inert non-explosive gas non
condensable at ordinary temperatures and pres
sures into one portion of the tank and out of a
remote portion to thereby fill the tank with a
non-explosive gas.
6. In the method of preparing fuel'tanks for
welding, a'preliminary step of rendering such fuel
tank non-explosive, comprising, emptying the fuel,
tank of fuel then ?owing an inert non-explosive
gas which is non-condensable at ordinary tem 55
peraturesand pressures into one portion of the
tank and out of a remote portion thereof, and
continuing ?owing such inertgas until all of the
combustible vapors have either been 'removed
from the tank or so diluted as to render the mix- '30
ture in the tank non-explosive.
7. In the method of preparing liquid fuel tanks
for welding, the preliminary step of emptying
such tank of liquid fuel then ?owing non-ex-‘
plosive gases resulting from combustion into the 65
tank at one portion thereof, and exhausting the
vapors of the tank and the products of combus
tion gasat' a remote portion of the tank to there
by fill the tank with non-explosive gases derived
from_ the products of combustion or by such
gases, to dilute the fuel vapors ‘in the tank to
‘render the same non-explosive.
8. In a device as described, a fuel tank having
an outlet for vapors located above the high level
of fuel in the tank when the tank has its maximum 73
supply of fuel, said outlet having a ?ame ex
tinguisher incorporated therein, means to dis
charge the exhaust gases of an internal combus
tion engine in one portion of the tank and cir
culate such gases and discharging the exhaust
gases with residual vapors or fuel through the
outlet and thereby through the ?ame extin
9. In a device as described, a fuel tank having
a ?ller opening with a closure cap, an opening
in the tank having an exhaust pipe from an in- _
ternal combustion engine ?tted therein, an out
let from the tank located above the normal high
level of fuel, whereby exhaust gases may be cir
culated through the tank above the level of the
fuel therein and such exhaust gases with vapors
from the fuel discharged through the said outlet.
10. ‘In a device as claimed in claim 9, the ex
haust pipe from the internal combustion engine
having a ?ame arrester therein and cooling ?ns
on the outside of the pipe to arrest any?ame in
the exhaust gases and to cool such gases prior
to entrance into the tank.
11. In a device as claimed in claim 9, a sealing
B5 plug attached to the tank opening in place of the
exhaust pipe, the ?ller cap being removed and
the exhaust pipe from the engine inserted there
in, the outlet from the tank having a ?ame ex
tinguisher whereby exhaust gases may be cir
culated through the tankand carry the residual
fuel vapors through the outlet and the ?ame
extinguisher at the outlet.
12. In a device as described, a liquid fuel tank
having a gas outlet with a ?ame extinguisher
thereon, and means to ?ow the exhaust gases 10
from an internal combustion engine into another
portion of the tank to circulate such gases
through the tank and discharge at the said
13. In the method of preparing liquid fuel tanks
for welding as claimed in claim 7, cooling the
products of ‘combustion gases prior to their en
tering into the tank to increase their density
thereby causing the entering gases to flow to the
bottom of the tank and displace Vapors of the 20
liquid fuel in the tank upwardly, the vapors
from the tank and the products of combustion
being exhausted from an upper portion of the
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