(19)
(11)EP 3 502 334 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
26.06.2019 Bulletin 2019/26

(21)Application number: 18213692.9

(22)Date of filing:  18.12.2018
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
D06F 35/00(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 22.12.2017 CN 201711402261

(71)Applicant: BSH Hausgeräte GmbH
81739 München (DE)

(72)Inventors:
  • Kuang, Hui
    Nanjing, Jiangsu 210046 (CN)
  • Li, Maoyin
    Nanjing 211500 (CN)
  • You, Qixia
    Nanjing 210048 (CN)

  


(54)METHOD FOR STERILIZING CLOTHING BY USING WASHING MACHINE AND WASHING MACHINE CAPABLE OF IMPLEMENTING THE METHOD


(57) A method for sterilizing clothing by using a washing machine is disclosed, including:
providing a washing machine having a processing barrel (2) and an air passage (4) in spatial communication with each other, where a rubber door seal (3) is disposed at an input port (21) of the processing barrel (2), an inlet (41) of the air passage (4) is connected to the processing barrel (2), an outlet (42) is connected to the door seal (3), and a fan (5) and a heating device (8) are disposed in the air passage (4), where the fan (5) is located on an upstream side of the heating device (8) based on a flow direction of an airflow blown by the fan (5);
starting the heating device (8) heat air therearound;
starting the fan (5) to drive the air to circulate between the processing barrel (2) and the air passage (4);
and starting an ozone generator (7) located in the air passage (4) and located on the upstream side of the heating device (8), to generate ozone. The washing machine capable of sterilizing clothing includes a control device (10), and is capable of performing a sterilizing operation on clothing in the processing barrel (2) under action of the control device (10).






Description

BACKGROUND


Technical Field



[0001] The present invention relates to a method for controlling a washing machine.

Related Art



[0002] Ozone has a desirable sterilization and deodorization function, and therefore may be used in a washing machine to sterilize and deodorize clothing. However, a door seal of a washing machine is usually made of rubber, and the ozone ages and deteriorates the rubber, shortening the service life of the door seal. Moreover, the ozone is harmful to a human body, and how to ensure that residual ozone in the washing machine is cleared after a sterilization and deodorization program ends is also a technical problem to be resolved.

[0003] In view of the foregoing problem, some existing washing machines are equipped with a dedicated passage for the ozone, causing relatively high production costs and space costs. In addition, to remove the residual ozone, an existing known method is to dispose an activated carbon filtering device in an air passage to absorb the ozone. This also brings extra costs. In addition, the harm of aging caused by the ozone to the rubber door seal is not well resolved or mitigated.

SUMMARY



[0004] The objective of the present invention is to sterilize and deodorize clothing by using ozone, and overcome or mitigate the foregoing problem in the prior art.

[0005] For the foregoing objective, the present invention first provides a method for sterilizing clothing by using a washing machine, including:

providing a washing machine having a processing barrel and an air passage in spatial communication with each other, where a rubber door seal is disposed at an input port of the processing barrel, an inlet of the air passage is connected to the processing barrel, an outlet is connected to the door seal, and a fan and a heating device are disposed in the air passage, where the fan is located on an upstream side of the heating device based on a flow direction of an airflow blown by the fan;

starting the heating device to heat air therearound;

starting the fan to drive the air to circulate between the processing barrel and the air passage; and

starting an ozone generator located in the air passage and located on the upstream side of the heating device, to generate ozone.



[0006] As the air circulates, volatile organic odors and microorganisms such as bacteria emitted by clothing in the processing barrel enters the air passage along with the airflow, and react on the ozone. The air deodorized and sterilized by the ozone subsequently reenters the processing barrel. The space of the air passage is narrower than that of the processing barrel, and therefore an ozone concentration of the air passage is larger, so that a deodorization and sterilization effect is more ideal.

