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Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD TO PRODUCE INSTANT STEAM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/006994
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The Invention relates to a novel steam unit (8), a process to provide steam (11) and applications wherein such a novel steam unit (8) can be used.

Inventors:
FERRINI, Olivier (Route de Corcelles 3, 1059 Peney-le-Jorat, CH)
Application Number:
EP2017/000746
Publication Date:
January 11, 2018
Filing Date:
June 27, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
INNOSTEAM SWISS SA (Chemin des Loveresses 5, 1523 Granges-Près-Marnand, CH)
International Classes:
D06F39/00; D06F75/12; D06F87/00; F22B1/28
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016067031A12016-05-06
Foreign References:
CN105202510A2015-12-30
EP1975308A12008-10-01
EP1831449A12007-09-12
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HELBIG, Christian (Wagner & Helbig IP Counselors, 48 route de Divonne - CP2666, 1260 Nyon, CH)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. Unit for making instant steam comprising

1. a heating means, ii. a pumping means, iii. a control means, the control means controls the pumping means and the heating means wherein the control means is capable of modifying the temperature of the heating means when the pressure of the pumping means is modified.

2. Unit according to claim 1 further comprising a water tank, a pumping means rotation sensor, a flow rate measuring means, a temperature measuring means in the heating means, a pressure measuring means, a water container of the heating means, a steam outlet valve, a water inlet and a steam outlet on the heating means, a steam release nozzle, preferably with a hole of 0.1-1.5mm diameter, and/or an additional water circuit through the container of the heating means, and/or wherein the unit does not have an additional steam container.

3. Unit according to claim 2 wherein the heating means is a fast heating means having a container with a volume for water uptake of 10 to 50 ml, preferably 5 to 25 ml, more preferably 10 ml.

4. Unit according to claim 1 to 3 wherein the heating means can be set to a target temperature.

5. Unit according to claim 1 to 3 wherein the heating means can be heated to a temperature of 20 °C to 550 °C, preferably to 100 °C to 500 °C.

6. Unit according to claim 5 wherein the temperature of the heating means can be increased to the target temperature within 2 to 60 seconds, preferably within 3 to 25 seconds.

7. Unit according to claim 1 to 6 wherein the heating means has 1300 to 2500 W, preferably 1400 to 2000 W.

8. Unit according to claim 1 wherein the steam flow rate and/or the steam pressure can be changed.

9. Unit according to claim 1 wherein the control means can change and/or coordinate the temperature of the heating means, the pumping means, preferably the pressure and/or flow rate of the pumping means, the steam out put rate and/or the steam pressure at the steam outlet, and/or the steam outlet valve.

10. Unit according to claim 1 wherein the control means maintains a constant preset temperature in the heating means when the flow rate of the pumping means is increased.

11. Unit according to claim 1 wherein the pumping means can produce a flow rate of 0 to 100 g/min, preferably 0 to 75 g/min, more preferably of 35 g/min.

12. Unit according to claim 1 wherein the pressure produced by the pumping means is 5 to 15 bar, preferably 7 to 12 bar, more preferably 10 bar.

13. Unit according to claim 1 wherein the temperature in the container of the heating means can be decreased by way of a water circuit.

14. Process for making instant steam comprising the steps: i. pumping fluid into the water container of a heating means, ii. controlling the temperature and pressure in the heating means to reach a target temperature and a pressure below a maximum target pressure value, iii. discharging steam from the heating means through a steam release means.

15. Process according to claim 14, wherein the steam release means is a nozzle has a release opening of 0.1 - 1.5 mm.

16. Process according to claim 14 wherein the heating means is heated up to 500 °C and controlled to reach a target temperature of 200 °C and/or a maximum pressure of 5 to 15 bar, preferably less than 8 bar.

17. Process according to claim 14 or 15 wherein the target temperature is reached in 5 to 25 seconds, preferably in 7 to 15 seconds, more preferably in 13 to 18 seconds.

