Absorbent bag

Liquid purification or separation – With movable support – Float

Reexamination Certificate

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C210S242400, C210S484000, C210S924000

Reexamination Certificate




1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates generally to devices for separating hydrocarbons from a hydrocarbon-water mix and more particularly to an absorbent bag that may be readily immersed, for example, in a sump filled with machine tool coolant to absorb oils from that coolant and then be withdrawn from the sump to remove the absorbed oils.
2. Prior Art
Devices that collect and then remove hydrocarbons from a water source are well known and been in use for many years. Examples of several such devices are described below.
The first example of an oil collecting device is set out in U.S. Pat. No. 3,739,913. This device includes a netting material formed into a hollow, cylindrical shaped container. Inside the container is a fiber mass. Preferred fiber materials include rayon, nylon, and cord reclaimed from old tires. Glass fibers may be added to keep the fiber mass fluffy and loose. Ends of the container are secured to a rope that extends centrally through an interior of the container.
A second example of an oil absorbing devices is shown and discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,701,258. This second device includes an elongated oil mop in the form of an endless loop. The rope loop has a core that holds an array of outward extending oil absorbing fibers.
An oil absorbing mat, disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,832,852, is a third device example. This mat comprises a pair of a non woven, cotton fiber webs spaced apart by a scrim sheet of woven polypropylene. Edges of the webs and sheet are stitched together with waxed threads.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,181,802 sets out the last oil absorbing device to be discussed. This device comprises a set of modules. Each module includes a tubular shaped stocking formed of a mesh material that promotes liquid permeability. Extending along respective vertical side edges of each stocking is a wire having outward extending horizontal hooks. The hooks of adjacently positioned modules hold the modules together. Inside each stocking is a specially prepared wood fiber mass. This mass is compartmentalized by spaced apart partitions sewed into each stocking. Seemingly, closure of ends of the stockings is effected by the wires.
A bag of this invention, particularly adapted for removing hydrocarbons from smaller quantities of a hydrocarbon-water mix, has a ball-like shaped body. The body of the bag includes an inner sleeve spaced from an outer sleeve. Adjacent end portions of each sleeve are joined to form connections that fully enclosed an interior space between the sleeves. The inner sleeve defines a central passageway through the bag body. The inner and outer sleeves are formed from a netting material of polypropylene strands or other like oleophilic, hydrophobic materials. The interior space of the bag is filled with an absorbent medium that may be the same netting material used for the bag sleeves.
For use, this inventive bag is immersed in a mix of oil and water held by a container, for example. The netted structure of the bag body and absorbent medium permits the mix to flow freely into the bag interior space. Oils in the mix are drawn to strands of the netting and collect in voids defined between the strands. As the bag becomes saturated, the bag discolors indicating a need for withdrawal and cleaning or disposal. During withdrawal residual mix in the bag drains back into the container.
The absorbent bag of this invention provides several advantages over oil collecting devices presently known or in use.
A first advantage is that the bag is small, having a diameter that may vary from two to six inches. Bag size is customized based on intended use. For example, larger size bags are particularly useful for removing oils from an intermediate size mix such as oils from coolant held in a sump associated with small machining operation. As is well known, oil contaminated coolant generates smoke during reuse and is vulnerable to undesired bacteria growth. An example of small bag use is oil removal from bilge water that collects about an engine of a boat.
A second advantage is that the bag may include a cord loop to maintain the bag in a partially submerged state during use. This cord is carried in the central passageway of the bag with a knotted end of the cord secured to one of the sleeve end portion connections. As secured, the cord end and the sleeve end portion connection are drawn in an adjacent end opening to the central passageway. An opposite looped end of the cord then extends from an opposite end opening to the central passageway. The included cord insures that the bag remains in a location where bag discoloration may be readily observed.
A third advantage is that a floatation strip may be added to the absorbent medium of the bag to maintain the bag at an optimum absorption level. Since oils in a mix typically tend to collect near a top surface of the mix, the bag performs best when the bag is half submerged. Additionally, where the level of the oil-water mix varies over time, the floatation model of this inventive bag remains is an observable location.
Another advantage of this inventive oil absorbent bag is that bag use does not require any auxiliary mechanical equipment. Placement and removal of the bag are done by hand, and oil collection, retention, and removal are effected solely by the bag structure.
A still further advantage is that the bag is inexpensive. First, the netting material for the sleeves and absorbent medium is a ready commercially available material. Additionally, the bags are hand formed by workers having ordinary hand dexterity. Operational expense also is minimized because the bag is reusable. A saturated bag may be cleaned, for example, by hand wringing, mechanical wringing, or rinsing in a parts washer.
Lastly, this inventive bag is highly absorbent, having a saturated weight-clean weight ratio of about 50 to one. A one-ounce bag may absorb about three pounds of oil. The ability of this inventive bag to absorb and then retain large quantities of oil results from the oleophilic nature of polypropylene strands of the netting and the capillary effect from the netting voids and interstices between strands of the netting. Note that because the mix may flow into the bag through the outer sleeve and through the inner sleeve from the central passageway, the bag quickly reaches its saturation weight. This same structure then allows residual nix in the bag to drain from the bag as the bag is being withdrawn. Only a minimal amount of water is retained.

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