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Bladderless pressure tanks and systems

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Title: Bladderless pressure tanks and systems.
Abstract: Pressure tank/vessels and systems. A such pressure tank is typically made of stainless steel and is adapted and configured for use with a pressurized water supply system wherein the pressure tank is installed underground. The e.g. stainless steel tank of the invention includes inlet and outlet ducts, which cooperate with each other (i) to generally concentrate e.g. debris and/or other detritus, which may be in the tank, into a generally localized area, such as a bottom-most portion of the tank, and thence (ii) to remove at least some of such debris and/or detritus from the tank through normal operation and use of the pressure tank. ...


- Appleton, WI, US
Inventor: Ron A. Komarek
USPTO Applicaton #: #20060118564 - Class: 220565000 (USPTO) - 06/08/06 - Class 220 


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Related Patent Categories: Receptacles, Stationary Tank
The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20060118564, Bladderless pressure tanks and systems.

Detritus   



BACKGROUND

[0001] This invention relates to apparatus and methods for transporting water from a water source such as a well, to a final water destination. The invention also relates to apparatus and methods for and/or holding water, at least temporarily, between a water source and a final water destination. This invention also relates to apparatus and methods which require e.g. pneumatic pressure to transport and/or hold such water between a water source and a final water destination.

[0002] Specifically, this invention relates to pressure tanks and/or other pressure vessels which are used in pressurized water transport systems. In certain embodiments, this invention relates to pressure vessels and/or other pressure tanks which are used in residential pressurized water supply systems.

[0003] Typically, pressure in some form is used to move water from a source location to a final destination location. As one example, in municipal and/or urban areas, water towers are often used to create a positive water pressure differential within the municipal and/or urban water supply system. Such pressure differential is created by pumping water to an elevated water holding tank in the water tower. The height of the elevated water holding tank is relatively greater than the heights of final water destinations such as buildings and other destinations which are served by the water supply system. In particular, the magnitude of the height of the elevated water holding tank is sufficiently great to realize a corresponding water pressure, according to the height of the water column between the water level in the tank and the elevation at the end user destination. The so-developed water pressure must be sufficiently great to satisfy end-user water demand at the final water destinations at at least a minimum required water pressure.

[0004] However, in other, e.g. relatively more rural areas, each final water destination, which may include residential structures, other buildings, and/or other destinations, may have its own relatively self contained water supply system. Such self contained water supply systems are typically separate and distinct from any water supply systems of, for example, neighboring parcels of land, or neighboring buildings, which have final water destinations.

[0005] Typically, non-municipal water supply systems draw, or otherwise move, water from an underground aquifer, through an assemblage of piping and/or other apparatus, to a final destination such as the plumbing of a residential building.

[0006] The water in the aquifer is accessible through a well. A typical well is a bore which extends into the ground and into the aquifer. A well casing, e.g. a pipe, is inserted into the well so as to retain the integrity of the generally cylindrical well wall.

[0007] A submersible pump, and associated piping and controls, extend through the well casing and into the aquifer. A non-submersible pump can, in the alternative, be used. Such non-submersible pump may or may not be housed in the well casing. The pump pumps water out of the aquifer, through piping, and into a pressure vessel/tank. The pressure vessel/tank stores the water under pressure until the water is ultimately distributed, for example through the plumbing of a house upon user demand.

[0008] The pressure vessel/tank is adapted and configured to hold a reserve supply of water under pressure to satisfy at least initial user water demand, which enables the pump to cycle/run relatively less frequently. Namely, a pump which is used in conjunction with a pressure vessel/tank only cycles/runs when the volume of water within the pressure tank is sufficiently depleted. By cycling/running relatively less frequently, pump components typically enjoy a relatively longer use life, whereby utilization of pressure vessels/tanks can be effective for individuals who have water systems which are not connected to a municipal water system.

[0009] Typically, pressure vessels/tanks are installed in basements of water destination buildings, or in separate buildings adapted and configured to house the pressure vessels adjacent the water destination buildings. Separate buildings which house pressure vessels can be viewed, by some, as relatively aesthetically displeasing.

[0010] However, installing/housing a pressure vessel/tank in the basement of a building can occupy otherwise valuable square footage of the building. In addition, pressure vessels/tanks which are housed in basements can pose certain dangers to persons near or otherwise around the pressure vessels/tanks. There are inherent dangers associated with pressure vessels/tanks, which relate to the operation of such vessels/tanks.

[0011] The pump pumps the well water into the pressure vessel/tank. Ingress of the water into the tank, under pressure, compresses the air in the tank and correspondingly creates an internal tank pressure which is greater than that of atmospheric pressure. Accordingly, the walls of the pressure vessel/tank bear a positive gauge pressure, whereby the tank is susceptible to mechanical failure. Namely, the tank can burst or otherwise rupture if the integrity of the material from which the tank is made is compromised or otherwise fails, and wherein the attendant internal tank pressure is great enough to overcome the material strength deficit of the pressure vessel/tank. A pressure vessel/tank which burst/rupture can spill water into the area in which the tank is housed, such as the basement the pressure vessel is installed in. In addition, as a pressure vessel bursts, the pressure vessel can evacuate its contents at a relatively high velocity, as dictated by its internal pressure, which can prove dangerous to persons in the vicinity.

[0012] Pressure vessels/tanks are typically made from metal, and more particularly from steel. Thus, pressure vessels/tanks are susceptible to degradative corrosion, as steel is a material which is susceptible to degradative corrosion. Also, since basements can be relatively damp and/or wet, typical e.g. steel pressure vessels/tanks can corrode relatively more easily in such environment which in turn can accelerate the compromising of the integrity of the tank and thus pose a burst/rupture hazard.

[0013] Also, as pressure vessels/tanks are typically made from corrodible materials, typical pressure vessels/tanks are relatively ill-suited for installation underground. Namely, a typical pressure vessel/tank installed underground would have a relatively shorter use life, as underground environments can expose the tank to a deleterious combination of moisture and oxygen.

[0014] In addition, the composition of components of typical pressure vessels/tanks can impart certain qualities to the water which passes through such tanks, which some people can find undesirable or objectionable.

[0015] For example, typical pressure vessels/tanks include rubber, e.g. butyl rubber, bladders/diaphragms, as solid physical structures which physically separate the inner cavity in such of the pressure vessels/tanks into an air cavity and a liquid cavity. Accordingly, when the submersible pump pumps water from the well into the pressure vessel/tank, the rubber bladder/diaphragm physically separates the water which enters the liquid cavity of the tank from the air housed in the air cavity of the tank.

[0016] After the requisite amount of water needed to fill the liquid cavity of the pressure vessel/tank enters the liquid cavity, any additional water which enters the liquid cavity stretches the rubber bladder/diaphragm. In so doing, the volume of the liquid cavity becomes relatively larger and the volume of the air cavity becomes relatively smaller which compresses the air within the air cavity and correspondingly increases the pressure within the pressure vessel/tank. Correspondingly, at least some of the water which passes through the pressure vessel/tank intimately communicates with the rubber bladder/diaphragm.

[0017] Since the water in the pressure vessel/tank communicates with the rubber bladder/diaphragm, certain characteristics of the bladder/diaphragm can be imparted to the water which passes through the pressure vessel/tank. Namely, the rubber bladder may transfer tuber-based components, compounds to the water, whereby the water which passes through the pressure vessel/tank can acquire a "rubbery" smell and/or taste.

[0018] In addition, pressure vessels/tanks can accumulate debris therein. As one example, debris which is suspended in the water in the underground aquifer can be pumped into the pressure vessel/tank along with the incoming water. As the water which contains such debris sits in the pressure vessel/tank, the debris can "settle out" of its suspension in the water and can thus accumulate at, for example, the bottom of the pressure vessel/tank.

[0019] Also, if the pressure vessel/tank is made from a degradatively corrodible material, the inside surface of the vessel/tank can degrade whereby flakes, flecks, chips, and/or other pieces of corroded material can chip off, fall off, and/or otherwise dislodge from the inside surface of the vessel/tank. Thus, the flakes, flecks, chips, and/or other pieces of corroded material can fall downwardly into the vessel/tank and for example, settle at the bottom of the vessel/tank.

[0020] If debris, flakes, flecks, chips, pieces of corroded material, and/or other particles accumulate in the pressure vessel/tank, the integrity of the vessel's/tank's operation can be compromised, as can the integrity of the overall attached plumbing/water supply system, as well as the integrity of the water which passes through the vessel/tank. Namely, debris, flakes, flecks, chips, pieces of corroded material, and/or other particles which accumulate in the pressure vessel/tank can break down over time and can create what is commonly referred to as "sludge." The "sludge" can have an odor which some find offensive and can have an appearance which some find aesthetically displeasing. In addition, when a sufficient quantity of the sludge accumulates, the "sludge" can be sucked into the tank outlet as water is drawn by an end user, whereby an unacceptable concentration of sludge can be embodied in the water which is received by the end user. Thus, the sludge can enter and pass through that portion of the plumbing system which is downstream from the vessel/tank in the water system, and can impart, to the water, odor and/or color characteristics which some end users find displeasing and/or unacceptable.

