Mueller Industries has been granted a patent for a valve assembly that includes a valve body with a cylindrical passage, an inlet port, and two outlet ports. The assembly also features a cylindrical valve spool that can be moved along the axis to control fluid communication between the inlet and outlet ports. GlobalData’s report on Mueller Industries gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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Mueller Industries's grant share as of September 2023 was 78%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Valve assembly with movable valve spool for fluid communication

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Mueller Industries Inc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11719349B2) describes a valve assembly and a refrigeration system incorporating this valve assembly. The valve assembly comprises a valve body with a cylindrical passage and multiple ports, including an inlet port and two outlet ports. The assembly also includes a cylindrical valve spool that can move along the longitudinal axis of the valve body. The valve spool is engaged with the valve body through circumferential seal arrangements, allowing it to be positioned in three different states: a first position where the inlet port is connected to the first outlet port but not the second outlet port, a second position where the inlet port is connected to the second outlet port but not the first outlet port, and an intermediate position where the inlet port is connected to both outlet ports.

The valve assembly further includes a linear drive, such as an axial drive stepper motor, which can selectively position the valve spool in the desired state. The valve spool is also equipped with a dowel pin that connects it to the linear drive. As the valve spool moves into the first position, it engages an additional circumferential seal arrangement, and as it moves out of the first position, it disengages this seal arrangement.

The valve body of the assembly has circumferential grooves that accommodate the circumferential seal arrangements, which consist of O-rings and rectangular cross-section seal rings, made from PTFE. The first outlet port is closer to the inlet port than the second outlet port, and both outlet ports are positioned 180 degrees apart from each other with respect to the longitudinal axis.

In addition to the valve assembly, the patent also describes a refrigeration system that incorporates this valve assembly. The refrigeration system includes the valve assembly, along with a linear drive to control the position of the valve spool. When the valve spool is in either the first or second position, it is directly engaged with a third circumferential seal arrangement in addition to the other seal arrangements.

Overall, this patent presents a valve assembly and refrigeration system that allow for precise control of fluid flow in a refrigeration system, providing flexibility in directing the flow between different outlets. The design of the valve assembly ensures effective sealing and reliable operation.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.