Title:
FILTER ASSEMBLY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gravity-driven fluid (water) treatment device that includes a bottom portion having at least one treated fluid outlet, an upper perimeter, and a bottom portion side wall that defines an interior volume of the bottom portion and wherein the bottom portion side wall is a shaped surface that is configured to frictionally engage a plurality of differently sized fluid vessel openings and still allow treated fluid to be delivered to the interior of a fluid vessel through the at least one treated fluid outlets; a fluid treatment medium positioned within a fluid filter; and a top portion with an interior volume defined by at least one wall. The fluid filter, the bottom portion and the top portion are each configured to be removably engaged and disengaged to allow for replacement of the filter and reassembly of the overall gravity filter assembly by hand and without the use of tools.



Inventors:
Bradford, Scott Hugh (Gavirate, IT)
Casucci, Marco (Varese, IT)
Cooper, David P. (Kalamazoo, MI, US)
Cur, Nihat O. (Stevensville, MI, US)
Jackson, Beth M. (St. Joseph, MI, US)
Kendall, James W. (Mt. Prospect, IL, US)
Menegon, Italo Renzo (Brenta, IT)
Patera, Ginger Elayne (St. Joseph, MI, US)
Manfredini-taube, Sara (Varese, IT)
Mathias-tingstrom, Torsten Rickard (Ispra, IT)
Vanfaasen, Joel Graham (Holland, MI, US)
Application Number:
14/095157
Publication Date:
06/05/2014
Filing Date:
12/03/2013
Assignee:
WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION (Benton Harbor, MI, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
210/232
International Classes:
B01D35/30; C02F1/00
View Patent Images:
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Other References:
Caamano, John; Hoffman, Jean M., Hard rules for soft-touch overmolding, Machine Design, 5/9/2002, Vol. 74 Issue 9, p60
Primary Examiner:
MCCULLOUGH, ERIC J.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION - MD 3601 (BENTON HARBOR, MI, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A gravity-driven fluid treatment device comprising: a bottom portion having at least one treated fluid outlet, an upper perimeter, and a bottom portion side wall that defines an interior volume of the bottom portion and wherein the bottom portion side wall is a shaped surface that is configured to frictionally engage a plurality of differently sized fluid vessel openings and still allow treated fluid to be delivered to the interior of a fluid vessel through the at least one treated fluid outlets; a fluid filter comprising a fluid treatment medium positioned within the fluid filter wherein the fluid filter is operably engaged with the bottom portion and having a fluid intake location and a fluid outgoing location that delivers treated fluid to the interior volume of the bottom portion and out of the at least one treated fluid outlet of the bottom portion; a top portion having an interior volume defined by at least one wall, at least one fluid inlet, and a bottom perimeter defining an opening and wherein the top portion is configured to received fluid from at least one fluid inlet and the bottom perimeter defines an opening that is configured to allow fluid from the at least one fluid inlet to flow into contact with an intake surface of the fluid filter; and wherein the fluid filter is configured to be removably engaged by hand without the use of tools from the bottom portion and the fluid filter, the bottom portion and the top portion are each configured to be removably engaged and disengaged to allow for replacement of the filter and reassembly of the gravity-driven fluid treatment device by hand and without the use of tools.

2. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 1, wherein the fluid filter is at least partially positioned within the bottom portion and the fluid treated is water.

3. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 1, wherein the fluid being treated is water and the fluid treatment medium is a water treatment medium configured to treat water at a rate of at least about one to two liters per minute while removing at least chlorine odor and chlorine taste components from the water.

4. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 1, wherein the at least one treated fluid outlet is at least one treated water outlet and the bottom portion side wall is a conically shaped side wall that continuously slopes upwardly from a treated water outlet containing portion to the upper perimeter and the treated water outlet containing portion is narrower than the upper perimeter.

5. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 4, wherein the bottom portion side wall is a funnel shape with a funnel outlet portion having the at least one treated water outlet.

6. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 5, wherein a water intake location of the water filter is an at least substantially planar surface with apertures between structural support spokes that extend between a hub and a perimeter of the at least substantially planar surface of the water intake location and the water outgoing location is an at least substantially planar surface with apertures between structural supports that extend between a hub and a perimeter of the at least substantially planar surface of a water outgoing location.

7. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 1, wherein the a water intake location of the water filter is an at least substantially planar surface with apertures between structural support spokes that extend between a hub and a perimeter of the at least substantially planar surface of the water intake location and the water outgoing location is an at least substantially planar surface with apertures between structural supports that extend between a hub and a perimeter of the at least substantially planar surface of a water outgoing location.

8. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 6, wherein the apertures of the at least substantially planar surface are apertures between structural supports that extend between a hub and a perimeter of the at least substantially planar surface of a water outgoing location.

9. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 8, wherein the bottom portion side wall has a contiguously shaped exterior surface that is configured to frictionally engage a plurality of differently sized fluid vessel openings and the bottom portion has a single treated fluid outlet.

10. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 9, wherein the fluid filter is a water filter and the fluid treatment medium is a water treatment medium and a water intake location of the water filter is a top cap planar section that has a plurality of apertures configured to allow water flow therethrough and into contact with the fluid treatment medium and the water outgoing location is a base planar section that has a plurality of apertures configured to allow fluid flow therethrough.

11. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 10, wherein the water treatment medium reduces chlorine taste and odor components (CTO) per NSF 42 to a minimum of 60 gallons.

12. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 1, wherein the fluid treatment medium is a gravity driven water treatment medium that allows for a water flow rate of at least about two liter per minute of flow through the water treatment medium under a force of gravity.

13. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 1, wherein the fluid filter comprising a fluid filter housing with an interior volume containing the fluid treatment medium positioned within the fluid filter housing wherein the housing comprises a top surface with a plurality of apertures for receiving a fluid through the top surface and into contact with the fluid treatment medium, a bottom surface with a plurality of apertures for delivering treated fluid to the bottom portion, and at least one perimeter wall extending between the top surface and the bottom surface wherein the at least one perimeter wall has an exterior surface and at least one outwardly projecting lip positioned between the bottom surface of the fluid filter housing and about ⅔ of the distance up from the bottom surface toward the top surface of the fluid filter housing.

14. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 13, wherein the at least one perimeter wall has at least one visible indicator thereon that is visible through a cutout portion of the bottom portion of the gravity fluid treatment device.

15. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 14, wherein the bottom portion of the gravity-driven fluid treatment device further comprises: an overmolded material that is matingly engaged with a host component of the bottom portion and the overmolded material is a separate plastic or elastomeric material, and an interior projecting shelf extending about the interior of the bottom portion and configured to engage the outwardly projecting lip of the fluid filter housing.

16. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 15, wherein filter housing is cylindrical and further comprises at least one or a plurality of tabular members extending downward from the outwardly projecting lip and away from the at least one perimeter wall and wherein the bottom portion further comprises a plurality of spaced apart tabular members that extend into the interior volume of the bottom portion and define spaces therebetween that are configured to receive the tabular members of the filter housing.

17. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 16, wherein the tabular members have an upper shelf that extends into the interior of the bottom portion and tapered sides extending downward toward a treated fluid outlet of the bottom portion and wherein the filter housing is removably engaged and disengaged with the bottom portion by hand and without the use of tools.

18. The gravity-driven fluid treatment device of claim 1, wherein the top portion has a perimeter rim section proximate the bottom perimeter wherein the perimeter rim section is indented a specific distance that defines a perimeter rim such that the top portion and the bottom portion create a substantially contiguous surface along the exterior of the gravity filter when the top portion and the bottom portion are engaged with one another; The perimeter rim section has a plurality of outwardly extending tabs that are received in tab receiving gaps on an interior surface of the bottom portion and when the top portion is rotated the tabs are moved into engagement with grooves on the interior surface and proximate the tab receiving gaps and wherein the gravity-driven fluid treatment device is drop-shaped and the bottom portion is funnel shaped.

19. A gravity-driven water filter comprising: a bottom portion having at least one treated water outlet, an upper perimeter, and a bottom portion side wall that defines an interior volume of the bottom portion and wherein the bottom portion side wall is a shaped surface that is configured to frictionally engage a plurality of differently sized fluid vessel openings and still allow treated water to be delivered to the interior of a fluid vessel through at least one treated water outlet; a water filter comprising a water treatment medium positioned within the water filter wherein the water filter is operably engaged with the bottom portion and having a water intake location and a water outgoing location that delivers treated water to the interior volume of the bottom portion and out of the at least one treated water outlet of the bottom portion wherein the water filter is configured to reduce chlorine taste and odor components (CTO) per NSF 42 to a minimum of 60 gallons and allows for a water flow rate of at least about two liter per minute of flow through the water treatment medium under a force of gravity and wherein the water filter includes a water filter housing with an interior volume containing the water treatment medium positioned within the water filter housing wherein the water filter housing comprises a top surface with a plurality of apertures for receiving water through the top surface and into contact with the water treatment medium, a bottom surface with a plurality of apertures for delivering treated water to the bottom portion, and at least one perimeter wall extending between the top surface and the bottom surface wherein the at least one perimeter wall has an exterior surface and at least one outwardly projecting lip positioned between the bottom surface of the water treatment housing and about ⅔ of the distance up from the bottom surface toward the top surface of the water filter housing wherein the outwardly projecting lip rests upon a shelf on the interior of the bottom portion and extends inwardly toward the interior of the bottom portion; a top portion having an interior volume defined by at least one wall forming a curved exterior, at least one water inlet, and a bottom perimeter defining an opening and wherein the top portion is configured to received water from at least one water inlet and the bottom perimeter defines an opening that is configured to allow water from the at least one water inlet to flow into contact with an intake surface of the water filter; and wherein the water filter is configured to be removably engaged by hand without the use of tools from the bottom portion and the fluid filter, the bottom portion and the top portion are each configured to be removably engaged and disengaged to allow for replacement of the filter and reassembly of the gravity-driven water filter assembly by hand and without the use of tools.

