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Publication numberUS3505004 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 7, 1970
Filing dateApr 4, 1966
Priority dateApr 22, 1965
Publication numberUS 3505004 A, US 3505004A, US-A-3505004, US3505004 A, US3505004A
InventorsAllan Frederick Pfeil
Original AssigneeStone & Co Deptford Ltd J
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Washing and like treatments of textile fibres and materials
US 3505004 A
Abstract  available in
Images(5)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

A. F. PFEIL pril 7, 1970 WASHING AND LIKE TREATMENTS 0F TEXTILE FIBRES AND MATERIALS Filed April 4, 1966 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 bn m u 3 I I N? @IF r g a E 9 1 m N W M Q U A F. een.

A in 1, 1-970 WASHING AND LIKE TREATMENTS 0 F TEXTILE FIBRES AND MATERIALS Filed April 4, 1966 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 Allan F Pf L/ fl jmmmfir April 7, 1970 A. F. PFEIL 3,505,004

I WASHING AND LIKE TREATMENTS OF TEXTILE FIBRES AND MATERIALS Filed April 4, 1966 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 ohm Allan F Pfei/ %-Jm/Wr data A. F. PFEIL April 7, 1970 WAS HING AND LIKE TREATMENTS OF TEXTILE FIBRES AND MATERIALS 5 Sheets-Sheet Filed April 4, 1966 Allan F pfei/ WASHING AND LIKE TREATMENTS OF TEXTILE FIBRES AND MATERIALS Filed April 4. 1966 A-F. PFEILI April 1, 1970 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 09% Allan FPfeH Jm/7Wg4- R R xx 8: Q & @Q

United States Patent Oflice 3,505,004 Patented Apr. 7, 1970 3,505,004 WASHING AND LIKE TREATMENTS OF TEXTILE FIBRES AND MATERIALS Allan Frederick Pfeil, Deptford, London, England, as-

signor to J. Stone & Company (Deptford) Limited, Deptford, London, England Filed Apr. 4, 1966, Ser. No. 539,830 Claims priority, application Great Britain, Apr. 22, 1965,

,020/ 65 Int. Cl. D06l J/02 U.S. Cl. 8-137 11 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A two-step cleaning process for textile materials in which a surfactant is applied with a high concentration and low energy initially and thereafter a surfactant is applied with a low concentration and high energy.

This invention concerns improvements relating to the washing, cleansing or like treatment of textile fibres and materials and of made-up fabrics and cloths and more particularly to the laundering of soiled linen articles, the rinsing or washing of textile fabrics, and the similar treatment of textile fibres, such as the scouring of wool, and to improved apparatus for carrying out these processes and treatments. All such treatments will be referredto hereinafter as the washing of a material, but it is to be understood that the invention is applicable also to the aforesaid other treatments of a like nature, which may be commonly known by various names in the particular trades or industries concerned.

These treatments are generally intended to remove impurities or soiling, whether naturally occurring or artificially introduced by use or by a prior treatment. Typically the material is treated by washing liquors which contain cleansing chemicals, by rinsing liquors to remove the resulting soiled liquors, and by finishing chemicals such as starch, bleaches, sours, blues and fluorescing materials. The washing liquor may be water or an aqueous solution or .may be a solvent. Cleansing chemicals in general use may be conveniently classified, according to their principal specific action, as:

(a) Surface-active agents (hereinafter referred to as washing agents) such as soaps and detergents whose principal action is a physical one by modifying the surface tension and also, by interaction, causing soil to come free from internal and external surfaces of individual fibres and to be held in suspension.

(b) Chemical agents such as alkaiis or acids (sours) whose principal action is a chemical one by combination with or neutralisation of impurities or soil in the material or liquor. In some cases, fatty soiling is saponified by the chemical action of alkalis, thereby producing fatty acids which in turn act in some ways like soaps or detergents, modifying the surface tension. Nevertheless, the principal action is a chemical one.

Suspension agents such as polyvinyl pyrrolidone, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose or sodium carboxymethyl starch, whose principal action is to prevent redeposition of particles or chemicals, already removed from the treated materials, by causing them to remain in suspension.

For a better understanding of the invention, it is necessary to distinguish between the washing agents (a) and chemical agents (b). The speed of action and efficiency of the agents (a) is related not only to the amount of the washing agent used, but also to its concentration. In the case of the agents (b), although high concentration increase the speed of reaction, they may also produce unacceptable chemical damage to the fibres, so that they cannot be used.

Historically, washing processes have depended on lengthy soaking in washing liquors combined with agitation or mechanical manipulation and these features are still found in almost all processes, whether industrial or domestic. A variety of methods have been suggested in the past for laundering and other treatments, such as the scouring of raw wool, by which the purposes of timeconsuming soaking processes were to be more quickly achieved by energy-applying methods such as the action of sprays or jets or by intensive agitation.

