Water softener abstract
A water softener employs a vessel, a distributor with a manifold
body associated to said vessel and a valve control device. A control
unit programs operation of the softener. An actuator unit has a
cylinder divided into a first chamber and a second chamber. The
actuator unit is adapted to move a spool to define different flow
ways, for water. The first chamber communicates directly with a
water inlet pipe, and the second chamber communicates with the inlet
pipe through a valve and an outlet.
Water softener claims
What is claimed is:
1. A water softener comprising: a vessel for containing a softening
substance; a distributor having a manifold body associated with
said vessel, the manifold having an inlet pipe for water to be treated,
an outlet pipe for treated water and a plurality of inner ducts,
a spool having flow ways slidable in said manifold body, the flow
ways selectively intersecting the inner ducts; and an actuator unit
for operating the spool; a plurality of valves positioned in a valve
body adjacent the spool, a control device positioned adjacent the
manifold body including a motor and mechanical members adapted to
control opening and closing of the valves during various operation
stages of said softener; a control unit for programming execution
of operative cycles of said softener; an actuator unit comprising
a cylinder fixed to said spool and sliding in a barrel whose volume
is divided into a first chamber portion and a second chamber portion
opposite to said first chamber, said actuator unit being adapted
to move said spool to define different mutual positions of said
flow ways relative to said inner ducts, each position being adapted
to set different water paths; wherein said control unit comprises
interface means and a processing unit for data inputted through
said interface means, said data being adapted to set the opening
and closing times of said valves, said water softener comprises
a saline solution tank containing a fluid regenerating said softening
substance and a seeping way connecting said distributor to said
saline solution tank; and in wherein first chamber of said cylinder
has at least one way directly communicating with said inlet pipe
and said second chamber has at least a first water feeding way communicating
with the inlet pipe through a valve and at least a second seeping
way for water outlet.
2. The softener according to claim 1 wherein the area of the surface
of said cylinder defining said first chamber is lower than the area
of the surface of said cylinder defining said second chamber.
3. The softener according to claim 1 wherein said cylinder has
an end formed with a central hole and the actuator unit is coupled
to said spool through the central hole.
4. The softener according to claim 1 wherein in at least one of
said positions of the spool, there is a direct communication between
said inlet pipe and said outlet pipe.
5. The softener according to claim 1 wherein in at least one of
said positions of said spool, said flow ways communicate with an
interior of the vessel with a regenerating fluid of said softening
6. The softener according to claim 1 including a control valve
located between said first way and the inlet pipe.
7. The softener according to claim 1 wherein said mechanical members
comprise a cam shaft moved by mechanisms.
8. The softener according to claim 7 wherein said mechanisms comprise
en electric motor controlled by a control unit.
9. The softener according to claim 1 wherein said interface means
comprises a keyboard.
10. The softener according to claim 1 wherein said processing unit
comprises an electronic processing unit.
11. The softener according to claim 1 wherein said softening substance
consists of ionic resin.
12. The softener according to claim 1 further comprising a second
tank, and wherein said second seeping way has a flow reducer acting
as a valve for said second tank.
13. The softener according to claim 1 wherein said opening and
closing valves comprise three valves for opening and closing selectively
in accordance with the operation stage of said cycle.
14. The softener according to claim 1 wherein the cylinder defining
said first chamber portion has a first surface area, and the second
chamber portion has a second surface area smaller than the first
15. The softener according to claim 1 wherein said actuator unit
is coupled to said spool through a central hole formed in said first
16. The softener according to claim 1 wherein the inside of said
vessel communicates with a regenerating fluid of said softening
substance in at least one of said positions of said spool through
said flow ways.
