US 3754871 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Hessel et a1.
111 3,754,871 [451 Aug. 28, 1 973 CHEMICAL DISPENSING APPARATUS inventors: Harold H. Hessel, Briarcliff Manor;
Francis S. Kiele, Yonkers, both of N.Y.
Stewart-Hall Chemical Co., Mount Vernon, NY.
Filed: Jan. 22, 1971 Appl. No.: 108,774
US. Cl 23/267 A, 206/06, 210/242 Int. Cl. B0ld 11/02, C02b 1/18 Field of Search 206/0.5; 23/267 A;
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Gopstein 206/05 X Knox 206/46 'FC UX Pemble 206/0.5 X Gerke 206/05 X Robinson 23/267 A UX 2,613,991 10/1952 Schindler 206/05 X 3,107,156 10/1963 Fredericks 206/06 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 28,813 1904 Great Britain 23/267 A Primary Examiner-Leonard Summer Attorney-Darby & Darby  ABSTRACT A Simplified chemical dispenser apparatus capable of dispensing a predetennined amount of a treatment chemical into a fluid includes a porous matrix exhibiting capillary action when the fluid contacts a surface of the matrix, a fluid treatment chemical composition located on a surface of the matrix, and housing means for covering said chemical composition and at least said chemical bearing matrix surface to shield against dripping or splashing from the top or sides. The housing may be applied as an envelope in which case the chemical supported upon the matrix is sealed therein.
5 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures I'LIIIl/IIIInIl/lllrl PAIENlEmusze 191s 3.754.871
sum 1 or 2 7 7IlIIlIlI/I1IIIII1III[1,111IIIIIIIIII'I IB 221 2 3 \23J 23 INVENTORS HAROLD H. HESSEL FRANCIS s. KIELE ATTORNEYS PAIENTEnmcza 191s 3754.871
sum 2 or 2 y FIG. 5
INVENTOR. HAROLD H. HESSEL FRANCIS S. KIELE ATTORNEYS CHEMICAL DISPENSING APPARATUS This invention relates to chemical dispenser devices and more specifically to a dispenser capable of dipensing chemicals at a predetermined rate into both aqueous and non-aqueous fluids.
Still more specifically, this invention relates to a dispenser for use in both recirculating and once-through fluid systems. In particular, this invention relates to a chemical dispenser apparatus useful for treating condensate water in fan coil air-conditioning equipment.
Although a variety of chemcal dispensing devices are currently available, they are all relatively expensive and may require a technically trained person to install, maintain, adjust and calibrate them. With the increasing use of more sophisticated water and fluid treatment equipment at both the consumer and commercial level, the need for inexpensive, easy-to-use, apparatus for dispensing fluid treatment chemicals has become apparent. A consumer, having no technical know-how, requires extremely simple chemical dispensing equipment to properly meter treatment chemicals into his air conditioner, humidifier, fuel oil tank and a variety of other common household appliances. Although the commerical and industrial organization requiring chemical treatment apparatus can generally afford more complex equipment, they are often plagued by the lack of properly qualified personnel and therefore require a simple, low-cost, dependable device capable of metering chemicals into their more complex fluid systems for extended periods of time.
Both the industrial and general consumer require a simple and reliable chemical dispensing apparatus for releasing predetermined amounts of chemical treatment compositions into both aqueous and non-aqueous fluids over protracted time periods. Ideally, this device will not require follow-up maintenance or attention.
A dispenser device is essential, since chemicals placed directly into the system would be consumed too rapidly or would not function properly. The intended purpose of these chemical treatment compositions is to ensure economical and trouble-free operation of the equipment and system into which is is introduced and further to improve the overall performance of the related equipment and system. Such systems may have comparatively large access space for a dispenser as in the case of industrial-type equipment, or as in the case of a home air conditioner may require a miniature dispenser apparatus. In addition, the system may require that an aqueous or non-aqueous fluid be treated either in bulk form in a tank or sump or simply as it passes rapidly over a surface upon which there is no appreciable fluid build-up.
