US 3202157 A
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Aug. 24, 1965 APPARATUS FOR TREATING OR CONDITIONING TOBACCO R. D. TOUTON 3,202,157
Filed July 17, 1961 FIG. 3.
INVENTOR. RUSH D. TOUTON ATTORNEYS United States Patent.
3,202,157 APPARATUS FUR TREATING 0R CONDI- TIQNING 'IGBACCO Rush D. Touton, Wynnewood, Pa, assignor to Wurton Machine Company, Phiiadelphia, Pa, a corporation of Pennsylvania Filed July17, 1961, Ser. No. 124,721 2 Claims. (Cl. 131134) This is a continuation-in-part of my application Serial No. 45,467, filed July 26, 1960, now abandoned, which is a division of my application Serial No. 697,566, filed November 20, 1957, now Patent No. 2,989,057.
This invention relates to apparatus for treating or conditioning tobacco, for example, for adding moisture to cured tobacco or removing moisture from uncured tobacco to the extent desired, bringing the leaf to the desired color and providing the leaf with the desired grain, aroma, taste, elasticity and general soundness.
The apparatus of this invention is of particular utility since it provides for means for treating a large amount of tobacco in a relatively small space with beneficial distribution of the conditioning air throughout the tobacco. In particular, it is advantageous in that it provides means for disposing the tobacco so that it acts to self-regulate the flow of conditioning air so that during the conditioning process the flow of air through the tip portions of the tobacco leaves is reduced due to the coming together of these portions of the tobacco leaves to reduce the space therebetween.
These and other objects of this invention will become apparent on reading the description in conjunction with the drawings in which: I
FIGURE 1 is a vertical section of apparatus in accordance with this invention;
FIGURE 2 is a horizontal section taken on the plane indicated by the line 2-2 in FIGURE 1 with the tobacco removed; and
FIGURE 3 is a vertical section of an air discharge duct of the apparatus taken on the line 33 of FIGURE 1.
Referring now to FIGURE 1, curing apparatus in accordance with this invention is provided with a chamber 2 in which are secured a pair of transverse beams 4 and 6. Screen 8Nis secured to the upper side of beams 4 and 6, respectively. A bed of tobacco 12 is formed by stacking tobacco leaves 14 at a slight angle to the vertical on screen 8 with the butts 16 resting on the screen.
Conditioned air is supplied under pressure at the butt side of the tobacco bed 12 by air conditioning apparatus indicated schematically at 18 provided with an air inlet conduit 19 and which is connected to conduits 20. Each conduit 20 has discharge ducts 21 provided with fins 23 to distribute the air laterally of conduits 20. Air is returned to air conditioning apparatus 18 from chamber 2 by conduit 22 controlled by valve 24. A negative pressure may be maintained on the tip side of the bed 12 by means of a blower indicated schematically at 26. A valve 28 controls the flow of air from chamber 2 to blower 26.
In operating the above described apparatus, the bed of tobacco will generally have from 100 to 200 leaves of tobacco per square foot, which leaves will be placed at a slight angle to the vertical so that each leaf in effect tained at a slight positive pressure.
3,202,157 Patented Aug. 24, 1965 With the leaves lying at a greater angle and the tips curled over, there tends to be substantial adhesion between the adjacent leaf faces. The relatively small veins in the tip portions of course makes this possible. This phenomenon in terms of reducing theflow of air through the bed of tobacco is a very marked one. This is highly desirable since in all cases of conditioning leaves of tobacco whether moisture is being added or taken away, the conditioning of the butt portions of the leaves is more ditiicult than the conditioning of tip portions and hence as the conditioning proceeds it is desirable to restrict the access of air to the tip portions while maintaining its access to the butt portions. The compaction is due to reduction of turgor and water during curing or loss of dry stifiness when moistening. Since all stem systems decrease in natural rigidity from butt to tip, this compaction will be progressive, as desired. The apparatus of this invention provides means for accomplishing this result.
The conditioned air is caused to enter a compact plane of air guiding means, made up of the tobacco leaves and is further distributed under pressure by the delta pattern of stems and veins. The reaction to the air flow pressure causes a smooth wave action, somewhat analogous to a water surface under the influence of a breeze, since the tips and central sections can move relative to each other. This wave action creates an almost imperceptible opening and closing of air passages, and self-adjustment of the mass of tobacco as .a whole.
By wayof somewhat more specific example, when it is desired to cure green tobacco leaves, the conditioned air 'is introduced to the bed at a temperature within the range of from about 70 F. to 200 F., preferably from 70 F. to 130 F. and advantageously at F. to F. for cigar wrapper tobacco leaves. This air preferably has a relative humidity of from about 30% to about 75%. ing, the relative humidity may follow the practice of employing a relative humidity of up to 100%. In order to pass the conditioned air through the bed, it is main- The rate of air flow through the bed will preferably be from 15 feet per minute to 60 feet per minute to provide for a temperature drop in the conditioned air from its entry into thebed to its discharge therefrom of from about .l P. to about 5 F., preferably from about .2 F. to about 1 F. The air pressure at the discharge side of the bed will be at least slightly lower than the air pressure within the bed due to the packing of the tobacco.
