WO2000000130A1 - Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity - Google Patents

Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity

Info

Publication number
WO2000000130A1
WO2000000130A1 PCT/US1998/013521 US9813521W WO0000130A1 WO 2000000130 A1 WO2000000130 A1 WO 2000000130A1 US 9813521 W US9813521 W US 9813521W WO 0000130 A1 WO0000130 A1 WO 0000130A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
liquid
transport
region
member
port
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1998/013521
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Bruno Johannes Ehrnsperger
Mattias Schmidt
Fred Desai
Karl Michael Schumann
Gary Dean Lavon
Gerry Alfred Young
Donald Carroll Roe
Original Assignee
The Procter & Gamble Company
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/53Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators characterised by the absorbing medium
    • A61F13/534Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators characterised by the absorbing medium having an inhomogeneous composition through the thickness of the pad
    • A61F13/537Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators characterised by the absorbing medium having an inhomogeneous composition through the thickness of the pad characterised by a layer facilitating or inhibiting flow in one direction or plane, e.g. a wicking layer
    • A61F13/5376Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators characterised by the absorbing medium having an inhomogeneous composition through the thickness of the pad characterised by a layer facilitating or inhibiting flow in one direction or plane, e.g. a wicking layer characterised by the performance of the layer, e.g. acquisition rate, distribution time, transfer time
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/15203Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/36Surgical swabs, e.g. for absorbency or packing body cavities during surgery
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01DSEPARATION
    • B01D17/00Separation of liquids, not provided for elsewhere, e.g. by thermal diffusion
    • B01D17/02Separation of non-miscible liquids
    • B01D17/0202Separation of non-miscible liquids by ab- or adsorption
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01DSEPARATION
    • B01D17/00Separation of liquids, not provided for elsewhere, e.g. by thermal diffusion
    • B01D17/08Thickening liquid suspensions by filtration
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01DSEPARATION
    • B01D17/00Separation of liquids, not provided for elsewhere, e.g. by thermal diffusion
    • B01D17/08Thickening liquid suspensions by filtration
    • B01D17/085Thickening liquid suspensions by filtration with membranes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/15203Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency
    • A61F2013/15284Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency characterized by quantifiable properties
    • A61F2013/15365Dimensions
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/15203Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency
    • A61F2013/15284Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency characterized by quantifiable properties
    • A61F2013/15463Absorbency
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/15203Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency
    • A61F2013/15284Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency characterized by quantifiable properties
    • A61F2013/15487Capillary properties, e.g. wicking
    • A61F2013/15495Capillary properties, e.g. wicking pore dimension
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/15203Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency
    • A61F2013/15284Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency characterized by quantifiable properties
    • A61F2013/15487Capillary properties, e.g. wicking
    • A61F2013/15528Capillary properties, e.g. wicking with specific capillary or osmotic pressure
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/15203Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency
    • A61F2013/15284Properties of the article, e.g. stiffness or absorbency characterized by quantifiable properties
    • A61F2013/15544Permeability
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C02TREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02FTREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02F1/00Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage
    • C02F1/40Devices for separating or removing fatty or oily substances or similar floating material
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C02TREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02FTREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02F1/00Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage
    • C02F1/44Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage by dialysis, osmosis or reverse osmosis
    • C02F1/444Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage by dialysis, osmosis or reverse osmosis by ultrafiltration or microfiltration
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C02TREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02FTREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02F2101/00Nature of the contaminant
    • C02F2101/30Organic compounds
    • C02F2101/32Hydrocarbons, e.g. oil

Abstract

The present invention is a liquid transport member with significantly improved liquid transporting capability for the transport of liquids against gravity as expressed by high flux rates when tested in the vertical liquid transport test.

Description

Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to liquid transport members useful for a wide range of applications requiring high flow and/or flux rate, wherein the liquid can be transported through such a member, and/ or be transported into or out of such a member. Such members are suitable for many applications, as - without being limited to - disposable hygiene articles, water irrigation systems, spill absorbers, oil/water separators and the like. The invention further relates to liquid transport systems comprising said liquid transport members and articles utilizing these.

BACKGROUND The need to transport liquids form one location to another is a well known problem.

Generally, the transport will happen from a liquid source through a liquid transport member to a liquid sink, for example from a reservoir through a pipe to another reservoir. There can be differences in potential energy between the reservoirs (such as hydrostatic height) and there can be frictional energy losses within the transport system, such as within the transport member, in particular if the transport member is of significant length relative to the diameter thereof.

For this general problem of liquid transport, there exist many approaches to create a pressure differential to overcome such energy differences or losses so as to cause the liquids to flow. A widely used principle is the use of mechanical energy such as pumps. Often however, it will be desirable to overcome such energy losses or differences without the use of pumps, such as by exploiting hydrostatic height differential (gravity driven flow), or via capillary effects (often referred to as wicking). In many of such applications, it is desirable to transport the liquids at high rates, i.e. high flow rate (volume per time), or high flux rate (volume per time per unit area of cross-section).

Examples for applications of liquid transport elements or members can be found in fields like water irrigation such as described in EP-A-0.439.890, or in the hygiene field, such as for absorbent articles like baby diapers both of the pull-on type or with fastening elements like tapes, training pants, adult incontinence products, feminine protection devices.

A well known and widely used execution of such liquid transport members are capillary flow members, such as fibrous materials like blotting paper, wherein the liquid can wick against the gravity. Typically such materials are limited in their flow and/or flux rates, especially when wicking height is added as an additional requirement. An improvement particularly towards high flux rates at wicking heights particularly useful for example for application in absorbent articles has been described in EP-A-0.810.078. Other capillary flow members can be non-fibrous, but yet porous structures, such as open celled foams. In particular for handling aqueous liquid, hydrophilic polymeric foams have been described, and especially hydrophilic open celled foams made by the so called High Internal Phase Emulsion (HIPE) polymerization process have been described in US-A-5.563.179 and US-A- 5.387.207. However, in spite of various improvements made on such executions, there is still a need to get significant increase in the liquid transport properties of liquid transport members.

In particular, it would be desired to obtain liquid transport members, that can transport liquid against gravity at very high flux rates.

In situations wherein the liquid is not homogeneous in composition (such as a solution of salt in water), or in its phases (such as a liquid/solid suspension), it can be desired to transport the liquid in its totality, or only parts thereof. Many approaches are well known for their selective transport mechanism, such as in the filter technology.

For example, filtration technology exploits the higher and lower permeability of a member for one material or phase compared to another material or phase. There is abundance of art in this field, in particular also relating to the so called micro-, ultra-, or nano-filtration. Some of the more recent publications are: US-A-5.733.581 relating to melt-blown fibrous filter;

US-A-A-5.728.292 relates to non-woven fuel filter;

WO-A- 97/47375 relating to membrane filter systems;

WO-A- 97/35656 relating to membrane filter systems;

EP-A-0.780.148 relating to monolithic membrane structures; EP-A-0.773.058 relating to oleophilic filter structures.

Such membranes are also disclosed to be used in absorbent systems.

In US-A-4.820.293 (Kamme) absorbent bodies are disclosed, for being used in compresses, or bandages, having a fluid absorbent substance enclosed in a jacket made of one essentially homogeneous material. Fluid can enter the body through any part of the jacket, and no means is foreseen for liquid to leave the body.