[0021] In conventional water systems, it is relatively difficult to clean, and/or otherwise remove debris from, known pressure vessels/tanks. Namely, typical pressure vessels/tanks do not have access openings which are sufficient in size to permit access into the tank to enable, for example, a user to remove sludge and/or other debris from the tank, or to otherwise access the tank cavity for the purpose of mechanically cleaning the tank.

[0022] Accordingly, it is desirable and/or valuable to provide water pressure vessels/tanks which are made from materials which resist corrosion and which can correspondingly be installed underground.

[0023] It is desirable and/or valuable to provide water pressure vessels/tanks which are devoid of a rubber bladder/diaphragm.

[0024] Also, it is desirable and/or valuable to provide water pressure vessels/tanks which are adapted and configured to agitate debris in the bottom of the vessel/tank whereby the debris is suspended in the water, at a very dilute concentration, such that the debris can be carried out of the tank by water which passes therethrough at a debris concentration which is acceptable to many end user requirements, e.g. for use as potable water.

SUMMARY

[0025] This invention provides novel pressure tanks/vessels, and novel tank/vessel systems for use in e.g. residential and/or other water supply systems. Pressure tanks/vessels and systems of the invention comprise stainless steel tanks/vessels which are adapted and configured for use with water supply systems wherein the tank is installed underground, namely in contact with the ground. A such stainless steel tank/vessel includes an inlet duct and an outlet duct, which cooperate with each other to generally concentrate e.g. debris which may be in the tanks/vessels into one or more generally localized areas, such as at a bottom-most portion of the tank/vessel, and thence to remove at least some, optionally all, of such debris from the tank/vessel as water is withdrawn from the tank through the outlet duct.

[0026] In a first family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a pressure tank/vessel for use in a water pressure system comprising: (a) a stainless steel tank body having a top wall, a bottom wall, and a circumferential sidewall extending therebetween; (b) a cavity defined generally within the top wall, the bottom wall, and the circumferential sidewall, the cavity defining an air cavity portion and a liquid cavity portion, the air and liquid cavity portions communicating with each other and the cavity being generally devoid of structure between the air and liquid cavity portions; (c) an air volume control apparatus which includes a float actuated along a generally vertical axis; and (d) a generally arcuate inlet duct and a generally arcuate outlet duct, each of the inlet and outlet ducts communicating with at least one of the bottom wall and the circumferential sidewall, the inlet duct located a first distance from the bottom wall and the outlet duct located a second distance from the bottom wall, the magnitude of the first distance being greater than the magnitude of the second distance.

[0027] In some embodiments, the tank body comprises a 300 Series stainless steel.

[0028] In some embodiments, the generally arcuate inlet duct defines a relatively less arcuate portion and a relatively more arcuate portion thereof.

[0029] In some embodiments, the inlet duct is spaced a first generally vertical distance from the bottom wall and the outlet duct is spaced a second generally vertical distance from the bottom wall, the magnitude of the first generally vertical distance being greater than the magnitude of the second generally vertical distance.

[0030] In some embodiments, at least one of the top wall, the bottom wall, and the circumferential wall realizes a wall thickness of at least about 1/8 inch.

[0031] In some embodiments, at least one of the top wall, the bottom wall, and the circumferential wall realizes a wall thickness of at least about 1/4 inch.

[0032] In a second family of embodiments, the invention comprehends an underground pressure tank/vessel adapted and configured to cooperate with a water well and being connected thereto and comprising: (a) a stainless steel tank body having a top wall having an inner surface, a bottom wall having an inner surface, and a circumferential sidewall having an inner surface, and an inlet duct and an outlet duct which extend generally into the tank body; (b) the inner surfaces of the top wall, the bottom wall, and the circumferential sidewall generally defining an outer perimeter of a tank cavity; the tank cavity comprising an air cavity portion and a liquid cavity portion being in face to face intimate communication with each other.

[0033] In some embodiments, the tank/vessel is connected to a well casing of a water pressure system.

[0034] In some embodiments, the tank/vessel is connected to the well casing with at least one strap.

[0035] In some embodiments, the circumferential sidewall generally defines a tank width of at least about 12 inches.

[0036] In some embodiments, the circumferential sidewall generally defines a tank width of at least about 18 inches.

[0037] In some embodiments, the top wall and the bottom wall generally define a tank height dimension therebetween, the tank height dimension being at least about 36 inches.

[0038] In some embodiments, the top wall and the bottom wall generally define a tank height dimension therebetween, the tank height dimension being at least about 40 inches.

[0039] In a third family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a stainless steel pressure tank/vessel comprising: (a) a top wall; (b) a bottom wall; (c) a circumferential sidewall extending between the top wall and the bottom wall; (d) a generally arcuate outlet duct having first and second terminal ends; the bottom wall having a concave inner surface which defines a deepest portion thereof, one of the first and second terminal ends of the generally arcuate outlet duct communicating with the circumferential sidewall and the other one of the first and second terminal ends of the generally arcuate outlet duct generally overlying the deepest portion of the bottom wall inner surface.

[0040] In some embodiments, the stainless steel pressure tank/vessel further comprises a generally arcuate inlet duct communicating with the circumferential sidewall.

[0041] In some embodiments, each of the top wall, the bottom wall, and the circumferential sidewall has an inner surface thereof, respective ones of the inner surfaces generally defining a tank cavity therebetween, the tank cavity defining an air cavity portion and a liquid cavity portion communicating with each other.

[0042] In some embodiments, the stainless steel pressure tank/vessel further comprises an air volume control apparatus generally originating at and communicating with the top wall and extending generally downwardly into the tank cavity.

[0043] In some embodiments, the stainless steel pressure tank/vessel further comprises an air volume control apparatus which includes a generally elongate float pole and float slidingly communicating therewith, whereby the float is adapted and configured to actuate along a generally vertical axis of float travel.

[0044] In some embodiments, the one of the first and second terminal ends of the generally arcuate outlet duct which generally overlying the deepest portion of the bottom wall inner surface defines an outlet duct mouth which is spaced upwardly from and about 6 inches or less from the deepest portion of the bottom wall inner surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0045] FIG. 1A shows a side elevation view of a pressure tank/vessel system of the invention which includes a first embodiment of pressure vessel assemblies of the invention, installed in the ground, with cross-sectional views of other parts of the well and the corresponding water supply system.

[0046] FIG. 1B shows a side elevation of a first embodiment of a pressure tank/vessel of the invention, with parts cut away.

[0047] FIG. 2A shows a cross-section view of a second embodiment of pressure vessel assemblies of the invention.

[0048] FIG. 2B shows a second cross-section view of the pressure vessel assembly of FIG. 2A taken at line 2B-2B in FIG. 2A.

[0049] FIG. 3A shows a cross-section view of a third embodiment of pressure vessel assemblies of the invention with a first volume of water in the pressure vessel.

[0050] FIG. 3B shows a cross-section view of the pressure vessel assembly of FIG. 3A with a second volume of water in the pressure vessel.

[0051] FIG. 4 shows a side elevation view of a second embodiment of inlet ducts employed in pressure vessels/tanks of the invention.

[0052] The invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction or the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments or of being practiced or carried out in other various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the terminology and phraseology employed herein is for purpose of description and illustration and should not be regarded as limiting. Like reference numerals are used to indicate like components.

DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

[0053] FIG. 1A illustrates a first embodiment of pressure tank/vessel systems of the invention which are used for transporting fluid, such as water, from a source location to a destination location. In a typical implementation of the invention, a pressure tank/vessel system 5 includes a water well assembly 20, and pressure vessel assembly 100, and can further include various other components including pieces of plumbing, tubing, hardware, and others, which enable water to be moved from a water source e.g. aquifer "A" to a final water destination e.g. a water outlet such as a faucet in a destination/building 250.

[0054] Water well assembly 20 includes well casing 25, well cap 26, pump assembly 30, pump outlet pipe assembly 50, pitless adapter 57, and lift-out pipe 58. Well casing 25 is generally an elongate and cylindrical pipe, which has an outer circumferential sidewall, and first and second terminal ends which define a length therebetween. Well casing 25, as a pipe, is generally hollow. Namely, well casing 25 has a through bore which extends axially therethrough, between the first and second terminal ends.

