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Dec. 10, 1946.
' 2,412,466
Filed Dec. 24, 1943
W/LL/AM H Maze/2,12.
Patented Dec. 10, 1946
William H. Miller, Jr., South Orange, N. J., as‘
signor to Gallowhiir Chemical ‘Corporation, a
corporation of Vermont
Application December 24, 1943, Serial No.'51“5,601
2 Claims. (Cl. 202"—-234)
liquid is fed into the apparatus by capillary at
traction against the pressure of air used to in?ate
the apparatus.
My invention relates to solar distillation appa
ratus and particularly to apparatus of a floating
type embodying an in?atable chamber to which
the liquid to be distilled is fed by capillary
Several types of solar distillation apparatus
These and other objects and features of my
invention will appear from the following descrip
tion thereof in which reference is made to the
?gures of the accompanying drawing.
have been developed for use in recovering fresh
water from sea water and the constructions shown
and described in the application of William R. P.
In the drawing:
Fig. 1 is a perspective of one typical form or
Delano, serial No. 465,366, ?led November 12, 10 apparatus embodying my invention,
1942, and others, have proved particularly satisvFig. 2 is a view similar to Fig. 1 with parts of
factory for use as-emergency equipment for lifethe apparatus broken away to illustrate the con
boats, life-rafts, in?atable boats for aircraft and
struction more clearly,
the like. However, all apparatus of this type herevFig. 3 is a diagrammatic sectional view through
tofore produced has required the use of rigid-15 the construction shown in Figs. 1 and 2,‘and
supporting elements ‘or framework to hold the
Fig. 4 is a perspective of an alternative detail
structure extended. Certain ?oating or in?atable
of construction with parts broken away.
constructions have also been suggested but these
In that form of my invention chosen for pur
also have embodied rigid frame elements or
poses of illustration in the ?gures of the drawing,
separate in?ated supports which render the 20 the apparatus embodies an envelope formed of
apparatus complicated and expensive to con.
?exible ‘material that is resistant to the action of
struct and troublesome to use. Furthermore, the
sea water. At least the upper portion of the
presence of such frame elements or suppleenvelope is transparent to solar radiations and
mentary supports materially increases the space
as shown in the drawing the envelope may con
which the apparatus occupies when folded, where- 25 veniently be formed of two circular sections of
as one of the most important requirements of
material, the upper seotion being shown at 2
such apparatus is that it shall be capable of being
and secured at its edges to. the edges of a vsimilar
collapsed into the smallest possible volume.
lower section 4 along a seam 6
In accordance with my invention these objecThe sections 2 and. 4 may be formed of any
tions to constructions of the prior art are over- 30 suitable ‘material ‘such as Vinyl rosin shoots, the
come and novel solar distillation apparatus promaterial actually used being known as "Vinylite
vided wherein no rigid framework whatever is
V- U- 1900-” However, any other ?oXi’olo and
required and a structure capable of producing a
transparent material may be eml?oyod and ‘both
pint ‘of pure water from sea water may be folded
of the sections .2 and 4 may be transparent if
into a volume of less than 50‘ cubic inches. My 35 desired. By using resinous ‘or other material
invention further is characterized by its simwhich is ihermo-plostio or capable of being
plicity and economy of construction and by the
bonded together by heat sealing, gluing or simi
provision of means whereby the apparatus may
lar operations, the seam v6 may be made air tight
be fed with liquid by means of capillary attracvery readily in forming the Seam- If the mate
tion voperating against the pressure of the air 40 rials ‘are stitched at the Seam 6 or elsewhere,
with which the apparatus is in?ated. Another
the stitches should be Sealed by an adhesive.
novel feature ‘of my invention resides in the conCement or an ‘overlying strip of material ‘which
struction and arrangement of the elements for
may serve also to reinforce the seam.
collecting distilled water whereby they may be
‘Within the ‘envelope is ‘an evaporator pad 8
manipulated easily and without danger of spilling 45 which is formed of water retaining material such
the Water obtained.
as fabric, felt, wicking or the like. In practice
One .of the objects of my invention is to prothe material used is terry cloth and this or any
vide novel solar distillation apparatus 'of ‘a ?oating
other form of evaporator pad is preferably
type embodying a single inflated chamber.
colored black to insure the maximum absorption
Another object of my invention is to provide 50 of solar radiation reaching the pad through the
envelope. The pad thus may ‘be colored black
solar distillation apparatus which is extremely
with ‘any permanent, water insoluble and non
light in weight and collapsible or foldable into a
toxic dye, pigment or the like.
very small space.