20. A gravity-driven water filter assembly comprising: a bottom portion having at least one treated water outlet, an upper perimeter, and a bottom portion side wall that defines an interior volume of the bottom portion and wherein the bottom portion side wall is a shaped surface that is configured to frictionally engage a plurality of differently sized water vessel openings and still allow treated water to be delivered to the interior of water vessel through the at least one treated water outlets at the bottom portion of the gravity-driven water treatment device, wherein the bottom portion further comprises: an overmolded material matingly engaged with a host component of the bottom portion and the overmolded material is a plastic or elastomeric material that is separate from the host component; a water filter comprising a water treatment medium positioned within the water filter wherein the water filter is operably engaged with the bottom portion and having a water intake location and a water outgoing location that delivers treated water to the interior volume of the bottom portion and out of the at least one treated water outlet of the bottom portion wherein the water filter is configured to reduce chlorine taste and odor components (CTO) per NSF 42 to a minimum of 60 gallons and allows for a water flow rate of at least about two liter per minute of flow through the water treatment medium under the force of gravity and wherein the water filter includes a water filter housing with an interior volume containing the water treatment medium positioned within the water filter housing wherein the water filter housing comprises a top surface with a plurality of apertures for receiving water through the top surface and into contact with the water treatment medium, a bottom surface with a plurality of apertures for delivering treated water to the bottom portion, and at least one perimeter wall extending between the top surface and the bottom surface wherein the at least one perimeter wall has an exterior surface and at least one outwardly projecting lip positioned between the bottom surface of the fluid treatment housing and about ⅔ of the distance up from the bottom surface toward the top surface of the water filter housing wherein the outwardly projecting lip rests upon a shelf on the interior of the bottom portion and extending inwardly toward the interior of the bottom portion; and a top portion having an interior volume defined by at least one wall forming a curved exterior, at least one water inlet, and a bottom perimeter defining an opening and wherein the top portion is configured to received water from at least one water inlet and the bottom perimeter defines an opening configured to allow water from the at least one water inlet to flow into contact with an intake surface of the water filter; wherein the water filter is configured to be removably engaged by hand without the use of tools from the bottom portion and the water filter, the bottom portion and the top portion are each configured to be removably engaged and disengaged to allow for replacement of the water filter and reassembly of the gravity-driven water filter assembly by hand and without the use of tools; wherein water filter housing is cylindrically shaped and further comprises at least one or a plurality of tabular members extending downward from the outwardly projecting lip and away from the at least one perimeter wall and wherein the bottom portion further comprises a plurality of spaced apart tabular members that extend into the interior volume of the bottom portion and define spaces therebetween that are configured to receive the tabular members of the filter housing and wherein the tabular members have an upper shelf extending into the interior volume of the bottom portion and tapered sides extending downward toward the treated water outlet of the bottom portion; and wherein the at least one perimeter wall has at least one visible indicator thereon that is visible through a cutout portion of the bottom portion of the gravity-driven water filter assembly.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/733,020, filed on Dec. 4, 2012, entitled Water Filtration/Treatment System, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

An aspect of the present invention includes a gravity-driven fluid treatment device having: a bottom portion; a fluid filter; and a top portion. The bottom portion has at least one treated fluid outlet, an upper perimeter, and a bottom portion side wall defining an interior volume of the bottom portion. The bottom portion side wall is a shaped surface that is configured to frictionally engage a plurality of differently sized fluid vessel openings and still allow treated fluid to be delivered to the interior of a fluid vessel through the at least one treated fluid outlets. The fluid filter includes a fluid treatment medium positioned within the fluid filter where the fluid filter is operably engaged with the bottom portion and has a fluid intake location and a fluid outgoing location that delivers treated fluid to the interior volume of the bottom portion and out of the at least one treated fluid outlet of the bottom portion. The top portion has an interior volume defined by at least one wall, at least one fluid inlet, and a bottom perimeter defining an opening and where the top portion is configured to received fluid from at least one fluid inlet and the bottom perimeter defines an opening that is configured to allow fluid from the at least one fluid inlet to flow into contact with an intake surface of the fluid filter. The fluid filter is configured to be removably engaged by hand without the use of tools from the bottom portion and the fluid filter, the bottom portion and the top portion are each configured to be removably engaged and disengaged to allow for replacement of the filter and reassembly of the entire gravity-driven fluid treatment device by hand and without the use of tools.

Yet another aspect of the present invention is generally directed toward a gravity-driven water filter that includes a bottom portion, a water filter and a top portion. The bottom portion has at least one treated water outlet, an upper perimeter, and a bottom portion side wall that defines an interior volume of the bottom portion. The bottom portion side wall is a shaped surface configured to frictionally engage a plurality of differently sized fluid vessel openings and still allow treated water to be delivered to the interior of a fluid vessel through at least one treated water outlets.

