Title:
AUTOMATIC FILLER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A chemical proportioner comprises an eductor wherein a venturi generates a vacuum to suck chemical into a diluent and also to maintain open a diluent valve until the vacuum is automatically vented by depletion of a concentrated chemical, discharge of a predetermined diluent and chemical mix or manual venting. An expansible chamber device such as a bellows is operably connected to a diluent valve to maintain it in open position until a vacuum operating on such bellows is vented by one or more of the foregoing events.



Inventors:
Dyer, Christopher J. (Oakley Hampshire, GB)
Application Number:
12/184636
Publication Date:
02/04/2010
Filing Date:
08/01/2008
Assignee:
DELAWARE CAPITAL FORMATION, INC. (WILMINGTON, DE, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B3/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KELLY, TIMOTHY PATRICK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOOD, HERRON & EVANS, LLP (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A diluted chemical dispenser having a water inlet and water valve, a venturi for creating a suction to draw a concentrated chemical into a water flow and a discharge passage for discharging diluted chemical, said dispenser including: a switch for activating and deactivating a water valve; a bellows for holding said switch in a position to hold open said water valve; said venturi operably connected through a passage to apply a bellows operating suction to said bellows to hold said switch in said position; and a vent line operably communicating with to said bellows for venting said bellows to selectively close said switch and said water valve.

2. A dispenser as in claim 1 including a manually operable valve for venting said vent line.

3. A dispenser as in claim 1 including a float valve for venting said vent line upon opening of said float valve.

4. A dispenser as in claim 1 including a chemical pick-up for venting said vent line when concentrated chemical is depleted.

5. A chemical dispenser for drawing concentrated chemical into a diluent flow and dispensing mixed chemical and diluent, said dispenser including: venturi initiated vacuum means for stopping said dispenser in response to depletion of concentrated chemical.

6. A dispenser as in claim 5 farther including venturi initiated vacuum means for stopping said dispensing in response to the establishment of a pre-determined level of dispensed chemical and diluent in a receiving container.

7. A chemical dispenser including a venturi operated proportioner receiving a diluent from a diluent valve and drawing concentrated chemical into said diluent upon opening of said diluent valve through manual operation of a switch, said dispenser further including: an expansible chamber member operably connected to said switch for holding said switch open upon application of a suction to said member; and a vent operably communicating with said expansible chamber member for moving said member and releasing said switch to close said diluent valve.

8. A dispenser as in claim 7 wherein said vent comprises a chemical pick-up tube exposed to atmosphere upon depletion of concentrated chemical.

9. A dispenser as in claim 7 wherein said vent comprises a float valve opened in response to establishment of a pre-determined level of mixed diluent and chemical.

10. A dispenser as in claim 7 wherein said vent comprises a manually operated valve.

11. An eductor for use in a chemical proportioning dispenser for mixing a chemical with a diluent passing from a diluent valve through a venturi said venturi providing a vacuum upon passage of diluent there through and being operably connected to a chemical source for drawing a chemical into said diluent upon applying a vacuum to said chemical and said venturi operably applying a vacuum for retaining said diluent valve in a position to pass diluent to said venturi while said vacuum is so applied.

12. A method of controlling a chemical proportioner including the steps of: passing a diluent through a valve to a venturi; passing a diluent through the venturi and creating a vacuum; applying said vacuum to a chemical source and drawing chemical into said diluent as a function of said vacuum; and applying said vacuum to and holding said valve in an open position to pass diluent therethrough.

13. A method as in claim 12 including the step of interrupting said vacuum applied to hold said valve in said open position and closing said valve.

14. A method as in claim 13 including the step of interrupting said vacuum by venting vacuum applied to said chemical source.

15. A method as in claim 13 including the step of interrupting said vacuum by venting said vacuum through a valve from a position proximate a container receiving mixed chemical and diluent.

16. A method as in claim 13 including the step of interrupting said vacuum by manual operation of a valve venting said vacuum.

17. A method of automatically controlling a chemical proportioner which includes a venturi for creating a vacuum upon passage of a diluent therethrough, said vacuum drawing a chemical into said diluent, the step of: applying said vacuum for holding open a diluent valve and venting said vacuum to close said diluent valve.

