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Title:
APPARATUS FOR CLEANING FLOOR SURFACES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/042144
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The object of the present invention is an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces. The apparatus comprises movement means (2) for enabling movement of the apparatus on a flooring surface. The apparatus is further provided with dispenser means (5) of a cleaning liquid, for enabling dispensing of the liquid at a flooring surface to be cleaned. The apparatus is further provided with recuperating means (10) of the liquid which enable aspiration thereof at the flooring surface to be cleaned. The apparatus is further provided with an ozone generating unit (16) and insertion means (17) of ozone into the liquid. The insertion means are connected to the ozone generating unit (16) and to the liquid dispenser means (5) in order to insert the ozone produced by the generating unit into the liquid at the dispenser means. The apparatus is therefore able to generate ozone, insert it into a cleaning liquid, such as for example simply water, dispense the liquid thus added- to and recuperate the liquid together with any dirt from the surface to be cleaned on which the ozone exerts its action.

Inventors:
VILLA, Gianmaria (Via Generale Chinotto 4, Verona, I-37138, IT)
Application Number:
IT2011/000327
Publication Date:
March 28, 2013
Filing Date:
September 19, 2011
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
VELOX SERVIZI S.R.L. UNIPERSONALE (Viale del Lavoro 33, Verona, I-37135, IT)
VILLA, Gianmaria (Via Generale Chinotto 4, Verona, I-37138, IT)
International Classes:
A47L11/40; C02F1/78
Foreign References:
US5839155A1998-11-24
US20050150524A12005-07-14
US4485519A1984-12-04
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PONCHIROLI, Simone (Ruffini Ponchiroli E Associati S.R.L, Via Capera 6, Verona, I-37126, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1) An apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces, comprising:

a support frame (1);

movement means (2) associated to the frame (1), for permitting, during functioning, movement of the apparatus (100) on a flooring surface (3);

dispenser means (5) of a liquid, said dispenser means (5) being associated to the frame (1) and enabling, during functioning, dispensing of said liquid at a flooring surface (3) to be cleaned;

recuperating means (10) for the liquid, associated to the frame (1) such as to enable, during functioning, aspiration at the flooring surface (3) to be cleaned; and characterised in that it further comprises: an ozone generating unit (16) associated to the frame (1) and comprising an ozone generator; and insertion means (17) of ozone into the liquid operatively connected to the ozone generating unit (16) and to the dispenser means (5) of the liquid such as to insert, during functioning, ozone into the liquid at said dispenser means (5).

2) The apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein the ozone generating unit (16) further comprises air supply means (18) to the ozone generator, for collecting air from outside the apparatus (100) during functioning and supplying the air to the ozone generator.

3) The apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the ozone generating unit (16) further comprises, at said air supply means (18): an oxygen concentrator for increasing the concentration of oxygen in the air; and/or at least an air dryer; and/or air purifying means; and/or at least an air refrigerator; and/or at least a compressor for bringing the air to a predetermined pressure.

4) The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the dispenser means (5) comprise one or more liquid dispenser elements (6) such as to enable, during functioning, dispensing of said liquid at said flooring surface (3) to be cleaned, at least a first tank (7) for the liquid and at least a dispensing piping (8) connected between said first tank (7) and said one or more dispenser elements (6).

5) The apparatus according to claim 4 and any one of the preceding claims, wherein the ozone insertion means (17) into the liquid are positioned at said at least a dispensing piping (8) in order during functioning to insert ozone into the liquid directly supplied to said one or more dispenser elements (6).

6) The apparatus according to claim 4 and any one of the preceding claims, wherein the ozone insertion means (17) into the liquid are positioned at said first tank (7) in order during functioning to insert ozone into the liquid contained therein.

7) The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recuperating means (10) comprise one or more aspirating mouths (11) of the liquid in order, during functioning, to enable aspiration at said flooring surface (3) to be cleaned, at least a second tank (12) for containing what is aspirated during use, and aspirating means (13) operatively connected to said second tank (12) and to said one or more aspirating mouths (11), said aspirating means (13) comprising at least an aspirating device (14) and at least an aspirating pipe (15).

8) The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the insertion means (17) comprise at least a first venturi injector (21).

9) The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the ozone generator is a corona-effect generator.

