Patent application title: Funnel to counter out-splashing of a fluid being poured through it
Chittaranjan N. Nirmel (Warfordsburg, PA, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65B3900FI
Class name: Fluent material handling, with receiver or receiver coacting means processes
Publication date: 2012-12-06
Patent application number: 20120305125
A conventional funnel that has a rimmed open bowl atop a spout, to guide
a fluid flow poured in from a fluid-contributing source or container into
a fluid-receiving container, is improved by the provision of a curved-in
lip around the bowl rim. The curved-in lip intercepts any fluid seeking
to splash out of the funnel for a variety of reasons, and redirects it
back into the bowl to counter undesirable splash-out. The curved-in rim,
even when of very small span, is effective in countering splash-out of
true liquids, mixtures of non-sticking solid particulates in a liquid,
dry flowing particulates and even small sized objects like peanuts. The
provision of a perforated collar at the junction of the bowl and the
spout, a flexible portion provided to the spout adjacent the same
junction, and a plurality of outwardly extending vanes provided outside
the spout, and flutes formed in the bowl to promote
Coriolis-acceleration-influenced flow, added individually or in selected
combinations, variously improve the funnel further by making it more
securely locatable with respect to the receiving container, facilitating
venting of displaced air therefrom, and promoting fluid throughflow via
1. An improved funnel, having a rimmed bowl for receiving a flow of a
fluid from a contributing source and, contiguous with and below the bowl,
a spout for conveying the received fluid flow into a receiving container,
wherein the improvement comprises: a smoothly curved-in lip provided at
the bowl rim, to prevent flowing fluid from splashing out of the bowl by
redirecting the same inwardly from the rim back into the bowl.
2. The improved funnel according to claim 1, wherein: the curved-in lip is made integral with the bowl.
3. The improved funnel according to claim 1, further comprising: a detachable rim element, snap-fit closely to the bowl, comprising the smoothly curved-in lid.
4. The improved funnel according to claim 1, wherein: the curved-in lip extends inwardly from the rim by a distance about 0.1 to 0.5 inches from the immediately adjacent interior surface of the bowl.
5. The improved funnel according to claim 1, further comprising: an outwardly extending peripheral collar, located close to a junction between the bowl and the spout, to provide upright support for the funnel when the collar is placed on top of an opening of the receiving container during use.
6. The improved funnel according to claim 5, further comprising: a plurality of through apertures formed in the collar adjacent to the spout to facilitate out flow of air displaced from the receiving container during use of the funnel.
7. The improved funnel according to claim 1, wherein: the spout comprises a flexible portion whereby an orientation of the bowl relative to the spout is adjustable.
8. The improved funnel according to claim 1, further comprising: a flexible concertina-shaped segment provided in the spout adjacent the bowl, to enable adjustment of the disposition of the bowl relative to the spout.
9. The improved funnel according to claim 6, further comprising: the spout comprises a flexible portion whereby an orientation of the bowl relative to the spout is adjustable.
10. The improved funnel according to claim 1, further comprising: a plurality of outwardly extending longitudinal vanes that are wider at their top ends than at their bottom ends, provided evenly around the spout to enable secure fitting of the funnel to an opening of the receiving container.
11. The improved funnel according to claim 9, further comprising: a plurality of outwardly extending longitudinal vanes that are wider at their top ends than at their bottom ends, provided evenly around the spout to enable secure fitting of the funnel to an opening of the receiving container.
12. The improved funnel according to claim 10, wherein: the vanes are made integral with the spout.
13. The improved funnel according to claim 9, further comprising: a first multi-vaned slip-on element, having an open mildly-conical body shaped and sized to fit closely to the spout and provided with a plurality of outwardly extending vanes that are sized and shaped to be securely fitted into the mouth of a receiving container to support the funnel bowl in a selected orientation during use of the funnel.
14. The improved funnel according to claim 9, further comprising: a second multi-vaned slip-on element, having an open body with a plurality of inwardly extending vanes that are sized and shaped to securely fit to outside of the spout and a plurality of outwardly extending vanes that are sized and shaped to be securely fitted into the mouth of a receiving container to support the funnel bowl in a selected orientation during use of the funnel.
15. The improved funnel according to claim 9, further comprising: a third multi-vaned slip-on element, having an a longitudinally corrugated body and a plurality of outwardly extending vanes that are sized and shaped to be securely fitted into the mouth of a receiving container to support the funnel bowl in a selected orientation during use of the funnel.
16. The improved funnel according to claim 1, further comprising: a plurality of recessed flutes provided in the bowl to promote Coriolis-acceleration-induced downward spiraling of fluid flow.
17. The improved funnel according to claim 6, further comprising: a plurality of recessed flutes provided in the bowl to promote Coriolis-acceleration-induced downward spiraling of fluid flow.
18. The improved funnel according to claim 16, further comprising: the spout comprises a flexible portion whereby an orientation of the bowl relative to the spout is adjustable.
19. The improved funnel according to claim 18, further comprising: a plurality of outwardly extending longitudinal vanes that are wider at their top ends than at their bottom ends, provided evenly around the spout to enable secure fitting of the funnel to an opening of the receiving container.
20. The improved funnel according to claim 18, further comprising: a detachable rim element, formed to snap-fit closely to the bowl rim and to provide the smoothly curved-in lip thereat.