A suitable chemical dispenser apparatus must be ca pable of dispensing either a single chemical composition or a plurality of chemical compositions into a system in simultaneous or sequential fashion, as well as allowing treatment with either a single chemical or a mixture or composition of several chemicals. It is generally desirable to meter these chemicaltreatment' compositions into the fluid system from a single source in a designated sequence to meet the needs of the respective system and avoid the need for a plurality of dispensing devices. The fluid systems with which such a chemical dispenser apparatus may be used include inter alia air and water-cooled air conditioners, humidifiers, fountains, pools, fish tanks, drainage systems, boilers and fuel oil-burning system s. Among the chemical compositions which may be metered into the above-mentioned systems using the apparatus of this invention are corrosion inhibitors, slimicides, fungicides, deodorants, water treatment chemicals (e.g. water softeners) fuel oil additives and the like whose chemical compositions are well known in the trade.
It is an object of this invention to provide a chemical dispenser apparatus capable of dispensing a treatment chemical into both aqueous and non-aqueous fluids.
It is another object of this invention to provide a chemical dispenser apparatus capable of dispensing a predetermined amount of a chemical composition into a fluid system over an extended period of time.
A further object of this invention is to provide a chemical dispenser apparatus capable of dispensing at least one treatment chemical into a fluid system at a variable rate in relation to the fluid content of the system.
A further object of this invention is to provide a chemical dispenser apparatus for use in both recirculating and once-through fluid systems.
A still further object of this invention is to provide a low-cost chemical dispenser apparatus requiring no maintenance or initial mechanical set-up and which requires a minimum of space for operation.
To achieve these and other objects, the present ini vention provides a simplified chemical dispenser apparatus which comprises a capillary matrix exhibiting capillary action when a surface area of said matrix is brought into contact with a fluid, a dissolvable chemical composition positioned on a surface of said matrix, and housing means providing a fluid impermeable cover over at least said chemical composition and said matrix surface.
This invention including the above-mentioned and further objects and advantages thereof will be better understood in connection with the following specification and drawings, wherein FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one form of the chemical dispenser apparatus of this invention.
FIG. 2 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the chemical dispenser apparatus of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of a modified form of chemical dispenser apparatus in accordance with this invention.
FIG. 4 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of a further modification of a chemical dispenser apparatus in accordance with this invention.
FIG. 5 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of a twostage chemical dispenser apparatus in accordance with this invention, and
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the chemical dispenser apparatus of FIG. 3, including a flotation collar.
Referring now to FIG. 1, a chemical dispenser apparatus 11 is there generally illustrated in perspective view. The chemical dispenser apparatus 11 of this invention can generally be considered as comprised of three principal elements: a capillary matrix or base 12, a fluid-treatment chemical composition 13, and a housing or jacket 14. The capillary matrix or base 12 acts as a support and treatment surface for the fluidtreatment chemical composition 13. The capillary matrix 12 consists of a porous material which exhibits capillary action when a surface of the matrix is contacted by a liquid. The capillary action generally causes a liquid contacting a surface of the capillary matrix 12 to permeate and ascend through the matrix. The inherent capillary activity of the material of which the capillary matrix 12 is fabricated, as well as the thickness and density of the capillary matrix itself, will largely determine the rate at which a liquid contacting the lower surface 15 of the capillary matrix will ascend through the matrix and wet the fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 resting on an upper surface 16 of capillary matrix 12.
The materials from which the capillary matrix 12 may be fabricated include inter aliasuch materials as reticulated plastic or latex foam, non-woven or woven fabrics, metallic or plastic mesh, sintered metallic materials, or any other materials which possess sufficient capillary activity to enable a liquid contacting the material to ascend through the material. A porous polyurethane foam composition is the preferred matrix material due to its stable properties in a wide variety of fluids. The thickness of a given capillary matrix may vary from a given thickness to zero within the same chemical dispenser apparatus. For example, the thickness of 20 capillary matrix 12 may be tapered or formed of adjacent matrix elements of differing thicknesses.
The fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 may be any of a variety of simple or complex materials in any suitable dissolvable form, such as in the form of a tablet, pill, capsule, briquette, powder, granule, crystal, slug or pellet. In some cases, it may be advantageous to utilize an encapsulated liquid or paste. The exact composition of the fluid-treatment chemical will depend upon the particular chemical system in which it is to be used and the treatment which it is desired to effect.
