Water cooler abstract
The instant invention is a disposable water cooler bottle filtration
device. The filtration device is situated within the well of a conventional
water cooler and employs an elongated tube with a centrally disposed
piercing tip. The tip provides for the puncturing of the water bottle
cap when the water bottle is placed thereon. Water flowing through
the tube passes through a sub-micron filter capable of removing
bacteria. Optionally activated carbon may be placed within the support
structure providing removal of chlorine and known carcinogenic formed
by chlorine combined by-products.
Water cooler claims
What is claimed is:
1. A filtration device for placement in a water cooler well comprising:
a support structure having a base shaped to fit within a water cooler
well formed by a substantially flat wall with a tapered side wall
sealingly coupled to said base; a tube means centrally located in
said support base having a first end sealingly coupled to said base
and a second end projecting upwardly from said base forming an aperture
therebetween, said second end having a chamfered leading edge with
an opening to said aperture, said tube means piercing the cap of
an inverted filled water bottle wherein water flows through said
aperture of said tube means; a filter receiving cavity within said
support structure positioned in fluid communication with said tube
means aperture; and a filter means receivably secured within said
cavity to said base, said filter means fluidly communicating with
said tube means thereby providing for the filtration of water or
air entering the water cooler through said aperture.
2. The filtration device according to claim 1 including a means
for securing said support structure to a water cooler, thereby sealing
said structure to a storage reservoir permitting aspiration only
through said tube.
3. The filtration device according to claim 1 wherein said side
wall is conically shaped having a first diameter adjacent said base
less than a second diameter formed along an upper edge of said side
wall, said side wall defining a circular shape when viewed normal
to said base.
4. The filtration device according to claim 3 wherein said means
for sealing includes a gasket formed along a lower surface of said
5. The filtration device according to claim 3 wherein said seal
is defined as gasket formed along a lower surface of a peripheral
lip located along an upper edge of said side wall.
6. The filtration device according to claim 1 wherein said filter
means is a sub-micron filter positioned in said receiving cavity
within said base.
7. The filtration device according to claim 1 including a peripheral
lip extending outwardly along an upper edge of said side wall.
8. The filtration device according to claim 1 wherein said filtration
means includes activated carbon within said apertured tube means.
9. The filtration device recited in claim 1 wherein said support
structure is constructed from plastic.
10. A filtration device for placement in a water cooler well comprising:
a one piece plastic support structure having a base shaped to fit
within a water cooler well formed by a substantially flat bottom
wall sealingly coupled to a conically shaped side wall having a
first diameter adjacent said base less than a second diameter formed
along an upper edge of said side wall; a tube centrally located
and projecting upwardly from said support base having a first end
sealingly coupled to said base and a chamfered second end forming
a piercing tip with an aperture therebetween, said tube piercing
the cap of an inverted filled water bottle wherein water flows through
said aperture of said tube; a sub-micron filter secured within said
base and fluidly communicated with said aperture of said tube; means
for securing said filtration device to a water cooler; wherein water
flows through said aperture of said tube and through said filter
providing for the filtration of water or air entering the water
cooler through said aperture.
11. The filtration device according to claim 10 includes a gasket
placed along a lower surface of said base for sealing said device
to a storage reservoir in the water cooler.
12. The filtration device according to claim 10 wherein seal is
defined as a gasket formed along a lower surface of a peripheral
lip located along an upper edge of said side wall.
13. The filtration device according to claim 10 including a peripheral
lip extending outwardly along an upper edge of said side wall.
14. The filtration device according to claim 10 wherein said filtration
device further includes activated carbon within said apertured tube.
Water cooler description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The instant invention is related to water coolers and more particularly
to a filtration device for use with conventional water coolers.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Drinking water is a commodity that can no longer be taken for granted.