The pad 8 is supported within the envelope 12
A particular object of my invention is to pro
by ‘any suitable means which serve to hold it out
vide in?atable solar distillation apparatus wherein
of contact with the inner surfaces of the envelope
when the envelope is in?ated. As shown, a cord
i0 is connected to the upper section 2 of the en
velope near the center thereof and is attached
to the pad 8 at the point l2 to support the mid
dle of the pad. Strings i4 and I6 are connected
‘ to the evaporator pad 8 and extend from points
near the edges of the pad to the inner surface
the wicking to any desired height and they are
stitched to the wicking both above and below the
section 4. This stitching is made su?iciently
loose to form only a slight restriction in the wick
28 which will be insufficient to prevent ready
flow of liquid upward by capillary attraction from
the projections 30 to the evaporator pad 8 but
sui?cient to prevent the escape of air through the
slot in the section 4 and along the surface of
of the envelope. The strings M are connected
to the upper section of the envelope at the points 10 the wicking.
l8 above the seam 6 and cooperate with the cen
tral support I2 on the cord I 0 to maintain the
evaporator pad spread and suf?ciently taut to
support the pad in an extended position‘ even
when saturated with sea water. The interme
diate strings l5 are connected to‘ the pad at
points between the main supporting strings l4
and extend to the inner surface of the envelope
at points 20 along the seam 6 to aid in spreading
and supporting the pad and to prevent such sag- I
ging of the pad between the supporting strings
that gutters might be formed into which an ex
cess of sea water might drain from other por
tions of the pad.
The marginal edges 22 of the pad preferably
hang downward between the strings l4 and I 6
and are slotted so that the intervening portions
will hang vertically in order that the pad will
present the maximum surface for receiving radi
It is found in practice that such
restriction may be controlled so that the escape
of air from the in?ated envelope is prevented
while capillary feed of liquid to the pad is ade
quate to maintain the evaporator pad continually
moistened with sea water. The feed of sea water
to the apparatus is thus accomplished by capil_
lary attraction against the pressure of the air
with which the envelope is in?ated.
The lower section of the envelope is also pro
vided with a discharge nipple 34 having a central
opening 53 therein through which pure water
passes to a collector 36, The nipple is attached
to the center of the section 4 in position to be
located at the lowest point in the envelope when
the envelope is in?ated.
The cord l0 which carries the central support
for the pad is also attached to the lower section
4 about the nipple 34 and serves to limit ex
pansion of the envelope vertically upon in?ation
ation from the sun even when the sun is near 30
thereof. The cord l0 thus cooperates with strings
the horizon.
The evaporator pad 8 preferably is provided
with reinforcing strips 24 which extend along
the lower surface thereof from the‘ points where
supporting strings I4 are attached toward the
center support [2, The pad 8 may also be bound
along its edges as at 26 to prevent it from ab
sorbing fresh water from the inner surface of
the envelope in the event the downwardly ex
l4 and i6 attached to the evaporator pad and the
walls of the envelope to restrict expansion and
de?ne the shape of the envelope on in?ation
thereof so that the envelope will assume a ?at
tened or biscuit-like shape with the nipple 34 in
the center of the bottom of the apparatus. The
cord l0 preferably also is extended through the
upper section 2 0f the envelope to form a lift
tending portions 22 should swing outward and 40 ing loop 38 by which the apparatus may be lifted
from the sea water to remove the collector 38
contact the envelope as the apparatus tilts and
from the nipple 34.
bobs about in rough water. The binding of the
The collector 35 is preferably formed of ?ex
edges also precludes dripping of salt water from
ible material, such as that used in forming the
the pad as the apparatus tilts. Ordinarily, how
ever, the strings l4 and the central support I2 4: envelope itself. It is provided with an upper neck
40 for attachment to the projecting tubular por
on the cord Ill serve to hold the pad above the
level of the water in which the apparatus ?oats
and since the pad is supplied with sea water to
be distilled by capillary attraction the pad does
not receive su?icient‘sea water to cause it to
drip from the pad under any ordinary circum
tion of the nipple 34. The connection between
the collector and nipple should be water tight
to prevent contamination of the pure water ob
tainedfrom the apparatus by sea water leak
ing in at the joint between the collector and
nipple. As illustrated in the drawing the con
nection includes a spring clip 42, but in practice
screw threads and elastic slip connections have
also been used. With any of these connections
Sea water is supplied to the evaporator pad 8
by wicks 28 which are attached to the lower
surface of the evaporator pad and extend down
wardly through said slots in the lower section ~. the removal and application of the reservoir is
very simple and may be effected with one hand
4 of the envelope. These wicks project below
while holding the apparatus by the lifting loop
the envelope to provide portions 30 which are
38 with the other hand.