Generally, the chemical composition of the fluidtreatment chemical composition 13 is selected or prepared so that it will dissolve upon contact with a specific fluid known to be present in the system to be treated, after the fluid has ascended through the capillary matrix 12 to make contact with the chemical composition. The solubility, as well as the density, of the fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 in the particular fluid or solvent used, will generally determine the relative speed at which the particular composition forming the solute may be metered back down the capillary matrix into the fluid system. Fluid-treatment compositions useful in the present invention include inter alia corrosion inhibitors, anti-bacterial agents, deodorants, water softeners, slimicides, fungicides, detergents, fuel oil additives, and algaecides, whose composition is well known in the trade.
In a preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 is provided in tablet form and is held in a pocket formed between housing 14 and the upper surface 16 of capillary matrix 12. The housing 14 is fabricated from a suitable fluidimpermeable material selected on the basis of the particular system in which the chemical dispenser apparatus 11 is to be employed. The housing 14 serves to hold the fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 in place on the upper surface 16 of capillary matrix 12, and additionally prevents inadvertent dissolution of the chemical composition due to dripping or splashing of fluid onto the top or sides. The housing maybe made of one or more thicknesses of a flexible or rigid material, composed inter alia of polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinyl acetate, nylon, saran, Teflon, polystyrene, epoxy, or other suitable plastic films, rubbers, sheet metal, molded plastics, or a variety of other suitable fluid-impregnable materials.
A portion of the fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 (generally a single tablet or briquette) may rest within a separate compartment 17 formed of the same material as housing 14. The separate compartment 17 is completely fluid-tight except for one or more small apertures 18 in the floor 19 of the compartment. The portion of the fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 held within separate compartment 17 rests directly on the perforated floor 19 of the compartment and not on a capillary matrix (see FIG. 2). In this manner, the desired chemical treatment will be initiated rapidly upon insertion of the chemical dispenser into a fluid system due to the immediate contact between the fluidtreatment chemical composition and the fluid 20 which is to be treated by way of the aperture or apertures 18. The separate compartment 17 may be integrally joined or fastened in any suitable fashion to housing 14.
The rate at which chemical composition 13 illustrated in FIG. 1 is dispensed into fluid 20 is governed by the capillary activity of capillary matrix 12 (i.e. the rate at which fluid 211 is drawn up into the matrix), and the solubility of chemical composition 13 in fluid 20, as well as the thickness of the capillary matrix 13.
Fluid 20 is drawn up through matrix 12 to dissolve a portion of chemical composition 13 (the amount of chemical dissolved being dependent on the quantity of fluid drawn up through matrix 12 by capillary activity). The dissolved chemical composition then diffuses down through capillary matrix 12 to the point where the main body of water being treated physically wipes the chemical from the bottom of the pad. The rate at which the treatment chemical 13 is dissolved and dispensed into fluid 20 can be slowed by increasing the thickness of capillary matrix 12; selecting a fluid treatment chemical composition 13 which is less soluble in fluid 20; by selecting a matrix material 12 displaying less capillary activity or any combination of the foregoing techniques.
Referring again to FIG. 2, it will be seen that the housing 1 1 has been secured to the outer margins of capillary matrix 12 by using a suitable adhesive. Chemical dispenser apparatus 11 is illustrated as placed in the condensate fluid 20 from a fan coil air conditioner (not shown) which has collected in a drip tray 21. The chemical composition 13 illustrated in the preferred tablet form, may be compounded algaecide, slimicide, deodorant, corrosion control chemical and scale control chemical. The illustrated chemical dispenser apparatus will begin dispensing the fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 as soon as it is placed into drip tray 21 with the capillary matrix 12 contacting the floor of drip tray 21. This embodiment of the chemical dispenser apparatus permits relatively rigid treatment of the fluid 20 with a large dose of the fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 since the entire lower surface 15 of capillary matrix 12 is in contact with fluid 20 and substantially the entire capillary matrix will conduct the condensate fluid 20 up to the fluidtreatment composition 13 resting on the upper surface 16 of the capillary matrix 12. In addition, treatment is begun at once by direct'exposure of tablet 17 to fluid 20 by way of aperture(s) 18.
