US 3612495 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
nited States Patent Bruce G. Cupping Inventor Akron, Ohio Appl. No. 838,845 Filed July 3, 1969 Patented Oct. 12, 1971 Assignee A-T-O, Inc.
Willoughby, Ohio CARBONATOR AND METHOD OF OPERATION THEREOF 10 Claims, 2 Drawing Figs.
U.S.Cl 261/140 R, 26l/DIG. 7,261/151 Int. Cl 1301f 3/04 Field of Search 261/140, 151,130,155,68,D1G.7
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 19 TO CONTROL PANEL Primary Examiner-Tim R. Miles AttorneyOldham & Oldham ABSTRACT: The carbonator system includes first and second beverage vessels with a heat exchanger operatively connected between the vessels with the output of the heat exchanger flowing to the second beverage vessel or receiver. Means provide for pressure flow of beverage to and through the heat exchanger and to the second beverage vessel, carbonation means are present for injection of CO gas under pressure into the beverage prior to its flow to the heat exchanger, and means are present to divert part of the output of beverage from the heat exchanger for return flow to the first beverage vessel. Control means are present to provide the carbonation gas to the system only when beverage is flowing to the second vessel, and in controlled proportion to the rate of flow.
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CARBONATOR AND METHOD OF OPERATION THEREOF BACKGROUND OF INVENTION In general, the present invention relates to carbonation systems or apparatus, and especially to soft drink beverage carbonation systems.
Heretofore there have been various types of carbonation systems provided for use in the soft drink industry, and most of such systems have been directed to an apparatus for supplying carbonation gas to heat exchanger units wherein the carbon dioxide gas used normally is absorbed in the beverage while it is trickling between or over plates or similar means in the heat exchanger unit provided. Also, the pressure exerted on the beverage may vary in different portions of the system.
In prior carbonation systems, it has been difficult to control, accurately, the amount of carbonation gas absorbed by a liquid as it is being processed. Thus, in some carbonation systems, the degree of carbonation may be dependent upon the pressure or temperature setup in the system, or by the length of time of exposure and it has been difficult to maintain a uniformity of carbonation in the beverages being processed under the variations in operating conditions and pressures that occur in previous types of carbonation system.
The general object of the present invention is to provide a novel and improved carbonation system and apparatus wherein a constant amount of carbonation gas per unit volume of beverage can be injected into the beverage regardless of the system pressure.
Another object of the invention is to provide a constant rate of beverage product flow to a final receiving vessel for the beverage in the system, and to provide for injection of carbon dioxide gas into the beverage only when there is some product flow to the final receiving vessel in the system.
Other objects of the invention include the provision of a novel and improved carbonation system which is readily controllable to set up suitable operating conditions therein from the start of the system; to provide a first and a final beveragereceiving vessel in the carbonation system wherein the pressure on the beverage is equalized in said two beverage-receiving or storing vessels; to provide for a positive rate of injection of a carbonation gas into a beverage independent of the pressure to which the beverage is subjected to during other processing operations; to provide for diversion of a portion of the beverage flowing through a carbonation system for return flow through the carbonation and heat exchanger means of the system to aid in temperature control and to aid in the complete carbonation action for the beverage being processed; to provide suitable means in a carbonation system for circulation of beverage through the heat exchanger means while no beverage is being withdrawn from the system; to simplify and improve the starting of a carbonation system; to provide controlled operating conditions therein; and to provide a carbonation system producing a uniform carbonation of the discharged product.
The foregoing and other objects and advantages of the present invention will be made more apparent as the specification proceeds.
Attention now is directed to the accompanying drawing in which:
FIG. 1 partly diagrammatically shows apparatus embodying the principles of the invention; and
FIG. 2 is a partly diagrammatic detail of a control means in the apparatus.
When referring to corresponding members shown in the drawing and referred to in the specification, corresponding numerals are used to facilitate comparison therebetween.
