|Publication number||USRE35118 E|
|Application number||US 07/872,965|
|Publication date||Dec 12, 1995|
|Filing date||Apr 23, 1992|
|Priority date||Feb 15, 1989|
|Also published as||CA2009586A1, CA2009586C, DE69018111D1, DE69018111T2, EP0383448A2, EP0383448A3, EP0383448B1, US4919340|
|Publication number||07872965, 872965, US RE35118 E, US RE35118E, US-E-RE35118, USRE35118 E, USRE35118E|
|Original Assignee||Advanced Fiber Technology, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (23), Referenced by (3), Classifications (12), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates to the production of low density, cellulosic products such as fibrous thermal insulation, and especially to an improved method and apparatus for producing such products. More particularly, the invention relates to a novel method and apparatus that utilize the energy generated by producing a high velocity flow of air with shreds of feedstock entrained therein, combined with mechanical action to fiberize the material with minimal damage to the fibers themselves.
Typically, dry process comminuting the organic materials for use as thermal insulation, absorbent pads, filters, and the like is achieved by using conventional hammer mills.
Hammer mills for performing the comminuting operation are shown in the following U.S. Pat. Nos.:
______________________________________ 1,777,905 2,494,107 1,934,180 2,505,023 2,045,582 3,143,303 2,082,419 3,429,349. 2,098,480______________________________________
It has been found that the use of hammer mills cannot produce a fiberized mass that will optimize the physical properties of low mass densities, high thermal resistance to heat flow, high moisture absorbence, and an acceptable aesthetic appearance.
For example, cellulose thermal insulation produced in conventional hammer mills results in products containing less than 50 percent of the mass at optimum fiber size needed to provide a low weight per cubic foot and high resistance to heat flow (R value). Typically, these products contain large (0.250 to 0.500 inch diameter) pieces of unfibered material and a large percentage of fines or dust.
In a given volume of such insulation, the following particle sizes may be observed.
______________________________________Coarse pieces 20 to 40%Optimum fiber size less than 50%Fines or dust 10 to 30%______________________________________
Hammer mill design, as is apparent from the above-listed patents, utilizes hammers or beaters that are pivotally mounted on a series of disks that rotate within a partial cylindrical sizing screen. The feedstock is typically fed into the mill via an airstream flowing perpendicular to the rotating hammers. The entire mass of feedstock is then drawn down into a wedge-shaped space and onto the beginning of the sizing screen comprising a major pinch point and then forced through and over a typical semicylindrical screen.
Due to the extraordinary pressure exerted on the screen at the entry pinch point, heavy guage 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick, perforated metal screens are needed to prevent breakage from fatigue. The heavy guage further limits the perforated open area to 30 to 40% and restricts the possible use of smaller perforations.
As a result of the input feed method, the swing hammers will retract as the feedstock is worked through the screen, thereby reducing the air flow due to a relatively thick mat of material, blinding the screen, and increasing the feed residence time within the machine, resulting in fines and dust. This deficiency is often mitigated by using screens with larger perforations. This results in large unfibered pieces remaining in the product.
Another deficiency is that the hammers are supported between disks, which, in turn, prevent complete utilization of the comminuting screen surface, adding to the blinding of the perforations. As most of the systems are set up to be air-swept, blinding of perforations can have a major negative effect by retarding air flow and increasing energy consumption and product degradation.
Other types of comminuting or disintegrating apparatus have been developed for producing fibrous, cellulosic product, such as thermal insulation, and typical units are disclosed in the following U.S. Pat. Nos.:
______________________________________ 1,749,954 3,986,676 3,255,793 3,987,968______________________________________
While these devices are capable of producing product without the pulverizing effect caused by hammer mills, they do not reduce many of the disadvantages outlined above.
The method and apparatus of the present invention, however, resolve many of the problems listed above and provide other features and advantages heretofore not obtainable.
It is among the objects of the present invention to provide a dry process fiberization method and apparatus for producing a fiberized fluffy mass containing a greatly improved and uniform particle size distribution from fibrous organic and inorganic pieces, shreds, or fragments of isotropic feedstocks.
Another object is to produce a cellulosic thermal insulation product having a substantially lower mass density and improved resistance to heat flow.
A further object is to produce a fiberized mass to be used for absorbent pads, filter media, and other commercial and industrial fiber use.
Another object is to fiberize materials that will be aesthetically more attractive to provide greater consumer appeal.
A further object is to provide a machine that is substantially more energy-efficient per unit of product output over prior art devices.
Another object is to provide an apparatus where the feedstock enters the fiberization zone through a plurality of axial and radial spaces resulting in a uniform distribution of pressurized and high velocity fiberization in a dilute phase environment.
