US 3744263 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
9 United States Patent 1191 3,744,263
Franck et a1. July 10, 1973  RECIRCULATION SYSTEM FOR 2,613,923 iher et 417/198 X MELTDOWN WATER FROM AN ICE 2,767,0 1 1 ennar et 417/198 X STORAGE COMPARTMENT 35,575 6/1862 Millholland 417/198 2,222,024 11/1940 Field 62/344 UX  Inventors: Raymond J. Franck, 56 Walpole 2,866,322 12/1958 Muffly a 62/344 X Road; Dewey A. Corley, 419 8 Gantir Drive, both of Elk Grove Village, Primary ExaminerWilliam E. Wa ner y Ill. 30050 Attorney-Ronald L. Engel, Daniel W. Vittum, Jr., Filed. Nov 9 1970 Gomer W. Walters and John A. Waters  App]. No.: 87,892 i  ABSTRACT Meltdown water from an ice storage compartment is 52 us. c1 62/98, 62/348, 62/344 eenveyed to a refrigerated reservoir and Stored at a  Int. Cl. F25c 5/18 lowered tempemwm until such time as Water is with-  Field 61 Search 62/317, 319, 340, drew" from the reservoir for making more ice or for 62/344, 348, 98; 222/109, 108 other purposes. The meltdown water is withdrawn by means of a venturi arrangement, wherein fresh tap  References Cited water flowing through an inlet conduit passes through UNITED STATES PATENTS a venturi device connected to the outlet of the refrigerated reservoir so as to cause meltdown water in the resg ervoir to'be drawn into the stream of tap water. 2:381:589 8/1945 Hayes 417/182 x 20 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures RECIRCULATION SYSTEM FOR MELTDOWN WATER FROM AN ICE STORAGE COMPARTMENT BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention generally relates to a system for handling meltdown water from an ice maker, and, more particularly, this invention relates to a system for recirculating meltdown water in a cold drink vending machine that incorporates an ice maker.
2. Description of the Prior Art In ice making apparatus, wherein ice is produced in an ice maker and stored in an ice hopper, the disposal of meltdown water resulting from the melting of ice in the ice hopper creates a problem. This problem is especially acute in cold drink vendors, because the quantities of meltdown water produced are substantial, and the disposal of this water constitutes a major servicing concern.
One method heretofore employed for disposing of meltdown water in a cold drink vendor has been to drain the meltdown water into a waste bucket, which could be removed periodically and emptied. This system, though simple and generally effective, is disadvantageous in that it involves additional servicing time and expense. In a cold drink vending machine, the removal of meltdown water from the ice maker can be a timeconsuming process and may be required at frequent intervals that do not necessarily coincide with normal servicing calls for the machine. This additional servicing requirement constitutes an added expense, which necessarily cuts into the profits that might otherwise be realized from the use of the machine.
In order to avoid the servicing problems associated with the above system, several attempts have been made to devise an effective recirculation system for reusing meltdown water in the ice making apparatus. In the case of ice makers wherein ice is produced in a lower ice making compartment and angered or otherwise transported into an upper ice storage compartment, the meltdown water collecting at the bottom of the ice storage compartment can be returned to the ice maker or conveyed to another water bath or water requiring device. However, when the ice storage compartment has its bottom below the ice making compartment and other water requiring areas, the meltdown water must be returned to a higher level, thus requiring a different approach from that utilized with ice makers having ice storage compartments at a relatively high level with respect to water requiring areas of the system.
One prior art device handles the meltdown water by continuously pumping the meltdown water back to the ice maker reservoir by means of an air pump. Since the meltdown water is continuously conveyed to the ice maker reservoir, there is no stagnation of the meltdown water with the attendant bacteria growth problem. However, this arrangement requires a continuously running pump, which means that power must be continuously supplied to the pump, thus incurring additional operating expense and requiring that care be taken to insure that the power for the pump is always available. Further, as with any piece of machinery, the chance of malfunction is always present. Also, in view of the constantly moving parts, the life ofa pump of this nature is relatively short.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In an ice maker, wherein ice is stored in an ice storage compartment (commonly referred to as an ice hopper), an improved system for handling meltdown water resulting from ice melting in the ice hopper comprising a water reservoir adapted to receive meltdown water from the ice hopper, a refrigeration system adapted to chill the water in the water reservoir, and a conveying arrangement for conveying at least a portion of the meltdown water to another area for re-use.
