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Title:
IMPROVEMENTS IN OR RELATING TO HAND DRIERS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/180716
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A hand drier comprising an inclined trough into which hands may be inserted at an angle below the horizontal and air is blown downwardly onto and along the hands to remove moisture and structured so that the air containing the moisture passes through a gap under a barrier provided within the trough which prevents moist air flowing back towards the user and separate means for the discharge of the air and the moisture from the trough are provided with the air discharge means being beyond the barrier; a trough for use in such a drier is also provided.

Inventors:
DAVIS DAVID (GB)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2021/055909
Publication Date:
September 16, 2021
Filing Date:
March 09, 2021
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
FOCUS DGI LTD (GB)
International Classes:
A47K10/48; E03C1/186
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAWDEN, Peter (GB)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A hand drier comprising an inclined trough into which hands may be inserted at an angle below the horizontal and air is blown downwardly onto and along the hands to remove moisture and the air containing the moisture passes through a gap under a barrier provided within the trough which prevents moist air flowing back towards the user and means for the discharge of the air from the trough are provided beyond the barrier.

2. A hand drier according to Claim 1 wherein the trough includes a drainage section where some or most of the moisture from the drier is separated from the air and is drained off from the drier.

3. A hand drier according to Claim 2 in which the drain is provided beyond the barrier.

4. A hand drier according to Claim 2 in which the drain is provided before the barrier and the section of the trough beyond the barrier is upwardly inclined so that water can flow back past the barrier to the drain.

5. A hand drier according to Claim 2 wherein the trough provides an enclosed space beyond the barrier where there is substantial separation of the air and the moisture and at least some of the air passes through an exhaust and a separate drain is provided for the water at or near the bottom of the space.

6. A hand drier according to any of the preceding claims wherein the gap between the base of the barrier and the surface of the trough is large enough for the air and water together with any soap to pass through the gap and is not so large that a significant amount of air can pass back through the gap towards the user of the drier.

7. A hand drier according to Claim 6 wherein the gap is of a width from 2 cms to 10 cms preferably from 3 cms to 6 cms.

8. A hand drier according to any of the preceding claims wherein the internal surfaces of the trough are curved in a way that enhances the flow of the air over the surfaces and over hands placed thereon for drying.

9. A hand drier according to any of Claims 5 to 8 wherein the exhaust and drainage section of the trough comprises a space within the trough beyond the barrier and is an integral part of the drier and provides a closed cavity between the reverse side of the barrier, the end of the trough and the top of the trough.

10. A hand drier according to Claim 9 wherein the cavity is shaped to cause the air containing the moisture to circulate in the cavity so that the water together with any residual soap in the water separates from the air during circulation and settles towards the bottom of the cavity.

11. A hand drier according to Claim 10 in which the water is removed from the bottom of the cavity via a drain in the base of the trough.

12. A hand drier according to Claim 10 in which the water flows back past the barrier to a drain formed in the trough at a position before the barrier.

13. A hand drier according to any of Claims 10 to 12 wherein a gap is provided between the top of the cavity and an upper inner surface of the rear section of the trough and the air is directed through the gap to an exhaust facing away from the drying section of the trough.

14. A hand drier according to any of the preceding claims wherein the trough is provided with sensors that detect when hands are placed in the drier and which activate the blower when the hands are detected.

15. A hand drier according to any of the preceding claims containing a water supply and a soap or detergent supply.

16. A hand drier according to any of the preceding claims of a depth of 35 cms to 50 cms and a width of from 30 to 300 and the trough is from 10 to 25 cms deep.

17. A hand drier according to any of the preceding claims integrally moulded from thermoformable material.

18. A trough for use in combination with an air blower to provide a hand drier the trough comprising a downwardly projecting surface from a front edge the surface extending beyond a barrier provided in the trough wherein a gap is provided between the base of the barrier and the surface of the trough and separate air exhaust and water drain means are provided in the trough and at least the air exhaust being beyond the barrier.

Description:
IMPROVEMENTS IN OR RELATING TO HAND DRIERS

The present invention relates to improvements in or relating to hand driers and in particular to hand driers in which air blowers are activated by the introduction of hands into a drying space wherein water maybe together with soap is removed from the hands by currents of air from the blowers. The invention further provides a trough for use in combination with an air blower to provide such a drier.

Air driers in which water is removed from hands by currents of air are well known and are often found in toilets, offices, laboratories and educational establishments. The driers can contain sensors that sense when hands are introduced into the drying space and then activate the blowers to provide currents of air that perform the drying. The driers can be associated with washing stations that provide water and soap for washing hands.