10) The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recuperating means (10) further comprise separating means of what has been aspirated in at least the liquid phase plus the solid phase on the one hand and the gaseous phase on the other.

11) The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the recuperating means (10) comprise at least an ozone destroyer for enabling decomposition, during functioning, of any ozone aspirated by the recuperating means (10).

12) The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising at least a first sensor for detecting environmental ozone concentration from outside the apparatus (100) and further comprising safety means which, during functioning, signal an alarm and/or block functioning, as a function of a detecting by the at least a first sensor of an environmental ozone concentration greater than a certain predetermined threshold.

13) The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising at least a control unit (33) operatively connected with the ozone generating unit (16),. with the dispenser means (5), with the insertion means (17) and with the recuperating means (10) and being programmed to control and determine functioning thereof.

14) The apparatus according to claim 13 and any one of the preceding claims, further comprising, at the dispenser means (5): at least a second sensor for measuring the liquid flow dispensed during functioning, said second sensor being operatively connected to the control unit (33) which is further programmed to command and control the dispenser means (5), the ozone generating unit (16), the insertion means (17) and the recuperating means (10) as a function of the measured flow; and/or at least a third sensor for measuring the ozone concentration in the liquid to be dispensed, during functioning, via the one or more dispenser elements (6), said third sensor being operatively connected to the control unit (33), which is further programmed such as to command the ozone generating unit (16), the insertion means (17) and the dispenser means (5) as a function of the ozone concentration in the measured liquid.

15) The apparatus according to claim 13 and any one of the preceding claims, wherein the ozone generating unit (16) further comprises, at the air supply means (18): at least a fifth sensor for performing a measurement of the dew point, said fifth sensor being operatively connected to the control panel which is further programmed to control and command the functioning of the ozone generating unit (16) on the basis of said measurement of the dew point; and/or at least a sixth sensor for performing a measurement of the air flow supplied, during functioning, to the ozone generator, said sixth sensor being operatively connected to the control unit (33) which is further programmed to control and determine the functioning of the ozone generating unit (16), the dispenser means (5) and the insertion means (17) as a function of said measurement of the air flow.

16) The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the movement means (2) are motorised.

17) The apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the control unit (33) is also operatively connected to the movement means (2) and is further programmed such as to control and determine functioning thereof. 18) The apparatus according to claim 4 and 7 and any one of the preceding claims, wherein the apparatus (100) is a carpet cleaner (34) and wherein a part of said dispensing piping (8) and a part of said at least a pipe being a part of the aspirating means (13) are flexible and extend from the apparatus (100), being freely movable with respect to the frame (1 ), and terminate at a cleaning head (36) to which the one or more dispenser elements (6) and the one or more aspirating mouths (11) are associated.

19) The apparatus according to claims 4 and 7, and any one of the other claims from 1 to 17, wherein the apparatus (100) is a scrubber-dryer machine (35) and wherein the movement means (2) comprise a plurality of wheels (4) which enable, during functioning, advancing of the apparatus (100) along a determined direction in a use direction and wherein, with reference to the use direction, the one or more dispenser elements (6) are positioned downstream with respect to the one or more aspirating mouths (11), at a lower part of the apparatus (100), said apparatus (100) further comprising cleaning means (32).

Description:
AN APPARATUS FOR CLEANING FLOORING SURFACES

***

DESCRIPTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces.

In the ambit of the present invention, the term flooring surfaces relates to surfaces made of any material, for example tiled surfaces, plastic surfaces, rubber surfaces, resilient floorings in general such as linoleum, glass surfaces, textile surfaces such as carpeting and wooden surfaces such as parquet.

For cleaning flooring surfaces devices such as, for example, carpet cleaners or scrubber-dryer machines are used. Normally these devices comprise use of water with an added detergent. The water, thus added-to, is poured onto the surface to be cleaned on which the detergent performs its chemical action. In some cases, such as a scrubber-dryer machine, the device is provided with rotary brushes which scour the surface, performing a mechanical cleaning action. In other cases, such as some carpet cleaners, the device is provided with a work head connected to a tube, which can be partly flexible, on which a handle is fixed which enables it to be gripped. In this case the mechanical scouring action is performed by an operator who draws the work head on the surface to be cleaned, thus imparting a certain pressure, via the handle, on the surface.