IN VENTIVE DISCLOSURE The present invention, as one embodiment thereof, comprises first and second beverage-receiving vessels with a heat exchanger operatively connected to and between the vessels so that the output of the heat exchanger flows to the second beverage vessel, means for pressure flow of beverage to and through the heat exchanger to the second beverage vessel, carbonation means for injection of CO, gas under pressure into the beverage prior to its flow to the heat exchanger, means for diverting part of the output of the beverage from the heat exchanger to the first beverage vessel, said vessels being connected together for equalizing pressure therein, and control means for supply of CO gas to the carbonation means only when beverage is flowing to the second vessel.
Reference now is particularly made to the details of the structure shown in the drawings. A carbonation system or apparatus is indicated as a whole by the numeral 10. It includes a first beverage-receiving vessel or tank 11, a heat exchanger 12, and a second beverage-receiving and dispensing means or vessel 13. The beverage to be processed is introduced into the system by a beverage supply line or conduit 14 which normally extends from or connects to the proportioner in the beverageprocessing apparatus to which the carbonation system or apparatus 10 is connected. The beverage flows through a check valve 15 in theline 14 with the beverage flowing to and through an input line 16 that extends into the first beverage tank 11 and usually discharges the beverage adjacent the bottom ofthe tank 11.
Beverage discharged from the tank 11 flows out through a line 18 to which a suitable driven pump 19 connects for pressure flow of beverage in the system, and to provide for movement of the beverage under suitable operating pressures to and through the heat exchanger 12 to other portions of the carbonation apparatus 10. A conventional drive motor 20 connects to the pump 19.
A control panel indicated as a whole by the numeral 21 is provided for the carbonation apparatus and substantially conventional control functions are provided thereby in the apparatus of the invention. Leads 22, or equivalent, connect from the control panel 21 to the motor 20 to supply power thereto so that the motor 20 is only driven when beverage is flowing through the carbonation apparatus 10 and being discharged from the vessel 13 or when such vessel is not full and beverage will flow thereto. From the pump 19, a line 23 carries the beverage to and through a carbonation injection means or unit indicated as a whole by the numeral 24, which usually is an enlarged section, or chamber in the line 23 into which an injection nozzle extends.
A carbonation supply tube or line 25 is provided and it connects to any suitable source of carbonation gas, usually carbon dioxide, and which supply source is not shown in the drawing, with flow through the line 25 being controlled by a shutoff valve 26. When the system is to operate, naturally the valve 26 is open, and then flow through the line 25 is controlled by a solenoid-actuated control valve 27 which has a lead or leads 28 connecting thereto from the control panel for opening such valve under predetermined operating. conditions, as hereinafter explained in more detail. From the control valve 27, carbon dioxide gas flows to a compound differential pressure control valve indicated as a whole by the numeral 30. This valve 30 is shown and described in detail in my copending US. Pat. application Ser. No. 664,010, filed Aug. 29, I967 now abandoned. The differential control valve 30 has compressed gas, usually air, supplied thereto through a suitable line or tube 31 connecting to the control panel 21 to provide a controllable pressure and supply of compressed gas to the valve 30 to one face of a differential pressure diaphragm in the valve. The carbon dioxide supply line 25 connects to the opposite side of the differential pressure diaphragm in such valve 30 whereby carbon dioxide is only passed through the valve 30 when its pressure exceeds the pressure of the control gas supplied through the tube 31 plus the beverage pressure (from a pressure-transmitting line 32). Carbon dioxide gas, when' proper operating conditions are established in the differential pressure control valve 20, then flows therefrom through a line or conduit 33 to the carbonation means 24. Such carbonation means, in general, comprises an injection unit (not shown) except for the general diagrammatic representation in the drawing so that carbon dioxide gas is injected into the beverage being processed under a predetermined controllable, arbitrary differential pressure between the pressure existing on the beverage being processed prior to carbonation thereof, and the pressure on the carbpn dioxide gas, which differential pressure is entirely independent of the pressures existing in the carbonation apparatus for other processing of the beverage or flow of the beverage through the system.
The beverage next flows through a suitable check valve 45 and from such valve through a line 46 connecting to the input of the heat exchanger 12.
