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Title:
WASHER EXTRACTOR APPARATUS AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/031757
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method of washing fabric articles provides a washer extractor having a reservoir for holding fabric articles and a washing liquid. A washing liquid is pumped from the reservoir to the washer extractor interior. The ratio of pounds (or kilograms) of washing liquid to pounds (or kilograms) of fabric articles is about 4 to 1, plus absorbed water. Fluid is pulse flowed to the textile articles at a volume of between about 0.5 to 2 gallons (2 to 8 liters) per pound (kg) of fabric articles for a selected time interval. Washing chemicals are added to the washer extractor. Water is transmitted to the washer extractor at the rate of 0.35 to 0.6 gallons (1.33 to 2.3 liters) of water per pound (kg) of fabric articles within a selected time interval.

Inventors:
POY RUSSELL H (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2013/056004
Publication Date:
February 27, 2014
Filing Date:
August 21, 2013
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PELLERIN CORP MILNOR (US)
International Classes:
D06F25/00; D06F35/00; D06F37/00; D06F37/02; D06F37/42; D06F39/00; D06F39/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO2002022935A12002-03-21
Foreign References:
US4969926A1990-11-13
EP1548173A12005-06-29
CN101748578A2010-06-23
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FITZPATRICK, Julia, M. et al. (Smith Nehrbass & North, L.L.C.,3838 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 329, Metairie Louisiana, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A method of washing fabric articles, comprising the steps of:

a) providing a reservoir of washing liquid;

b) providing a washer extractor having an interior for holding fabric articles; c) placing fabric articles to be washed in the interior of the washer extractor; d) pumping the washing liquid from the reservoir to the washer extractor interior with a first pump;

e) adding washing chemicals to the washer extractor interior while it is filled with washing liquid and fabric articles;

f) transmitting rinse water to the washing extractor interior within a selected time interval with said first pump;

g) withdrawing the rinse water from the washer extractor interior with a second pump;

h) wherein a controller maintains a selected fluid level in said reservoir in steps "f" and "g" by adjusting the flow rates of one or both of said pumps.

2. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 1 wherein one of the chemicals of step "e" is an alkali.

3. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 1 wherein one of the chemicals of step "e" is a detergent.

4. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 1 wherein one of the chemicals of step "e" is a sour solution.

5. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 1 wherein water consumption is between about 1 and 2 gallons (8 and 16 liters) per pound (kg) of processed fabric articles.

6. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 1 wherein the time interval of step "f" is about one minute.

7. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 1 wherein the time interval of step "f" is about two minutes.

8. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 1 wherein the ratio of pounds (or kilograms) of washing liquid to pounds (or kilograms) of fabric articles is between

3 to 1 to 5: 1, plus absorbed water.

9. A washer extractor apparatus, comprising: a) a washer extractor for holding fabric articles to be washed in a volume of a washing liquid having an associated reservoir and a washer drum with an extractor interior;

b) a reservoir having a flow line that enables transmission of washing liquid from the reservoir to the washer extractor interior;

c) a first pump at a first elevation that enables flowing of rinse fiuid to the combination of fabric articles and washing liquid at a rate of between about 30 to 700 gallons (114 to 2,650 liters) per minute for a selected time interval;

d) a second pump at a second elevation lower than said first elevation that enables extraction of excess liquid from the washer extractor in order to maintain a selected volume of liquid in said interior and a first liquor ration; and

e) a controller that enables a change in the volume of fluid being pumped by the second pump to a flow value that is different from the volume of fiuid pumped by the first pump so that the fluid level in the drum can be changed to provide a new and different liquor ratio.

10. The washer extractor of claim 9 further comprising a flow line for adding chemicals to the washer extractor interior.

11. The washer extractor of claim 9 wherein water consumption is between about one-half and two gallons (4 and 16 liters) per pound (kg) of washed and fluid extracted fabric articles.