21. The improved funnel according to claim 19, further comprising: a first multi-vaned slip-on element, having an open mildly-conical body shaped and sized to fit closely to the spout and provided with a plurality of outwardly extending vanes that are sized and shaped to be securely fitted into the mouth of a receiving container to support the funnel bowl in a selected orientation during use of the funnel.
22. A method of improving the guided flow of a fluid through a conventional funnel that has a rimmed bowl communicating through a throat with a spout positioned below, from a contributing source of the fluid into a receiving container of fluid, comprising the step of: providing at the bowl rim a smoothly curved-in lip to intercept and return back into the bowl any fluid seeking to splash out over the rim due to unstable flow conditions in the funnel during use.
23. The method according to claim 22, comprising the further step of providing a plurality of outwardly oriented vanes at the spout, sized and shaped to be fitted securely into the mouth of the receiving container to stabilize the funnel and to simultaneously vent displaced air from the receiving container during use of the funnel.
24. The method according to claim 22, comprising the further step of: providing a plurality of recessed flutes at the inside surface of the bowl to promote Coriolis-acceleration-induced flow through the funnel.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 This invention relates to improvements to a conventional funnel, of the kind commonly used to help guide a fluid flow from a fluid-contributing container into a fluid-receiving container, to counter out-splashing from the funnel as the fluid is being poured through it. More particularly, it relates to simple structural improvements to a conventional funnel that significantly reduce the natural tendency of a fluid being poured through it to splash away from the intended transfer flow and out of the funnel due to factors such as: (a) the funnel not being held upright during the pour; (b) unevenly oriented or pulsating flow out of the contributing container, (c) inertial forces that tend to bounce back fast-pouring fluid from the inner surface of the funnel and over the funnel rim, (d) upward blowback of air and/or vapor from the receiving container, or (e) inadvertently caused instability of the funnel body during the pouring operation.
BACKGROUND OF THE RELATED ART
 The term "fluid" in the present context means essentially incompressible fluids, and comprises substances that are liquids at the temperatures at which they are being poured, e.g., water, gasoline, diesel fuel, hot wax, molten metals, liquefied gases, etc. The term "fluid" here also includes slurries, namely free-flowing mixtures of true liquids and fine particulates, e.g., blood, milk, paints, emulsions, muddy water, etc., at their normal processing temperatures. Based on experimental data, for all practical purposes "fluid" here can even include flowing particulates, e.g., grain, sand, beads, seeds, etc., that can be poured in a streaming fashion through an appropriately sized funnel. All such "fluids" are known to suffer "splash-out" during their flow through conventional funnels.
 The "funnels" in the present context range in physical size to ensure flow-through capacities ranging from a few fluid ounces per minute to many gallons or cubic feet per minute when made large enough. Selection of funnel shape, size and material for a given application involves many factors, including: sound judgment, engineering and safety standards, past experience, available design choices, properties of the fluid of interest, and cost.
 The funnels may be made of a very wide range of "materials" as most appropriate for particular applications. An inexpensive, portable, disposable funnel, e.g., to facilitate transfer of water or milk, preferably may be made of inexpensive, thin-walled, more or less transparent plastics material of the kind used currently to make throwaway soft-drink or purified water bottles. For disposable funnels to transfer gasoline, diesel fuel, paint thinners, paint removers, and the like, a corresponding safety-approved plastics material should be used. For transfer of more sensitive or dangerous fluids, e.g., acids, liquefied gases or molten metals, safe alloys, glass, ceramics, or refractory materials should be used as appropriate. Such funnels, because of their relatively high cost, must be made strong and highly durable to ensure a long service life.
 All flows of interest through the funnel itself are gravity-dependent. A fluid may arrive at the funnel via a pressurized lumen with a forwardly-directed average flow velocity as it leaves the contributing element or container; but it is not thereafter forced through the funnel under any externally applied pressure. Instead, the free-flowing fluid has to be guided by the inside surface of the funnel to move downward, through a diminishing cross-sectional area, solely under the influence of the Earth's gravity.
 This is where the initial problem is encountered: some of the arriving flow will often tend to continue going forward and right over the top of rim directly in front of it. If the input flow is reduced enough to control this natural tendency, it may reduce "splash-out" from the conventional funnel. However, the requisite slowdown may not be possible or practical; and the problem is best addressed by improvements to the funnel structure.
 Conventional funnels often have an open, wide-mouthed, conical portion (the bowl) at the top for receiving a fluid flow from a contributing source, e.g., a faucet, a nozzle, or a portable container. Contiguous with, and below it, there is typically an elongate, often mildly conical, much narrower tubular delivery portion (the spout) sized to be loosely (or at least partly) inserted during use into the mouth or throat of a fluid-receiving container.
 For many applications, the mouth of the receiving container is stationary and the funnel spout is fully inserted into it so that a lower part of the conical bowl rests on it--with the central axis of the funnel held practically vertical. The user may be able to hold the funnel steady with one hand, while holding the contributing container with his or her other hand and pouring the fluid from it into the bowl of the funnel. In the alternative, someone else may have to hold the funnel steady and upright.