18. A method as in claim 17 wherein said proportioner includes an expansible chamber member connected to said venturi, said member operably connected to said diluent valve for holding said valve open when vacuum is applied to said member, and including the step of interrupting said vacuum and closing said diluent valve by venting vacuum applied to said member.

19. A method as in claim 18 including the step of venting said vacuum upon depletion of said chemical.

20. A method as in claim 18 including the step of venting said vacuum through a valve which opens in response to said mixed chemical and diluent reaching a predetermined level in a container receiving said mixed chemical and diluent.

21. A method as in claim 18 including the step of venting said vacuum by manually opening a vent valve operably communicating with said member.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to proportioning systems and more particularly to portioning systems for automatically filling a container to desired levels and with accurate chemical dilution ratios.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the past, eductors or proportioning devices have been used to mix concentrated chemicals with flowing water and to discharge the so diluted chemical into bottles or other containers for use, such as for cleaning, sanitizing or otherwise treating surfaces. Where the receiving containers are relatively larger than traditional smaller containers, such as the gallon size containers, it takes quite a while to fill them at traditional effluent flow rates such as at four gallons per minute, for example. In particular, it is frequently desired to fill much larger containers such as 40 gallon or even 80 gallon containers or scrubbers with diluted chemical mixtures for cleaning, sanitizing or otherwise treating, for example, a floor.

Prior eductors or proportioning systems typically require the constant attention of an operator, either to continually hold or actuate a button to operate the proportioner for dispensing the diluted chemical into a received container or to monitor the proportioning operations to shut it off once the receiving container is filled. When large containers are to be filled, the process may take ten to twenty minutes or longer. Inattention to the process during this time may result in either the overflow of the receiving container and an ensuing spill or mess, or the continued operation of the water flow when the chemical service is depleted, resulting in a container fill of a more dilute mixture than is desired or is functional for that intended use.

In the past, electronics have been used in some instances to control proportioning operation. That has required AC or battery power, increasing costs and limiting location or requiring local electrical hook-up.

Accordingly, it has been one objective of the invention to provide a proportioning apparatus capable of automatically filling a receiving container.

Another objective of the invention has been to provide a proportioning apparatus which is capable of automatically ceasing a mixing and filling operation when a receiving container has been filled with an appropriate amount of mixed chemical and diluent, or when a chemical source is depleted, and without operator attention or input.

Another objective has been to provide a proportioner capable of automatic shut-off upon a desired fill being reached in a receiving container or upon depletion of a chemical source and without electronic control.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

To these ends, a proportioner according to one embodiment of the invention contemplates the combination of an eductor defining or providing multiple suction or vacuum pick-ups with a suction-operated bellows controlling the operation of a magnetic switch, in turn controlling a water valve. One of the multiple pick-ups is operably connected to a chemical source. Another of the multiple pick-ups is connected to a bellows which holds the switch and thus the water valve open when suction is applied to the bellows by the eductor. Vent lines are connected to the bellows from the chemical source, a float valve in the receiving container and from a manual shut-off valve. Venting of the bellows from any of these components balances the suction so the bellows expands and operates the switch to shut off the water.

Once the magnetic switch is manually operated to turn the water valve on, the water flow creates suction in both pick-ups. The bellows holds a suction plate connected to the magnetic switch in a position so the switch is held on, for so long as the bellows is compressed by the suction applied to it. After manual activation, the human operator can thus turn his attention to other tasks.

At least two different events can automatically turn off the water flow and filling of the receiving container. More specifically, when the float valve in a receiving container rises to a predetermined position, the rising float unseats a valve in the float valve pick-up line, venting it and the line leading to the bellows, thereby venting the bellows, allowing it to expand, thus releasing the suction plate and allowing the magnetic switch to operate or return to its “off” position, shutting off the water valve. Alternately, when the chemical source is depleted, that pick-up line is vented, which also vents the line leading to the bellows, releasing the suction plate and similarly resulting in closing of the water valve.

It will be appreciated that a normally closed, manually operated emergency vent line to the bellows could be manually opened by an operator at any time to also cease the proportioning and filling operations.

