Title:
Vacuum cleaner with integrated water filter
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A vacuum cleaner device containing a water filter and a filter shroud. The filter shroud contains an outer wall having a gap for the passage of water and air, an inner wall placed near the gap and coaxial with the outer wall, and a dry filter at the top of the device. Contaminated air enters the filter shroud near the center of the inner wall. Most of the contaminants are filtered out of the air by the water. The air passes along the inner wall, through a channel between the inner and outer walls, through the gap in the outer wall, and up through the dry filter. The air reaching the dry filter has lost all of the water and most of the contaminants. The configuration of the filter shroud prevents the dry filter from becoming wet and losing its effectiveness.



Inventors:
Yarbrough, Glen A. (Nashville, TN, US)
Application Number:
11/973674
Publication Date:
04/24/2008
Filing Date:
10/11/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L9/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCKENZIE, THOMAS B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RICHARD L HUFF (OLNEY, MD, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A vacuum cleaner device comprising a container having a top, a bottom, at least one side wall, an inlet for contaminated air, an outlet for clean air, a vacuum motor, a dry filter at the outlet, water having an upper surface at the bottom of the container, and a filter shroud having a top, said filter shroud comprising an air barrier at the top, an arcuate outer wall containing a gap, and a coaxial arcuate inner wall so positioned that incoming air will contact the water, proceed around the inner surface of the inner wall, make a 180° turn and proceed through a channel between the inner wall and the outer wall to exit at the gap in the outer wall, proceed upwardly to the dry filter, and exit the device through the outlet.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the arcuate inner wall contains parallel extensions.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein an inlet hose goes from the air inlet to the water barrier at the top of the filter shroud.

4. The device of claim 1, wherein the inlet hose goes from the air inlet to beneath the upper surface of the water.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein the outer wall of the filter shroud contains a plurality of notches.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein the filter shroud contains a plurality of adjustable legs.

7. The device of claim 1, wherein there is an indicator on the filter shroud which indicates the desired level of water in the container relative to the filter shroud.

8. The device of claim 1, wherein the air barrier is a lofted air barrier.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application relies upon the filing date of applicant's provisional application, Ser. No. 60/852,546 filed Oct. 14, 2006.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

(Not applicable)

REFERENCE TO SEQUENTIAL LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING APPENDIX SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISC

(Not applicable)

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1) Field of the Invention

This invention relates to vacuum cleaners which have water filters and secondary filters above the water filters.

2) Description of the Related Art

Vacuum cleaners having water filters and secondary filters above the water filters are known in the art.

Sanchez, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,873,930, discloses a means for increasing the filtration efficiency of a water filter with a filter with an apertured baffle system which directs and redirects particle-laden air into multiple contacts with the filtering water surface.

James et al., in U.S. Pat. No. 5,922,093, disclose an ultra-filtration vacuum system that includes multiple liquid and dry filtering stages. Contaminated air drawn into the canister of the vacuum system is directed into a cyclonic air stream that separates large particles and debris from the air. The separated material collects in a first liquid filter medium in the bottom of the canister. After cyclonic cleaning, the air passes through a labyrinth filter and is injected below the surface of a second liquid filter medium. The air forms bubbles that rise to the surface of the liquid where many of the bubbles collapse. The air and liquid are then dispersed in a dispersion chamber. Particles entrained in the air are wetted by the liquid and a combination of cyclonic action and baffles in the dispersion chamber separate the mixture of liquid and wetted particles which flows back into the second liquid filter medium. Particles remaining entrained in the air are filtered by a final dry filter element. While the vacuum system filters the air, it is complex and not well suited to handling large quantities of fine dust produced by sanders or saws. Cyclonic cleaning relies on centrifugal force to separate heavy particles and debris from the air stream but is of limited usefulness for removing fine, light-weight particles. When used for heavy industrial purposes, the intermediate labyrinth filter would be exposed to essentially unfiltered air and subject to rapid plugging by the dust. Injecting contaminated air into a liquid filter medium is an effective method of filtering out fine particles, but the volume of liquid in the second liquid filter stage is limited by the necessary equipment and the presence of the first stage filter in the canister and would rapidly reach its capacity of particulate matter when exposed to the volume of dust produced by many industrial operations.