17. A water softener having operative cycles comprising: a control
unit for programming execution of operative cycles of the softener;
a vessel containing a water softening substance; a distributor including
a manifold body having an inlet pipe in communication with the vessel
for carrying water to be treated thereto, an outlet pipe in communication
with the vessel for carrying treated water therefrom, the manifold
body has a plurality of inner ducts; a spool slideably mounted in
the manifold body along an axis, said spool having an end and flow
ways for intercepting selected ones of the inner ducts in accordance
with the position of the spool in the manifold body; and an actuator
for slideably operating the spool in the body; a control device
having a valve body mounted adjacent to end in flow communication
with the manifold body including a plurality of valves and a cam
shaft mounted on a cain shaft axis parallel to the spool axis, a
plurality of cams carried by the cam shaft, each for engaging a
corresponding valve; and a motor for driving the cam shaft; an actuator
unit comprising a cylinder coupled to the end of the spool, and
being secured to the manifold body for sliding the spool between
first and second positions, said actuator having a volume divided
into a first chamber and a second chamber opposite to said first
chamber, said actuator for moving the spool to define different
positions of said flow ways relative to said inner ducts, each position
being adapted to set different water paths for the softener; and
wherein said control unit including a data processor and an interface
coupled thereto for entering data in the processor for setting opening
and closing times of said valves; and a saline solution tank for
containing a fluid regenerating said softening substance, and a
channel connecting said distributor to said saline solution tank;
and wherein the first chamber of said cylinder has a channel directly
communicating with said inlet pipe and the second chamber has at
least a first water feeding way communicating with the inlet pipe
through one of said valves and a second channel for water outlet.
Water softener description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a water softener, particularly
adapted to be installed upstream the home distribution network.
It is well known that the percentage of calcium in the water supplied
by the public distribution network, is variable from one place to
another and sometimes with time, but such a percentage is generally
higher than the optimal quantity required by the human body.
It also known that an excessive quantity of calcium like an excessive
deficiency, may cause troubles for the health of the users, but
also for the hydraulic devices through which calcium rich water
is flowing. More particularly an excessive quantity of calcium dissolved
in water causes deposit of lime layers inside the pipes and in the
long run said scaling cause pipe clogging and decrease of performances
of said devices, sometimes requiring replacement of the corresponding
element or the entire device.
In order to remove these drawbacks water undergoes a softening
treatment generally consisting in filtering water with special softening
substances such as ionic resins blocking the calcium ion.
More particularly said ion exchanging resins convert calcium and
magnesium salts, tending to be deposited with water heating, into
sodium salts that on the contrary remain in solution.
Indeed, when the cationic resins are strong in sodium cycle, this
free base is sodium saturated; said resins by natural affinity,
when crossed by hard water, capture the calcium ion and release
the sodium ion generating said exchange phenomenon that can be considered
In such a process the resins release sodium up to its exhaustion,
gradually losing their filtering feature. In this situation the
resins must undergo a regeneration treatment by which they are supplied
again with sodium, substantially undergoing the opposite process
According to the prior art, regeneration generally consists firstly
in dissolving the captured calcium through a solution generally
comprising sodium chloride dissolved in water, and then removing
calcium washing the regenerated resin.
In order to carry out such a treatment special softeners are used,
installed upstream the distribution circuit of water to be treated
and allow to control the level of water hardness.
The known softeners generally comprise a vessel containing the
ionic resin associated with a distributor comprising a manifold
body in which there is an inlet pipe for water to be treated and
an outlet pipe for treated water.
Inside the manifold body there is a plurality of inner ducts that
can be intercepted through flow ways belonging to a spool sliding
inside said manifold body and moved by an actuator unit.
More particularly the actuator unit moves the spool to define different
mutual positions between the flow ways and the inner ducts, each
position being adapted to define different water paths.
The different spool positions therefore define the different operative
stages of the device, comprising as above stated, a working or processing
stage in which water is being filtered and delivered to the outlet
duct, a regeneration stage of the ionic resin and a washing stage
of said resin.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to a first known embodiment, the actuator is hydraulic
and consists of a cylinder fixed to the spool and sliding in a barrel
whose volume is divided into a first and a second chamber opposite
to each other. Each chamber has a feeding way of pressurized liquid
and a discharge way each provided with corresponding valves.