Therein, fluid absorbent materials can have osmotic effects, or can be gel- forming absorbent substances enclosed in semipermeable membranes, such as cellulose, regenerated cellulose, cellulose nitrate, cellulose acetate, cellulose acetate butyrate, polycarbonate, polyamide, fiberglass, polysuifone, of polytetrafluoroethylene, having pore sizes of between 0.001 μm and 20 μm, preferably between 0.005 μm and 8 μm, especially about 0.01 μm.

In such a system, the permeability of the membrane is intended to be such that the absorbed liquid can penetrate, but such that the absorbent material is retained.

It is therefore desired to use membranes having a high permeability K and a low thickness d, so as to achieve a high liquid conductivity k/d of the layer, as being described herein after.

This can be achieved by incorporation of promoters with higher molecular weight (e.g.polyvinyl pyrrolidone with a molecular weight of 40,000), such that the membranes can have larger pores leading to larger membrane permeability K. The maximum pore size stated therein to be useful for this application is less than 0.5 μm, with pore sizes of about 0.01 μm or less being preferred. The exemplified materials allow the calculation of K/d values in the range of 3 to 7 * 10-14m.

As this system is quite slow, the absorbent body can further comprise for rapid discharge of fluids a liquid acquisition means, such as conventional acquisition means to provide interim storage of the fluids before these are slowly absorbed. A further application of membranes in absorbent packets is disclosed in

US-A-5.082.723, EP-A-0.365.565, or US-A-5.108.383 (White; Allied-Signal).

Therein, an osmotic promoter, namely a high-ionic strength material such as NaCl, or other high osmolality material like glucose or sucrose is placed inside a membrane such as made from cellulosic films. As with the above disclosure, fluid can enter the body through any part of the jacket, and no means is foreseen for liquid to leave the body. When these packets are contacted by aqueous liquids, such as urine, the promoter materials provide an osmotic driving force to pull the liquid through the membranes. The membranes are characterized by having a low permeability for the promoter, and the packets achieve typical rates of 0.001 ml/cm2/min. When calculating membrane conductivity k/d values for the membranes disclosed therein, values of about 1 to 2 * 10"15 m result. An essential property of membranes useful for such applications is their "salt retention", i.e. whilst the membranes should be readily penetrable by the liquid, they must retain a substantial amount of the promoter material within the packets. This salt retention requirements provides a limitation in pore size which will limit liquid flux.

US-A-5.082.723 (Gross et al.) discloses an osmotic material like NaCl which is enclosed by superabsorbent material, such as a copolymer of acrylic acid and sodium acrylate, thereby aiming at improving absorbency, such as enhanced absorptive capacity on a "gram per gram" basis and absorption rate. Overall, such fluid handling members are used for improved absorbency of liquids, but have only very limited fluid transport capability.

Thus, there remains still a need to improve the liquid transport properties, in particular to increase the flow and/or flux rates in liquid transport systems.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

Hence it is an object of the present invention to provide a liquid transport member composed of at least two regions exhibiting a difference in permeability.

It is a further object to provide liquid transport members exhibiting improved liquid transport, as expressed in significantly increased liquid flow rates, and especially liquid flux rates, i.e. the amount of liquid flowing in a time unit through a certain cross-section of the liquid transport member.

It is a further object of the present invention to allow such liquid transport against gravity.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide such an improved liquid transport member for fluids with a wide range of physical properties, such as for aqueous (hydrophilic) or non-aqueous, oily or lipophilic liquids.

It is a further object of this invention to provide liquid transport systems, comprising in addition to the liquid transport member a liquid sink and/or liquid source. It is an even further object of the present invention to provide any of the above objects for being used in absorbent structures, such as can be useful in hygienic absorbent products, such as baby diapers, adult incontinence products, feminine protection products.

It is an even further object of the present invention to provide any of the above objects for use as water irrigation systems, spill absorber, oil absorber, water/oil separators.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a liquid transport member for the transport of liquids against gravity at a vertical height H0 of at least 5 cm, preferably of at least 20cm, wherein said member has an average flux rate at 0.9 kPa additional suction pressure differential to the height H0 when tested in the vertical liquid transport test at a height H0, as described herein after, of at least 0.1 g/s/cm2, preferably of at least 1g/cm2/sec, more preferably at least 5 g/cm2/sec, even more preferably at least 10 g/cm2/sec, or even at least 20 g/cm2/sec, and most preferably at least 50 g/cm2/sec.

In preferred embodiments the present invention is a liquid transport member which further has an outer region that is in contact with the wall region, preferably having a capillary pressure for absorbing the liquid that is lower than the bubble point pressure of said member. This outer layer may comprise a softness layer.

In another preferred embodiment, the ratio of permeability of the bulk region and the permeability of the port region is at least 10, preferably at least 100, more preferably at least 1000, and even more preferably at least 10000. In another preferred embodiment, the member has a bubble point pressure of at least 1 kPa, preferably of at least 2 KPa, more preferably at least 4.5 KPa, even more preferably 8 KPa, most preferably 50 KPa.

In another preferred embodiment, the port region has a bubble point pressure of at least 1 kPa, preferably of at least 2 KPa, more preferably at least 4.5 KPa, even more preferably 8 KPa, most preferably 50 KPa. In another preferred embodiment, the bulk region has a larger average pore size than said port regions, such that the ratio of average pore size of the bulk region and the average pore size of the port region is preferably at least 10, more preferably at least 50, even more preferably at least 100, or even at least 500, and most preferably at least 1000.

In another preferred embodiment, the bulk region has an average pore size of at least 200μm, preferably at least 500μm, more preferably of at least 1000μm, and most preferably of at least 5000μm.

In another preferred embodiment, the bulk region has a porosity of at least 50%, preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, even more preferably of at least 98%, and most preferably of at least 99%.

In another preferred embodiment, the port region has a porosity of at least 10%, more preferably at least 20%, even more preferably of at least 30%, and most preferably of at least 50%. In another preferred embodiment, the port regions have an average pore size of no more than 100μm, preferably no more than 50μm, more preferably of no more than 10μm, and most preferably of no more than 5μm. It is also preferred, that the port regions have a pore size of at least 1 μm, more preferably at least 3μm. In another preferred embodiment, the port regions have an average thickness of no more than 100μm, preferably no more than 50μm, more preferably of no more than 10μm, and most preferably of no more than 5μm.

In another preferred embodiment, the bulk regions and the wall regions have a volume ratio (bulk to wall region) of at least 10, preferably at least 100, more preferably at least 1000, and even more preferably at least 10000.

In another preferred embodiment, the liquid transport looses liquid in the closed system test.

In another specific embodiment in particular for transporting aqueous liquids, the port region is hydrophilic, and preferably is made of materials having a contact angle for the liquid to be transported less than 70 degrees, preferably less than 50 degrees, more preferably less than 20 degrees, and even more preferably less than 10 degrees. Preferably, the port regions do not substantially decrease the liquid surface tension of the liquid that is to be transported.

In another specific embodiment in particular for transporting oily liquids, the port region is oleophilic, and preferably is made of materials having a contact angle for the liquid to be transported less than 70 degrees, preferably less than

50 degrees, more preferably less than 20 degrees, and even more preferably less than 10 degrees.