18. Process according to any of claims 14 to 16 wherein the release is controlled by a steam release valve.

19. Process according to any of claims 14 to 17 wherein after the steam release the pumping means is pumping fluid into the water container of a heating means with a predetermined flow rate which is controlled dependent on the temperature of the heating means.

20. Process according to claim 18 wherein the flow rate is controlled to be in the range of 10 to 100 g/min, preferably 10 to 75 g/min, more preferably 35 g/min.

21. Process according to claim 18 wherein the target temperature in the heating means is controlled to 150 °C to 250 °C.

22. Process according to any of claims 14 to 20 wherein the steam can be released within less than 20 seconds, preferably within less than 15 seconds, more preferably within less than 13 to 18 seconds.

23. Device for cleaning comprising a unit according to claim 1.

24. Device for ironing comprising a unit according to claim 1.

Description:
Device And Method To Produce Instant Steam

The invention relates to a novel steam unit, a process to provide steam and applications wherein such a novel steam unit can be used.

Background

The production of hot steam is required in many technical applications in industry e.g. in production processes, in industrial or household applications like cleaning devices and in other household equipment. In household equipment such applications relate to e.g. ironing and cleaning applications.

Devices for the production of hot steam of the prior art imply as one of their disadvantage that the operator has to wait a long time period until the unit is operational and steam is available for use. Also such devices operate usually in a batch manner requiring additional waiting or boost time after each batch is finished. Another disadvantage is often a preset pressure value and the lack to control and adapt the various process and device parameters.

Hence it was one object underlying the invention to provide for a unit or devices that improve or avoid the disadvantages of the prior art. Another object underlying the invention was to provide steam within a relatively short time period from switching on the unit. Summary of Embodiments

In one aspect the disclosure relates to a steam unit which can provide hot steam within a short time period from switching on the unit.

In another aspect the disclosure relates to a process for producing hot steam.

In another aspect the disclosure relates to a unit and process for producing hot steam wherein there is no need for a steam reservoir or a container to store the hot steam before use.

In another aspect the disclosure relates to devices using such a steam unit.

Brief Description of the Figures

Fig. 1 illustrates a unit according to the disclosure wherein a heating means (5) is surrounded by a container (7) (also denoted as water container or water compartment) filled with water (4). Heating means (5) contains or is linked to a means (6) for determining the temperature of the heating element. The arrow (15) indicates the water flow into the container (7) wherein the water inlet is not explicitly shown and wherein the steam outlet (not shown explicitly) is located at the arrow pointing in direction to solenoid valve (8) releasing steam (19). Furthermore, pump (2) and pump rotation sensor (3) connecting water tank (1) and the heating element (5) with water container (7) are depicted. Electronic management element (9) is coordinating and controlling all unit and process parameters by way of (11) control of power of heating element, (12) (13) regulation of the pump and flow rate control and thus the volume and pressure feed into the container (7), (14) control of solenoid.

Fig. 2 illustrates the control of a regulated temperature of the heating element and the relationship of the device components (1), (2), (3), (4).

In this example a process according to the disclosure is described and the steps and sequence of steps of the device in an exemplary operating mode:

The steam unit device used is comprises a water container, a peristaltic pump and a fast element heater.

The sequence and process parameters are described in more detail in the following:

Process aspect no 1.

A) The starting of process: The peristaltic pump is filling water into the container (max volume: 20ml). Then, the fast heating element is regulated until reaching a target temperature of 200°C and the pressure will not exceed 8 bars; the target parameters are met in less than 13 to 18 seconds.

B) The system is ready to release steam: After releasing steam by a controlled mechanism from the heating/water compartment, the steam is released through a specific nozzle with an outlet hole of 0.1-1.5mm diameter to speed up the steam. During the release of steam, the flow rate of the peristaltic pump is regulated taking into account the temperature of the fast heating element in order to maintain a perfect ratio between the flow rate of the peristaltic pump and the value of the temperature of fast heating element. Process aspect no. 2.