Referring now to FIG. 3, an alternative embodiment of chemical feeder apparatus 11 is illustrated in which housing 14 forms an envelope surrounding capillary matrix 12 and fluid-treatment composition 13. The floor 22 of housing 14, which may be integrally formed therewith, contains several perforations 23 through which the fluid 20 can pass to reach capillary matrix 12. Once the fluid 20 has contacted capillary matrix 12, it is drawn up by capillary action to wet the fluidtreatment chemical composition 13 resting on the upper surface 16 of capillary matrix 12.
Once a portion of the fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 has been wetted and dissolved by fluid 20, it will diffuse down through capillary matrix 12 and enter the mainstream of fluid 20 through the holes or pores 23. This embodiment of the chemical dispenser apparatus allows for a somewhat slower release of the fluid treatment composition into fluid 20 since a portion of the lower surface of capillary matrix 12 is covered by floor 22 and the dissolved fluid-treatment chemical composition can enter the fluid only via the holes or pores 23.
Referring now to FIG. 4, an alternative embodiment of the invention useful for metering a plurality of different fluid-treatment chemical compositions at varying rates is illustrated. In this embodiment, tablets 24 through 28 represent different fluid-treatment compositions; for example, tablet 24 may be a deodorant, tablet may be a corrosion'inhibitor, etc. Each tablet rests on a separate capillary matrix having its own thickness, which may differ from that of others. For example, capillary matrix 29 supporting tablet .24 is shown as having the smallest thickness and will therefore permit fluid 20 to reach tablet 24 in less time than will be required for fluid 20 to reach tablet 25 through the thicker capillary matrix 30 on which that tablet rests. Similarly, capillary matrices 31 through 33 have individual and possibly differing predetermined thicknesses which determine the speed with which fluid 20 will reach tablets 26 through 28. In addition, the rate at which the various tablets 24 through 28 will dissolve can be predetermined by regulating their composition to control their solubility in fluid 20.
Partition walls 34 integrally formed of the same material as housing 14 serve to separate the respective matrices and tablets into individual compartments. Fluid 20 reaches the matrix upon which each tablet rests via suitable holes or apertures 23 in the floor 22 of each compartment. Similarly, the dissolved fluid-treatment chemical compositions of tablets 24 through 28 reach the main fluid body 20 via the holes 23.
This embodiment of the invention may also be used when it is desired to treat a variety of different fluids which may be present at different times in the same pan or tank 21. For example, tablet 24 may be soluble only in an aqueous solution, i.e. water, and tablets 25 through 28 may be soluble only in a non-aqueous solution, such as gasoline. Using the illustrated chemical dispenser apparatus, these compositions having differing solubilities may be simultaneously or independently accurately metered when required into the surrounding fluid.
FIG. 5 illustrates a further embodiment of the invention suitable for metering two different fluid-treatment chemical compositions sequentially into a fluid 20. The chemical dispenser apparatus is similar to that disclosed in FIG. 3 except that a second layer of capillary matrix material 35 is located on top of the initial fluidtreatment chemical composition 13. Matrix layer 35 carries a second fluid-treatment chemical composition 36 on its upper surface. Fluid-treatment chemical composition 13 will be dissolved and exhausted first by fluid 20. Chemical composition 36 will then begin to be dissolved by fluid 20 which will migrate upwards through capillary matrices 12 and 36. These matrices will be contacting each other as they are no longer separated by fluid treatment chemical composition 13 which has dissolved. The solubility of chemical composition 36 in fluid 20 is selected or adjusted to compensate for the fact that it must diffuse down through a double tier of capillary matrices (i.e. 36 and 12) to reach the main body of fluid 20. The chemical dispenser apparatus illustrated in FIG. 5 may also include a separate sealed compartment 17 carrying a portion of the fluid-treating chemical composition 13 resting above an aperture 18 to provide an immediate initial chemical treatment upon insertion of the chemical dispenser apparatus into the pan 21 containing fluid 20.