Rain water typically provided the purest drinking water; however,
pure water has the ability to dissolve most substances. Polluted
air further results in aggressive water capable of dissolving more
minerals, thereby leading to a hydrologic cycle that continues to
produce excessively polluted water. As rain water falls it will
pick up impurities including gases which may further increase its
ability to dissolve other substances. As the water reaches the ground
partly dissolves anything that it touches including rock providing
the following constituents: gypsum-calcium sulfate, limestone-calcium
carbonate, fluorspar-calcium fluoride, magnetite-iron or iron sulfide,
magnetite-magnesium carbonate, and so forth. This water is collected
and distributed as tap water to the masses for daily use including
Health conscious consumers no longer trust tap water and seek treated
water for purposes of consumption. The most recognized treated water
container is the 5-gallon water bottle delivered to a home or office.
Water bottles are used in combination with a water cooler mechanism
providing chilled or heated water on demand. The water cooler positions
the water container in an inverted position allowing water displacement
According to data collected by the International Bottled Water
Association (IBWA), the number of gallons of water flowing through
water coolers doubled from two hundred seventy million in 1985 to
more than four hundred sixty million in 1991 with estimates close
to six hundred million by the year 1995. Part of the increase is
no doubt due to the consumers concern about the safety of drinking
A problem with bottled water is that, even though the water may
be more healthy than tap water, many water coolers harbor unhealthy,
high levels of bacteria that can cause nausea and diarrhea. In the
early 1990's researchers from Boston's Northeastern University checked
the bacterial content of water from ten randomly selected water
coolers and found in each case a bacteria level that reached at
least two thousand potentially harmful organisms for every thousandth
of a liter of water. In some water coolers, particularly those used
frequently, counts exceeded one million harmful organisms. The researchers
found little or no bacteria as a result of water delivery. It was
uncovered that the organisms from each new bottle of water adhere
to the cooler's reservoir or the well in which the bottle sits.
A number of devices are directed to address this problem. These
devices are mainly directed to the use of sealed bottled water systems
having filtered air input. The prior art devices do not address
the hundreds of thousands of water coolers currently in the marketplace.
U.S. Pat. No. 5273083 discloses an improved water bottle cap
and valve assembly which allows for the installation and removal
of partially filled water bottles. The device provides for a sealable
cap that is opened and closed upon placement into the water cooler
well. The sealable cap is complex making it expensive to manufacture
and requiring an associated valve member within the water cooler.
U.S. Pat. No. 5328059 discloses a bottled water system for use
with water coolers. A piercing valve engages the top of a water
bottle with a biasing valve in a closed position until piercing
is accomplished. An external valve mechanism allows for insertion
of treated air to prevent airborne bacteria from entering the water
storage area. This invention is unique in that it addresses the
need for air filtration but requires an expensive mechanism that
requires a complex alteration or replacement of water coolers.
U.S. Pat. No. 5297700 sets forth a water cooler having a removable
reservoir for ease of cleaning purpose. This teaching is most beneficial
as it enhances a water cooler by providing access to the primary
breeding ground for bacteria. However, this invention does not address
existing water coolers and further utilizes a refrigeration system
of limited coils making it difficult to efficiently cool a large
quantity of water.
U.S. Pat. No. 5366619 discloses yet another water cooler directed
to elimination of bacteria by injecting ozone into the water reservoir.
Ozone, being a highly volatile oxygen derivative, requires precise
control as a minute amount of ozone will be ineffective and over
ozonization can be harmful upon ingestion.
Thus, what is lacking in the art is an inexpensive filtration device
capable of treating existing water cooler devices for lessening
the opportunity for bacteria growth within the storage container.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The instant invention is a disposable filtration device for placement
within the well of conventional water coolers. The device includes
a bottle cap piercing mechanism and media filtration for air and
water. Filtration inhibits bacteria from entering the storage reservoir.
The device is defined by a circular shaped support structure sized
to fit within the well of a water cooler, the structure having a
centrally disposed tube capable of piercing the cap of a water bottle
when a bottle is placed thereon. In this manner, the water bottle
need not be modified or have the cap removed. The bottle is maintained
in a bacteria free state by leaving the cap on the bottle. When
the water cooler requires for bottle replacement a new bottle is
simply inverted and placed over the piecing mechanism, the weight
of the water filled bottle is sufficient to cause the insertion
tube to puncture the cap allowing access to the water.
