Water softener abstract
A water softening system utilizing a reusable, self-contained water
softener device for an agitator type clothes washer. The water softener
device includes a quantity of cation exchange resin contained in
a torus shaped jacket formed of a closely woven porous, synthetic-fiber
fabric. The water softener device is placed in the clothes washer
in association with the agitator such that water will be circulated
through the resin to effect a hardness reduction thereof by the
removal of calcium and/or magnesium ions. After the softening operation,
the water softener is removed from the washer and detergent and
soiled fabrics are placed therein. The resin is then regenerated
by treatment of the device with a salt solution.
Water softener claims
What is claimed is:
1. The method of softening water for a clothes washer having a
tub, an agitator, a pump to draw liquid from the tub, and a conduit
connected to the pump for selectively returning liquid to the tub
comprising the following steps;
a. placing a package of cation exchange resin, the package being
permeable to water, into the tub and around the agitator,
b. introducing water into the tub,
c. operating the agitator and pump whereby water will be circulated
through the resin by means of said pump and conduit for removing
calcium and magnesium ions from the water to effect a reduction
of hardness of the water,
d. removing the package of cation exchange resin from the tub,
e. placing the package of cation exchange resin in a container,
f. supplying regenerating solution to the container to immerse
the package and at a rate sufficient to effect replacement of calcium
ions on the resin by sodium ions, and
g. removing the solution carrying evolved calcium ions from the
container while maintaining the package immersed.
2. The method of softening water for a clothes washer as recited
in claim 1 wherein the step of supplying the regenerating solution
includes dripping the solution into the container by means of a
tank having a plurality of small orifices in the base thereof.
3. The method of softening water for a clothes washer as recited
in claim 1 wherein the step of placing the package of cation exchange
resin into the tub follows the step of introducing water into the
Water softener description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a water-softening system utilizing
a reusable, self-contained water softener device and more particularly,
to such a water softener device for use in a clothes washer for
reducing the hardness of water therein.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Ecological concern has resulted in legislation forbidding the use
of polyphosphates as a detergent component in many geographical
areas of our country. However, there are many areas of our country
where the quality of water, and particularly the hardness, is such
that poor clothes washing performance often results from the use
of non-phosphate detergents. The generally recommended solution
for the problem is the installation of a home water-softening system.
This requires a substantial outlay of money on the part of the homeowner
or lessor and as a result, people often are disposed to make do
with the hard water situation as it is.
By the present invention, there is provided a low-cost means to
soften water in agitator type clothes washers.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In accordance with the present invention, there is provided in
a clothes washer having an agitator a water softening system utilizing
a reusable, self-contained water softener device. The water softener
device comprises a package of cation exchange resins, the package
being permeable to water and arranged to be disposed within the
clothes washer and associated with the agitator such that water
will be circulated through the resin for removing calcium and magnesium
ions from the water to effect a reduction of hardness of the water.
The resin is of the type which is capable of regeneration by treatment
with a salt solution.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a
water softening system for use in an agitator type of clothes washer
wherein the system is efficient, of low cost and is reusable.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of an automatic clothes washing
machine incorporating the preferred embodiment of the present invention,
the view being partly in section and partly broken away to show
certain operating components thereof;
FIG. 2 is a view taken generally along the lines 2--2 of FIG. 1
partly broken away and partly in section;
FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of certain portions of an automatic
clothes washing machine broken away to more clearly show an alternate
placement of the preferred embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a front elevational view partly in section and partly
broken away of a regenerating device for regenerating the water
softener resin of the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
Referring to FIG. 1 there is shown an agitator type clothes washer
10 of the vertical axis type having a conventional, perforated wash
basket 12 disposed within an outer, imperforate, liquid-retaining
tub 14. With this combination, the basket 12 and tub 14 form suitable
means for containing water and fabrics to be washed in the water.
The outer tub 14 is rigidly mounted within an appearance cabinet
16 which includes an access lid or cover 18 hingedly mounted on
a hinge rod on the top portion of the cabinet 16 for providing access
through an opening 20 to the basket 12.
At the center of the wash basket 12 is positioned an agitator 22
for agitating clothes during a washing operation. Conventionally,
the basket 12 is mounted for rotation and the agitator 22 is mounted
for some type of oscillatory motion which will effect washing action
on the clothes in the basket 12.
Basket 12 and agitator 22 are driven from a reversible motor 24
coupled by suitable means to a transmission 26. When the motor 24
is rotated in one direction, the transmission causes a slow speed
oscillation of the agitator 22 and the basket is stationary and
when the motor is driven in the opposite direction, the transmission
26 drives both basket 12 and agitator 22 at a high speed for centrifugal
extraction of the liquid from the clothes.
In addition to operating the transmission 26 as described, motor
24 provides a direct drive to a pump structure 28. During the high
speed operation, pump 28 draws liquid from the outer tub 14 and
discharges it through a conduit (not shown) and thence to a household
sewage disposal system. During wash or slow speed when the agitator
22 is oscillating, the pump 28 draws liquid in through conduit 30
and discharges through conduit 32 which extends up to and terminates
at a nozzle 34 opening into basket 12. This then constitutes a water
recirculation system for the washer 10. Water expelled from nozzle
34 then passes into a filter pan 36 suitably mounted on agitator
22 the filter pan being provided with a central hub having a circular
cross section for telescoping over and mating with the agitator
center post which has a complementary configuration to drivingly
engage the filter pan and thereby impart oscillatory motion to the
filter pan simultaneously with the agitator.
In accordance with the present invention, in a preferred embodiment
thereof, there is provided a reusable, self-contained water softener
device denoted generally as 40 in the drawings. Water softener device
40 has been formed in the shape of a torus or doughnut for placement
over the central hub of the filter pan 36 such that it may rest
against the bottom portion of the filter pan. In such an arrangement,
water being expelled through the recirculation process from nozzle
34 will pass onto and through water softener device 40 (as shown
in FIG. 1) to effect softening of the water in outer tub 14.
