Title:
Device for the controllable transfer of a liquid and an apparatus for dispensing transferred liquids
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device is disclosed which allows the controllable transfer of a liquid, such as a perfume, a pharmaceutical agent, a masking agent, an insecticide or an organoleptic substance, through an outlet opening of a container. This device includes a holder with a fitting designed to embrace a capillary medium and to fit into the opening in such a way that liquid is only transferable through the opening by the capillary medium. The holder, adjacent to the fitting, further includes a sleeve which further embraces the capillary medium at least at a length which is chosen in such a way that, in a first vertical position of the sleeve liquid has access, and in a second, inverse, vertical position of the sleeve liquid has no access to the capillary medium. An apparatus is also provided in which at least one device is installed on a rotor.



Inventors:
Hart, Gerald Leslie (Surrey, GB)
Naish, Guy Edward (Leicester, GB)
Application Number:
10/893848
Publication Date:
01/06/2005
Filing Date:
07/19/2004
Assignee:
Givaudan SA (Geneva, CH)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B67D99/00; A01M1/20; A45D34/00; A45D34/02; A61L9/12; B01J4/00; B65D85/00; (IPC1-7): A61L9/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YOO, REGINA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PARFOMAK, ANDREW N. (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
1. (cancelled)

2. A device for the controllable transfer of a liquid stored in a container through an outlet opening of said container, which device comprises: a container having an opening, and a bottom; a quantity of a liquid selected from the group consisting of a perfume, a pharmaceutical agent, a masking agent an insecticide or an organoleptic substance within said container: a capillary medium having two ends, one end extending into the region of the bottom of the container; a holder for the capillary medium, the holder comprising a fitting adapted to embrace the capillary medium and to fit within the opening, and further comprising a sleeve which extends into the container and which embraces the capillary medium, the sleeve having a length less than the length of the capillary medium, and wherein there is no gap in contact between the length of the holder and the capillary medium; wherein in a first position of the device the capillary medium is in contact with the quantity of liquid, and in a second position of the device the quantity of liquid contacts the sleeve but does not contact the capillary medium; and wherein the capillary medium, which is extended out of the fitting, is connected to a second capillary medium, from which the transferred liquid is exposed to the air or to the air flow generated by an air flow generator and evaporated.

3. -7. (cancelled)

8. The device according to claim 2 further comprising an annular container with at least one reservoir being equipped with a holder for the transfer of a liquid through a first capillary medium to a second capillary medium which is embraced by the annular container.

9. The device according to claim 8 wherein the annular container is molded in one piece or consists of interconnectable segments comprising a reservoir.

10. The device according to claim 2 wherein the holder is incorporated in the container.

11. An apparatus for dispensing at least one liquid, comprising at least one device according to claim 2 for the controllable transfer of a liquid through an outlet opening of a container to a second capillary medium, the device being rotatably mounted between at least a first position in which liquid is transferred and a second position in which transfer of liquid is prevented.

12. The apparatus according to claim 11 further comprising a rotor which is turned around at least a first axis in such a way that for two devices installed on a second axis perpendicular to the first axis, in a first position of the rotor liquid is transferred only in the first device and in a second position of the rotor liquid is only transferred in the second device.

13. The apparatus according to claim 12 further comprising a third device installed on a third axis which is perpendicular to the first and the second axis so that in a first position of the rotor liquid is transferred only in the first device, in a second position of the rotor liquid is only transferred in the second device, and in a third position of the rotor liquid is only transferred in the third device.

14. The apparatus according to claim 13 wherein the rotor is rotatable around the first axis and the second axis with at least a fourth and/or a fifth device installed on the first axis so that in a fourth position of the rotor liquid is transferred only in the fourth device and that in a fifth position of the rotor liquid is only transferred in the fifth device.

15. The apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the second capillary medium of the installed devices is oriented towards the crossing point of the first and the second axis.

16. The apparatus according to claim 12 further comprising a device having an annular container with at least one reservoir equipped with a holder for the transfer of a liquid through a first capillary medium to a second capillary medium, which is embraced by the annular container.