 Circumstances sometimes make it difficult to dispose and maintain a conventional funnel upright during use. For example, in an emergency one might have to pour gasoline or diesel fuel, from a spare fuel can that lacks its own nozzle, into an automobile fuel tank through an intake that does not have a horizontal opening and so will not allow the conventional funnel to be used upright. This can easily lead to some fuel splashing out over the lower edge of the bowl of the necessarily tipped funnel; especially when a person is operating alone and perhaps under awkward circumstances, e.g., in a poorly lit area or in inclement weather. One solution is to make the funnel spout long and flexible; and such known funnels are sometimes used to add fuel or transmission fluid, or to collect used motor oil from auto engines into oil recycling receptacles. However, because of their relatively long bodies, they are not convenient for use outside garages or auto repair shops where the funnels can be set aside between uses so that residual fluid that drips from them can be routinely collected after each use.
 As gravity evacuates fluid from the typical contributing container of defined volume, a commensurate volume of air is concurrently sucked into it to replace the evacuated fluid. These oppositely directed flows can cause incoming air bubbles to interrupt fluid outflow and make it irregular and pulsatile in nature, especially if the contributing container has thin flexible walls. Such a fluid flow typically is gurgling, uneven, and at times randomly directed out of the contributing container. Sometimes this arbitrarily oriented fluid flow travels rapidly forward, and splashes right over the top edge and out of the conical funnel bowl at its front.
 If the outflow of fluid from the contributing container is substantial, e.g., with a low viscosity liquid like gasoline delivered through a pump delivery hose/nozzle, and the flow velocity therefore relatively high, the flow stream might bounce right back off the inclined inner surface of even a steady and upright conical funnel. Such an impact-induced flow reversal, and its inertial effects, can cause some of the bounced fluid to splash upward over the funnel rim and right out of the funnel. One known solution to deal with such problems is to add a contiguous cylindrical upper section to raise the rim above the conical portion of the bowl, but this may make the funnel too large for it to be portable for most users.
 As fluid fills the interior of the receiving container it must displace a corresponding volume of air from it. Sometimes, as in canning jellies, the fluid flow may be hot, and it may heat the air being displaced out of the receiving container. If the funnel spout is sized to closely fit into the mouth of that container, air cannot easily escape out of the receiving container as it fills up with fluid, and so there might be temporary and abrupt increases of air back-pressure acting upward on the fluid flowing down through the spout. These air pressure changes can cause unsteady blowback of air into the funnel, often as powerful bubble-bursts in the fluid still in the funnel bowl; and such flow disruption also could cause fluid to splash out of the funnel.
 The person pouring fluid into the funnel might get momentarily distracted or feel weak or tired, and might then unintentionally bump the funnel with the fluid-contributing container or nozzle. This could cause an otherwise steady and upright funnel to rock to and fro or incline rapidly (or in the worst case scenario entirely tip over and out of the mouth of the receiving container), and this might cause the pouring fluid to splash out of the funnel bowl.
 Unintentional splash-out of the fluid being funneled might be merely embarrassing, if the fluid is not potentially harmful. However, serious harm could result if the splashed fluid comprises a strong acid or alkali, or is hot, poisonous, biohazardous, corrosive, flammable, penetrating, adhesive, a liquefied gas, or a slick substance likely to cause slip-and-fall accidents in a high-traffic area. The related embarrassment and/or physical dangers are better avoided than later paid for by insurance and/or lawsuits.
 A need clearly exists for inexpensive, simple, and multifunctional improvements to the familiar conventional funnels that will cure their above-identified limitations--yet make them affordable, portable, and easy for virtually everyone to use. The present invention is intended to meet this need fully.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The principal object of this invention is to provide a funnel that enables pouring of a fluid through it without splash-out.
 This object is realized by providing an improved funnel that has a rimmed bowl for receiving a flow of fluid from a contributing source and, contiguous with and below the bowl, a spout for gravitationally conveying the received fluid into a receiving container, wherein the improvement comprises:  a smoothly curved-in lip provided at the bowl rim, to prevent the flowing fluid from splashing out of the bowl by redirecting any fluid that reaches the curved-in lip inwardly from the rim back into the bowl.
 A related object of this invention is to provide an improved funnel that has a rimmed bowl for receiving a flow of fluid from a contributing source, and contiguous with and below the bowl a spout for gravitationally conveying the received fluid into a receiving container, wherein the improvement comprises:  a smoothly curved-in lip provided at the bowl rim, to prevent the flowing fluid from splashing out of the bowl by redirecting any fluid that reaches the curved-in lip inwardly from the rim back into the bowl,  wherein the orientation of the spout relative to the bowl is adjustable so that the spout may be inclined relative to the bowl to better cooperate with an inclined mouth of a receiving container.
 A further object of this invention is to provide an improved funnel that has a rimmed bowl for receiving a flow of fluid from a contributing source, and contiguous with and below the bowl a spout securely supported into the mouth of a receiving container and simultaneously facilitating venting of displaced air therefrom while guiding fluid therein, wherein the improvement comprises:  a smoothly curved-in lip provided at the bowl rim, to prevent the flowing fluid from splashing out of the bowl by redirecting any fluid that reaches the curved-in lip inwardly from the rim back into the bowl; and  a plurality of outwardly extending vanes that are wider at their tops then at their bottom ends, provided evenly around the spout to enable secure fitting of the funnel to the receiving container.