In another specific embodiment, the bulk region can be deformable and may expand during liquid transport. In other specific embodiments, the member can have a sheet-like, or cylindrical shape, optionally the cross-section of the member along the direction of liquid transport being not constant. Further, port regions can have a larger area than the average cross-section of the member along the direction of liquid transport., preferably port regions have an area that is larger than the average cross-section of the member along the direction of liquid transport by at least a factor of 2, preferably a factor of 10, most preferably a factor of 100.

In another specific embodiment, the member comprises bulk or port material which can expand and recollapse during liquid transport, and preferably has a volume expansion factor of at least 5 between the original state and when being activated, i.e. fully immersed in liquid.

In another specific embodiment, the bulk region comprises a material selected from the groups of fibers, particulates, foams, spirals, films, corrugated sheets, or tubes.

In another specific embodiment, the wall region comprises a material selected from the groups of fibers, particulates, foams, spirals, films, corrugated sheets, tubes, woven webs.woven fiber meshes, apertured films, or monolithic films.

In another specific embodiment, the bulk or wall region may an open cell reticulated foam, preferably a foam selected from the group of cellulose sponge, polyurethane foam, HIPE foams. In another specific embodiment , the liquid transport member comprises fibers, which are made of polyolefins, polyesters, polyamids, polyethers, polyacrylics, polyurethanes, metal, glass, cellulose, cellulose derivatives.

In yet another embodiment, the liquid transport member is made by a porous bulk region that is wrapped by a separate wall region. In a special embodiment, the member may comprise water soluble materials, for example to increase permeability or pore size upon contact with the liquid in the bulk or port regions.

In further specific embodiments, the liquid transport member is initially wetted by or essentially filled with liquid, or is under vacuum.

A liquid transport member can be particularly suitable to transport of water- based liquids, of viscoelastic liquids, or for bodily exudates such as urine, blood, menses, feces or sweat.

A liquid transport member can also be suitable for transport of oil, grease, or other non-water based liquids, and it can be particularly suitable for selective transport of oil or grease, but not water based liquids. In a special application, the port regions may be hydrophobic.

In yet another specific embodiment, the properties or parameter of any of the regions of the member or of the member itself need not to be maintained during the transport of the member from its production to the intended use, but that these are established just prior to or at the time of liquid handling. This may be achieved by having an activation of the member, such as contact with the transported liquid, pH, temperature, enzymes, chemical reaction, salt concentration or mechanical activation. Another aspect of the present invention concerns the combination of a liquid transport member with either a source of liquid and/or the sink of liquid, with at least one of these being positioned outside of the member.

In a specific embodiment, a liquid absorbent system, comprising a liquid transport member according to the present invention, has an absorption capacity of at least 5 g/g, preferably at least 10 g/g, more preferably at least 20 g/g, on the weight basis of the sink material. In yet another specific embodiment, the liquid transport system contains a sink having an absorption capacity of at least 10 g/g, preferably at least 20 g/g and more preferably at least 50 g/g, and / a capillary suction of at least 4kPa, preferably at least 10kPa. In certain specific embodiments, the liquid transport member also contains superabsorbent materials or foam made according to the High Internal Phase emulsion polymerization.

An even further aspect of the present invention relates to an article comprising a liquid transport member according to the present invention, such as an absorbent article or a disposable absorbent article comprising a liquid transport member. An application, which can particularly benefit from using members according to the present invention is a disposable absorbent hygiene article, such a baby or adult incontinence diaper, a feminine protection pad, a pantiliner, a training pant. Other suitable applications can be found for a bandage, or other health care absorbent systems. In another aspect, the article can be a water transport system or member, optionally combining transport functionality with filtration functionality, e.g. by purifying water which is transported. Also, the member can be useful in cleaning operation, so as by removing liquids or as by releasing fluids in a controlled manner. A liquid transport member according to the present invention can also be a oil or grease absorber, or can be used for separation of oily and aqueous liquids.

Yet another aspect of the present invention relates to the method of making a liquid transport member, wherein the method comprises the steps of a) providing a bulk or inner material; b) providing a wall material comprising a part region; c) completely enclosing said bulk region material by said wall material; d) providing a transport enablement means selected from d1) vacuum; d2) liquid filling; d3) expandable elastics / springs; Optionally, the method can comprise the step of e) applying activation means of e1 ) liquid dissolving port region; e2) liquid dissolving expandable eiastication / springs.

In another embodiment, the method may comprise the steps of a) wrapping a highly porous bulk material with a separate wall material that contains at least one permeable port region, b) completely sealing the wall region, and c) evacuating the member essentially of air. In an further specific embodiment, the method further comprises the step wetting the member, or partially of essentially fully filling the member with liquid.

In an further specific embodiment, the additionally comprises the step of sealing the member with a liquid dissolvable layer at least in the port regions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Fig. 1 : Schematic diagram of conventional open siphon.

Fig. 2: Schematic diagram of a liquid transport member according to the present invention.

Fig. 3 A, B: Conventional Siphon system, and liquid transport member according to the present invention.

Fig. 4: Schematic cross-sectional view through a liquid transport member.

Fig. 5 A, B, C: Schematic representation for the determination of port region thickness.

Fig. 6: Correlation of permeability and bubble point pressure. Fig. 7 to 12: Schematic diagrams of various embodiments of liquid transport member according to the present invention.

Fig. 13: Liquid Transport Systems according to the present invention.

Fig. 14: Schematic diagram of an absorbent article.

Fig. 15 to 16: Absorbent Article comprising a liquid transport member. Fig. 17 to 18: Specific embodiments of liquid transport member. Fig. 19 to 20: Liquid permeability test. Fig. 21 : Capillary absorption test.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION General definitions

As used herein, a "liquid transport member" refers to a material or a composite of materials, which is able to transport liquids. Such a member contains at least two regions, an "inner" region, for which the term "bulk" region can be used interchangeably, and a wall region comprising at least one "port" region. The terms "inner" and "outer" refer to the relative positioning of the regions, namely meaning, that the outer region generally circumscribes the inner region, such as a wall region circumscribing a bulk regon. As used herein, the term "Z-dimension" refers to the dimension orthogonal to the length and width of the liquid transport member or article. The Z-dimension usually corresponds to the thickness of the liquid transport member or the article. As used herein, the term "X-Y dimension" refers to the plane orthogonal to the thickness of the member, or article. The X-Y dimension usually corresponds to the length and width, respectively, of the liquid transport member, or article. The term layer also can apply to a member, which - when describing it in spherical or cylindrical co-ordinates - extends in radial direction much less than in the other ones. For example, the skin of a balloon would be considered a layer in this context, whereby the skin would define the wall region, and the air filled center part the inner region.

As use herein, the term "layer" refers to a region whose primary dimension is X-Y, i.e., along its length and width. It should be understood that the term layer is not necessarily limited to single layers or sheets of material. Thus the layer can comprise laminates or combinations of several sheets or webs of the requisite type of materials. Accordingly, the term "layer" includes the terms "layers" and "layered".

For purposes of this invention, it should also be understood that the term "upper" refers to members, articles such as layers, that are positioned upwardly (i.e. oriented against the gravity vector) during the intended use. For example, for a liquid transport member intended to transport liquid from a "lower" reservoir to an "upper" one, this is meant to be transport against gravity. When applying this term, for example to absorbent articles, this means that the upper elements are positioned towards the wearer during the intended use.