12. A method of washing fabric articles, comprising the steps of:

a) providing a reservoir of liquid;

b) providing a washer extractor having an interior for holding fabric articles; c) placing fabric articles to be washed in the interior of the washer extractor; d) pumping the liquid from the reservoir to the washer extractor interior with a first pump, wherein the washer extractor interior has a liquid upper surface;

e) adding washing chemicals to the washer extractor interior;

f) transmitting rinse water to the washing extractor interior at a rate of between about thirty and seven hundred gallons (114 to 2,650 liters) per minute; and g) extracting liquid from the washer extractor during step "f", wherein excess liquid that has been added in step "e" is discharged via an effluent flow line.

13. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 12 wherein one of the chemicals of step "e" is an alkali.

14. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 12 wherein one of the chemicals of step "e" is a detergent.

15. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 12 wherein one of the chemicals of step "e" is a sour solution.

16. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 12 wherein water consumption is between about one-half (½) and two (2) gallons (4 - 16 liters) per pound (kg) of processed fabric articles.

17. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 12 wherein the time interval of step "f" is about one minute.

18. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 12 wherein the time interval of step "f" is about two minutes.

19. The method of washing fabric articles of claim 12 wherein the ratio of pounds (or kilograms) of washing liquid to pounds (or kilograms) of fabric articles is about 4 to 1 , plus absorbed water.

20. The method of claim 1 wherein the withdrawn liquid of step "g" is transmitted to the reservoir of step "a".

21. The apparatus of claim 11 further comprising a flow line for enabling transmission of the extracted liquid to the reservoir.

22. The method of claim 12 wherein the extracted liquid of step "g" is transmitted to the reservoir of step "a".

23. The method of claim 1 wherein at least some of the withdrawn liquid of step "g" is re-circulated to the reservoir.

24. The apparatus of claim 9 further comprising a re-circulation flow line connecting the washer extractor to the reservoir, wherein said re-circulation flow line enables transmission of at least some of the extracted liquid to the reservoir and wherein the said second pump is in said re-circulation flow line.

25. The method of claim 12 wherein at least some of the extracted liquid of step "g" is re-circulated to comprise at least a part of the rinse water of step "P.

26. The apparatus of claim 9 further comprising a re-circulation flow line that conveys all or part of said excess liquid to said reservoir.

27. The method of claim 1 further comprising placing the second pump below the first pump.

28. The method of claim 1 further comprising placing the washer extractor interior below the first pump.

29. The method of claim 1 wherein the second pump is a column pump.

30. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the second pump is below the washer drum.

31. The method of claim 9 wherein the second pump is a column pump.

32. The method of claim 12 further comprising placing a second pump below the first pump.

33. The method of claim 12 further comprising placing the washer extractor interior below the first pump.

34. The method of claim 1 wherein the reservoir is refilled with rinse water after step "d".

Description:
TITLE OF THE INVENTION

WASHER EXTRACTOR APPARATUS AND METHOD

INVENTOR: POY, Russell, H., a US citizen, of 601 Baronne Street, Number 3B, New

Orleans, LA, 70113, US.

ASSIGNEE: PELLERIN MILNOR CORPORATION, aLouisiana corporation, of 700

Jackson Street, P.O. Box 400, Kenner, Louisiana 70063, US.

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a nonprovisional patent application of US Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 61/691,532, filed 21 August 2012, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

Priority of US Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 61/691,532, filed 21 August 2012, incorporated herein by reference, is hereby claimed.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable

REFERENCE TO A "MICROFICHE APPENDIX"

Not applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to washer extractors, more particularly to an improved washer extractor that uses overflow rinsing to eliminate most or all of the fill and drain steps typically associated with prior art washer extractors. Even more particularly, the present invention relates to an improved washer extractor wherein the liquor ratio (pounds or kilograms water or liquor to pounds or kilograms of fabric articles) can be varied to suit different levels of soiled linen or other fabric articles.