The water filter includes a water treatment medium positioned within the water filter wherein the water filter is operably engaged with the bottom portion and having a water intake location and a water outgoing location that delivers treated water to the interior volume of the bottom portion and out of the at least one treated water outlet of the bottom portion. The water filter is configured to reduce chlorine taste and odor components (CTO) per NSF 42 to a minimum of 60 gallons and allow for a water flow rate of at least about two liter per minute of flow through the water treatment medium under the force of gravity. The water filter includes a water filter housing with an interior volume containing the water treatment medium positioned within the water filter housing. The water filter housing includes a top surface with a plurality of apertures for receiving water through the top surface and into contact with the water treatment medium, a bottom surface with a plurality of apertures for delivering treated water to the bottom portion, and at least one perimeter wall extending between the top surface and the bottom surface. The at least one perimeter wall has an exterior surface and at least one outwardly projecting lip positioned between the bottom surface of the fluid treatment housing and about ⅔ or ½ of the distance up from the bottom surface toward the top surface of the water filter housing. The outwardly projecting lip rests upon a shelf on the interior of the bottom portion that also extends inwardly toward the interior of the bottom portion.

The top portion has an interior volume defined by at least one wall forming a curved exterior, at least one water inlet, and a bottom perimeter defining an opening. The top portion is configured to received water from at least one water inlet and the bottom perimeter defines an opening that is configured to allow water from the at least one water inlet to flow into contact with an intake surface of the water filter. The water filter is configured to be removably engaged by hand without the use of tools from the bottom portion and the fluid filter, the bottom portion and the top portion are each configured to be removably engaged and disengaged to allow for replacement of the filter and reassembly of the overall gravity filter assembly by hand and without the use of tools.

Yet another aspect of the present invention is generally directed toward a gravity-driven water filter assembly that includes a bottom portion, a water filter and a top portion. The bottom portion has at least one treated water outlet, an upper perimeter, and a bottom portion side wall that defines an interior volume of the bottom portion. The bottom portion side wall is a shaped surface configured to frictionally engage a plurality of differently sized water vessel openings and still allow treated water to be delivered to the interior of the water vessel through the at least one treated water outlets at the bottom portion of the gravity-driven water treatment device. The bottom portion further includes an overmolded material matingly engaged with a host component of the bottom portion. The overmolded material is a plastic or elastomeric material from the host component.

The water filter includes a water treatment medium positioned within the water filter where the water filter is operably engaged with the bottom portion and has a water intake/incoming location and a water outgoing location that delivers treated water to the interior volume of the bottom portion and out of the at least one treated water outlet of the bottom portion. The water filter is configured to reduce chlorine taste and odor components (CTO) per NSF 42 to a minimum of 60 gallons and allows for a water flow rate of at least about one or two liter per minute of flow through the water treatment medium under the force of gravity. The water filter includes a water filter housing with an interior volume containing the water treatment medium positioned within the water filter housing. The housing includes a top surface with a plurality of apertures for receiving water through the top surface and into contact with the water treatment medium, a bottom surface with a plurality of apertures for delivering treated water to the bottom portion, and at least one perimeter wall extending between the top surface and the bottom surface where the at least one perimeter wall has an exterior surface and at least one outwardly projecting lip positioned between the bottom surface of the fluid treatment housing and about ½ to about ⅔ of the distance up from the bottom surface toward the top surface of the water filter housing. The outwardly projecting lip rests upon a shelf on the interior of the bottom portion and extends inwardly toward the interior of the bottom portion.

The top portion has an interior volume defined by at least one wall forming a curved exterior, at least one water inlet, and a bottom perimeter defining an opening. The top portion is configured to received water from at least one water inlet and the bottom perimeter defines an opening that is configured to allow water from the at least one inlet to flow into contact with an intake surface of the water filter.

The water filter is further configured to be removably engaged by hand without the use of tools from the bottom portion and the water filter, the bottom portion and the top portion are each configured to be removably engaged and disengaged to allow for replacement of the water filter and reassembly of the overall gravity-driven water filter assembly by hand and without the use of tools.

The water filter housing is typically cylindrically shaped and further includes at least one or a plurality of tabular members extending downward from the outwardly projecting lip and away from the at least one perimeter wall. The bottom portion further typically includes a plurality of spaced apart tabular members extending into the interior volume of the bottom portion and defining spaces therebetween that are configured to receive the tabular members of the filter housing. The tabular members have an upper shelf extending into the interior volume of the bottom portion and tapered sides extending downward toward the treated water outlet of the bottom portion. The at least one perimeter wall may have at least one visible indicator thereon that is visible through a cutout portion of the bottom portion of the gravity water treatment device. These and other features, advantages, and objects of the present disclosure will be further understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art by reference to the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front prospective view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is an elevated front view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 3 is a top view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 5A is an exploded view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to another aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure taken along the plain of VI-VI in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of the bottom funnel portion of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 8 is a top view of the bottom funnel portion according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the bottom funnel portion taken along lines IX-IX in FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of the bottom funnel portion taken along lines X-X in FIG. 8;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the top cap portion of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 12 is a bottom view of the top cap portion of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 13 is an elevated side view of the top cap portion according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view of the top cap taken along lines XIV-XIV in FIG. 12;

