Kimberly-Clark patented a method and system for actively cooling a foamed fluid, specifically a foamed suspension of fibers used to create a web. The process involves recirculating the foamed suspension through a loop and cooling it with a heat exchanger to maintain a preset temperature. GlobalData’s report on Kimberly-Clark gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Kimberly-Clark, Incontinence monitoring sensors was a key innovation area identified from patents. Kimberly-Clark's grant share as of February 2024 was 68%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Active cooling of foamed fiber suspension for web production

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Kimberly-Clark Corp

The granted patent (Publication Number: US11920298B2) discloses a process for producing a web involving the formation of a foamed suspension of fibers, deposition of the suspension onto a forming surface, recirculation of the fibers through a loop, and active cooling to maintain the suspension below a preset temperature. The cooling process involves feeding the suspension through a heat exchanger, where a cooling fluid flows over tubes containing the fibers. The fibers within the recirculation loop are kept at a temperature below 55°C, with the cooling fluid typically comprising water. The suspension may contain cellulose fibers, synthetic fibers, or a combination of both, with the addition of synthetic polymer fibers and pulp fibers. The active cooling is initiated based on monitoring the suspension's temperature, ensuring it remains below a specified cooling initiation temperature.

Furthermore, the patent also describes a system for forming a web, which includes a mixing tank for holding the foamed fiber suspension, a web forming process, a recirculation loop, and a heat exchanger for cooling the fibers. The heat exchanger, designed as a shell and tube configuration, allows the fibers to flow through tubes while a cooling fluid circulates around the tubes within the shell. A temperature sensing device and controller are utilized to monitor and control the cooling process, with the controller maintaining the fiber suspension temperature below 40°C. Additionally, the system may include multiple heat exchangers arranged in parallel along the recirculation loop to enhance the cooling efficiency and ensure consistent temperature control throughout the process. The system's design and functionality aim to optimize the production of webs by efficiently cooling the foamed fiber suspension during the manufacturing process.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.