2. General Background of the Invention

Prior art washer extractor machines wash and rinse fabric articles such as linen with successive fill and drain steps. A typical wash formula comprises between 6 and 20 steps, depending on linen soil classification. Because each step drains the wash/rinse liquor, water consumption is generally between two (2) and four (4) gallons (16 and 33 liters) per pound (kg) of processed linen. In prior art washer extractors, all of the liquid is drained to sewer or to recycling/filtering systems.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The design of the present invention provides an improved washer extractor. The present invention uses high velocity overflow rinsing to eliminate many, if not all, fill and drain steps. The high velocity of the water increases the hydraulic pressure on the soil in the linen and suspended in the wash liquor, thus reducing the amount of rinse water required.

Typical water consumption with this system is between about one-half (½) and two (2) gallons (4-16 liters) per pound (kg) of processed linen.

The present invention provides a method and apparatus for achieving a desired overflow rinsing while flowing liquid into the fabric articles at a high rate. The method of the present invention provides a variable level arrangement that enables variable programable liquor ratios which are useful when processing different levels of soiled linen.

Normally, the liquor ratio (pounds or kilograms water or liquor to pounds or kilograms of fabric articles) is about 4: 1 during the standing bath portion of a washer extractor cycle.

During rinsing, a high volume of water or other fluid is thrust into the drum of the washer extractor. As part of the method of the present invention, pumps are used to vary the level of water contained within the drum. The level of water in the drum thus rises to achieve a liquor ratio that is higher than the usual 4: 1 ratio used during a standing bath portion of the cycle. Liquor ratio can be defined as the ratio of the pounds (or kilograms) of water to the pounds (or kilograms) of fabric articles being washed. This fluid level rise and higher liquor ratio preferably produces a liquor ratio of between about 5: 1 and 10: 1 or higher.

A level sensor can be used to determine the water level within the drum of the washer extractor. The level sensor can determine if the water level is high enough to reach a preprogrammed ratio such as between about 5 : 1 and 10: 1 for the liquor ratio. At that time, a pump turns on. The flow rate of the pump can be varied (for example, using a frequency inverter) to maintain the desired preprogrammed liquor ratio. An advantage of the method of the present invention is that it easily provides the user with variable programable liquor ratios which is useful when processing different levels of soiled linen.

The present invention provides a method of washing fabric articles. The method includes providing a reservoir of washing liquid and a washer extractor having an interior for holding fabric articles.

The fabric articles to be washed are placed in the interior of the washer extractor.

The washing liquid is pumped from the reservoir to the washer extractor interior.

Washing chemicals are added to the washer extractor interior.

Rinse water is transmitted to the washer extractor interior within a selected time interval.

As part of the method, the liquor ratio increases. This increase can be to a value of between 5: 1 and 10: 1.

Liquid is then extracted from the washer extractor.

In one embodiment, a chemical such as alkali can be added to the wash.

In one embodiment, one of the added chemicals is a detergent.

In one embodiment, one of the added chemicals is a sour solution.

In one embodiment, water consumption is between about ½ and 2 gallons (4-16 liters) per pound (kg) of processed fabric articles.

In one embodiment, the water temperature is in excess of 100 degrees F (38 degrees C).

In one embodiment, the water temperature is in excess of 120 degrees F (49 degrees C).

In one embodiment, the time interval is about one minute.

In one embodiment, the time interval is about four minutes.

In one embodiment, the ratio of pounds or kilograms of washing liquid to pounds or kilograms of fabric articles is about 4 to 1 , plus absorbed water.

The present invention includes a method of washing fabric articles, comprising the steps of providing a reservoir of washing liquid, providing a washer extractor having an interior for holding fabric articles, placing fabric articles to be washed in the interior of the washer extractor, pumping the washing liquid from the reservoir to the washer extractor interior with a first pump, adding washing chemicals to the washer extractor interior while it is filled with washing liquid and fabric articles, transmitting rinse water to the washing extractor interior within a selected time interval with said first pump, and withdrawing the rinse water from the washer extractor interior with a second pump.