In the system of the subject invention, meltdown water flows directly from the ice hopper to a refrigerated meltdown water reservoir, where the meltdown water is maintained in a chilled condition until the water is re-used, either in the apparatus or elsewhere. By holding the meltdown water in this chilled condition, preferably at a temperature below 50F., and ideally at a temperature of about 3240F., until it is reused in the system or is dispensed in a cold drink (in the case where the subject system is used in a cold drink vendor), the growth of bacteria is inhibited.
The handling system of the present invention, which has been found to be both a simple and effective means for recirculating meltdown water back to the ice maker for re-use, comprises a venturi arrangement, wherein fresh tap water flowing through an inlet conduit to the ice maker passes through a venturi device that is in turn connected to an outlet at the top of the refrigerated water reservoir. When the tap water flows through the venturi device, a pressure drop is created at the outlet of the refrigerated water reservoir, and this pressure drop causes meltdown water in the water reservoir to be drawn into the inlet conduit along with the stream of tap water flowing to the ice maker. This system insures that at least a portion of the meltdown water will be recirculated in the apparatus for re-use, and it further insures that the meltdown water recirculated will be thoroughly dispersed in a relatively constant proportion of fresh tap water, a feature that provides additional protection against bacteria growth and the accumulation of slime in the meltdown water and water lines. The venturi arrangement of the present invention also substantially eliminates the problem of meltdown water standing in feed lines at ambient temperatures, since the water is drawn out of the refrigerated container only as it is needed in the system, with the water remaining in a chilled condition in the water reservoir until it is re-used.
Further, the venturi arrangement operates from the flow of fresh tap water into the system and hence there i is no need for a separate power supply such as that required by a pump. Also, there are no moving parts. Therefore, this system will last for the life of the apparatus with which it is used with little or no maintenance problem.
Accordingly, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a system for handling meltdown water in an ice making apparatus such that the meltdown water may be conveyed to other areas without the necessity of a pump or other power driven apparatus.
A further object of the present invention is to convey meltdown water to other locations while inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a refrigeration system for maintaining meltdown water in a refrigerated condition until it is re-used in an ice making apparatus.
Still a further object of the present invention is to provide a water bath refrigeration system for maintaining meltdown water in a refrigerated condition until it is re-used in an ice making apparatus.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a simple and effective means for recirculating meltdown water to an ice maker.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a means for recirculating meltdown water to the ice maker that insures that the meltdown water will be blended with fresh tap water when it is re-used.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a venturi arrangement for recirculating meltdown water in an ice making apparatus.
These and other objects, advantages, and features of the subject invention will hereinafter appear, and for purposes of illustration, but not of limitation, exemplary embodiments of the subject invention are illustrated in the appended drawing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a schematic view of the system of the subject invention.
FIG. 2 is a partial cross-sectional view of one type of venturi device that may be employed in the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of another type of venturi arrangement that may be employed in the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring now to the drawings, a system for storing and recirculating meltdown water produced in an ice maker is shown in FIGS. 1-3. For exemplary purposes, the subject invention is depicted in the form it would take if it were employed in a conventional cold drink vendor, but it should be understood that this system is not limited to use in a cold drink vendor but may be adapted to any type of ice maker where the recirculation of meltdown water is desired.
As shown in FIG. 1, the apparatus of the present invention comprises an ice maker 10, an ice storage compartment or ice hopper 14, a refrigerated water reservoir 13, and a recirculation system for recirculating meltdown water in the apparatus for re-use. The recirculation system 15 causes meltdown water to be mixed with fresh water and transferred to an ice maker reservoir 17 (alternatively referred to as a system reservoir or a vendor reservoir) which supplies water to the ice maker 10. In a cold drink vendor, ice maker reservoir 17 also provides water for a cold drink maker 19 (shown in schematic form).
Ice maker 19, which may be of any conventional design, produces ice 12, which is stored in ice hopper 14 until it is used in a cold drink. The ice hopper 14 is provided with a cover 11 and extends into a chute 16, through which ice is dispensed for cold drinks. The chute 16 is provided with a screen 18 positioned beneath the ice hopper 14, so that meltdown water produced in the ice hopper drops directly through the screen and into a drain line 20. The meltdown water then flows down to the refrigerated water reservoir 13, where it is stored in a refrigerated condition until it is re-used in the system.
