|Publication number||US20050087554 A1|
|Application number||US 10/875,078|
|Publication date||Apr 28, 2005|
|Filing date||Jun 23, 2004|
|Priority date||Jun 15, 2001|
|Also published as||CA2450117A1, CA2450117C, CN1281477C, CN1516676A, EP1414736A1, EP1414736A4, US7175054, US20030071069, US20060191960, US20070210111, US20100209313, WO2002102706A1|
|Publication number||10875078, 875078, US 2005/0087554 A1, US 2005/087554 A1, US 20050087554 A1, US 20050087554A1, US 2005087554 A1, US 2005087554A1, US-A1-20050087554, US-A1-2005087554, US2005/0087554A1, US2005/087554A1, US20050087554 A1, US20050087554A1, US2005087554 A1, US2005087554A1|
|Original Assignee||Shelton James J.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (51), Referenced by (4), Classifications (24), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This is a continuation-in-part of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/881,796 filed Jun. 15, 2001 and co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/954,849, filed Sep. 18, 2001, which is a continuation of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/472,320, filed Dec. 23, 1999 which is a continuation-in-part of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/220,554, filed Dec. 23, 1998, all hereby incorporated herein by reference.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to bottled water (preferably refrigerated) dispensers, and more particularly to an improved bottled water dispenser for dispensing water that has been sanitized using ozone and more particularly to an improved method and apparatus for sanitizing water that is to be dispensed from a water cooler of the type having a cabinet with one or more spigots that are manually operable to dispense water from a reservoir water supply that is hidden inside the cabinet.
2. General Background of the Invention
There are several types of cabinet type water dispensers in use today. One of the most common types of such water dispensers is a floor standing cabinet having an open top that receives a large inverted bottle. The bottle is typically of a plastic or glass material having a constricted neck. The bottle is turned upside down and placed on the top of the cabinet with the neck of the bottle extending into a water filled reservoir so that the water seeks its own level in the reservoir during use. As a user draws water from a spigot dispenser, the liquid level in the reservoir drops until it falls below the neck of the bottle at which time water flows from the bottle and bubbles enter the bottle until pressure has equalized. Inverted bottle type water dispensers are sold by a number of companies in the United States and elsewhere. Many are refrigerated.
Other types of water dispensers have an outer cabinet that contains a reservoir or water supply. These other types of water dispensers having a cabinet include one type that stores a large bottle (such as three or five gallon) at the bottom of the cabinet. A pump transfers water from the large bottle to the reservoir. At the reservoir, the water is typically refrigerated.
Another type of water dispenser simply connects a water supply directly to a reservoir that is hidden inside the cabinet. A float valve or other water level controller can be provided to insure that the reservoir is always filled with water but does not overflow. Water that is transferred from city water, well water or another source can be filtered or otherwise treated before being transmitted to the reservoir.
All of these types of water dispensers that employ cabinets typically have one or more water dispensing spigots on the outside of the cabinet. These spigots are typically manually operated.
One of the problems with cabinet style water dispensers is that of cleansing the reservoir from time to time. Because the reservoir is not air tight, it breathes so that bacteria can easily enter the reservoir over a period of time. The reservoirs are typically contained within the confines of the cabinet and are not easily accessed and cleaned by consumers or end users.
For inverted bottle type dispensers, in addition to the problem of an open top, the five gallon bottles are themselves a source of bacteria and germs. Most of these bottles are transported on trucks where the bottles are exposed to outside air. They are handled by operators that typically grab the bottle at the neck, the very part of the bottle that communicates with the open reservoir during use. Unfortunately, it is difficult to convince every person that handles these bottles to wash their hands frequently enough.
In order to properly sanitize such a water dispenser or cooler, the user must carefully clean the neck of the bottle prior to combining the bottle with the cabinet. Further, the user should drain and sanitize the reservoir from time to time. The cleansing of the reservoir in such a water dispenser is a time consuming project that is typically not performed at regular intervals.