 An even further object of this invention is to provide an improved funnel that has a rimmed bowl for receiving a flow of fluid from a contributing source, and contiguous with and below the bowl a spout for gravitationally conveying the received fluid into a receiving container, wherein the improvement comprises:  a smoothly curved-in lip provided at the bowl rim, to prevent the flowing fluid from splashing out of the bowl by redirecting any fluid that reaches the curved-in lip inwardly from the rim back into the bowl; and  a plurality of recessed flutes provided in the bowl to promote Coriolis-acceleration-induced downward spiraling of fluid flow.
 In another aspect of this invention there is provided a method for improving the guided flow of a fluid poured from a contributing source thereof into a receiving container without undesirable splash-out of the fluid from the funnel during use.
 This object is realized by providing a method comprising the step of:  providing at the bowl rim a smoothly curved-in lip to intercept and return back into the bowl any fluid seeking to splash out over the rim due to unstable flow conditions in the funnel during use.
 These and other related objects of this invention will be better understood upon reference to the appended drawings and the detailed description of the invention below.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIGS. 1(A), 1(B) and 1(C) are side elevation, vertical cross-sectional and top plan views, respectively, of a first conventional funnel that has a conical bowl and a mildly conical spout.
 FIGS. 2(A) and 2(B) are vertical cross-sectional and top plan views, respectively, of the first conventional funnel per FIGS. 1(A)-(C) improved according to a first embodiment of this invention.
 FIG. 3 schematically depicts the dynamics of fluid flow through the first conventional funnel per FIGS. 1(A)-1(C), and the mechanism generating fluid splash-out over the front edge of that funnel.
 FIG. 4 schematically depicts the improved dynamics of fluid flow through the first improved funnel per FIGS. 2(A) and 2(B), and illustrates how the structural improvement according to this invention counters fluid splash-out from it.
 FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) are vertical cross-sectional and top plan views, respectively, of a second conventional funnel that has an inclined conical bowl of rectangular cross-section with an outwardly extended flat top and a mildly conical spout.
 FIGS. 6(A) and 6(B) are vertical cross-sectional and top plan views, respectively, of the second conventional funnel per FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) improved according to this invention.
 FIG. 7 schematically depicts the dynamics of fluid flow through the second conventional funnel per FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B), and the mechanism generating fluid splash-out over the front edge of that funnel.
 FIG. 8 schematically depicts the improved dynamics of fluid flow through the second improved funnel per FIGS. 6(A) and 6(B), and illustrates how the structural improvement according to this invention counters fluid splash-out from it.
 FIG. 9 is a partial cross-sectional view of an improved funnel according to yet another preferred embodiment of this invention that: (i) counters splash-out, (ii) facilitates venting of air from a fluid-receiving container, (iii) positively secures the improved funnel to a range of openings therein, and (iv) permits angular position adjustment of the funnel bowl relative to its spout.
 FIG. 10 is a partial cross-sectional view of the improved funnel according to FIG. 9, disposed securely into the opening of a receiving container opening that is not horizontal.
 FIG. 11(A) is a side elevation view of a conventional conical funnel with an adapter to facilitate secure placement of the funnel's spout into the mouth of a receiving container and, simultaneously, to facilitate egress of displaced air from the receiving container as it is filled; and FIG. 11(B) is a cross-sectional view, at Section I-I in FIG. 11(A), of the adapter element.
 FIG. 12(A) is a side elevation view of a conventional conical funnel improved according to one embodiment of this invention by the provision of a plurality of flutes in the funnel to improve through-flow of fluid via the funnel; and FIG. 12(A) is a cross-sectional view, at Section II-II in FIG. 12(A), of the improved bowl of that funnel.
 FIG. 13(A) is a partial axial cross-sectional view of the top portion of a conventional conical funnel with a detachable turned-in lip fitted to the funnel rim; and FIG. 13(B) is a top plan view of the same top portion of that funnel.
 FIG. 14 is a bottom plan view of a conventional conical funnel provided with a flat, coaxial, perforated collar at about the junction of the bowl and the spout thereof, to support the funnel on a receiving container while allowing venting of displaced air from it according to this invention.
 FIG. 15 is a top plan view of a first detachable adapter element, according to this invention, that fits to a funnel spout to facilitate secure engagement between the mouth of a receiving container and the spout of a funnel and simultaneously allows venting of displaced air from the latter.
 FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a second detachable adapter element, according to this invention, that also allows for secure engagement between the spout of a funnel and the mouth of a receiving container and simultaneously allows venting of displaced air from the latter.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 The improvements presented and claimed below are intended to be selectively applicable, individually or in combination with each other, to funnels of a variety of shapes and sizes, to counter splash-out from them of a variety of fluids--over a wide range of fluid viscosities.
 FIGS. 1(A), 1(B) and 1(C) show elevation, vertical cross-section, and top plan views, respectively, of a known portable funnel of a kind used for the transfer of fluids like milk, syrup, paint, motor oil, anti-freeze, transmission fluid, and the like. Such funnels, while not expensive, are not normally considered disposable and are often cleaned after each use and stored for future use. Non-disposable metal funnels, of the same general shape but generally somewhat larger, also are often used for similar but more substantial fluid transfers. Glass funnels of the same basic shape are often used in laboratories that handle highly reactive acids and/or other poisonous fluids.
