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Water Treatment Patent

Water treatment control system

Water treatment abstract


BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to a water treatment apparatus. More particularly, it relates to a water treatment unit for use as a residential countertop filter for producing potable water suitable for human ingestion such as by drinking or cooking, having a water-treating cartridge, which is easily replaced and discarded at the end of its useful life.

[0002] Wide varieties of water treatment devices are known in the prior art and most have filtration unit cartridges that are difficult and messy to replace, where water is readily spilled. Typically employed countertop residential or office water filters consist of a vertically oriented cylinder, which receives water from a diverter valve attached to a sink faucet and introduces tap water to the filter and dispenses the treated water from a spigot. The tubing interconnecting the diverter valve and the filtration unit is typically obtrusive and inconvenient for those people working near the sink.

[0003] Moreover, the configuration is bulky and requires that the filter units be inconveniently located adjacent to the sink where they interfere with routine tasks such as washing dishes or food preparation. Since water often collects on the countertop and behind the faucet during normal use of the sink, countertop water filters such as that shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,277,805 make it difficult to clean up this collected water and subsequently allow the growth of mold and bacteria on the sink surface.

[0004] In another example, the water filter known from U.S. Pat. No. 5,685,981 consists of two parts: a base and a cartridge. The cartridge contains multiple water channels directing water to the water treating material, and is screwed into a socket in the base. The cartridge is exchanged by unscrewing the old cartridge from the base and then screwing the new cartridge into the base. The construction of this cartridge and base is complicated, comprises inconvenient tubing, and is expensive to produce.

[0005] An additional disadvantage to the countertop water filters known in prior art is that the required water supply connection at the end of the sink faucet is not possible with modern faucet designs.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] Accordingly, it is a primary objective of the present invention to provide a long lasting water treatment unit with a simple and inexpensive construction that corrects the listed disadvantages.

[0007] The present invention provides a countertop water treatment unit comprising a vertically oriented, elongated water treating cartridge and a base. The base receives the cartridge, within which is enclosed a water treating material. The base includes an elongated threaded stub pipe, which extends downward from underneath the base. The construction of the stub pipe has dual functionality. First, it fastens the base to the sink surface or any other countertop. Second, it receives potable water from an undersink cold water supply line. The base includes water passages in a fluid flow connection with the inlet of the water-treating cartridge. The base further includes a valve controlling the water flow through the water-treating cartridge. The top end of the elongated water treating cartridge comprises a port with a socket for a means of dispensing the treated water. The cartridge may have various forms adopted for use in several configurations. The valve may have a different construction and location. The base may take on different embodiments.

[0008] The present invention provides a water treatment unit with several unique advantages and superior features:

[0009] The present invention provides a solid structure firmly secured to the sink surface or countertop preventing it from being knocked down or misplaced;

[0010] The separate construction of the water treatment unit from the sink faucet allows it to be installed on a sink independently of the type of faucet because many modem faucets do not allow for on-faucet filter installations;

[0011] The present invention allows for full sink functionality and usage even during the water treatment operation;

[0012] The present invention is easy and inexpensive to produce because it constitutes an integral construction and it avoids unnecessary parts such as external tubing or on-faucet installation kits that often interfere with kitchen activities;

[0013] The construction of the present invention prevents water spillage during replacement of the treating cartridge;

[0014] The present invention avoids leakages and inconvenient undersink cartridge replacement;

[0015] The construction allows the treatment cartridges to be easily replaced by anyone without any tools.

[0016] Additional objects, features, and advantages will become apparent from the following description and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

[0017] FIG. 1 is a partial cross-sectional view substantially taken along the longitudinal axis of the water treatment unit in accordance with the invention.

[0018] FIG. 2 is a partial cross-sectional view taken along the longitudinal axis of the water treatment unit mainly illustrating the base portion of the unit in another configuration in accordance with the invention.

[0019] FIG. 3 is a full cross-sectional view taken along the longitudinal axis of the water treatment unit illustrating the base and cartridge of the unit in still another configuration in accordance with the invention.

[0020] FIG. 4 is a partial cross-sectional view taken along the longitudinal axis of the water treatment unit similar to FIG. 2, illustrating the base and cartridge of the unit in still another configuration in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0021] The inventive countertop water-treating unit is illustrated in its fully assembled condition in FIG. 1, FIG. 2, FIG. 3, and FIG. 4, consisting of four different configurations.

[0022] The water treatment unit shown in FIG. 1 comprises a vertically oriented, elongated water treating cartridge 20 having a plastic shell filled with activated carbon, which is insertable in a base 30 made of externally chromed and polished brass. The base 30 having a water inlet passage 37 and a water outlet passage 36 aligned with the cartridge inlet opening, contains a valve 50 for controlling water flow through the unit. The valve 50 is a needle valve and allows regulation of water flow through the cartridge 20 by spinning the knob 51. The base 30 includes a threaded cylindrical female socket 33 in which is inserted the cartridge 20 having a stub pipe 28 on the water outlet end 22 and fastening thread 21a on the water inlet end 21. The filtrated water outlet means 10 in the form of a spigot is connected to the outlet stub pipe 28 of the cartridge 20 by its fitting 85. The leakage of water between the base 30 and the inlet end 21 of the water treatment cartridge 20 is prevented by a silicone ring 75 lying on the bottom of the socket 33. For optional permanent fastening of the base 30 to any surface, the base 30 possesses a threaded stub 62. For movable use, the unit includes a support stand 61 connected to the base 30 by fitted snap fastener. In this configuration, cold water from the undersink water supply line through a commercially available poly flex connector (not shown) enters the unit through the inlet passage 37. The water inlet passage 37 is in fluid communication with socket 33 through horizontal passage 35, controlled by valve 50 and through the outlet passage 36. Because the contact surface between the cartridge 20 and the socket 33 are sealed by ring 75, water is forced to flow longitudinally/axially through the water treating cartridge 20. Water passes internally through the cartridge 20, then through the stub pipe 28 and fitting 85 to flow out from the spigot 10. By spinning the knob 51 to the stop point, the valve will stop the water flow through the cartridge 20. The cartridge 20 is readily exchangeable by simply unscrewing it from the base 30 and screwing a new one into the base 30.