The refrigerated water reservoir comprises a container 22, which sits in a water bath 52. Water bath 52, in turn, comprises a basin 54 filled with water 56, which has immersed therein a series of refrigerated coils 58. In preference embodiment, the coils 58 are refrigerated by-the refrigeration system employed in the ice maker or cold drink vending machine (not shown). Alternatively, the water bath could be chilled by any other conventional refrigeration system.
The water in the water reservoir is maintained in a liquid state below a temperature of about 50F. Below this temperature, it has been found that bacteria growth and slime development in the meltdown water are substantially impeded. Ideally, the temperature of the water in the water reservoir is maintained as close to freezing as possible, preferably in the range of 3240F.
Container 22 has an outlet 26 at the top thereof for recirculating meltdown water back to the system for re-use. An outlet conduit 28 protrudes through the top of the container and comprises a lower section 30, a check valve or one-way valve 32, and an upper section 34. The one-way valve 32 permits water to flow in an upward direction in outlet conduit 28 (FIG. 1 orientation) but not in a downward direction.
The upper section 34 of the outlet conduit 28 is connected to a venturi device 33, which comprises a tee connection 36 and an interior hollow tube 42. As shown in the cross-sectional view in FIGS. 2 and 3, the tee connection 36 comprises a hollow cross bar 38 and a hollow leg 40. The cross bar 38 is connected into an inlet conduit 41 that provides fresh tap water for ice maker water reservoir 17. In the FIG. 1 orientation, water enters the left hand end of cross bar 38, then passes out the right hand end of cross bar 38 and flows on to ice maker 10.
As shown in FIG. 2, hollow tube 42 fits snugly within leg 40, and an upper end 44 of the tube protrudes into the hollow opening in cross bar 38, thereby partially obstructing the passage of water through cross bar 38. The protrusion of tube 42 into the opening of cross bar 38 and the shape of end 44 create a venturi effect (i.e., a pressure drop) at the outlet of tube 42 whenever fresh tap water flows through the cross bar 38. In FIG. 2, the end 44 of tube 42 is formed with a bevelled surface, with the bevel facing in a downstream direction, in order to maximize the venturi effect at the outlet of tube 42. The same effect is achieved with the alternative venturi arrangement shown in FIG. 3, wherein end 44' of tube 42' is curved in a downstream direction, so that the outlet of the tube faces in a downstream direction.
Both embodiments shownin FIGS. 2 and 3 have been found to be effective in producing a pressure drop at the outlet of the tube that is sufficient to cause a satisfactory rate of meltdown water flow up the outlet tube and into inlet conduit 41 as tap water flows through the venturi device. In the preferred embodiment, the FIG. 2 arrangement is employed instead of the FIG. 3 arrangement, because of a cost savings in the manufacture of the tube.
After flowing through the venturi device, the mixture of fresh tap water and meltdown water continues to flow through inlet conduit 41 until it passes into ice maker reservoir 17, where it is stored until it is needed for re-use in the ice maker or cold drink maker. Ice maker reservoir 17 comprises a container 68 for storing water and a float 70 that actuates a control switch 72 whenever the water level in the ice maker water reservoir drops to a predetermined level. The actuation of control switch 72 in turn actuates a solenoid valve 74 in the inlet conduit 41 upstream of the venturi device 33 that permits fresh tap water to flow through inlet conduit 41, through the venturi, and into the ice maker reservoir 17.
Water held in the ice maker water reservoir flows through a conduit 76 to the ice maker and is used in the production of ice until such time as the ice in ice hopper 14 reaches a predetermined level, at which time the ice trips a switch 77 and deactuates the ice maker. In addition, when the present system is used in a cold drink vendor, the ice maker reservoir also provides water to cold drink maker 19 through conduit 79 for use in cold drinks. Cold drink maker 19 may be of any conventional design.