A sub-micron filter element capable of prohibiting bacteria passage
is located in the lower portion of the support structure. The filter
element operates as a barrier for airborne bacteria. When the water
bottle is removed the filter inhibits bacteria from entering the
The upper portion of the support structure, preferably the aperture
area of the tube, may include activated carbon filtration media.
Activated carbon is capable of removing various water contaminants
that impart unpleasant tastes to water such as chlorine, trithalomethanes,
fluoride, and other carcinogenic constituents. Such items may be
found in water bottles filled from areas lacking proper post-treatment
facilities. For instance, unbeknownst to the consumer, many water
bottles are simply filled with water drawn from a municipal water
supply and simply filtered to remove floating objects. In this manner
a filter including activated carbon enhances the bottled water.
In addition, the filter further allows an individual to use their
own municipal water supply. The slow flow rate through the media
is beneficial by allowing maximum contact with the activated carbon,
having only gravity flow, thereby preventing dislodgment of the
carbon passed at a high flow rate or under pressure.
In operation, the water bottle is removed and the storage reservoir
disinfected by use of a common disinfectant, such as sodium hypochlorite,
followed by placement of the filtration device into the well of
the water cooler. The storage reservoir is then drained of the disinfectant.
Air displacing the disinfectant is drawn through the filtration
device with airborne bacteria estopped. The result is a storage
reservoir that is free of bacteria with the air that displaced the
disinfectant lacking bacteria influx thus providing a sanitized
water cooler. A water bottle is then placed over the filtration
device for insertion into the water cooler well, the cap of the
water bottle is pierced allowing water to flow through the filtration
device and into the storage reservoir.
If the water includes bacteria, the sub-micron filter is capable
of stopping entrance into the storage reservoir. However, it is
noted that over a period of time bacteria are capable of growing
through the filter. For this reason, the device is made of a low
cost material allowing for disposability.
One embodiment of the invention utilizes a piercing tube made of
a smooth-contour shaped material wherein removal of an empty bottle
allows the device to remain in position. This allows the device
to be used repeatedly under certain conditions. Alternatively, the
tube may frictionally engage the water bottle cap wherein removal
of the water bottle further removes the filtration device. This
allows for ease of disposal and further acts as a reminder for an
individual to disinfect the storage container on a more frequent
Thus, an objective of the instant invention is to provide an inexpensive,
disposable filtration device for use with conventional water coolers
to inhibit bacteria from entering the storage reservoir and provide
a piercing mechanism to allow insertion of a water bottle without
removal of the bottle cap.
Yet another objective of the instant invention is to teach the
use of a sub-micron filter to prevent air and water borne bacteria
from entering a sanitized storage reservoir.
Yet another objective of the instant invention is to provide for
the use of activated carbon media for removal of chlorine and related
by-product carcinogenic matters for conventional water coolers.
Other objectives and advantages of this invention will become apparent
from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying
drawings wherein are set forth by way of illustration and example,
certain embodiments of this invention. The drawings constitute a
part of the specification and include exemplary embodiments of the
present invention and illustrate various objects and features thereof.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of a water cooler system having an inverted
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view of the instant invention;
FIG. 3 is a partial cross-sectional side view of the aforementioned
water cooler with the instant invention positioned within the water
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
Although the invention will be described in terms of a specific
embodiment, it will be readily apparent to those skilled in this
art that various modifications, rearrangements and substitutions
can be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.
The scope of the invention is defined by the claims appended hereto.