[0007] More beneficially, as the ozone flows with the airflow, the ozone subsequently passes through an area in which the heating device is located. In the area and on a downstream side near the area, the temperature of the gas suddenly rises under action of the heating device, and a lot of the gas begins to be decomposed. Based on the chemical properties of the ozone, the stability of the ozone is greatly affected by the temperature. As the environment temperature rises, the decomposition speed of the ozone is accelerated. When the temperature exceeds 100°C, the decomposition is very intense, and when the temperature reaches as high as 270°C, the gas may be immediately converted into oxygen. The temperatures of the area in which the heating device is located and a downstream area near the heating device may generally reach or exceed 100°C, and therefore when the ozone passes through the area, the concentration is greatly reduced. Therefore, when the airflow passes through the door seal and finally enters the processing barrel, impact on the rubber door seal is significantly reduced.

[0008] In addition, the heated air heats the clothing in the processing barrel after entering the processing barrel, to accelerate volatilization of odors in the clothing, and also be capable of directly killing some bacteria.

[0009] In an optional further implementation solution, a water spraying device is disposed between the inlet of the air passage of the washing machine and the fan, and the method includes starting the water spraying device in a process of generating the ozone by the ozone generator. The water spraying device is capable of taking away some organic matters in the air, and reducing the air temperature, and enables the grease composition in the air to be solidified and discharged along with water flow. In addition, after the air temperature is reduced, the environment temperature of the ozone generator is relatively low, and the generated ozone cannot be decomposed easily at once. Therefore, the ozone around the ozone generator has a relatively high concentration, thereby being capable of having a better deodorization and sterilization effect.

[0010] In an optional further implementation solution, the ozone generator is located above the water spraying device, and the ozone generator is located on a downstream side of the water spraying device based on the flow direction of the airflow blown by the fan.

[0011] In an optional further implementation solution, the ozone generator is started after the heating device and the fan are started. Starting the heating device first is capable of improving the air temperature of the area in which the heating device is located, and this is equivalent to that an ozone filter is formed between the ozone and the door seal, to reduce the concentration of the ozone reaching the door seal. Starting the fan first is for being capable of leading odors and/or bacteria emitted by the clothing in the processing barrel to the air passage to react on the ozone.

[0012] The temperature of air around the ozone generator is detected, the heating device is closed when a detection result exceeds a first specified value, and the heating device is restarted when the detection result is less than a second specified value, where the first specified value is associated with a safe working temperature that does not damage the ozone generator. In this way, the ozone generator is prevented from being damaged by a high temperature. The second specified value may be the same as the first specified value.

[0013] The air temperature of the outlet of the air passage is detected, the heating device is closed when a detection result exceeds a third specified value, and the heating device is restarted when the detection result is less than a fourth specified value, where the third specified value is associated with an upper limit value of a tolerable temperature of a rubber material used by the door seal. In this way, the door seal is prevented from being damaged by a high temperature, and it is ensured that the heating device is capable of being heated to a relatively high temperature, to decompose the ozone as much as possible. The fourth specified value may be the same as the third specified value.

[0014] The ozone generator stops generating the ozone after working for a period of time, and the heating device and the fan remain in a started state, until it is detected that an ozone concentration in the processing barrel is less than a specified value. The stopping of the ozone generator may be determined based on time settings, or may be determined based on a concentration of a detected volatile organic compound in the air, or may be determined based on a concentration of a detected microorganism in the air. As described above, the ozone is easily decomposed in a relatively high temperature. In addition, the ozone is also easily decomposed under action of an intense airflow. As the heating device and the fan continue working, residual ozone can be decomposed, to lower the ozone concentration to a safe level.

[0015] In an implementation, the ozone concentration is measured by using a sensor disposed on the door seal.

[0016] The foregoing sterilizing method may further include supplying water droplets to the processing barrel. The water droplet may be in a form of room-temperature water mist, or may be in a form of high- temperature steam. The combination of the water droplets and the ozone not only has an extremely strong sterilization effect, but also has an anti-wrinkle effect for the clothing, especially in a high-temperature environment.