When an ice maker or cold drink vendor is provided with the meltdown water storage and recirculation apparatus of the present invention, several advantages are achieved that were not available in any of the prior art devices heretofore available. First, meltdown water is not permitted to remain stationary in the drain line 20, but is passed directly to a refrigerated water reservoir 13, wherein the water is maintained at a refrigerated temperature until it is re-used in the system. The direct transfer of meltdown water to a refrigerated container inhibits bacteria growth in the meltdown water and slime development in the ice maker drain line.
Another important feature of the present invention is the venturi recirculation system for effecting recirculation of meltdown water. The system is simple and service-free, yet effects a positive force on the meltdown water to force it into the inlet line along with a fixed proportion of fresh tap water flowing to the ice maker. This system not only provides a satisfactory rate of meltdown water re-use, but also insures that the meltdown water will be mixed with a sufficient quantity of fresh tap water to eliminate the problem of slime development in the inlet lines.
Still another advantage of recirculation system of the present invention is that the venturi device is designed so that only a portion of the meltdown water is recirculated back to the ice maker along with the tap water. The rest of the meltdown water is allowed to accumulate in the water reservoir until it reaches an overflow tube 60, at which time it passes through the overflow tube and into the refrigerated water bath 52. This overflow feature insures that there will always be sufficient water in the water bath for refrigeration purposes, even though some of the water inevitably will be lost through evaporation. Any additional meltdown water, over and above that needed to replenish the supply of water in the water bath, will flow out an overflow outlet 64 in the water bath and into waste bucket 66, which may be emptied periodically. An automatic shut-off mechanism 67 of conventional design (shown in block form in FIG. 1) may be employed to shut off the vendor whenever the overflow bucket is full and requires emptying.
It should be understood that the embodiments described hercin are merely exemplary of the preferred practices of the present invention and that various changes, modifications, and variations may be made in the arrangements, operations, and details of construction of the elements disclosed herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.
1. In a system employing an ice maker, wherein ice is stored in an ice hopper, a method for re-using meltdown water resulting from ice melting in the ice hopper comprising:
storing the meltdown water in a liquid state in a water reservoir at a temperature between about 32 and about 40 Fahrenheit; and
introducing at least a portion of the refrigerated meltdown water into fresh tap water being supplied to the system so that the meltdown water is mixed with fresh tap water in relatively constant proportions as it is re-introduced into the system.
2. In a system employing an ice maker, wherein ice is stored in an ice hopper, a method for re-using meltdown water resulting from ice melting in the ice hopper, comprising:
storing the meltdown water in a liquid state in a water reservoir at a temperature between about 32 and about 40 Fahrenheit; and
introducing by means of a venturi effect at least a portion of the refrigerated meltdown water into fresh tap water being supplied to the system, said venturi effect causing the meltdown water to be admixed with fresh tap water in relatively constant proportions.
3. A process as claimed in claim 2 wherein at least a portion of the meltdown water is re-used to produce ice in the ice maker.
4. A process as claimed in claim 2 wherein at least a portion of the meltdown water is used to produce a beverage in a cold drink maker.
5. In a system employing an ice making device and an ice storage compartment for receiving and storing ice from the ice making device, apparatus for handling meltdown water from the ice storage compartment comprising:
a water reservoir in which meltdown water from the ice storage compartment is collected; inlet conduit means adapted to convey fresh tap water to the system from a source; and venturi means connected between said inlet conduit means and said water reservoir, said venturi means being adapted to cause meltdown water to flow from said water reservoir into said inlet conduit means whenever water flows through the inlet conduit and in fixed proportions to the amount of fresh tap water flowing through said inlet conduit means, whereby the admixture of meltdown water with fresh tap water minimizes bacterial growth in the water. 6. In a system employing an ice making device and an ice storage compartment for receiving and storing ice from the ice making device, apparatus for handling meltdown water from the ice storage compartment comprising:
a water reservoir in which meltdown water from the ice storage compartment is collected; refrigerating means adapted to maintain the meltdown water in said reservoir at a temperature below ambient temperatures; and conveying means adapted to introduce meltdown water from said reservoir into a supply of water, said conveying means comprising inlet line means adapted to pass water therethrough and venturi means connected between said inlet line means and said water reservoir, said venturi means being adapted to cause meltdown water to flow from said water reservoir into said inlet line means whenever water flows through said inlet line means.
7. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6 wherein meltdown water from the ice storage compartment is immediately transported to said water reservoir without permitting the meltdown water to stand at ambient temperature.
8. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6 wherein said refrigerating means maintains the water in said water reservoir in a liquid state and at a temperature below about 50 Fahrenheit.
9.- Apparatus as claimed in claim 6 wherein said refrigerating means maintains the water in said water reservoir at a temperture of about 3240 Fahrenheit.
10. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6 wherein:
said refrigerating means comprises a refrigerated water bath surrounding at least a portion of said water reservoir; and
said water reservoir comprises an overflow outlet leading to said water bath, such that a portion of the water collected in said water reservoir spills over from said water reservoir into said water bath and thereby compensates for water loss in said water bath due to evaporation.
11. Apparatus as claimed in claim 10 wherein:
saidwater bath comprises an overflow outlet; and
a removable water bucket is positioned below said water bath outlet so as to catch overflow water passing therefrom.
12. Apparatus as claimed in claim 11 and further comprising means for turning off the system before said water bucket overflows.
vl3. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6' wherein said venturi means comprises:
' a hollow tee connection comprising a hollow cross bar and a hollow leg abutting said hollow cross bar in fluid communication therewith, said hollow cross bar being inserted in said inlet line means such that water flowing in said inlet line means passes through said hollow cross bar, said hollow leg being connected to the outlet of said water reservoir, such that meltdown water flowing out of said water reservoir through the outlet therein flows into said inlet line means through said hollow leg and said hollow cross bar; and
hollow tube that fits snugly within said hollow leg and terminates in an inner end that protrudes into the hollow portion of said hollow cross bar, said inner end being shaped so that the passage of water through said inlet line means and said hollow cross bar creates a pressure drop at said inner end of said hollow tube which is sufficient to draw meltdown water from said water reservoir into said inlet line means.
14. Apparatus as claimed in claim 13 wherein said inner end of said hollow tube is bevelled, with the slanted section of said inner end facing in a downstream direction relative to the direction of flow of water in said inlet line means.
15. Apparatus as claimed in claim 13 wherein said inner end of said hollow tube is curved in a downstream direction relativeto the direction of flow of water in saidinlet line means, such that said outlet of said hollow tube faces the downstream direction.
16. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6 wherein said water reservoir has an outlet comprising a one-way valve means adapted to permit water to flow through said outlet from said water reservoir to said venturi means but not from said venturi .means to said water reservoir.
17. Apparatus as claimed in claim 16 wherein said outlet from said water reservoir comprises an outlet conduit extending upwardly from a lower end adjacent the bottom of said water reservoir, through the top of said water reservoir, and terminating in an upper end connected to said venturi means.
18. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6 and further comprising:
a system reservoir connected to an outlet of said inlet line means downstream of said venturi means;
control valve means in said inlet line means upstream of said venturi means, said control valve means being adapted to intermittently admit tap water through said inlet line means to said system reserwk; and 1 control means responsive to the level of water in said system reservoir so as to actuate said control valve and thereby permit water to flow through said inlet line means to said system reservoir whenever the water in said system reservoir drops to a predetermined level. 7
19. Apparatus as claimed in claim 18 wherein the system is utilized in conjunction with a cold drink maker and said system reservoir provides water to the cold drink maker and to the ice making device.
20. In a cold drink vendor having an ice making device and an ice storage compartment for receiving and storing ice from the ice making device, apparatus for handling meltdown water from the ice storage compartment comprising:
a meltdown reservoir in which meltdown water from the ice storage compartment is collected;
refrigerating means for maintaining the meltdown water in said meltdown reservoir at a temperature below ambient temperature;
a vendor reservoir for storing water to be utilized in the ice making device and in making vended drinks;
inlet line means carrying tap water to said vendor reservoir;
venturi means having an outer T-shaped portion with the cross bar of the T connected in said inlet line means and the foot of the leg of the T"'connected to said meltdown reservoir and an inner'tube portion extending from said meltdown reservoir,
through the leg of the T," into the cross bar of the I a one-way valve permitting meltdown water to flow from said meltdown reservoir to said inlet line means but preventing water flow from said inlet line means to said meltdown reservoir,
whereby passage of tap water to said vendor reservoir through said inlet line means and said venturi means causes meltdown water in said meltdown reservoir to be introduced into said inlet line means and passed to said vendor reservoir.