In all cases the water dispensed on the surface to be cleaned absorbs a part of the dirt present on the surface. The mixture of water, absorbed dirt and remaining detergent is then recuperated by an aspirating system. The dispensing of the water onto the surface, the absorbing of the dirt thereby, the chemical action of the detergent and the gathering of the whole, together with the mechanical action, enable the treated surface to be cleaned.

These cleaning devices are generally provided with wheels and can therefore be pushed by an operator and moved on the surface to be cleaned. In some cases the device is motorised and only requires directional guiding by the operator. In still other cases, the device can further accommodate the operator on-board. Usually the operator not only manages the device itself but also tops up the water and the detergent in the tanks.

The above-described prior art however exhibits some common drawbacks. Firstly, they require, large use of detergents based on chemical compounds, generally of industrially-produced origin, in order to guarantee an effective cleaning of a flooring surface.

Secondly, the use of these detergents necessarily requires their consumption, which results in considerable economic expense, especially for medium and large cleaning companies.

Thirdly, the use of detergents generally gives high pollution levels mainly due to packaging, transport and elimination of the used detergent into the sewers at the end of use.

In this context the technical aim at the base of the present invention is to realise an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces which obviates the above-mentioned drawbacks.

A particular technical objective of the present invention is to realise an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces which prevents or at least minimises the use of detergents, while at the same time guaranteeing an effective cleaning of a flooring surface.

A further technical objective of the present invention is to realise an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces which leads to a reduction in working costs.

A further technical objective of the present invention is to realise an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces which minimises the degree of pollution connected with its use in terms of packaging, transport and discharge into the sewers or in other storage sites of detergents or other used cleaning products.

A further technical objective of the present invention is to realise an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces which enables good disinfection of the treated surface. The technical objective and the set aims are substantially attained by an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces in accordance with what is set out in the accompanying claims.

Further characteristics and the advantages of the present invention will more clearly emerge from the detailed description of some preferred, though not exclusive, embodiments of an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces illustrated in the accompanying figures of the drawings, in which:

figure 1 is a schematic view of an apparatus of the present invention; figure 2 is a schematic axonometric view of a first embodiment of the apparatus; figure 3 is a lateral view in vertical section of a detail of a head applicable to the apparatus of figure 2;

figure 4 is a schematic view of a first variant of a second embodiment of the apparatus;

figure 5 is a lateral schematic view of a second variant of the second embodiment of the apparatus;

figure 6 is a schematic view of a detail of an apparatus realised in accordance with the present invention;

figure 7 is a schematic view of a variant of a part of the apparatus of figure 1.

With reference to the figures of the drawings, reference numeral 100 denotes in its entirety an apparatus for cleaning flooring surfaces according to the present invention.

Like known apparatus, the apparatus 100 of the invention comprises a support frame 1 and movement means 2 which are associated to the frame 1 and which enable the apparatus 100 to be displaced on a flooring surface 3. As can be seen in figures 2, 4 and 5, the movement means 2 can advantageously comprise a plurality of wheels 4, or tracks etc. Further, the movement means 2 can be motorised such as to enable the active movement of the apparatus 100 with respect to the ground, or idle such as to enable movement by pushing.

The apparatus 100, as can be seen in figures 1 , 4 and 7, further comprises dispenser means 5 of a cleaning liquid which are associated to the frame 1 and which enable dispensing of the liquid at a flooring surface 3 to be cleaned. The liquid can advantageously be simply water. In some cases, however, the water can be added-to with one or more substances such as, for example, detergents or disinfectants.

The dispenser means 5 can comprise one or more dispenser elements 6 of the liquid, which enable, during functioning, dispensing of liquid at a flooring surface 3 to be cleaned. The dispenser elements 6 can therefore advantageously be associated to the frame 1 in proximity of the surface but can also be positioned at a distance (or be mobile as in the case of figures 2 and 3). The dispenser elements 6 can be nozzles or other types of dispensers, for example spray dispensers. The liquid dispenser elements 6 can advantageously enable pressurised dispensing of the liquid such as to facilitate washing of the surface which is treated. If several dispenser elements 6 are comprised, they can be positioned such as to take on various arrangement geometries. Further, the one or more dispenser elements 6 can be conformed such as to dispense liquid according to various dispensing geometries, including in relation to the arrangement geometries thereof. For example, when there are several spray dispenser elements 6, they can be conformed such that the relative sprays substantially take on a conical form and have dimensions such as to enable partial superposing of the sprays in relation to the adjacent dispenser elements 6. Differently, in the case of a single dispenser element 6, it can be conformed such that the spray covers a large portion of the surface to be cleaned.

