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Publication numberUS20060157504 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/205,710
Publication dateJul 20, 2006
Filing dateAug 17, 2005
Priority dateMay 8, 1999
Also published asDE60030433D1, DE60030433T2, EP1183207A1, EP1183207B1, US6962270, WO2000068136A1
Publication number11205710, 205710, US 2006/0157504 A1, US 2006/157504 A1, US 20060157504 A1, US 20060157504A1, US 2006157504 A1, US 2006157504A1, US-A1-20060157504, US-A1-2006157504, US2006/0157504A1, US2006/157504A1, US20060157504 A1, US20060157504A1, US2006157504 A1, US2006157504A1
InventorsPaul Barker, Linda Barker, Keith Heyes, Martin Johnson, Steven Maulder, Phillip Simmons
Original AssigneePaul Barker, Linda Barker, Heyes Keith J, Johnson Martin S, Steven Maulder, Simmons Phillip A
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Dosing valve with flow rate sensor for a beverage dispenser
US 20060157504 A1
Abstract
A beverage dispenser to provide a plurality of different flavours with accurate mixing control comprises a housing (40, 42, 44) containing a diluent valve (46A, 46B) and at least two concentrate valves (48A, B, C, D), each valve having its own inlet (12) and outlet (14), characterised in that all the outlets (14) lead to a single dispense nozzle (50A, B, C), a flow rate sensor (16) is provided for each valve, the flow rate sensors (16) being connected to a controller (54), and a setting mechanism (52A, B, C, D, E, F) is provided to open and close each valve, the controller (54) operating the setting mechanisms whereby one concentrate valve and the diluent valve may be opened to dispense a particular beverage and, in response to the sensed flow rates through those opened valves, controlling the degree of opening of those valves to achieve a predetermined diluent to concentrate ratio for the beverage mixture in the dispense nozzle (50A, B, C).
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Claims(46)
1-15. (canceled)
16. A beverage dispenser comprising;
a dispense nozzle;
a diluent valve for fluid coupling a supply of diluent for flow to said dispense nozzle;
at least two concentrate valves, each having for fluid coupling an associated supply of concentrate to said dispense nozzle;
a controller;
a plurality of fluid flow sensing means, each for sensing fluid flow through an associated one of said valves and each coupled to said controller for providing to said controller indications of fluid flow through said valves; and
a plurality of valve operating means, each controllable to progressively operate an associated one of said valves between a valve closed position and a valve open position and all positions therebetween to provide selected fluid flows through said valves,
said controller being coupled to said plurality of valve operating means to control the same to progressively operate said diluent valve and a selected one of said concentrate valves to deliver flows of diluent and concentrate to said dispense nozzle, said controller, in response to indications of the sensed flows of concentrate and diluent through the operated valves, controlling at least one of said valve operating means associated with the operated valves in accordance with diluent to concentrate fluid flow ratios to be delivered through the operated valves to said dispense nozzle.
17. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein said controller, in response to indications of the sensed fluid flows through the operated valves, controls said valve operating means associated with each of the operated valves to control fluid flows through the operated valves in accordance with diluent to concentrate fluid flows to be delivered to said dispense nozzle.
18. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein said controller, in response to indications of the sensed fluid flows through the operated valves, controls said valve operating means associated with said diluent valve to control diluent flow through said diluent valve in accordance with diluent to concentrate fluid flow ratios to be delivered to said dispense nozzle.
19. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein said controller, in response to indications of the sensed fluid flows through the operated valves, controls said valve operating means associated with said operated concentrate valve to control concentrate flow through said operated concentrate valve in accordance with diluent to concentrate fluid flow ratios to be delivered to said dispense nozzle.
20. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein said plurality of fluid flow sensing means comprises a plurality of fluid flow rate sensing means.
21. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein said plurality of fluid flow sensing means comprises a plurality of fluid volumetric flow sensing means
22. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein at least one of said plurality of valve operating means comprises a stepper motor.
23. A beverage dispenser as in claim 18, wherein at least one of said stepper motors are of the pulsed, magnetically driven type.
24. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein at least one of said plurality of valve operating means comprises a proportional solenoid actuator.
25. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein at least one of said plurality of valve operating means comprises a diaphragm operated mechanism.
26. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein said plurality of valve operating means comprises the sole means for operating said diluent and concentrate valves.
27. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein each said diluent and concentrate valve includes a fluid flow passage and a flow control member movable in said fluid flow passage from a first position in which the valve is fully closed to a second position in which the valve is fully open and to all positions therebetween, said flow control member progressively controlling the degree of opening of the valve to flow of fluid therethrough as it moves from said first to said second position, said plurality of valve operating means each being coupled to the flow control member of its associated valve for moving the flow control member to provide selected fluid flows through said valves.