The present invention includes a washer extractor apparatus, comprising a washer extractor for holding fabric articles to be washed in a volume of a washing liquid having an associated reservoir and a washer drum with an extractor interior. A reservoir having a flow line enables transmission of washing liquid from the reservoir to the washer extractor interior. A first pump at a first elevation enables flowing of rinse fluid to the combination of fabric articles and washing liquid at a rate of between about 30 to 700 gallons (114 to 2,650 liters) per minute for a selected time interval. A second pump at a second elevation lower than said first elevation enables extraction of excess liquid from the washer extractor in order to maintain a selected volume of liquid in said interior. A controller enables a change in the volume of fluid being pumped by the second pump to a flow value that is different from the volume of fluid pumped by the first pump so that the fluid level in the drum can be changed to a new and different liquor ratio.

The present invention includes a method of washing fabric articles, comprising the steps of providing a reservoir of liquid, providing a washer extractor having an interior for holding fabric articles, placing fabric articles to be washed in the interior of the washer extractor, pumping the liquid from the reservoir to the washer extractor interior with a first pump, wherein the washer extractor interior has a liquid upper surface, adding washing chemicals to the washer extractor interior, transmitting rinse water to the washing extractor interior at a rate of between about thirty and seven hundred gallons (114 to 2,650 liters) per minute, and extracting liquid from the washer extractor, wherein excess liquid that has been added is discharged via an effluent flow line.

In one embodiment, at least some of the withdrawn liquid is re-circulated to the reservoir.

In one embodiment, the present invention further comprises are-circulation flow line connecting the washer extractor to the reservoir, wherein said re-circulation flow line enables transmission of at least some of the extracted liquid to the reservoir and wherein the said second pump is in said re-circulation flow line.

In one embodiment, at least some of the extracted liquid is re-circulated to comprise at least a part of the rinse water. In one embodiment, the present invention further comprises are-circulation flow line that conveys all or part of said excess liquid to said reservoir.

In one embodiment, the present invention further comprises placing the second pump below the first pump.

In one embodiment, the present invention further comprises placing the washer extractor interior below the first pump.

In one embodiment, the second pump is a column pump.

In one embodiment, the second pump is below the washer drum.

In one embodiment, the present invention further comprises placing a second pump below the first pump.

In one embodiment, the reservoir is refilled with rinse water.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

For a further understanding of the nature, objects, and advantages of the present invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description, read in conjunction with the following drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote like elements and wherein:

Figure 1 is a schematic diagram of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention;

Figure 2 is a schematic diagram of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention showing an initial filling step;

Figure 3 is a schematic diagram of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention showing the recirculation step;

Figure 4 is a schematic diagram of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention showing the intermediate extract step;

Figure 5 is a schematic diagram of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention showing the rinsing step;

Figure 6 is a schematic diagram of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention showing the finishing step;

Figure 7 is a schematic diagram of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention showing final extract; and

Figure 8 is an elevation view of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Figures 1-8 show a preferred embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention, designated generally by the numeral 10. Washer extractor apparatus 10 provides a machine 11 which can be in the form of a drum, extractor, or any other machine capable of washing textiles such as linens followed by an extraction of water from those textile articles.

Machine 11 provides a drum 12 interior 13 for holding fabric articles (e.g., linen articles) to be washed and rinsed. Tank or sump 14 can be used to mix fresh cold water via line 17 and fresh hot water via line 20. The mixture of hot/cold water in tank 14 can be pumped to drum 12 interior 13 via flow line 15. Tank 14 provides tank interior 16 where hot and cold source water is mixed to provide fresh water having a selected temperature.