The dispenser means 5 can further comprise at least a first tank 7 for storing the liquid and at least a dispensing piping 8 connected between the first tank 7 and the one or more dispenser elements 6. The dispensing piping 8 enables transport of the stored liquid in the first tank 7 up to the one or more dispenser elements 6. The dispensing piping 8 is advantageously composed of a plurality of pipes and relative interconnections and will enable supply of the liquid to the dispenser elements 6 comprised in the apparatus 100. The supply can advantageously be selective, which enables supplying each dispenser element 6 independently of the others if present. This can be obtained, for example, with the use of solenoid valves or of other like devices.

For the dispensing of the liquid it is possible to use the force of gravity from the first tank 7 in which it is stored. Preferably however the dispenser means 5 further comprise a first pump 9 to enable movement of the liquid along the dispensing piping 8 and the subsequent dispensing thereof.

The apparatus 100 comprises the liquid recuperating means 10 which are associated to the frame 1 (figure 1). The recuperating means 10 enable aspiration at the flooring surface 3 to be cleaned. The recuperating means 10 substantially have the function of drying the surface by removing the liquid previously deposited thereon , which takes with it the dirt, dust etc. lying on the surface to be cleaned. In the preferred embodiment the recuperating means 10 comprise one or more aspirating mouths 11 of the liquid which enable aspiration at the surface to be cleaned.

The recuperating means 10 can further comprise at least a second tank 12 for containing the aspirated liquid during use. To increase the quantity of storable liquid, a single tank can be used, subdivided into two inversely variable-volume chambers, which chambers assume the functions respectively of the first tank 7 and the second tank 12.

As can be seen in figure 1 , the recuperating means 10 advantageously comprise aspirating means 13 operatively connected to the second tank 12 and to the one or more aspirating mouths 11. These aspirating means 13 enable aspiration of the liquid, and substantially of whatever enters into the area of action of the aspirating mouths 11 , and enable depositing the aspirated material into the second tank 12 or into the corresponding variable-volume chamber should a single tank be used, as previously described. The aspirating means 13 in turn comprise at least an aspirating device 14 and at least an aspirating pipe 15 connected between the aspirating device 14 and the one or more aspirating mouths 11 and the second tank 12.

The recuperating means 10 can further comprise separating means (not illustrated) of the aspirated material in at least the liquid phase plus the solid phase on the one hand and the gaseous phase on the other. The separating means advantageously enable separation in the various phases of the aspirated material via the recuperating means 10. In order to obtain the separation, devices such as centrifuges, filters can be used, or even simply exploiting the natural gravity layering which would be created in the second tank 12 or in the corresponding variable-volume chamber. An expert in the sector will be able to select the best method from among those in existence, as this is in itself known to the expert. The recuperating means 10 can advantageously comprise a water-collector (not illustrated) destined to drag on the surface to be cleaned in order to convey, during the advancing of the apparatus 100, the non-recuperated liquid residue from the surface towards the one or more aspirating mouths 11. In accordance with the inventive aspect of the present invention, the apparatus 100 further comprises at least an ozone generating unit 16 and insertion means 17 of the ozone into the liquid, which are operatively connected to the ozone generating unit 16 and the dispenser means 5 of the liquid such as to insert the ozone, produced by the generating unit 16, into the liquid at the dispenser means 5.

The ozone-generating unit 16 in turn comprises at least an ozone generator (not illustrated as of known type) and is also associated to the frame 1. Generally the production of ozone is based on a transformation reaction of oxygen into ozone. The ozone generator can be of any type, but advantageous it will be of the corona- type effect. In this case the ozone is produced starting from the oxygen by means of an electrical discharge produced across two electrodes, one high-potential and one low-potential. The ozone generator can advantageously comprise a plurality of pairs of electrodes.

In a known way, the oxygen required for the production of ozone can be collected either from storage means (not illustrated), for example a liquid oxygen canister, or alternatively it can be collected from the air in the atmosphere.

In the first case the ozone generating unit 16 can comprise entraining means (not illustrated) of the oxygen, such as to enable coupling to the storing means, for example the canister, and the passage of the oxygen from the storage site to the ozone generator.