The dispensing spigots that are provided on common cabinet type water dispensers can also be a source of contamination. These spigots are typically manually operated and are therefore a source of contamination from the user's that operate them. Very small children have also been known to drink directly from the spigot, probably because the spigot is located at a distance above the ground that closely matches the elevation of a child's mouth at an early age. Therefore, sanitation of the spigots as well as the reservoir should be a part of routine maintenance.
The present invention provides an improved self sanitizing water dispenser apparatus as well as a method for generating ozone for cleaning the reservoir and the water contained within it.
The present invention provides a self sanitizing cabinet type water dispenser that includes a cabinet having upper and lower end portions, the upper end portion of the cabinet having a cover. The upper end portion can house a reservoir that receives water (eg. filtered) from a municipal water system, well, or from a contained bottle. An upper opening can be provided in some models for receiving and holding an inverted a bottle of water (eg. 3-5 gallon) to be dispensed. The bottle contains water to be dispensed, and provides a neck portion and a dispensing outlet portion.
A reservoir contained within the cabinet holds water to be cooled and dispensed. A refrigeration system cools the water within the reservoir. The reservoir can optionally be heated. A diffuser (eg. ring) emits bubbles into the reservoir, the diffuser being disposed within the reservoir at the lower end portion thereof and preferably next to the reservoir wall so that bubbles emitted by the diffuser help scrub the reservoir wall.
An ozone generator is supported within the housing. Flow lines communicate with an air pump to carry ozone from the ozone generator housing to the diffuser. A blower generates flow and a flow line connects the blower to the ozone generator housing. In the preferred embodiment, ozone can be transmitted to the reservoir or to a flow channel that is upstream of the water dispensing spigot(s).
The spigot is provided with a switch for activating the ozone generator for a selected time interval. The ozone generator is activated for a selected time interval (e.g. a few minutes). After the selected time interval, the ozone generator is shut off. The air pump continues air flow for a time period (eg. a few minutes) in order to help disperse any odor of ozone. The air pump is then shut off and the refrigeration system compressor starts operation again to cool the water.
The diffuser can be a ring shape, positioned around the side of the reservoir at the bottom of the reservoir. Such a ring diffuser can be positioned close to the intersection of the reservoir bottom wall and reservoir side wall.
The diffuser can be of a composite construction that includes a porous core that is partially covered with a non-porous coating.
The reservoir preferably has a center portion and the diffuser ring preferably has openings positioned to direct air away from the center portion of the reservoir.
The reservoir can include a generally vertical side wall. The diffuser can be positioned to discharge bubbles against the side wall so that the side wall is scrubbed with ozone bubbles during sanitizing of the reservoir.
The ozone generator housing can be comprised of an upper housing section, a lower housing section and a gasket positioned in between the upper and lower sections. An ozone generator is contained within the interior of the housing. Fittings on the housing enable air to flow into and out of the housing. A blower generates air flow to carry air into the ozone housing and from the ozone generator housing to the air diffuser. Optionally, a HEPA filter can be provided at the air intake removes airborne microorganisms.
The present invention provides a compact, brief, high intensity, automated ozonation cycle and water cooler sanitization system and an improved ozone generating “tube” (see
A final need for systems integration and compactness is unit component cost, simplicity and reliability. The present invention provides an apparatus that is simple, reliable, rugged, and cost effective, and displays the ability to deliver a low cost, concentrated stream of ozone to a diffusion system needed to repeatedly “spike ozonate” small, changing static volumes of water or to an on demand faucet dispensed water flow stream. With the present invention, contact-diffusion brevity is imperative in achieving levels of sanitization not previously possible by micro-ozonation systems and small UV sanitization systems alike. This level of ozone concentration from air fed mini-ozonators has not been available for water cooler sanitization in the past, being available only in bulky form requiring either chilled feed gas, bottled oxygen or LOX as feed gas.