A further object is to provide an apparatus which provides a positive and consistent fiberizing action without blinding the internal sizing screens.
Another object is to provide in such apparatus internal air/fiber separation, thereby greatly reducing the size of downstream support equipment needed due to the large volume of air utilized within the invention.
These and other objects and advantages of the invention are achieved with the unique method and apparatus of the invention whereby shredded feedstock entrained in an airstream flowing in a duct is fed to a material handling rotor that greatly increases the velocity of the flowing stream of air and utilizes the energy thus produced together with mechanical action to: (1) separate the feedstock as much as possible into individual fibers, (2) centrifugally separate the fibrous product from a large part of the flowing airstream, and then (3) deliver the resulting product for further processing.
In accordance with the apparatus of the invention, a housing is provided with spaced, parallel side walls and a curved end wall that define a cylindrical rotor chamber formed about a horizontal axis perpendicular to the side walls. The housing also defines a volute-shaped internal passage having at least one convolution formed around the rotor chamber and centered about the axis, a tangential outlet from the volute-shaped passage, and axial inlets, preferably, one in each of the side walls, to admit a mixture of feedstock and air to the central portion of the centrifugal blower chamber from opposite sides.
Two air recirculation ducts are connected between a radially inward portion of the tangential outlet and the axial inlets for recycling separated air from the outlet to the rotor chamber. Also, a feedstock supply duct is provided for delivering material to the respective axial inlets designed to provide a secondary trap for metal separation.
Mounted within the housing is a cylindrical 360- degree light-gauge screen with 50% open area and with perforations that communicate between the rotor chamber and the volute-shaped passage. A centrifugal blower rotor is mounted in the rotor chamber for rotation about the central axis, the rotor having a plurality of radial vanes extending between side plates to define therewith a plurality of radial cells. Rakers attached to the outer ends of the vanes are closely spaced from the inner surface of the screen so that they continuously wipe past the perforations to prevent clogging of blinding.
In accordance with the method of the invention, the feedstock is fed to the central portion of a cylindrical rotor chamber, preferably from opposite sides and in opposite axial directions. The centrifugal blower rotor located within the rotor chamber is driven at relatively high speed to generate a high velocity air flow and to force the feed radially outward in the rotor chamber. The rapidly flowing mixture of feedstock and air impacts against the rakers closely spaced from the cylindrical screen so that the product is subjected to the fiberization forces of fluid, particle, and mechanical velocities and surfaces.
Then, the resulting mixture of fibers and air is centrifugally separate to form a portion of the flowing air volume free of the fibers. The separated air volume is returned to the rotor chamber inlet and the remaining mixture of air and fibrous product is discharged for further processing. The recycling of a large part of the system air requirments prevents the need to convey and use larger fans, ducts, and air/fiber separation equipment, resulting in lower overall system energy consumption and capital costs.
FIG. 1 is a side elevation of the fiberization apparatus embodying the invention;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, with parts broken away for the purpose of illustration;
FIG. 3 is an end elevation of the apparatus of FIGS. 1 and 2 taken from line 3--3 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is an exploded, perspective view of the apparatus of FIGS 1, 2, and 3, with parts broken away for the purpose of illustration;
FIG. 5 is a sectional view through the apparatus taken on the line 5--5 of FIG. 3, with parts broken away for the purpose of illustration;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary, sectional view of an enlarged scale, showing the construction of the centrifugal blower rotor used in the apparatus of the invention and taken on the line 6--6 of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary, sectional view of an enlarged scale, taken on the line 7--7 of FIG. 6; and
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary, sectional view, taken on the line 8--8 of FIG. 7.
Referring more particularly to the drawings, and initially to FIGS. 1 through 4, there is shown an apparatus 10 for fiberizing preshredded material, such as paper stock, newsprint, etc. to form a low density, fibrous, product. The apparatus is placed in an overall processing system between a pair of inlet ducts 11 and 12 for feeding material entrained in a stream of flowing air to the apparatus, and a discharge duct 13 for removing the resulting fibrous product from the apparatus.
The apparatus includes as its principal components a housing assembly 20, a cylindrical screen assembly 60 (FIGS. 4, 5, and 6) mounted within the housing assembly 20, and a rotor assembly 70 mounted within the housing and screen assembly 60.
The housing assembly 20 is mounted on a frame 15 formed of structural steel members and including a horizontal base 16 with upright supports 17 and 18. The housing 20 comprises a lower housing section 30 and an upper housing section 50 that are secured to one another to define a cylindrical rotor chamber 21 therewithin formed about a central axis. The chamber has a pair of central openings 23 and 24 on opposite sides thereof that receive the mixture of feedstock and air in opposite axial directions.