In the preferred second case, the ozone-generating unit 16 advantageously comprises air supply means 18 to the ozone generator, for collecting air from the outside of the apparatus 100 and supplying it, possibly at a different pressure from atmospheric pressure, to the ozone generator (figure 1). The air supply means 18 advantageously comprise one or more pipes 19 for entraining the air in ingress and one or more air collector elements 20 for collecting the air from the outside, which by way of non-limiting example can be fans or other like elements.

It is known that the ozone-producing performance increases as the temperature in the oxygen-ozone converting seating diminishes. The ozone generating unit 16 can therefore further comprise cooling means (not illustrated as of known type) for cooling the ozone generator during functioning. For example, in the case of an ozone generator with a corona effect, the cooling means will enable cooling at the electrodes. The ozone generating unit 16 can also comprise, at the air supply means 18, at least an air refrigerator (not illustrated as of known type) for intercepting the air in inlet to the ozone generator and cooling it.

Also known is that moisture in the air in inlet to the ozone generator leads to a reduction in performance of ozone production as well as starting up undesirable reactions in the ozone generator which might cause corrosion. The ozone generating unit 16 therefore can advantageously comprise, at the air supply means 18, at least a dryer (not illustrated as of known type) which enables the air supplied thereto to be treated in order to reduce the moisture therein; the air in outlet will then be supplied to the ozone generator.

A further factor influencing ozone production performance is the purity of the air which is supplied to the ozone generator. In particular, the presence of organic substances such as for example hydrocarbons hampers the production of ozone. The ozone generating unit 216 can therefore comprise, at the air supply means 18, air purifying means (not illustrated as of known type) which enable reduction of the organic component and/or the particulate in the air supplied to the ozone generator. By way of non-limiting example, these can be filters.

It is further known that an important factor for ozone production is oxygen concentration present in the inlet air to the ozone generator. In general a greater oxygen concentration substantially enables greater ozone production.

The ozone generating unit 16 can therefore comprise, at the air supply means 18, an oxygen concentrator (not illustrated as of known type) which enables conditioning the air supplied thereto, increasing the oxygen concentration therein. This oxygen concentrator provides a gas mixture in outlet which therefore exhibits a high oxygen concentration (even above 90%). The mixture will then be supplied to the ozone generator.

The ozone generating unit 16 can further comprise, at the air supply means 18, at least a compressor (not illustrated as of known type) for taking the air to a predetermined pressure.

As mentioned above, the ozone produced by the ozone generating unit 16 is inserted into the cleaning liquid. The insertion of ozone into the liquid considerably increases the liquid!s disinfecting capacity. Ozone is known to be a powerful oxidant which can oxidise many materials, in particular eliminating bacteria, viruses, odours and mould.

In a first version of the apparatus 100 of the present invention, the ozone insertion means 17 into the liquid are positioned at the at least a dispensing piping 8, in order to insert ozone into the liquid which is then directly supplied to the one or more dispenser elements 6. With reference to figures 1 and 4, which schematically illustrate the apparatus 100 and where the broken lines indicate two pipes that are not necessarily present at the same time, the ozone-generating unit 16 will be only connected to the dispensing piping 8.

In a second version of the apparatus 100, however, the insertion means 17 are positioned at the first tank 7, such as to insert ozone into the liquid contained therein, which liquid is then supplied to one or more of the dispenser elements 6. Looking at figures 1 and 4, the ozone generating unit 16 will only be connected to the first tank 7.

In a third version of the apparatus 100, the insertion means 17, possibly independent and different, are positioned such that the ozone coming from the ozone generating unit 16 is in part inserted at the dispensing piping 8 in order to insert ozone into the liquid which is then directly supplied to one or more dispenser elements 6 and in part is inserted in the first tank 7 in order to create, for example, a reserve of ozonised liquid. Looking at figures 1 and 4, the ozone generating unit 16 will be connected to both the dispensing piping 8 and the first tank 7.

In the preferred embodiment, the ozone insertion means 17 advantageously comprise at least a first venturi injector 21 (figure 6). However other solutions can be provided, such as for example use of a diffuser.

With reference to the first version of the apparatus 100, the first venturi injector 21 can be positioned in an intermediate position along the dispensing piping 8 downstream of the first pump 9.