All percentages, ratios and proportions used herein are calculated by weight unless otherwise specified. As used herein, the term "absorbent articles" refers to devices which absorb and contain body exudates, and, more specifically, refers to devices which are placed against or in proximity to the body of the wearer to absorb and contain the various exudates discharged from the body. As used herein, the term "body fluids" includes, but is not limited to, urine, menses and vaginal discharges, sweat and feces.

The term "disposable" is used herein to describe absorbent articles which are not intended to be laundered or otherwise restored or reused as an absorbent article (i.e., they are intended to be discarded after use and, preferably, to be recycled, composted or otherwise disposed of in an environmentally compatible manner).

As used herein, the term "absorbent core" refers to the component of the absorbent article that is primarily responsible for fluid handling properties of the article, including acquiring, transporting, distributing and storing body fluids. As such, the absorbent core typically does not include the topsheet or backsheet of the absorbent article.

A member or material can be described by having a certain structure, such as a porosity, which is defined by the ratio of the volume of the solid matter of the member or material to the total volume of the member or material. For example, for a fibrous structure made of polypropylene fibers, the porosity can be calculated from the weigth, the caliper and the specific weight (density) of the polypropylene:

VV0id / Vtotai = (1 - pbulk / Pmate ial)

The term "activatable" refers to the situation, where a certain ability is restricted by a certain means, such that upon release of this means a reaction such as a mechanical response happens. For example, if a spring is held together by a clamp (which thus would be activatable), releasing of the clamp results in activating the expansion of the spring. For such springs or other members, materials or systems having an elastic behavior, the expansion can be defined by the elastic modulus , as well known in the art.

Basic principles and definitions

Liquid transport mechanism in conventional capillary flow systems Without wishing to be bound by any of the following explanations, the basic functioning mechanism of the present invention can be best explained by comparing it to conventional capillary flow materials

In materials, for which the liquid transport is based on capillary pressure as the driving force, the liquid is pulled into the pores that were initially dry by the interaction of the liquid with the surface of the pores. Filling the pores with liquid replaces the air in these pores. If such a material is at least partially saturated and if further a hydrostatic, capillary, or osmotic suction force is applied to at least one region of that material, liquid will be desorbed from this material if the suction pressure is larger than the capillary pressure that retains the liquid in the pores of the materials (refer e.g., to "Dynamics of fluids in porous media" by J. Bear, Haifa, publ. Dover Publications Inc., NY, 1988). Upon desorption, air will enter the pores of such conventional capillary flow materials. If additional liquid is available, this liquid can be pulled into the pores again by capillary pressure. If therefore a conventional capillary flow material is connected at one end to a liquid source (e.g., a reservoir) and on the other end to a liquid sink (e.g., a hydrostatic suction), the liquid transport through this material is based on the absorption / desorption and re-absorption cycle of the individual pores with the capillary force at the liquid / air-interface providing the internal driving force for the liquid through the material.

This is in contrast to the transport mechanism for liquids through transport members according to the present invention. Siohon analogy

A simplifying explanation for the functioning of the present invention can start with comparing it to a siphon (refer to Fig. 1 ), well known from drainage systems as a tubing in form of a laying "S" (101). The principle thereof is, that - once the tubing (102) is filled with liquid (103) - upon receipt of further liquid (as indicated by 106) - entering the siphon at one end, almost immediately liquid leaves the siphon at the other end (as indicated by 107), as - because the siphon is being filled with incompressible liquid - the entering liquid is immediately displacing liquid in the siphon forcing the liquid at the other end to exit the siphon, if there is a pressure difference for the liquid between the point of entry and the point of exit of said siphon. In such a siphon, liquid is entering and leaving the system through an open surface inlet and outlet "port regions" (104 and 105 respectively).

The driving pressure to move liquid along the siphon can be obtained via a variety of mechanisms. For example, if the inlet is at a higher position than the outlet, gravity will generate a hydrostatic pressure difference generating liquid flow through the system.

Alternatively, if the outlet port is higher than the inlet port, and the liquid has to be transported against gravity, the liquid will flow through this siphon only if an external pressure difference larger than hydrostatic pressure difference is applied. For example, a pump could generate enough suction or pressure to move liquid through this siphon. Thus, liquid flow through a siphon or pipe is caused by an overall pressure difference between its inlet and outlet port region. This can be described by well known models, such as expressed in the Bernoulli equation.

The analogy of the present invention to this principle is schematically depicted in Fig. 2 as one specific embodiment. Therein, the liquid transport member 201 does not need to be s-shaped, but can be a straight tube (202). The liquid transport member can be filled with liquid (203), if the inlet and outlet of the transport member are covered by inlet port materials (204) and outlet port materials (205). Upon receipt of additional liquid (indicated by 206) which readily penetrates through the inlet port material (204), liquid (207) will immediately leave the member through the outlet region (205), via the outlet port material.

Thus, a key difference in principle is, that the inlet and or outlet ports are not open surfaces, but have special permeability requirements as explained in more detail hereinafter, which prevent air or gas from penetrating into the transport member, thus the transport member remains filled with liquid.

A liquid transport member according to the present invention can be combined with one or more liquid source(s) and/or sink(s) to form a liquid transport system. Such liquid sources or sinks can be attached to the transport member such as at inlet and/or outlet regions or the sink or the source can be integral with the member. A liquid sink can be - for example - integral with the transport member, when the transport member can expand its volume thereby receiving the transported liquid.

A further simplifying analogy to the a siphon system in comparison to a Liquid Transport System can be seen in Fig. 3 A (siphon) and 3B (present invention). When connecting a liquid (source) reservoir (301 ) with a lower (in the direction of gravity) liquid (sink) reservoir (302) by a conventional tube or pipe with open ends (303) in the shape on an inverted "U" (or "J"), liquid can flow from the upper to the lower reservoir only if the tube is kept full with liquid by having the upper end immersed in liquid. If air can enter the pipe such as by removing the upper end (305) from the liquid, the transport will be interrupted, and the tube must be refilled to be functional again.

A liquid transport member according to the present invention would look very similar in an analog arrangement, except for the ends of the transport member, inlet (305) and outlet port (306), comprising inlet and outlet port materials with special permeability requirements as explained in more detail hereinafter instead of open areas. The inlet and outlet materials prevent air or gas from penetrating into the transport member, and thereby maintain the liquid transport capability even if the inlet is not immersed into the liquid source reservoir. If the transport member is not immersed into the liquid source reservoir, liquid transport will obviously stop, but can commence immediately upon re-immersion.

In broader terms, the present invention is concerned with liquid transport, which is based upon direct suction rather than on capillarity. Therein, the liquid is transported through a region through which substantially no air (or other gas) should enter this member (or at least not in a significant amount). The driving force for liquid flowing through such a member can be created by a liquid sink and liquid source in liquid communication with the member, either externally, or internally. There is a multitude of embodiments of the present invention, some of which will be discussed in more detail hereinafter. For example, there can be members where the inlet and / or outlet port materials are distinctly different from the inner or bulk region, or there can be members with gradual change in properties, or there can be member executions wherein the source or sink is integral with the transport member, or wherein the entering liquid is different in type or properties from the liquid leaving the member.

Yet, all embodiments rely on the inlet or outlet port region having a different permeability for the transported liquid than the inner / bulk region.