In figures 1-7, there is a fresh cold water source 17 and a fresh hot water source 20. Flow line 18 enables fresh cold water to be added to tank or sump 14 interior 16. Flow line 19 enables fresh hot water to be added to tank or sump 14 interior 16. Each flow line 18, 19 can be provided with a valve. Flow line 18 has valve 22. Flow line 19 has valve 23. The flow lines 18, 19 feed flow line 46 which splits to flow lines 48, 49. Flow line 48 has valve 50. Flow line 49 has valve 51. Flow line 46 has flow meter 47. Tank 14 can be drained using a valved flow line 21. Line 21 has valve 55. The water in tank 14 interior 16 can be transmitted via flow line 15 to pump 24. Pump 24 discharges to flow line 26. Flow line 26 can have valve 27 and flow meter 25. The fill can be metered by an electronic flow meter. Pump 52 receives flow from drum 12 interior 13 via flow line 28. Pump 52 discharges to flow line 31 with flow meter 53. At tee fitting 30, line 31 connects to line 32. Line 32 has valve 29. Line 31 has valve 36 downstream of tee fitting 30 (see figure 1). Line 32 joins line 48 at tee fitting 39. Line 26 joins line

48 at tee fitting 54. Line 33 is a drain line having valve 34. Flow line 37 joins line 31 at tee fitting 35. Line 37 has valve 38.

Figures 2-7 show the sequence of operation or method of the present invention. In figure 2, the drum 12 interior 13 is initially filled with selected fabric articles to be cleaned, such as linen articles. Water in the tank 14 is transmitted via the flow line 15 to the drum 12 interior 13 to provide an initial liquor ratio of about four (4) pounds (1.8 kg) liquor per pound (kg) of fabric articles or linen, plus absorbed water for washing. In figure 2, valve 50 is closed. Valve 27 is open. Fresh water can be replenished in tankl4 after filling drum 12.

In figure 3, wash water is recirculated using a second pump 52. Pump 52 receives flow from drum 12 interior 13 via flow line 28. Flow line 28 discharges into flow line 31 which has valve 36. Valve 38 is also closed. Line 31 has tee fitting 30 joining line 31 to line 32. Line 32 connects to line 48 at tee fitting 39 which recirculates flow back to drum interior 13. In figure 3, pump 24 is off. Valve 27 is closed. Valves 36, 38 are closed and valve 29 is open. Valve 50 is closed. Fluid thus recirculates from interior 13 to pump 52 and then back to interior 13. Flow meter 53 can be provided in flow line 31. Water in line 48 can enter drum interior 13 via an inlet nozzle 65 on the door of drum 12. This step preferably achieves equilibrium quickly.

Figure 4 illustrates that some water can be discharged (intermediate extract) from interior 13 using line 33, opening valve 34. After the washing step of figure 3 and the extract of figure 4, rinsing water is then flowed into interior 13 via an inlet nozzle or inlet orifice (see figure 5).

Table 1 below provides examples of flow rates, quantity of rinse water and rinse time in minutes for washer extractors of differing capacity. Washer extractor capacity is given in pounds (lbs) and kilograms (kg). Quantity of rinse is given in gallons (gal) and liters. Flow rates are in gallons per minute (GPM) and liters per minute (LPM).