For these methods, the washing liquor is usually a weak aqueous solution of a surface-active washing agent such as soap or detergent in combination with an alkali or alone. It is common to these methods that the washing agent is dissolved in a large volume of water and cannot therefore be quickly varied in amounts to meet the requirements of varying degrees or types of soiling. It is also common that the spraying action or agitation produces aeration of the washing liquor if the agent is present in sufficient concentration. This aeration leads to difiiculties with pumping equipment and decreases the intensity of the energy which can be applied effectively to the material. It also produces foam or lather which results in further difficulties, for instance in controlling the depth of liquor in wash tanks.

It has been found that where the washing agent used is an orthodox high-titre soap, washing liquors containing more than 0.01 part of active fatty-acid soap in every parts by weight of liquor may produce such difiiculties when subjected to the higher energy levels necessary for high-speed processes. On the other hand, washing liquors must contain more than 0.025 part of soap in 100 parts of liquor if the addition of the agent is to produce a significant improvement in the washing effect. It follows that, with increasing concentration, a high-energy washing liquor will foam before it will wash. It is an object of the invention to overcome this inherent contradiction, which applies similary to other washing agents.

The use of non-foaming or anti-foaming washing agents in the liquor has been suggested. However, in many processes, the washing effect depends on a change of surface tension and this change itself makes the liquor liable to foaming and aeration. Thus, any liquor containing a sufficiently high concentration of agent to give elfective washing will also have an increased tendency to foaming and aeration as compared with soft water or with alkali dissolved in soft water. Whereas anti-foaming agents may be effective at the low energy levels of slow processes, at the high energy levels necessary for high-speed washing processes, the effect achieved is not sufficient to counteract the aeration unless the agents, which are comparatively expensive, are added in uneconomical quantities. Accordingly the invention seeks to eliminate the need to use such special agents.

A further object of the invention is to provide for the introduction of the washing agent into the material in a controlled manner and in proportions that can be easily varied, so that further economies in this respect can be achieved.

According to one feature of the invention in a process for washing, cleansing or like treatment of the kind set forth, the material is subjected to the action of a surfaceactive washing agent applied to it in one stage of the process and to the separate action of a washing liquor applied energetically in another stage thereof. The surface-active washing agent can thus be applied with a low level of energy and a high concentration of active substance, whereas the washing liquor is applied with a high level of energy and a low concentration of active substance.

Advantageously, the ratio of the level of energy with which the washing liquor is applied to that with which the surface-active washing agent is applied is not less than 100 to 1, measured in units of energy per unit of area of material processed, while the ratio of the concentration of surface-active substance in the washing agent to that of active substance in the washing liquor is greater than 50 to 1.

Thus the energy with which the surface-active washing agent is applied to the material should preferably be less than 1.85 X joules per square cm., whereas that with which the material is subjected to the action of the washing liquor should be more than 200 10 joules per square cm. The active substance contained in the washing agent should have a detergency effect equivalent to an aqueous solution of orthodox high-titre soap in a concentration of between 0.25 and 5.0 parts by weight of active fatty-acid soap in 100 parts of solution, whereas the active substance in the washing liquor should have a detergency elfect equivalent to such a solution of less than 0.01, and preferably less than 0005 part by weight in 100 parts of solution. In this manner, difficulties caused by foaming and aeration of the wash liquor can be avoided and economies can be achieved in the energy and power consumed, while the inherent contradiction referred to above can be overcome. Finally, the washing agent can be quickly controlled quantitatively or qualitatively to suit difierent degrees of soiling.

In a typical orthodox laundry process for washing 45 kgs. of medium soiled bed linen, a total of 630 litres of water is used in three washing stages, a total of 475 grns. of high-titre soap being added, which represents an average concentration of 0.075 part per 100 parts of liquor by weight. The stage with the highest concentration has 370 grns. of soap added to 300 litres, i.e. 0.123% by weight.

For an equivalent wash, employing the process of the invention, the washing agent can be used at a concentration of 0.5 part of high-titre soap per 100 parts of solution. The concentration of active washing agent in the washing liquor, which represents only untilised agent carried through into the liquor in the material being processed, is negligible, being less than 0.003 part of agent per 100 parts of liquor by weight. A saving of about 10% in the total soap used as compared with the orthodox process is achieved.

For orthodox laundry processes, recommended average concentration of washing agent for different degrees of soiling (Technology of Washing, published by B.L.R.A., 2nd edition, 1961) vary from 0.03% to 0.12% and maximum concentrations from 0.0475% to 0.17% by weight. For the process of the present invention, for a similar range of soiling, the washing agent is preferably used at concentrations of from 0.5 to 2.5%, i.e. from 10 to times those used in equivalent orthodox processes. In spite of the much higher concentration, however, the amount of agent utilised is of the same order as or, in many cases, even less than in the orthodox processes.