28. A beverage dispenser as in claim 27, wherein each said diluent and concentrate valve includes one or more grooves in its fluid flow passage that have a cross-sectional area that decreases in a downstream direction along the flow passage, said plurality of valve operating means, when moving a flow control member of a valve, causing fluid to flow through the one or more grooves in the flow passage and controlling the flow of fluid through the valve by adjustably controlling the cross-sectional area of the one or more grooves through which fluid flows.
29. A beverage dispenser as in claim 28, wherein said at least one groove is of tapering V-shape.
30. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein at least one of said plurality of fluid flow sensing means comprises a flow turbine.
31. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein said fluid flow sensing means for said at least two concentrate valves comprises flow turbines.
32. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein said flow sensing means for said diluent valve comprises a flow turbine.
33. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein each of said fluid flow sensing means comprises a flow turbine.
34. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein at least one of said diluent and concentrate valves comprises a housing having an inlet, an outlet, a fluid flow passageway extending between said inlet and outlet, and a closure member adjustably movable in said passageway by the associated valve operating means from a first position of said closure member in which said valve is closed to a second position in which said valve is open and to all positions therebetween to control, by movement of said closure member, the degree of opening of said valve.
35. A beverage dispenser as in claim 34, wherein in said first position said closure member engages a wall of said passageway to seal said passageway and one of said wall of said passageway and said closure member define at least one groove having a transverse cross-sectional area that decreases in the downstream direction, whereby movement of said closure member from said first position toward said second position opens a cross-sectional flow area through said at least one groove that increases in accordance with the extent of movement of said closure member.
36. A beverage dispenser as in claim 35, wherein said at least one groove is of tapering V-shape.
37. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein at least one of said diluent and concentrate valves comprises a housing having an inlet, an outlet, a passageway between said inlet and outlet, a seat in said passageway and a poppet adjustably movable in said passageway by said associated valve operating means from a first position in which said poppet is moved against said seat and said valve is closed to a second position in which said poppet is moved away from said seat and said valve is open and to all positions therebetween to control the degree of opening of said valve.
38. A beverage dispenser as in claim 16, wherein said at least two concentrate valves comprise at least four concentrate valves and including a second diluent valve, said plurality of fluid flow sensing means sensing fluid flow through said second diluent valve and said plurality of valve operating means operating said second diluent valve, said controller progressively operating a selected one of said diluent valves and a selected one of said concentrate valves to deliver flows of diluent and concentrate to said dispense nozzle.
39. A beverage dispensing system, comprising:
diluent and concentrate supply lines; and
a flow control assembly for connection with supplies of diluent and concentrate:
connections for connecting with said diluent and concentrate supply lines,
a first valve for controlling the flow rate of the diluent,
a second valve for controlling the flow rate of the concentrate selected from among a plurality of concentrates,
means for identifying the selected concentrate,
a first sensor used to determine an actual flow rate of the diluent from said first valve,
a second sensor used to determine an actual flow rate of the concentrate from said second valve, and
a controller for controlling said first and second valves based on an identification of the selected concentrate and information received from said first and second sensors,
wherein based on an identification of the selected concentrate, said controller determines a concentrate flow rate of the selected concentrate and a ratio of the flow rates of the diluent and concentrate, thereby determining a diluent flow rate of the diluent, said controller controlling said first valve to dispense the diluent at the diluent flow rate and controlling said second valve to dispense the concentrate at the concentrate flow rate.
40. A beverage dispensing system as in claim 39, said first valve including a first valve member for controlling the flow rate of the diluent, said second valve including a second valve member for controlling the flow rate of the concentrate, said controller moving said first and second valve members between valve closed positions and valve open positions and all positions therebetween based on information from said first and second sensors, wherein based on an identification of the selected concentrate, said controller determines a concentrate flow rate of the selected concentrate and a ratio of the flow rates of the diluent and concentrate, thereby determining a diluent flow rate of the diluent, said controller controlling said first valve member to dispense the diluent at the diluent flow rate and controlling said second valve member to dispense the concentrate at the concentrate flow rate.