[0023] Other embodiments of the water treatment units are shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 4. Both embodiments are similar to each other whereby it will also be apparent that a number of variations and modifications may be made therein by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description is to be construed as illustrative rather than limiting. In general, both water treatment units shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 4 comprise a vertically oriented, elongated water treating cartridge 20 having a plastic shell filled with activated carbon insertable in a base 30. The bases include a combined means 40 extended downward. The combined means 40 is provided for receiving water from a potable cold water supply line and for fastening the bases to a sink surface 100 or the like. Each of said bases includes a valve 50 for controlling water flow through said water treating cartridge 20.

[0024] The base shown in FIG. 2 is made of externally chromed brass. The combined means 40 extended downward from the base 30 constitutes a brass pipe. The brass pipe 40a, comprising fastening threads 41, is inserted and welded into the base 30. For fastening the base to a sink surface 100 or the like, the corresponding brass nut 65 and plastic sealing ring 60 are provided on the brass pipe 40a. The brass pipe 40a extended downward from the base 30 includes an internally threaded inlet port 43 for receiving water from a water supply line (not shown) through a small diameter, commercially available, poly flex connector. The valve 50 inserted in the base 30 is a slide valve located between the water inlet passage 37 and water outlet passage 36. The stem 55 of the slide valve 50 comprises an asymmetrical opening 56 for regulating water flow through the water treating cartridge 20. From the top, the base 30 comprises a threaded cylindrical female opening 33 for receiving the inlet end of the water treating cartridge 20.

[0025] The cartridge 20 shown in FIG. 2 has a housing made of a suitable plastic cylinder 20a closed on the ends with caps 25 and 26. The bottom end cap 25 comprises a short threaded inlet stub pipe 27, which is inserted into the female threaded opening 33 of the base 30. The cartridge 20 further comprises a smaller outlet stub pipe 28 extending from the top cap 26. In addition, the unit comprises a decorative chromed cover 90 which covers the water cartridge 20. On the top end of the cartridge, a spigot 10 and its fitting 85 are further installed on the stub pipe 28. The unit, preferably mounted on the sink surface 100, is secured to the sink by a nut 65. Potable water from the cold water supply line enters the threaded brass pipe 40a through a poly flex connector (not shown) and through the brass pipe's opening 42. Next, the water flows through the base inlet passage 37, the valve's opening 56, and the base outlet passage 36 into the base's threaded opening 33. Because the water treating cartridge stub pipe 27 is threaded into the threaded opening 33 in the base 30 and sealed with ring 75 on the contact surface 39, water is forced to flow longitudinally through the cartridge 20, where it enters the cartridge outlet stub pipe 28, then through the fitting 85 to flow out through the spigot 10. The cartridge 20 is easily exchangeable by simply unscrewing the spigot with its fitting 85, removing the decorative cover 90, and unscrewing the cartridge 20 from the base 30 and screwing in a new one.

[0026] The similar base 30 shown in FIG. 4 having combined means 40 and valve 50 constitutes an integral/monolithic piece made of externally chromed and polished brass. The monolithic piece can also be made of another suitable material such as plastic. The valve 50 is similar to the needle valve as described on FIG. 1. The socket 33, for receiving the end 21 of the water treating cartridge 20, comprises a drainage opening 31, plugged with a screw plug 70. To prevent leakage, a silicone ring 75 lying on the surface 34 in the socket 33 is provided. Also, the plastic sealing ring 60 and nut 65 is provided for fastening the unit to a sink surface 100 or the like.

[0027] The water treating cartridge 20 shown in FIG. 4 is substantially in the form of a cylinder and comprises fastening threads on the inlet end 21 and on the outlet end 22. The threaded top end 22 of the cartridge 20 comprises a washer 23 to prevent water leakage and possesses an internally threaded cap 80 with its sealing flange 81. The cap 80 is ended with a stub pipe 82 possessing a water flow passage 83. On the stub pipe 82, there is a spigot 10 screwed with a nut 85. When the valve 50 opens, water enters through the opening 42, passage 37, the valve's channel 35, and flows through the passage 36 to the socket 33. Further, the water is then forced to flow through the water treating cartridge 20. The silicone ring 75 lying on the bottom surface 34 in the socket 33 forms a seal with the circular surface of the cartridge 20 thereby preventing leakage. Water passing the cartridge 20 enters the passage way 83 in the cap 80 and flows out through the fitting 85 and the spigot 10. When the cartridge is being replaced, the end cap 80 is unscrewed and saved for reinstallation. The old cartridge 20 is unscrewed from its socket 33 in the base 30 and the new cartridge 20 is screwed in. The saved end cap 80 with its spigot 10 and fitting 85 is screwed back on the top end 22 of the new cartridge 20. The ability to unscrew the plug 70 and drain the water treatment unit provides a means to prevent spillage, check the condition of the sealing ring 75, and clean out the socket 33 if needed.