The present invention provides high output mini- and micro-ozonators suitable for intermittent short cycle ozonation. In this manner, in addition to cooler sanitation, the dispensed water quality is assured of being sanitary for consumption at all times. The present invention provides a spigot/faucet configured with a microswitch connected to an ozonator power circuit causing circuit activation during the time interval that the microswitch remains depressed. Alternatively, a faucet can be configured so that if depressed several times repeatedly, it signals a timer/controller to activate an air pump and ozonator until released.
In another embodiment, a reservoir volume-pressure change float sensor or air or water borne differential pressure transducer can be mounted in the cooler reservoir can be used to cause the ozonator to remain in operation until pressure restabilizes after dispensing is terminated.
Ozone is supplied by an ozonator/pump to a faucet water channel by an ozone supply line to an additional diffuser located in the spigot water channel for injecting small quantities of diffused ozone into the flow stream for making and dispensing freshly ozonated water without fear of an ozone in air safety hazard. The safe and effective antiseptic properties of freshly ozonated water are known and offer a safe and effective means for sanitizing cooler exterior, drinking utensils or for neutralizing potential biohazards and hazardous organic chemical spills.
The present invention provides an energy efficient, low cost, intermittent repetitive reservoir and reservoir water spike treatment with a concentrated ozone cycle activated either by cooler compressor cycle or through timer/controller circuit with cooler compressor remaining in operation, brief ozonation time to bacteria-static levels followed by passive dissipation time interval, cycling continuously over a 24 hour daily period, and/or manual ozonator activation for dispensing freshly ozonated water, ozonated to non-taste, non-harmful, bacteria-static levels. In this fashion, no harmful bacteria is contained in the remaining bottled water or cooler reservoir or water dispensed from a municipal source fed point of use.
The present invention's higher outputs and alternative cycling has been demonstrated effective in mixing transfer of diffused ozone and resultant secondary peroxyl group residuals from cooler reservoir water to water contained in water bottle over time by standard indigo dye test where indigo dye is introduced into a cooler reservoir, a water bottle containing water is added, dye dissolves and transfers to a bottled water coloring the water blue. After an ozonation cycle is run, the diffused ozone mixing transfer to water bottle is observed when the oxidant sensitive dye degrades and water color returns to transparent.
These new features extend the water service industry's onsite automatic sanitization options to include not only cooler reservoir and bottled water sanitization, but to faucet watercourses and dispensed water as well. The same timer/controller circuit found on auto-cycling cooler sanitizers with sufficient micro-chip memory can be programmed to include both long cycle compressor disconnect, ice ring melting, ozonation to antiseptic conditions, subsequent dissipation, compressor reconnect and intermittent repetitive bacteria-static cycle cooler sanitization cycles as well as the manual override activated freshly ozonated, dispensed water function.
Where only an intermittent spike ozonation cycle is required, the timer circuit in some cases may be eliminated and a more simple, cost effective ozonator-pump-diffuser set-up can be installed on a cooler by power circuit attachment to the cooler compressor so that pump and ozonator cycle with the cooling cycle.
In the event a compressor cycle is longer than needed for achieving antiseptic conditions, the above set-up may require a simplified programmable timer/controller circuit that allows for start-up with the compressor, but shuts off after a bacteria-static diffused ozone level cycle width has occurred. The cycles that are available with the present invention were not formerly possible or provided for by prior art examples of retrofitted or integral auto-cycling water cooler air-fed micro-ozonator due to their inability to achieve ozone concentrations and diffusion transfer needed to “spike ozonate” a standard cooler's static two (2) liter volume maximum of water much less that of larger volume coolers exceeding 1 gallon reservoir volumes or small dispensing flow stream's flow rate maximum of 21/min to at least bacteria-static levels under the imposed time constraints.