A) While the device is in function and the process is continuously performed: The heating element is regulated so to reach or maintain a specific target temperature value (e.g. 500 °C).

B) The system is ready to release steam: Simultaneously releasing steam by way of a controlled mechanism, the peristaltic pump is filling water into the container (max volume: 20ml) with a regulated specific flow rate.

Again the steam is released through a specific nozzle with an outlet hole of 0.1 - 1.5 mm diameter to speed up the steam. During the release of steam, the flow rate of the peristaltic pump is regulated in a way taking into account the fast heating element temperature value in order to maintain a perfect ratio between the flow rate of the peristaltic pump and the temperature value of the fast heating element.

Detailed Description

The disclosure of the invention will be described in the following including the various aspects of the disclosure in more detail and describing the advantages over the state of the art.

In the following certain terms of the disclosure will be described in more detail.

"Steam unit" in the sense of the disclosure is to be understood as a heating element or heating unit or heating means including a water container or water compartment with an inlet for water and an outlet for the steam produced which can be controlled by a control means. "Instant steam" in the sense of the disclosure is to be understood as steam that can be produced on demand within a very short period of time and which does not require a long boost time of the system before being ready to produce steam; moreover "instant steam" as to be understood by this disclosure does not require a reservoir or container wherein the steam is prepared in a limited quantity which restricts the volume of steam to be used or being ready for use. In contrast the "instant steam" will be produced on demand and in a continuous manner in contrast to a batch steam production as described in the prior art.

In the sense of the disclosure "on demand" steam is to be understood as steam that can be used directly after its production in a steam unit and wherein the steam production can be continuous wherein water or any other fluid or water including other fluids or additives are entering the steam unit at the water inlet and leave the steam unit by way of the steam outlet.

The "pressure" in the sense of the disclosure relates to the pressure produced by the pump or pumping means in the range of about 0.5 to about 10 bar and which can be managed and coordinated with the other unit or process conditions.

A "target temperature" in the sense of the disclosure can relate to the temperature of the heating means or the temperature of the steam produced by the steam unit. The target temperature may be in the range of about 100 °C to 550 °C.

A "water container" or "water compartment" in the sense of the disclosure refers to the means and volume being connected with, or surrounding the, or forming part of the heating means. It may be in the range of about 2 to 200 ml, or 5 to 20 ml, or 5 to 10 ml. A "heating time" in the sense of the application is the time that is required to bring e.g. a means, a target fluid, like water, a heating means, to its target temperature; it may take less than 20 seconds, or less than 18 seconds, or from 10 to 20 seconds, or from 13 to 18 seconds.

In one aspect the disclosure relates to a unit for making instant steam comprising i. a heating means, ii. a pumping means, iii. a control means, the control means controls the pumping means and the heating means wherein the control means is capable of modifying the temperature of the heating means when the pressure of the pumping means is modified.

One advantage of the unit according to the invention is that the steam can be provided very shortly after switching the unit on and the operator does not have to wait a time period as known from steam units according to the state of the art.

Another advantage of the invention is that a steam reservoir is not necessary. Such a steam reservoir as described in the state of the art which is a container located after the steam producing unit (e.g. the heating element) or which is a container including the steam producing element and which at the same time serves as the steam reservoir. The steam is discharged from this element by way of a valve. One disadvantage of such a steam unit is inter alia that it takes relatively long until the unit is ready to discharge steam. Another disadvantage in addition is the limited volume of steam over time that can be made available for use, i.e. once the steam contained in this reservoir of steam has been used or the water contained in this reservoir has been used, the container has to be refilled and re-heat water and it takes again some time until the unit is ready again to discharge steam. Hence known steam units imply long waiting time when the unit is set to function, or in the process of use.