The tobacco is subjected to the conditioned air for a sufficient period of time to cure and dry to the desired color, moisture content and quality.
1 When the apparatus is employed for adding moisture to cured tobacco, it is sometimes desired to continue the conditioning process on the relatively drier and less responsive butt portions after the tips and more sensitive areas of the leaves have folded and curled so as to reduce further passage of air upward through those latter zones. This self regulating function takes place selectively over the bed area since the leaves, or bunches of leaves, are packed at about 900 to 1700 per square foot. The lower butt ends do not change their points of contact with the support and thus the relatively open spaces surrounding the lower portions of the stem permit the circulation of large volumes of conditioned air around those sections requiring more treatment.
Since the .full flow up through the tips is no longer needed, it is then desirable to have means for exhausting or recirculating a portion of the conditioning air from the lower part of the chamber. To this end there is provided a duct 30 leading from the lower to upper portion In the initial and terminal stages ofcurof chamber 2 having a valve 32 which when open enables conditioned air to treat the lower ends of the leaves 16 and by-pass the upper ends 14. The air so by-passed may be exhausted through conduit 26 and valve 28, or returned for further conditioning through conduit 22 and valve 24.
As will be clear from the above, the method of adding moistureto cured tobacco in accordance with this invention comprises supporting the tobacco leaves on a screen in a chamber to form a wall to wall bed of tobacco leaves intermediate the top and bottom of the chamber with the leaves at a slight angle to the vertical and the butt ends of the leaves resting on the screen. Moist air is then forced into the chamber below the screen and exhausted from the chamber above the screen to pass said air through the bed of tobacco leaves until the leaves compact together to substantially reduce the flow of air through the bed. At this stage the moistening of the tobacco leaves will have been accomplished satisfactorily except for the butt portions. The completion of the moistening of the butt portions is accomplished by continuing to force moist air into the chamber below the screen and exhausting the air from the chamber below the screen to flow moist air about the butt portionsof the leaves.
It is not desired to be limited except as set forth in the following claims.
What is claimed is:
a 1. Apparatus for treating tobacco with conditioned air comprising a chamber, a substantially horizontal screen fixedly mounted within said chamber for the engagement of butts of tobacco leaves in an upstanding position to form a bed of tobacco leaves, a unitary air conditioning apparatus exclusively outside of said chamber at one side thereof, said air conditioning apparatus introducing conditioned air below said screen in said chamber and including a plurality of ducts discharging the conditioned air towards the butts or" the leaves in a plurality of streams flowing in the general direction of the run of leaves, and means to return air to said conditioning apparatus from the upper portion of said chamber, a by-pass conduit at the other side of and outside of said chamber and remote from said air conditioning apparatus and connecting the lower portion of the chamber below said bed to the upper portion of the chamber for passage of by-passed air across and above said leaves and to said air conditioning apparatus and a valve controlling flow through said conduit, and valved means at the other side of said chamber to exhaust air to the atmosphere from the upper portion of the chamber, whereby said by-passed air may optionally pass across the leaf tips or be exhausted through said valved means and valved means adjacent said point to exhaust air to the atmosphere from the upper portion of the chamber, whereby said by-passed air may optionally pass across the leaf tips or be exhausted through said valved means.
2. Apparatus for treating tobacco with conditioned air comprising a chamber, a screen fixedly mounted within said chamber for the support of tobacco leaves in an upstanding position to form a bed of tobacco leaves, air conditioning apparatus, said air conditioning apparatus introducing conditioned air below said screen in said chamber and including means discharging the conditioned air towards the butts of the leaves, and means to return air to said conditioning apparatus from the upper portion of said chamber, a by-pass conduit connecting the lower portion of the chamber below said bed to the upper portion of the chamber at a point remote from said air returning means for passage of by-passed air across and above said leaves and to said air conditioning apparatus and a valve controlling flow through said conduitv References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 132,935 11/72 Suggett 131134X 169,777 11/75 Culp 131-134X 568,491 9/96 Proctor 131-134X 622,976 4/99 Proctor 131136 655,214 8/00 Etly 131-134 1,681,145 8/28 Parker 131134X 1,950,212 3/34 Barnett et al. 34-225X 1,952,781 3/34 Smith 131135 2,016,535 10/35 Bogaty 131-140 2,182,753 12/39 Crane et al. 131-134 2,475,568 7/49 Moore 13l--140 2,714,385 8/55 Jackson 131140 2,856,937 10/58 Harris 131134 2,933,090 4/60 Hamilton et al. 131140 2,989,057 6/61 Touton 131-440 FOREIGN PATENTS 412/31 8/31 Australia.
611,534 3/35 Germany.
641,396 8/50 Great Britain.
571,870 1/58 Italy.
SAMUEL KOREN, Primary Examine-r.
ABRAHAM G. STONE, Examiner.