The ozone concentration required to spike ozonate water with the proper diffusion technology operating at low pressure is 3-4 times the output of the highest output prior art micro-ozonators known to applicant, meaning a micro-ozonator capable of continuously delivering 600-800 mg/hr ozone concentration in air coupled to a state of the art low bubble pressure, micro-porous, hydrophobic ceramic material diffuser (preferably of a ring shape) mounted on the cooler reservoir bottom like that disclosed in prior U.S. Pat. No. 6,289,690. The desired ozone output has been accomplished by simple substitution of this discharge tube embodiment for prior art in said prior art's power circuit contained within its existing case.
The intermittent repetitive cycle widths for a cooler micro-ozonator system activated by timer/controller circuit can be based effectively on how different water species respond to ozone. Acidic water species are easy to ozonate, but require more time for diffused ozone to dissipate from the water to below taste levels, whereas basic or alkaline water species resist ozonation and will not hold diffused ozone for any length of time at any given water temperature.
Ideally, for a given cooler reservoir water temperature average of 40 F, the intermittent, repetitive cycle ozonation cycle should be based on the length of time it takes to spike ozonate a pH 9 water volume to bacteria-static levels with a dissipation time equal to that requiring pH 5.2 distilled water to be free of dissolved ozone content in order to accommodate all water species using a single pre-programmed timer cycle.
An additional factor of concern related to spike ozonation cycles is the presence of bromine in source waters. Ozonation above certain levels of diffused ozone in water converts bromine and certain bromine compounds to bromate, a suspected carcinogen. FDA Safe Drinking Water Act regulations have recently been amended to include a maximum contaminant level for bromate in drinking water of 10 mg/1, possible decreasing to 5 mg/1 within a year. Ozone oxidation of bromine to bromates is a function of ozone concentration, exposure time, temperature and water pH.
The various solute bearing water species at risk for oxidative conversion of bromine to bromate range in pH from 1-7, more specifically fresh and processed water supplies of pH 5-7, the range from distilled water through pH neutral mineral bearing water sources commonly used in bottled product. Thus spike ozonation may be the only safe, effective and cost effective means for controlling bromate production in water undergoing ozonation while achieving adequate levels of disinfection and/or sanitization. Luckily, cooler water temperatures are low enough to alleviate some of the potential difficulty. Water briefly spiked with ozone, held at levels below the diffused ozone concentration threshold for bromate production over brief intervals will result in minimal production of bromates in waters containing elevated levels of bromine and its compounds.
Spike ozonation can also be accomplished without a timer/controller by altering a cooler's compressor cycles to correspond to these timed cycles provided the alteration does not adversely effect a cooler's ability to operate within its chill water volume design parameters. If water remains in a cooler reservoir unused over repeated cycles, the bacteria-static oxidation level will move to a bactericidal oxidation state, as more of the static biophage is rendered non-living and inert.
The present invention provides an improved coronal discharge tube arrangement. Whereas a prior art 200 mg/hr ozonator is capable of achieving bacteria-static diffused ozone levels in 1-2 liters of water in 20 minutes with proper diffusion technology that may better approximate a cooler chill cycle and offer better ozone dissipation time through reduced diffused ozone quantity present in water, said ozonator is incapable of spike ozonating a flow stream of water dispensing from a cooler to any degree at all to form a multi-function water cooler ozonation system or a system capable of spike ozonating cooler reservoir water volumes to like bacteria-static levels in under 5 minutes operating time and allowing the remaining 15 minutes to be spent dissipating the ozone to below taste levels.