The movement of the cylinder corresponding to said stages is obtained
by causing the pressurized liquid to enter alternatively the first
and the second pressurized chamber by opening and closing the feeding
and discharge valves.
In this way, indeed, pressure of liquid acting on the cylinder
surfaces is causing movement of the spool in either direction.
A first drawback of the described prior art consists in that four
control valves are required for operation of the spool, each valve
being adapted to open or close the liquid feeding or discharge ways
in each pressurized chamber.
A further drawback consists in that said valves are not very reliable.
Another drawback is that a high number of feeding and discharge
valves increases considerably the likelihood of device failure.
The object of the present invention is to provide a water softener
overcoming said drawbacks and limitations.
More particularly a first object of the invention is to provide
a softener that is more reliable than the prior art softeners of
equivalent features, conditions and characteristics being equal.
Another object is to provide a device that is cheaper and stronger,
the performances being equal.
A further object of the invention is to provide a softener reducing
to the minimum the amount of valves required for its operation.
A last but not least object is to provide a softener having an
actuator unit which is simpler and more reliable relative to the
known actuator units.
Said objects are attained by a water softener that according to
the main claim comprises: at least a vessel containing a softening
substance; at least a distributor consisting of a manifold body
associated to said vessel in which there is at least an inlet pipe
for water to be treated, at least an outlet pipe for treated water
and a plurality of inner ducts to be intercepted through flow ways
belonging to a spool sliding inside said manifold body; at least
a control device comprising mechanical members adapted to control
opening and closing of valves during the various stages of operation
of said device; a control unit for programming and executing the
operation cycles of said control device; at least an actuator unit
comprising a cylinder fixed to said spool and sliding in a barrel
whose volume is divided into at least a first and a second opposite
chambers, said actuator unit being adapted to move said spool to
define different mutual positions of said flow ways relative to
said inner ducts, each position being adapted to define different
paths for said water; said softener being characterized in that
said first chamber is provided with at least a way directly communicating
with said inlet duct and said second chamber has at least a first
water feeding way communicating with the inlet pipe through a valve
and at least a second seeping way for water outlet.
Advantageously the device of the invention has a double acting
cylinder with a number of valves lower than the prior art devices
of equivalent type.
Consequently the reduction of the number of valves required for
operation of the device gives a greater reliability to said device.
Still advantageously with the device of the invention the mechanisms
required for its operation are considerably reduced.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The foregoing objects and advantages will be better understood
by reading the following description of a preferred embodiment given
as an illustrative and non-limiting example with reference to the
accompanying sheets of drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a cross sectional view of the device of the present invention
in a first working configuration;
FIG. 2 is a sectional plan view of the device of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of the device of FIG. 1 in a different
FIG. 4 is a sectional plan view of the device of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view of the device of FIG. 1 in another
FIG. 6 is a sectional plan view of the device of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken along line VII--VII of a portion
of the device of FIG. 2;
FIG. 8 is a sectional view of the portion of the device shown in
FIG. 7 in another working configuration; and
FIG. 9 is a longitudinal sectional view taken along line IX--IX
of a further element of the device of FIG. 1.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The water softener of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1
and 2 where is generally indicated with reference numeral 1; the
device comprises a vessel 2 containing a softening substance 3 and
a distributor 4 consisting of a manifold body 5 associated to vessel
In the manifold body 5 there is an inlet pipe 8 for water to be
treated, an outlet pipe 9 for treated water and a plurality of inner
ducts generally indicated with numeral 10.
Said inner ducts 10 made on the manifold body 5 can be intercepted
through flow ways 11 belonging to a spool 6.
The spool 6 is internally and slidingly coupled to the manifold
body 5 and is moved along axis 51 by an actuator unit 7.
More particularly the actuator unit 7 moves the spool 6 alternatively
from a first position shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 to a second position
shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.
To each position of spool 6 different mutual positions of the flow
ways 11 relative to the inner ducts 10 are corresponding, thus carrying
out different water paths.