41. Apparatus for dispensing a beverage, comprising:
means for flowing diluent to a dispensing nozzle;
means for flowing concentrate to said dispensing nozzle;
means for sensing the flows of the diluent and concentrate to said dispensing nozzle; and
means, responsive to said sensing means, for controlling the flow of at least one of the diluent and concentrate for all flows of the same from zero flow to a maximum flow and all flows therebetween, to control the ratio of the flows of diluent and concentrate to said dispensing nozzle.
42. Apparatus as in claim 41, wherein said means for controlling the flow of at least one of the diluent and concentrate controls the flow of the diluent.
43. Apparatus as in claim 41, wherein said means for controlling the flow of at least one of the diluent and concentrate controls the flow of the concentrate.
44. Apparatus as in claim 41, wherein said means for controlling the flow of at least one of the diluent and concentrate controls the flow of both the diluent and concentrate.
45. Apparatus as in claim 41, wherein said means for flowing diluent to said dispensing nozzle comprises means for flowing one of at least two diluents to said dispensing nozzle and said means for flowing concentrate to said dispensing nozzle comprises means for flowing one of at least four concentrates to said dispensing nozzle.
46. A method of dispensing a beverage, comprising the steps of:
flowing diluent to a dispense nozzle;
flowing concentrate to the dispense nozzle;
sensing the flows of diluent and concentrate to the dispense nozzle;
controlling, in response to said sensing step, at least one of said flowing steps for all flows of diluent and concentrate progressively from a zero flow to a maximum flow and all flows therebetween to provide a desired flow ratio of diluent and concentrate to the dispense nozzle.
47. A method as in claim 46, wherein said controlling step controls the flow of the diluent to the dispense nozzle.
48. A method as in claim 46, wherein said controlling step controls the flow of the concentrate to the dispense nozzle.
49. A method as in claim 46, wherein said controlling step controls the flow of both diluent and concentrate to the dispense nozzle.
50. A method as in claim 46, wherein said step of flowing diluent flows a selected one of two diluents to the dispense nozzle and said step of flowing concentrate flows a selected one of at least four concentrates to the dispense nozzle.
51. A method as in claim 46, wherein said flowing diluent step comprises flowing diluent through a diluent valve to the dispense nozzle, said flowing concentrate step comprises flowing concentrate through a concentrate valve to the dispense nozzle, said sensing step comprises sensing the flows of diluent and concentrate through the diluent and concentrate valves, and said controlling step comprises controlling, in response to said sensing step, a flow path through at least one of the diluent and concentrate valves progressively for all flows through the valve from zero flow to a maximum flow and all flows therebetween to control the ratio of the flows of diluent and concentrate to the dispensing nozzle.
52. A method as in claim 51, wherein said controlling step controls the flow path through the diluent valve.
53. A method as in claim 51, wherein said controlling step controls the flow path through the concentrate valve.
54. A method as in claim 51, wherein said controlling step controls the flow path through each of the diluent and concentrate valves.
55. A method as in claim 46, wherein said sensing step senses the actual flow rates of diluent and concentrate to the dispense nozzle.
56. A method of dispensing a beverage, comprising the steps of:
fluid coupling diluent through a diluent valve to a dispense nozzle;
fluid coupling concentrate through at least two concentrate valves to the dispense nozzle;
sensing fluid flows through each of the diluent and concentrate valves;
coupling a plurality of valve operators to individual associated ones of the diluent and concentrate valves to operate the valves progressively to all states between a first state in which the valve is closed position and a second state in which the valve is fully open;
controlling the valve operators to operate the diluent valve and a selected one of the concentrate valves to flow diluent and concentrate to the dispense nozzle and, in response to said sensing step, controlling at least one of the valve operators associated with the operated valves to control the flow of fluid through the associated valve in accordance with and to provide a target diluent to concentrate flow ratio to be flowed to the dispense nozzle.
57. A method of dispensing a beverage, said method comprising the steps of:
selecting a concentrate from among plural concentrates;
determining a target ratio of diluent and concentrate flow rates based on information corresponding to the selected concentrate;
determining an actual flow rate of the diluent;
determining an actual flow rate of the concentrate;
controlling the actual flow rates of the diluent and concentrate progressively for all flow rates of the same from a zero flow rate to a maximum flow rate; and
if the actual flow rates of the diluent and the concentrate do not satisfy the target ratio for diluent and concentrate flow rates, controlling the actual flow rate of at least one of the diluent and the concentrate to satisfy the target ratio.
58. A method as in claim 57, wherein said controlling step controls the actual flow rate of the diluent to satisfy the target ratio.
59. A method as in claim 57, wherein said controlling step controls the actual flow rate of the concentrate to satisfy the target ratio.
60. A method as in claim 57, wherein said controlling step controls the actual flow rates of each of the diluent and concentrate to satisfy the target ratio.
Description