The heat exchanger 12 is of conventional design and normally comprises a plurality of parallel plates having refrigerant flowing between alternate sets of the plates and adapted to have the beverage being processed trickle or flow slowly over the surfaces of the plates having refrigerants on the opposite sides thereof whereby an efficient cooling action is obtained on the beverage as it slowly flows through the heat exchanger 12. Any suitable source of refrigerant means connects to the heat exchanger 12 for supply of refrigerant thereto as required to maintain the heat exchanger at a predetermined temperature, and any suitable refrigerant such as a water-alcohol solution, can be used in the heat exchanger.
In order to sense the temperature in the beverage being processed under starting conditions, a conventional temperature-sensing means 48 is provided within and adjacent the bottom of the first beverage tank 11 and connects to the control panel 21 by suitable lead or leads 49. Hence the control panel and conventional means therein can provide for other operations in the apparatus of the invention when proper temperature conditions have been established in the beverage being processed, as hereinafter later described in more detail.
A control valve 50 is provided in the refrigerant flow line and is operatively connected to and controlled through suitable control means in the control panel 21 by lead 51 for flow of refrigerant material to the heat exchanger for maintaining suitable operating conditions therein. Refrigerant is supplied from any conventional source by a driven pump 150 or the like connecting to such supply.
Output from the heat exchanger 12 flows through a line 60 which has a T-coupling 61 therein and a line 62 connecting back to the first beverage tank 11 extends from this coupling 61. Another flow line 63 connects the coupling 61 to the second beverage tank 13. The various beverage flow lines are of proper sizes to aid in obtaining balanced flow. So as to control the amount of beverage flowing back to the beverage tank 11 and to have substantially one-half of the beverage being processed returned to such beverage tank for further processing, preferably an orifice plate 64, or equivalent member, is suitably connected in the line 62 to control return flow of the beverage.
A suitably controlled stop valve 70 is provided in the line 63 and it is controlled, as by a control air pressure, or by electrical means if a solenoid-controlled valve is used, by leads or a line 71 coming from the control panel 21. A diaphragm valve 75 also is provided in the line 63 and it is controlled by a float 76 provided in the second beverage vessel 13 so that when the float 76 is down, the diaphragm valve 75 is opened and thus calls for, or permits beverage flow to the beverage vessel 13.
So as to equalize the pressure on the beverage being processed and or being stored in the vessels 11 and 13, an equalizer tube 80 connects between the tops of the two members, and it nonnally has a control valve 81 provided therein. By having equalized pressures in the two vessels, whenever a product is flowing to the vessel 13, the beverage will flow at a constant rate depending upon the resistance to flow of the various pipes and other elements in the system. Since pressure changes in the system will effect equally the suction pressure and the discharge pressure of the pump 19, the pump will deliver at a constant rate regardless of the absolute pressure within the system. In other words, the pump need not be aware of changes in the absolute pressures existing in the system, but only of the hydraulic resistance to flow. This resistance is constant within a given system.
SYSTEM STARTUP CONDITIONS In starting the carbonation apparatus 10, the beverage tank 11 is pumped full of beverage to be processed. Filling of the tank is terminated by means of a float 85 provided in such tank and with the float 85 connecting to a float-controlled valve 86 which in turn is connected to the control panel 21 by lead 186 to terminate the filling action when the float 85 is properly elevated in the tank. The pressure-balancing valve 81 connects to the top of the vessel 11, as hereinafter described, and it permits air displaced by the incoming product to escape to prevent any excessive buildup of pressures in the tank or vessel. Then, with the stop valve 70 closed, the pump 19 is started to circulate the product through the then nonfunctioning carbonation means 24 and to the heat exchanger 12 and back to the beverage tank 11 through the line 62. Recirculation of this beverage continues until the temperature of the product in the beverage tank 11 is reduced to approximately 38 to 40 F. When all beverage reaches such temperature, the temperature-sensing device 48 and controls connected thereto, causes the system to automatically begin the next step in the startup procedure.