[0055] One of the first and second terminal ends of well casing 25 extends into, is adjacent to, and/or otherwise communicates with a source of undergrounds fluid, such as potable and/or other water. The water is typically located in a relatively concentrated area such as aquifer "A". Aquifer "A" contemplates the full spectrum of useful water bearing geologic formations. Accordingly, one of the first and second terminal ends of well casing 25 extends into aquifer "A."

[0056] The other one of the first and second terminal ends of well casing 25 protrudes upwardly and optionally outwardly from ground "G" whereby at least some of well casing 25 is visible from, and accessible from, above the upper surface of ground "G." Since part of well casing 25 extends upwardly from the upper surface of ground "G," maintenance persons and/or other users of pressure tank/vessel system 5 can access e.g. well casing 25 and/or components contained therein from "above-ground."

[0057] Accordingly, the overall length of well casing 25, which is defined between the first and second terminal ends, corresponds to the depth in which aquifer "A" resides below the uppermost surface of ground "G" and further corresponds to the height in which casing 25 extends above the uppermost surface of ground "G."

[0058] In the alternative, the top of the well casing can be housed in an underground pit which may have an access opening, including suitable ventilation, to receive a worker, thereby to access the upper end of the casing.

[0059] An opening extends through the outer circumferential wall of, and radially inwardly into, well casing 25. Preferably, the opening which extends through the casing's outer circumferential wall extends through the wall at a position along the length of casing 25 which is e.g. below the "frost line" of the ground "G" in which water well assembly 20 is installed. This enables pressure vessel system 5 to, for example, suitably function/operate when the ambient temperature at e.g. ground level is below the temperature at which water freezes.

[0060] Well casing 25 is made from a relatively rigid, strong, and durable material which realizes a suitable use life in its intended environment, such as within ground "G." The rigidity, durability, and/or other characteristics of well casing 25 enable the well casing to resist deformation, breakage, and/or other forces attendant e.g. the bore/hole which extends into ground "G, and into which the well casing 25 is installed and/or otherwise inserted, which forces hold potential to otherwise compromise the integrity of the structure of the well casing." Those skilled in the art are well aware of suitable materials for use in well casing 25 which offer certain, if not all, of these desirable characteristics to well casing 25 including, but not limited to, various steel alloys, various polymeric materials such as various polyvinyl chloride (PVC) based materials, and others.

[0061] Cap 26 has a generally circular top wall which defines a generally circular outer perimeter. The top wall of cap 26 is generally planar, continuously solid, and has an upper surface and a lower surface. In addition, cap 26 has a circumferential sidewall which extends axially of the casing adjacent the circular outer perimeter of the cap top wall. Accordingly, cap 26 defines a "bowl-type" or "dish-type" structure having a closed end which is defined by the top wall, and an open end which is axially distal from the top wall.

[0062] The open end of cap 26 is adapted and configured to accept the terminal end of well casing 25, e.g. the upper terminal end, therein. Thus, in the assembled water well assembly 20, the upper terminal end of well casing 25 and the top wall lower surface of cap 26 communicate with each other so as to generally close off the top of the casing, thereby to, among other things, prevent debris and/or other items from falling into well casing 25.

[0063] Pump assembly 30 includes pump motor 32 and pump body 34. Motor 32 is preferably an AC electric motor which receives for example 120V AC power from a power source which is located e.g. above ground and/or which is associated with the final destination 250. Namely, electrical wiring (not shown) can extend from, for example, a control box (not shown) and/or an electric service panel (not shown), downwardly through well casing 25 and to pump motor 32, which enables pump motor 32 and thus pump assembly 30 to be energized when desired.

[0064] Pump motor 32 drivingly communicates with, and typically is located directly adjacent, pump body 34. Pump body 34 includes an outer circumferential sidewall which has a plurality of apertures 35 formed therethrough and a pump mechanism disposed inwardly of the circumferential side wall. Apertures 35 enable water to pass therethrough, while filtering some e.g. particulate solids out of the water, and correspondingly enable the water to pass into the pump mechanism. The pump mechanism includes, for example, a series of alternatingly and sequentially stacked impellers and diffusers which cooperate to pump water outwardly from the pump mechanism. Accordingly, when pump motor 32 is energized, water from aquifer "A" is drawn into pump body 34 and is subsequently and correspondingly pumped outwardly therefrom.

[0065] Pump outlet pipe assembly 50 is elongate, cylindrical, and has first and second terminal ends. A through bore extends axially between the first and second terminal ends, through outlet pipe assembly 50 which enables the pumped fluid such as water to pass and/or otherwise travel through the length of the pipe assembly. One of the first and second terminal ends of the pipe assembly is attached to pump body 34 whereby water which is pumped out of the pump body 34 is expelled into the outlet pipe assembly, and travels upwardly through outlet pipe assembly 50. The other one of the first and second terminal ends of pipe assembly 50 is attached to pitless adapter 57.

[0066] Pitless adapter 57 is, in general, a "T-type" connector which is adapted and configured to intake water along a first generally vertical direction and output water along a second generally horizontal direction. Pitless adapter 57 has top and bottom sides, and an output lateral side which faces the direction in which water is discharged from pitless adapter 57 e.g. faces generally toward pressure vessel/tank assembly 100 and/or destination 250.

[0067] The output lateral side of pitless adapter 57 is adapted and configured to communicate with the outer circumferential wall of well casing 25. More particularly, the output lateral side of pitless adapter 57 is adapted and configured to communicate with the opening which extends through the outer circumferential wall of well casing 25. The bottom side of pitless adapter 57 is adapted and configured to connectingly receive the uppermost one of the first and second terminal ends of outlet pipe assembly 50 therein.

[0068] The top side of adapter 57 communicates with lift-out pipe 58 which is generally elongate and cylindrical and has first and second terminal ends which define a length therebetween. One of the first and second terminal ends of lift-out pipe 58 is attached to the top side of adapter 57. The other one of the first and second terminal ends of lift-out pipe 58 is adjacent the uppermost terminal end of well casing 25, which enables a user to remove components of water well assembly 20 such as pump 30, pump outlet pipe assembly 50, pitless adapter 57, and others, by removing lift-out pipe 58 and components attached thereto, such as by pulling lift-out pipe 58 upwardly and outwardly from well casing 25.

[0069] Tank inlet pipe 59 is adapted and configured to span between and connect water well assembly 20 and pressure vessel assembly 100. Tank inlet pipe 59 is, for example, a piece of generally cylindrical piping and/or tubing which has two terminal ends and a through bore which extends axially therethrough. One of the terminal ends of tank inlet pipe 59 communicates with the output lateral side of pitless adapter 57 and the other terminal end of tank inlet pipe 59 communicates with pressure vessel assembly 100.

[0070] Tank/vessel mounting assembly 60 includes bands/straps 62A, 62B, and spacer bracket 64, the assemblage of which is adapted and configured to attach and/or removably attach water well assembly 20 and pressure vessel assembly 100 to each other.

[0071] Bands/straps 62A, 62B are elongate bands and/or other elongate members which are strong enough and durable enough to attach water well assembly 20 and pressure vessel assembly 100 to each other, through bracket 64. Also, bands/straps 62A, 62B, along with bracket 64, are strong enough and durable enough to retain pressure vessel assembly 100 in, for example, a generally fixed position/orientation relative water well assembly 20 in normal use conditions e.g. within ground "G" and for the duration of the normal use life of pressure tank/vessel system 5.

[0072] Each of bands/straps 62A extends circumferentially around at least part of, optionally around the entirety of, the outer circumferential sidewall of well casing 25. Bands/straps 62A are spaced from each other along the length of well casing 25 and can be generally parallel to each other. Bands/straps 62B communicate with pressure vessel assembly 100 and are vertically spaced from each other and can be generally parallel to each other. Also, each of bands/straps 62B extends circumferentially around at least part of, optionally around the entirety on, the pressure vessel assembly 100.

[0073] In some embodiments, the uppermost band/strap 62A and the uppermost band/strap 62B are one, single, band/strap and/or are otherwise substantially unitary or otherwise connected. Also, in some embodiments, the lowermost band/strap 62A and the lowermost band/strap 62B are one, single, band/strap and/or are otherwise unitary or otherwise connected. In such embodiments, the upper and lower ones of bands/straps 62A, 62B can each extend around, for example pressure vessel assembly 100 and well casing 25. In some embodiments, bands/straps 62A, 62B are distinct and separate from each other, and are attached to each other and/or to other components of tank mounting assembly 60 by fasteners, weldments, and/or other suitable means for attachment, as well as being attached to, or integral with, bracket 64.