Advantages of this invention are numerous. In no particular order, it will be appreciated that automatic shut-off control is provided upon completion of filling or upon chemical depletion without electronic control of the water valve or other components. Large quantities of diluted chemical concentrates can be dispensed without operator attention. When used in a manually attended operational manner, the apparatus still shuts down automatically upon chemical depletion. Overfills and spillage are prevented by the invention, as well as over dilution, such as would otherwise occur upon continued water flow at a time when the concentrated chemical has been depleted.

The float valve can be disposed in the receiving container and quick-connected to the venturi pick-up (i.e. the suction line leading to the bellows), or it can be mounted in an appropriate position on the mixture discharge tube in the receiving container, corresponding operationally to a desired fill level.

So no longer is it required for an operator to constantly attend such a filling operation. Once manually initiated, dispensing of diluted chemical continues until either the receiving container is filled or the chemical concentrate is depleted, and the water flow automatically ceases in response.

Nor are electronic timers or other controls necessary to automate a filling or proportioning process. Instead, venturi created vacuum is used not only for chemical pick-up, but is additionally used for automation of the process and the control thereof as noted.

Several alternative embodiments are contemplated. For example, in one embodiment, a manual shut-off valve is provided, comprising a selectively opened vent line operably coupled to the suction line connecting the eductor or venturi to the bellows. Opening the vent line vents suction to the bellows, it expands, and the water valve is closed, ending the dilution and dispensing operation. Also, it will be appreciated that an operator could simply pull out the bellows connected switch against its suction to stop the flow and cease operation.

Such a manual shut-off may be provided in conjunction with the preferred automatic receiving container shut-off float valve to provide more operator control, or the float valve may be used alone for automatic control.

These and other objectives and advantages will be readily apparent from the following written description of preferred embodiments of the invention and from the drawings in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic flow chart illustrating operation of an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective illustrative view of one embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. 1 an showing three suction ports;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the invention of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational diagrammatic view of an eductor of the invention as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3;

FIG. 5 is an illustrative perspective view of a mix discharge tube and a float valve of one embodiment of the invention as illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 and with the valve open in a venting position; and

FIG. 6 is an enlarged view of the float valve as in FIG. 5, showing the valve in closed position during automatic filling.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now first to FIGS. 2 and 3, certain physical components of the invention are illustrated, it being understood these components may take a variety of forms. In FIG. 2, there is illustrated an automatic filler 10 according to the invention which includes a diluent such as a water valve 12 with a water valve activating switch 14 and a magnetic button 16. When button 16 of switch 14 is manually operated, valve 12 opens to allow water to pass through an inlet such as 18, through valve 12 and into preferably a back flow preventor unit 20 upstream of an eductor comprising a vacuum pick-up venturi 22 in turn providing a vacuum plenum operably connected preferably to multiple vacuum chemical pick-up tube 24 and a vacuum or suction port or pick-up 26. In this regard, two venturi passages can be provided in the body of the venturi, or a common suction manifold or plenum operably connected to the venturi could be used to provide suction both to the chemical source and to the bellows to be described. Pick-up 26 is connected via a conduit 43 (FIGS. 1, 4), to a float valve 42 (FIG. 5). Pick-up 43 is connected via conduit 28 to a coupling 29 operatively connected to a bellows 30. Concentrated chemical pick-up 24 is connected via a conduit 25, ending in pick-up tube 36, to a source 37 of concentrated chemical. As suggested in FIG. 4, pick-ups 26 and 43 are commonly and operatively connected to float valve 42 and bellows 30 via conduits 43a and 28, respectively, each of these being connected to the vacuum side of eductor 22.

As used herein, the terms “eductor” and “venturi” are interchangeable, it being understood that a venturi 22 is an operational component of the more broadly referred to eductor.

Bellows 30 is located as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 between a fixed bracket or other fixed structure and a moveable suction plate 32 which is attached to the button/switch 16/14.

The filler 10 includes a discharge end 34 for discharging diluted chemical mixed with water (or other diluent) into a receiving container directly or via discharge tubing (not shown).

In use, chemical pick-up 24 is coupled through an operative conduit shown at dotted line 25 to a pick-up tube 36 on the end of conduit 25 disposed in a replacement chemical source shown diagrammatically at 37 (FIG. 3).