17. The apparatus according to claim 12 further comprising an air flow generator which is generating an air flow towards at least the second capillary medium of the device whose first capillary medium is exposed to the liquid.

18. The apparatus according to claim 17 wherein the air flow generator is a fan.

19. The apparatus according to claim 12 further comprising a control unit comprising a switch for actuating the air flow generator and/or comprising a sensor for detecting the position of the rotor, the control unit being able to actuate the air flow generator and/or to control the air flow depending on the position of the rotor.

20. The apparatus according to claim 19 wherein the control unit is programmable and capable of controlling a motor used to turn the rotor between the operating positions.

21. The apparatus according to claim 12 further comprising a stator comprising the air flow generator and a bearing for the axis of the rotor which carries at least one device.

22. The apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the liquid is a perfume, a pharmaceutical agent, a masking agent, an insecticide or an organoleptic substance.

23. (cancelled)

24. The apparatus according to claim 21 further comprising a stator comprising the air flow generator and a bearing for the axis of the rotor which carries up to five devices.

Description:

The present invention relates to a device for the controllable transfer of a liquid, and an apparatus for dispensing transferred liquids with at least one of the devices.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In order to transfer liquids it is known to use capillary action which is dependent on the cohesion forces within the liquid and the adhesion forces of the liquid to a porous capillary medium containing small channels for the transfer of the liquid. Such a capillary medium, being introduced through an opening into a container, can therefore transfer a liquid out of the container by means of capillary action. The transferred liquid may be used to distribute chemical substances to the ambient air in order to mask or generate an odor, to evoke a medical or organoleptic effect, or to affect insects.

In order to stop the transfer of liquid the capillary medium must be removed or covered, which is inconvenient and may cause further distribution of the remaining liquid on the cover or the removed capillary medium. The use of two or more liquids increases the inconvenience accordingly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a device, which allows an easily controllable transfer of a liquid through a capillary medium and an apparatus for dispensing transferred liquids with at least one of the devices.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention allows the controllable transfer of a liquid, such as a perfume, a pharmaceutical agent, a masking agent, an insecticide, or an organoleptic substance, by a first capillary medium such as a scrib-rod from a container preferably to a second capillary medium such as a gauze. The first capillary medium is inserted into a holder containing a fitting being designed to embrace the capillary medium, and to fit into an opening of the container. The holder further containing a preferably non-porous sleeve, which further embraces the capillary medium at least at a length which is chosen in such a way, that, in a first vertical position of the sleeve, liquid has access and in a second, inverse, vertical position of the sleeve the liquid has no access to the capillary medium.

The invention is therefore easily controllable by turning it from a first to a second position.

In a preferred embodiment of the device, the end of the sleeve extends to a side-wall of the container in such a way that in a third, horizontal position of the container access of the liquid to the capillary medium is prevented as well. This embodiment is used for an apparatus containing two devices which in positions one and two are activated alternatively and which are both deactivated in the third position. A further advantage of this embodiment is, that two or more liquids may be diffused separately.

In a further embodiment, the first capillary medium is connected to a second capillary medium such as a gauze or an extended portion of the first capillary medium, from which the transferred liquid is diffused preferably under the support of an air flow generated by a fan.

In a further embodiment, the device includes an annular container with one or more, preferably three, compartments respective reservoirs filled with different liquids which through a first capillary medium are guided to a second capillary medium which is embraced by the container. The annular container may be molded in one piece which can be produced at low cost. The annular container may, however, also consist of segments which can be separated, for example for the refill of the liquids, and combined afterwards. Using an annular container also facilitates handling of the device and integration into an apparatus which automatically turns the device into positions in which transfer of selected liquids is initiated or terminated. For this purpose the outer surface of the device, which is held in a bearing, may be in contact with a drive wheel.

In a further embodiment of the device, the holder for the first capillary medium may be integrated into the containers of the inventive devices.