[0074] In preferred embodiments, bands/straps 62A, 62B are relatively easy for an installer/user to use in the field, during installation of pressure tank/vessel assembly 5. Those skilled in the art are well aware of suitable "stocks" or "types" of materials which enable bands/straps 62A, 62B to have certain properties desired by the installer/user during installation of pressure tank/vessel system 5 including bendability, workability, and others. Such suitable "stocks" or "types" of materials include, but are not limited to, bar stock, strapping stock, wire stock, cable, wire rope, and others. In addition, bands/straps 62A, 62B are preferably made from a corrosion resistant material, such as stainless steel, galvanized steel and/or otherwise zinc coated/plated steel, aluminum, and others.

[0075] Spacer bracket 64 has a casing portion and a tank/vessel portion which define two lateral portions of the bracket, a top portion of the bracket, and a bottom portion of the bracket. The casing and tank/vessel portions of spacer bracket 64 communicate with well casing 25 and pressure vessel assembly 100, respectfully. The lateral portions of spacer bracket 64 span between and connect the top portion of the bracket and the bottom portion of spacer bracket 64. Accordingly, the entire assemblage of spacer bracket 64 defines a generally rectangular structure which is adapted and configured to communicate with each of, and to generally separate, well casing 25 and pressure vessel assembly 100.

[0076] As illustrated in the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 2B, pressure vessel assembly 100 can further include tank stand "TS" which enables pressure vessel assembly 100 to be mounted/installed in, at, adjacent, and/or otherwise proximate destination 250 e.g. a mounting surface. Namely, tank stand "TS" enables a user/installer to install pressure vessel assembly 100 upon a basement floor, foundation floor, boiler room floor, concrete slab, and/or other generally planar surface.

[0077] Tank stand "TS" has a generally circular bottom surface or "foot-print", a generally circular upper surface, and a conically tapered sidewall. Tank stand "TS" has a tank stand width "TSW" which corresponds to the width and/or diameter of the generally circular bottom wall which is, for example, at least about 12 inches, at least about 16 inches, at least about 20 inches, and others, in magnitude. In addition, tank stand "TS" has a tank stand height "TSH" which corresponds to the distance between the generally circular bottom surface and the generally circular upper surface which is, for example, at least about 2 inches, at least about 6 inches, at least about 10 inches, and others, in magnitude.

[0078] The generally circular bottom surface of tank stand "TS" can be generally open, e.g. can define a generally annular ring or "foot" which corresponds to the lowermost terminal edge of the conically tapered sidewall. Or, the bottom surface can be generally closed, e.g. can define a generally solid bottom wall. Likewise, the generally circular upper surface can be generally open, e.g. can define a generally annular ring which corresponds to the uppermost terminal edge of the conically tapered sidewall. Alternatively, the generally circular upper surface can be generally closed wherein it defines a top wall which is dish-shaped and/or otherwise corresponds in shape, profile, and/or configuration to corresponding portions of other components of pressure vessel assembly 100, e.g. tank/vessel 110. Of course, other suitable shapes and configurations of tank stand "TS" are contemplated, including but not limited to, single or multiple support leg configurations, pyramidal configurations, hemispherical configurations, cylindrical configurations, and/or other structures and configurations which are adapted and configured to hold pressure vessel assembly 100 in a generally constant position relative to, and/or elevate pressure vessel assembly 100 with respect to, the mounting surface of destination 250.

[0079] Pressure vessel assembly 100 includes tank/vessel 110, air volume control assembly 160, hydro-agitating-tank cleaning mechanism 190 (FIG. 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B). In addition, pressure vessel assembly 100 can optionally further include pressure switch "PS" (FIG. 1A). Those skilled in the art are well aware of suitable pressure switches "PS" (FIG. 1A) for use in pressure tank/vessel system 5, which switches are adapted and configured to monitor the magnitude of the pressure within pressure vessel assembly 100 and to correspondingly e.g. energize and/or de-energize pump assembly 30 based at least in part on the magnitude of the pressure within vessel assembly 100.

[0080] Referring now to FIGS. 1A, 1B, tank/vessel 110 generally defines a tank body which includes top wall 112, circumferential sidewall 115, and bottom wall 120. Tank/vessel 110 is made from, preferably, a metallic material which provides a suitable use life, and other desirable characteristics, when tank/vessel 110 is installed e.g. underground, and in contact with the e.g. underground soil or other naturally-occurring ground material. Suitable metallic materials for tank/vessel 110 include metallic materials which resist corrosion and which are toxicologically safe for the intended use, such as certain stainless and/or other steel alloys. Namely, exemplary suitable stainless steel alloys include iron and about 10 percent to 30 percent chromium, and/or steel alloys which include iron, chromium, and molybdenum e.g. chrome-moly steel. Stainless steel of the 300 Series can be a particularly desirable for use in tank/vessel 110, although stainless steel of the 400 Series and the 200 Series, as well as other materials can also prove suitable for use in tank/vessel 110.

[0081] Top wall 112 is generally circular when viewed from above and/or below, and is generally hemispherical, domal, convex on its outer surface, and/or otherwise generally arcuate in profile. Top wall 112 has outer and inner surfaces, an upper portion and a lower portion. The upper portion generally defines an enclosure and has a through bore which extends generally medially and axially therethrough. The lower portion of top wall 112 is generally open and is adapted and configured to communicate with circumferential sidewall 115. A void extends into top wall 112 from its generally open lower portion and has a void outer perimeter which is generally defined at the lower edge of the top wall.

[0082] Circumferential sidewall 115 has an outer surface and an inner surface which defines e.g. the outer perimeter of a void which extends axially through circumferential sidewall 115 and correspondingly axially through the tank 110. Circumferential sidewall 115 also has an input lateral side and an output lateral side. The input lateral side of circumferential sidewall 115 generally faces water well assembly 20 (FIG. 1A) and the output lateral side of circumferential sidewall 115 generally faces destination 250. Each of the input and output lateral sides of circumferential sidewall 115 has at least one aperture which extends therethrough which is adapted and configured to enable other components of pressure tank/vessel system 5 to communicate with e.g. an interior portion of tank/vessel 110.

[0083] Bottom wall 120 is generally circular when viewed from above and/or below, and is generally hemispherical, domal, convex on its outer surface, and/or otherwise generally arcuate in profile. Bottom wall 120 has outer and inner surfaces, an upper portion and a lower portion. The lower portion generally defines an enclosure and can have a through bore extending therethrough (not illustrated). The upper portion of bottom wall 120 is generally open and is adapted and configured to communicate with circumferential sidewall 115.

[0084] A void extends into bottom wall 120 from its generally open upper portion and has a void outer perimeter which is generally defined by the inner surface of bottom wall 120. Bottom wall 120 defines a bottom-most portion "BP" which is most distant from top wall 112 and which corresponds to the lowest point of the assemblage of tank/vessel 110. Accordingly, the outer surface of bottom wall 120 is generally convex and the inner surface of bottom wall 120 is generally concave, the outer and inner surfaces typically being generally parallel to each other, whereby the inner surface of bottom wall 120, at and/or adjacent bottom-most portion "BP" generally defines the relatively deepest inner portion of bottom wall 120 and thus tank/vessel 110.

[0085] The assembled tank/vessel 110 has an overall tank height "H" defined generally between the upper most portion of the outer surface of top wall 112, e.g. adjacent the bore which extends through top wall 112, and the lower-most portion of the outer surface of the bottom wall, e.g. adjacent the bottom-most portion "BP" of the inner surface of bottom wall 120. In addition, tank/vessel 110 has an overall tank width "W" defined generally between outer surfaces of opposing portions of sidewall 115.

[0086] In some embodiments, tank/vessel 110 realizes tank height "H" and width "W" of about 40 inches and about 18 inches, respectively. In some embodiments, tank/vessel 110 realizes a tank height "H" of greater than about 40 inches such as about 45 inches or more, optionally less than about 40 inches such as about 36 inches or less. In some embodiments, tank/vessel 110 realizes a tank width "W" of greater than about 18 inches such as about 24 inches or more, optionally less than about 18 inches such as about 12 inches or less.

[0087] Ones of the top wall 112, circumferential sidewall 115, and bottom wall 120 each have a wall thickness, namely thickness "T." In some embodiments, thickness "T" of top and bottom walls 112, 120 and circumferential sidewall 115 are approximately equal in magnitude to each other. In other embodiments, ones of the wall thickness dimensions "T" of top and bottom walls 112, 120 and circumferential sidewall 115 realize different magnitudes of wall thickness dimensions "T" with respect to each other.