In a typical commercial process for scouring raw wool, for every 45 kgs. of material, 130 gms. of washing agent and 450 litres of water are used, which represents an average concentration of 0.017 part of agent per 100 parts of solution. For an equivalent wash, employing the process of the present invention, the agent can be used at a concentration of 0.6%, which is times greater than that of the aforesaid process.

In the process of the invention, the application of the washing agent in a concentration many times greater than that generally used heretofore enhances its cfiicacy. Also, the period required for the agent to roll up or remove grease and dirt from individual fibres and to bring them into suspension is largely due to the time required for the whole article to become wetted out and not to the time required for the removal of action itself. By bringing the agent into intimate contact with the material, the former time can be greatly reduced. The invention accordingly seeks to apply the surface-active agent to the material in no more than the amount and concentration required, to bring the said agent into intimate contact with the fibres of the material with use of a small amount of energy or agitation and to remove any surplus agent before subjecting the material to the action of high-energy jets or sprays of washing liquor or to the action of intense agitation.

The amount of energy actually required to deliver an agent to the surface of the material is dependent on the method employed. For example, if the material is passed through a trough or tank, the energy required is negligible. Other known methods, such as those commonly used for delivering printing inks or dyes, also involve negligible energy. Preferably, in the process of the invention, the surface-active washing agent is applied to the material in such a manner that there is neither substantial dissipation of energy nor substantial agitation.

In some cases, as where a surface-active washing agent is available, in an appropriate concentration, under pressure through a pipeline, it may be convenient to apply the agent by means of sprays. In such cases, the agent may be sprayed at a very low pressure just sufficient to obtain even distribution of the agent across the material, but not so high that the agent is subjected to aeration or strikes the material with substantial energy. It has been found that commercially available sprays can give effective distribution of the agent when a pressure of less than 2 kg. f. per sq. cm. is employed and that, by using wideangle sprays, the agent can be applied to the material with relative velocities of less than 30 metres per minute, giving a resultant energy effect of less than 1.85 X10 joules per sq. cm. This energy figure may be compared with typical conditions for the washing liquor in previously proposed high-speed washing processes, where it has been found that relative velocities of at least 45 metres per min. and a far higher energy effect may be necessary to obtain satisfactory results.

The washing liquor and rinsing liquor may also be applied by spraying, the former at a pressure of, say, more than 6 kg. f. per sq. cm. from jets at not more than 15 cms. from the surface of the material and the latter at a pressure of, say, not more than 3.5 kg. f. per sq. cm. In connection with any of the sprays, provision may be made for quantitative control by variation of the pressure.

In calculating the aforesaid energy effect Be, the following expression has been used.

bVm Where:

F=fiow of liquid in litres per min.

Vr=relative velocity of liquid with respect to the material in metres per minute.

b=breadth of material in cms.

Vm=velocity of material in metres per min.

Applying this to an example of the invention, in which the washing agent is applied at 4.6 litres per min. over a breadth of cms. at an angle of 45 in the direction of travel of the material moving at 30 metres per min.:

joules per square em.

Ee=1.3 l0 joules per sq. cm.

If the washing liquor is applied in two stages at 350 litres per min. over a breadth of 100 cms. perpendicular to the travel of the material moving at 30 metres per min.:

Ee=595 10 joules per sq. cm.

within it the correct amount of washing agent before it is presented to the action of the washing liquor.

It has ben found that when a surface-active washing agent is brought into contact with soiled material and soil is removed from the surfaces of the fibres, the proportion of the agent utilised in such removal becomes inactive. It has also been found that, when subjected to agitation, this inactive agent is less liable to produce foam or aeration than is the unalfected, active, or free agent. In the process of the invention, the washing agent applied can be substantially all utilised and become inactive within the material. As the amount of free agent is reduced to a minimum, the concentratian of agent in the liquor can be prevented from reaching a level at which aeration or foaming occurs, but without reducing the effectiveness of the process.

The invention thus provides a process in which material is treated by applying a concentrated washing agent evenly over the whole of the material, but using only a low level of energy, causing the agent to be brought into intimate contact with the fibres of the material, removing any excess agent in such a manner that an amount of agent remains in the material suflicient to act upon grease and soil in the material, but not sufiicient to leave excess active agent which would tend to cause aeration and foaming in later stages of the process, subjecting the material to the action of a washing liquor having no significant tendency to aerate or foam at a high level of energy produced by agitation or by application of the liquor under pressure through jets or sprays, and removing excess liquor together with inactive washing agent and suspended grease and soil. The material may then be passed from the washing stage directly to a stage or stages in which the agent and liquor remaining in the material are removed by rinsing. Alternatively, the material may be passed from a first washing stage as described above to one or more further such washing stages and then to one or more rinsing stages.

Where two or more stages are provided, the amount or concentration and the type of washing agent applied, or the proportions of combined washing agents applied may be made ditferent as between one stage and another in order to deal with a wide range of types and degrees of soiling. Also, the washing liquor used may be different in type, concentration or temperature as between one stage and another.