Now referring to FIG. 1 set forth is a conventional water cooler
10 having reservoir 12 fluidly coupled to spigot 14 providing a
drain to the reservoir 12 used for drawing water. A tray 16 is positioned
beneath the spigot 14 to catch excess water should a cup be improperly
placed or prematurely removed from beneath the spigot. Water bottle
18 is placed over the water cooler 10 and into an inverted position
allowing gravity feed into the reservoir 12. Water drawn from the
reservoir 12 is replenished until all the water is drawn out of
the spigot 14.
Replacement of the water bottle typically requires a cap located
on the end 20 of the water bottle 18 to be removed before the bottle
is inverted. As the bottle is inverted, it is not uncommon for water
to spill over the water cooler further allowing airborne bacteria
and other contaminants to enter the reservoir thereby creating a
breeding ground for bacteria. The water bottle 18 fits within well
22 having a conical shaped area for proper positioning and support
of the bottle 18. No attachments are necessary, for the weight of
the water filled bottle maintains the bottle in position. When the
bottle is depleted it is removed wherein a new water bottle is substituted
by first removing the bottle cap before placing the bottle on the
well 22 for use in filling the reservoir 12.
Referring to FIG. 2 set forth is the instant invention which consists
of a support structure 30 having a circular base 32 having a substantially
flat wall with a tapered side wall sealingly coupled to a continuous
side wall 34 coupled to the base and capable of insertion into a
well of a conventional water cooler. Support structure 30 is constructed
from a single piece of rigid material, preferably plastic with a
centrally disposed tube 37 positioned in the middle of base 32.
Tube 37 has a side wall of nominal thickness forming an aperture
35 with a chamfer end 38 capable of piercing the plastic end caps
on conventional water bottles. Aperture 35 fluidly communicates
the end 38 through the tube to cavity 40 used for housing a sub-micron
Activated carbon 44 may also be placed within the aperture 35 wherein
water entering the aperture percolates past the activated carbon
44 for removal of chlorine, trithalomethanes, polychlorinated and
related chlorine compound items. Filter 42 operates to maintain
the activated carbon in position as well as prevent particles from
flowing through and into the reservoir. A screen or filter element
may also be placed along the upper portion of the aperture to prevent
a backflow of carbon into the water bottle.
As shown in FIG. 3 the water cooler 10 has the support structure
30 placed within well 22 wherein tube 37 having chamfered end 38
is available for piercing a water bottle cap placed over the tube
37 allowing water to flow through aperture 35 into storage reservoir
12 for subsequent dispersion through spigot 14. A perimeter rim
46 of the support structure 30 frictionally engages an upper surface
48 of the water cooler 10 providing a seal around the chamber so
as to inhibit air flow. A gasket may be used to further enhance
the sealing effect of the device. The perimeter rim 46 further provides
a gripping surface to allow an individual to hold the support structure
30 in position when a water bottle is removed or to be used more
than once. The lower surface 50 of the device 30 may be used to
position a sealable O-ring or the like gasket material providing
a sealing for the reservoir.
In operation, reservoir 12 is filled with chlorinated tap water
to destroy bacteria. The device 30 is then placed into well 22 wherein
spigot 14 is open and the water in the reservoir drained through
the spigot providing proper sterilization of both the reservoir
and spigot. With the device 30 in position, air drawn through aperture
36 passes filter 42 providing bacteria free air for displacement
of the water held in reservoir 12. A water bottle may then be placed
over the tube 37 with the cap in position, wherein the chamfered
tip 38 is available for piercing the end of the cap, thereby placing
a portion of the tube 37 into the neck of a water bottle. Water
flows through aperture 36 past filter 42 for filling of reservoir
12. As water is removed from spigot 14 air flows back through aperture
36 for displacement into the water bottle situated thereon. As previously
mentioned, the tube 37 may contain activated carbon for removal
of chlorinated substances improving the taste and color of the water.
It is to be understood that while we have illustrated and described
certain forms of our invention, it is not to be limited to the specific
forms or arrangement of parts herein described and shown. It will
be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes may
be made without departing from the scope of the invention and the
invention is not to be considered limited to what is shown in the
drawings and described in the specification.