Title:
PAPER CURRENCY CLEANSING/RECONDITIONING/SANITIZING SYSTEM AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A paper currency method and system, which is comprised of multi-stages of sections or areas for cleaning and/or sanitizing/and or drying with input and output to receive and dispense. A roller and conveyor, opposed to each other with pressure fluid or air jets, remove dirt, oils, and other foreign matter from the currency. When desired by the end user, the currency passes through a sanitation section using a sanitation solution to effectively kill viral and fungal organisms. After the cleaning processes is complete, the currency passes through a drying portion using squeezing rollers, high-pressure air and heat to remove moisture and to complete the reconditioning process.



Inventors:
Wetherell, Bruce B. (Clearwater, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/135566
Publication Date:
12/10/2009
Filing Date:
06/09/2008
Assignee:
THERMAL STERILIZATION SPECIALTIES, INC. (Clearwater, FL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
162/100
International Classes:
D06G1/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
HUG, JOHN ERIC
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DENNIS G. LAPOINTE (DENNIS G. LAPOINTE, PATENT ATTORNEY 1500 County Road 1 Lot 257, DUNEDIN, FL, 34698, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for cleaning paper currency comprising: a washing portion having a first and a second washing section; a drying portion downstream of said washing portion; said washing portion having a first belt portion in said first washing section with a plurality of opposing rows of driven rollers in a predetermined staggered pattern, and a second belt portion in said second washing section with a second plurality of opposing rows of driven rollers in a predetermined staggered pattern, said second belt portion and its opposing driven rollers being in an inverted orientation from said first belt portion and its opposing driven rollers, wherein paper currency is fed and distributed on said first belt portion for conveyance through said first and second washing sections to clean one side of said paper currency in said first washing section and an opposite side of said paper currency in said second washing section; means for holding said paper currency in place on said first and second belt portions; means for spraying a cleaning solution on said paper currency as said paper currency travels on said first and second belt portions in said washing portion; a meshed belt conveyance portion on which said paper currency passes from said washing portion onto said meshed belt conveyance portion; and means for drying and for reconditioning said paper currency as it passes on said meshed belt conveyance portion.

2. The system according to claim 1, wherein said means for drying and for reconditioning said paper currency as it passes on said meshed belt conveyance portion comprises one of: a plurality of air wiper nozzles directed from above and below said meshed belt conveyance portion, with pressured air, for removing excess moisture from said cleaned paper currency; a plurality of heated air nozzles having means for directing forced heated air on both sides of the paper currency; one or more pressure rollers configured to squeeze said paper currency against a surface of said meshed belt conveyance portion for removing moisture and wrinkles from said paper currency; or any combination thereof.

3. The system according to claim 1, wherein said first and second belt portions include two or more grooves running longitudinally on each of said first and second belt portions.

4. The system according to claim 3, wherein said means for holding said paper currency in place on said first and second belt portions comprises an array of a plurality of guide rods, wherein a designated portion of said guide rods adjacent a transition area of said first and second belt portions are aligned with said two or more grooves in said first and second belt portions so as to allow corresponding guide rods adjacent said transition area to be located within said two or more grooves for facilitating the conveyance of the currency from said first washing section to said second washing section and from said second washing section to said meshed belt conveyance portion.

5. The system according to claim 1, wherein said driven rollers of said first and second plurality of opposing rows of driven rollers are grooved rollers.

6. The system according to claim 1, further comprising: a sanitizing portion downstream of said washing portion and said drying portion, said sanitizing portion having said meshed belt conveyance portion continue from said drying portion through said sanitizing portion; means for misting a sanitizing solution on both sides of said paper currency as said paper currency travels on said meshed belt conveyance portion continuing from said drying portion.

7. The system according to claim 1, further comprising: means for storing said cleaning solution and pumping said cleaning solution through a plurality of spray nozzles at a desired pressure; and means for collecting sprayed cleaning solution.

8. The system according to claim 7, further comprising: means for filtering collected sprayed cleaning solution and recycling said filtered cleaning solution for re-use.

9. The system according to claim 6, further comprising: means for storing said sanitizing solution and pumping said sanitizing solution through a plurality of misting nozzles at a desired pressure; and means for collecting misted sanitizing solution.