One of the problems with such driers is how to control and remove the air and the water and any residual soap once the drying function has been performed. In some instances the air containing moisture can be directed into the open air towards the user which carries the undesirable possibility that it may be redirected back towards the user which could be both undesirable and present a health hazard. However, if the water is retained in and around the drier there is the possibility of bacteria developing impairing the cleanliness and health of the drier as a whole.

Japanese Patent Publication JP 2011072510 relates to hand driers in which the hand is inserted vertically downwards into the drier to activate blowers which deliver air downward over the hand and means are provided to separate the air and the water once the drying has been performed to prevent water drops being scattered outside the drier. However the air is exhausted close to the user and the water maybe together with soap is retained within the drier.

Japanese Patent publication JP2013153921 relates to a wash basin in which air can be delivered after hand washing in order to remove water and any residual soap. The air is delivered to an upward facing slope of the basin and leaves the basin from the top. A shield is provided to prevent the air from blowing upwardly out of the basin. Unites States Patent publication US 2015/0074899 provides a similar facility. However in both references if hands are placed in the air current for drying it is necessary for the air to drive any water and residual soap on the hands upwards in order to remove it from the hands and to exit the basin. This can require high air pressure and may not efficiently dry the hands. We have now developed a drier that overcomes these problems.

The present invention therefore provides a hand drier comprising an inclined trough into which hands may be inserted at an angle below the horizontal and air is blown downwardly onto and along the hands to remove moisture and the air containing the moisture passes through a gap under a barrier provided within the trough which prevents moist air flowing back towards the user and means for the discharge of the air from the trough are provided beyond the barrier.

In a further preferred embodiment the trough includes a drainage section beyond the barrier or in the trough. Some or most of the moisture from the drying is separated from the air so that it can be drained off from the drier by exiting the trough through the drainage section. In this preferred embodiment the trough provides an enclosed space beyond the barrier where there is substantial separation of the air and the moisture whereby at least some of the moisture can be separated from the air which then passes through an exhaust. A drain is provided for the water at or near the bottom of the space or the trough before or beyond the barrier. In this way the exhaust for the air is separate from the drain for the water. Most or all of any soap in the air mixture will be removed with the water. In a preferred embodiment the space beyond the barrier has an inclined lower surface whereby when water is separated from the air in the space it is deposited on the inclined surface and flows back into the trough and is drained away by a drain formed in the base of the trough.

The invention further provides a trough for use in combination with an air blower to provide such a hand drier the trough comprising a downwardly projecting surface from a front edge the surface extending beyond a barrier provided in the trough wherein a gap is provided between the base of the barrier and the surface of the trough and separate air exhaust and water drain means are provided in the trough and at least the air exhaust means being positioned beyond the barrier.

In the use of a hand drier employing the present invention the exhaust of the air and drain of the moisture are separate and are distanced from the user and at least the exhaust of air is isolated from the user by the barrier. In particular the provision of the barrier between the hand drying area and the exodus vent for the air prevents back flow of the air which has been found to be extremely beneficial. That there is no backflow of air towards the user ensures that no water and/or soap is blown back towards the user and the water and/or soap can exit down the drain irrespective of which side of the barrier it is provided. The gap between the base of the barrier and the surface of the trough should be large enough for the air and water together with any soap to pass through the gap and should not be so large that a significant amount of air can pass back through the gap towards the user of the drier. We have found that a gap of width from 2 cms to 10 cms preferably from 3 cms to 6 cms is particularly effective.

In a preferred embodiment the internal surfaces of the trough are curved in a way that enhances the downward flow of the air over the surfaces and over hands placed thereon for drying. The downward air flow over the hands which are at a downward angle to the horizontal aids in the removal from the hands of water and any soap contained in the water so enhancing the drying effect. The enhancement is achieved both during the drying of the hands and afterwards enhancing the flow of the air containing the moisture through the gap under the barrier.

The barrier is provided within the trough at a position beyond where the hands of the user will be placed. The barrier is preferably shaped so that it directs any air that may be blown onto the barrier through the gap between the base of the barrier and the lower surface of the trough. In a preferred embodiment the barrier is curved with the curved surface being within the trough and facing towards the user of the drier so that the air is channelled down the curved surface into the gap. The barrier is preferably rigid and is preferably integrally formed with the remainder of the trough. The base of the trough extends beyond the barrier and the section beyond the barrier is preferably upwardly inclined so that moisture being deposited beyond the barrier flows down the section beyond the barrier to the drain which may be positioned in the trough beyond or before the barrier. In a preferred embodiment the drain is provided before the barrier as this makes the system easier to clean.