The sections 30 and 50 also form a volute-shaped passage 25 (FIG. 5) surrounding the cylindrical rotor chamber 21 and which is generated using the circumference of the cylindrical rotor chamber 21 as a generatrix. The volume-shaped passage 25 has at least one full convolution and in the embodiment shown has one and one-half convolutions between its initial point and a tangential outlet 26.
The lower section 30 comprises spaced, parallel, vertical side walls 27 and 28 and a curved outer wall 29 connected between the side walls. Two pairs of brackets 31 and 32 are welded to the lower portion of the curved end wall to provide a means for mounting the lower section to the base 16. One end of the lower section defines the tangential outlet 26 for the volute-shaped passage.
The section 30 defines a horizontal, upwardly facing surface with a perimetric flange 33. The tangential outlet 26 is coplanar with the top of the section, and also has a perimetric flange 34. A curved wall or partition 35 is welded within the lower section to define the volute-shaped passage.
As shown in FIG. 1, the lower section is provided with an access door 38 which pivots about a hinge 39 at the lower end thereof to provide access to the interior of the lower section 30. The door is secured, using clamps 40. Also, three pivotable valve plates 41, 42, and 43 are provided to permit the control of the recycled air flow within the passage.
The upper section 50 also has a pair of spaced, parallel, vertical, semicircular side walls 51 and 52 and a curved end wall 53.
As best shown in FIG. 4, the section 50 defines a horizontal lower surface with a perimetric flange 54 adapted to mate with the respective upper surface defined by the lower section 30. The flanges 33, 54 provide a means for securing the two sections together in the assembly of the housing. Also, the upper section 50 has horizontal reinforcing ribs 56 and 57 welded to the side walls, and a lower section to define the volute-shaped passage 25.
A pair of air return ducts 58 and 59 extend from the tangential outlet 26 of the volute passage 25 to the respective inlets 23 and 24 that open into the cylindrical rotor chamber 21. The end portions 58a and 59a of the ducts 58 and 59 are closed and have side openings that register with central rotor chamber openings 23 and 24, respectively. The inlet ducts 11 and 12 are secured to the return ducts 58 and 59, respectively, near the end portions 58d and 59d to open thereinto. It will be seen that the volute passage 25 directs the high velocity flow of the air volume leaving the rotor chamber in a curved path that causes centrifugal separation of fibers from a portion of the airstream. Accordingly, the air return ducts 58 and 59 are connected to a radially inward portion of the tangential outlet 26 so that the flow of air entering the ducts 58 and 59 is essentially free of fibers which have become concentrated by centrifugal force in the radially outward portion of the volute-shaped passage. The portion of the airstream carrying the fibers enters the outlet duct 13.
Preferably about 60 per cent of the air volume in the flowing stream of air is returned, the remaining 40 per cent being discharged with the fibers.
The screen assembly 60, best shown in FIGS. 4, 5, and 6, comprises a perforate length 61 of relatively flexible steel sheet formed in a cylindrical shape and supported within a frame comprising four annular ribs 63, 64, 65, and 66 equally spaced and joined by axially extending braces. The cylindrical surface defined by the interior face of the screen must be accurately dimensioned and supported, due to the close clearance between the raker bars 99 of the rotor assembly 70 and the inner surface of the screen.
The screen frame 63, 64, 65, 66 is provided with a pair of brackets used to mount the screen in the housing assembly 20. The interior surface of the screen defines a portion of the rotor chamber 21. The perforations of the screen are typically between 10/64 inch and 14/64 inch in diameter, the hole pattern in the screen being formed according to standard screen practices.
The rotor assembly 70 includes a cylindrical hub 71 mounted on a shaft 72 that is journaled at its opposite ends in bearing blocks 73 and 74 mounted on the tops of the respective supports 17 and 18 of the frame 15. The shaft 72 has pulleys 75 and 76 secured to its opposite ends and driven through belts 77 and 78, respectively, that are driven through pulleys mounted on the output shafts of electric drive motors 81 and 82. The motors used are typically capable of producing about 200 to 250 horsepower each. Accordingly, the maximum horsepower utilized to operate the apparatus 10 is about 400 to 500 horsepower.
A central, radial partition plate 85 is mounted on the hub 71 midway between its ends and a plurality of identical radial vane sections 86, 87 are secured on opposite sides of the partition radially coextensive therewith. The vane sections have angled, axially outer edges so that the radially inward portions 88, 89 of each vane enlarge as they extend radially outward up to a maximum width, whereafter each vane diminishes in width as it proceeds radially outwardly to the peripheral edge of each vane.