[0028] Still another embodiment of the water treatment unit is illustrated in FIG. 3. The unit comprises a vertically oriented hollow cylindrical water treating cartridge 20, a filtrated water outlet means 10, a base 30 having an interior for receiving an end of the hollow cylindrical water treating cartridge 20, and a removable housing 91 with one open end enclosing the water treating cartridge 20 on the base 30. The base 30, having a cylindrical exterior, includes a combined means 40 extended downward from the base 30. The combined means 40 is provided for fastening the base 30 to a sink surface 100 or the like and for receiving water from a potable cold water supply line. The base includes a valve 50 for controlling water flow through the water treating cartridge 20. The base 30 and the cup shaped housing 91 are preferably made of a plastic such as polypropylene and may be of other suitable materials. The base 30 having a raised boss 54 on one side comprises a central protrusion 32 for receiving the end of a water treating cartridge 20. The combined means 40 that extends downward from the bottom of the base 30 is for fastening the base 30 to a sink surface 100 and for receiving water from an undersink water supply line (not shown). The combined means 40 and the base 30 constitute a monolithic and integral structure. The combined means 40 is in the form of a stub pipe and comprises fastening threads 41 and a corresponding nut 65. The base 30 includes a water flow inlet passage 37 and outlet passage 36. Between the inlet 37 and outlet 36 water flow passages is an internal slide valve 50, which is positioned for stopping water flow when treated water is not dispensed. The slide valve 50 comprises a cylindrical but not axially symmetrical opening 56 on its slide rod 55. When the handle button 52 is pushed to the boss 54, water flows between the inlet 37 and outlet 36 passages through the opening 56 in the valve rod 55. Water flow intensity may be regulated by spinning the knob 52 of the valve 50. The unit includes a commercially available hollow cylindrical water treating cartridge 20 enclosing a water treating material such as porous activated carbon. The cup shaped housing 91 encloses the hollow cylindrical elongated cartridge 20 inserted in the base member 30. The base 30 and the housing 91 comprise corresponding fastening threads 92 for retaining the housing 91 in the base 30. The housing 91 on its top closed end comprises a small threaded stub pipe 93 and fitting 85 for retaining a spigot 10. A plastic sealing ring 60 and brass nut 65 are provided to enable the base 30 to securely sit upon a sink surface 100 or countertop. In this configuration the longitudinally hollow cylindrical cartridge 20 is installed within the housing 91 and is secured in the base 30. The central protrusion 32 in the base 30 serves to maintain the cartridge 20 in its correct position within the housing 91. The open end of the housing 91 is slightly flared and externally threaded. The open end of the housing 91 is threaded into the base's threaded opening and sealed by the ring 75 sitting in the base groove. Both ends of the cartridge 20 are pressed by sealing flanges of the base 30 and of the housing 91 when the housing 91 is threaded into the base 30. Water flow at the ends is then blocked. The water enters into the space 94 in the same manner as described in FIG. 2. Water in the space 94 surrounds the hollow cylindrical cartridge 20 and because the flow on the ends is blocked, water is forced to flow radially through the porous filter cartridge and up its central passage where it enters the passageway in the stud pipe 93 on the top of the housing 91. Filtrated water is dispensed from a spigot 10 attached to the stub pipe 93 with its fitting 85 screwed on the threaded stub pipe 93. The hollow cylindrical cartridge 20 may be readily exchanged by simply unscrewing the housing 91 from the base 30, taking out the old cartridge, inserting a new one and screwing back the housing 91 into the base 30. During the exchange process, the drainage passage 31a provides a means for the water to drain from the water treatment unit to prevent spillage, check the condition of the sealing ring 75, and clean out the socket if needed.

Water treatment claims


We claim:

1. A water treatment system, comprising: a control subsystem; a water treatment filter, including; a filter bed; a plurality of valves coupled to the filter bed via a plurality of pipes; a plurality of actuators coupled to the plurality of valves, said actuators having an electronic interface and controls and monitors states of the valves and actuators; and a communication bus coupling the control subsystem and the electronic interface of the plurality of actuators and forming a communication network, whereby the controller controls and monitors the plurality of actuators via the communication bus.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the controller includes programmable control logic and a display.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the communication bus adheres to an Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) standard.

4. The system of claim 2, wherein the electronic interface of the plurality of actuators adhere to an AS-I standard.

5. The system of claim 2, wherein the communication bus adheres to an Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) standard.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein the communication network is a loop configured communication network.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the states of the valves is an open or a closed state.

8. The system of claim 6, wherein the states of the actuators is a normal or a malfunction state.

9. The system of claim 5, wherein the controller is further coupled to a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system via a communication link.

10. The system of claim 9, wherein the communication link is an IEEE 802.3 link.

11. The system of claim 10, wherein the plurality of actuators are vane-type actuators.

12. A method for controlling water flow in a water treatment system, comprising the steps of: sending commands to a plurality of valves in the water treatment system via a communication bus; changing states of the plurality of valves via the commands; and changing the water flow by changing the states of the plurality of valves.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the commands and the communication bus adhere to the Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) standard.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the communication bus is configured in a loop configuration.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the states of the plurality of valves are an open state or a close state.