The water softener device 40 includes a package of cation exchange
resins 42 as seen in FIG. 2 such as, for example, strongly acidic
resins. These resins are sold commercially by Rohm & Haas Company
under the trade names Amberlite IR120 and Amberlite IR200 and by
Dow Chemical Company under the trade names Dowex 50 and Dowex 50W.
Such resins normally have a capacity in the order of about 30000
grains of hardness as calcium carbonate (CaCO.sub.3) per cubic foot.
The resin 42 is contained in a package or jacket 44 formed of a
closely-woven, porous, synthetic-fiber fabric. This allows water
to pass through the jacket but retains the small, bead-like particles
of resin therewithin.
In normal operation, an automatic washer such as shown in FIG.
1 has a wash-fill water volume of about 22 gallons. For most water
supplies, a reduction of 15 grains of hardness per gallon would
be sufficient to allow for good wash performance. When using a strong
acid, cation exchange resin, such as Amberlite IR200 the total
resin requirement would be approximately 20 cubic inches to effect
such a hardness reduction, if proper contact between the resin and
water can be achieved. To provide 20 cubic inches of resin then,
dimensions (see FIG. 2) of the torus shaped jacket 44 found suitable
r= 0.69 inches,
R= 2.14 inches.
The inside diameter of the torus would then be approximately 2.9
The operational sequence, assuming fully regenerated resin is as
1. Place water softener device 40 on the hub of filter pan 36 and
washer 10 is filled with fresh water in the normal manner.
2. Start agitation with water recirculation and allow to continue
for up to 15 minutes.
3. Stop machine and remove water softener 40.
4. Add detergent and soiled fabrics and proceed through normal
wash, rinse and spin cycles.
In effect, then calcium and magnesium ions, the main contributors
to hardness in water, have been removed by the resins in a manner
well known to those skilled in the art. The water softener device
40 and particularly the resins 42 therein should then be regenerated
as will be discussed later.
Referring now to FIG. 3 there is shown an alternate arrangement
for effecting water softening in an agitator type clothes washer
10. A water softener device in the form of a package of cation exchange
resins is also provided, but is placed over the shaft of the agitator
22 to come to rest thereon at a point where the flared surface 48
commences. The package may again be in the form of a torus but it
is not limited to such a shape. In such an application then, advantage
is taken of the water motion in basket 12 and therefore tub 14 created
by the oscillatory action of agitator 22 as shown by the arrows,
and much as described and shown further in U.S. Pat. No. 1704932--Altorfer.
Water in the machine then is effectually passed through the resin
42 of water softener device 40 in a continuous fashion to effect
removal of calcium and magnesium ions, if present, therefrom. This
process is performed in the aforementioned fashion, the water softener
device 40 being removed from the washer 10 before the placement
of detergent and soiled fabrics therein. Of course, in such an application
the dimensions of the package or jacket 44 will have to be changed
to accommodate the dimensions of the agitator and particularly those
at the lower portion thereof.
Regeneration of such a water softening device is accomplished by
placing the exhausted resin package in a solution of sodium chloride
in water. However, simple immersion of the exhausted resin in a
salt solution cannot be expected to be of high efficiency since
the displaced calcium and/or magnesium ions remain within the solution
to compete with the sodium ions for sites on the resin matrix. Ideally,
the displaced calcium and any magnesium ions should be removed from
the solution as rapidly as possible after they are evolved thus
allowing the regeneration reaction shown below to proceed more nearly
where R is the resin matrix.
A more complete regeneration than simple immersion may be obtained
by using the special purpose regeneration device or vessel 49 shown
in FIG. 4. The exhausted resin package or water softener device
40 is placed in a container such as the lower compartment 50 of
a two compartment vessel 49. The upper compartment 52 is then fitted
into the lower compartment 50 coming to rest against an annular
platform 54 mounted within the lower compartment. A regenerating
solution as a result of mixing one quarter pound of sodium chloride
to a gallon of water is then added to the upper compartment. The
base of upper compartment 52 is provided with a plurality of small
orifices 56 constituting a means for automatically supplying the
regenerating solution to the lower compartment 50. The rate of flow
of the sodium chloride solution through the orifices should be such
that the rate of flow will effectively cause the calcium and any
magnesium ions on the resin matrix to be replaced by sodium ions.
The size and quantity of orifices 56 should be such that delivery
of the 1 gallon of salt solution to the lower compartment 50 containing
approximately 20 cubic inches of resin will take from 1 to 2 hours.
Lower compartment 50 is fitted with an overflow drain 58 in a side
wall thereof at a level sufficiently high to allow for total immersion
of the water softener device 40. Drain 58 then constitutes means
for automatically removing evolved calcium ions from the container.
Regenerating vessel 49 including upper compartment 52 and lower
compartment 50 may be molded from high density polyethylene since
they will be exposed only to aqueous salt solutions at room temperature.
Although the water softener device disclosed herein has been provided
with a package formed generally in the shape of a torus, this is
not absolute and there are in fact many forms which the package
may take which will allow, in an agitator type clothes washer, for
the suitable passage of water through the resins for effecting a
reduction in hardness thereof. Likewise the regenerating device
and particularly the means for automatically supplying the regeneration
solution and the means for automatically removing evolved ions may
take other forms readily obvious to those skilled in the art.
It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that the embodiment
described heretofore is considered to be the presently preferred
form of this invention. In accordance with the Patent Statutes,
changes may be made in the disclosed apparatus and the manner in
which it is used without actually departing from the true spirit
and scope of this invention.