This invention relates to means for the dispensing of beverages. It is particularly concerned with means to provide a plurality of different beverages at a single location.

It is well known to provide beverages by mixing a concentrate, e.g. a fruit syrup, with a diluent, usually plain or carbonated water, at the point of sale and, where it is desired to offer a plurality of different flavours, the equipment required and the control of the necessary mixing can be complicated and expensive.

It is an object of the invention to provide a solution to this problem whereby a plurality of flavours can be offered with accurate mixing control at reasonable equipment cost.

Accordingly, the invention provides a beverage dispenser comprising a housing containing a diluent valve and at least two concentrate valves, each valve having its own inlet and outlet and all the outlets leading to a single dispense nozzle, a flow rate sensor for each valve, the flow rate sensors being connected to a controller, and a setting mechanism to open and close each valve, the control means operating the setting mechanisms whereby one concentrate valve and the diluent valve may be opened to dispense a particular beverage and, in response to the sensed flow rates through those opened valves, controlling the degree of opening of those valves to achieve a predetermined diluent to concentrate ratio for the beverage mixture in the dispense nozzle.

Preferably the housing contains four concentrate valves, each with its own inlet, outlet, flow rate sensor and setting mechanism to open and close the valve.

Preferably the housing contains two diluent valves and the two diluent lines may conveniently be one for plain water and one for carbonated water. Thus in combination with the preferred arrangement of four concentrate valves, a wide range of beverages may be dispensed from the preferred housing.

The housing may conveniently be of a modular design whereby several modules may be grouped together to provide a single dispense unit having, for example, three modules, each providing a wide choice of beverages as described above. These beverages may all be different or some or all may be duplicated whereby two identical beverages may be served at the same time. It will be appreciated, therefore, that the grouping together of appropriate modules can provide considerable flexibility of choice that can be tailored to the needs of a particular sales outlet.

The flow rate sensors may be, for example, flow turbines, and the sensors may measure flow rate directly or by calculation from another property.

The setting mechanisms to set the valves to the desired degree of opening are preferably stepper motors, e.g. of the pulsed, magnetically driven type, but may, for example, be lever mechanisms, proportional solenoid actuators or diaphragm operated mechanisms.

The valves through which the concentrates and diluents pass to reach the dispensing nozzle are preferably of the type described and claimed in our international patent application publication no. W099/29619. That international application describes and claims a valve comprising a substantially rigid housing containing a passageway between an inlet and an outlet of the valve, a closure member movable in the passageway from a first position in which the valve is fully closed to a second position in which the valve is fully open, the closure member engaging the wall of the passageway to seal the passageway, the wall of the passageway or the closure member defining at least one groove, the groove having a transverse cross-section that increases in area in the downstream or upstream direction, whereby movement of the closure member from the first position towards the second position opens a flow channel through the groove. The groove(s) may be, for example, of tapering V-shape and will, for convenience, hereafter be referred to as “V-grooves” and the valves of this general type as “V-groove valves”, although it will be appreciated that the grooves may, if desired, have a different tapering cross-section, e.g. of circular, rectangular or other shape.

The progressive increase or decrease in area of the groove flow channels can produce excellent linear flow through these V-groove valves, i.e. for a given pressure the flow rate is more directly proportional to the valve position than for conventional valves. This enables better control of the flow rate over the entire operating range of the valve.

Moreover, we have found that the V-groove arrangement may lead to reduced carbon dioxide “break out” from carbonated water so that the carbonation level of the dispensed drink remains at a satisfactory level. Thus a valve of this type is particularly beneficial when used in the carbonated water supply of a housing of the invention.