10. The system according to claim 9, further comprising: means for filtering residually collected misted sanitizing solution and recycling said filtered misted sanitizing solution for re-use.

11. The system according to claim 7, further comprising means for controlling a temperature of said cleaning solution.

12. The system according to claim 9, further comprising means for controlling a temperature of said sanitizing solution.

13. The system according to claim 2, where said one or more pressure rollers further comprise means for heating said one or more pressure rollers.

14. A method for cleaning paper currency comprising: washing paper currency to be cleaned in a washing portion of a paper currency cleaning system, said washing portion having a first and a second washing section; drying said cleaned paper currency in a drying portion downstream of said washing portion; and passing said cleaned and dried paper currency from said drying portion onto a meshed belt conveyance portion, wherein said washing portion having a first belt portion in said first washing section with a plurality of opposing rows of driven rollers in a predetermined staggered pattern, and a second belt portion in said second washing section with a second plurality of opposing rows of driven rollers in a predetermined staggered pattern, said second belt portion and its opposing driven rollers being in an inverted orientation from said first belt portion and its opposing driven rollers, wherein paper currency is fed and distributed on said first belt portion for conveyance through said first and second washing sections to clean one side of said paper currency in said first washing section and an opposite side of said paper currency in said second washing section, wherein said system further comprises means for holding said paper currency in place on said first and second belt portions, wherein said washing portion further comprises means for spraying a cleaning solution on said paper currency as said paper currency travels on said first and second belt portions in said washing portion, and wherein said system further comprises means for drying and for reconditioning said paper currency as it passes on said meshed belt conveyance portion.

15. The method according to claim 14, wherein said means for drying and for reconditioning said paper currency as it passes on said meshed belt conveyance portion comprises one of a plurality of air wiper nozzles directed from above and below said meshed belt conveyance portion, with pressured air, for removing excess moisture from said cleaned paper currency; a plurality of heated air nozzles having means for directing forced heated air on both sides of the paper currency; one or more pressure rollers configured to squeeze said paper currency against a surface of said meshed belt conveyance portion for removing moisture and wrinkles from said paper currency; or any combination thereof.

16. The method according to claim 14, wherein said first and second belt portions include two or more grooves running longitudinally on each of said first and second belt portions.

17. The method according to claim 16, wherein said means for holding said paper currency in place on said first and second belt portions comprises an array of a plurality of guide rods, wherein a designated portion of said guide rods adjacent a transition area of said first and second belt portions are aligned with said two or more grooves in said first and second belt portions so as to allow corresponding guide rods adjacent said transition area to be located within said two or more grooves for facilitating the conveyance of the currency from said first washing section to said second washing section and from said second washing section to said meshed belt conveyance portion.

18. The method according to claim 14, wherein said driven rollers of said first and second plurality of opposing rows of driven rollers are grooved rollers.

19. The method according to claim 14, further comprising: sanitizing said cleaned and dried paper currency in a sanitizing portion downstream of said washing portion and said drying portion, said sanitizing portion having said meshed belt conveyance portion continue from said drying portion through said sanitizing portion; means for misting a sanitizing solution on both sides of said paper currency as said paper currency travels on said meshed belt conveyance portion continuing from said drying portion.

20. The system according to claim 19, further comprising one of: controlling a temperature of said cleaning solution using means for controlling said temperature of said cleaning solution; controlling a temperature of said sanitizing solution using means for controlling said temperature of said sanitizing solution, and any combination thereof.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a paper currency cleaning, reconditioning and sterilization system and associated methodology and more particularly pertains to killing viral and fungal microorganisms on paper currencies and/or cleaning dirty paper currency and ultimately reconditioning the currency for longer use.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

While prior art devices for cleaning paper currency exist and fulfill their respective objectives and/or requirements, such devices generally do not provide for a paper currency sterilization system that allows killing viral and fungal microorganisms on paper currencies. U.S. Pat. No. 6,946,106 to Masyada is a device that provides for sterilization but is extremely complex and expensive to build and operate, and requires much maintenance. Prior art devices are generally known to consist basically of familiar, expected, and obvious structural configurations not withstanding the myriad of designs encompassed by the crowded prior art, which has been developed for the fulfillment of countless objectives and requirements. While these devices fulfill their respective, particular objections and requirements, they do not describe paper currency reconditioning with the cleaning and sterilization process as described herein.