A pair of annular side walls 91, 92 are secured to the outer axial edges of the vane section 86, 87 on both sides of the rotor assembly to define with the respective vane sections and the center partition 85, radial chambers 90.
Raker bars 99 are adjustably secured to the outer end portions of the vanes 86, as shown in FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, by means of threaded fasteners 101 passing through holes 94 in vanes 86 and radial slots 100 in the raker bars 99. The raker bars 99 are provided with spaced rectangular teeth 102, the tips thereof being carefully spaced from the screen 61 between minimum and maximum limits. The minimum clearance is that at which the tips are immediately adjacent to the screen 61 without touching engagement. The maximum limit is determined functionally to be that at which blinding of screen 61 and destruction of fibers do not occur. If the clearance is too great, the screen 61 will blind over, thereby inhibiting passage of air and materials therethrough Fiber destruction is observed as dust in the finished product. Typically, a clearance of 0.065 inch is satisfactory..
The raker bars 99 extend parallel to the axis of rotor 70, with the teeth 102 of circumferentially adjacent bars 99 being staggered in an axial direction such that the spaces between teeth 102 of one bar 99 are overlapped by the teeth 102 of the circumferentially adjacent bar 99, as otherwise illustrated in FIG. 8. By this means, the entire surface of the screen 61 is swept by the bars 99 as the rotor 70 rotates.
The inner diameter of the annular side walls 95 and 96 is approximately equal to the diameter of the inlet ducts 23, 24 in the housing 20 so that, as will be apparent from FIG. 4, the flowing mixture of air with entrained feedstock enters the rotor assembly 70 from opposite axial directions in the vicinity of the radially inward portions of the radial vane sections 86, 87 and then is propelled radially outward in the radial passages 90 toward the screen assembly 60.
In the operation of the apparatus thus described, the feedstock to be fiberized is fed in a flowing stream of air through the inlet ducts 11 and 12 to the end portions of the air return ducts 58 and 59, where both the return air and the new mixture are introduced into the interior of the rotor chamber 21.
The rotor .Iadd.50 .Iaddend..[.is.]. .Iadd.can be .Iaddend.operated at relatively high peripheral speeds ranging from 15,000 to 30,000 .[.fpm.]. .Iadd.f.p.m. .Iaddend.(.Iadd.feet per minute ).Iaddend., depending on the .[.feedstock.]. .Iadd.feedstock .Iaddend.being .Iadd.comminuted or .Iaddend.fiberized, and the pressure and velocities required, .[.thus generating.]. .Iadd.and can generate .Iaddend.internal air and material velocities .Iadd.through the screen,.Iaddend.ranging from .[.2,000.]. .Iadd.at least 1,000 .Iaddend.to 15,000 .[.fpm.]. .Iadd.f.p.m .Iaddend.
The feedstock goes through no less than three rapidly changing pressure and velocity zones, thereby imparting fluid shear forces. Further, as the air/material stream, flows coutercurrently through the rakers 99 at velocities up to 15,000 fpm and collides with the oncoming rakers moving at 15,000 to 30,000 fpm, the feedstock is subjected to the dynamics of implosive forces in addition to the mechanical attrition.
When the fibers are of proper size, they are forced through the sizing screen 61 at fluid pressures and velocities two to tenfold greater than typically used in conventional hammer mill systems.
Accordingly, the combination of extremely high flow rates and continuous raking of the interior face of the screen 61 results in an extremely effective and advantageous separation of fibers without causing disintegration such as would be caused in a hammer mill operation. Also, this action produces very little dust, as compared with hammer mill-type processes.
After the fibers pass through the screen 61 with the air flow, they enter the volute-shaped passage 25 and proceed at high velocity around the passage in the direction of arrows F, subjecting them to considerable centrifugal force. The centrifugal force causes the entrained fibers to move to the radially outward zone of the passage 25 so that the portion of the flow that is radially inward becomes essentially free of fibers. About 60 per cent of the flow (denoted by the symbol F1) then enters the two air return ducts 58 and 59 and is returned to the rotor chamber 21. The remaining portion of the air flow (denoted by the symbol F2), which contains a more concentrated volume of the cellulosic fibers, exits through the outlet duct 13 and proceeds on for further processing.