With reference to the second version of the apparatus 100, the first venturi injector 21 can be positioned at a loop circuit (not illustrated in its entirety) for the liquid which goes from the first tank 7, reaches the first venturi injector 21 and returns to the first tank 7. In this way the concentration of ozone in the stored liquid can be maintained or even increased. A second pump (also not illustrated) for moving the liquid in the loop circuit 26 can for example be associated along the loop circuit 26 itself.

With reference to the third version of the apparatus 100, there can be two venturi injectors for inserting the ozone coming from the ozone generating unit 16 both at the dispensing piping 8 and at the first tank 7. For example the first venturi injector

21 can be positioned at an intermediate position along the dispensing piping 8 downstream of the first pump 9 and a second venturi injector 210 can be positioned at the loop circuit 26 for the liquid going from the first tank 7, reaching the second venturi injector 210 and returning to the first tank 7.

As can be seen in figure 6, each venturi injector 21 , 210 is provided with an inlet

22 for the liquid (which can be added-to or not with ozone according to the version of the apparatus 100) coming from the first tank 7, an inlet 23 for the ozone coming from the ozone generating unit 16 and an outlet 24 for the liquid containing ozone. A narrowing 25 is present between the inlet 22 and the outlet 24 of the liquid, at which narrowing 25 a depression occurs in the liquid, which causes an entry of ozone into the liquid by suction.

The dispenser means 5 can further comprise first flow check means 27 (figure 7), such as for example solenoids, for directing the liquid and forcing the passage thereof through some pipes of the dispensing piping 8.

The first flow check means 27 are usable, for example, in a variant of the third version of the apparatus 100, visible in figure 7. In this variant, downstream of the single first venturi injector 21 provided, the dispensing piping 8 realises a branching 28, consisting of two branches 29, 30: the first branch 29 leads to one or more dispenser elements 6 and the second branch 30 leads to the first tank 7. At the branching 28, a three-way valve 31 can be for example positioned, for selectively sending the liquid (ozonised at the first venturi injector 21) to the two branches 29, 30. In this variant of the third version of the apparatus 100, should the first flow check means 27 enable the passage of the liquid through the second branch 30, the assembly of the second branch 30 and the tract of dispensing piping 8 upstream of the three-way valve 31 realises the loop circuit 26. Obviously also the . air supply means 18 and the insertion means 17 can respectively comprise second and third flow check means (not illustrated).

Further, the insertion means 17 can comprise, should it be required, pressuring means (not illustrated) of the ozone which is then inserted into the liquid, such as to determine an ozone pressure which is suitable for insertion thereof into the liquid.

During aspiration, the recuperating means 10 also aspirate ozone, both the ozone inserted into the liquid and the ozone which has been freed into the atmosphere in proximity of the treated surface and which is within the area of action of any one of the aspirating mouths 11 provided in the apparatus 100. The recuperating means 10 can further comprise at least an ozone destroyer (not illustrated) for enabling any eventual ozone aspirated by the recuperating means 10 to be decomposed. The ozone destroyer can advantageously be mounted such as to be in communication with the gaseous phase of the contents of the second tank 12, and with the outside of the apparatus 100. Obviously in a case in which the first tank 7 is also destined to enter into contact with liquid containing ozone as in the case of the second and third versions of the apparatus 100, the ozone destroyer can be placed in communication with both tanks 7,12. Alternatively the use of a second ozone destroyer (not illustrated) could be provided, mounted on the first tank 7 in a like way to what is described for the second tank 12. Obviously in the case in which the apparatus 100 includes use of a single tank sub-divided into two variable-volume chambers, a corresponding appropriate solution can be adopted. The apparatus 100 of the present invention can advantageously further comprise cleaning means 32, such as for example rotating brushes.

Given the high oxidising power of ozone, the components of the apparatus 100 such as for example pumps, junctions, conduits, dispenser elements 6 etc. that are destined to enter into contact with ozone or with the liquid in which the ozone has been inserted will be advantageously constituted, at least as far as the contact surfaces thereof are concerned, by materials having good ozone-resisting properties.