16. A method of treating water in a water treatment system, comprising the step of: sending commands to a plurality of valves in the water treatment system via a communication bus, said valves allow pre-treated water to flow into a filter bed and exit out of the system.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the commands and communication bus adhere to the Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) standard.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of: sending second commands to a second plurality of valves in the water treatment system via a communication bus, said second valves allow treated water to be washed into the filter bed to clean said filter bed.

19. A method of testing valves in a water treatment system, comprising the steps of: sending commands to a plurality of valves in the water treatment system via a communication bus; and transmitting test results from the plurality of valves in the water treatment system via the communication bus.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the commands and the communication bus adhere to the Actuator Sensor Interface (AS-I) standards.

21. A control system for a water treatment system, the control system comprising: a programmable logic controller; the programmable logic controller coupled to a display and a bus interface; and a bus, whereby the programmable logic controller controls and monitors a plurality of actuators and sensors in the water treatment system.

22. The control system of claim 21, wherein the bus is an Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) bus.

23. The control system of claim 22, wherein the actuators are vane-type actuators.

24. A water filter system for use in a water treatment plant, comprising: a control subsystem; a filter bed; a plurality of valves coupled to the filter bed via piping for transport of water, each valve including an actuator and an electronic interface; and a bus extending from the control subsystem to the plurality of valves and providing low voltage electrical power to the valves, wherein the control subsystem and the plurality of valves are constructed and arranged for digital communications over the bus such that no separate power line for the plurality of valves must be wired upon installation of the system.

25. The water filter system of claim 24, wherein the control subsystem comprises a programmable logic controller and an interface with the programmable logic controller to monitor multiple operating parameters of the system.

26. The water filter system of claim 24, wherein the plurality of valves further comprises a switch in electronic communications with the control subsystem, the switch being operable to turn the valves off and on in response to commands from the control subsystem.

27. The water filter system of claim 24, wherein one operating parameter is an alarm indicative of whether the valve is operating in a manner which could damage the water filter system.

28. The water filter system of claim 24, wherein the one operating parameter is a control parameter indicative of flow capacity produced in the piping.

29. The water filter system of claim 24, wherein the one operating parameter is turbidity of the water.

30. The water filter system of claim 24, wherein the one operating parameter is a water level in the filter bed.

31. The water filter system of claim 24, wherein the programmable logic controller is operable to communicate digital data regarding the operating parameters to the plurality of valves.

32. A water filter control kit for use in a water treatment system, comprising: a control subsystem; a plurality of actuators and electronic interfaces designed to be coupled to a plurality of valves in the water treatment system; and wherein a bus may be extended from the control subsystem to the plurality of valves and providing low voltage electrical power to the valves, wherein the control subsystem and the plurality of valves may be constructed and arranged for digital communications over the bus such that no separate power line for the plurality of valves must be wired upon installation of the kit.

33. The water filter control kit of claim 32, wherein the electronic interfaces and the bus adhere to the Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) standard.

34. The water filter control kit of claim 33, wherein the digital communications include commands to change states of the valve.

35. The water filter control kit of claim 34, wherein the states of the valve is an open state or a closed state.

36. The water filter control kit of claim 33, wherein the digital communications include commands to determine whether one of the plurality of valves is faulty.

37. The water filter control kit of claim 33, wherein the actuators are vane-type actuators.

38. The water filter control kit of claim 32, wherein the control subsystem, actuators and wiring have been factory pretested.

39. A method of treating water in a water treatment system, comprising the step of: providing a menu driven control system, wherein each step in a water filter control process maybe controlled from the control system; and sending a command to a control device in the water treatment system via a communication bus.

40. The system of claim 39, wherein the control system includes programmable control logic and a display.

41. The system of claim 40, wherein the communication bus adheres to an Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) standard.

42. The system of claim 39, further comprising the step of providing a communication network wherein the communication network is a loop configured communication network.

43. The system of claim 41, wherein the control system is further coupled to a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system via a communication link.

44. The system of claim 42, further comprising the step of providing a communication link wherein the communication link is an IEEE 802.3 link.

Water treatment description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Not applicable.

STATEMENTS REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not applicable.

REFERENCE TO A MICROFICHE APPENDIX

[0003] Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0004] 1. Field of the Invention

[0005] This invention pertains to water treatment systems, and particularly to a control and communication system for controlling and monitoring components within a water filter system.

[0006] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0007] Surface water such as lake or river water, or subterranean water, is generally treated in a water treatment plant for use as potable or drinkable water. This pre-treated water often contains materials that can cause a bad taste or odor, or is otherwise harmful. For example, the water may contain organic substances from decaying vegetation, or chemicals from various agricultural or industrial applications, such as pesticides and herbicides.