As explained earlier, maintaining a proper clearance between the raker bars 99 and the screen 61 is essential. Additionally, rotor speed, air velocity through screen 61, and mesh size for the screen 61 must be properly selected. It is theorized that the bulk of the fiberization process is attributable to the high velocity flow of air through the screen 61 and that the raker bars serve primarily to inhibit screen blinding and to agitate continuously the material adjacent to the screen 61. By reason of the radial chambers 90 narrowing radially outwardly, a velocity increase of the air flow correspondingly occurs in the outer peripheral portions of the rotor 70. Also, a higher pressure zone occurs adjacent to the leading surface of each vane 86 providing for maximum pressure differential over the screen 61 in the regions immediately adjacent to the raker bars 99. The air flow at the raker bars 99 passes not only through the screen 61, fiberizing the material, but also between teeth 102, aiding in the material agitation process. Typically, air flow through the screen 61 ranges between four (4) and fifteen (15) cubic feet per minute per square inch of screen.
Residence time of the material within rotor 70 should be kept to a minimum, and this is assured by the high velocity air flow. Failure to maintain a sufficiently high air flow permits the feedstock to be subjected to repeated attacks by the raker bars 99, which ultimately destroys the fibers and produces dust.
It is desirable to retain the physical identity of the individual fibers in the finished product. Breaking or grinding the fibers is to be avoided, as this takes the form of undesired dust.
The apparatus and method of this invention produce a novel cellulosic product, using conventional paper feedstock as the raw material. It possesses the properties of (1) lower mass settled density, (2) higher thermal resistance to heat flow, and (3) a relatively uniform distribution of fiber size particles. It contains minimal dust and no more than minute quantities of unfibered particles. A satisfactory product produced with this invention has settled densities that range between 0.7 and 1.9 pounds per cubic foot, depending upon machine adjustment, as compared with densities of the same product produced with advanced prior art equipment that ranges from 2.1 to 2.3 pounds per cubic foot.
It has been found that the method and apparatus of the present invention result in a reduced energy demand for the production of low density fibers. The energy reduction, for example, has been found in specific applications to be between 30 per cent and 40 per cent less than that required in a hammer mill-type system.
As explained previously, it is theorized that the fiberizing action is derived primarily from the air flow through the screen 61. While the preferred form of the apparatus is as disclosed herein, it is possible to generate the air flow requirements externally rather than internally. Use of negative high pressure air source external of the .[.screen/raker.]. .Iadd.screen-raker .Iaddend.combination, .Iadd.denoted by negative high pressure external air flow generator 11 shown in FIG. 1, .Iaddend.along with suitable ducting, is considered to be included within the broadest scope of this invention. In this alternative form, it is not necessary to use vanes 86, but it is important that raker bars and the coaction thereof with the sizing screen be preserved.
A particular product produced with this invention ranged between 1.3 and 1.6 pounds per cubic foot settled density, depending on machine adjustments, as compared with densities of product produced with advanced prior art equipment that ranged from 2.1 to 2.3 pounds per cubic foot.
A comparison of test results obtained by Underwriters Laboratories using prior art cellulosic products and a cellulosic product obtained in accordance with the invention is shown in Table I below.
TABLE I______________________________________Insulation Product Comparisons1Property Prior Art2 Invention3______________________________________Settled Density4(lbs. per ft.3)Mean 2.5 1.5Standard .292 .5Deviation 64 17Number ofSamplesRange 2.0-2.8 1.45-1.55Thermal Insulation(R/in.)Mean 3.60 3.80Standard .094 --Deviation 64 --Number ofSamplesRange 3.4-3.75 --Partial Size DistributionCoarse pieces 20 to 40 percent <4 percentOptimum fiber size <50 percent >93 percentFines or dust 10 to 30 percent <6 percent______________________________________ 1 Products contained dry flame retardants 2 Based on listed manufacturers in the 1988 Underwriters Laboratorie Building Material Directory 3 As tested by Underwriters Laboratories 4 Vibrated to maximum settled density per ASTMC739-86.
The resulting product has been capable of smoother and faster application, using standard blowing equipment for insulation cellulosic thermal installation.
While the invention has been shown and described with respect to a specific embodiment thereof, this is intended for the purpose of illustration rather than limitation, and other variations and modifications of the specific method and apparatus herein shown and described will be apparent to those skilled in the art, all within the intended spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be limited in scope and effect to the specific embodiments herein shown and described, nor in any other way that is inconsistent with the extent to which the progress in the art has been advanced by the invention.
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|U.S. Classification||241/65, 241/74, 241/51, 241/48, 241/24.19, 241/86.1|
|International Classification||B02C13/08, D21B1/06|
|Cooperative Classification||B02C13/08, D21B1/066|
|European Classification||B02C13/08, D21B1/06D|
|Jul 7, 1997||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Oct 24, 2001||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12