In contrast and advantageously the unit according to the invention can provide steam very shortly after it is switched on. It only requires a very short time period until steam can be discharged and thus advantageously has a minimal waiting time before steam is provided. Moreover, in the cause of use there will be no need to wait again for the availability for steam in case a water tank has to be refilled.

In terms of construction and design the invention is also advantageous because it requires less components or components that are smaller compared to known steam units. Accordingly, the devices can be designed differently and in many cases in smaller dimensions which represents an advantage.

In one embodiment the inventive steam unit has advantageously achieved to be capable of generating instant steam without a prolonged waiting time for the personnel using such a device. Such an inventive steam unit also achieves in principle the advantage of maintaining a fixed or regulated, preset or target temperature, of the heating element.

One principle concept and aspect of the disclosure comprises at the starting point of process a peristaltic pump is filling water into the container (with e.g. a maximum volume of 10 to 20ml). The fast heating element is regulated until reaching a target temperature of 200°C and the pressure will not exceed 8 bars; these target parameters are met in less than 18 seconds, e.g. 13 to 18 seconds. Now the system is ready to release steam. The steam is released by a controlled mechanism from the heating/water/steam compartment, and the steam is e.g. released through a specific nozzle with an outlet hole of about 0.1-1.5 mm diameter. This will speed up the steam release speed. During the release of the steam, the flow rate of the peristaltic pump is regulated taking into account the temperature of the fast heating element in order to maintain a perfect ratio between the flow rate of the peristaltic pump and the value of the temperature of the fast heating element.

While the device is in function and the process is continuously performed the heating element is regulated so to reach or maintain a specific target temperature value (e.g. 500 °C). The system is ready to release steam. The system is capable of simultaneously releasing steam by way of a controlled mechanism and the peristaltic pump is filling water into the container with a regulated specific flow rate.

The steam release is operated through a specific nozzle with an outlet hole of e.g. 0.1 - 1.5 mm diameter to speed up the steam. During the release of the steam, the flow rate of the peristaltic pump is regulated in a way taking into account the fast heating element temperature value in order to maintain a perfect ratio between the flow rate of the peristaltic pump and the temperature value of the fast heating element.

A unit according to the disclosure can further comprise a water tank, a pumping means rotation sensor, a flow rate measuring means, a temperature measuring means in the heating means, a pressure measuring means, a water container of the heating means, a steam outlet valve, a water inlet and a steam outlet on the heating means, and a steam release nozzle. In one aspect the advantage of the invention is also that by way of combining a control element (9) with measuring means (3), (6) and by way of (11), (12), (13), (14) it can e.g. maintain a target temperature of the heating element (5) and adapt the other means (2) and (8) as well as water flow rate and pressure while discharging steam through solenoid valve (8). Other parameters can also be kept at a target value and the other features and parameters be controlled to produce instant steam. The control element (9) thus allows for a overall control of various parameters.

Any nozzle can be used that is capable to providing the steam to a defined area. The nozzle preferably has a hole of 0.1- 1.5mm diameter.

The unit can also contain an additional water circuit through the container of the heating means.

The unit can further be characterized in that the unit does not have any or an additional steam container. Such a steam container as used in the prior art contains pre-produced steam ready for use or a container wherein the maximal volume of water is contained and the steam ready for use.

In another aspect the unit according to the invention contains a heating means which is a fast heating means, preferably having a container with a volume for water uptake of 10 to 50 ml, preferably 5 to 25 ml, more preferably 10 ml.

In the unit according to claim the invention the heating means can be set to any predefined temperature and it is set to a target temperature wherein the target temperature may vary depending on the application and particular requirement of the steam used. In the unit according to the invention the heating means can be heated to a temperature of 20 °C to 550 °C, preferably to 100 °C to 500 °C.

Advantageously in the unit the temperature of the heating means can be increased to the target temperature within 2 to 60 seconds, preferably within 3 to 25 seconds.