It will be appreciated that water valve 12, switch 14, button 16 and back flow preventor 20 are well-known apart from this invention. For example, the water valves 12, magnetic switches 14 and buttons 16 used to operate such water valves in chemical proportioning and dispensing systems are as used in the dispensers marketed by Hydro Systems Company of Cincinnati, Ohio under model names “Accudose” and “Streamline”. Back flow preventor 20 may be of any suitable form of water line vacuum back flow preventor such as the breaker or back flow preventor as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,634,376; 5,552,419; 5,253,677 or 5,159,958; said United States patents herewith expressly incorporated herein by reference as if wholly described herein.

It will also be appreciated that, in one embodiment as shown, water flow is directed downstream from the back flow preventor 20 to venturi 22 through an elongated tube 40. If desired, the back flow preventor 20 could be connected directly to venturi 22.

The venturi 22 is shown graphically in larger detail in FIG. 4. Flow of water is noted as labeled in the drawing. As a result of this flow, a negative pressure or suction is applied to the respective suction pick-ups 24, 26. Suction inlet 26 is preferably connected to both the bellows 30 through conduit 28 and to a float valve 42 via conduit 43a (FIG. 5) which is disposed in a receiving container 44 (FIG. 1) or attached to a chemical/water discharge tube 46 extending from discharge end 34 of venturi 22.

Float valve 42 is connected through a conduit 43a to the suction pick-up 43 of venturi 22. Float valve 42 includes a slidable member 47 which, in use, floats in and relation to receiving container 44 and/or discharge tube 46, to which it may be mounted. As the level of mixture in container 44 rises, member 47 rises until breaking the seal 48 in valve 42, allowing air into conduit 43a and venting the pick-up 26 as will further be described.

With more particularity, float valve 42 includes the sliding body 47 and seal member 49, which is preferably attached to or is part of sliding body 47. Sealer 49 rises with body 47. The end 48 of tube 43 defines a seat which is normally closed by sealer 49. However, when body 47 and seal 49 are lifted by the fill of diluted chemical in a receiving container, seal 49 lifts off tube end 48, venting tube 43a and thus bellows 30 to terminate the filling operation.

Finally, it will be appreciated that a manual shut-off valve 58 is connected via a conduit 59 to line 28 connecting bellows 30 to vacuum pick-up 26. Valve 58 is normally closed, but can be manually opened to vent line 59 and thus bellows 30, having the effect of allowing the bellows 30 to expand and thus shut off the water valve 12, ending a filling process. Valve 58 can be any suitable manually operated valve. Alternately, an operator may simply pull out the bellows-connected switch, against the bellows suction, to manually cause cessation of the process.

Turning now to FIG. 1, there is shown a diagrammatic chart illustrating embodiments of the invention and its function.

In operation, it will be appreciated that a pick-up tube 36 (FIG. 3) is introduced to chemical source 37. A receiving container 44 is operationally disposed to receive the diluted chemical discharge from discharge end 34 (FIGS. 2, 3) or any discharge tube 46 extending therefrom (FIG. 5). Float valve 42 is disposed within container 44.

Chemical dilution and discharge to fill container 44 is initiated by manual depression of the button 16, moving magnetic switch 14 to open water valve 12. Water passes through valve 12 into back flow preventor 20 and from there through the eductor comprising venturi 22. Suction generated by venturi 22 pulls chemical concentrate into the eductor where it is mixed with flowing water and discharged through discharge end 34 and any tube 46 into receiving container 44.

At the same time, as water flows through venturi 22, suction created by venturi 22 is also applied to pick-up 26 and through conduit 28 to bellows 30. The bellows compresses, pulling with it suction plate 32 with sufficient force to retain button 16 and magnetic switch 14 in position to maintain water valve 12 in open position. This allows the flow of water and the dilution and discharge process to continue, despite removal of the manual bias by an operator to button 16. Thus, the dilution and discharge process continues without operator attention so long as the bellows remains compressed by suction within via conduit 28.

