|Publication number||US20080190827 A1|
|Application number||US 12/102,516|
|Publication date||Aug 14, 2008|
|Filing date||Apr 14, 2008|
|Priority date||Dec 18, 2003|
|Also published as||CA2553864A1, CA2553864C, US7378015, US20050133427, US20090272682, WO2005062763A2, WO2005062763A3|
|Publication number||102516, 12102516, US 2008/0190827 A1, US 2008/190827 A1, US 20080190827 A1, US 20080190827A1, US 2008190827 A1, US 2008190827A1, US-A1-20080190827, US-A1-2008190827, US2008/0190827A1, US2008/190827A1, US20080190827 A1, US20080190827A1, US2008190827 A1, US2008190827A1|
|Inventors||Edward B. Rinker, Elizabeth Lane, Simon Litvin, Ilya Ilyin, Alexander Chaliyan, Dmitry Logatchev, Michael Gershman|
|Original Assignee||Rinker Edward B, Elizabeth Lane, Simon Litvin, Ilya Ilyin, Alexander Chaliyan, Dmitry Logatchev, Michael Gershman|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/531,004, filed Dec. 18, 2003.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates generally to water filtration, and, more specifically, to systems that add enhancements to filtered drinking water.
2. Description of the Related Art
Unwanted and potentially harmful contamination in water, especially drinking water, is of concern to many people. This concern creates a desire for water treatment devices in the home and elsewhere. Many water treatment devices and methods have been developed to remove or neutralize particulate and chemical contaminants.
Major categories of consumer water filtration systems include plumbed-in or faucet-mount systems that rely on the pressure of the water supply to force untreated water through a water treatment device; and non-plumbed, pour-though or batch systems that rely on gravity to move water from an upper influent water chamber, through a filtering means to a lower effluent water chamber. In general, most pour-through systems use water filters made of loose filtration media, as the force of gravity is not usually enough to push water through more compacted media. On the other hand, most faucet-mount systems filter water through porous composite blocks made from filtration media and binders. Water in faucet-mount systems is driven through filter blocks by pressure in the water supply line. Other water treatment systems that can use porous composite blocks include refrigerator systems and squeeze bottles.
People have greatly increased their consumption of filtered or processed water in recent years. Many people choose filtered water because they like the taste or because they believe it is a healthier option than tap or well water.
There is an increasing demand for dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and herbs, as part of maintaining overall health. It is desirable, as an outgrowth of water filtration, to offer enhancements to add to filtered water to support the health of consumers. Although enhancements can be purchased separately and added to filtered water, it is inconvenient to have to open a package or several packages to get the mix of enhancements desired. It is even more inconvenient to do this repeatedly for each glass of filtered water, requiring additional time and utensils. Furthermore, it is not very useful to mix up a large batch of filtered, enhanced water, as many enhancements change over time after mixing into water.
Accordingly, there is a need for improved devices and methods for adding enhancements to filtered water.
In accordance with one aspect of the present invention a system for enhancing water is provided. The system includes a housing with an inlet and an outlet, source water at the inlet, which can flow through a filter component in the housing and thus become treated water, and at least one enhancement module that can dispense an enhancement into the treated water as it flows through the outlet. Water can flow through the system only by the force of gravity, water pressure in a building's water supply line, and/or hand pumps.
Enhancements that can be used in the system include flavorings, dyes, minerals, vitamins, herbal supplements, nutritional supplements, phytonutrients, probiotics, homoepathic remedies, amino acids, enzymes, hormones, enzymes, hormones, hormones, standard prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and combinations thereof. A control is also provided, through which a consumer can regulate an amount of enhancement that is added to the treated water.
A method of mixing an enhanced water beverage is also provided.
Further features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the detailed description of embodiments below, when considered together with the attached drawings and claims.
The foregoing aspects and others will be readily appreciated by the skilled artisan from the following description of illustrative embodiments when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
There are a number of reasons why health-minded people drink water regularly. Drinking water prevents dehydration, which is associated with fatigue and a variety of health concerns. Water can provide proper hydration, which aids digestion, supports removal of cell waste products, and contributes to skin and overall health. After exercise, water can replenish lost fluids. Many weight loss programs encourage drinking water as a no-calorie stomach filler. In general, water is a much healthier hydration choice than beverages that contain sugar, carbonation, or caffeine. Many people prefer not to drink tap water because of possible contaminants therein and because they do not like the taste. Some people choose filtered water in order to avoid ingestion of contaminants, such as lead and sulfur, and because they prefer the taste of water after filtration.
Many people like the idea of adding supplements or enhancements to their diets because they want to improve or maintain their health. Popular supplements include daily multi-vitamins, minerals, and herbs, which can supply benefits such as increased energy or increased immunity. One of the primary barriers to taking regular supplements is the inconvenience; it can be difficult to make the time to mix beverages or to remember to take pills as part of one's daily routine. It is more convenient when supplements or enhancements are included in beverages or foods that people are already ingesting every day. Examples include calcium-fortified orange juice, milk with added vitamin D, and vitamin-fortified breakfast cereal. But the enhancements are included in the orange juice, the milk and the cereal long before these products reach people's homes. It would be even more convenient if individual enhancements, tailored to individual needs or desires, could be added easily and at the point of use to beverages people are already drinking every day, such as filtered water.