It is to be particularly noted that the active paths are emphasized
in the Figures of the drawings by the presence of liquid shown with
As to the actuator unit 7 it comprises a cylinder 12 fixed to
the spool 6 and
sliding inside a barrel 13.
The cylinder 12 divides the volume defined by the barrel 13 into
a first chamber 14 to be seen in FIGS. 1 and 2 and a second chamber
15 opposite to the first chamber 14 and to be seen in FIGS. 3 and
The invention provides that the first chamber 14 has a way 16 directly
communicating with the inlet pipe 8 that is without interposition
of valves opening and closing communication with the inlet pipe
8. Moreover, according to the invention the second chamber 15 has
a first way 17 communicating with the inlet pipe 8 through valve
19a and a second seeping outlet way 18.
On the manifold body 5 there is also a plurality of control valves
indicated with numerals 19a, 19b and 19c, adapted to regulate water
flow inside the above mentioned different paths.
More particularly it is to be noted the control valve 19a intercepting
the feeding way 17 of pressurized water for chamber 15.
Opening and closing of control valves 19a, 19b and 19c is obtained
through a control device generally indicated with numeral 20 comprising
mechanical members 21 motion mechanisms 24 and a control unit 70.
The mechanical members 21 comprise a cam shaft 22 causing opening
or closing of valves 19a, 19b and 19c through levers 22a co-operating
by contact with the stem of each said valve.
The cam shaft 22 is rotated by the motion mechanisms 24 generally
consisting of an electric motor controlled by the control unit 70.
The control unit 70 comprises interface means preferably consisting
of a keyboard 71 through which data are inputted that are then processed
by processing means such as microprocessors, to control the movements
of the spool 6 and rotation speed of cam shaft 22.
The rotation speed of the cam shaft 22 defines the opening and
closing times of each valve 19a, 19b and 19c and consequently duration
of the various working stages of the device.
More particularly as previously mentioned, said device generally
provides for three different working stages: a working or active
cycle stage, shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 wherein valves 19a, 19b and
19c are all closed; a resin regeneration stage shown in FIGS. 3
and 4 wherein valves 19a and 19c are open; and a resin washing stage
shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 wherein valves 19a and 19b are open. Active
In the active cycle stage the cam shaft 22 is stationary and the
position of the spool 6 is shown in FIG. 2 such as water entering
from the inlet pipe 8 is first conveyed inside the vessel 2 following
the path indicated in FIG. 1 by arrow 30 and then to the outlet
pipe 9 through pipe 27 following the path indicated by arrow 31.
Therefore water undergoes a treatment by the softening substance
3 consisting for example of ionic resins. In this stage valves 19a,
19b and 19c are closed.
In such a configuration the device provides also for the possibility
of supplying to the outlet duct a variable percentage of untreated
water so as to keep the contents of calcium in the outgoing water
at least at the lower limit of the values requested by the regulations
presently in force.
This is carried out through a control unit of the hardness of treated
water, generally indicated with numeral 50 in FIGS. 7 and 8. Such
a unit generally consists of a duct 31 connecting the inlet 8 to
the outlet 9 through the slit 32 uncovered by screw 33 inserted
into a seat vertically arranged in a stationary gate 34.
When the softener lowers the contents of calcium in the treated
water below the limits allowed by law, the direct flow of a limited
quantity of water coming from the inlet 8 through opening 32 allows
addition of non-softened water, that is untreated water to that
coming out from pipe 9 so as to balance again the calcium contents.
When the softener goes to the regeneration stage, the cam shaft
22 rotates until valves 19a and 19c are opened. Opening of valve
19a allows to convey water present at inlet 8 to the second chamber
15. Filling of this chamber 15 and the consequent emptying of the
opposite chamber 14 is made easier by the fact that surface 12b
of cylinder 12 facing the chamber 15 is greater that surface 12a
of the cylinder facing the opposite chamber 14 since the area of
the surface 12a is reduced relative to surface 12b by the surface
of the spool 6 in contact with the cylinder 12.