Within the context of the present invention, the term "liquid" refers to fluids consisting of a continuous liquid phase, optionally comprising a discontinuous phase such as an immiscible liquid phase, or solid or gases, so as to form suspension, emulsions or the like. The liquid can be homogeneous in composition, it can be a mixture of miscible liquids, it can be a solution of solids or gases in a liquid, and the like. Non-limiting examples for liquids that can be transported through members according to the present invention include water, pure or with additives or contaminants, salt solutions, urine, blood, menstrual fluids, fecal material over a wide ranged of consistencies and viscosities, oil, food grease, lotions, creams, and the like.

The term "transported liquid" or "transport liquid" refers to the liquid which is actually transported by the transport member, i.e., this can be the total of a homogeneous phase, or it can be the solvent in a phase comprising dissolved matter, e.g., the water of a aqueous salt solution, or it can be one phase in a multiphase liquid, or it can be that the total of the multicomponent or multiphase liquid. Henceforth, it will become readily apparent for which liquid the respective liquid properties, e.g., the surface energy, viscosity, density, etc., are relevant in for various embodiments.

Whilst often the liquid entering the liquid transport member will be the same or of the same type as the liquid leaving the member or being stored therein, this does not necessarily need to be the case. For example when the liquid transport member is filled with an aqueous liquid, and - upon appropriate design - an oily liquid is received by the member, the aqueous phase may leave the member first. In this case, the aqueous phase could be considered "replaceable liquid".

Geometric description of Transport Member Regions A liquid transport member in the sense of the present invention has to comprise at least two regions - a "bulk region" and a "wall region" comprising at least one liquid permeable "port region". The bulk / inner regions and the wall region are distinctively different and non-overlapping geometric regions that can be defined by the following characterization (refer to Fig.4):

Let A be a point within the bulk region (403), and B a point in the wall region (404) of the member (403), and C a point outside of the member. Then, a member according to the present invention must satisfy a) that any continuous curve that connects A and C will cross or intersect the wall region; and b) that at least one continuous curve exists, which connects B and C which does not cross or intersect the bulk region. and c) at least one curve connecting point A and point C will cross/intersect through the wall region through a port region.

The term "region" refers to three-dimensional regions, which can be of any shape. Often, but not necessarily, the thickness of the region can be thin, such that the region appears like a flat structure, such as a thin film. For example, membranes can be employed in a film form, which - depending on the porosity - can have thickness of 100 μm or much less, thus being much smaller than the extension of the membrane perpendicular thereto (i.e. length and width dimension).

Whilst a region can be described by having at least one property to remain within certain limits so as to define the common functionality of the subregions of this region, other properties may well change within this regions.

Within the current description, the term "regions" should be read to also encompass the term "region", i.e. if a member comprises certain "regions", the possibility of comprising only one such region should be included in this term, unless otherwise explicitly mentioned.

The "port" and "bulk / inner" regions can be readily distinguished from one another, such as a void space for one region and a membrane for another, or these regions can have a gradual transition with respect to certain relevant parameters as will be described hereinafter. Hence it is essential, that a transport member according to the present invention has at least one region satisfying the requirements for the "inner region" and one region satisfying the requirements for the "port region", (which in fact can have an very small thickness relative to its extension in the other two dimensions, and thus appear more as a surface than a volume). The port region may comprise sub-regions, in particular the inlet and outlet regions.

Thus, for a liquid transport member, the transport path can be defined as the path of a liquid entering a port region and the liquid exiting a port region, whereby the liquid transport path runs through the bulk region. The transport path can also be defined by the path of a liquid entering a port region and then entering a fluid storage region which is integral within the inner region of the transport member, or alternatively defined as the path of a liquid, from a liquid releasing source region within the inner region of the transport member to an outlet port region.

The transport path of an liquid transport member can be of substantial length, a length of 100 m or even more can be contemplated, alternatively, the liquid transport member can also be of quite short length, such as a few millimeters or even less. Whilst it is a particular benefit of the present invention to provide high transport rates and also enable large amounts of liquid to be transported, the latter is not a requirement. It can also be contemplated, that only small amounts of liquid are transported over relatively short times, for example when the system is used to transmit signals in the form of liquids in order to trigger a certain response to the signal at an alternative point along the transport member. In this case, the liquid transport member may function as a real-time signaling device. Alternatively, the transported liquid may perform a function at the outlet port, such as activating a void to release mechanical energy and create a three-dimensional structure. For example, the liquid transport member

5 may deliver a triggering signal to a responsive device comprising a compressed material that is held in vacuum compression within a bag, at least a portion of which is soluble (e.g., in water). When a threshold level of the signaling liquid (e.g., water) delivered by the liquid transport member dissolves a portion of the water soluble region and discontinuously releases the vacuum, the compressed o material expands to form a three dimensional structure. The compressed material, for example, may be a resilient plastic foam that has a shaped void of sufficient volume to capture bodily waste. Alternatively, the compressed material may be an absorbent material that functions as a pump by drawing fluid into its body as it expands (e.g., may function as a liquid sink as described below). s The liquid transport can take place along a single transport path or along multiple paths, which can split or re-combine across the transport member.

Generally, the transport path will define a transport direction, allowing definition of the transport cross sectional plane which is perpendicular to said path. The inner / bulk region configuration will then define the transport cross o sectional area, combining the various transport paths.

For irregularly shaped transport members and respective regions thereof, it might be necessary to average the transport cross-section over the length of the one or more transport path(s) either by using incremental approximations or differential approximations as well known from geometrical calculations. 5 It is conceivable, that there will be transport members, wherein the inner region and port regions are readily separable and distinguishable. In other instances, it might take more effort to distinguish and/or to separate the different regions.

Thus, when the requirements are described for certain regions, this should o be read to apply to certain materials within these regions. Thereby, a certain region can consist of one homogeneous material, or a region can comprise such a homogeneous material. Also, a material can have varying properties and/ or parameters, and thus comprise more than one region. The following description will focus on describing the properties and parameters for the functionally defined regions.

General functional description of Transport member

As briefly mentioned in the above, the present invention is concerned with liquid transport member, which is based upon direct suction rather than on capillarity. Therein, the liquid is transported through a region into which substantially no air (or other gas) should enter (at all or at least not in a significant amount). The driving force for liquid flowing through such a member can be created by a liquid sink or liquid source in liquid communication with the transport member, either externally, or internally.

The direct suction is maintained by ensuring that substantially no air or gas enters the liquid transport member during transport. This means, that the wall regions including the port regions should be substantially air impermeable up to a certain pressure, namely the bubble point pressure as will be discussed in more detail.

Thus, a liquid transport member must have a certain liquid permeability (as described hereinafter). A higher liquid permeability provides less flow resistance, and thus is preferred from this point of view.

In addition, the liquid transport member should be substantially impermeable for air or gas during the liquid transport.

However, for conventional porous liquid transport materials, those materials, that function based on capillary transport mechanisms, liquid transport is generally controlled by the interaction of pore size and permeability, such that open, highly permeable structures will generally be comprised of relatively large pores. These large pores provide highly permeable structures, however these structures have very limited wicking heights for a given set of respective surface energies, i.e., a given combination of type of material and liquids. Pore size can also affect liquid retention under normal use conditions. ln contrast to such conventional capillary governed mechanisms, in the present invention, these conventional limitations have been overcome, as it has been surprisingly found, that materials exhibiting a relative lower permeability can be combined with materials exhibiting a relative higher permeability, and the combination provides significant synergistic effects.