The apparatus 100 of the present invention can further comprise at least a first sensor (not illustrated as of known type) for detecting the concentration of environmental ozone externally of the apparatus 100 and can further comprise the safety means (not illustrated) for signalling an alarm and/or for blocking the functioning according to a detection by the first sensor of a concentration of environmental ozone superior to a certain predetermined threshold. For example, the safety means can simply emit an acoustic signal or can also block the functioning of the ozone generator or can block the functioning of the whole apparatus 100 (leaving the movement systems, which are motorised, in action). These details are useful for signalling the presence of any malfunctioning or leaks and for blocking the production of ozone in emergency conditions. The apparatus 100 advantageously comprises a plurality of sensors for detecting the concentration of environmental ozone, arranged at various points of the apparatus 100.

The management of the generating of any alarms and blocking of the functioning of the ozone generator can advantageously be controlled by a control unit 33. The apparatus 100 can further comprise at least a control unit 33 operatively connected to the ozone generating unit 16, the dispenser means 5, the insertion means 17, the recuperating means 10 and the safety means. In particular, the control unit 33 can be programmed to control and determine the functioning of the apparatus 100, for example according to the instructions set by the user via a control panel (not illustrated), also operatively connected to the control unit 33.

The control unit 33 can further be programmed to control and determine the functioning of the ozone generating unit 16, the dispenser means 5, the insertion means 17, the recuperating means 10 and the safety means. For example, it can be programmed to regulate the liquid flow rate reaching the dispenser elements 6 or can determine the action of the first 27, second and third flow check means, if included, on the basis of the operating modalities available in the apparatus 100 and selected by the user via the control panel. Some operating modalities can for example relate to the possibility of using ozone, the possibility of simply using water or another liquid without insertion of ozone or even the possibility of activating or deactivating the recuperating means 10. Obviously the control unit 33 can be for example programmed to manage the functioning of the apparatus 100, modulating them according to the instructions set by the user via the control panel: the intensity of the dispensed liquid flow, thus controlling the functioning of the pumps present; the tension applied to the ozone generator and the relative absorbed power; the power absorbed by the recuperating means 10 etc. The control unit 33 can for example be further programmed to automatically manage the functioning of the components operatively connected thereto. For example it can be programmed to manage the compression ratio of the compressor, if present, the functioning of the oxygen concentrator, if present, the functioning of the air refrigerator, if present, the functioning of the cooling means, if present, etc. The apparatus 100 of the present invention can also comprise, at the dispenser means 5, at least a second sensor (not illustrated as of known type) for measuring the flow of liquid dispensed during the functioning. This second sensor is operatively connected to the control unit 33 which is further programmed to command and control the dispenser means 5, the ozone generating unit 16, the insertion means 17 and the recuperating means 10 as a function of the measured flow. For example the control unit 33 can be programmed to automatically regulate the functioning of the ozone generating unit 16 with the aim of guaranteeing at least a minimal ozone concentration in the liquid as a function of the flow measured. The control unit 33 can also be programmed to modulate the functioning of the recuperating means 10 and in particular the aspirating means 13 as a function of the measured flow.

The apparatus 100 of the present invention can further comprise, at the dispenser means 5, at least a third sensor (not illustrated as of known type) for measuring the ozone concentration in the liquid to be dispensed through the one or more dispenser elements 6. This third sensor is operatively connected to the control unit 33 which can further be programmed to command the ozone generating unit 16, the insertion means 17 and the dispenser means 5 as a function of the ozone concentration in the measured liquid. Obviously in a case in which, as in the second and third versions of the apparatus 100, the first tank 7 enters into contact with liquid containing ozone, a fourth sensor (not illustrated), alike to the third, can be applied to the first tank 7. The corresponding considerations apply in the case of use of a single tank having variable-volume chambers. The ozone generating unit 16 can further comprise, at the air supply means 18, at least a fifth sensor (not illustrated as of known type) for performing a measurement of the dew point. This fifth sensor is operatively connected to the control unit 33 which is further programmed to control and command the functioning of the ozone generating unit 16 in a known way on the basis of the measurement of the dew point performed by the fifth sensor.

The ozone generating unit 16 can further comprise, at the air supply means 18, at least a sixth sensor (not illustrated as of known type) which enables performing a measurement of the air flow supplied to the ozone generator. This sixth sensor is operatively connected to the control unit 33 which is further programmed to control and determine the functioning of the air supply means 18 and in general of the ozone generating unit 16, the dispenser means 5 and the insertion means 17 as a function of the measurement of the air flow. For example, the control unit 33 can be programmed to automatically regulate the functioning of the ozone generator as a function of the measured supplied air flow.