Pietrobon, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,019,826, presents a thorough discussion of the prior art. The inventor also discloses a vacuum cleaner having a suction path at least partially submerged in a container of water, said vacuum cleaner being essentially subdivided into two parts. The upper part supports a vacuum motor. The lower part consists of: the container of water which is engaged parametrically by a hook to the upper part; a tubular jacket inside the container partially immersed in the water, realizing between the respective side facing walls, an annular space that forms a siphon, to allow the passage of sucked air and/or liquid from the outside by the vacuum motor; at least one perforated separating diaphragm for large dirt, on the base of said tubular jacket, submerged in the water; a first removable funnel-shaped deflector placed in an almost suspended position inside said tubular jacket and above the water level, supported parametrically by said tubular jacket, characterized in that a second deflector, having the shape of an upside down funnel if compared to the first, is placed above the first, the second deflector being associated to a micro filter engaged in correspondence to a suction inlet of the suction motor.

The problem with the prior art devices is their tendency to be complex. This increases the cost of production and the chance of failure of parts. Additionally, the use of several prior filtering systems requires separate containers when a shop vacuum container is not used due to the fact that the debris is collected in separate containers. The user is then required to handle two containers when moving and storing the system.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention has for its goal the almost complete filtration of contaminated air with a simple, inexpensive vacuum device.

The vacuum device of the present invention comprises a sealed container having a top, a bottom, and at least one side wall connecting the top and bottom. There is a means for filtering water at the bottom of the container. There is an air inlet which may be placed in any desired location for the passage of contaminated air. There is an air outlet for the passage of the clean air. A conventional vacuum motor with rotating vanes causes the flow of air from the air inlet to the air outlet. A coupling seals the air inlet while allowing the air to pass through, unimpeded, directly through an inlet hose to a hose coupling on a filter shroud. The inlet hose may end at the filter shroud, in which case air passes downwardly onto the water to agitate the water and wet the contaminating particles. Alternatively, the inlet hose may end beneath the surface of the water, in which case contaminated air is bubbled through the water to wet the contaminating particles. In either alternative, a vast majority of the contaminating particles falls to the bottom of the vacuum device. These particles may be removed by conventional means and are not available in the air to clog the dry filter which is located just below the vacuum motor.

The filter shroud has an outer wall and a coaxial inner wall. The outer wall contains a gap and the inner wall is placed between the gap and the center of the filter shroud. Thus, contaminated air entering water near the center of the inside wall proceeds around the arc of the inner wall, makes a sharp turn and proceeds between the inner and outer walls to exit at the gap in the outer wall. The vacuum device contains a conventional dry filter which removes any remaining contaminate particles. There is a lofted or non-lofted water barrier which serves as a splash guard to prevent water from hitting the dry filter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a cut-away view of the vacuum device of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a top elevational perspective view of the filter shroud having a lofted top.

FIG. 3 is a top elevational perspective view of the filter shroud not having a lofted top.

FIG. 4 is a bottom elevational view of the filter shroud.

FIG. 5 is a bottom cross-sectional view of the filter shroud wherein the inner wall is arcuate in design having parallel straight extensions.

FIG. 6 is a bottom elevational perspective view of the filter shroud.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1-6 wherein like identifying numerals refer to like features throughout the description.

As shown in FIG. 1, the vacuum device 2 of the present invention comprises a sealed container 4 having a top 6, a bottom 8, and at least one side wall 10 connecting the top 6 and bottom 8. In use, there is water 12 at the bottom 8 of the device 2 which wets and removes contaminating particles from incoming air. This will be referred to as a filtering process. There is an air inlet 14 which may be placed in any desired location for the passage of contaminated air. There is an air outlet 16 for the passage of the clean air through a conventional vacuum motor 18 with rotating vanes which cause the flow of air from the air inlet 14 to the air outlet 16. A coupling 20 seals the air inlet 14 while allowing the air to pass through, unimpeded, directly through an inlet hose 22 to a hose coupling 24 on a filter shroud 26. The hose coupling 20 has a variety of diameters making it suitable for use with inlet hoses of various diameters. The inlet hose 22 may end at the barrier plate 28 of the filter shroud 26, or between the barrier plate 28 and the water 12 in which case air passes downwardly onto the water 12 to agitate the water 12 and wet the contaminating particles. Alternatively, the inlet hose 22 may end beneath the surface of the water 12, in which case contaminated air is bubbled through the water 12 to wet the contaminating particles. It is not desirable for the inlet hose 22 to end more than four inches beneath the surface of the water 12. The inlet hose 22 may end anyplace between the barrier plate 28 and the water 12. In any alternative, a vast majority of the contaminating particles fall to the bottom 8 of the vacuum device 2. These particles may be removed by conventional means and are not available in the air to clog the dry filter 30.