[0088] As one example, top wall 112 and/or bottom wall 120 can have a thickness which is relatively greater in magnitude than the thickness dimension of circumferential sidewall 115, e.g. top wall 112 and/or bottom wall 120 can be relatively thicker than circumferential sidewall 115. As another example, top wall 112 and/or bottom wall 120 can have a thickness which is relatively lesser in magnitude than the thickness dimension of circumferential sidewall 115, e.g. top wall 112 and/or bottom wall 120 can be relatively thinner than circumferential sidewall 115. The relative thicknesses can be suggested by, for example and without limitation, the geometry of any and/or all of the bottom wall, the top wall, and the side wall.

[0089] The magnitude of the wall thickness dimension "T" is closely related to the amount of pressure to which tank/vessel 110 is expected to be exposed during the use life of the tank. Namely, if tank/vessel 110 is expected to operate in and withstand a relatively lesser operating pressure such as about 100 pounds per square inch (PSI), the wall thickness dimensions "T" of tank/vessel 110 can be relatively lesser in magnitude. Conversely, if tank/vessel 110 is expected to operate in and withstand a relatively greater operating pressure such as about 150 PSI, and all other parameters remain the same, the wall thickness dimensions "T" of tank/vessel 110 can be relatively greater in magnitude. Other suitable operating pressures, and corresponding tank design features and structures, will be realized as needed to suit the particular needs of the pressure tank/vessel system 5 and system users. Exemplary operating pressures for residential water supply systems include, but are not limited to, about 20-40 pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG), about 30-50 PSIG, about 40-60 PSIG, about 50-70 PSIG, and others.

[0090] As one non-limiting example, wall thickness "T" can be at least about 1/8 inch in magnitude. As another non-limiting example, wall thickness "T" can be at least about 1/4 inch in magnitude. In some embodiments, wall thickness "T" can be less than about 1/8 inch in magnitude, as desired by the user and as dictated, at least in part, by the intended operating pressure in which tank/vessel 110 and pressure tank/vessel system 5 are adapted and configured to operate in. Other considerations which dictate, at least in part, the magnitude of wall thickness "T" include local building codes and/or other rules and regulations. Accordingly, typically, wall thickness "T" has a magnitude of at least about 1/4 inch, and may optionally have a wall thickness of at least about 1/2 inch.

[0091] Referring now to FIGS. 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B, in the complete assemblage of tank/vessel 110, the voids defined by, and interiorly of, top and bottom walls 112, 120, and circumferential sidewall 115 collectively define tank cavity "C." Tank cavity "C" is an empty space which has an outer perimeter defined by the inner surfaces of top and bottom walls 112, 120, and circumferential sidewall 115.

[0092] Referring now to FIGS. 3A, and 3B, tank cavity "C" includes an air cavity portion generally indicated at "ACP", and a liquid cavity portion generally indicated at "LCP" whereby the sum of the volumes of air cavity portion "ACP" and liquid cavity portion "LCP" corresponds to the entirety of the free, unoccupied volume of cavity "C" when no liquid/water is present in the tank, and the tank is occupied only by a gas, such as air at atmospheric pressure. Air cavity portion "ACP" is adapted and configured to receive and hold a first fluid, such as air, therein, and liquid cavity portion "LCP" is adapted and configured to receive and hold a liquid, such as water. The volume of cavity "C" is optionally about 40 gallons, but can be any volume capable of suiting the user's e.g. water supply needs. As one example, the volume of cavity "C" can be greater than about 40 gallons such as, but not limited to, about 60 gallons, about 80 gallons, about 100 gallons, and others. As another example, the volume of cavity "C" can be less than about 40 gallons such as, but not limited to, about 30 gallons, about 20 gallons, about 15 gallons, and others.

[0093] Air volume control assembly 160 includes float pole 162, float 164, and vent pipe assembly 170. Float pole 162 is generally cylindrical and elongate, has first and second terminal ends which define a length therebetween, and an outer circumferential surface. Float pole 162 is positioned and/or otherwise oriented generally vertically in the tank, and defines a generally straight-line upstanding, e.g. and vertical, axis of float travel of control assembly 160.

[0094] Float 164 is adapted and configured to float in certain fluids, such as water, and therefore has an overall density which is less than that of, for example, water. Float 164 is also adapted and configured to actuate along the generally straight-line and upstanding axis of float travel defined by float pole 162. Namely, float 164 is adapted and configured to slidingly and vertically movingly communicate with float pole 164 between e.g. a first relatively lower position as illustrated in FIG. 3A and a second relatively higher position as illustrated in FIG. 3B when the air/water interface in the tank is at a relatively higher elevation in the tank.

[0095] A through bore extends axially, along a vertical axis, and generally medially through float 164. The through bore of float 164 defines an inner circumferential surface thereof. In the assembled air volume control apparatus 160, the outer circumferential surface of float pole 162 and the inner circumferential surface of float 164 slidingly communicate with each other, whereby float 164 is generally restrained from lateral movement by float pole 162 while being enabled to move generally upwardly along float pole 162.

[0096] It should be noted that in some embodiments, float pole 162 does not extend axially through float 164, rather float 164 is otherwise slidingly attached to float pole 164 such as by brackets, linear bearings, and/or other hardware and components which enable float 164 to actuate generally upwardly along the axis of float travel defined by float pole 162.

[0097] Vent pipe assembly 170 is generally cylindrical and elongate and is adapted and configured to release excessive levels of e.g. air from cavity "C" into, for example, the ambient air. Namely, a bore extends axially and generally medially through vent pipe assembly 170, and vent pipe assembly 170 has a length dimension which is sufficient in magnitude to enable it to originate adjacent tank/vessel 110, to extend upwardly through ground "G," and to terminate at a point above ground "G" (FIG. 1A). Accordingly, the bore which extends through vent pipe assemble 170 provides a passage way for e.g. air within cavity "C" to escape upwardly and outwardly into the ambient air, above the upper surface of ground "G, or into an underground chamber," as dictated and/or otherwise permitted, at least in part, by other components of, and/or other operating conditions of, pressure tank/vessel system 5.

[0098] Pressure switch "PS" is attached to, directly or indirectly, or otherwise communicates with, vent pipe assembly 170. Pressure switch "PS" electrically communicates with pump assembly 30, as is described in greater detail elsewhere herein, and enables pressure vessel assembly 100 to generally maintain a pressure, and/or range of pressures, therein. As exemplarily illustrated in FIG. 1A, pressure switch "PS" is mounted adjacent to, and generally concentric and/or coaxial with, the terminal end of vent pipe assembly 170, whereby pressure switch "PS" is an "outdoor/above ground" pressure switch. Of course it is also contemplated that pressure switch "PS" can be located in other suitable location along and within pressure tank/vessel system 5 including, but not limited to, inline between the well head and tank/vessel 110, inline between tank/vessel 110 and destination 250, on pump assembly 30, at or in destination 250, and others.

[0099] In some embodiments, pressure switch "PS" is mounted relatively "further down" vent pipe assembly 170, e.g. relatively nearer tank/vessel 110 as compared to the illustrated embodiments. In some embodiments, pressure switch "PS" extends generally laterally outwardly from, and is plumbed into, vent pipe assembly 170. Thus, as illustrated in FIG. 1A, pressure switch "PS" is located "above ground" while tank/vessel 110 is located "below ground" which enables e.g. a user to perform at least some maintenance and/or service upon various components of pressure tank/vessel system 5 from "above ground" and outside of destination 250.

[0100] Referring now to FIGS. 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B, hydro-agitating tank cleaning mechanism 190 includes inlet duct 200 and outlet duct 210 and is adapted and configured to mitigate, attenuate, and/or otherwise relatively reduce the amount of debris, silt, sand, dirt, pieces of corroded materials, and/or other particles and foreign material which collects of, and stays at, for example, the bottom of tank/vessel 110.

[0101] Referring now to tanks in general, and not only to tanks of the invention, such foreign material tends to collect at the bottom-most portion, or portions, of the tank/vessel

[0102] Now returning to the invention, and as is described in greater detail elsewhere herein, hydro-agitating-tank cleaning mechanism 190 is adapted and configured to "stir up" debris and/or other particles within tank/vessel 110 while liquid is being added to and/or discharged from the tank. Gravitational and other forces such as pressure within tank/vessel 110 urge the debris and/or other particles to fall and/or otherwise settle adjacent the bottom-most portion "BP" of bottom wall 120. As the debris and/or other particles generally settle in a localized area in tanks of the invention, the debris and/or other particles, e.g. detritus, can subsequently be relatively more easily acted upon, and thus removed, by e.g. being pulled and/or otherwise forced out of tank/vessel 110 by certain components of hydro-agitating tank cleaning mechanism 190.