FIG. 6 illustrates a chemical dispenser apparatus similar to that illustrated in FIG. 3 with the addition of a flotation collar 37 as an integral part of housing 14. This embodiment of the invention is designed for applications where the fluid to be treated has a depth substantially greater than the height of capillary matrix 12. Flotation collar 37 ensures that chemical dispenser apparatus 11 will remain at the surface of the fluid to be treated, thereby reducing the possibility of inadvertent flooding 'of housing 14. Flotation collar 37 may be a sealed tube depending on air for buoyancy, or the collar may be fabricated of a buoyant material such as styrofoam; the particular flotation material being selected to be non-reactive with the fluid in which the chemical dispenser apparatus is to be used.
The materials of which the housing and the flotation collar are fabricated, as well as that of the capillary matrix are selected for a particular chemical dispenser apparatus, based upon the particular application in which the chemical dispenser is intended to be used. Generally, the housing and capillary matrix materials selected for a particular construction are those which will not dissolve or enter into any adverse chemical reaction with the fluid to be treated or with the treating chemical.
A particular advantage of the chemical dispenser devices of this invention is that they do not require any fixed minimum fluid level to begin metering the respective fluid treatment compostions. For example, the chemical dispenser apparatus illustrated in FIG. 2 when used in treating condensate water in a fan coil air conditioner will treat accumulations of moisture as small as a few droplets, while it is also capable of treating far larger accumulations of moisture should they occur. Despite the variation in the amount of fluid to be treated, the ratio of fluid-treatment chemical composition dispensed will always remain in relatively constant proportion to the amount of fluid contacting and migrating upward through capillary matrix 12, since the capillary activity of the matrix material, and the solubil ity of the chemical composition will remain as a constant factor.
The chemical dispenser devices of this invention may be economically manufactured, require a minimum of installation space, are easily set up for operation by simple insertion into the system to be treated, and require no maintenance once they are placed in operation.
Further, the chemical dispenser devices of this invention are suitable for treating both aqueous and nonaqueous solutions, may be used in both recirculating age system effluents, recirculating steam boiler systems, fuel oil systems, fountains, pools, fish tanks or the like. The devices of this invention are economically de signed to meter a preselected amount of fluidtreatment chemical composition into a desired fluid by preselecting the solubility of the fluid-treatment chemical composition, in relation to inter alia the capillary activity of the capillary matrix material and its thickness.
It will also be noted that the housing of this invention may serve to hold the dissolvable chemical composition in place on the upper surface of the capillary matrix as well as preventing incidental dripping or splashing action from wetting the dissolvable chemical composition from the top or sides.
it will be understood that the chemical dispenser apparatus of this invention can be further modified to include several tiers of capillary matrices with corresponding intermediate chemical compositions.
it will be seen that the instant invention provides an economical, accurate and easy-to-use (chemical dispensing) apparatus for use in dispensing a fluid treatment chemical composition into a variety of fluid systems.
What is claimed is: v
1. A chemical dispenser apparatus comprising a porous plastic capillary matrix exhibiting capillary action when a surface area of said matrix is contacted by a fluid which will not decompose said capillary matrix, a
dissolvable chemical composition positioned on a surface of said matrix, housing means comprising a flexible plastic envelope containing said matrix and said chemical composition, a portion of said envelope beneath said matrix having a plurality of apertures and, an individual compartment free of said matrix material, said compartment being integrally formed adjacent to said envelope and carrying a portion of said chemical composition, a surface of said compartment having at least one fluid-admitting aperture, and said chemical composition resting on an inner surface of said compartment.
2. A chemical dispenser apparatus as recited in claim 1 further including means for rendering said apparatus positively buoyant formed with said housing means.
3. A chemical dispenser apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein said capillary matrix comprises a porous polyurethane foam composition.
4. A chemical dispenser apparatus comprising a porous plastic capillary matrix exhibiting capillary action when a surface area of said matrix is contacted by a fluid which will not decompose said capillary matrix, a dissolvable chemical composition positioned on a surface of said matrix, housing means comprising a flexible plastic envelope containing said matrix and said chemical composition, a portion of said envelope beneath said matrix having a plurality of apertures, a second capillary matrix resting on said chemical composition and a second chemical composition resting on said second capillary matrix and beneath a portion of said housing means.
5. A chemical dispenser apparatus as recited in claim 4 wherein said capillary matrix comprises a porous polyurethane foam composition.