The first and the second capillary medium may be made in one piece. This would be especially advantageous in cases where the container is to be disassembled and reassembled, embracing the second capillary medium in the center.

The inventive apparatus, which allows dispensing of transferred liquids, contains at least one inventive device as described above being rotatably mounted on an axis of a stator between at least a first vertical and a second vertical thereto in inverse position.

One embodiment of the apparatus contains two inventive devices arranged towards each other along the same axis on a rotor with the second capillary medium oriented towards the center of the rotor in such a way that in a first position of the rotor, only one of the devices and in the second position, the other one of the devices transfers the liquid.

The apparatus is preferably equipped with a control unit containing a sensor for detecting the position of the rotor. The control unit is able to actuate the air flow generator and/or to control the air flow depending on the position of the rotor.

In the third position, the diffusion of the liquid is therefore immediately stopped because liquid is no longer transferred by the first capillary medium, and no longer diffused from the second capillary medium.

In a further embodiment the apparatus may be fully automated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a holder 10 and a first capillary medium 3, separated from each other.

FIG. 2 shows the holder 10 with the installed capillary medium 3.

FIG. 3 shows a container 20 with an opening 22 suitable for inserting the holder 10.

FIG. 4 shows the container 20 with the holder 10 and the capillary medium 3 installed.

FIG. 5 shows the container 20 of FIG. 4 turned upside down.

FIG. 6 shows a modified container 201 containing two reservoirs 204a, 204b.

FIG. 7 shows the first capillary medium 3 connected to a second capillary medium 5.

FIG. 8 shows the arrangement of FIG. 7 installed in a container 20 of a first and a second inventive device 1x and 1y, respectively.

FIG. 9 shows the two inventive devices 1x, 1y of FIG. 8 in horizontal alignment and a third, vertically aligned inventive device 1z transferring liquid through the capillary media 3 and 5.

FIG. 10 shows an inventive apparatus with the devices 1x, 1y of FIG. 8 installed.

FIG. 11 shows an inventive device 101 with an annular container 2000 containing one reservoir.

FIG. 12 shows an inventive device 102 with an annular container 2001 containing three reservoirs.

FIG. 13 shows the inventive device 102 of FIG. 12 cut along line A-A.

FIG. 14 shows a segment 102a′ of an annular container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a first capillary medium 3 and a holder 10 (in a sectional view) containing a fitting 11 with a flange 12. The fitting 11 is connected to a sleeve 13. Fitting 11 and sleeve 13 build a tube with a channel 15 into which the capillary medium 3 may be inserted.

FIG. 2 shows the holder 10 with the installed capillary medium 3. The length of the capillary medium 3 is chosen in such a way that it is longer than, i.e. extends beyond fitting 11 and sleeve 13 combined. When installed, one end 31 of the capillary medium 3 will extend out of the sleeve 13 at end 14, and the other end of the capillary medium 32 extends out of the fitting 11, which tightly seals the opening 22 of the container (FIG. 3) after the installation.

FIG. 3 shows in a sectional view a container 20 with an opening 22 and a corresponding fitting 24, which is suitable to receive the fitting 11 of the holder 10 in such a way that the sleeve 13 is inserted into the container 20 and the flange 12 rests on the fitting 24 of the container 20 which is filled with a liquid 21 such as a perfume, a pharmaceutical agent, a masking agent, an insecticide or an organoleptic substance. Further shown is a cover 25 with an opening 26 through which the capillary medium 3 may be guided. The cover 25 may be screwed onto the fitting 24 of the container 20.

FIG. 4 shows the container 20 with the holder 10 and the capillary medium 3 installed. Due to the tight sitting of the fitting 11 in the opening 22 and the tight sitting of the capillary medium 3 in the channel 15 of the holder 10 the liquid 21 is only transferable through the opening 22 through the capillary medium 3 by capillary action. The liquid 21 can enter only at the end 31 of the capillary medium 3 at the end 14 of the sleeve 13 because the sleeve 13 shields the remaining part of the capillary medium 3, introduced into the container 20, against the liquid 21. The end 14 of the sleeve 13 of the installed holder 10 preferably extends to a region close to the bottom 23 of the container 20.