In this respect, the paper currency system according to the present invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in doing so provides an apparatus primarily developed for the purpose of cleaning dirty and soiled paper currency as well as for the purpose of killing viral and fungal microorganisms on paper currencies, wherein the apparatus or system is simpler and less expensive to build and operate, and requires less maintenance.

The present invention further as an objective addresses needs in the following areas:

Health issues are decreased due to handling clean and sterilized currency;

As for National and International Security, the sterilization process will be necessary in dealing with bio-terrorism, either as a preventative or recovery effort, should currency be used in terrorist attack;

Life expectancy of currency substantially increases by cleaning and reconditioning; and

Currency handling equipment will have substantially less downtime due to dirt jamming the equipment.

Therefore, it can be appreciated that there exists a continuing need for clean, reconditioned, sterilized and improved paper currency condition, and the present invention substantially fulfills this need.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the prior art paper cleaning devices of known designs and configurations, the present invention provides a new and improved currency cleaning, sanitizing and reconditioning system over current art in one operation. This system will show none of the disadvantages of the prior art.

To attain this, the present invention comprises a method of cleaning a paper currency through a washing portion or section of a paper currency cleaning system. The currency notes ride on a grooved belt with opposing individually grooved driver rollers in a staggered pattern to accomplish 100% exposure of the notes on the side being cleaned. The currency can be fed narrow end first or wide end first and in a single or dual or other multiple side by side orientation as desired and depending on the width of the system when fabricated. The grooved belt is to accommodate in the transition area of belts segments within the system, guide rods. These guide rods are typically round non-corrosive, stainless steel or equal guide rods that hold the currency on the belt between the driver rollers as it moves from roller to roller through the washing section. Between the staggered rollers, there are high pressure staggered nozzles that spray a cleaning solution, which may be optionally heated, suitable for cleaning paper currency from the wash section onto the top of the notes to wash away dirt, oils, and other contaminates on one side.

After a designated length of belting, the notes pass through the second cleaning area or section that has the same specially developed inverted belt, roller, and staggered spray nozzle system, which duplicate the first area cleaning process. The purpose of the whole conveyor section being inverted is to accomplish 100% cleaning of the currency on the opposite side of the notes yet to be cleaned. As noted above, the cleaning solution can be heated if desired. This cleaning area is self-contained to repeatedly reuse the solution. This is accomplished by filtering the solution through a reservoir before passing it through the high pressure pump back to the cleaning nozzles.

This self-contained washing system is to minimize servicing of the device and is controlled by an operating panel. This panel measures pump pressures to determine the filter and cleaning solution replacement cycle. The cleaning solution may optionally be thermally controlled as well from an operating panel.

The plurality of guide rods are arranged in a staggered array and are oriented and located so as to hold the currency in place against the conveyor belt as the currency is passed through the invention cleaning system.

The notes, after passing through the washing section, are transferred to a mesh belt to expose both sides of the notes. The stages of drying process from both sides are:

a. Air wiper nozzles with pressured air remove excess moisture;

b. Squeeze rollers further remove more moisture from the notes; and

c. Heated air nozzles direct forced heated air on both sides of the notes.

The notes then enter the sanitization area of the system and pass over mesh belting, where the notes are misted on both sides with a sanitizing solution through low pressure nozzles to give the notes 100% coverage. This sanitization area is also self-contained and filtered to help prolong the solution use and service cycle.

Finally, the notes pass through another high pressure air wiper to remove moisture, and then through high pressure rollers to recondition the notes such as to remove wrinkles and folds. The notes are then deposited into a collection box (not shown).