FIG. 15 is a front perspective view of the filter of the drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 15A is a front perspective view of the filter of the drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to another aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 16 is a front perspective view of the filter according to an aspect of the present disclosure with the top filter media retention element removed showing the interior of the filter;

FIG. 16A is a front perspective view of the filter according to another aspect of the present disclosure with the top filter media retention element removed showing the interior of the filter;

FIG. 17 is a top view of the filter according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 18 is a bottom view of the filter according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 19 is a side view of the filter according to an aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 19A is a reduced height version of the filter of FIG. 19;

FIG. 20 is a cross-sectional view of the filter shown in FIG. 19 according to an aspect of the present disclosure taken along lines XX-XX in FIG. 17;

FIG. 20A is a cross-sectional view of the filter of FIG. 19A;

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to another aspect of the present disclosure seated within a stand;

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly of the present disclosure seated within a vessel such as a beverage container or pitcher;

FIG. 23 is a side view of another aspect of the drop-shaped gravity filter assembly operably (threadably) engaged to a faucet;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a drop-shaped gravity filter assembly according to another aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 25 is a perspective view of a shaped gravity filter assembly positioned on a liquid retaining vessel and having a conical top;

FIG. 26 is a perspective view showing alternatively sized drop-shaped gravity filters according to the present disclosure that are sized to fit variously sized vessel openings;

FIG. 27 is a perspective view of the filter according to another aspect of the present disclosure;

FIG. 28 is a perspective view of the filter shown in FIG. 26 with the top cap portion removed;

FIG. 29 is an elevated side view of the filter shown in FIG. 26;

FIG. 30 is a top view of the filter shown in FIG. 26;

FIG. 31 is a bottom view of the filter shown in FIG. 26;

FIG. 32 is a cross-section view of the filter of FIG. 26 taken along line XXXII-XXXII; and

FIG. 33 is a bottom view of a filter, such as the filter shown in FIG. 26, according to another aspect of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

For purposes of description herein, the terms “upper,” “lower,” “right,” “left,” “rear,” “front,” “vertical,” “horizontal,” and derivatives thereof shall relate to the disclosure as oriented in FIG. 1. However, it is to be understood that the disclosure may assume various alternative orientations, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings, and described in the following specification are simply exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the appended claims. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting, unless the claims expressly state otherwise.

It will be understood by one having ordinary skill in the art that construction of the described disclosure and other components is not limited to any specific material. Other exemplary embodiments of the disclosure disclosed herein may be formed from a wide variety of materials, unless described otherwise herein. In this specification and the amended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

Where a range of values is provided, it is understood that each intervening value, to the tenth of the unit of the lower limit unless the context clearly dictates otherwise, between the upper and lower limit of that range, and any other stated or intervening value in that stated range, is encompassed within the disclosure. The upper and lower limits of these smaller ranges may independently be included in the smaller ranges, and are also encompassed within the disclosure, subject to any specifically excluded limit in the stated range. Where the stated range includes one or both of the limits, ranges excluding either or both of those included limits are also included in the disclosure.

It is also important to note that the construction and arrangement of the elements of the disclosure as shown in the exemplary embodiments is illustrative only. Although only a few embodiments of the present innovations have been described in detail in this disclosure, those skilled in the art who review this disclosure will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible (e.g., variations in sizes, dimensions, structures, shapes and proportions of the various elements, values of parameters, mounting arrangements, use of materials, colors, orientations, etc.) without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the subject matter recited. For example, elements shown as integrally formed may be constructed of multiple parts or elements shown as multiple parts may be integrally formed, the operation of the interfaces may be reversed or otherwise varied, the length or width of the structures and/or members or connector or other elements of the system may be varied, the nature or number of adjustment positions provided between the elements may be varied. It should be noted that the elements and/or assemblies of the system may be constructed from any of a wide variety of materials that provide sufficient strength or durability, in any of a wide variety of colors, textures, and combinations. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present innovations. Other substitutions, modifications, changes, and omissions may be made in the design, operating conditions, and arrangement of the desired and other exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit of the present innovations.

It will be understood that any described processes or steps within described processes may be combined with other disclosed processes or steps to form structures within the scope of the present disclosure. The exemplary structures and processes disclosed herein are for illustrative purposes and are not to be construed as limiting.

It is also to be understood that variations and modifications can be made on the aforementioned structures and methods without departing from the concepts of the present disclosure, and further it is to be understood that such concepts are intended to be covered by the following claims unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.