 Funnel 100 per FIGS. 1(A)-1(C) comprises an upper right-conical bowl 102 of height "HB" that is contiguous, at a neck/throat 104, with a lower mildly conical, elongate, coaxial spout 106 of length "HS" which typically is about equal to "HB". Bowl 102 has a circular rim 108, and spout 106 ends in an outlet 110. The walls of both bowl 102 and spout 106 are usually quite smooth and thin, often only about 1-2 mm in thickness even for typical plastics materials and usually thinner if made of sheet metal. Therefore, for the sake of simplicity and clarity, the small size differences between the "inner" and "outer" diameters of rim 108, neck 104 or outlet 110 are not considered particularly significant--unless it becomes necessary to distinguish such dimensions.
 According to the first embodiment of this invention, as best seen in FIGS. 2(A) and 2(B), a smoothly turned-in lip 202 is provided around rim 108 of improved funnel 200. The primary purpose of turned-in lip 202 is to inwardly reverse the orientation of the inner surface of bowl 102 at rim 108. As best seen in FIG. 2(B), the diameter of the area within improved rim 204 available to receive inflowing fluid is thus reduced from "D1" to an improved rim diameter "D2", but this small sacrifice is worth the resulting benefit. The throat diameter "D3" and outlet diameter "D4" can remain unchanged.
 In typical use, spout 106 is easily insertable into the relatively larger mouth of a receiving container; and funnel 100 then rests essentially upright with a lower part of conical bowl 102 seated thereon. Improved funnel 200 is employed similarly.
 As best seen in FIG. 3, when a fluid stream 300 is poured out of a contributing source 302 into bowl 102 of a conventional funnel 100, it will initially splash down onto the inner surface of bowl 102. A constantly replaced small amount of fluid 304 will tend to collect there, and the flow is then guided downward via throat 104 to become outflow 306. As more fluid pours into the bowl 102 some of it will tend to bounce up and forwardly off of fluid 304 already there--and this will lead to an undesirable splash-out 308 over the front portion of rim 108. If the contributing source is a plastic or metal can with thin walls, these walls will pulsate as air bubbles (not shown for simplicity) fight their way upstream into the can to replace the poured-out fluid. Consequently, fluid flow into bowl 102 may be pulsating, irregular, and at times moving forward abruptly. This too may aggravate the loss of fluid to splash-out 308.
 Even if the contributing flow comes from a nozzle or pipe, e.g., from a gasoline pump or household water supply, and there is less pulsating flow, the splash-out problem remains because the flow dynamics within the bowl are inherently unstable.
 As best seen in FIG. 4, with the improved funnel geometry, i.e., addition of turned-in lip 202, fluid inflow 300 (whether it is pulsatile or even) will still tend to bounce off of collected fluid 404. However, when some fluid seeks to go over rim 108 and out as splash-out, this time it encounters the inwardly oriented inner surface presented by turned-in lip 202 and becomes reversed flow 406. This reversed flow 406, solely due to turned-lip 202, simply counters and stops any prospective splash-out. It immediately returns such fluid back into the guided funnel flow--which then leaves the funnel as outflow 406 via spout outlet 110.
 Average outflow 406 from improved funnel 200 will thus be the same as average inflow 300. In contrast, the conventional funnel average outflow 306 would be less than the average inflow 300 by the loss due to splash-out 308. Even if the splash-out is relatively small, and even if this is of no great economic consequence, it will incur expenditures of time, effort, and cleanup costs--all of which will depend on how dangerous or problematic the splashed-out fluid is.
 Most plastics funnels are made by known, highly adaptable, equipment and processes; hence the proposed improvement of adding a turned-in lip at the funnel rim should be very easy to make with no significant increase in needed material or manufacturing cost. The turned-in lip will work perfectly well with most free-flowing liquids like water and gasoline if it is made to extend inward by about 0.1 to 0.5 in. from the immediately adjacent inner surface of bowl 200. The improved funnel is also very easy to clean up for future reuse.
 Experiments with very substantial flows of water from a faucet demonstrate that a turned-in lip of only 0.2 inches totally prevents splash-out from a funnel bowl of about 4.0 in. diameter and out through a throat of about 0.7 in. diameter. Quite unexpectedly, when the same improved funnel was used to transfer shelled "jumbo" peanuts from a large jar into a container with a mouth of about 1.0 in. diameter it worked equally well--any peanuts that sought to escape "by splash-out" over the front of the funnel were promptly returned back into the bowl. This clearly establishes that the proposed improvement should have potentially wide utility in improving funneled transfers of liquids, free-flowing slurries, non-sticky particulates like dry sand, seeds (including peanuts!), and the like.
 Funnels for common use are marketed at retail outlets individually, and sometimes in sets of three or more. The proposed improvement, per FIGS. 2(A)-2(B) and 4, allows easy nesting of such funnels into each other with no significant increase in volume occupied by the assembly, hence inventorying and marketing of the product in established commerce also remains easy.