In particular, it has been found, that when a highly liquid permeable material having large pores filled with liquid is surrounded by a materials having essentially no air permeability up to a certain pressure, the already referred to bubble point pressure, but having also relatively low liquid permeability, the combined liquid transport member will have a high liquid permeability and a high bubble point pressure at the same time, thus allowing very fast liquid transport even against an external pressure.

Accordingly, the liquid transport member has an inner region with a liquid permeability which is relatively high to provide maximum liquid transport rate. The permeability of a port region, which can be a part of the wall region circumscribing the bulk region, is substantially less. This is achieved by port regions having a membrane functionality, designed for the intended use conditions. The membrane is permeable to fluids, but not to gases or vapors. Such a property is generally expressed by the bubble point pressure parameter, which is - in short - defined by the pressure up to which gas or air does not penetrate through a wetted membrane.

As will be discussed in more detail, the property requirements have to be fulfilled at the time of liquid transport. It can be, however, that these are created or adjusted by activating a transport member, e.g., prior to usage, which - without or prior to such activation - would not satisfy the requirements but so after activation. For example, a member can be elastically compressed or collapsed, and expand upon wetting to then create a structure with the required properties.

Generally, for considering how fast and how much liquid can be transported over a certain height (i.e. against a certain hydrostatic pressure) capillary flow transport is dominated by surface energy effects mechanisms and pore structure, which is determined by number of pores, as well as the shape, size, and also pore size distribution.

If, for example, in conventional capillary flow systems or members which are based on capillary pressure as the driving force, liquid is removed at one end of a capillary system such as by a suction means, this liquid is desorbed out of the capillaries closest to this suction device, which are then at least partially filled by air, and which are then refilled through capillary pressure by liquid from adjacent capillaries, which are then filled by liquid from following adjacent capillaries and so on. Thus, liquid transport through a conventional capillary flow structure is based upon absorption - desorption and re-absorption cycle of the individual pores.

The flow respectively flux is determined by the average permeability along the pathway and by the suction at the end of the transport path. Such a local suction will generally also be dependent on the local saturation of the material, i.e. if the suction device is able to reduce the saturation of the region close to it, the flow/flux will be higher.

However, even if said suction at the end of the transport path is higher than the capillary pressure inside the capillary structure, the internal driving force for liquid is given by the capillary pressure thus limiting liquid transport rates. In addition, such capillary flow structures cannot transport liquid against gravity for heights larger than the capillary pressure, independent of the external suction. A specific idealized execution of such porous liquid transport members are so-called "capillary tubes", which can be described as parallel pipes with the inner tube diameter and wall thickness defining the overall openness (or porosity) of the system. Such systems will have a relative large flux against a certain height if these are "mono-porous", i.e., if the pores have the same, optimal pore size. Then the flow is determined by the pore structure, the surface energy relation, and the cross-sectional area of the porous system, and can be estimated by well know approximations. Realistic porous structures, such as fibrous or foam type structures, will not transport as the ideal structures of capillary tubes. Realistic porous structures have pores that are not aligned, i.e. not straight, as the capillary tubes and the pore sizes are also non-uniform. Both of these effects reduce the transport efficiency of such capillary systems.

For one aspect of the present invention, however, there are at least two regions within the transport member with different pore sizes, namely the one or more port region(s) having smaller pore sizes (which in conventional systems would result in very low flow rates) and the inner region having a substantially larger pore sizes (which in conventional systems would result in very low achievable transport heights).

For the present invention, however, the overall flow and transport height through the transport member are synergistically improved by the high porosity of the inner region (which therefore can be relatively long whilst having small cross-sectional areas), and by the relatively high bubble point pressure of the port regions (which can have sufficiently large surfaces, and/ or small thickness). In this aspect of the invention, the high bubble point pressure of the port regions is obtained by the capillary pressure of the small pores of said port region, which will - once wetted - prevent from air or gas from entering the transport member. Thus, very high fluid transport rates can be achieved through relatively small cross-sectional areas of the transport member.

In another aspect, the present invention is concerned with liquid transport members, which - once activated, and/or wetted - are selective with regards to the fluids they transport. The port regions of the transport member are - up to a certain limit as can be expressed by the bubble point pressure - closed for the ambient gas (like air), but relatively open for the transport liquid (like water).

The port regions do not require a specific directionality of their properties, i.e. the materials used therein can be used in either orientation of liquid flow there through. Nor is it a requirement for the membranes to have different properties (such as permeability) with regard to certain parts or components of the liquid. This is in contrast to the membranes such as described for osmotic absorbent packets in US-A-5.108.383 (White et al.), where the membranes have to have a low permeability for the promoter material, such a salt, respectively salt-ions.

Bulk region

In the following section, the requirements as well as specific executions for the "inner region" or "bulk region" will be described.

A key requirement for the bulk region is to have a low average flow resistance, such as expressed by having a permeability K of at least 10 '11 m2, preferably more than 10"8 m2., more preferably more thant 10"7 m2, and most preferably more than 10'5 m2.

One important means to achieve such high permeabilities for the inner regions can be achieved by utilizing material providing relatively high porosity.

Such a porosity, which is commonly defined as the ratio of the volume of the materials that makes up the porous materials to the total volume of the porous materials, and as determined via density measurements commonly known, should be at least 50 %, preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least

90 %, or even exceeding 98%, or 99%. In the extreme of the inner region essentially consisting of a single pore, void space, the porosity approaches or even reaches 100%.

The inner region can have pores, which are larger than about 200 μm, 500 μm, 1 mm or even 9 mm in diameter or more. For certain applications, such as for irrigation or oil separation, the inner region can have pores as large as 10 cm - e.g. when the inner region is a void tube. Such pores may be smaller prior to the fluid transport, such that the inner region may have a smaller volume, and expand just prior or at the liquid contact. Preferably, if such pores are compressed or collapsed, they should be able to expand by a volumetric expansion factor of at least 5, preferably more than 10. Such an expansion can be achieved by materials having an elastic modulus of more than the external pressure which, however, must be smaller than the bubble point pressure. High porosities can be achieved by a number of materials, well known in the art as such. For example fibrous members can readily achieve such porosity values. Non-limiting examples for such fibrous materials that can be comprised in the bulk region are high-loft non-wovens, e.g., made from polyolefin or 5 polyester fibers as used in the hygienic article field, or car industry, or for upholstery or HVAC industry. Other examples comprise fiber webs made from cellulosic fibers.

Such porosities can further be achieved by porous, open celled foam structures, such as - without intending any limitation - for example pulyurethane o reticulated foams, cellulose sponges, or open cell foams as made by the High Internal Phase Emulsion Polymerization process (HIPE foams), all well known from a variety of industrial applications such as filtering technology, upholstery, hygiene and so on.

Such porosities can be achieved by wall regions (such as explained in s more detail hereinafter) which circumscribe voids defining the inner region, such as exemplified by pipes. Alternatively, several smaller pipes can be bundled.

Such porosities can further be achieved by "space holders", such as springs, spacer, particulate material, currugated structures and the like.