The heating means used will have a power as usually used for such units, preferably the heating means has 1300 to 2500 W, preferably 1400 to 2000 W.

The steam flow rate and/or pressure can be changed during operation of the unit. The steam flow rate and/or pressure will be adapted to the needs and other parameters of the unit as may be required to produce the steam as may be required with regard to temperature, pressure and volume.

The inventors have surprisingly found a design of the steam unit allowing the production of instant steam without the need to preheat or a long waiting period until the steam is ready for use. The advantages of the invention can be achieved by an electronic management of the target temperature and temperature of the heating means, the regulation of the pumping volumes and/or the pressure applied by the pumping means. Moreover, in this manner it is possible to provide "on demand" steam in an instant manner and in the quantities required for the respective application.

In one aspect the unit according to the invention contains a control means, as forming part or being the electronic management, wherein the control means can change and/or coordinate the temperature of the heating means, the pumping means, preferably the pressure and/or flow rate of the pumping means, the steam out put rate and/or the steam pressure at the steam outlet, and/or the steam outlet valve.

The control means can be set to any predefined or changing values with regard to all relevant unit and process means and sequences. In a preferred embodiment the control means maintains a constant preset temperature in the heating means when the flow rate of the pumping means is increased.

The flow rate of the pumping means can be managed and controlled as required. Preferably the pumping means can produce a flow rate of 0 to 100 g/min, preferably 0 to 75 g/min, more preferably of 35 g/min.

The pressure of the pumping means can be managed and controlled as required. Preferably the pressure produced by the pumping means is 5 to 15 bar, preferably 7 to 12 bar, more preferably 10 bar.

In a preferred unit the temperature in the container of the heating means can be decreased by way of a water circuit.

In another aspect the disclosure relates to a process for making instant steam comprising the steps: i. pumping fluid into the water container of a heating means, ii. controlling the temperature and pressure in the heating means to reach a target temperature and a pressure below a maximum target pressure value, iii. discharging steam from the heating means through a steam release means. One advantage of the process of the invention is that the steam that is "ordered" can instantly be provided without an extended period until all process components are at their operational state. The steam will be provided within a very short time from setting the process to work.

In a preferred process the steam release means is a nozzle which has preferably a release opening of 0.1 - 1.5 mm.

In the process according the invention the heating means will be set and the temperature changes will be controlled as may be required by the other process parameters. The temperature of the heating means will be in the range of 100 °C to 500 °C, preferably between 200 °C to 500 °C. Also the pressure in the system during the process and /or of the pumping means will be set and controlled in a range which is suitable in view of the other process conditions and parameters as well as with the steam output goal. In a preferred embodiment of the process the heating means is heated up to 500 °C and controlled to reach a target temperature of 200 °C and/or a maximum pressure of 5 to 15 bar, preferably less than 8 bar.

In the process the heating means will be set to reach a target temperature which may vary as described above. The advantage of the inventive process is that the target temperature will be reached in a very short time period. Accordingly, also the hot steam advantageously will be available within a very short time period. Preferably the target temperature is reached in 5 to 25 seconds, preferably in 7 to 15 seconds, more preferably in 7 to 11 seconds. Accordingly, also the hot steam is ready to be discharged for use within a time period of 5 to 25 seconds, preferably in 7 to 15 seconds, more preferably in 13 to 18 seconds.

The discharge of the hot steam can be controlled by any means know to the skilled person and which means are well suitable depending on the particular unit setup and application used. In a preferred process the steam release is controlled by a steam release valve.

In the process the fluid, preferably water, is pumped into the water container or water compartment connected with the heating means, or surrounding the heating means, or forming a part within the heating means, or being arranged in any useful manner with the heating means. The water will be pumped in a volume and/or with a pressure useful and adapted to the other process conditions. Depending on the steam discharge including e.g. the steam volume, speed etc., fluid has to be pumped again into the water compartment to provide continued hot steam. In a preferred process the pumping means - after the steam release - is pumping fluid into the water container of a heating means with a predetermined flow rate which is controlled dependent on the temperature of the heating means.