Several different events can cause this operation to cease as a result of the venting of bellows 30, allowing it to expand, and allowing switch 14 to return to a position which closes water valve 12. In this regard, it will be appreciated that the suction to the bellows 30 is sufficient to collapse or retract the bellows with sufficient force against any inherent bias in the bellows or switch 14, button 16, tending to expand the bellows and thus to return the switch to its closed position. The force executed through suction plate 32 is sufficient to maintain water flow. As long as that suction is applied to bellows 30, the process continues automatically without manual bias of button 16. When that suction terminates or is removed by venting of the suction conduits, the accumulated inherent bias in the bellows 30, switch 14 and button 16 results in a return of switch 14 to a position which closes water valve 12.

The various events which vent the suction by the bellows 30 and thus stop water flow will now be described. In particular, depletion of concentrated chemical, filling of the receiving container to a predetermined level or manual shut off can all cause a halt to the dilution and discharge process in the absence of an operator.

First, with reference to chemical depletion, once the chemical level descends below the lower end of the chemical pick-up tube 36 (FIG. 3) air is emitted to line 25 and thus eductor or venturi 22 is vented. Suction is consequently lost in line 28 to bellows 30 and the bellows expands, releasing button 16 and switch 14 and automatically stopping the operation as a function of chemical depletion. This prevents continued water flow into the container 44, thereby avoiding undesired dilution of the mix therein.

Second, the process may also be automatically terminated by the rising level of diluted chemical in container 44 to a predetermined level. This activates the float valve therein to open to atmosphere, venting conduits 43a and 28 to bellows 30, allowing switch 14 to return to its position closing water valve 12.

It will be appreciated that the float valve 42 can be clipped to or otherwise mounted in a receiving container 44 and adjusted so as to vent conduit 43a when the dispensed liquid in the container 44 reaches a predetermined level. Also, the float valve 42 can be attached to conduit structure or discharge tube 46 also disposed in container 44.

Thirdly, the water flow and filling process can be manually terminated by emergency manual activation of a selective shut-off vent or valve 58. Manual activation of vent 58 vents conduit 59, which is in operable communication with conduit 28, thus venting conduit 28 and bellows 30, allowing the bellows 30 to expand, move suction plate 32, release switch 14 and shut off water valve 12, terminating the water flow and the dispensing operation. Shut-off vent 58 may be any suitable, manually operable valve or switch sealing conduit 59 and selectively movable to open conduit 59 or passage thereof to atmosphere. Alternately, an operator could stop the process merely by pulling out button 16 against the bias of suction in bellows 30, thus closing valve 14.

It will, of course, be appreciated that while it is preferable to use a float valve 42, use of emergency or optional manual shut-off is also provided where constant operator attention is contemplated or needed. Generally, float valve 42 is used for automatic filling (i.e. automatic shut-off) of relatively large columes. When infrequently filling only small containers or in other operations not requiring automatic shut-off on filling a container to a pre-determined level, for example, the emergency manual shut-off vent can be useful.

As used herein, reference to “venturi operated” for example, contemplates the invention wherein the chemical draw and the suction vacuum applied to the bellows is provided by the action of the eductor venturi as described.

Moreover, it will be appreciated that the term “bellows” as used herein also includes other apparatus operated by pressure differentials such as a diaphragm, expansible chamber or other devices.

It will also be appreciated that while a number of suction conduits have been described, these references are for the purpose of describing particular embodiments of the invention and other structures may be used, such as integral suction manifolds or plenums, connectors, fittings and venting passages and the like to the same ends. In particular, it will be appreciated that the venturi in the eductor may define or be operatively connected to a vacuum plenum which itself is operatively connected to as many pick-up barbs or connectors as are needed to provide functionality for a particular embodiment of the invention (such as vacuum pick-ups or connectors 24, 26 and 43 in FIGS. 2 and 4), for example.

Also and alternatively, a mechanical flow valve associated with the discharge tube 46 could be used to open the float valve or another vent line connected to bellows 30 upon passage of a predetermined volume, thus relaxing the bellows and stopping the dispensing.

Accordingly, a proportioning dispenser is provided capable of manual initiation and automatic shut-off on chemical depletion or fill completion without human operator attention, and without the use of any electronic control. The dispenser does not require any electric hook-up or battery power. The suction power of the eductor/venturi is used not only to draw concentrated chemical into the water flow, but to energize the automatic shut-off function as described herein.

These and other modifications, methods and apparatus will become readily apparent from this application without departing from the scope of the invention and applicant intends to be bound only by the claims appended hereto.