The range of commercially available substances which can be used as surface-active washing agents is wide and includes low-titre and high-titre soaps, castor oil and other natural oil-based soaps and synthetic detergents, as well as proprietary formulations. It is an advantage of the invention that the use of more expensive agents is not essential for satisfactory washing. Indeed, a washing agent containing between 0.25 and 5.0 parts by Weight of high-titre soap per 100 parts of solution gives excellent results very economically. Preferably, the agent contains between 0.5 and 2.5 parts of high-titre soap dissolved in 100 parts of softened water. However, other surface-active washing agents with equivalent or similar detergent properties may be employed, with or without added alkali. Conveniently, a small quantity of glacial acetic acid may be added to the agent for the purpose of maintaining the concentrated solution liquid at room temperatures in order to facilitate its handling. The temperature of the agent, unlike that of the washing liquor, has little effect on the efficacy of washing, but a temperature of 60 C. has been found to be convenient.

Particularly in conjunction with the preferred washing agent referred to above, a preferred washing liquor consists of an alkaline solution with an alkalinity of about 1 to 1.25 gms. per litre net of equivalent free sodium carbonate, for example 0.25 part by weight of sodium metasilicate (Na SiO 5H O) in 100 parts of soft water at a temperature of 822 C., giving a pH value of about 11.8. Other similar, widely used, alkalis may be employed, such as caustic soda or trisodium phosphate (Na PO 12H O). If another alkali is used, the quantity required and the equivalent grains per gallon of free sodium carbonate can be determined from the figures quoted above in proportion to the chemical equivalent of the alkali used.

The washing agent and/or the washing liquor may, if required, have an addition of an artificial soil-suspending agent, such as polyvinyl pyrrolidone, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose or sodium carboxymethyl starch or other chemicals used in orthodox washing processes to enhance the suspending power and prevent redeposition of dirt on the material during rinsing stages.

In an alternative form of process in accordance with the invention, alkali and detergent or soap are mixed together in the required proportions and are applied together as the washing agent. In this case, the washing liquor may be a more dilute alkaline solution or even soft water without alkali. The washing agent may be a solution containing a high-titre soap in a concentrated form, between 0.25% and 2.5% by weight and an alkali such as a sodium metasilicate, between 0.25% and 2.5% dissolved in soft water. Preferred concentrations are between 0.4% and 1% of high-titre soap and between 0.4% and 1% of sodium metasilicate. Soil-suspending agents may again be added to either or both components.

Also in accordance with the invention, a machine for the washing, cleansing or like treatment of textile articles, fabrics, fibres or like materials comprises at least one stage with means for applying a surface-active washing agent to the material, and at least one stage with means, separate from and independent of the aforesaid means, for applying a washing liquor to the material with an energy level not less than times that with which the said washing agent is applied.

Means may be provided for carrying the material through the said stages in the form of a continuously moving web or between continuously moving liquid-pervious carrier webs.

The washing agent may be applied by spraying, as described above, or by passing the material over one or more troughs containing the agent, the level in the or each trough being kept constant and the material being controllably depressed as it passes thereover. With more than one trough, the material may be caused to enter the liquid in a second trough only when additional washing agent requires to be applied.

Means for removing surplus washing agent may comprise a pair of rolls, controllably loaded one against the other, between which the material is passed.

An alternative means for applying and removing the washing agent and/or rinsing liquor may comprise a pair of rolls controllably loaded one against the other, between which the material is passed, the rolls having their axes in a common plane substantially departing from the vertical and the space between the upper surfaces of two rolls being controllably flooded with the said agent or liquor.

For washing individual flat articles in a continuous series, the washing agent may be arranged to be automatically applied only whilst an article is directly passing the point of application, the applying means being automatically shut off and prevented from feeding further quantities of the agent when a gap between successive articles occurs.

Examples of apparatus for carrying out the process of the invention will now be more fully described with reference to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings, in which:

FIGURES l and 2 illustrate two machines for laundering separate' articles,

FIGURES 3 to 5 alternative ways of applying a washing agent,

FIGURE 6 a machine for processing a continuous length of material or fabric, and

FIGURE 7 a machine for processing textile fibres in bulk.

In a machine for laundering separate articles, as illustrated in FIGURE 1 or FIGURE 2, the articles are carried through the machine between an upper belt 10 and a lower belt 11, both of a net-like structure. The articles are placed in succession on top of the belt 11 at point A and are removed from the machine at point B (FIGURE 1). The path of the belt 10 coincides with that of the belt 11 between A and B, where the belts diverge, the belt 10 returning above and the belt 11 below the machine around a series of guide rolls 12 and over tensioning rolls 13 loaded through a controllable linkage, such as levers 14, by pneumatic cylinders or springs 15, so that the belts are kept under constant tension.