[0017] The present invention further provides a washing machine, having a processing barrel and an air passage in spatial communication with each other, where a rubber door seal is disposed at an input port of the processing barrel, an inlet of the air passage is connected to the processing barrel, an outlet is connected to the door seal, and a fan, an ozone generator, and a heating device are disposed in the air passage, where the ozone generator and the fan are located on an upstream side of the heating device based on a flow direction of an airflow blown by the fan, and further including a control device, which is configured to be operable to perform a sterilizing operation on clothing in a processing barrel according to the foregoing method.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING



[0018] FIG. 1 is a simplified schematic view of a washing machine.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0019] As shown in FIG. 1, a washing machine 100 has a processing barrel 2 for accommodating clothing. A rubber door seal 3 is disposed at an input port 21 of the processing barrel. An inlet 41 of the air passage 4 is connected to a back portion or a side portion of the processing barrel 2, and an outlet 42 is connected to the door seal 3, so that the air passage 4 and the processing barrel 2 are in spatial communication with each other.

[0020] A fan 5 is disposed in the air passage 4. Air is capable of circulating continuously in the air passage 4 and the processing barrel 2 under action of the fan 5. A water spraying device 6 for outputting water to the air passage 4 is disposed below the fan 5. An ozone generator 7 and a heating device 8 are sequentially disposed in the air passage 4 on a downstream side of the fan 5 based on a flow direction of an airflow blown by the fan 5.

[0021] An atomization device 9 for supplying water mists to the processing barrel 2 is disposed in the door seal 3. An ozone sensor 11 for detecting an ozone concentration is further disposed on the door seal 3 and near the outlet 42 of the air passage 4.

[0022] The washing machine 100 further has a control device 10, which is configured to control running of electric control devices based on program settings. Multiple clothing processing programs are preset in the control device 10, and include a sterilizing program.

[0023] After a user puts clothing to be deodorized and/or sterilized to the processing barrel 2, the user may select and start the sterilizing program. Then, a drum (not shown in the accompanying drawing) in the processing barrel 2 rotates; the heating device 8 is started to heat air therearound; the fan 5 is started to blow the air to enter the air passage 4 from the processing barrel 2, and the air reenters the processing barrel 2 through the door seal 3 after being heated by the heating device 8.

[0024] Then, as the heating device 8 continuously heats the air, the temperature of a first section 43 between the area in which the heating device 8 is located and the outlet 42 of the air passage 4 rises. When a temperature value measured by a first temperature sensor S1 located in the section is greater than a preset value, for example, 50°C, the ozone generator 7 is started to generate ozone. Ozone in a second section 44 between the ozone generator 7 and the heating device 8 is mixed in a high concentration with the air, and reacts on volatile organic compounds constituting a main part of odors, and/or microorganisms including bacteria in the air, to remove the odors in the air and kill the bacteria. Then, the air including the ozone passes through the high-temperature first section 43, and a lot of the ozone is decomposed therein. The air obtained after the ozone concentration is greatly reduced finally passes through the door seal 3 to reenter the processing barrel 2.

[0025] To prevent the door seal 3 from being damaged by an excessively high temperature, the control device 10 monitors the temperature around the outlet 42 of the air passage 4 by using the first temperature sensor S1, to ensure that the temperature does not exceed a specified temperature, for example, 90°C. When the temperature measured by the first temperature sensor S1 reaches 90°C, the heating device 8 is closed, and then, when the temperature measured by the first temperature sensor S1 is lower than 90°C, or lower than another safe temperature, for example, 60°C, the heating device 8 is restarted.

[0026] In addition, to prevent the ozone generator 7 from being damaged by a high temperature, the control device 10 monitors the temperature around the ozone generator 7 by using a second temperature sensor S2 disposed on the ozone generator 7, to ensure that the temperature does not exceed an upper limit value of a safe working temperature of the ozone generator, for example, 75°C. When the temperature measured by the second temperature sensor S2 reaches 75°C, the heating device 8 is closed, and then, when the temperature measured by the second temperature sensor S2 is lower than 75°C, or lower than another safe temperature, for example, 50°C, the heating device 8 is restarted.

[0027] In a preferred implementation, in a running process of the sterilizing program, the water spraying device 6 is started to supply room-temperature water to the air passage 4. The water is supplied preferably in a spraying manner. The water flow exchanges heat with the air passing by the water flow, to condense and take away grease odors in the air, and also reduce the air temperature. The relatively low air temperature does not damage the ozone generator 7, and also makes the ozone have a relatively stable reaction in the second section 44.