immersed in the Sea water upon which appa~
The collector may also be formed with a con
ratus ?oats when in use. Any number of wicks 50
nection on the bottom thereof to which a sea
28 may be employed and they may be formed of
anchor or steadying weight 44 may be connected.
material the same as, or different from, the
As shown, this sea anchor is in reality the con
evaporator pad. The material used in actual
tainer in which the apparatus is packed and
practice is a. felt like cotton ?ber product sold
shipped and is in the form of a metal box hav
under the trade name “Masslin” and it also is
ing a cover 46 which may be placed in the box
dyed black to absorb heat as it conducts water
to increase its weight when employed as the
upwardly by capillary attraction to the evap
orator pad 8.
sea anchor.
In order to prevent the escape of air from the
The apparatus also is .provided with. a towing
velope about the'slots through which the wick
ing 28 passes, These collars extend upward about
away from the life-boat, raft or other vessel with
which it is used.
envelope after in?ation thereof and in order to 70 line 48 which may be attached at 59 to the lower
section 4 of the envelope or to any other conven
prevent leakage of salt water into the envelope
ient portion of the apparatus so that it may be
to contaminate the fresh water obtained, collars
allowed to ?oat on the water without'drifting
32 are secured to the lower section 4 of the en
In using the apparatus described the envelope
, 2,412,466
tamination of the pure ‘water passing ‘down the
is removed from the container in- which it is
cord by the sea water ‘in the pad 8, the ‘cord .1 [Il
preferably is coated with lacquer or otherwise
provided with an outer water-proof shield which
packed and is in?ated by simply blowing into the
nipple 36 as one would blow up a balloon. The
collector 36 is then attached to the ‘nipple 34
and the sea anchor is connected to the collector.
The apparatus is then placed on the water and
allowed to dift at the end of the tow line 48.
In placing the apparatus in the water the
projections 38 of the wicks 28 are submerged
extends for some distance above and below the
support ii‘.
In a similar way the supporting strings l4 and
i6 may be provided with wicking 52 which ‘sur
rounds the points l8 and 20 so that water ‘flow
ing down the walls of the envelope cannot be
in. the sea water and immediately become sat
contaminated by salt water from the strings :14
urated. They then draw sea water upward by
and 16. However, vthe strings preferably ‘are
capillary attraction through the slots in the lower
saturated with a water repelling composition to
section 4 of the envelope and past the stitching
prevent the ?ow of sea water from the pad to the
which prevents the escape of air from the en
walls of the envelope.
velope. The sea water continues to rise in wicks
In order further to improve the operation of
28 and ?ows out through the evaporator pad 8
the apparatus and insure the maximum trans
until the pad itself is thoroughly wet vand sub
mission of heat through the envelope ‘to the
stantially saturated with sea water. Thereafter
evaporator pad, the inner surface ‘of the en
the wicks only feed ‘additional sea water to the
velope is preferably formed or provided with
evaporator pad in amounts sufficient to main
means to prevent fogging of the surface by the
tain it continually moistened.
accumulation of droplets of moisture thereon.
Solar radiation passing through the trans
Thus, if the envelope is formed of resinous ma
parent upper section 2 of the envelope falls on
terial it may be saponi?ed or have a solution of
the evaporator pad and heats the pad and the
polyvinyl alcohol in acetone or a conventional
sea water carried thereby causing pure water to 25 wetting agent or surface tension reducing ma
evaporate therefrom. The black color of the pad
terial such as a sulfonated fatty acid, applied
serves to increase the absorption of heat and
to the inner surface of sections 2 and 4. The
solar radiation by the pad and thus aids in ef
moisture condensing on surfaces thus treated
fecting evaporation of pure water from the sea
spreads out into a ?lm and ?ows readily down
30 wardly along the surface instead of remaining
The water vapors thus produced saturate the
in drops thereon.
air within the envelope and since the upper walls
Further, in order to increase or facilitate the
of the envelope are transparent and do not ab
flow of sea water through the various wicks and
sorb appreciable amounts of heat from the sun,
spreading thereof throughout the evaporator
they remain at a lower temperature than the 35 pad, the wicks and pad may be provided with a
evaporator pad and accordingly the moisture
wetting agent if desired.