Between A and B, the belts 10, 11 are driven by pairs of rolls 16, 17 loaded against each other by pressure applying means, such as cylinders or springs 18 (FIG- URE l). The rolls are driven from an electric motor 19 through chains and sprockets 20. The speed of the driving means is preferably variable to suit the requirements of the particular articles or material being treated.

C and D represent one washing stage and E and F two rinsing stages. Between D and E, further washing stages similar to C and D may be included, if necessary, to deal with more heavily soiled articles or for operating at higher speeds.

Within a single washing stage, two distinct and separate operations are carried out, firstly a surface-active washing agent is applied to the articles at C and secondly washing liquor is used at D to apply energy to the articles and remove the soiling. Suitable washing agents and liquors have been described above. In the machine of FIGURE 1, the application of the washing agent is carried out as follows: A tank 21 is filled with a highconcentrate washing agent supplied through a pipe and level controller 22 from a convenient external source. A circulating pump 23 takes solution from the tank and passes it through a filter 24 and control valve at 25 to a manifold 26 fitted with distribution points or nozzles 27. The manifold 26 extends transversely of the direction of motion of the belts 10, 11 as they pass from a roll 'pair G to a roll pair H. The manifold 26 is adjusted about its axis so that the washing agent, which is evenly spread by spraying across the full width of the articles, comes into contact with them at such an angle and velocity that there is little agitation of the agent and a low energy elfect, as discussed above, at the point of contact. The valve at 25, adjustable from a remote-control panel 28, allows the operator to vary the pressure at which the agent is delivered to the manifold 26 and hence the volume of agent delivered to the articles.

The belts 10, 11, on passing through the rolls 16, 17 at G are held closely in contact with each other with the articles between them. Beyond the point of application of the washing agent, they pass through the rolls 16, 17 at H, where the said agent is brought into intimate contact with the individual fibres of the articles, air being excluded by the pressure of the rolls. As the amount of agent which passes through the rolls with the articles is determined by the thickness of the articles and the pressure, means for varying the pressure between the rolls 16, 17 at H is provided on the panel 28.

Excess washing agent is squeezed out of the articles as they pass through the rolls at H and is collected in the tank 21 for recirculation. The top of the tank is provided with a lip 29 which comes into close proximity with the bottom of the roll 16 to prevent such agent from being carried into a wash-liquor tank 50.

As regards stage C, the machine of FIG. 2 differs from FIG. 1 in that the articles are carried through the washing agent in the tank 21 as hereinafter more fully described.

FIGURE 3 illustrates an alternative distributing arrangement for applying the washing agent in which the manifold 26 is so directed that the agent makes contact with the surface of the roll 17 at G and not directly with an article. The rotation of the roll spreads the agent evenly and carries a proportion of it over to its front, where it enters the article before the latter passes through the roll pair at G. After the article has passed through this roll pair, remaining washing agent drops from the back of the roll 17 onto the article and passes with it to the roll pair at H. The tank 21 is fitted with an extension 30 under the roll pair at G to collect washing agent expressed from the articles by the action of the pair.

FIGURES 4a and 4b and FIGURES 4c and 4d illustrate two arrangements in which the washing agent is applied only whilst an article is passing the application point and its delivery is stopped when no article is passing or when an article passing does not require the application of a particular agent available at that stage. In FIGURES 4a and 4c, the arrangements are shown in the positions in which no washing agent is applied and in FIGURES 4b and 4d in the positions in which the agent is applied. In both arrangements, the agent is supplied through a pipe 31 to a level-controller which allows the agent to fill a trough 32 to a preset level controllable from the panel 28. A detecting device 33, which may conveniently be a photo-sensitive electric device, is arranged to sense the passage of an article 34 which requires the application of the agent. When this device operates, it produces a signal which, through a time-delay device 35, causes a cylinder 36, conveniently a pneumatic cylinder, to be supplied with pressure. In the arrangement of FIGURES 4a and 4b, the piston of the cylinder 36 causes a roller 37, supported by a lever 38 from a bracket 39, to descend and depress the belts 10, 11 together with the articles 34 into the trough 32 and below the levelof the agent therein (FIGURE 4b). As the belts and article pass through the trough, they pick up washing agent from the trough, but the level controller causes the level to be maintained. After the delay device 35 has operated, the cylinder 36 or a restoring spring returns the roller 37 to the position of FIGURE 4a, in which the belts 10, 11 pass over the trough 32 without entering it, so that no agent is applied.

In FIGURES 4c and 4d, the devices 33 and 35 act in a similar manner, but the piston of the cylinder 36 acts directly on the trough 32, causing it to tilt about a pivot 40 until it is in contact with a stop 41 (FIGURE 4d). In this position, the washing agent in the trough 32 flows over a weir 43 and down an extension 44 onto the belts 10, 11 passing underneath at L. In the inoperative position (FIGURE 40), the trough is in contact with a stop 42.