The filter shroud 26 has an arcuate outer wall 32 and a coaxial arcuate inner wall 34 as best shown in FIGS. 2-6 (for clarity, not shown in FIG. 1). The outer wall 32 contains a plurality of notches 36 for the free passage of water 12. Additionally, the outer wall 32 is not completely closed, but contains a gap 38. The size of the gap 38 is not critical and may be from about 30° to about 60°.

The inner wall 34 is placed coaxial with the outer wall 32 and the center of the inner wall 34 is near the center of the gap 38 in the outer wall 32. Thus, contaminated air enters the water 12 near the center of the inner wall 34, proceeds around the inner surface 40 of the inner wall 34, makes a 180° turn and proceeds through a channel 42 between the inner 34 and outer 32 walls to exit at the gap 38 in the outer wall 32. This reversing of direction serves to disperse the air flow and prevents the air from carrying any water 12 in the air current. During this passage, the contaminating particles are wetted by the water 12 and drop to the bottom 8 of the vacuum device 2. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 5, the inner wall 34 may have parallel extensions 44. When splash droplets are projected from the surface of the water 12, the droplets usually travel in a diagonal trajectory toward the sides of the inner wall 34. With the addition of the parallel extensions 44 the droplets are trapped by the extensions 44. The droplets then run down the walls and back into the water 12 reservoir.

As may be seen in FIG. 1, there is a lofted water barrier plate 28 with an adequate gap 46 between the barrier plate 28 and the outer wall 32 to allow for excess airflow to escape without allowing the energy of the water turbulence to escape. This water barrier plate 28 serves to deflect any splash water that may reach it. The trajectory of the splash is prevented from traveling in a straight line from any point below the water barrier plate 28 to contact the dry filter 30 while at the same time adequate air flow is allowed inside the filter shroud 26. This is especially desirable in the case of higher airflow situations. The turbulence is thereby kept within the filter shroud 26. The filter shroud 26 is configured in such a way as to contain the droplets and to direct them horizontally away from the inner terminal 48 of the inlet hose 22 into the channel 42 between the inner 34 and outer 32 walls.

Alternatively, the water barrier plate 28 may be attached to the outer walls 32 of the filter shroud 26, thus creating a condition wherein all of the contaminated air exiting from the inlet hose 22 passes through the water 12 inside the filter shroud 26. In such a circumstance, the filter shroud 26 has a tendency to float unless it is firmly attached to the bottom 8 of the container 4.

The vacuum device 2 contains a conventional dry filter 30 which removes remaining contaminate particles. The air entering the channel 42 between the inner 34 and outer 32 walls of the filter shroud 26 passes up to the dry filter 30. This air is free of most of the contaminants and all of the water 12 when it reaches the dry filter 30.

The inner wall 34 and water barrier plate 28 serve as splash guards to prevent water 12 from hitting the dry filter 30. In the absence of the inner wall and barrier plate in a conventional vacuum device, when air is introduced into a water filter, it strikes the surface of the water and churns up a great deal of vapors and droplets. These get on the filter and subsequently make the dry filter useless.

The filter shroud 26 contains adjustable legs 50, as seen in FIG. 1. The bottom of the filter shroud 26 is held slightly above the bottom 8 of the vacuum device 2 to allow for water 12 flow. This water 12 flow will carry contaminants beneath the filter shroud 26 and thus enables the full use of the bottom 8 of the device 2. This water 12 flow also serves to prevent the filter shroud 26 from being lifted when air enters the filter shroud 26 through the inner terminal 48 of the inlet hose 22.

The filter shroud 26 may be configured in such a way that it either has legs 50 and sits on the bottom 8 of the vacuum device 2 or it has flotation devices (not shown) built into it or onto it so that if the water 12 level changes, the inner terminal 48 of the air inlet hose 22 will stay at the same height relative to the surface of the water 12. The filter shroud 26 has an indicator 52 on its outer wall 32 which indicates the desired level of water 12 in the container 4 relative to the shroud 26.

Although the invention has been described and illustrated in detail, it is to be clearly understood that the same is by way of illustration and example, and is not to be taken by way of limitation. The spirit and scope of the present invention are to be limited only by the terms of the appended claims.