As I poured my cup of coffee one morning, it occurred to me that although I use an airpot everyday, I have no idea how it actually works! It's just one of those things I haven't put much thought into despite the fact that I've encountered one pretty much every day of my adult life. Until now that is...
Thus began my research to answer the burning question: How does an airpot work?
First things first, talk to an engineer...
I knew I would have the most success if I began my quest consulting Service Ideas' own quality engineer, Ron Rezachek. He spends a lot of time troubleshooting airpots and finding ways to improve our products, so I was sure he would have some inkling about how this thing works. And he did! Check out his awesome drawing (above) that inspired the diagrams throughout this post.
What is an Airpot?
An airpot is a beverage dispenser designed to keep coffee warm in a vacuum insulated chamber, and dispense coffee without the use of any electricity. For my illustrations, l used our ENALG19S Signa-Air 1.9 Liter Glass Lined Airpot (pictured below).
Now let's take a look inside...
Key Parts of an Airpot Pump
To understand how an airpot works, we have to first take a look at all of the basic components of the airpot pump. These parts are the lever pump, the bellows, the suction pipe, and the spout, each identified in the diagram below.
Understanding Positive Displacement
Positive displacement pumps are a broad category of pumps that force (displace) a liquid into a discharge pipe by pressurizing an enclosed chamber. The reason this works is because of the natural inclination for the pressure inside an enclosed chamber to stay equal to the atmospheric pressure outside.
An airpot is a type of positive displacement pump, specifically a reciprocating pump, that uses bellows to build the pressure in the inner chamber filled with coffee.
Engaging the Bellows
With a simple press of the lever, the bellows inside the lid of the airpot are activated, pushing air into the chamber and increasing the pressure inside.
At the same time, the increase in pressure forces coffee into the suction pipe and out the spout, filling your empty cup below.
Ready for the Next Cup
Once an entire cycle of coffee is released through the spout, the pressure is normalized and coffee stops flowing.
As the lever returns to its upright position, the bellows fill with air again, and the airpot is ready pour another cup of coffee.
So there you have it! Everything you needed to know and more about how an airpot works. Simply put, it is a positive displacement pump, manually activated by compressing bellows.
Now you can enjoy that cup of java with a new appreciation for the people who make your airpots. A lot of thought was put into the dispenser that allows you to easily fill your cup every day.