In FIGURE 5, which shows both a side elevation and a detail view at right angles thereto, the two rolls 16, 17 at G are mounted with the common plane containing their axes tilted substantially from the vertical. A V- shaped reservoir for washing agent thus formed between the two rolls and end plates 47 is supplied by a pipe and level-controller 46. The belts 10, 11 travelling between the rolls pass through the washing agent and only a limited quantity of agent, controlled by the pressure between the rolls, is carried along with the article. The level in the reservoir is maintained so that the agent, fed in towards the mid length of the rolls, flows outwardly towards and over the end plates 47. Any dirty washing agent which has been squeezed out from the articles by the rolls 16, 17 and has passed over the plates 47 is carried away through a pipe 48 and filtered before being returned to the tank 21 for recirculation.

After the belts 10, 11 have passed with an article through the roll pair at H (FIGURE 1), so that the article contains an amount of washing agent which has been brought into intimate contact with the fibres, the

said belts carry the article on towards a roll pair I (FIG- URE 1 or 2). In the section D, between H and I, the acticle is subjected to the action of a washing liquor with a high energy effect, as discussed above. In FIGURE 1, below the belts 10, 11, the wash-liquor tank 50 contains a heating means, such as a steam coil 51, by which the liquor is kept at a predetermined temperature controlled by a temperature-sensitive valve 52. Liquor is taken from the bottom of the tank 50 by a pump 53 and passed through a filter 54 to manifolds 55 and 56 mounted, respectively, above and below the belts 10, 11 and arranged to deliver liquor through the said belts. Because of the net-like structure of the belts, the liquor will strike the articles with little interference from the belts. The liquor is distributed from the manifolds 55, 56 across the full width of the belts by spreading means such as nozzles 57 which give a series of fan shaped spray jets.

At this stage, the washing agent in an article has been utilised to roll up dirt and grease on internal and external surfaces of the fibres and is holding this soil in suspension. The washing liquor, with the energy it imparts to the article, assists the agent to remove the soil from the structure of the material of the article and carries away the said agent and soil in suspension together with any unaffected agent and falls down for collection in the tank 50, filtering and re-circulation.

Washing liquor remaining in the article is reduced to a minimum by the pressure in the roll pair at I, the expressed liquor being also collected in the tank 50, which has an extension 58 for this purpose. Dirt which accumulates in the tank 50 is removed partly by the action of the filter 54 and partly by an amount of liquor carried away from the surface through a drain 59 and from the bottom of the tank through a drain 60. As liquor is thus removed, the level in the tank is maintained by clean water carried over from an adjacent wash stage or rinse stage through an inlet 61. The entry of this water tends to reduce the concentration of alkalinity or other chemical additives in the washing liquor and this concentration is made up to the required strength by concentrate supplied through an inlet 62 under the control of a valve actuated by an alkalinity detector 6 3.

Baflles 64, 65 are fitted above the section D to ensure that no washing agent passes unintentionally from C to D and that no washing liquor passes from D to a following wash stage or to a rinse stage E.

The articles then proceed to further stages between the belts 10, 11. In FIGURE 1, rinsing stages E and F comprise tanks 66 and 67 containing rinse liquors. The belts 10, 11 carry the articles over a guide roll 68 down into liquor in the tank 66 and, following a path determined by guide rolls 69, 70 and 71, to a pressure-loaded roll pair I. Remaining, soiled, washing liquor is diluted by the rinsing liquor and removed by the action of this roll pair. The rinsing action is assisted by the movement of the belts through the liquor and may be further assisted by vibrating means such as mechanical or ultrasonic beaters. The section F is similar to the section E. Fresh water fed into it through a pipe '72 flows through the machine in a direction counter to the movement of the belts 10, 11 into the section B and thence into the washing stages. In the tanks 66 and '67, weirs may be fitted to ensure that this flow is not 'broken up by local reverse currents in the tanks. Heaters such as a steam coil 73 are incorporated to maintain the liquor at a required temperature.

Additional operations such as bleaching and starching, and/ or the addition of fiuorescing or other additives may be provided for, if required.

After passing through a roll pair 16, 17 at K, the upper belt is carried away, while the articles remain on the lower belt 11 until they are transferred to a calendar or ironing machines.

The pumps '23, 53, motor 19, rollers 16, 17, in bearings such as 74 (FIG. 5), together with other mechanical components are mounted on a frame 1, which may be subdivided. Covers 2 and 3 enclose the machine and prevent splashing. Internal covers at 4 protect the return path of the lower belt 11.

The machine of which a part is shown in FIGURE 2 may be generally similar to that of FIGURE 1. The belts 10, 11 with articles between them pass through the roll pair at G and then around a guide roll 75 into concentrated washing agent in the tank 21 and around further guide rolls 76 and 77 to the roll pair at H. In passing through the tank 21, the articles absorb washing agent and excess agent is removed by the roll pair at H. EX- pressed surplus agent is collected in a trough 78 from which it passes through a filter and separator 79. Filtered agent is returned to the tank 21 through a pipe 80 and separated dirt is discharged through a pipe 81. The amount of washing agent in the tank 21 is maintained by a level controller at 22.