The carbonation of the product in the beverage-receiving tank 11 is started when the sensing device 48 shows operating beverage temperature to be suitable and opens the solenoidactuated valve 27 in the carbon dioxide supply line 25 and permits CO to flow to the carbonation means 24 through the differential pressure control valve 30. The pump 19 continues to run and the stop valve 70 remains closed during such time. Since it is desired to carbonate the beverage in the beverage tank 1 1 only to approximately the level reached during normal operation, which is about one-half of the final carbonation level, the control circuit provided by the panel 21 includes a timing device (not shown) which limits the duration of this carbonation phase of the startup procedure. The length of such startup carbonation phase is approximately 2 minutes in a typical operation at the end of which period the beverage tank 11 is filled with a cooled, semicarbonated product as it would be during normal operation. Hence, the unit is now ready for productive operation.
SYSTEM OPERATION WHEN FULL BUT NO BEVERAGE DISCHARGED When the carbonation apparatus 10 is full of beverage being processed, but no beverage is being withdrawn from the beverage tank, then an additional circulatory system is provided to prevent any of the beverage from freezing in the heat exchanger. Thus, a T-coupling 90 is provided in the line 62 and it connects by a line 91 through a control valve 92 to a suitable pump 93 driven by an attached motor 94. Usually the pump 93 is relatively small and low in capacity in relation to the pump 19. This pump 93 connects back to the line 46 leading to the heat exchanger 12. Thus, when beverage output flow terminates in the system, suitable control means represented by a lead 95 connecting to the control panel can be used to start the motor 94, open the valve 92 by a lead or tube 192 and circulate the beverage through the heat exchanger at a desirable rate to prevent any freezeup of the beverage being processed.
Conventional control means will shut off the motor 94 and close valve 92 when the valve 75 is next opened for beverage flow.
REGULAR OPERATION Upon completion of the startup cycle described hereinbefore, the timer provided in the control panel 21 opens the airoperated stop valve 70 so the beverage then flows into the then empty vessel 13 as the float 76 is down and such float 76 operatively connects to the valve 75 to open it and permit the flow of beverage to the tank 13, as hereinafter described. Hence, as beverage is being circulated through the system by the pump 19, approximately one-half of the beverage being processed will flow through the line 63 into the vessel 13 while substantially one-half of the beverage will return by the line 62 to the initial beverage-receiving or storing tank 11 for recircu. lation in the system. The diaphragm pressure or gas pressure controlled valve 75 is provided with an electrical switch 100 that connects to the control panel by a lead 101 which connects through conventional means on the control panel to control operation of the solenoid-actuated carbonation supply control valve 27 and open it when beverage is flowing to the beverage-receiving vessel 13. This permits carbon dioxide gas tobe injected into the product stream by the carbonation means 24. When this beverage-receiving vessel 13 is full and not requiring any flow of product thereto, then the switch 100 associated with the control valve 75 will be actuated through the float 76 to close the solenoid-actuated valve 27 and no carbon dioxide will be injected into the system under such condition. Naturally, the beverage flowing through the line or tube 63 to the storage and discharge vessel 13 is fully carbonated so that any of the product that is diverted through the tube 62 back to the tank 11 serves to carbonate, partially, the incoming uncarbonated beverage concurrently flowing into the tank 11. Likewise, the beverage flowing to the beverage tank 11 through the return line 62 will be reduced to a suitable temperature, such as about 38 to 40 F. so that such processed beverage likewise aids in cooling the incoming beverage and at least partially reduces its temperature to that approaching the desired beverage discharge temperature. Or, stated in another way, if the beverage returned to the tank 11 is exactly one-half of that withdrawn therefrom through the pipe 18, the temperature of the beverage in the tank 1 1 will be at the midpoint between 38 to 40 F. and the temperature of the incoming product.