The inner region pore sizes or permeabilities can be homogeneous o throughout the inner region, or can be inhomogeneous.

It is not necessary, that the high porosity of the inner region is maintained throughout all stages between manufacture and use of the liquid transport member, but the voids within the inner region can be created shortly before or during its intended use. 5 For example, bellow like structures held together by suitable means can be activated by a user, and during its expansion, the liquid penetrates through a port region into the expanding inner region, thereby filling the transport member completely or at least sufficiently to not hinder the liquid flow.

Alternatively, open celled foam materials, such as described in (US-A- o 5.563.179 or US-A-5.387.207) have the tendency to collapse upon removal of water, and the ability to re-expand upon re-wetting. Thus, such foams can be transported from the manufacturing site to the user in a relatively dry, and hence thin (or low-volume), and only upon contact with the source liquid increase their volume so as to satisfy the void permeability requirements.

The inner regions can have various forms or shapes. The inner region can be cylindrical, ellipsoidal, sheet like, stripe like, or can have any irregular shape.

The inner regions can have constant cross-sectional area, with constant or varying cross-sectional shape, like rectangular, triangular, circular, elliptical, or irregular. A cross-sectional area is defined for the use herein as a cross-section of the inner region, prior to addition of source liquid, when measured in the plane perpendicular to the flow path of the transport liquid, and this definition will be used to determine the average inner region cross-sectional area by averaging the individual cross-sectional areas all over the flow path(s).

The absolute size of the inner region should be selected to suitably match the geometric requirements of the intended use. Generally, it will be desirable to have the minimum dimension for the intended use. The benefit of the designs according to the present invention is to allow much smaller cross-sectional areas than conventional materials. The dimensions of the inner region are determined by the permeability of said inner region, which can be very high, due to possible large pores, as the inner region does not have to be designed under the contradicting requirements of high flux (i.e. large pores) and high vertical liquid transport (i.e. small pores). Such large pemeabilities allow much smaller cross- sections, and hence very different designs.

Also the length of the inner region can be significantly larger than for conventional systems, as also with regard to this parameter the novel transport member can bridge longer distances and also greater vertical liquid transport heights.

The inner region can be essentially non-deformable, i.e. maintains its shape, form, volume under the normal conditions of the intended use. However, in many uses, it will be desirable, that the inner region allows the complete member to remain soft and pliable. The inner region can change its shape, such as under deforming forces or pressures during use, or under the influence of the fluid itself. The deformability or absence thereof can be achieved by selection of one or more materials in the inner region (such as a fibrous member), or can be essentially determined by the circumscribing regions, such as by the wall regions of the transport member. One such approach is to utilize elastomeric materials as the wall material.

The voids of the inner region can be confined by wall regions only, or the inner region can comprise internal separations therein.

If, for example, the inner region is made up of parallel pipes, with impermeable cylindrical walls, these would be considered to be such internal separations, thereby possibly creating pores which are unitary with the inner, hollow opening of the pipes, and possibly other pores created by the interstitial spaces between the pipes. If, as a further example, the inner region comprises a fibrous structure, the fiber material can be considered to form such internal separations.

The internal separations of the inner region can have surface energies adapted to the transported liquid. For example, in order to ease wetting and/or transport of aqueous liquids, the separations or parts thereof can be hydrophilic. Thus, in certain embodiments relating to the transport of aqueous liquids, it is preferred to have the separations of the inner regions to be wettable by such liquids, and even more preferred to have adhesion tensions of more than 65 mN/m, more preferably more than 70mN/m. In case of the transported liquid is oil based, the separations or parts thereof can be oleo- or lipophilic.

The confining separations of the inner region may further comprise materials which significantly change their properties upon wetting, or which even may dissolve upon wetting. Thus, the inner region may comprise an open cell foam material having a relatively small pore at least partially being made of soluble material, such as polyvinylalcohol or the like. The small porosity can draw in liquid at the initial phase of liquid transport, and then rapidly dissolve so as to then leave large voids filled with liquid. Alternatively, such materials may fill larger pores, completely or partially, For example, the inner region can comprise soluble materials, such as poly(vinyl) alcohol or poly(vinyl) acetate. Such materials can fill the voids, or support a collapsed state of the voids before the member is contacted with liquid. Upon contact with fluid, such as water, these materials may dissolve and thereby create empty or expanded voids.

In one embodiment, the voids of the inner region (which can make up essentially the complete inner region) are essentially completely filled with an essentially incompressible fluid. The term "essentially completely" refers to the situation, where sufficient void volume of the inner region is filled with the liquid such that a continuous flow path can be established.

Preferably, most of the void volume, preferably more than 90%, more preferably more than 95%, and even more preferably more than 99%, including 100%, is filled with the liquid. The inner region can be designed so as to enhance accumulation of gas or other liquid in parts of the region where it is less detrimental. The remainder of the voids can then be filled with other fluid, such as residual gas or vapors, or immiscible liquid like oil in an inner region filled with aqueous liquids, or can be solids, like particulates, fibers, films. The liquid comprised in the inner region can be of the same type as the liquid being intended to be transported.

For example, when water based liquids are the intended transported medium, the inner region of the transport member can be filled with water - or if oil is the intended transport liquid, the inner region can be filled with oil. The liquid in the inner region can also be different - whereby these differences can be relatively small in nature (such as when the intended transport liquid is water, the inner region liquid can be an aqueous solution, and vice versa). Alternatively, the intended transport liquid can be quite different in its properties, when compared to the liquid which has been pre-filled into the inner region, such as when the source liquid is oil, which is transported through a pipe initially filled with water and closed by suitable inlet and outlet ports, whereby the water leaves the member by a suitable outlet port region, and the oil enters the member by a suitable inlet port region. In this specific embodiment, the total amount of transported liquid is limited by the amount which can be received within the member respectively the amount of liquid exchanged, unless there were, for example, outlet port regions comprising materials with properties compatible with the liquids so as to allow functionality with one or both of the liquids.

The liquid of the inner region and the liquid to be transported can be mutually soluble, such as salt solutions in water. For example, if the liquid transport member is intended for the transport of blood or menses, the inner region can be filled with water.

In another embodiment, the inner region comprises a vacuum, or a gas or vapor below the corresponding equilibrium, ambient or external, pressure at the respective temperatures, and volumetric conditions. Upon contact with the transported liquid, the liquid can enter into the inner region by the permeable port regions (as described hereinafter), and then fill the voids of the inner region to the required degree. Thereafter, the now filled inner region functions like a

"pre-filled" region as described in the above.

The above functional requirements and structural embodiments of the inner region can be satisfied by a number of suitable structures. Without being limited in creating structures satisfying suitable inner regions, the following describes a range of preferred embodiments.

A simple and yet very descriptive example for an inner region is an empty tube defined by impermeable or semi-permeable wails, as already discussed and depicted in Fig. 2. The diameter of such tubes can be relatively large compared to diameters commonly used for transport in capillary systems. The diameter of course depends highly on the specific system and intended use.

For example, for hygiene applications such as diapers, pore sizes of 2 - 9 mm or more have been found to function satisfactorily. Also suitable is the combination of parallel tubes of a suitable diameter of from about 0.2 mm to several cm to a tube bundle, such as (in principle) known from other engineering design principles such as heat exchanger systems.