The concentrates, e. g. fruit syrups, are preferably cooled prior to entry to the housing whereas in some conventional arrangements syrup flow is monitored prior to cooling which necessitates less desirable placement of the syrup module, thereby adversely affecting the design of the equipment and its required electronic controls. By monitoring the flow of the cold syrup we can mount the complete syrup module in the housing, e.g. in a tower dispense means, rather than having some of the syrup module housed more remotely adjacent the cooling means.

The controller is preferably an electronic controller, e.g. a microprocessor, and may be programmed to monitor the flow through the valves in one of several ways in order to achieve the full desired beverage mixture ratio at the dispense nozzle. For example, the syrup flow rate may be monitored and used as the “control” rate whereby the water flow rate is then adjusted accordingly. Alternatively, the water flow rate may be monitored and used as the “control” rate and the syrup flow rate adjusted accordingly. In another alternative embodiment, the two aforesaid ways may in effect be combined and both rates used to calculate ratios and either or both flow rates adjusted accordingly.

Embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic representation in part section of a valve for use in the invention; and

FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing one specific arrangement of the dispense means of the invention.

In FIG. 1 a valve body 10 contains a flow inlet 12 and outlet 14. Liquid flowing through inlet 12 passes via a flow meter turbine 16 and a passageway 18 to meet a central passageway 20 extending through the valve body at right angles to passageway 18. Outlet 14 is a continuation of passageway 20.

A piston 22 extends in passageway 20 and carries at each of its ends a seal 24, 26 to make sealing engagement with the passageway wall. Above seal 24, piston 22 is connected via a smaller diameter connecting rod 28 to the drive shaft 30 of a stepper motor 32.

Between the junction of passageways 18 and 20 and outlet 14, passageway 20 is connected to outlet 14 through the central bore of a valve block 34. The block has a pair of V-grooves 36 diametrically opposed across its central bore and extending axially of the bore. The grooves taper to the outlet end of the bore and commence, i.e. at their wider end, at the far end of the valve block away from the outlet.

When piston 22 is in its lowermost position as shown, it completely closes off in conjunction with its seal 26, the central bore of valve 34, thereby closing outlet 14 and preventing flow through the valve. When the piston is raised by the stepper motor, the valve 34 is opened to allow flow through the V-grooves. The further the piston is raised the greater the degree of opening through the grooves.

In FIG. 2 is shown a three module assembly in which each module 40, 42, 44 contains two valves 46A, 46B for water, one carbonated and one plain, and four valves 48A, 48B, 48C, 48D for syrups. Each valve in a module outlets to a single dispense nozzle 50A, 50B or 50C. (The three modules are identical so that, for clarity, not all parts of each module are labelled.).

Each valve, 46A, 46B, 48A, 48B, 48C, 48D is similar in construction to the valve body described with reference to FIG. 1. Thus each valve contains a flow meter turbine and is connected to a stepper motor 52A, 52B, 52C, 52D, 52E, 52F to open and close the valve. Each stepper motor and each flow meter is connected to the pre-programmed control board 54. The system is powered by a 24 volts A.C. PSU 55. Other inputs to the control board 54 include an installation means 56 to input data such as flow rates, dispensed portion volumes and water/syrup ratios. This may be achieved by a wire connection or a remote, e.g. infra red, means. A control panel 58 may include selection switches or press buttons for particular beverages, e.g. by brand name, portion sizes, choice of still or carbonated water and, if desired, a free flow option as an alternative to predetermined portions.

If it is desired to add further flavourings or essences to the dispensed beverages the modules are shown to contain two optional essence valves 60A, 60B whose opening and closing are also controlled by board 54.

The dispenser is advantageously designed whereby it consumes energy only when the stepper motors are actually moving so that the arrangement can enable more valves to be controlled for a given power supply.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7757896Mar 6, 2006Jul 20, 2010The Coca-Cola CompanyBeverage dispensing system
US8479784Mar 15, 2007Jul 9, 2013The Coca-Cola CompanyMultiple stream filling system
US20130247770 *Feb 15, 2012Sep 26, 2013Strauss Water Ltd.Beverage dispensing system
Classifications
U.S. Classification222/129.1
International ClassificationG05D11/13, B67D1/14, F16K21/16, B67D1/07, B67D7/74
Cooperative ClassificationG05D11/132
European ClassificationG05D11/13B2