Feeding/loading and receiving/collecting stackers or boxes are known in the art and are commercially available from companies such as National Cash Register (NCR) and are therefore not depicted in the drawings which descriptions follow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a conceptual perspective view of the washing portion and drying portion of the present invention system;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the depiction of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a rear isometric view of the FIG. 1 depiction showing an example of a gear train mechanism that drives the system conveyors;

FIG. 4 is a rear view of the depiction of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the FIG. 1 depiction with the front face removed to generally show an example of the internal components of the washing portion of the present invention;

FIG. 6A is a partial exploded view to conceptually depict one of the cleaning solution spray nozzles between driven rollers of the first portion of the washing portion of the invention;

FIG. 6B is a partial exploded view to conceptually depict one of the cleaning solution spray nozzles between driven rollers of the second portion of the washing portion of the invention;

FIG. 6C is a partial exploded view to conceptually depict the air wiper/air nozzles in the transition after the washing portion is completed;

FIG. 6D is a partial exploded view to conceptually depict the heated air nozzles and the pressure rollers portion of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the combination washing and sanitizer portions of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a front view of the depiction of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a rear isometric view of the FIG. 7 depiction showing an example of a gear train mechanism that drives the system conveyors;

FIG. 10 is a rear view of the depiction of FIG. 7;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the FIG. 7 depiction with the front face removed to generally show an example of the internal components of the washing and sanitizing portions of the present invention;

FIG. 12A is a partial exploded view to conceptually depict the sanitizing solution spray nozzles in the sanitizing portion of the invention;

FIG. 12B is a partial exploded view to conceptually depict an optional second set of heated air nozzles and pressure rollers after the sanitizing phase of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, FIGS. 1-5 and 6A-6D disclose a system for cleaning paper currency, which is depicted generally as 10.

The present invention 10 comprises a washing portion 12 having a first washing section 12a and a second washing section 12b, and drying portion 14 downstream of the washing portion 12. The washing portion 12 has a first belt portion 16a in the first washing section 12a with a plurality of opposing rows of driven rollers 18a in a predetermined staggered pattern, and a second belt portion 16b in the second washing section 12b with a second plurality of opposing rows of driven rollers 18b in a predetermined staggered pattern. The second belt portion 16b and its opposing driven rollers 18b are in an inverted orientation from the first belt portion 16a and its opposing driven rollers 18a. The driven rollers 18a, 18b are preferably grooved rollers. The rollers 18a, 18b are driven from a motorized belt or chain drive using motor 32 and its driven pulley or gear 18d. Pulley or chain 18e is used to drive rollers 18a, 18b, 18c.

The paper currency is fed and distributed on the first belt portion 16a for conveyance through the first and second washing sections 12a, 12b to clean one side of the paper currency in the first washing section 12a and an opposite side of the paper currency in the second washing section 12b.

The cleaning solution is sprayed on the currency from an array of a plurality of nozzles 22a using water as the solution of another appropriate cleaning solution. The solution may be optionally heated if desired. One such way of providing this feature is to have the solution which is stored in the tank 22b heated using a temperature controller and electric or gas heating means similar to those found in water heaters. Another method is to provide an in-line instant heat electric or gas powered device.

The invention includes means for holding the paper currency in place on the first and second belt portions 16a, 16b, and as noted above, means for spraying the cleaning solution on the paper currency as the paper currency travels on the first and second belt portions 16a, 16b in the washing portion 12. Downstream of the cleaning or washing portion 12 is a meshed belt conveyance portion 24 on which the paper currency passes from the washing portion 12 onto the meshed belt conveyance portion 24. As the currency proceeds down the conveyor line, it is dried and reconditioned using various means as the currency passes on the meshed belt conveyance portion 24.

The means for drying and for reconditioning the paper currency as it passes on the meshed belt conveyance portion 24 can be done in a variety of ways such as by using an air pump 26 and/or heater/air pump combination 34 connected to a plurality of air wiper nozzles 26a directed from above and below the meshed belt conveyance portion 24, with pressured air, for removing excess moisture from the cleaned paper currency, by using a plurality of heated air nozzles 26b having means for directing forced heated air on both sides of the paper currency, and/or by using one or more pressure rollers 26c configured to squeeze the paper currency against a surface of the meshed belt conveyance portion 24 for removing moisture and wrinkles from the paper currency.