[0103] Inlet duct 200 is generally circular in cross-section, elongate and arcuate in length-wise profile. Inlet duct 200 has first and second ends which define a length therebetween, and a bore extends axially and generally medially through the inlet duct, between its first and second ends. The arcuate longitudinal profile of inlet duct 200 can define a generally constant curve e.g. can have a single constant radius along the arcuate portion, or can define a generally compound or multi-stage curve e.g. can have a relatively less arcuate portion and a relatively more arcuate portion and/or can otherwise realize a curve defined by multiple radii. In some embodiment, inlet duct 200 can comprise a generally straight lateral section and a generally straight upstanding section, joined together by an arcuate, e.g. elbow section.

[0104] One of the first and second ends of inlet duct 200 communicates with the input lateral side of circumferential sidewall 115. Namely, inlet duct 200 is attached to circumferential sidewall 115 opposite the locus on the sidewall at which inlet pipe assembly 59 is attached, and is in liquid communication with inlet pipe assembly 59. The other one of the first and second ends of inlet duct 200 defines an opening, e.g. orifice 202 which extends thereinto. Orifice 202 communicates with, and is integral with, the bore which extends through inlet duct 200.

[0105] Orifice 202 faces generally downwardly, toward the inner surface of bottom wall 120. However, inlet duct 200 can be adapted and configured in a variety of ways as desired by the user and as influenced, at least in part, by the particular operating environment of pressure tank/vessel system 5. Namely, the particular debris, foreign objects and/or other particles which are likely to be present in the water of aquifer "A" and/or otherwise likely to accumulate in tank/vessel 110, and the corresponding characteristics of such particular debris, foreign objects and/or other particles, influence the particular configuration, positional orientation of inlet duct 200, and the distance between orifice 202 and e.g. the inner surface of bottom wall 120.

[0106] FIG. 2B illustrates two exemplary, and non-limiting, positional orientations of inlet duct 200. Inlet duct 200 can be positioned and/or oriented in a first exemplary position e.g. position "P1" wherein orifice 202 is located above the bottom-most portion "BP" of the bottom wall, namely above a center portion of the bottom wall, and faces generally vertically downwardly toward bottom wall 120. As another example, inlet duct 200 can be positioned and/or oriented in a second exemplary position e.g. orientation "P2" wherein orifice 202 faces generally obliquely downwardly toward bottom wall 120. Orifice 202 can be laterally spaced from the center of the bottom wall as illustrated in FIG. 2A.

[0107] Outlet duct 210 is generally circular in cross-section, elongate and arcuate in lengthwise profile. Outlet duct 210 has first and second ends which define a length therebetween, and a bore extends axially and generally medially through the outlet duct, between its first and second terminal ends. The arcuate longitudinal profile of outlet duct 210 can define a generally constant curve e.g. can have a single constant radius along the arcuate portion, or can define a generally compound or multi-stage curve, whereby outlet duct 210 has a relatively less arcuate portion and a relatively more arcuate portion and/or can otherwise realize a curve defined by multiple radii.

[0108] One of the first and second ends of outlet duct 210 communicates with the output lateral side of circumferential sidewall 115. Namely, outlet duct 210 is attached to circumferential sidewall 115 opposite the locus on the sidewall at which outlet pipe assembly 180 is attached, and is in liquid communication with outlet pipe assembly 180. The other one of the first and second ends of outlet duct 210 defines an opening, e.g. outlet duct mouth 212 which extends thereinto. Outlet duct mouth 212 communicates with, and is integral with, the bore which extends through outlet duct 210.

[0109] Outlet duct mouth 212 faces generally downwardly, toward the inner surface of bottom wall 120. However, outlet duct 210 can be adapted and configured in a variety of ways as desired by the user and as influenced, at least in part, by the particular operating environment of pressure tank/vessel system 5.

[0110] Namely, the particular debris, foreign objects and/or other particles which are likely to be present in the water of aquifer "A" and/or otherwise likely to accumulate in tank/vessel 110, and the corresponding characteristics of such particular debris, foreign objects and/or other particles, influence the particular configuration and/or positional orientation of outlet duct 210, as well as, for example, the distance by which the outlet duct mouth 212 is above the inner surface of bottom wall 120.

[0111] Exemplary suitable distances whereby the outlet duct mouth 112 is above the inner surface of bottom wall 120 include, but are not limited to, more than about 6 inches; alternatively about 6 inches or less such as about 4 inches or less, about 3 inches or less, about two inches or less, about 1 inch or less, and others. In some embodiments, outlet duct mouth 212 superposes and/or otherwise is positioned generally above e.g. the bottom-most portion "BP" of bottom wall 120 (FIG. 1B) and/or other parts of tank/vessel 110 where debris, foreign objects and/or other particles are likely to accumulate. In such embodiments, the distance by which mouth 112 is above the inner surface of bottom wall 120 may correspond generally to the distance between bottom-most portion "BP" of bottom wall 120 and outlet duct mouth 212.

[0112] Referring now to FIG. 4, the inlet duct e.g. inlet duct 200A can taper downwardly from a first relatively greater diameter portion proximate and adjacent circumferential sidewall 115, to a second relatively lesser diameter portion at or adjacent the outlet orifice, e.g. proximate bottom wall 120. In such embodiments, the bore which extends through inlet duct 200A corresponding tapers down, from a first relatively greater diameter bore portion to a second relatively lesser diameter bore portion. The relatively lesser diameter bore portion is integral with and extends into orifice 202A which is correspondingly lesser in diameter than, for example, the opening at the other end of inlet duct 200A, adjacent circumferential sidewall 115. The relatively lesser diameter orifice 202A enables water, which passes through inlet duct 200A, to exit from orifice 202A at a relatively higher velocity as compared to the velocity at which the fluid entered inlet duct 200A.

[0113] Inlet duct 200A can include at least one alternate path/opening through which water can exit inlet duct 200A, such as jets 205. Jets 205 extend radially inwardly through the sidewall of inlet duct 200A and thus extend into the bore which extends through inlet duct 200A. Jets 205 can extend through the sidewall of inlet duct 200A so as to face a variety of directions. As one example, when it proves desirable to direct at least some of the water flow which travels through inlet duct 200A laterally outwardly therefrom, jets 205 can extend generally horizontally and laterally through the side surfaces of inlet duct 200A. As another example, when it proves desirable to direct at least some of the water flow which travels through inlet duct 200A generally vertically downwardly therefrom, jets 205 can extend generally vertically through the bottom surface of inlet duct 200A, and extend into the bore which extends through inlet duct 200A. The outlet end 202A of inlet duct 200A can b configured with an array of apertures, or a suitable nozzle or nozzles, in order to develop a liquid exit pattern which provides the desired degree of turbulence, and/or turbulence pattern, or other liquid flow characteristic in the liquid entering the tank.

[0114] Referring now to FIG. 1A, in the assembled pressure tank/vessel system 5, pump assembly 30, pump outlet pipe 50, and lift-out pipe 58 are generally coaxially aligned with each other. The generally elongate and coaxial assemblage of pump assembly 30, pump outlet pipe 50, and lift-out pipe 58 is housed generally concentrically within the bore which extends through casing 25. Also, the generally elongate and coaxial assemblage of pump assembly 30, pump outlet pipe 50, and lift-out pipe 58 extends from aquifer "A" upwardly through casing 25 and terminates adjacent the upper terminal end of casing 25.

[0115] Pump assembly 30 is connected to pressure vessel assembly 100 through the cooperating relationship between pump outlet pipe assembly 50, pitless adapter 57, and tank inlet pipe assembly 59. Accordingly, pump assembly 30 is adapted and configured to pump water from aquifer "A" into pressure vessel assembly 100 where the water is held under pressure.

[0116] Tank inlet pipe assembly 59 interfaces with the outer surface of circumferential sidewall 115 at a height defined generally between the lowermost surface of tank inlet pipe assembly 59 and the bottom-most surface of bottom wall 120, namely inlet height "IH." At least one of tank inlet pipe assembly 59 and inlet duct 200, 200A communicates with circumferential sidewall 115 of tank/vessel 110. Tank inlet pipe assembly 59 and at least part of inlet duct 200, 200A are generally concentrically aligned with each other at side wall 115, and communicate with each other through a respective generally coaxial interfacing relationship with e.g. the aperture which extends through the input lateral side of circumferential sidewall 115.

[0117] Inlet duct 200, 200A extends from the inner surface of sidewall 115 into cavity "C" of tank/vessel 110 (FIGS. 2A, 3A, and 3B). Thus, the particular characteristics and configuration of inlet duct 200, 200A influences the path in which water enters cavity "C" and/or other flow characteristics of the water which enters cavity "C" such as flow velocity, flow pressure, flow direction, flow turbulence, and others.