[0008] Water treatment plants include a water treatment system consisting of filter beds, pipes, fittings and various actuators, sensors and valves to control the flow of water through the treatment system. Prior art systems include a control system with various discrete control and status lines to various actuators, sensors and valves. Typical prior art water treatment systems may include hundreds of discrete control lines snaking their way in a water treatment plant between the control system and the actuators, sensors and valves. Besides the physical space taken by the discrete control lines, maintainability, testability and reliability of the system may be hampered as a result of the hundreds of lines.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] A water treatment system including water filters, a control system, a communications bus, piping, fittings and various devices including actuators (e.g., a vane type actuator, manufactured by K-Tork International, Inc. of Dallas, Tex.), sensors and valves is disclosed. Generally, the flow of water through the system is controlled by various pipes and valves. The valves can be opened and closed either manually (i.e., human intervention) or through an actuator. The control system controls the flow of water through the system by opening and closing the valves via the actuators. A communication bus couples the control system to the various devices of the system.

[0010] In one embodiment, the communication bus adheres to the Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) standard. The standard includes a two (2) wire cable configured in a loop configuration. This configuration provides additional reliability to the system should the loop experience a fault somewhere in the line. The cable carries data and power to the various devices.

[0011] In one embodiment, the control system comprises a menu driven step-by-step methodology which facilitates the control including regeneration of the filter system by operators with little or no prior training. The control system includes various man-machine and electrical interfaces and programmable logic control for transmitting/receiving control and status data over the communication bus. The man-machine interface allows users to monitor various parameters of the water treatment system through a display and enter commands via a keypad or dedicated computer system. In addition, the control system can control the devices either automatically or through manual human intervention. The control system can be linked to other control systems, including a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system or filter panel for the control and monitoring of various devices in a water treatment plant. The link could be based on any communication network standard, but preferably the link is based on Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineer (IEEE) standard 802.3 (Ethernet).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a prior art valve system including a control system and a plurality of valves.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a prior art water filter system using the valve system of FIG. 1.

[0014] FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a water treatment system according to the present invention.

[0015] FIG. 4 is a system diagram with combination actuator-valve-interfac- es, according to the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 5 is a flow chart of an exemplary method of processing water in a water treatment plant according to the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 6 is a flow chart of an exemplary method of processing water in a water treatment plant according to the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 7 is a flow chart of an exemplary method of identifying faulty devices in a water treatment plant according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0019] FIG. 1 shows a prior art automated valve system. The system A consists of a control subsystem interface 100 for a control subsystem (not shown), discrete control lines DL-all and combination valve-actuator-solenoid units 102, 104, 106, 108 and 110. The figure illustrates twenty-five (25) discrete control lines DL-all coupled to the control subsystem interface 100. The discrete control lines DL-all are capable of carrying both power and control signals. The discrete control lines DL-all are coupled to the various valve-actuator-solenoid units 102, 104, 106, 108 and 110 in bundles of five (5) discrete control lines DL-5. The bundles of five (5) discrete control lines DL-5 are wired to a particular interface card in the control subsystem interface 100. The control subsystem generally provides a man-machine interface (not shown) for allowing users to manually operate the valves within the system.

[0020] For example, the discrete control lines DL-5A are coupled to the interface card 100a and the valve-actuator-solenoid 102. The interface card 100a provides power and control signals to the valve-actuator-solenoid 102. The control signals could include signals to change the states of the valve 102, from an open state to a closed state and vice versa.

[0021] Power can also be carried over the discrete control lines DL all from the control interface subsystem 100 to the valves 102, 104, 106, 108 and 110. The power can be used by the valves to energize/de-energize its solenoid for opening and closing the valves and for powering electronics, if any, within the valves.

[0022] For instance, a user may desire to close valve 102. The user would initiate an action (perhaps the pushing of a button to close a circuit) from the control subsystem to change the state of valve 102 from open to close. The control subsystem would direct the control subsystem interface to supply the necessary power to the solenoid of the valve 102 to close said valve.

[0023] The above description of the prior art automated valve system demonstrates the shortcomings of discrete control lines system. Although FIG. 1 shows five (5) valves and twenty-five (25) discrete control lines, typical applications of such systems can utilize tens of valves and hundreds of discrete control line over distances of hundreds of meters. Maintainability, reliability and testability of the system may be difficult due the number of wires over a particular distance.

[0024] FIG. 2 illustrates a prior art water treatment system with discrete control lines. The process for treating water includes pre-treated water from a source WATER SOURCE first flowing through an influent valve 202 prior to entry into a filter bed 206. The source WATER SOURCE typically comprises a reservoir, lake, river, or other source of unfiltered water. The filter bed 206 can include various media to eliminate certain undesirable elements from the pre-treated water. For instance, the filter bed 206 may utilize a granulated activated carbon bed as an adsorption unit for removing undesirable elements from the pre-treated water. The influent valve 202 controls the flow of water from the WATER SOURCE to the filter bed 206. The level of water in the filter bed 206 can be ascertained by a level sensor 208. The method for ascertaining the water level can be made by various methods known in the art, such as a liquid detector or a sonic sensor.

[0025] If the FILTERED water from the filter bed 206 is determined to be acceptable (method for determining acceptability will be discussed below), a DRAIN valve 214, a FILTER TO WASTE valve 216 and a BACKWASH valve 210, a AIRWASH valve 212, are all closed to allow the FILTERED water to exit the system via an opened EFFLUENT valve 208.

[0026] A turbidmeter 218 is used to determine the turbidity of the FILTERED WATER. Turbidity is one parameter used to determine the quality of water. The quality of potable or drinking water is generally determined by federal, state or community authorities. In addition, a HEAD LOSS device 222 may provide some indication on whether the filter bed 206 needs to undergo a backwash process. Consequently, whether the filtered water is acceptable or not is typically ascertained by the turbidity of the FILTERED water and head loss.