In the case in which the movement means 2 are motorised the control unit 33 can also be operatively connected to the movement means 2 and can further be programmed to control and determine the functioning thereof.

Therefore the apparatus 100 advantageously uses water as the liquid in which ozone is inserted. However, other substances can also be used, such as detergents or disinfectants, as long as they are chemically compatible with the ozone and facilitate the action of the said ozone.

Up to this point a generic apparatus 100 for cleaning flooring surfaces has been described which is substantially able to generate ozone, insert it into a cleaning liquid, dispense the ozonised liquid onto a surface to be cleaned and recuperate the liquid from the surface together with any dirt it has absorbed. In the following two preferred embodiments are described. The first relates to a carpet cleaning machine 34 and the second to a scrubber-dryer machine 35.

In the case of a carpet cleaner 34, visible in figures 2 and 3, part of the dispensing piping 8 and part of the at least an aspirating pipe 15 which is a part of the aspirating means 13, are flexible and extend from the rest of the apparatus 100, being freely movable with respect to the frame 1 (which is provided with wheels 4), and terminate at a cleaning head 36. This part of the dispensing piping 8 and this part of the at least an aspirating pipe 15 which is a part of the aspirating means 13 will be grouped together, for example inserted internally of a tube 37. This tube 37 advantageously has a more rigid part 38 at which an operator can grip it in order to move the cleaning head 36 onto the surface which is to be cleaned. The one or more dispenser elements 6 and the one or more aspirating mouths 11 are associated on the cleaning head 36.

The one or more dispenser elements 6 and the one or more aspirating mouths 11 are advantageously respectively arranged, in the cleaning head 36, along two flanked strips, visible in transversal section in figure 3. In this way the operator can clean a surface simply by dragging the cleaning head 36 on the surface in a certain use direction, causing the cleaning head 36 to advance with the one or more dispenser elements 6 in front and the one or more aspirating mouths 11 behind. In this way the surface to be cleaned will first be struck by the dispensing liquid, which will then be recuperated together with the dirt.

In the case of a scrubber-dryer machine 35, visible in figures 4 and 5, the apparatus 100 comprises a plurality of wheels 4 which enable the apparatus 100 to advance along a determined direction in a use direction.

With respect to the use direction, the one or more dispenser elements 6 and the one or more aspirating mouths 11 are positioned respectively downstream and upstream at a lower part 39 of the apparatus 100. In this way the surface to be cleaned will first be struck by the dispensed liquid which will then be recuperated together with the dirt during the advancing of the apparatus 100. The apparatus 100 further comprises cleaning means 32 such as for example rotary brushes 40. The cleaning means 32 enable the surface to be dragged as well as a greater diffusion of the liquid on the surface during the movement of the apparatus 100. In a first variant of scrubber-dryer machine 35, visible in figure 4, the operator acts on the ground, pushing or drawing (according to the use direction) in order to move the apparatus 100 on the surface, possibly aided by movement means 2 of the apparatus 100 if motorised.

In a second variant of the scrubber-dryer machine 35, visible in figure 5, the movement means 2 are motorised and the apparatus 100 can accommodate an operator on-board. In this case the apparatus 100 will comprise at least guide means 41 and a guide position 42 for the operator.

The present invention leads to important advantages.

Firstly the apparatus of the invention enables the use of detergents to be excluded or at least minimised, while still guaranteeing an effective cleaning of the flooring surface.

Secondly, thanks to the use of ozone which is generated in the preferred embodiment from the air in the atmosphere, the apparatus of the present invention leads to a reduction in working costs.

Thirdly, with the apparatus of the present invention the degree of pollution connected with the use of packaging, transport and discharging materials into the sewers or other storage sites, detergents or other used cleaning products is minimised.

Fourthly, thanks to the use of ozone, the apparatus of the present invention provides a good disinfection of the cleaned surface.

Worthy of note is the fact that in some possible embodiments, such as for example carpet-cleaners, the apparatus of the present invention is also able to treat walls.

Also, the present invention is relatively easy to realise and the costs connected with its actuation are not very high.

The invention as it is conceived is susceptible to numerous modifications and variants, all falling within the ambit of the inventive concept characterising it.

All the details can be replaced with others that are technically equivalent and the materials used, as well as the forms and dimensions of the various components, can be any, according to needs.