FIGS. 1-4 show an assembled gravity filter assembly of an aspect of the present disclosure. The gravity filter assembly is generally drop-shaped design, but conceivably could be any shape such as a cylinder-shaped design. The gravity filter assembly 10 may treat any fluid, but typically would be used to filter and/or treat water. The drop shaped gravity filter assembly 10 typically has at least a bottom funnel portion 12, a top cap portion 14, and a filter 16. The bottom funnel portion typically has a perimeter 18 that operably engages the filter 16 and the top cap portion when the components are assembled for use. The bottom funnel portion typically, but optionally, has a cutout portion 20 that allows for a portion of the exterior of the filter to show through and be visible to a user of the drop-shaped gravity filter. The outside surface 22 of the bottom funnel portion 12 typically has a curvilinear perimeter path that terminates at a liquid outlet 24, typically a water outlet, at the base 26 of the bottom funnel portion 12. The bottom funnel portion is conically shaped and tapers smoothly following the curvilinear path from the perimeter, which is typically circular, to the base 26. The bottom funnel portion 12, the top cap portion 14, and the filter 16 are typically constructed of a polymeric (plastic) material, but could also be constructed of glass or other material as well. The material may be opaque, translucent, or transparent. Typically, the bottom funnel portion 12 is opaque and the top cap portion 14 is transparent or translucent. The top cap portion typically has a liquid receiving aperture 28, which is typically circular, at the upper surface of the top cap section. The aperture 28 is typically sized to at least receive a given amount of water flow, which may be water flow from a faucet.

FIGS. 5 and 5A show exploded views of embodiments of the gravity filter assembly 10 according to the present disclosure. The drop-shaped gravity filter assembly bottom portion 12 typically has an over-molded material 30, which is typically a plastic or an elastomeric material that facilitates gripping of the filter by the user and/or the vessel it may be engaged with during a filtering operation. The over-molded material 30 also typically has a cutout portion 20b that matches the cutout portion 20a of the host component 32 of the overall bottom funnel portion 12 when a cutout portion 20 is present as part of the bottom funnel portion 12.

An aspect of the filter 16 is also shown exploded in FIG. 5 and another in FIG. 5A. The filter typically has a side wall section 34. The side wall section 34 has an outwardly projecting lip 36 typically positioned about two-thirds of the way to the top of the side wall section. The outwardly projecting lip 36 is typically positioned proximate the bottom of the side wall section, but may be up to about ½ to about ⅔ up the side wall section such that it divides the side wall section into a bottom portion 38 and an upper portion 40. The upper portion may have at least one, but typically has a plurality of indicators 42. The indicators are typically visible within the cutout portion 20. They typically function to indicate to the user when the filter should be replaced. When the filter has a six month useful life, for example, and the user inserts the filter in April, the user should, in the embodiment shown, place the filter within the bottom funnel portion, such that it mates with the bottom portion and displays “OCT” through the cutout portion as shown. In addition, a version is conceived where the indication shows both the install and end of life month abbreviation through the cutout portion 20. Also, as shown in FIGS. 15A, 16A, 19A, and 20A and described in more detail later, the filter 16 may be shorter and have the section of the side wall with the indicators 42 removed. As shown in FIG. 5A, a mesh material, which typically is a stainless steel mesh screen or a plastic (polyethylene or polypropylene) mesh screen 43 may be integrated or engaged with the filter base 44 and the filter top 60 as well.

The filter further typically includes a filter base 44, which may be spoked (reference numeral 45) about a hub 47, FIG. 18, or have a sufficient number and/or sized apertures 46 (or 46′ in FIG. 31) to allow water flow at a rate faster than the water flow through the filter material 48, which may be a permeable or porous, loose or a more compressed filter media. The filter base 44 can be a separate component that is engaged with the side wall section 34 or the filter base may be integrated with the side wall section as a single component. An O-ring 50 or other typically elastomeric material is spaced within a channel 52 in the upper portion 40 or atop the upper portion 40 of the filter side wall 34. The bottom portion 38 of the filter side wall 34 also typically includes at least one, but more typically a plurality, and most typically about three downwardly projecting tabular members 54. These tabular members are matingly received within spaces 56 between the interior projecting members 58, which are typically wedge-shaped members or are human incisor teeth-shaped and project into the interior of the bottom funnel portion 12 per FIG. 7. The interior projection members have an upper shelf 59 that extends into the interior of the bottom funnel portion as well as tapered sides 61 extending down toward the liquid outlet 24 (see FIGS. 7 and 8). This somewhat lock-and-key-type engagement, where the tabular members 54 are seated at least partially, more typically fully, within the spaces 56, between the filter 16 and the funnel portion 12 facilitates the secure, but easy engagement and disengagement of the filter by hand and without the use of tools with the bottom portion 12 without being treadably engaged with one another. The engagement also facilitates the engagement of the filter with the bottom filter portion in such a manner that the appropriate indicator, when employed, shows through the cutout portion and that only purposeful adjustment of the filter within the funnel will change the indicator when viewed through the cutout portion 20. As mentioned above, different height versions of the filter 16 are possible. In particular, a tall version as described above with indicators 42 arranged on side wall surface 34 as shown in FIGS. 15 and 16 and a shortened version without side wall section 38 and indicators 42 arranged on side wall surface 34 as shown in FIGS. 15A, 16A, 19A, and 20A.