Therefore, when turning the container 20 upside down, as shown in FIG. 5, the liquid 21 has no access to the capillary medium 3 which is shielded by the sleeve 13. Only in the case where the container 20 was filled more than 95%, could liquid reach the capillary medium 3. The capillary medium 3 and the sleeve 13, however, could also be extended to the bottom 23 of the container 20, containing in there narrow channels for the liquid 21 to pass through to the capillary medium 3.

FIG. 6 shows a modified container 201 comprising two reservoirs 204a and 204b, respectively at the side-wall 202, which receive the liquid 21 whenever the container 201 is turned into horizontal alignment. A clockwise rotation of the container 201 will cause the liquid 21 to enter reservoir 204b. A counter-clockwise rotation will cause the liquid 21 to enter reservoir 204a. The liquid 21 will therefore not be in contact with the capillary medium 3 in either horizontal orientation of the container 21. The reservoirs 204a, 204b may also be part of a cylindrical extension of the side-wall 202. The modified containers 201 are recommended for the use in arrangements containing three or more inventive devices 1x, 1y, 1z. In the arrangement shown in FIG. 9, modified containers 201 could therefore advantageously be installed.

FIG. 7 shows the first capillary medium 3 connected to a second capillary medium 5 such as a gauze or an extended portion of the first capillary medium 3, which preferably consists of a porous synthetic material from which the transferred liquid 21 is exposed to the air or to the air flow 28 generated by an air flow generator 4 (see FIG. 10). From the first or second capillary medium 3, 5 the diffused liquid 27 (see FIG. 8, 9, or 10) is forwarded to the environment.

FIG. 8 shows the arrangement of FIG. 7 installed in a container 20 of a first and a second inventive device 1x and 1y, respectively. The first device 1x is oriented as the device 1 shown in FIG. 4. As explained above, in this orientation liquid 21 is transferred by the capillary medium 3. The second device 1y is oriented as the device 1 shown in FIG. 5 preventing the transfer of liquid 21.

FIG. 9 shows the two inventive devices 1x, 1y of FIG. 8 in horizontal alignment along an axis v and a third device 1z in vertical alignment along an axis u. The third device 1z is transferring liquid 21 through the capillary media 3 and 5 while no liquid is transferred by the horizontally aligned devices 1x, 1y, which contain only a small amount of liquid 21. Turning the arrangement around axis v by 90°, will cause transfer of liquid 21 to stop in device 1z as well. However, turning the arrangement around an axis w, which is perpendicular to the axis u and v, to the left or to the right by 90° will start transfer of liquid 21 in one of the devices 1x respective 1y while transfer of liquid 21 in the device 1z will cease.

Adding two inventive devices 1 aligned along axis w will extend the arrangement to five devices 1 which may be turned around axis v or w into corresponding positions where liquid 21 is transferred in the corresponding devices 1.

In order to allow the use of larger volumes of liquid 21 the devices 1x, 1y, and 1z may be replaced by devices comprising a modified container 201 as shown in FIG. 6 and FIG. 9 (insert).

Of course, the vertical and horizontal alignment need not be exact and may vary in a broad angle depending on the percentage of liquid 21 in the containers 20; 201 and the form (bent, straight) and length of the sleeve 13.

It is also possible to use a single inventive device 1 preferably in a housing which may be located on a surface in at least two positions in such away that in both positions (inverse and not inverse) the device 1 is at least approximately vertically aligned.