[0028] In a preferred implementation, in a running process of the sterilizing program, the atomization device 9 is started to supply water mists to the processing barrel 2.

[0029] The ozone generator 7 stops generating the ozone after working for a period of time, and the heating device 8 and the fan 5 remain in a started state. In addition, the ozone sensor 11 disposed on the door seal 3 continuously monitors the ozone content in the air. When the ozone sensor 11 detects that an ozone concentration is less than a specified value, for example, 0.05 ppm, the heating device 8 and the fan 5 are closed, and the sterilizing program ends. The specified value may alternatively be slightly greater than 0.05 ppm. Because the temperatures in the processing barrel 2 and the air passage 4 are still relatively high after the heating device 8 is closed, the ozone is capable of continuing to be decomposed. After a period of time, when the ozone concentration measured by the ozone sensor 11 is less than the safe value 0.05 ppm stipulated by the national standard, the sterilizing program ends, and the door lock is released. Therefore, the user may open the machine door to take out the clothing.

[0030] The various specific implementations described above and shown in the accompanying drawings are only used to describe the present invention, but are not all of the present invention. In the scope of the basic technical idea of the present invention, any form of modification made to the present invention by a person of ordinary skill in a related technical field shall fall within the protection scope of the present invention.


Claims

1. A method for sterilizing clothing by using a washing machine, characterized by comprising:

providing a washing machine having a processing barrel and an air passage in spatial communication with each other, wherein a rubber door seal is disposed at an input port of the processing barrel, an inlet of the air passage is connected to the processing barrel, an outlet is connected to the door seal, and a fan and a heating device are disposed in the air passage, wherein the fan is located on an upstream side of the heating device based on a flow direction of an airflow blown by the fan;

starting the heating device to heat air therearound;

starting the fan to drive the air to circulate between the processing barrel and the air passage; and

starting an ozone generator located in the air passage and located on the upstream side of the heating device, to generate ozone.


 
2. The method according to claim 1, characterized in that: a water spraying device is disposed between the inlet of the air passage of the washing machine and the fan, and the method comprises starting the water spraying device in a process of generating the ozone by the ozone generator.
 
3. The method according to claim 2, characterized in that: the ozone generator is located above the water spraying device, and the ozone generator is located on a downstream side of the water spraying device based on the flow direction of the airflow blown by the fan.
 
4. The method according to claim 1, characterized in that: the ozone generator is started after the heating device and the fan are started.
 
5. The method according to claim 1, characterized in that: the temperature of air around the ozone generator is detected, the heating device is closed when a detection result exceeds a first specified value, and the heating device is restarted when the detection result is less than a second specified value, wherein the first specified value is associated with a safe working temperature that does not damage the ozone generator.
 
6. The method according to claim 1, characterized in that: the air temperature of the outlet of the air passage is detected, the heating device is closed when a detection result exceeds a third specified value, and the heating device is restarted when the detection result is less than a fourth specified value, wherein the third specified value is associated with an upper limit value of a tolerable temperature of a rubber material used by the door seal.
 
7. The method according to claim 1, characterized in that: the ozone generator stops generating the ozone after working for a period of time, and the heating device and the fan remain in a started state, until it is detected that an ozone concentration in the processing barrel is less than a specified value.
 
8. The method according to claim 7, characterized in that: the ozone concentration is measured by using a sensor disposed on the door seal.
 
9. The method according to claim 1, characterized by comprising supplying water droplets to the processing barrel.
 
10. A washing machine, characterized by comprising a processing barrel and an air passage in spatial communication with each other, wherein a rubber door seal is disposed at an input port of the processing barrel, an inlet of the air passage is connected to the processing barrel, an outlet is connected to the door seal, and a fan, an ozone generator, and a heating device are disposed in the air passage, wherein the ozone generator and the fan are located in an upstream side of the heating device based on a flow direction of an airflow blown by the fan, and further comprising a control device, which is configured to be operable to perform a sterilizing operation on clothing in the processing barrel based on the method according to any one of claims 1 to 9.
 




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