The shorter the cycle widths, the greater the surety of sanitized cooler and water. Additionally, said smaller output mini-ozonators cannot effectively sanitize larger reservoir volume coolers of the type whose water volumes exceeds one or more gallons in a timely fashion. Poorly thought out and engineered past attempts at ozone sanitizing water coolers include methods such as continuous ozonation of water using low output small ozonators. This effort has a threefold disadvantage. First the continuous introduction of ozonated ambient air causes an added energy debt to a compressor having to run all the time to cool the water, thus effectively shortening compressor, ozonator and pump life. Secondly, the continuous introduction of dust, organics and micro-orgasnisms found in air shortens discharge tube life and unnecessarily introduces pollutants into the reservoir and contained water, thus increasing oxidation load and rendering the water potentially non-potable. If the discharge tube fails by overheating caused by dust and/or moisture build-up on an electrode or the dielectric, the system continuously introduces an unoxidized, unsanitary load into the cooler reservoir or builds up in the discharge tube to the point that the resulting blockage causes pump failure. This is one reason why this embodiment offers an inexpensive, quick-change throwaway, sanitary discharge tube option that is far below the cost of the lest expensive UV sanitization system replacement tube requiring more frequent replacement. Thirdly, ozonators specified for this purpose frequently have too small an output to oxidize the load found in water where the small quantity of diffused ozone either dissipates or does not have time to build to adequate levels to perform its function when coolers are subject to heavy use.
In addition to air dielectric breakdown leading to ionization, ozone generation by the coronal discharge method generates light and heat. A portion of said light lies in the far ultra-violet ionizing radiation spectrum and is responsible for cleaving the diatomic oxygen molecular bond. This preparatory bond cleaving is necessary for ozone formation. Such far UV ionizing radiation light fraction can be conserved and recycled by reflection. When a cylindrical mirrored reflecting surface is employed, a dramatic increase in oxygen to ozone conversion efficiency is noted over prior art.
For a further understanding of the nature, objects, and advantages of the present invention, reference should be made to the following detailed description, read in conjunction with the following drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote like elements and wherein:
The opening 17 provides an annular flange 15 and a gasket 16 that defines an interface with bottle 18. The bottle 18 is a commercially available bottle that is typically of a several gallon volume (e.g. five gallons) in the United States. The bottle 18 provides a constricted bottled neck 19 that is placed inside an open reservoir 20 as shown in
The reservoir 20 has an interior 21 surrounded by reservoir sidewall 22 and reservoir bottom wall 23. The reservoir can be, for example, generally cylindrically shaped and of a stainless steel or plastic material. The reservoir 20 provides an open top for communicating with the neck 19 of bottle 18.
During use, reservoir 20 has a water surface 25 that fluctuates slightly as water is dispensed and then replenished by bottle 18. One or more spigots 26, 27 can be provided for withdrawing water contained in reservoir 20. In the embodiment shown in
For cooling the water at the lower end portion of the reservoir 20, a cooling system that includes a compressor 29 can be provided. The refrigeration system includes flow lines 30, 31 in combination with compressor 29 to transmit cooling fluid to coils 28 and then to heat exchanger 32 as part of a system for cooling water in reservoir 20. Power to the apparatus 10 is provided by electrical lines, including an electrical line 33 provided with plug 34. The plug 34 can be fitted to controller 42 having receptacle 44 and plug 43 as shown in
Housing 40 can be provided with flanges 45 and openings 46 for enabling the housing 40 to be retrofitted to an existing cabinet 11 by bolting the housing 40 to the cabinet 11 as shown in
Bolted connections 63 can be used for attaching the housing 57 to housing 40 at internally threaded openings 64 on housing 40 as shown in