In one embodiment, the first and second belt portions 16a, 16b preferably include two or more grooves 16c running longitudinally on each of the first and second belt portions 16a, 16b. The means for holding the paper currency in place on the first and second belt portions 16a, 16b comprises an array of a plurality of guide rods 20, wherein a designated portion of the guide rods 20 adjacent a transition area of the first and second belt portions 16a, 16b are aligned with the two or more grooves 16c in the first and second belt portions 16a, 16b so as to allow corresponding guide rods 20 adjacent the transition area to be located within the two or more grooves 16c for facilitating the conveyance of the currency from the first washing section 12a to the second washing section 12b and from the second washing section 12b to the meshed belt conveyance portion 24. As can be seen in the drawings, the rods 20 are generally small diameter pins with ends welded or otherwise attached to cross-member plates. This allows the rods 20 to be segmented and spaced-apart to ensure that some guide rods 20 (at least two) are always in contact with one surface of the currency. Rods 20 in the transition areas are placed so as to be co-linear with the grooves 16c of the belts 16a, 16b.

In an alternative embodiment as shown in FIGS. 7-11 and 12A-12B, a sanitizing portion 28 is added downstream of the washing portion 12 and the drying portion 14. The sanitizing portion 28 can be configured to have the meshed belt conveyance portion 24 continue from the drying portion 14 or it can be configured to have another transition area where the mesh belt conveyance portion 24 transitions into another meshed belt portion, not shown. In FIGS. 1 and 7, it is understood that mesh belt 24 may also be representative of adjoining sections of mesh belts. The sanitizing portion 28 includes means for misting a sanitizing solution on both sides of the paper currency as the paper currency travels on the meshed belt conveyance portion 24. An array of spaced-apart spray nozzles 28c are located so as to pump and spray a fine mist of a sanitizing solution on the cleaned currency. The mist is so fine that little or no residual mist needs to be collected; however, if residual condensate of the misted spray solution is collected, it can be drained to the sanitizing tank for recycled use through a filtering medium 28d.

Although the final process is contemplated to be the sanitizing process if this process is added to the system 10, the sanitizing process may also include means for drying and for reconditioning the paper currency as it passes on the meshed belt conveyance portion 24. This feature can be provided using the same method as described above for the currency leaving the washing process. Accordingly, as depicted in FIG. 7, a second hot air dryer pump 34 may be added after the misting of the sanitizer is completed if desired with associated nozzles 26b as depicted in FIG. 6D. In addition, additional pressure rollers 26c may also be added in line after the second hot air application process is completed.

As noted above, the system 10 includes means for storing the cleaning solution using a tank 22b and a pump 22c to pump the cleaning solution through a plurality of spray nozzles 22a at a desired pressure. In a preferred embodiment, the cleaning solution should be recycled by having means for collecting sprayed cleaning solution. This can be done by having a drainage collection pan, where the solution is routed back to the cleaning solution tank 22b. Preferably the collected solution should be filtered either before entry into the solution tank 22b or the filtering medium 22d can located in line between the tank 22d and the nozzles 22a.

Similarly, the sanitizing portion 28 has means for storing the sanitizing solution, for example a tank 28a and pump 28b for pumping the sanitizing solution through a plurality of misting nozzles 28c at a desired pressure. Similar to the cleaning phase of the system, the sanitizing portion 28 preferably includes means for collecting misted sanitizing solution and means for filtering residually collected misted sanitizing solution and recycling the filtered misted sanitizing solution for re-use. Again, this can be provided with a collection pan type of system that directs any collected residual solution to the tank 28a. The collected solution can be filtered using a filtering medium 28d.

The cleaning solution temperature as well as the sanitizing solution temperature can also optionally be controlled using means known in the art to heat the solution to a desired and maintained temperature. Preferably, monitoring and controlling for setting the temperature is done from a control panel 30 that also houses the on/off switches for the pumps 22c,28b.

The pressure rollers 26c may also be optionally heated to provide for an ironing effect on the currency. This can be accomplished in a number of ways known in the art including electrically heating the rollers 26c or passing a heated medium through the internal part of the rollers 26c.

As alluded to above, it should be understood that equivalent belt structure could be multiple segments of adjoining belts that perform the same structural performance feature. In addition, it is also understood that the wash portion belts may also be meshed belts with grooves for the guide rods in the belt transition areas.

It should be understood that the preceding is merely a detailed description of one or more embodiments of this invention and that numerous changes to the disclosed embodiments can be made in accordance with the disclosure herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The preceding description, therefore, is not meant to limit the scope of the invention. Rather, the scope of the invention is to be determined only by the appended claims and their equivalents.