from the saturated air condenses on these walls
As illustrated in Fig. 4, the apparatus also
and runs down into the lower portion of the en
may be provided with a valve for preventing de
velope. Moreover, the lower portion of the en
flation of the envelope on removal of the col
velope is shaded from the sun by the evaporator
lector 36 from the nipple 34. For this purpose
pad and is continuously cooled by the water upon
a pad of wicking 58 is placed over the central '
which the apparatus floats. Thus the lower por
opening 58 in the nipple 34 and a ?exible strip
tion of the apparatus is substantially cooler than
69 of resin, rubber or the like is crossed over
the pad and even more condensation of the water
the pad to urge it lightly toward the nipple.
vapor takes place on the lower surfaces of the
Liquid accumulating in the bottom of the en
apparatus. In this way the pad itself serves to
velope is thus conducted to the opening 58 and
divide the apparatus into an upper evaporating
a string 62 extending downward in the opening
chamber and a lower condensing chamber.
causes the liquid to drip from the wicking 55
Moreover, as the sea water evaporates from the
into the collector. The ?exible strip 64] serves
pad 8 more sea water is supplied thereto by the
to prevent air from escaping through the open
wicks which feed water to the pad against the
ing when the collector is removed, whereas the
pressure of the air with which the apparatus is
strip is yieldable upward to permit ready infla~
As the pure water condenses and runs down
tion of the envelope when the user blows air
into the nipple 34.
into the bottom of the apparatus_ it passes
The construction illustratedin Figs. 1, 2 and
through the nipple 34 to the collector 38. When
3 has been found to be very simple and inex
sufficient pure water has been obtained in this
pensive to produce and to be easy and fool-proof
manner the apparatus is raised from the sea
in operation. An apparatus of this type having.
with one hand by the lifting loop 33 and the
an evaporator pad 20 inches in diameter is found
collector is detached
to produce about a pint of fresh water or more
other hand. The water thus obtained can then
a day. On the other hand, the apparatus can be
be poured out into a container for drinking or
folded and packed in a container measuring
can be drunk directly from the collector.
2 x 4 x 6 inches.
In order to obtain more water the envelope
With this apparatus no rigid framing ele
need only be in?ated again, the collector 38
ments or supports are required and support of
again applied to the nipple and the apparatus
the pad by distending of the envelope is accom
then returned to the sea. As shown in Fig. 3
plished solely by in?ation of the envelope in
in?ation of the apparatus generally produces a
which evaporation and condensation take place.
central depression in the top of the envelope
However, if desired the seam 6 may be formed
where the cord ii] is attached. Water condens- ' to provide a stiffening effect or short sti?ening
ing about the centra1 area of the upper section
members may be located in or adjacent the seam
2 of the envelope thus runs toward the cord It!
and.‘ extend from one of the pad supporting
and the cord serves as wicking passing down
strings to another.
through the pad 8 and support 12 to the bottom
These and other changes and modi?cations
of the apparatus. In order to prevent con 75
may be made in the form, construction and ar
rangement of the elements of the apparatus ‘
Without departing from the spirit and scope of
my invention. In view thereof it should be
understood that the embodiments of my inven
tion herein shown and described are intended to
be illustrative only and are not intended to limit
the scope of the following claims.
I claim:
position to contact liquid upon which the appa
ratus ?oats to conduct liquid to said pad, and
means for restricting the. opening in the en
velope through which said wicking extends to an
extent which will prevent the escape of air from
the envelope While permitting ?ow of liquid
through the wicking by capillary attraction.
2. Solar distillation apparatus comprising a
single in?ated transparent envelope with an
1. In solar distillation apparatus an in?atable 10 evaporator pad suspended within the envelope
envelope adapted to ?oat upon the surface of
out of contact with the walls of the envelope,
liquid to be distilled, an evaporator pad located
wicking projecting through the lower wall of
within said envelope, said envelope having a
said envelope and having its upper end connected
transparent portion positioned to expose said
evaporator pad to solar radiation through the 15 to said pad to supply the pad with sea water,
means for preventing the escape of air from the
transparent portion when the apparatus is ?oat
envelope about said wicking, and means com
ing upon the surface of liquid to be distilled,
municating With said envelope for collecting pure
wicking connected to said evaporator pad and
water distilled o? from the sea water.
projecting through a wall of the envelope into
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