Washing liquor is applied in the section D. After passing through the roll pair at H, the belts 10, 11, with articles held between them, pass around guide rolls 82, 83, '84 and to the roll pair at I. In so doing, the belts pass bet-ween manifolds 86 and 87 and manifolds 87 and 88 supplied by the pump 53. The manifolds are arranged so that the washing liquor strikes the articles energetically whilst they are travelling in a substantially vertical path before and after they pass through the liquor in the tank 50.

In addition to or instead of the spraying action of the manifolds, the belts 10, 11 may pass through agitating means such as pairs of beater bars 89. The bars 89 are mounted between two rods 90 which are reciprocated, for example, by a crank 91 pivoted at 92 and connected to an eccentric driver by the motor 19. The vibration and agitation produced by the bars 89 assist the washing liquor in removing finely divided soil particles from the articles. The action of the bars may be augmented or complemented by energy produced by an ultrasonic generator 93. This energy is transmitted in the form of high-frequency vibrations through the liquor to the articles immersed therein. If the energy is applied through the liquor from the bars 89 without the manifolds 86-88 being used, the pump 53 may operate at low pressure to circulate liquor through the filter 54 and back to the tank 50. From the roll pair at I, the belts 10, 11 pass to one or more rinsing stages or first to further Washing stages.

Preferably the belts 10, 11 used, as described above, as carriers for separate articles are webs of net-like structure made from filaments of artificial fibre by warp knitting or weaving so as to produce an even mesh. The structure is selected to ensure minimum interference with the action of the washing liquor, whilst permitting the greatest possible expression of moisture from the articles during their passage between pressure-applying rolls. A mesh of approximately four threads per centimetre in each direction is suitableQThe net-like structure may be reinforced along each edge to cooperate with known webguiding and controlling mechanism. Advantageously, the woven or knitted material is preset by known heat finishing or resin finishing to give a stable structure capable of withstanding continuous cycles of washing, rinsing, mangling and drying Without deterioration.

The machine of FIGURE 6 is also generally similar to that of FIGURE 1, but is especially intended for the treatment of continuous or semi-continuous lengths of fabrics or textile materials. As there are no separate articles, the belts 10, 11 of the previous figures are not essential. A roll of material 94 is mounted on a feeding stand 95 and one end is threaded, through sections C, D, D, E, F and G, to receiving stand 96, Where it is rerolled at 97. Washing agent supplied by pipe 22 is applied at C and washing liquor at D and also D. Rinsing takes place at E and F and drying or ironing at G. In the section C, where the arrangement is otherwise similar to that of FIGURE 2, the roll 76 may be fitted with lifting means such as a cylinder 98, so that when washing agent does not require to be added, the roller 76 and the material can be lifted above the level of the agent in the tank 21. The sections D and B may each be generally similar to the section D of FIGURE 1.

The rinsing means in section F comprises manifolds 99, 100 which receive hot clean water from a supply at 103 and deliver it, as rinse liquor, directly to the material between the roll pairs at J and K. Surplus liquor expressed by the roll pair at K and collected in the tank 66 is circulated thence by a pump 108 through a filter 107 to manifolds 101 and 102 which deliver it to the material between the roll pairs at I' and J. The liquor expressed by the action of the roll pair I is collected in a tray 104 which feeds it to the tank 50 of the section D.

An alternative form of rinsing section which could be used would be similar to the arrangement of FIGURE 5, but the level controller 46 would deliver rinse liquor instead of washing agent.

The section G comprises drying or ironing rollers 105 co-acting with a recessed bed 106.

A machine such as has been described with reference to FIGURE 6 may be adapted for the treatment of separate articles and, conversely, machines having the features described with reference to FIGURES 1 to may be adapted for the treatment of continuous lengths of material.

FIGURE 7 shows a machine for the processing of fibres or like bulk materials, such for example as the scouring of raw wool. The material 109 is stored in a hopper 110 from the bottom of which a rotating comb 111 delivers it to a belt 112 driven by rollers 113. Above the belt 112 is a further, moving-link, belt 114 driven from rollers 115. Suspended from the belt 114 are a series of combs 116 mounted so that they move in positions substantially perpendicular to the surface of the belt 112, spreading the material evenly over the surface of the latter. At the upper end of the belt 112, the layer of material is fed onto the surface of the lower belt 11 which carries it forward under the upper belt 10. The belt compresses the material and holds it firmly in relation to the lower belt 11 during its passage through roll pairs G, H and the rest of the machine. The machine may otherwise be similar to a machine such as has been described with reference to FIGURES 1, 2, 5 or 6. For the scouring of wool, however, it is generally necessary to use lower temperatures than are permissible for laundering other materials. As compared with conventional wool scouring machines, the invention permits of the use of a smaller'machine for the same output and result.