 FIGS. 5(A) and 5(B) show structural details of a modified form 500 of the conventional funnel, one that has a conical bowl 502 of rectangular offset cross-section. This known funnel 500 also has a planar outward lip 504 around rim 506, and at one end a hang-up aperture 508 by which it can be hung on a nail when not in use. Throat 510 joins bowl 502 to a mildly conical spout 512 ending in outlet 514 from which the funneled fluid exits in use. Note that unlike conventional funnel 100, funnel 500 has three elongate longitudinal outer ribs 516, 516, circumferentially distributed around and outside spout 512. Only two are visible in FIG. 5(A). These ribs 516 ensure three expelled-air passages out of the receiving container if spout 512 otherwise would fit tightly into the mouth of the fluid receiving container.
 The proposed improvement to conventional funnel 500, to counter the tendency of poured fluid to splash-out from it, is best understood with reference to FIGS. 6(A) and 6(B). It comprises the provision of a curved-in lip 602, preferably made contiguous with outward lip 504 as shown. Curved-in lip 602, for this inclined-conical bowl 502, may extend inward from the immediately adjacent inner surface by varying distances at different locations around rim 506--as best seen in FIG. 6(B). Periphery 604 of the curved-in lip 602 may be shaped to match the rectangular shape of the bowl 502, but may be rounded off at corners as indicated in FIG. 6(B). Note that both for ease of molding and for smooth reversal of fluid seeking to splash-out during a pour, the inside surface at the junction of bowl 502 and curved-in lip 602 should be rounded smoothly. This is best seen at 606 in FIG. 6(A). This simple structural improvement is highly effective in preventing undesirable splash-out.
 As best seen in FIG. 7, fluid flow 700 pouring out of a contributing container or source 702 may encounter any fluid 704 already present in bowl 502. Forward momentum will tend to cause some of this flow 706 to move forward rapidly over fluid 704 and be driven upward and out over outward lip 504 by the forward inclined portion of the bowl surface at 708, unless the pouring is quite slow or the viscosity of the fluid is relatively high. As pouring continues, regardless of whether the inflow is pulsatile or even, most of the poured-in fluid will be guided by bowl through throat 510 via spout 514 below as output flow 710 which will be less than inflow 700 by the amount lost in splash-out 712. Note that this conventional funnel's outward lip 504 cannot counter any splash-out.
 As best seen in FIG. 8, the forward motion of fluid 706 that is seeking to splash-out of the funnel is immediately reversed at 800 by turned-in lip 602. This reversed flow 802 eventually exits the spout 512 at outlet 514 as part of outflow 804, with no loss of fluid due to splash-out. This simple structural modification of adding turn-in lip 602 solves the problem of splash-out even if the fluid inflow to the funnel is pulsatile or uneven. As previously noted, the same benefit is realized by inclusion of a turned-in lip at the funnel bowl rim when pouring slurries, pourable particulates, and even seeds as large as peanuts (which simply bounce back into the main flow).
 FIG. 9 shows, in partial cross-sectional view, a generally conical funnel 900 with a bowl 902 having curved-in sides, with various improvements according to this invention to address previously identified needs. Going from a right-conical bowl like 100 to the kind shown in FIGS. 9 and 10 allows somewhat more fluid to be held in the funnel during use without enlarging the overall space it occupies in the work environment or in storage. Funnel 900 has the improvement of a turned-in lip 904 to counter potential splash-out by reversing such flow at 906. It is further improved by the addition of other beneficial structural improvements that act in various combinations as explained below.
 Funnel 900 is provided with a flat coaxial circular collar 908 at about the location of the funnel throat 910. Immediately below collar 918 is provided a concertina-type segment 912 of the spout, and this is contiguous with the usual slightly conical elongate spout portion 914 below it. Concertinaed segment 912 allows a user to restorably adjust alignment of bowl 902 with respect to spout portion 914 and, to a small extent, their relative separation as well.
 Below concertinaed segment 912, around portion 914 of the spout are provided a plurality of outwardly extending rhomboidal vanes 916 that are wider at their top ends than at their bottom ends. This is best seen in FIG. 9. The exact thickness, size, and shape of these vanes 916 is a matter of design choice, taking into consideration the particular application at hand for the user, i.e., they need not be flat but may be given a curvature--as will be clarified shortly in the discussion of FIG. 11(B) below.
 FIG. 9 shows how vanes 916 enable a user to insert the vaned elongate portion 914 of the spout into the mouth 918 of a fluid-receiving container 920. Such vanes 916 of a plastic funnel 900, because of their deliberately selected shape, will readily deform temporarily when pushed down forcibly. The mechanical interaction between vanes 916 and mouth 918 will engage funnel 900 more securely with container 920 than would be realized with either bowl 902 or collar 908 simply sitting on mouth 918 while fluid 922 is being poured into bowl 902 from contributing container 924. This is the first benefit provided by vanes 916.
 Vanes 916 are separated by inter-vane spaces whose individual dimensions will depend in part on how many vanes are provided. Between four and eight vanes 916 should serve well for most applications, and this means that there is a very commodious passage available between adjacent vanes 916 for air to vent out of receiving container 920 as it is being filled. This air flow is indicated by triple-headed arrows in both FIGS. 9 and 10. This is the second benefit provided by vanes 916.