[0118] Tank outlet pipe assembly 180 interfaces with the outer surface of circumferential sidewall 115 at a height defined generally between the lowermost surface of tank outlet pipe assembly 180 and the bottom-most portion of the inner surface of bottom wall 120, namely outlet height "OH." At least one of tank outlet pipe assembly 180 and outlet duct 210 communicates with circumferential sidewall 115 of tank/vessel 110. Tank outlet pipe assembly 180 and at least part of outlet duct 210 are generally concentrically aligned with each other at side wall 115, and communicate with each other through a respective generally coaxial interfacing relationship with e.g. the aperture which extends through the output lateral side of circumferential sidewall 115.

[0119] Outlet duct mouth 212 is positioned above the inner surface of bottom wall 120, and is space therefrom by a distance which enables outlet duct 210 to draw out, suck out, and/or otherwise remove debris and/or other particles which accumulate in tank/vessel 110, for example upon the inner surface of bottom wall 120 generally under outlet duct mouth 212. Namely, the distance between outlet duct mouth 212 and the inner surface of bottom wall 120 is sufficiently small that liquid/water, in the tank, which is drawn toward mouth 212 in leaving/exiting the tank, develops sufficient liquid velocity at or adjacent bottom wall 120 to entrain debris and/or other particles which accumulate in tank/vessel 110, into the liquid water which is being withdrawn from the tank.

[0120] Namely, when outlet duct mouth 212 is relatively closer to bottom wall 120, the bottom wall is more effectively scrubbed by water/liquid moving toward mouth 212, whereby the liquid/water is relatively more efficient at entraining e.g. solid material which may have accumulated on the bottom wall, and thus at draining out, sucking out, and/or otherwise removing debris and/or other detritus which can accumulate in tank/vessel 110. Correspondingly, when outlet duct mouth 212 is relatively further from bottom wall 120, it is relatively less efficient and thus realizes a relatively decreased rate at which it draws out, sucks out, and/or otherwise removes debris and/or other detritus which can accumulate in tank/vessel 110.

[0121] The assemblage of tank outlet pipe assembly 180 and outlet duct 190 is adapted and configured to carry water from tank/vessel 110 to e.g. final destination 250. Destination 250 can be any of a variety of structures and/or other constructs to which it is desirable to have water transported Tank outlet pipe assembly 180 and destination plumbing assembly 255 (FIG. 1A) are attached to each other and/or otherwise communicate with each other so as to enable the water which enters destination 250 from tank outlet pipe assembly 180 to be distributed throughout destination 250 as desired by a user.

[0122] In some embodiments, destination plumbing assembly 255 includes e.g. an inline filter (not illustrated) which is adapted and configured to remove from the water a substantial fraction of the debris and/or other detritus, of a pre-determined size range, which outlet duct 210 drew out, sucked out of, and/or otherwise removed from, tank/vessel 110. Such inline filter enables a user to remove the debris and/or other detritus, from within the relative comfort of destination 250, before such debris and/or other detritus travel further through destination plumbing assembly 255 and, for example, out of a plumbing fixture located in destination 250. Those skilled in the art are well aware of suitable inline filters which can be used in destination plumbing assembly 255 to remove such debris and/or other detritus.

[0123] In use, pressure tank/vessel system 5 enables a user to utilize water from aquifer "A" as desired from within destination 250. As will be described in greater detail hereinafter, water is stored under pressure in tank/vessel 110 so that when a user, for example, opens a faucet and/or another plumbing fixture within destination 250, the pressure in tank/vessel 110 forces water through tank outlet pipe 180, destination plumbing assembly 255, and ultimately out the faucet and/or other plumbing fixture. Thus, a cooperating relationship exists between pump assembly 30, pressure vessel assembly 100, and other components of pressure tank/vessel system 5, which enables tank/vessel 110 to generally maintain a state of constant pressure, sufficient to meet the users' water demand needs within destination 250.

[0124] When a user opens a faucet and/or other fixture within destination 250, at least some of the water flows out of tank/vessel 110 and out the faucet and/or fixture. As water flows out of tank/vessel 110, the total volume of fluid, e.g. air and liquid within tank/vessel 110 decreases, whereby the pressure within tank/vessel 110 correspondingly decreases. When the pressure within tank/vessel 110 decreases sufficiently enough e.g. reaches a low pressure threshold value, pressure switch "PS" (FIG. 1A) senses and/or otherwise recognizes this state.

[0125] When the low pressure threshold value is sensed, pressure switch "PS" (FIG. 1A) closes an electrical circuit which includes pump assembly 30 and corresponding energizes pump motor 32. Energized pump motor 32 cooperates with pump body 34 which pulls water through apertures 35, into pump body 34 and pumps the water out of pump assembly 30 into pump outlet pipe assembly 50.

[0126] The water which is pumped into outlet pipe assembly 50 travels upwardly therethrough, and enters pitless adapter 57. In pitless adapter 57, the water makes an approximately 90 degree change in direction of flow. Namely, the water enters pitless adapter 57 traveling generally vertically and exits pitless adapter 57 traveling in a generally horizontal direction.

[0127] Next, the water continues traveling generally horizontally as it travels through tank inlet pipe assembly 59 and then into tank/vessel 110, namely into and through inlet duct 200, 200A. The water then exits inlet duct 200, 200A through orifice 202, 202A and/or jets 205 or other exit structure, and thus enters cavity "C" of tank/vessel 110, namely liquid cavity portion "LCP" of cavity "C."

[0128] As the water travels through, for example, tank inlet pipe assembly 59 and/or inlet duct 200, 200A, its flow is guided, directed, influenced by, and/or otherwise generally circumferentially restrained by, the inner surfaces of the circumferential walls of tank inlet pipe assembly 59 and inlet duct 200, 200A. When the water exits through orifice 202, 202A, and/or jets 205 of inlet duct 200, 200A, and correspondingly when the water enters the body of water which defines liquid cavity portion "LCP" of cavity "C," the water desirably exhibits a flow pattern of sufficient intensity to maintain any debris or other detritus entrained in the water, and/or to stir up and entrain any debris or other detritus which has accumulated on bottom wall 120. The magnitude and/or other characteristics of the liquid flow within liquid cavity portion "LCP" are influenced, at least in part, by the structure, configuration, positional orientation, and/or other characteristics of inlet duct 200, 200A, inlet duct orifice 202A, and/or jets 205, as well as by the rate of flow of the liquid/water.

[0129] Referring now to FIGS. 3A, and 3B, as water is pumped into tank/vessel 110, the volume of water within and correspondingly the "water level" e.g. the height of the air/water interface, increases within tank/vessel 110. For example, the water level can increase from a first height of "LH1" or "LH1.2" (FIG. 3A) to a second, relatively greater height of "LH2" (FIG. 3B). When the water level rises from e.g. height "LH1" or "LH1.2" to height "LH2," the volume of the liquid cavity portion "LCP" relatively increases and the volume of air cavity portion "ACP" relatively decreases b a corresponding amount, according to the height of the air/water interface.

[0130] Thus, when water is added to tank/vessel 110, the volume percentage of cavity "C" which is defined by liquid cavity portion "LCP" generally increases and the volume percentage of cavity "C" which is defined by air cavity portion "ACP" generally decreases. Since the mass of air in air cavity portion "ACP" remains generally constant as water is added into tank/vessel 110, and since the density of the air increases as the volume of air cavity portion "ACP" decreases, the pressure within tank/vessel 110 correspondingly increases. When a sufficient amount of water has been added, the pressure within tank/vessel 110 reaches an upper pressure threshold value as specified to pressure switch "PS" (FIG. 1A). Pressure switch "PS" (FIG. 1A) senses and/or otherwise recognizes this upper pressure threshold value within tank/vessel 110.

[0131] When the upper pressure threshold value is sensed by pressure switch "PS" (FIG. 1A), the pressure switch opens the electrical circuit of pump assembly 30 and correspondingly de-energizes pump motor 32. Namely, pump assembly 30 ceases to pump water into tank/vessel 110 after pressure switch "PS" (FIG. 1A) detects the upper pressure threshold value in tank/vessel 110. Thus, as water is drawn from tank/vessel 110 by users at destination 250, the water, and pressure within, tank/vessel 110 initially drops until the low pressure limit is reached, whereupon the pump starts and replenishes the water supply/pressure in the tank sufficient to ensure that user water demands are adequately satisfied.