The filter also typically has a filter top 60 that seals the filter material 48 within the overall filter 16. The filter top 60 typically a circular perimeter and typically has a perforated structural section 62 that is typically sized and shaped to fit within the side wall section 34 and rim 68 of the top cap portion 14. The perforated structural section is joined (shown, using spokes 66) with a hub 64, which typically is centrally located and has an upwardly projecting spindle 67 to facilitate it being grasped by a user. The perforated structural section allows for fluid, typically water, to flow through apertures 49 in the filter top and into engagement with the filter material 48 to allow the water or other fluid to be treated by the filter material.

The perimeter rim section 63 of the top cap portion 14 is typically indented a specific distanced from the outer curved wall portion 70 such that the outer curved wall portion mates with the bottom funnel portion 12 outside surface 22 and creates an at least substantially contiguous surface such that the exterior of the gravity filter assembly appears to be a smooth surface when assembled. The indented distanced creates a lip 72. As shown in FIGS. 5, 5A, 12 and 13, the perimeter rim section 63 outer surface 74 typically includes at least one, more typically a plurality of, and most typically about three slanted elongated members 76 that extend away from the outer surface 74 and are received in gaps 78 in the interior surface of the bottom funnel portion such that when the top cap portion is engaged with the bottom funnel portion and rotated, the elongated members 76 slide into engagement with the grooves 80 to retain the two in engagement with one another, but still allowing the two pieces to be disengaged and reengaged with one another by hand and without the use of tools. Alternative versions of the engagement members are shown in FIGS. 11-13, which show the members 76 that are smaller, more rectangular prism shaped members that may or may not be slanted. They are shown not slanted.

The interior of the bottom portion 12 also typically has an interior shelf 82 (see FIG. 7) that receives the lip 36 of the side wall of the filter 16 and engages the bottom surface of that lip 36. The top surface of the lip 36 typically engages the funnel engaging rim 68.

The at least one medium 48 is typically a filter medium, but conceivably could add components to the fluid (typically water) flowing through, or otherwise, into contact with the at least one medium 48. As discussed later in more detail, this could include chlorine or other halogens. Typically, the at least one medium is a filter medium 48. The medium is positioned within the filter 16 and may include: (1) material configured to treat water, especially water for human consumption, chosen from a treatment group consisting of filtering particulate matter from the water; (2) material that adds a descaling agent to the water, vitamins to the water, minerals to the water, and/or one or more pharmaceutically active agent(s); (3) material that removes specific soluble organic or in-organic elemental compounds and thus improves the taste of the water, removes odor from the water, and alters the color of the water; (4) reduces concentrations of heavy metals, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, specific pharmaceutically active agents; (5) removes cysts and micro-organisms; (6) adding a halogen such as bromine, iodine, chlorine compounds as a disinfectant agent to the water; (7) conditions the water such as softening through use of ion exchange resins or ALUSIL™ (an aluminosilicate) to change the chemical structure of calcium chloride in solution to reduce scaling deposition; or (8) combinations of any or all of the above materials.

The descaling agents that may be added to the fluid by the treatment medium may be chosen from the group consisting of organic acid, inorganic acid, sulfonic acid, carboxylic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, formic acid, oxalic acid, uric acid, phosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid, sulfamic acid, and mixtures thereof. The water treatment medium contained in the filter may also be chosen from the group consisting of: carbon (e.g., activated carbon particles, such as mesoporous activated carbon, carbon powder, particles sintered with a plastic binder, carbon particles coated with a silver containing material, or a block of porous carbon); ion exchange material (e.g., resin beads, flat filtration membranes, fibrous filtration structures, etc.); zeolite particles or coatings (e.g., silver loaded); polyethylene; charged-modified, melt-blown, or microfiber glass webs; alumina; aluminosilicate material; and diatomaceous earth. The water treatment medium may also be impregnated or otherwise disposed on a porous support substrate, such as a fabric material, a paper material, a polymer screen, or other conceivable porous structures that may be contained in the filter.

The water treatment medium 48 typically allows a water flow rate of at least approximately one to two liters per minute. The medium typically also reduces chlorine, taste and odor components (CTO) per NSF 42 to minimum of 60 gallons and Atrazine, Benzene, Alachlor and Lindane per NSF 53 for minimum of 60 gallons. The filter medium 48 also typically removes lead, copper, mercury, cadmium and arsenic (pH 6.5 per NSF 53 2004 standard) for up to 60 gallons, sfd. Media from Selecto described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,241,893 and 6,764,601, the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety, may be used. The filter medium does not typically require any presoaking and does not typically contain any carbon fines, in particular carbon fines that might find their way to the treated water, which often occurs when current carbon based gravity filters are used.