Household pets or other animals can also benefit from enhanced water, especially when the enhancement(s) has been tailored to their individual needs.
In one embodiment of the invention, enhancements can be dispensed as individual doses into filtered water as the filtered water leaves a water treatment system. It is desirable to use simple water treatment systems to minimize cost and complexity to the consumer. Simple water treatment systems include systems through which water is driven by the force of gravity, by pressure in the source water line, and/or by hand pumps. The source water line is generally part of the plumbing in the house or building in which the water treatment system is used. Examples of simple water treatment systems include faucet mount systems, in-faucet systems, under-the-sink systems, countertop systems, refrigerator water systems, stand-alone filtration pitchers, water dispensers, and portable water bottles. Systems that require electric pumps to move water through them or that operate at pressures greater than 125 psi, or, in some arrangements, greater than 100 psi, are not considered to be simple water treatment systems for the purpose of this disclosure.
Not everyone needs or desires the same enhancements. In a situation where many people use the same enhanced water system, specific enhancement(s) can be chosen for each person. A number of enhancements can be stored as part of the water enhancement system and can be dispensed simply, as desired. One or several enhancements can be added to filtered water as it leaves the system.
The amount or dose of an enhancement can be selected for each individual serving. The dose can be adjusted based on the amount of treated water that is added to the enhancement. In some arrangements, the dose can be pre-selected and then dispensed with subsequent servings. In other arrangements, the dose can be determined and dispensed as desired with each serving.
In some embodiments, enhancements are added to filtered water without adding any apparent taste, smell, or feel, that is, the enhancements are organoleptically acceptable. The aesthetic of enhanced water can be indistinguishable from that of filtered water. Health-related enhancements include minerals, vitamins, herbal supplements, nutritional supplements, phytonutrients, probiotics, homoepathic remedies, amino acids, enzymes, hormones, standard prescription medications and over-the-counter medications. Examples of some enhancements are given in Table 1. Enhancements are most useful when they are in forms that have high bioavailability, that is, forms that are easily absorbed and used by the body.
calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, chromium,
selenium, molybdenum, vanadium, potassium, iodine, pentathionic
vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C,
vitamin E, niacin, thiamin, omega-3, omega-6, omega-9 fatty
acids, folic acid
echinacea, primrose oil, ginseng, ginko, gentian, comfrey, garlic,
calendula, brewer's yeast, fenugreek, licorice root, juniper berry,
wild yam root, ginger root, goldenseal root, poke root, St. John's
wort, mullein, saw palmetto
lactobacillus acidophilus, bifobacterium bifidium
arnica montana, aconitum napellus, bryonia alba, cantharis,
cocculus indicus, dulcamara, gelsemium sempervirens, ignatia
amara, ledum palustre, mezereum, nux vomica, silicea, thuja
histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, cysteine,
phenylalanine, tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan, valine
pancreatin, bromelain, protease, lipase, amylase, pancrelipase,
papain, pepsin, diatase, cellulase
In other embodiments, it can be advantageous to change the aesthetics of the filtered water using enhancements. Aesthetic enhancements include coloring agents, such as FD&C dyes and FD&C lake dyes; flavoring agents, such as natural and artificial fruit and botanical flavors, fruit juices, and other well-known flavoring agents, such as chocolate and vanilla; edible acids, such as tannic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid, phosphoric acid, acetic acid, lactic acid, and maleic acid; natural and artificial sweeteners; and antioxidants, such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytouene (BHT). In some arrangements, aesthetic enhancements can be used to mask an organoleptic change caused by a health-related enhancement. In some arrangements, aesthetic enhancements can be used in addition to health-related enhancements, even when the health-related enhancement has caused no organoleptic change, for example, as an indicator that a particular health-related enhancement has also been added. In other arrangements, aesthetic enhancements can be used by themselves when only an aesthetic change to filtered water is desired.
After they are mixed with water, some enhancements, such as vitamin C, vitamin B, and iron, can degrade over time. The enhancements can lose their potency or they can lose their effectiveness altogether. If the enhanced water is ingested very soon after the enhancement is added, benefits from the enhancement can be realized without concern about degradation.
Some other enhancements, such as calcium, can promote growth of harmful bacteria unless the water and its container have been sterilized before the addition of the enhancement. Under most normal filtered water conditions, it is safer to drink water that contains these enhancements soon after the enhancements are added.
Enhancements can be in the form of liquids, powders, microcapsules, nanocapsules, nebulized nanoparticles, nanoemulsions, micelles, gases, and combinations thereof. In some arrangements, the enhancements are contained in a refillable reservoir. In other arrangements, the enhancements are contained in a disposable cartridge.
A first enhancement 152 can be added to the treated water in the outlet 115 through a first dispensing unit 156. In some arrangements, a second enhancement 162 can be added to the treated water in the outlet 115 through a second dispensing unit 166. In other arrangements (not shown), there can be any number of enhancements added to the treated water. As enhancement(s) 152, 162 are added, the treated water becomes enhanced water. The enhanced water can continue flowing through the outlet 115 to a point of use, such as a cup, a bottle, or even directly into a consumer's mouth.