The section of the drier where the users hands are placed and onto which the air is blown should be downwardly inclined to encourage the flow of air and water downwards and into and through the gap under the barrier. The shape and design of the downward incline should be such that the aerodynamics caused by the blower causes the air to pass over the hands of the user and down towards and through the gap under the barrier. In another embodiment the surface of the base of the trough can be provided with holes that allow some of the water to drain down through the surface before it reaches the barrier.

The exhaust section of the trough comprises a space within the trough beyond the barrier and is an integral part of the drier. The section preferably provides a closed cavity between the reverse side of the barrier, the end of the trough and the top of the trough. The cavity is shaped to cause the air containing the moisture to circulate in the cavity so that the water together with any residual sop in the water separates from the air during circulation and being heavier than the air settles on the lower section of the trough where it flows to the drain. A gap is provided between the top of the cavity and an upper inner surface of the rear section of the trough whereby the air is directed to an exhaust facing away from the drying section of the device and the user thereof. The air with most of the moisture removed is driven out of the top of the cavity through a gap between the inner surface of the rear section of the trough and leaves the drier though an exhaust. In this way both the air and the water together with any residual soap are removed separately from the drier at positions remote from the user so avoiding contact with the user.

The drier of this invention may be used with any air blower, the blower may be integral with the trough of the present invention or may be separate therefrom. The trough may be provided with sensors that detect when hands are placed in the drier and which activate the blower when the hands are detected. Alternatively a separate means for activation of the blower can be provided.

The drier of this invention may be used in association with a water supply and a soap or detergent supply and these sections may be separate from the drier or they may be part of an integral unit wherein the user can move from the washing section to the drying section provided by the present invention. Some or all of the supplies of one or more of the water, soap and air for the drying may be delivered by means of sensors which may be activated by the presence of the users hands in the trough.

Depending on the facility within which the drier of this invention is used the drier may be a single stand-alone unit or may be several units that are integral with each other. The size of the drier will also depend on the facility within which it is used for example a small unit would be suitable for use in a kindergarten. Typically however the unit will have a depth of from 35 to 50 cms and a width of from 30 to 300 cms and the trough will be from 10 to 25 cms deep.

The drier and any associated ancillary features are preferably integrally moulded from thermoformable material such as Corian available from Du Pont or Krion. It is preferred that the drier is made from a single piece of thermoformable material which avoids any joints where dirt can accumulate this also satisfies health and safety regulations. In one embodiment means can be provided for injection of a cleaning material preferably a fluid into the cavity behind the barrier which can be manually operated or automatic. The driers of this invention may be fixed against a wall or can sit on a vanity unit and the height will vary according to the user for example lower for children and a special height for wheelchair access.

The invention is illustrated by reference to the accompanying Figures in which Figure 1 shows a trough of a hand drier according to the present invention.

Figure 2 is a cut away section of the trough shown in Figure 1.

Figure 3 is the same as Figure 2 except arrows have been added to show the flow of air during drying and thereafter.

Figure 4 is a section of Figure 2 except arrows have been added to show the flow of water and any residual soap during drying and thereafter.

In each drawing the hands that are being dried have been omitted.

Figure 1 shows a hand drying trough which can be installed below an air blower in for example a public toilet. It would be installed as shown with the wall of the trough (1) facing the user. In use the user will place their hands over the downwardly sloping surface of the trough (2) and air will be blown downwardly onto the hands. The air and the moisture pass over the hands and flow downwardly through the gap between a barrier (3) and the trough base (4). The air and moisture are then separated in the container below the barrier in the manner illustrated in Figures 2 and 3.

The cut away image of the trough of Figure 1 shown in Figure 2 shows the container (5) located behind the barrier (3) and under the inner surface of the rear section of the trough (6) and the arrows in Figure 3 show the path taken by the air through the trough and the gap into the container and to the exhaust.

Figure 4 is the same cut away as in Figure 2 but the arrows show the flow of the water through the trough and the gap and within the container including the drain (7) at the base of the container where the water can be removed.

Figure 5 shows an alternative form of a trough of this invention with the drain (7) provided before the barrier. Figure 6 is a cut away of the drier shown in Figure 5 and shows the embodiment in which the drain (7) for the water is provided before the barrier and the section of the trough beyond the barrier is shaped so that water can flow down the section and back under the barrier to the drain.

Figure 7 shows how the air flows during operation of the drier illustrated in Figure 6.

Figure 8 shows how the water flows during operation of the drier illustrated in Figure 6.