[0027] Should the turbidity of the filtered water or the pressure differential indicated on the head loss device reach unacceptable levels, more than likely, the filter bed 206 is no longer capable of removing the undesirable elements from the pre-treated water. Thus, the filter bed 206 is cleaned by a backwash system including the BACKWASH valve 210 and a pump 220.

[0028] During a backwash cycle, the INFLUENT valve 202, the EFFLUENT valve 208, the AIRWASH valve 212, and the FILTER TO WASTE valve 216 are all closed. First, the water level in the filter bed 206 is reduced by opening the DRAIN valve 214. After the water level is dropped to a certain level (as detected by the level sensor 208), the DRAIN valve 216 is closed and the AIRWASH valve 212 is opened. The flow of air generated by the blower 228 initially loosens any undesirable particulate from the media.

[0029] The AIRWASH valve 212 is closed, the BACKWASH valve 210 is opened and a pump 226 pumps the FILTERED water back into the filter bed 206. The amount of FILTERED water pumped by the pump 220 may vary in time, so as to create a backwash effect in the filter bed 206 to remove the undesirable elements from the media. Once the backwash process is completed, the BACKWASH valve 210 is closed and the FILTER TO WASTE valve 216 is opened to allow the backwash water to exit the system. The FILTER TO WASTE valve 216 is then closed and the INFLUENT valve 202 is opened to allow water from the WATER SOURCE to enter into the filter system.

[0030] All of the valves, pumps and sensors (cumulatively, the "devices") can be controlled or monitored by a control panel 200. The devices are coupled to the control panel 200 via discrete control lines (represented in the figure by dashed lines) in a linear configuration topology. The control panel 200 can provide the appropriate signal to change the state (open or close) of a valve via the discrete control lines. The control panel 200 can also typically receive information from a device, such as the level sensor 208, the turbidmeter 218 and various flowmeters 220 and 224. Thus, the operator (not shown) of the control panel 200 can monitor the turbidity of the FILTERED water or pressure differential from the HEAD LOSS device 222 and can initiate a backwash process should the turbidity or pressure differential of the FILTERED water reach an unacceptable level.

[0031] The number of wires in a discrete control line to a particular device may vary. For example, the discrete control lines from the control panel 200 to the INFLUENT valve 202 may require five (5) separate wires, over a distance of one-hundred (100) meters. Therefore, it is possible that the number of wires from the control panel 200 may exceed a hundred (100) or more wires.

[0032] FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a water filter system according to the present invention. Each step shown in FIGS. 3-5 and described herein below is displayable on the control panel 200 and controllable by an operator via the control panel. In one embodiment, each step in the control of the water filter is displayed for an operator to initiate manual or automatic control of the filter system. The flow of water through the water filter system is controlled by valves and piping. The process for treating water includes pre-treated water from a source WATER SOURCE first flowing through an influent valve 314 prior to entry into a filter bed 320. The filter bed 320 can include various media to eliminate certain undesirable elements from the pre-treated water. For instance, the filter bed 320 may utilize a granulated activated carbon bed media as an adsorption unit for removing undesirable elements from the pre-treated water.

[0033] The influent valve 314 controls the flow of water from the WATER SOURCE to the filter bed 320. It is noted that the valves described herein may include an actuator for opening or closing the valve. The actuator may be a vane-type actuator, such as one manufactured by K-Tork International, Inc. of Dallas, Tex. and disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,289,787, said patent incorporated by reference in its entirety. The level of water in the filter bed 320 can be ascertained by a level sensor 322. The sensor 322 may utilize various known methods for ascertaining the water level, such as a liquid detector or a sonic sensor.

[0034] If the FILTERED water from the filter bed 320 is determined to be acceptable, a DRAIN valve 316, a FILTER TO WASTE valve 330, an AIRWASH valve 328 and a BACKWASH valve 324 are all closed to allow the FILTERED water to exit the system via an opened EFFLUENT valve 336.

[0035] Various sensors can ascertain various operating parameters of the water treatment system. For example, the state of a valve may be ascertained by a sensor monitoring an actuator coupled to a valve. In addition, FIG. 3 illustrates a turbidmeter 332 used to determine the turbidity of the FILTERED WATER and a HEAD LOSS device 360 used to measure a pressure differential in the FILTERED water. Thus whether the filtered water is deemed acceptable or not is typically ascertained by the turbidity and pressure differential of the FILTERED water.

[0036] Should the turbidity or pressure differential of the filtered water reach unacceptable levels, more than likely, the filter bed 320 is no longer capable of removing the undesirable elements from the pre-treated water. Thus, the filter bed 320 is cleaned by a backwash system including the AIRWASH valve 328, a AIRWASH blower 362, the BACKWASH valve 324 and a BACKWASH pump 364.

[0037] During an initial backwash cycle, the level of the water is lowed by closing the INFLUENT valve 314, the EFFLUENT valve 336, the BACKWASH valve 324, the AIRWASH valve 328 and the FILTER TO WASTE valve 330 and opening the DRAIN valve 316. The level drop can be detected by the level sensor 322. Once the level of water in the filter bed 320 reaches an acceptable level, the INFLUENT valve 314, the EFFLUENT valve 336, the DRAIN valve 316, the BACKWASH valve 324 and the FILTER TO WASTE valve 330 remain closed. The AIRWASH valve 328 is opened and the blower 362 is turned on. The blower 362 generates a flow to loosen particulates from the media of the filter bed 320.