 The above-discussed funnel 900 thus counters splash-out at its curved-in rim 904, fits securely to a receiving container 920 (meaning that it is not likely to easily tip over), adjusts the orientation of bowl 902 relative to spout 914, and allows easy venting of displaced air 926 during use.
 FIG. 9 illustrates a situation in which the receiving container mouth has a substantially horizontal opening. However, automobile, truck, and tractor fuel tanks do not necessarily have this configuration, and the openings of their tank inlets generally tend to be closer to vertical. A conventional funnel, like 100 (FIG. 1) or 500 (FIG. 5) usually cannot easily be held correctly in relation to such inclined fuel inlets by a single person who is also holding a fluid-contributing container, e.g., a spare fuel can.
 FIG. 10 shows how the concertinaed portion 912 can be adjusted to hold bowl 902 with its axis vertical even in relation to an inclined mouth 1018 of a fluid-receiving container 1020 such as an automobile fuel tank.
 Note that collar 908, by itself, could have been used to locate funnel 900 at rest over mouth 918 under two conditions: first, if there had been no vanes on spout 914; and, second, if all the vanes 916 had been pushed right in past mouth 918 or were too small to forcibly engage with mouth 918.
 FIG. 10 shows another utility for collar 908 when used as shown: collar 908 touches and rests against the top corner(s) of one or more vanes 916 when concertinaed portion 912 is adapted to hold bowl 902 upright with respect to fluid-receiving container 1020. A user holding fluid-contributing container 914 might accidentally push on the near edge of bowl 902; but, unless this was done violently, bowl 902 should not shake much because collar 908 is supported by its contact with vanes 916 forcibly engaged into mouth 1018. Collar 908, like vanes 916 as explained earlier, thus serves more than one beneficial purpose.
 The benefits provided by vanes 916 to funnel 900 can be realized on existing conventional "vaneless" funnels, e.g., 100 or 500, by a very simple expedient best understood by reference to FIGS. 11(A) and 11(B). As shown here, a vaned slip-on element 1100 can be made that has a plurality of vanes 1102 mounted around a mildly conical, open, cylindrical, central core 1104. The shape and size of element 1100 should be such that it can be slipped on over the spout of the particular "vaneless" conventional funnel for it to be improved thereby. Note that this is just as easy to do over a ribbed spout like 516 (FIG. 5) as it is over a smoothly circular spout like 106 (FIG. 1). This in practical terms requires that the maximum inside diameter of central core 1104 should be slightly larger than the minimum outside diameter of spout 106 but no larger than the maximum outside diameter of the spout. If slip-on element 1100 is made of a plastics material it will have some inherent stretchability, so that it can be forcibly slipped on over spout 106 and pushed up close to throat 104. This is indicated in FIG. 11(A) by two parallel double-headed arrows A, A.
 As indicated in the cross-sectional view of FIG. 11(B), vanes 1102 may be made somewhat curved. This may provide them additional flexure, and should ease their secure location within the mouth of a fluid-receiving container if they are elastic but fairly stiff--either by choice of material or because of very low ambient temperature which tends to stiffen plastics materials. Obviously, this provides a user great flexibility as different such slip-on elements could be used with any given funnel to engage with differently sized mouths of various fluid-receiving containers.
 As most of us have observed, when water drains out of a sink in the U.S. (actually, anywhere in the northern hemisphere) it tends to spiral clockwise downward. This is due to the effect of Coriolis acceleration, and is caused by interaction of the Earth's axial spin and the downward velocity of the flowing fluid toward the center of the Earth. An associated consequence of this effect is that the outflow from the sink speeds up. This naturally occurring phenomenon can be beneficially employed to speed up outflow from any funnel by providing it structure that will cause it to spiral the way the Coriolis effect wants it to go.
 As best seen in FIGS. 12(A) and 12(B), this is most easily and economically done by providing to improved funnel 1200 a plurality of recessed flutes 1202 that gently promote clockwise spiraling of fluid downflow through bowl 1204. The exact number, depth and length of flutes 1202 will depend on the shape and size of the funnel and the properties of the fluid of interest, and such details are therefore considered a matter of design choice. Experimental investigation should reveal the optimum values of such parameters for given applications, but there should be at least two flutes 1202 and they should be uniformly distributed around the bowl 1200. This improvement will provide its benefit for funnels of all shapes. Most importantly, expedited fluid flow out of the funnel will mean that the otherwise present level of fluid that tends to reside in the funnel during its use will be lowered. This means that incoming fluid will encounter it lower in the bowl, hence any rebound of fluid therefrom will be less able to reach the bowl rim--and thus the generation of splash-out will be reduced.
 Various very simple but multi-functional structural improvements have been disclosed herein to improve the safe utility of conventional funnels. With inexpensive plastics materials, and easily-adapted manufacturing technology, it should therefore be highly desirable and easy to include some or all of these improvements even in disposable funnels.
 The benefit of countering splash-out by providing a funnel rim with a curved-in lip can be optimally realized by the structures shown in FIGS. 2(A)-2(B), 4, 6(A)-6(B), 8, 9 and 10, by making curved-in lip integral and contiguous with the funnel bowl.