Rinsing or "pulse flow" rinsing is shown in figure 5. In figure 5, the pump 24 is receiving water from the operating sump or tank 14 and flow line 15. The pump 24 discharges water through flow line 26 and valve 27 to flow line 48 and then into the interior 13 of drum 12. Pump 24 can have a flow rate, for example, of High Velocity 50 to 150 GPM (568 LPM) depending upon the capacity of the washer. In figure 5, the valve 50 of flow line 48 is closed. Second pump 52 is also operating/pumping in figure 5. Pump 52 receives flow from interior 13 of drum 12 via flow line 28. The pump 52 discharges that received water into flow line 31 and then into flow line 37 at tee fitting 35. In figure 5, the valves 36 and 29 are closed so that flow from pump 52 enters flow line 37 and is discharged to sewer. Valve 38 is open in figure 5. The pump 24 provides a fixed flow rate and programmed quantity of incoming flow or liquor into the interior 13 of drum 12. The pump 52 operates at a variable flow rate to maintain the programmed liquor to fabric articles ratio of about 6 liters of water per kilogram of fabric articles (or any other desired ratio of liquor to fabric articles). In other words, the pump 52 is removing a smaller (or larger) volume of water from the interior 13 of drum 12 then is being transmitted to the drum interior 13 by the pump 24. Thus, the level of water within the drum interior 13 in figure 5 increases (or can be decreased), elevating the liquor to goods/fabric articles ratio from an initial ratio of about 4: 1 to an elevated ratio of about 6: 1, 7: 1, 8: 1 or 9: 1 (or if desired, lowering the ratio). The elevated ratio can be anywhere between about 5: 1 and 10: 1. The pumps 24, 52 can be computer programmed to maintain any desired liquor to fabric articles ratio. For example, when the level in the drum 12 reaches a liquor ratio of 6: 1, pump 52 can turn on and vary its flow rate to maintain the level. This can create an overflow rinse until a preferably programmed quantity of water is pumped. The programmed quantity of water can be typically the amount equivalent to 2 or 3 rinses.

In figure 6, finishing chemicals 40 are injected after the liquor to goods/fabric articles ratio is lowered (e.g., from about 6: 1 to about 4: 1) over time. This can be accomplished by deactiving the pump 24 and using the pump 52 to slowly lower the liquid level 45 within drum 12 interior 13 (see arrows 42, figure 6). The finishing chemicals 40 are injected (see arrow 41, figure 6) after the liquor ratio of about 4: 1 is achieved. In figure 6, water discharged from interior 13 into flow line 28 is pumped using pump 52 to flow line 31 and then to flow line 37. Valves 29, 36 are closed. Valve 38 is open.

Figure 7 represents a final extract step after rinsing. In figure 7, the disposition of final extract liquor is decided based on chemical content. Water can either be discharged through flow line 33 to sewer or alternatively recycled, pumped back to sump 14 via flow lines 28 and 31. That saved, extracted water of figure 7 can then be used during the next washing of fabric articles (figures 1, 2). The flow meters 25, 47, 53 can be used to monitor flow and thus enable maintenance of the desired flow rates of pumps 24, 52 and the desired liquid levels within interior 13. In order to extract and recycle maximum rinse water from the fabric articles in figure 7, pump 52 can be a column pump. In figure 8, column pump 60 has pumping unit 61 driven by an electric motor 62 receiving water via flow line 28. Pumping unit 61 is connected to electric motor 62 via a vertical pump shaft 63 housed in a cylindrical housing 64. Such column pumps 52 are commercially available. The pumping unit 61 is able to "wait" for trickles of water to fill it toward the end of extraction of water during the extraction cycle. Thus, final minute amounts of water are recycled as the pumping unit is repeatedly but at intervals filled, primed and the water pumped.

The comparison between a Standard washer and a Pulse Rinse washer (single bath; light soil; no bleach) is seen in the following tables:

The conventional formula uses fresh water for all fills; each rinse is drained to a sewer and then refilled with fresh water, using extra fresh water and more time; and the extracted water goes to a sewer. The PulseRinse formula reuses water for all fills; combines all three drains into one step, therefore saving time and water; and the water from the sour and extract step are reclaimed.

The comparison between a Standard washer and a Pulse Rinse washer (heavy soil; with bleach) is seen in the following table:

The conventional method requires 11 fill/drain steps, whereas the PulseRinse method requires 2 fill/drain steps.

The following tables show a comparison of parameters for different washing programs and different types of soil:

All measurements disclosed herein are at standard temperature and pressure, at sea level on Earth, unless indicated otherwise. All materials used or intended to be used in a human being are biocompatible, unless indicated otherwise.

The foregoing embodiments are presented by way of example only; the scope of the present invention is to be limited only by the following claims.