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 The present invention relates to a steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner. More particularly, the present invention relates to a steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner which has great economical efficiency with a simple structure over the prior art, as well as which provides greater improvement in sterilization and cleaning, by adopting a steam-generating unit of chemical reaction.
 Conventionally, it is necessary to dust off or to wash carpets, sofas and bedcovers in order to clean such things, however, this kind of work is inconvenient to do. In order to overcome such a problem, a vacuum cleaner for sucking dust from objects to be cleaned is developed, but this also has little effect on the sterilization/disinfection and insect-killing. In this case, it is cumbersome to make sterilization by sunlight, and the sterilization effect is not quite satisfactory.
 In order to correct such a problem, a vacuum cleaner which can sterilize objects to be cleaned with ultraviolet rays or steam and can suck dust from the objects at the same time has been introduced. However, the ultraviolet vacuum cleaner has to include an expensive ultraviolet generator, which causes the price of the product to be raised. While, the steam vacuum cleaner includes an electric heater in order to generate steam. Accordingly, the steam vacuum cleaner has to include a safety device, a gauge and a manometer (or pressure gauge) additionally for cutting off electric power safely when there is no water in the heating unit and/or when pressure is higher than predetermined level. Therefore, this kind of steam vacuum cleaner not only has complicated and bulky structure, and not so good exterior appearance, but also the price thereof becomes too expensive.
 In addition, for the steam vacuum cleaner, it takes usually about 20 to 30 minutes from a heating start time to a generation time of steam of high temperature and high pressure, accordingly a user has to stand by during the time. Furthermore, the conventional steam vacuum cleaner has no function to generate oxygen and accordingly there is very little effect on the sterilization/disinfection and insect-killing. The steam vacuum cleaner also has great amount of power consumption due to the need of pre-heating power in order to heat water. Moreover, it is very inefficient to construct a spray unit so as to attach to or detach from the vacuum cleaner, because the steam from the vacuum cleaner is sprayed to objects to be cleaned in elliptical pattern, at a position spaced apart from a suction plate near a cleaner body.
 Therefore, the present invention is designed to overcome such problems, and it is an object of the present invention to provide a steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner which has great economical efficiency with a simple structure as well as provides greater improvement in sterilization and cleaning.
 In order to accomplish the above object, the invention provides a steam vacuum cleaner comprising a steam-generating unit for generating steam by chemical reaction, and a cleaning unit for spraying the generated steam to an object to be cleaned and sucking dust from the object, by combining the steam-generating unit with at least a part of the vacuum cleaner body.
 The steam-generating unit generates steam by chemical reaction between at least two carbon plates to which electric current is applied and a liquid solution. While, the liquid solution consists of an electrolytic solution having a boiling point higher than certain level, and preferably it can be saline water. The steam-generating unit preferably comprises a water tank of a certain shape for keeping the liquid solution therein with a water inlet and a steam outlet formed thereon; at least two carbon plates which are installed inside the water tank and spaced apart each other and to which electric current is applied; and a partition positioned between the carbon plates. The cleaning unit includes a steam spray unit for spraying the steam generated from the steam-generating unit toward an object to be cleaned. And, the steam spray unit is preferably installed attachably/detachably to a part of the cleaning unit. This attachable/detachable steam spray unit is realized by forming a spray plate for spraying the generated steam to the object to be cleaned in the same shape as the suction plate for sucking dust from the object to be cleaned, so that the spray plate can be attachable/detachable to a holder formed on at least one side of the suction plate.
 While, the cleaning unit includes an air discharge unit combined with a part of the cleaner body, and the air discharge unit makes the sucked dust pass through a certain kind of liquid for being filtered, thereby preferably discharging air with purity level higher than a certain standard outside of the cleaner.
 The above and other objects and features of the instant invention will become apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
 Hereinafter, the present invention will be described with reference to the drawings.
 In the
 The vacuum cleaner body
 The suction unit comprises a suction plate
 Next, an interior structure of the vacuum cleaner body will be described in detail, with reference to the
 In the meanwhile, the vacuum-generating unit for sucking dust from an object to be cleaned and/or the air discharge unit are known generally, and it is easily possible for those skilled in the art to realize such embodiments, accordingly, the detailed description thereof will not described further.
 According to an embodiment of the invention, a steam-generating unit provided at the front of the inside of the vacuum cleaner body
 The steam-generating unit of aforementioned construction generates steam by chemical reaction, and operation principle thereof is as follows. First, weak electric current is applied to two carbon plates
 An electrically non-conductible partition
 In addition, it is possible to use small amount of salt once dissolved in the water continuously because the salt dissolved in the water does not evaporate by such a chemical reaction. Therefore, only water is need to be fed through the water inlet
 Now, the operation of the steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner according to the present invention of the constructions shown in the
 While, if the user turns on the water tank switch S provided on the top surface of the vacuum cleaner body
 Especially, a chemical reaction is used for generating steam in the steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner of the present invention, so that electric power supplied to the steam-generating unit is automatically cut off when the water in the steam-generating unit is entirely evaporated. Accordingly, the present vacuum cleaner doesn't have to include additionally a safety device, a guage and manometer for cutting off electric power as in the conventional steam vacuum cleaner including an electric heater as a heating unit. Therefore, it is possible to lower the cost of the products by reducing the number of components, while keeping safer state in use over the prior art. In addition, the present vacuum cleaner has attractive appearance because it is not necessary to include such components at an exterior part of the vacuum cleaner. Furthermore, the conventional steam vacuum cleaner of heating type needs about 20 to 30 minutes to heat water and generate steam, however, it is proven in the experiment that the present steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner can generate steam of high temperature and high pressure within
 In the meanwhile, it is also possible to incorporate an air purification and discharge unit according to the present invention into the above-described preferred embodiment of the invention. More specifically, the air purification and discharge unit(not shown) comprises a vessel supported by the body for keeping a solution (preferably, water) therein inside the duct-collecting room
 In another variation, it is possible to compensate possible temperature loss during the passage through the steam discharge hose
 In yet another variation, the operation switch
 It is also obvious that the present steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner can be used as a domestic steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner and/or an industrial one within the scope of the present invention, by varying the size and capacity of the vacuum cleaner having above-described constructions, and accordingly the detailed description thereof will not be made further.
 Other variations that can be made within the scope of the present invention described above are as follows.
 Carbon plates
 The water tank
 A steam spray opening
 The steam of high temperature and high pressure can be used effectively because the steam generated from the steam vessel
 The reference numeral
 As described above, the steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner according to the present invention can improve economical efficiency with a simple structure over the prior art, by adopting a steam-generating unit of chemical reaction. In addition, the present invention provides greater improvement in sterilization and cleaning effect. Accordingly, it is obvious to those skilled in the art that the steam-sterilizing vacuum cleaner of the present invention would be great successful on the market.
 Although the preferred embodiments of the invention have been disclosed for illustrative purposes, those skilled in the art will appreciate that various modifications, additions and substitutions are possible, without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as disclosed in the accompanying claims.