[0038] Next, the AIRWASH valve 328 is closed, the BACKWASH valve 324 is opened and the pump 364 pumps the FILTERED water back into the filter bed 320. The amount of FILTERED water pumped by the pump 326 may vary in time, so as to create a backwash effect in the filter bed 320 to remove the undesirable elements from the media. Once the backwash process is completed, the FILTER TO WASTE valve 330 is opened to allow the backwash water to exit the system. The FILTER TO WASTE valve 330 is then closed and the INFLUENT valve 314 is opened to allow water from the WATER SOURCE to enter into the filter system and the EFFLUENT valve 336 is opened to allow the filtered water to exit from the filter system.

[0039] All of the valves, pumps and sensors (cumulatively, the "devices") can be controlled or monitored by a control subsystem 300. The devices are generally coupled to the control panel 300 via a bus 312.

[0040] In one embodiment, communication and control of the control subsystem 300 and the devices adhere to the Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) standard. The specification of the AS-I standard is described in Werner R. Kriesel & Otto W. Madelung, AS-I Interface The Actuator-Sensor-Interface for Automation (2nd ed. 1999) and discussed in the following patents (all said patents are incorporated by reference in their entirety): U.S. Pat. No. 6,294,889 for a Process and a Control Device for a Motor Output Suitable for being Controlled through a Communication Bus, U.S. Pat. No. 6,378,574 for a Rotary Type Continuous Filling Apparatus, U.S. Pat. No. 6,332,327 for a Distributed Intelligence Control for Commercial Refrigeration, U.S. Pat. No. 6,127,748 for an Installation for Making Electrical Connection Between an Equipment Assembly and a Command and Control System, U.S. Pat. No. 6,173,731 for an Electrofluidic Modular System, U.S. Pat. No. 6,222,441 for a Process and Circuit for Connecting an Actuator to a Line, U.S. Pat. No. 5,978,193 for a Switchgear Unit Capable of Communication and U.S. Pat. No. 5,955,859 for an Interface Module Between a Field Bus and Electrical Equipment Controlling and Protecting an Electric Motor.

[0041] The AS-I bus 312 is comprised of two (2) wires, preferably fourteen (14) gauge wires, capable of carrying digital data and power to the various devices. The power to the bus 312 is provided by the control subsystems' power supplies PS1 and PS2 (such power supplies may include StoneL Corporation, Fergus Falls, Minn., Model No. 459002-FM102). The AS-I standard specifies that the power supply generally provide a low voltage twenty-four (24) volts over the bus 312.

[0042] The control logic of the control subsystem 300 is a programmable logic controller (PLC) 306. The controller 306 provides the necessary processors to transmit and receive data over the bus 312.

[0043] Should the PLC be non-AS-I compliant, a gateway 304 provides the necessary interface for the control subsystem 300 to transmit and receive digital data and power over the bus 312. A display 302 generally provides status information of the water treatment system. In addition, a man machine interface (not shown) provides the necessary interface for a user to initiate various control and monitoring functions of the devices, such as initiating a backwash process. For security, the control subsystem 300 may include hardware (such as a key lock) or software (password) to prevent unauthorized personnel from using the system.

[0044] The AS-I standard generally specifies a master/slave bus configuration. The control subsystem (master) and the devices (slave) are designed to operate on an AS-I bus 312. For example, a device may be a valve, such as the INFLUENT valve 314. The INFLUENT valve includes a valve, an actuator and an AS-I interface (such interface includes StoneL Corporation of Fergus Falls, Minn., Model No. QZP96C2R-FM105) (the valve combination will be discussed in detail below). The INFLUENT VALVE 314 is coupled to the AS-I bus 312 via a switch 356. The switch may be a switch such as a StoneL Corporation of Fergus Falls, Minn., Model No. 461002 or Stonel Model No. 461034. The switches generally provide the interface between the bus and the slave devices. In addition, the Model 461034 switch provides a disconnect switch offering a convenient method to remove, replace or repair a slave device while the remainder of the bus devices remain on line.

[0045] FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a water filter system with a combination interface, actuator and valve assembly, according to the present invention. For example, during normal operations of the water treatment system, an INFLUENT valve 400 is opened. An actuator 402 is coupled to the valve 400 and an AS-I interface 404. The AS-I interface 404 is coupled to an AS-I bus 408 via a switch 406. An exemplary AS-I interface is a StoneL Corporation of Fergus Falls, Minn., Model No. QZP96C2R-FM105. The actuator can be of any type, including a vane-type actuator (such as a K-Tork International, Inc. of Dallas, Tex., vane-type actuator). The state of the valve 400 can be ascertained by the AS-I interface 404. The AS-I interface 404 may include positioning sensors to ascertain the state (e.g. the position of a disc of a butterfly type valve) of the valve 400. In addition, the AS-I interface 404 includes processing capabilities to communicate digital data and provide power from a bus 408.