After electricity is disconnected from compressor 29, transformer 51 and motor drive 53 are activated. The transformer 51 produces electricity with a very high voltage at ozone generator 50 for generating ozone within the confines of ozone generator housing 57. As this ozone is generated within housing 57, air is pumped with air pump 54 into inlet flow line 55 and via opening 56 into the interior of housing 57. HEPA filter 71 removes airborne microorganism before they can enter air pump 54 and flow line 55. This positive flow of air pressure into housing 57 causes a simultaneous discharge of air through fitting 39 into air flow line 38. The air flow line 38 then carries air to diffuser 37 or 37A (
The diffuser 37 or 37A can be is supported by a plurality of feet 68 that extend between the diffuser 37 or 37A and a bottom wall 23 of reservoir 20. Openings 69 in diffuser 37 are directed at an angle with respect to the bottom wall 23 and side wall-22 of reservoir 20 as shown in
When air is injected through inlet elbow fitting 79, the air enters hollow bore 75 and then diffuses through porous body 72. Coating 76 prevents the escape of air so that air can only escape through exposed face 90. Exposed face 90 is positioned on the outer portion of C shaped diffuser 37A as shown in
The inlet elbow fitting 79 has a body 80 with two legs 81, 82 extending therefrom. Coupling material 83 such as food grade epoxy can be used to join the combination of porous body 72 and its coating 76 to inlet elbow fitting 79. Each of the legs 81, 82 provides an internal hollow flow bore, said bores 84 and 85 intersecting at body 80 so that air flow can proceed from bore 84 of leg 81 to bore 85 of leg 82. The leg 81 can provide external threads 86 so that it can be connected to an influent air flow line 38. Other connectors could be used on leg 81 such as a stab fitting type connection, clamp connection or the like. Elbow fitting 79 at leg 82 can provide similar connective material for forming a connection with porous body 72 at its inner surface 73. This connective structure on leg 82 can be a stab fitting type connection as shown in
When the user 141 depresses the handle 102 to a dispensing, open valve position as shown in
Spigot 100 provides housing 101 that has an annular flange 103 that can engage the front surface of a cabinet such as the cabinet 11 that is shown and described with respect to the preferred embodiment of
Water that is being dispensed from a reservoir of the cabinet 11 flows through a reservoir or flow channel that connects with horizontal bore 105. Vertical bore 106 extends from horizontal bore 105 to flow outlet 107.
A valve body 108 is provided for opening and closing the flow outlet 107 as shown by the drawings in
Return spring 112 insures that the valve 108 will always return to a closed position when a user 141 is not depressing the handle 102. Rod 111 occupies socket 113 of valve body 108. A waterproof seal 132 is provided at the upper end portion of valve body 108. waterproof seal 132 engages cap 114 forming a water tight seal therewith.
Internal threads 115 of cap 114 engage external threads 116 on valve housing 101. Retainer 117 is provided for forming an attachment between cap 114 and dual contact barrel 127. A central opening 126 in cap 114 allows operating rod 111 to pass through cap 114. Similarly, a vertical, generally cylindrically shaped passageway 140 is provided on dual contact barrel 127 enabling operating rod 111 to pass through it. The upper end portion of operating rod 111 provides a transverse opening 122 that can align with the transverse opening 121 on handle 102. A pin 123 forms a connection between handle 102 at opening 121 and operating rod 111 at opening 122 as shown in
Handle 102 provides a cam surface 124 that lifts operating rod 111 when the handle 102 is pushed downwardly by a user 141 as illustrated in
A receptacle 128 on valve housing 101 receives plug 129 of dual contact barrel 127. Electrical lines 138, 139 on valve body 101 communicate with socket 128 and thus plug 129 as shown in
The spigot 100E of
Arrows 157 in
A flow conduit 160 is attached to an end portion of tubing 151 as shown in
The following table lists the parts numbers and parts descriptions as used herein and in the drawings attached hereto.
Part Number Description
The foregoing embodiments are presented by way of example only; the scope of the present invention is to be limited only by the following claims.
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|International Classification||B67D7/80, B67D7/76, C02F1/68, B67D1/07, F25D11/00, B67D1/00, C02F1/78, B67D3/00, A61L2/20, C02F9/00, A47J31/46, C02F1/50, B67D7/06|
|Cooperative Classification||C02F2209/40, B67D2210/00013, C02F9/005, C02F1/685, B67D2210/00023, C02F1/78, C02F2201/782, C02F2209/005|
|European Classification||C02F9/00B, C02F1/78|
|Nov 30, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: S.I.P. TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, DELAWARE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SHELTON, JAMES J.;REEL/FRAME:018566/0289
Effective date: 20061101