In another aspect in the process the flow rate of the water to be supplied to the water compartment and/or the steam to be discharged will be controlled in relation to the other process parameters and preferably the flow rate is controlled to be in the range of 10 to 100 g/min, preferably 10 to 75 g/min, more preferably 35 g/min. In another aspect the process according to the invention will set the temperature to a target temperature in the heating means wherein the target temperature may vary during the steam production process depending on various parameters and in view of the volume of steam discharged. Preferably the target temperature in the heating means is controlled to 100 °C to 500 °C, preferably to 150 °C to 250 °C.

One advantage of the inventive process is the fast availability of steam. In a preferred embodiment steam can be released within less than 20 seconds, preferably within less than 15 seconds, more preferably within less than 13 seconds.

The unit and process as disclosed above can be used and applied in any technical, research, industrial, household or any other way wherein steam is required.

One possible use is the application of the steam unit and the process as described above in a device for cleaning.

Such a device for cleaning can be any known device for cleaning floors, walls, windows, curtain or any surfaces which will include a steam unit as described above including any or all or any combination of features as disclosed herein.

In particular such a cleaning device can be a vacuum steam cleaning device or a steam window cleaning device.

One possible use is the application of the steam unit and the process as described above in a device for ironing. Other applications of the steam unit as disclosed herein may include but is not limited to steam dryer, aspects of coffee machines, e.g. for preparing hot milk or foam, which may be stand alone applications of in combination with any coffee making machine, vacuum cleaners including steam, ironing appliances.

Such a device for ironing can be any known ironing device which applies hot steam. Such a device for ironing can be any known device for steam ironing like a hand held table steam ironing device or applications for professional use which will include a steam unit as described above including any or all or any combination of features as disclosed herein.

The following examples will describe preferred embodiments of the disclosure and shall not be understood as limiting in any sense. The skilled person will also appreciate that all and any features disclosed therein can be combined with all and any features as disclosed herein above.

Examples

Example 1

In this example a device according to the disclosure is illustrated in more detail with regard to the components that can be used:

Pump

Type: Peristaltic

Bi-directional : Yes

Pressure : 10 bar Max

Flowrate : 0-50g/min Heating element :

Voltage : 230 VAC

Power Max : 2200W

Flowrate : 47g/min

Capacity : 0-10 ml

Container :

Material: Inox AISI 304

Volume: 20ml maximum

Inlet

Outlet

Example 2

In this example a device according to the disclosure is described and the steps and sequence of steps of the device in an exemplary operating mode (Figure 2):

1. No steam:

Power regulation of the heating element (figure 1 : 5) to regulate the temperature (figurel :6).

Solenoid valve closed (figurel:8).

2. Change from no steam to steam production :

Regulation of the pump (figure 1 :2)

Power regulation of the heating element (figure 1:5).

Solenoid valve opening (figure 1 :8).

3. Steam production:

Power regulation of the heating element (figure 1:5).

Flow rate regulation of the pump (figure 1 :2) to regulate temperature (figure 1 :6) of the heating element (figure 1 : 5). Solenoid valve opened (figure 1:8).

16

I ED - Change from steam production to no steam production:

Solenoid valve closing (figure 1 :8).

Power regulation of the heating element (figure 1 :5) to regulate the temperature (figure 1 :6).

Reference List (Figures 1/2)

1. Water tank (fluid supply for instant steam

process)

2. Pump

3. Pump rotation sensor

4. Water in the container

5. Heating means / heating element

6. Measuring means for determining the temperature of the heating element

7. Container / water container of steam unit

8. Solenoid valve

9. Electronic management element

10. Steam

11. Power of heating element

12. Regulation of pump

13. Flow rate control

14. Control of solenoid

15. Water




 
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