Inasmuch as the object of the carbonation system of the invention is to inject a predetermined amount of carbon dioxide gas for each gallon of product withdrawn from the system, it is necessary that the rate of flow of the product to the beverage-receiving vessel 13 must be constant whenever such flow occurs, the carbonating gas must be injected only when the product is'flowing to the vessel 13, and the rate of carbon dioxide injection must be constant. As indicated hereinbefore, the rate of flow of the product to the beverage-receiving vessel 13 has been made independent of the system pressure as the flow rate is dependent upon the pump capacity and the fixed hydraulic resistance in the system. The control for the carbonation means 25 is so regulated and actuated that carbon dioxide gas is injected at a constant rate only when beverage is flowing to the vessel 13. The pump 19 is independent of pressure changes in the system and it only has to overcome the resistance to hydraulic beverage flow in the system which resistance is constant within the system of the invention. Such pump 19 is actuated and controlled so that when the beverage vessel 13 is full, the valves 75and 70 are closed and the pump 19 stops. it only restarts when the beverage vessel 13 again calls for product.
When carbonating beverages, normally air is freed from such beverage. FIG. 2 diagrammatically shows a feature of the carbonation apparatus 10 that will automatically bleed off air and/or gas from the system. Float 76 is carried by an arm 170 which is pivotally supported at 171 and which has an extension section 172 extending to a control or bleed valve 173. The control valve is provided in line 176 and has a control pin 174 extending therefrom. The line or tube 176 connects the interior of the vessel 13 and the pressure therein to the pressure-controlled valve 70 to control the same. When the float 76 is raised by beverage in the vessel 13, the extension section 172 releases the control pin 174 to open valve 173 and bleed air and/or gas from the system and cause the pressure-controlled valve 75 to close. But when the float 76 is lowered, the control valve 173 is closed and the system pressure on the diaphragm of the valve 75 causes it to open for beverage flow.
It will be realized that the tanks 11 and 13 are suitably insulated in any known manner and usually these tanks and most of the connecting lines and pipes used in the system are made from stainless steel.
As the beverage is being circulated initially, a temperaturesensing device d8, which is operatively associated with the pipe 60 and is connected to the control panel 21 by the lead 89, senses the temperature of the beverage being circulated and such device controls the flow of the refrigerant to and through the heat exchanger 12 by the control lead 51 connecting the valve 50 to the control panel whichcorrelates measurements taken on the beverage being processed in different portions of the system so as to control the systems startup and/or operating conditions.
in the control panel 21, it will be realized that any conventional type of timer and control means may be provided to operate the carbonation system in a manner described hereinabove. Thus, the various control valves in the apparatus can be solenoid actuated, be controlled pneumatically or electrically or can be otherwise actuated or controlled from the control panel in a conventional manner. For example, some representative parts are shown in this control panel and may comprise pressure gages 110 and 111 and temperature gages 112 and 113. Precision types of pressure regulators are indicated at 114 and 115. Various control switches are also provided in or on the control panel and are operatively connected in the mechanism. Start and stop switches, etc. likewise can be provided on the control panel with the timer means, recorder means, air filter members and the like. Air pilot valves and similar means can be provided connected to the air-actuated valves in the system with certain of such valves being indicated by the numerals 116, 117 and 118. A nonretum valve 128 may be provided in the line-returning part of the processed beverage to the first beverage storing tank ll 1. I
It should be noted that, as a practical consideration, it is necessary that the pressure in the system be maintained at some level above the saturation pressure for the gases dissolved in the carbonated product. For this purpose, the pressure balance valve 81 is provided in the pressure balance line which is supplied with controlled air pressure through a line or tube 82 connecting to the control panel to apply a controlled air pressure to the system to maintain its pressure at the desired level. This valve functions to add air to the system if the system pressure falls below the desired level and to bleed air or gas off in the event that the system pressure exceeds the desired level (as may occur during initial filling of the system with beverage).
In another embodiment of the invention, the filler bowl or tank of a known bottle filler apparatus may take the place of the vessel 13 in the system. Such filler bowl or vessel will receive the product from the valve 75. The float 76, bleed valve 173 and associated means naturally would still be operably connected to the valve 75 to control it and product flow therethrough. Such filler bowl or vessel would likewise connect to the equalizing pipe 80 to maintain equal pressure with that in the vessel 11. Considering the second beveragereceiving vessel 13 broadly, it may be the rotatable filler bowl of the filler apparatus and be filled to any desired level with the product.