FIG. 10 shows an inventive apparatus for dispensing liquids 21 comprising a stator 7 which, on a axis 71, carries a rotor 9 with two axially aligned inventive devices 1x, 1y. Possible is also the installation of only one device 1x in the apparatus. In the position as shown, only the lower device 1y is transferring liquid 21 through the first and second capillary medium 3; 5 from where it is forwarded to the environment by a flow of air 28 being generated by a fan 4, which is preferably located in the stator 7. The air flow 28 is preferably guided in channels 93 in the rotor 9 and in the stator 7 in order to maximize the efficiency. The second capillary media 5 of the first and the second device 1x, 1y may be framed and isolated from each other by a frame 91 containing openings 92 for the air flow 28. The rotor 9 can now be turned between at least a first position, e.g. as shown in FIG. 10 and a position in which the rotor 9 is turned by 180°. In the first position, liquid 21 from the first device 1y is transferred and diffused, while no liquid 21 is transferred in the second device 1x. In the second position liquid 21 is transferred in the second device 1x while no liquid 21 is transferred in the first device 1y. The liquid 21 to be diffused can therefore easily be selected by turning the rotor 9. In case that no liquid 21 should be diffused the devices 1x and 1y are brought into a third position where they are horizontally aligned. In case that this third position is used in the apparatus, then preferably the containers 201 shown in FIG. 6 are installed.

The positions of the rotor 9 are preferably detected by a sensor 62 which is connected to a control unit 6 which is controlling the fan 4 and/or a motor 63 which, in a preferred embodiment, is used to turn the rotor between positions. In case that the rotor 9 reaches the third position driven by the motor 63 or manually the fan 4 is switched off by the control unit 6 because no liquid is transferred in this position. In a further embodiment, depending on the input from a sensor 65, which measures temperature and/or humidity, the control unit 6 adjusts the air flow generated by the fan 4 or actuates fan 4 and rotor 9 in a suitable way.

The electrical devices in the apparatus are connected to a power supply 64. In order to control the apparatus, preferably one or more control buttons 61 (mains switch, etc.) are installed. The apparatus may also be programmable and equipped with a timer. The apparatus may rest on a support 73 or may be installed on the wall by corresponding means 72.

FIG. 11 shows an inventive device 101 with an annular container 2000 containing one reservoir which is filled with a liquid 21. The annular container 2000, which may also have a toroidal form, embraces a cylindrical capillary medium 5 such as a gauze or an extended portion of a first capillary medium which is embraced by a holder 10. As described above, the holder 10 is inserted into the container 2000 in such a way that in the position shown in FIG. 11, liquid 21 is transferred through the first capillary medium. With a turn of the device 101, the holder 10 is lifted out of the liquid 21 thus preventing the transfer of the liquid 21.

FIG. 12 shows an inventive device 102 with an annular container 2001 with three reservoirs 102a, 102b, and 102c, each being filled with a liquid 21a, 21b, 21c and being equipped with a holder 10a, 10b, 10c for a first capillary medium 3a, 3b, 3c. In the position shown in FIG. 12 the liquid 21a is transferred through the first capillary medium in the holder 10a to the second capillary medium 5. Transfer and distribution of the other liquids 21b or 21c may be initiated by turning the device 102 by approximately 120° to the left or to the right.

FIG. 13 shows the inventive device 102 of FIG. 12 cut along line A-A. It is shown that an air flow generator 4 is installed behind the second capillary medium 5 in such a way that the air flow generated is driven through the second capillary medium 5 thus distributing the transferred liquid 21a. The second capillary medium 5 can be formed of one piece, allowing the liquids to get mixed, or three pieces separated from each other, preventing the liquids from being mixed. The number of reservoirs 102 can be two, three or more.

The annular container 2001 of the inventive device 102 shown in FIG. 12 can be molded in one piece. The container 2001, however, can also be composed of three discrete segments 102a′ as shown in FIG. 14. The shown segment 102a′ preferably comprises means 102x, 102y for interconnecting all segments.

The holder 10′ for the first capillary medium 3 is incorporated into the segment 102a′. Handling of this device is therefore facilitated, since liquid 21a can be refilled without removing the holder. Incorporation of the holder 10 can advantageously also be done in the containers 20, 201 shown in FIG. 1 to FIG. 10.

The invention being thus described, it will be obvious that the same may be varied in many ways. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the following claims.