Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number US 11867424 B1) for a “Thermal Control System” for an Apple Car.
About the patent
In the patent Apple notes that heating a vehicle can be difficult when excess, waste, or by-product heat is limited. Some systems use positive-temperature coefficient (PTC) heaters with ceramic components that vary in electrical resistance depending on operational temperatures. What’s more, high current levels and high power consumption are required to operate PTC heaters in cold temperature environments, expending high levels of energy.
In a thermal control system using a heat pump, working fluid such as refrigerant in a thermal loop can be forced through a cycle of evaporation or heating to absorb heat then condensation or cooling to release heat. Air warmed by the released heat can be directed for warming before exiting, for example, through an exhaust path or recirculation path.
However, Apple thinks it can do better. Its idea is for a thermal control system that can combine heat reclamation with a heat-pump configuration to lower power consumption, especially when operating in cold ambient temperatures. Reclaiming or collecting heat that would otherwise be lost can be accomplished by positioning a heat exchanger such as an evaporator in an exhaust flow path that directs exhaust airflow to exit a vehicle cabin.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A thermal control system includes a housing defining an intake flow path for travel of intake airflow and an exhaust flow path for travel of exhaust airflow. An intake door is disposed along the intake flow path and has first and second positions blocking and allowing intake airflow through the intake door.
“An exhaust door is disposed along the exhaust flow path and has first and second positions blocking and allowing exhaust airflow through the exhaust door. A mode door is disposed in the housing between the intake flow path and the exhaust flow path with a first position blocking the intake airflow and allowing the exhaust airflow to pass through a heat exchanger, a second position blocking the exhaust airflow and allowing the intake airflow to pass through the heat exchanger, and a third position allowing the intake airflow and the exhaust airflow to pass through the heat exchanger.”
When might we see an Apple Car?
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that Apple’s work on the Apple Car has “lost all visibility at the current time. He has noted that if Apple does not adopt some kind of acquisition strategy to make inroads in the automotive market, it is unlikely that the Apple Car will be able to go into mass production “within the next few years.”
On. Nov. 18, 2021, Bloomberg reported that Apple was accelerating development on its “Apple Car.” The article said that the electric vehicle will be self-driving and could roll out in 2025. However, this doesn’t look like a feasible scenario.