 As best seen in FIGS. 13(A) and 13(B), it can also be realized on an existing, conventional funnel bowl 1300 by snapping on to funnel rim 1302 an elastic/plastic snap-on rim 1304. This snap-on rim 1304 must be selected in size to suit the funnel to be used, and made of a material to suit the particular application of interest. For most common applications it is best made of an inexpensive material plastics material that has some elasticity, and provides a thin conical recess 1306 into which rim 1302 of bowl 1300 fits tightly. Recess 1306, to tightly receive therein funnel rim 1302, is defined by outer and inner, adjacent, closely-spaced downward rims 1308 and 1310, respectively. This is best seen in FIG. 13 (A). Snap-on rim 1302 may also be provided with at least one pull-off tab 1312 on, one side, to allow a user to pull off and either throw away snap-on rim 1302 or clean and put it away for another use--perhaps with a different fluid. Snap-on rim 1304 has an inner aperture 1314 of a diameter "D3" smaller than diameter "D2" of funnel rim 1302, and thus provides a curved-in lip to the conventional funnel bowl 1300. The same benefit of countering splash-out from the bowl is thus realized as was obtained from having integral curved-in lip 202 on funnel 200. (See FIGS. 2(A) and 4).
 A similar snap-on rim can easily be designed for use on funnel bowls of other than circular shapes in obvious manner to obtain the same benefit.
 It should also be obvious that such snap-on rims, once affixed to corresponding funnels, can be left on permanently. If appropriate, once used on disposable funnels they can be disposed of just as easily.
 As best seen in FIGS. 9 and 10, a flat collar such 908 can be formed integrally with the rest of the funnel body. It may provide a means for supporting the funnel on top of an opening of a fluid-receiving container while the funnel is in use. This might, especially if the contacting surfaces of the collar and the container are both wet, interfere with escape of air that has to be displaced out of the receiving container as it received fluid inflow.
 FIG. 14 shows, in bottom plan view, an improved funnel of this kind that has a bowl 1402 connected at a throat 1404 to a spout 1406 having an outlet 1408. There is also provided, outside of and close to throat 1404 a thin flat collar 1410, which has in it a plurality of small-bore through apertures 1412. When this improved funnel 1400 is placed on top of the mouth of a receiving container, even if both are wet and their contact surfaces therefore tending to seal to each other against displaced air outflow, that outflow can vent/escape via apertures 1412. Thus the very simple structural modification of adding apertures 1412 enhances the functional benefits provided collar 1410: it provides support for the funnel, facilitates venting of displaced air, and provides a limit stop to the funnel if disposed relative to an inclined flow path as shown in FIG. 10 in cooperation with a concertinaed portion of the spout.
 The snap-on rim 1304 allows a user of a conventional funnel to enjoy the benefits of a curled-in lip, as previously described. Similarly, the benefits of secure engagement between the funnel and the mouth of a receiving container, together with easy venting of displaced air from the latter during funnel use, can also be realized with a conventional funnel by a simple slip-on spacer 1500, best seen in FIG. 15. Spacer 1500 has a conical inner body tapering from a large diameter end 1502 to a smaller diameter end 1504. On the outer conical surface of spacer body 1500 are provided a plurality of preferably curved outer vanes 1506, and on its inner surface are provided a plurality of smaller, also preferably curved, inner vanes 1508. The axial length of spacer 1500 preferably is smaller than the length of the spout of a funnel to which it is to engage.
 For use, spacer 1500 should be forced onto the spout of the funnel; with inner vanes 1508 bending a little, as needed, to ensure a firm grip on the outside surface of the spout. The combination of spacer 1500, so mounted on the funnel, will now allow the funnel to be securely held in the mouth of a receiving container exactly as described in relation to slip-on element 1100 previously. The principal difference between slip-on element 1100 and spacer 1500 is that while both can be sized to fit the spout of any particular funnel, the presence of outer vanes 1506 and inner vanes 1508 makes the latter more useful in enabling use of the funnel with much larger mouthed receiving containers.
 A somewhat differently structured spacer 1600 for the same purposes is shown in FIG. 16. Spacer 1600 has a corrugated conical inner body 1602. To the outside surface of corrugated body 1602 are mounted a plurality of preferably curved vanes 1604 that have a larger lateral span at the upper wider end of body 1602 than at their lower ends. The elongate length of spacer 160 preferably is less than that of a funnel spout onto which it is to be slipped on for use. Once spacer 160 is slipped on over the corresponding spout and pushed up so that corrugated body 1602 grips it tightly, the combination of funnel and spacer 1600 can be used to securely place the funnel in relation to the mouth of a receiving container. As with slip-on element 1100 and spacer 1500, spacer 1600 will permit easy venting of displaced air out of the receiving container as it receives fluid, and permit a range of funnels to be securely positioned during use.
 The various simple, inexpensive, structural improvements described above, utilized individually or in different combinations, will reduce undesirable splash-out that might otherwise pose problems for users of either disposable or reusable, large or small, plastics or metal, inexpensive or high-cost, funnels for a variety of applications involving fluids of many kinds.
 Persons of ordinary skill in the related arts will no doubt find obvious variations and useful combinations of the numerous improvements disclosed herein. All such modifications are intended to be comprehended within the claims appended below.
Patent applications by Chittaranjan N. Nirmel, Warfordsburg, PA US
Patent applications in class PROCESSES
Patent applications in all subclasses PROCESSES