From the foregoing, it will be seen that the novel carbonation system of the invention is adapted to be started from an empty condition readily and to set up, automatically, proper operating conditions therein. The system is adapted to inject a constant amount of carbon dioxide into the beverage being processed with each unit of beverage being processed receiving uniform amounts of carbonation therein. The flow rate of carbonated product to the beverage vessel 13 is constant when any flow thereto occurs and carbon dioxide is injected into the beverage being processed once operating conditions have been established only when beverage is being withdrawn from the system. Thus, it is believed that the objects of the invention have been achieved.
While one complete embodiment of the invention has been disclosed herein, it will be appreciated that modification of this particular embodiment of the invention may be resorted to without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A beverage carbonation apparatus comprising a beverage vessel, a heat exchanger,
a second beverage vessel,
first means connecting said first beverage vessel to said heat exchanger for beverage flow therebetween,
a pump connecting to said first means for pressure flow of beverage to said heat exchanger,
second means connecting the output of said heat exchanger to said means operatively connected to said first means 10 for injection of CO under a controllable difi'erential pressure into the beverage,
said second beverage vessel for beverage flow thereto,
means connecting said vessels together to equalize the presl 5 sure therein, and
means controlling said pump to actuate it only when said second beverage vessel is not full of beverage to a desired level.
2. A beverage carbonation apparatus as in claim 1 and comprising means for diverting part of the output of said heat exchanger to said first beverage vessel, and
control means to supply CO, gas to said carbonation means only when said pump is actuated and delivery of beverage is being made to said second beverage vessel.
3. A beverage-processing and carbonating apparatus as in claim 1 where said second beverage vessel comprises a filler bowl of a bottlel-filling apparatus.
4. A beverage carbonation apparatus as in claim 1 and where said second means comprises prising a bleeder valve means operatively connecting to said control valve means and to said float means and receiving the vessel pressure to bleed gas therefrom when said second beverage vessel requires more beverage therein.
6. A beverage carbonation apparatus comprising a first and a second closed beverage vessel,
a heat exchanger operatively connecting to said beverage vessels with the output of said heat exchanger flowing to said second beverage vessel.
means for pressure flow of beverage to and through said heat exchanger to said second beverage vessel,
carbonation means for injection of CO, under pressure at a uniform rate into the beverage prior to its flow to said heat exchanger,
means for diverting part of the output of beverage from said heat exchanger to said first beverage vessel and to maintain pressure thereon when in such vessel, and
control means to supply CO, gas to said carbonation means only when beverage is flowing to the second vessel.
7. A beverage carbonation apparatus as in claim 6 and comprising a pressured closed circulatory system including said first and second beverage vessels and said heat exchanger, and
said carbonation means being constructed and operative to inject CO, under pressure into the beverage at a controllable pressure differential independent of the pressure in the system.
8. A beverage carbonation apparatus as in claim 7 and including recirculation means connected around said heat exchanger to recirculate beverage therethrough when beverage is not flowing from said heat exchanger to said second beverage vessel.
9. A method of carbonating a beverage comprising the steps of providing first and second beverage storage areas with a carbonating means in series with a cooling means connecting Such 4 maintaining uniform pressures on the beverage In the two storage areas provided therefor, forcing beverage to flow at a constant rate under a pressure differential through the carbonation and the cooling means to the second storage area, beverage being withdrawn at will from the second storage area, and injecting CO, gas into the beverage at a constant rate independent of said uniform pressures when and only when the beverage flows to the second storage area. 10. A method of carbonating a beverage as in claim 9 and including the step of bleeding gas from the second storage area when it is full of beverage.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. ,495 Dated October 12, 1971 Inventor(s) Bruce G. Copping It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Column 7, Claim 1, cancel lines 9 and 10 and substitute therefor carbonation means operatively connected to said first means Column 7, Claim 1, following line 12, insert second means connecting the output of said heat exchanger to Column 7, Claim 3, line 28, after "bottle", delete "l" Signed and sealed this l th day of April 1972.
EDWARD M.FLETGHER,JR. ROBERT GOTTSCHALK attesting Officer Commissioner of Patents USCOMM-DC 60376-969