An alternative version of a gravity filter assembly of the present disclosure is shown in FIGS. 21-23. The drop-shaped gravity filter assembly 210 includes a bulbous bottom portion with at least one treated fluid (water) outlet aperture, but preferably a plurality of treated fluid outlet apertures 200, which results in a discharge pattern resembling rainfall. The drop-shaped gravity filter assembly 210 typically also may employ an inlet plug 204 that may be threadably or otherwise engaged and disengaged with the top cap portion 214 in such a manner as to seal the inlet and allow the filter to be engage via a hook, clasp, or other attachment device 209 to a backpack or other carrying device via at least one aperture 208. The filter as shown in this version includes a plurality of apertures 267 instead of spokes. Either may be used as a pathway for water to enter into the filter in any of various versions. The filter also has an alternative hub 264, which is a flat planar upwardly extending member instead of a more spindle type construction. As with other versions of the drop-shaped filter, the bulbous design or the funnel shaped bottom portion engages a plurality of vessels with differently sized openings in their top such as differently sized pitchers 292. Also, as shown in FIG. 21, the bulbous drop-shaped water filter may engage a flat planar stand 284, which keeps it from rolling or moving on a flat countertop or other surface the filter is placed upon.

FIGS. 24-25 show additional aspects of the present disclosure. The filter shown in FIG. 24 is a filter 700 with a more cup-shaped top portion 702 with a water inlet aperture 704. The bottom portion 706 is substantially conical shaped with angled side section 708. The upper tabs 710 engage mating cutouts 712 of the top portion 702. The filter 714 has apertures 716 and an upwardly extending post 718 with a head 720 for the user to grasp to engage and disengage the filter according to this embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 25 shows another aspect of the present disclosure similar to the filter shown in FIG. 24, but showing an interchangeable top portion due the common tab feature 710 with an upwardly opening funnel portion that feeds the water inlet aperture. FIG. 25 also demonstrates how the filter with the universal filter within it may function to fill vessels of any size with treated and/or filtered water or other fluids. FIG. 25 shows the filter 700 frictionally engaged along the bottom conical surface of the filter.

As shown in FIG. 23, the filter 900 according to another aspect of the present disclosure may be directly engaged, typically threadably engaged, in a watertight sealed manner to a faucet 902. The filter media within the filter that treats water according to the embodiment of FIG. 23 may be used so long as the pressure does not exceed atmospheric pressure plus the height of the water within the filter and/or a water flow rate that is slow enough to still effectively treat water passing through or coming into contact with the filter media.

An alternative filter 16′ of the present disclosure is shown in FIGS. 27-32. The filter top 60′ is domed shaped. A mesh material 43′ is typically engaged with the top of the filter side wall section 34′, for example within a slot (not shown) that runs about the interior perimeter surface of the filter side wall section 34′. The mesh screen material 43′ across the top of the filter and beneath the domed filter top 60′ is typically constructed of stainless steel or a plastic material such as polypropylene or polyethylene or other thermoplastic polymer material. The mesh is constructed and engaged with the filter side wall such that it is capable and configured to expand upward into the domed section if the filter material 48′ expands. The top mesh 43′ may be heat staked to the side wall section. Alternatively, it could be positioned within a slot described above. The mesh material may also be less than taut across the top of the filter in order to further facilitate this expansion. When engaged within a slot, the expansion may also facilitated by the mesh screens engagement to the side wall section 34′ such that it laterally moves, if necessary, within a slot on the interior surface of the side wall as discussed above. Other engagements, constructions and materials that allow for the mesh screen to expand while still retaining the filter material can also be employed. The filter material 48′ may be a loose media and not a compressed media.

The side wall section 34′ is integral with the filter base 44′ according to this aspect of the present disclosure. The side wall section 34′ and the base 44′ are typically injection molded thermoplastic material such as polypropylene or polyethylene. These components form a “can” like structure with a generally U-shaped cross-section. The mesh component 43′ positioned at the base is typically integrally engaged to the base and molded into the base. The mesh may be constructed of any of the materials discussed above that might be used for the screen on the top of the filter.

As shown in FIG. 31, the filter may also employ an open cell polyethylene expansion block 33′. The open cell material could conceivably be another polymer material. This material's primary function is as a safeguard against damage caused by expansion of the filter material 48′. If the filter material 48′ has already been hydrated and is a type of filter media that expands such that the filter media has already expanded into the domed portion of the filter, this material prevents damage if, for example, the filter in such a condition is placed into a freezing environment that would cause the water within the filter material to further expand as it becomes solid.

The apertures 49′ in the domed filter top 60′ are shown shaped as raindrops, but could be any shape desired. The apertures 46′ in the base are typically smaller apertures that have a square cross-section with apertures having a diameter of from about 0.5 mm to about 2.0 mm, more typically from about 1.0 mm to about 2.0 mm. A slightly modified pattern of apertures 46″ are shown in FIG. 32. The apertures of FIG. 32 are typically similarly sized as discussed above. The apertures are distributed in a generally spoked pattern about a central ring of apertures and have an outer ring of apertures around the peripheral portion of the base as shown in FIG. 32. This size and shape of aperture in the base (see FIG. 32) causes the filtered/treated water to fall into a vessel or into the bottom funnel portion in a manner that drips across the surface of the base and resembles rainfall.