[0132] In addition to the pressure within tank/vessel 110, the amount of air within tank/vessel 110 is also internally monitored, regulated, and/or otherwise controlled so as to e.g. prevent, and/or otherwise decrease the likelihood of, a "water-logged" condition of tank/vessel 110. Pumps suitable for use as pump assembly 30 typically draw thereinto and correspondingly pump out at least some air with e.g. the water from aquifer "A." Those skilled in the art are well aware of pumps adapted and configured to pump an air/water mixture alone and/or in conjunction with well know devices adapted and configured to add air to the water which is pumped by an e.g. submersible pump. Such well known devices suitable for adding air into water pumped by such pump include, but are not limited to, certain bleeder valves, snifter valves, and others.

[0133] The air which is pumped by pump assembly 30, along with the water which is correspondingly pumped by pump assembly 30, travels upwardly through pump outlet pipe assembly 50, vertically into pitless adapter 57 and generally horizontally out thereof. The air/water combination passes from pitless adapter 57 into and through tank inlet pipe assembly 59, thence into and through inlet duct 200, 200A and ultimately into tank/vessel assembly 110, namely into cavity "C." Since the air which enters cavity "C" is generally less dense than, for example, the liquid within liquid cavity portion "LCP," the air that enters cavity "C" rises, floats, and/or otherwise travels upwardly through the liquid and ultimately crosses the air/water interface and enters, and generally remains, as part of the air in air cavity portion "ACP."

[0134] Accordingly, during the normal operation of pressure tank/vessel system 5, air is added to tank/vessel 110 by pump assembly 30, in conjunction with the water which is added to tank/vessel 110, so as to maintain a minimum mass of air within cavity "C." Thus, pump assembly 30 is adapted and configured to pump, transport, and/or otherwise add, both water and air into e.g. tank/vessel 110 which enables pressure vessel assembly 100 to maintain a minimum mass of air therein while water from aquifer "A" is being cycled through the tank.

[0135] Air volume control assembly 160 is adapted and configured to enable pressure vessel assembly 100 to maintain a minimum mass and/or volume of air therein while simultaneously enabling pressure vessel assembly 100 to, for example, vent off volumes, masses, and/or other levels of air which are undesirable to have in pressure vessel assembly 100. Namely it is desirable to have a minimum amount of air in tank/vessel 110, so that the air can be compressed by e.g. additional water which is being pumped into the tank and which correspondingly creates a relatively greater pressure within tank/vessel 110. However, if tank/vessel 110 contains too much air therein, the tank/vessel can become undesirably "air-logged," which is a condition that air volume control assembly 160 is adapted and configured to mitigate, reduce the frequency of, and/or otherwise prevent.

[0136] The position of float 164 relative to float pole 162 generally corresponds to the mass, volume, and/or other amount of air in tank/vessel 110. Namely, when tank/vessel 110 has relatively less air therein, float 164 is positioned relatively higher upon float pole 162. When tank/vessel 110 has relatively more air therein, float 164 is positioned relatively lower upon float pole 162.

[0137] As one example, when there is relatively too much air in tank/vessel 110, the level of water within liquid cavity portion "LCP" of cavity "C" is relatively low such as at liquid height "LH1.2" (FIG. 3A). When the water in tank/vessel 110 is at the relatively low level of liquid height "LH1.2," float 164 is positioned adjacent the lower most terminal end of float pole 162, as indicated by the "dashed box" in FIG. 3A. When float 164 is at a predetermined lowermost threshold level upon float pole 162, an excessive air condition is realized within tank/vessel 110. Correspondingly, the excessive amount of air is vented and/or otherwise expelled from tank/vessel 110 such as, for example, through and out of air volume control apparatus 160 and/or vent pipe assembly 170.

[0138] Air volume control assembly 160 and vent pipe assembly 170, separately or in combination, enable pressure tank/vessel system 5 and particularly pressure vessel assembly 100 to "vent off" undesirable levels, masses, volumes, pressures, and/or other amounts of, air therefrom and can further be adapted and configured to, for example, energize pump assembly 30, whereby the volume of cavity "C" which was occupied by the "vented air/gas" is replaced by a corresponding volume of water from aquifer "A." Namely, at least one of air volume control assembly 160, vent pipe assembly 170, components thereof, and/or other components of pressure tank/vessel system 5, includes e.g. a venting valve (not illustrated) which is optionally adapted and configured to communicate with float 164 and to "vent off" undesirable amounts of air from pressure vessel assembly 100.

[0139] Those skilled in the art are well aware of suitable valves and other air-release mechanisms which can be used as e.g. a venting valve as a component of air volume control mechanism 160 and/or vent pipe assembly 170 which enables excessive, dangerous, and/or otherwise surplus volumes, pressures, and/or other amounts of air to escape from tank/vessel 110.

[0140] Pressure tank/vessel system 5 is made of materials which resist corrosion in the expected use environment, and are suitably strong and durable for normal extended use. Those skilled in the art are well aware of certain metallic and non-metallic materials which possess such desirable qualities for use in force transmission devices, and appropriate methods of forming such materials.

[0141] Appropriate metallic materials for components of, or parts of components of, pressure tank/vessel system 5 e.g. at least parts of water well assembly 20, pump assembly 30, tank mounting assembly 60, pressure vessel assembly 100, and others, can be selected from but are not limited to, aluminum, steel, stainless steel, titanium, magnesium, brass, and their respective alloys. Common industry methods of forming such metallic materials include casting, forging, shearing, bending, machining, grinding, riveting, welding, powdered metal processing, extruding and others.

[0142] Non-metallic materials suitable for components of pressure tank/vessel system 5, e.g. various seals/o-rings, can be selected from various polymeric compounds, such as for example and without limitation, various of the polyolefins, such as a variety of the polyethylenes, e.g. high density polyethylene, or polypropylenes. There can also be mentioned as examples such polymers as certain ones of the polyvinyl chloride and chlorinated polyvinyl chloride copolymers, various of the polyamides, polycarbonates, and others.

[0143] For any polymeric materials employed in structures of the invention, any conventional additive package can be included such as, for example and without limitation, slip agents, anti-block agents, release agents, anti-oxidants, fillers, and plasticizers, to assist in controlling e.g. processing of the polymeric material as well as to stabilize and/or otherwise control the properties of the finished processed product, also to control hardness, bending resistance, and the like so long as human and/or animal toxicity.

[0144] Common industry methods of forming such polymeric compounds will suffice to form such non-metallic components of pressure tank/vessel system 5. Exemplary, but not limiting, of such processes are the various commonly-known plastics converting processes.

[0145] Individual components of pressure tank/vessel system 5 can be assembled as subassemblies, including but not limited to, water well assembly 20, pump assembly 30, tank mounting assembly 60, pressure vessel assembly 100, and others. Each of the aforementioned sub-assemblies is then assembled to respective other ones of the sub-assemblies to develop pressure tank/vessel system 5. Those skilled in the art are well aware of certain joinder technologies and hardware suitable for the assembly of such subassemblies in assembling pressure tank/vessel system 5.

[0146] In furtherance of preventing debris and other detritus from becoming permanently or semi-permanently attached to, lodged on, or otherwise associated with, as illustrated in e.g. FIGS. 1B and 2A, the inner surface of the tank, especially the bottom wall of the tank, the inner surface of the tank 110, and especially the bottom portion of the tank, particularly any locus of joinder between the bottom wall 120 and the side wall 115, is free from step changes in the radius of an angle rotated about a horizontal axis which intersects a longitudinal axis of the tank. Namely, the inner surface of the tank, especially at and adjacent bottom wall 120, is free from sharp changes in direction, sharp interior corners, which can tend to hold any suspended foreign object, e.g. particle, debris, or other detritus, which might settle there, any corner, recess, or the like, which is not easily scrubbed clean by the movement of water passing thereover e.g. either as the water exist inlet 200 or as the water is traveling toward and into outlet 210.

[0147] Those skilled in the art will now see that certain modifications can be made to the apparatus and methods herein disclosed with respect to the illustrated embodiments, without departing from the spirit of the instant invention. And while the invention has been described above with respect to the illustrated embodiments, it will be understood that the invention is adapted to numerous rearrangements, modifications, and alterations, and all such arrangements, modifications, and alterations are intended to be within the scope of the appended claims.

[0148] To the extent the following claims use means plus function language, it is not meant to include there, or in the instant specification, anything not structurally equivalent to what is shown in the embodiments disclosed in the specification.

[0149] While the present invention is illustrated with reference to pressure vessel assemblies having particular configurations and particular features, the present invention is not limited to these configurations or to these features, and other configurations and features can be used.

[0150] Similarly, while the disclosure hereof is detailed and exact to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, the invention is embodied in other structures in addition to the illustrated exemplary structures. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is defined by the claims appended hereto.

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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20060118564 A1
Publish Date
06/08/2006
Document #
File Date
10/20/2014
USPTO Class
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
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