[0046] Referring to FIG. 3, each AS-I Interface includes a processor (not shown) for sending and receiving data from the bus 312. The AS-I interfaces are configured in a serial fashion on the bus 312 and each interface (i.e., each slave) has its own identification number. Furthermore, the AS-I interfaces also provide power from the bus 312 to energize/de-energize the solenoids of the actuators of the various valves. Consequently, should the filter system operate in the normal mode (i.e., pre-treated water flowing through the filter bed and out of the system), the control subsystem 300 would provide the necessary power and command to open the INFLUENT valve 314 and the EFFLUENT valve 336, while closing the DRAIN VALVE 316, the BACKWASH valve 324, the AIRWASH valve 328 and the FILTER TO WASTE valve 330. In addition, should it be necessary to enter a backwash process, the control subsystem 300 would provide the necessary power and command to the appropriate valves to perform such process (as previously described). Furthermore, the various sensors 322, 332 and 360 are also coupled to the AS-I bus 312 via AS-I interfaces 358, 346 and 350, respectively. Thus, operating parameters of the water treatment system may be monitored by the control subsystem 300 via the AS-I bus 312.

[0047] Although the topology of the various AS-I interfaces and devices can be in a number of configurations, such as a linear configuration or a tree configuration, the preferred topology is a loop configuration (as shown in FIG. 3). The loop configuration provides for better fault tolerance. For example, should the bus 312 experience a break 360, power and data and still be carried over the bus 312 in either directions A or B, away from the break.

[0048] Furthermore, a test sequence may be initiated by the control subsystem 300 to test the various devices. Upon receipt of a test command, the processor within the AS-I interfaces performs a self-test to determine the status of the device. The results of the self-test are transmitted to the control subsystem 300 via the bus 312.

[0049] Next, the control subsystem 300 is capable of interfacing to a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system or other control subsystems via a communication link 363. In one embodiment, the communication link 363 is an Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineer (IEEE) standard 802.3 bus (ETHERNET). Typically, a water treatment plant includes a number of water filter systems. Therefore, from a single location, the SCADA system can monitor and control the various water filter systems from one location via the communication link 363. One skilled in the art could recognize that the various commands from the control subsystem may be manually initiated by a user or be automatically initiated by a software routine.

[0050] In a manual mode, a user may initiate a backwash process, e.g., after observing the head loss from the sensor 360. The user may initiate the backwash process by pressing appropriate controls in the man machine interface (not shown) of the control subsystem 300. Thus, the user may view various operating parameters of the water filter system and then take appropriate actions to successfully perform the backwash process based on system prompts received from the control subsystem 300.

[0051] Also, status from the various devices may be monitored by a user or a software routine for further action. For example, the water treatment system may be damaged should one of the valves in the system malfunction. For instance, should valve 400 not close upon a command to close, the valve's AS-I interface 404 could sense the malfunction and trigger an alarm. Since each AS-I device has its own identification device number, the AS-I interface 404 would transmit the alarm status to the control subsystem 410 via the bus 408, whereby the control subsystem 410 would identify the malfunctioned valve.

[0052] In addition, the devices and control subsystem of the present invention may be pre-packaged in a kit form. The devices and control subsystem may be pre-tested for installation. Consequently, the kit can be used to retrofit existing and new water treatment systems.

[0053] FIG. 5 is a flow chart of an exemplary method of processing water in a water treatment system, according to the present invention. The method starts at step 500. The water treatment system is operating in a normal mode at step 502. At step 504, a control subsystem transmits power and commands to open an influent and an effluent valves, close all other valves and operate an effluent pump. The commands are typically Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) commands. Next, the turbidity of the water is tested at step 506. If the turbidity is good, the method proceeds to step 502.

[0054] At step 506, if the turbidity of the water is not good, the method proceeds to step 508, wherein the system enters a backwash mode. At step 510, the control subsystem transmits power and commands to open a backwash valve, operate a backwash pump and close all other valves. The method ends at step 512.

[0055] FIG. 6 is a flow chart of another exemplary method of processing water in a water treatment system, according to the present invention. The method starts at step 600. At step 602, the system is in a manual mode. A user determines whether a backwash process is needed by viewing operating parameters of the system at step 604. The operating parameters could be turbidity, head loss or water flow characteristics. At step 606, the user, after viewing the operating parameters, determines whether a backwash process is needed to clean the system. If a backwash process is not needed, the method ends at step 608. If at step 606, the user determines that a backwash is needed, the method proceeds to step 610. At step 610, the user follows prompts on a display in the control subsystem to initiate and control a backwash process via bus commands. The bus commands could be Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) commands. The method then ends at step 608.

[0056] In FIG. 7, a flow chart of an exemplary method of identifying faulty devices in a water treatment system, according to the present invention, is disclosed. The method starts at step 700. A control subsystem monitors the states of devices that are coupled to a bus, at step 702. The devices may include electronic interfaces, actuators, valves and sensors coupled to an Actuator Sensor-Interface (AS-I) bus. The states may be whether a valve is in an open state or a closed state or whether the device is faulty. At step 704, if a device has malfunctioned or is faulty, the control subsystem identifies the device by sending a test command and receiving a response via the bus. The response includes the device's identification number. The response is displayed on a display of the control subsystem. After viewing the display of the control subsystem, a user may then have test personnel examine the faulty device for repair or replacement. Consequently, the method ends at step 706.

[0057] The foregoing disclosure and description of the invention are illustrative and explanatory thereof, and various changes in the details of the illustrated apparatus and construction and method of operation may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, the valves of the system may not necessarily be AS-I compliant valves. Nonetheless, the valves may include AS-I compliant actuators/interface Ws for inclusion of the non-compliant valves on an AS-I complaint bus.


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