In the scouring of wool, the soil being removed is generally due to natural soiling. In a number of processes for textile materials, however, treatment such as mercerizing, sizing or dyeing involve adding to the materials at one stage chemicals which have then to be removed at a later stage, either partly or completely. The process of the present invention is especially advantageous when applied to the removal of such chemicals or other artificial soiling introduced during a prior treatment.

The invention is applicable with particular advantage to high-speed continuous processes and to c0ntinuousprocess machines such as have been described above. However, it can also be applied to batch-process machines.

I claim:

1. A continuous process for the washing of textile material in the presence of a surfactant comprising,

as a first step applying the surfactant in a liquid medium to the surface of the textile material and in intimate contact with the fibers thereof while the material is in an unwetted state, and

thereafter as a second distinct step applying a surfactant to the material with an energy level significantly greater than that employed in the first step.

2. The process of claim 1 in which the energy level of the application of the surfactant in the second step,

measured in terms of units of energy per unit of area of material processed, is at least one hundred times as great as the energy level of the application of the surfactant in the first step.

3. The process of claim 1 in which the concentration of the active agent of the surfactant in the first washing step is at least times greater than the concentration of the active agent of the surfactant in the second washing step.

4. The proces of claim 1 in which the concentration of the active agent of the surfactant in the first washing step is at a level to provide a detergency effect equivalent to an aqueous solution of orthodox high-titre soap in a concentration of between 0.25 and 5.0 parts by weight of active fatty-acid soap in parts of solution.

5. The process of claim 1 in which the concentration of the active agent of the surfactant in the second washing step is at a level to provide a detergency effect equivalent to an aqueous solution of orthodox high-titre soap of less than 0.01 part by weight of active fatty-acid soap in 100 parts of solution.

6. The process of claim 1 in which the concentration of the active agent of the surfactant in the first step is at a level to provide a detergency effect equivalent to an aqueous solution of orthodox high-titre soap in a concentration of between 0.25 and 5.0 parts by weight of active fatty-acid soap in 100 parts of solution and in which the concentration of the active agent of the surfactant in the second washing step is at a level to provide a detergency effect equivalent to an aqueous solution of orthodox high-titre soap of less than 0.01 part by weight of active fatty-acid soap in 100 parts of solution.

7. A continuous process for the washing of textile material in the presence of a surfactant comprising,

as a first step applying the surfactant in a liquid medium to the surface of the material and in intimate contact with its fibers while the material is in an unwetted state,

thereafter applying as a second distinct step a surfactant to the material with a concentration of the active agent of less than that of the concentration of the active agent in the first washing step,

the concentration of the active agent in the first washing step being more than 50 times as high as the concentration of the active agent in the second washing step.

8. The process of claim 7 in which the surfactant in the first washing step is applied to the material with an energy level of less than 1.85 times 10* joules per square centimeter of material.

9. The process of claim 7 wherein the surfactant is applied to the material in the second washing step with an energy level of more than times 10" joules per square centimeter of material.

10. The process of claim 7 wherein the surfactant is applied to the material during the first washing step with an energy level of less than 1.85 times 10* joules per square centimeter of material and the surfactant is applied to the material during the second washing step with an energy level of more than 185 times 10* joules per square centimeter of material.

11. The process of claim 7 wherein the surplus surfactant from the first washing step is removed from the textile material before it is subjected to the second washing step.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS MAYER WEINBLATT, Primary Examiner U5. (:1. X.R. 8-458; 689, 43

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4137044 *Jul 8, 1977Jan 30, 1979Economics Laboratory, Inc.Method of washing
US4154578 *Aug 1, 1977May 15, 1979Bane William FMethod and apparatus for cleaning a carpet on location
US4338282 *Jul 14, 1980Jul 6, 1982Duskin Franchise Co., Ltd.Selective collecting system of washingly treated articles
US4489455 *Nov 3, 1983Dec 25, 1984The Procter & Gamble CompanyMethod for highly efficient laundering of textiles
US4489574 *Oct 28, 1982Dec 25, 1984The Procter & Gamble CompanyApparatus for highly efficient laundering of textiles
US4555019 *Jun 22, 1984Nov 26, 1985The Procter & Gamble CompanyPackaged detergent composition with instructions for use in a laundering process
US5546622 *Jul 5, 1994Aug 20, 1996Mcalister; Ronald E.Fabric processing apparatus and method of treating a continous length of tubular-knit fabric in tubular form
US20050015889 *Apr 18, 2002Jan 27, 2005Stefan ZikeliMethod and device for treating a fiber mass
Classifications
U.S. Classification8/137, 68/43, 68/9, 8/158
International ClassificationD06B3/00, D06L1/16, D06B3/30, D01B3/04, D06B3/10
Cooperative ClassificationD06B2700/09, D01B3/04, D06B3/30, D06L1/16, D06B3/10, D06B3/00
European ClassificationD06B3/10, D06L1/16, D01B3/04, D06B3/30, D06B3/00