This has the consequence of an unbalance of the opposite forces
acting on cylinder 12 generated by pressure existing inside the
chambers 14 15.
This unbalance causes the spool 6 to move until it reaches the
stable position shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.
In this condition pressure in both chambers 14 and 15 is the same
and equal to the pressure of water existing at inlet 8 of the device.
At the same time the inlet pipe 8 is put in direct communication
with the outlet pipe through the by-passed duct 40 that can be seen
in detail in FIGS. 3 and 4 so as to keep the hydraulic circuit downstream
the device fed event during the regeneration stage.
In order to carry out regeneration of the resin, the control unit
puts in communication by opening a first auxiliary duct, the ionic
resin with a regenerating fluid generally consisting of a saline
solution contained in a second tank 41 called brine vat, that can
be seen in FIG. 6 and shown in detail in FIG. 9.
The regenerating fluid enters vessel 2 through pipe 27 along direction
34 and than flows upwards in vessel 2 according to the direction
indicated by arrows 35 in FIG. 3 thus enhancing advantageously
Withdrawal of the saline solution contained in tank 41 occurs through
a known system using a venturi nozzle generally indicated with numeral
42 and shown in FIG. 9.
When regeneration is completed, the control unit closes valve 19c
and actuates the control valve 19b opening a second auxiliary pipe
hydraulically connected to the inlet pipe 8 so as to create a water
flow washing the resin 3 fully removing calcium dissolved in the
In this case water flows in a direction opposite to the preceding
one, namely downwards as indicated with numeral 60 in FIG. 5 so
as to pack advantageously the ionic resins.
When washing is completed the control unit closes again valves
19a and 19b returning the spool to the starting position.
Closure of the control valve 19a causes a predominance of the force
acting in the direction opposite to the preceding one. Water present
in the second chamber 15 is evacuated through the second seeping
way 18 thus allowing movement of cylinder 12.
It is also to be noted that on the seeping way 18 there is an adjustable
flow reducer 181 acting as valve of the second tank 41. It is well
known that the flow reducer allows to vary the pressure that the
liquid must reach in the second chamber to cause its discharge through
the second way 18.
Advantageously water coming out through the second seeping way
18 is conveyed to the second tank 41 so as to restore the level
of liquid and prepare the saline solution required for the subsequent
As to the spool 6 it is coupled to cylinder 12 through a central
hole made on the cylinder 12 at the first surface 12a.
The installation of the device requires that it is hydraulically
connected upstream the home water distribution circuit.
More particularly the inlet pipe 8 is hydraulically connected with
the public water distribution network while the outlet pipe 9 is
connected to the delivery duct of the home hydraulic circuit.
After connection of the device in the hydraulic circuit, the operator
inputs through the keyboard 71 the configuration data relating to
the calcium percentage wanted in the treated water, said data being
processed by the control unit 70.
The device will then start to operate automatically supplying a
water output with the inputted chemical characteristics.
It is also to be noted that through the keyboard 71 it is also
possible to input the data relating to the regeneration conditions.
More particularly the device allows to input the regeneration stage
at regular time intervals or as a function of the chemical characteristics
of the produced softened water.
The device 1 is also provided with a disinfestation unit of a kind
known per se that will not be described in detail.
It is also to be pointed out that the choice to have different
areas of the surfaces 12a, 12b of the cylinder 12 allows to simplify
the device control hydraulic circuit thus eliminating the control
valves of the chambers 14 and 15 so as to decrease the cost of the
The simplification of the hydraulic circuit allows also to reduce
the likelihood of device failure giving a greater reliability in
comparison with devices using actuation systems of known type.
From the foregoing it is clear that the device of the present invention
attains the above mentioned objects.
Although the invention was described with reference to the accompanying
sheets of drawings, it may undergo modifications in the constructional
stage, however still falling within the same inventive principle
stated in the appended claims and therefore covered by the present