In some arrangements, there is a valve 170 that can prevent enhanced water in the outlet 115 from moving back toward the filter device 130 or back into the optional treated water container 135. The valve 170 can be a simple mechanical check valve or flap valve. In other arrangements, the valve 170 can be electrically powered, for example, by a battery.
In some arrangements, the outlet 115 can include a mixing chamber (not shown) where the enhanced water can be mixed, perhaps with a agitation tool that has a geometry that can create turbulence, such as a rotor, baffle, screw, or auger, before continuing to flow out through the outlet 115 to a point of use. In some arrangements, the agitation tool can be driven solely by the flow of the water. In other arrangements, the agitation tool can be driven by changing the position of the system 100 or by a spring mechanism. In yet other arrangements, the agitation tool can be electrically powered, such as by a battery.
In some embodiments, no electric pumps are used to pump water through the water enhancement system 100 shown in
Adjacent the outlet 215 is a first enhancement module 250, which contains a first enhancement 252. By activating first consumer control 254, the first enhancement 252 can be dispensed into the outlet 215 through first dispensing unit 256. The first consumer control 254 can be a button, a knob, a dial, a lever, an airbladder, a slide, a catch, a wheel, or combinations thereof.
In some arrangements, there is a valve 270 that can prevent enhanced water in the outlet 215 from moving back into the treated water container 235. The valve 270 can be a simple mechanical check valve or flap valve. In other arrangements, the valve 270 can be electrically powered, for example, by a battery. The valve 270 prevents mixing of enhanced water with treated water 240 in the treated water container 235. In some arrangements, the outlet 215 can include a mixing chamber, as is discussed below, where the enhanced water can be mixed before flowing out through the outlet 215 to a point use.
In some arrangements, all components of the enhancement module 310 are integral parts of the water treatment system. The reservoir 320 can be filled with enhancement material multiple times. Various enhancement materials can be introduced into the reservoir 320 as desired. For each enhancement material, the same dispensing unit 330 and consumer control 350 can be used.
The amount or dose of an enhancement can be selected for each individual serving. The dose can be adjusted based on the amount of enhancement desired and on the amount of treated water that is added to the enhancement, i.e., the serving size. In some arrangements, a measured dose can be pre-selected and then automatically dispensed with subsequent servings by activating the consumer control 350. In other arrangements, a measured dose can be selected and dispensed as desired with each serving. Examples of enhancements that can be used in the enhancement module 310 are described above in Table 1. Possible forms for the enhancements include liquids, powders, microcapsules, nanocapsules, nebulized nanoparticles, nanoemulsions, micelles, gases, and combinations thereof.
In other arrangements, an enhancement module 310′ (not shown) can be used with a disposable cartridge. The enhancement module 310′ can contain fewer components than are shown in
Adjacent the outlet 415 is a first enhancement module 450, which contains a first enhancement 452. By activating consumer control 454, the first enhancement 452 can be dispensed into the outlet chamber 480 through first dispensing unit 456. In some arrangements, the first consumer control 454 activates a pre-set, automatic dispensing mechanism. In other arrangements, the first consumer control 454 can be adjusted to dispense an individually determined dose of the first enhancement for each serving. Consumer controls have been discussed in detail above with respect to
In some arrangements, there is a valve 470 that can prevent enhanced water in the outlet 415 from moving back into the treated water container 435, where the enhanced water could mix with any treated water therein. The valve 470 can be a simple mechanical check valve or flap valve. In other arrangements, the valve 470 can be electrically powered, for example, by a battery. Outlet region 405 is shown in a top view in
In some arrangements, there is an agitation tool (not shown) that has a geometry that can create turbulence, such as a rotor, baffle, screw, or auger, in the outlet chamber 480. The agitation tool can aid in mixing the enhancements with the treated water. In some arrangements, the agitation tool can be driven solely by the flow of the water. In other arrangements, the agitation tool can be driven by changing the position of the system or by a spring mechanism. In yet other arrangements, the agitation tool can be electrically powered, such as by a battery.
The source water can come directly from a water faucet or a water supply line, or it can be held first in a source water container before percolating through the water filter. The water filter includes activated carbon and can include other water treatment materials as have been discussed above. In some arrangements, flowing the treated water through the outlet can involve adjusting the position of the water enhancement system to pour the treated water out through the outlet.
This invention has been described herein in considerable detail to provide those skilled in the art with information relevant to apply the novel principles and to construct and use such specialized components as are required. However, it is to be understood that the invention can be carried out by different equipment, materials and devices, and that various modifications, both as to the equipment and operating procedures, can be accomplished without departing from the scope of the invention itself.
|U.S. Classification||210/101, 210/454, 210/209|
|International Classification||B01D21/30, B01D29/00, B01D35/00|
|Cooperative Classification||C02F1/004, C02F2307/06, C02F1/68, C02F2307/02, C02F2307/04, C02F1/28, C02F1/003|
|European Classification||C02F1/00D4, C02F1/00D6|