For certain applications, pieces of glass tubes can provide the right functionality, however, for certain applications such structures may have some mechanical strength constraints. Suitable tubes can also be made of silicon, rubber, PVC, etc. e.g Masterflex 6404-17 by Norton, distributed by the Barnant

Company, Barrington, Illinois 60010 U.S..

Yet another embodiment can be seen in the combination of mechanically expanding elements, such as springs or which can open void space in the structure if the expansion direction is oriented such that the appropriate pore size is also oriented along the flow path direction.

Such materials are well known in the art, and for example disclosed in US-

A-5.563.179, US-A-5.387.207, US-A-5.632.737 all relating to HIPE foam materials, or in US-A-5.674.917 relating to absorbent foams, or in EP-A-

0.340.763, relating to highly porous fibrous structures or sheets, such as made from PET fibers.

Other materials can be suitable even when they do not satisfy all the above requirements at the same time, if this deficiency can be compensated by other design elements.

Other materials having relatively large pores are highloft non-woven, filter materials as open cell foams from Recticel in Brussel, Belgium such as Bulpren,

Filtren (Filtren TM10 blue, Filtren TM20 blue, Filtren TM30 blue, Filtren Firend

10 black, Filtren Firend 30 black, Filtren HC 20 grey, Filtren Firend HC 30 grex, Bulpren S10 black, Bulpren S20 black, Bulpren S30 black).

Another material having relatively large pores - even though the porosity is not particularly high - is sand with particles larger than 1 mm, specifically sand with particles larger than 5 mm Such fibrous or other materials may , for example become very useful by being corrugated, however, excessive compression should be avoided. Excessive compression can result in a non-homogeneous pore size distribution with small pores within the web, and sufficiently open pores between the corrugations.

A further embodiment to exemplify a material with two pore size regions can be seen in PCT application US97/20840, relating to a woven loop structure. The inner region may comprise absorbent materials, such as super absorbent gelling materials or other materials as described for being suitable as a liquid sink material herein after. Further, the promoter materials of Membrane

Osmotic packets, (MOP) such as disclosed in US-A-5.082.723 (White, Allied

Signals) can be suitable for being used in the inner region. The inner region may further be constructed form several materials, i.e. for example from combinations of the above.

The inner region may also comprise stripes, particulates, or other in- homogeneous structures generating large voids between themselves and acting as space holders. As will be described in more details for the port regions, the fluids in the inner region must not prevent the port regions from being filled with the transport liquid.

Thus, the degree of vacuum, for example, or the degree of miscibility or immiscibility must not be such that liquids from the port region are drawn into the inner region without the port region(s) being refilled with transport liquid. Wall region The liquid transport member according to the present invention comprises in addition to the inner regions a wall region circumscribing this inner region.

This wall region must comprise at least one port region comprising at least an inlet port region and an outlet port region, as described hereinafter. The wall region can further comprise materials, which are essentially impermeable to liquids and/or gases, thereby not interfering with the liquid handling functionality of the port regions, and also preventing ambient gases or vapors from penetrating into the liquid transport member. Such walls can be of any structure or shape, and can re present the key structural element of the liquid transport member. Such walls can be in the shape of a straight or bent pipe, of a flexible pipe, or of cubical shape and so on. The walls can be thin, flexible films, circumscribing the inner region. Such walls can be expandable, either permanently via deformation or elastically via elastomeric film, or upon activation. Whilst the wall regions as such are an essential element for the present invention, this is particularly true for the port region comprised in such walls, and described in the following. The properties of the remaining parts of the wall regions can be important for the overall structure, for resilience, and other structural effects, however, these other parts do not contribute to the primary fluid handling functionality of the transport member.

Port reqion(s)

The port regions can generally be described to comprise materials which have different permeabilities for different fluids, namely they should be permeable for the transport liquid, but not for the ambient gas (like air), under otherwise same conditions (like temperature, or pressure, ...) and once they are wetted with / filled with the transport liquid or similarly functioning liquid.

Often, such materials are described as membranes with respective characteristic parameters. In the context of this invention, a membrane is generally defined as a region, that is permeable for liquid, gas or a suspension of particles in a liquid or gas. The membrane may for example comprise a microporous region to provide liquid permeability through the capillaries. In an alternative embodiment, the membrane may comprise a monolithic region comprising a block-copolymer through which the liquid is transported via diffusion.

For a given set of conditions, membranes will often have selective transport properties for liquids, gases or suspensions depending on the type of medium to be transported. They are therefore widely used in filtration of fine particles out of suspensions (e.g. in liquid filtration, air filtration). Other type of membranes show selective transport for different type of ions or molecules and are therefore found in biological systems (e.g. cell membranes, molecular sieves) or in chemical engineering applications (e.g. for reverse osmosis).

Microporous hydrophobic membranes will typically allow gas to permeate, while water-based liquids will not be transported through the membrane if the driving pressure is below a threshold pressure commonly referred to as "breakthrough" or "bridging" pressure.

In contrast, hydrophilic microporous membranes will transport water based liquids. Once wetted, however, gases (e.g. air) will essentiallynot pass through the membrane if the driving pressure is below a threshold pressure commonly referred to as "bubble point pressure".

Hydrophilic monolithic films will typically allow water vapor to permeate, while gas will not be transported rapidly through the membrane.

Similarly, membranes can also be used for non-water based liquids such as oils. For example, most hydrophobic materials will be in fact oleophilic. A hydrophobic microporous membrane will therefore be permeable for oil but not for water and can be used to transport oil, or also separate oil and water.

Membranes are often produced as thin sheets, and they can be used alone or in combination with a support layer (e.g. a nonwoven) or in a support element

(e.g. a spiral holder). Other forms of membranes include but are not limited to polymeric thin layers directly coated onto another material, bags, corrugated sheets.

Further known membranes are "activatable" or "switchable" membranes that can change their properties after activation or in response to a stimulus. This change in properties might be permanent or reversible depending on the specific use. For example, a hydrophobic microporous layer may be coated with a thin dissolvable layer e.g. made from poly(vinyl)aclohol. Such a double layer system will be impermeable to gas. However, once wetted and the poly(vinyl)alcohol film has been dissolved, the system will be permeable for gas but still impermeable for liquid. Conversly, if a hydrophilic membrane is coated by such a soluble layer, it might become activated upon liquid contact to allow liquid to pass through, but not air.

In another example, a hydrophilic microporous membrane is initially dry. In this state the membrane is permeable for air. Once wetted with water, the membrane is no longer air permeable. Another example for a reversible switching of a membrane in response to a stimulus is a microporous membrane coated with a surfactant that changes its hydrophilicity depending on temperature. For example the membrane will then be hydrophilic for warm liquid and hydrophobic for cold liquid. As a result, warm liquid will pass through the membrane while cold liquid will not. Other examples include but are not limited to microporous membranes made from an stimulus activated gel that changes its dimensions in response to pH, temperature, electrical fields, radiation or the like.

Properties of port regions

The port regions can be described by a number or properties and parameters.

A key aspect of the port region is the permeability. The transport properties of membranes may in general be described by a permeability function using Darcy's law which is applicable to all porous systems: q= 1/A * dV/dt = k/η * Δp/L

Thus, a volumetric flow dV/dt through the membrane is caused by an external pressure difference Δp (driving pressure), and the permeability function K may depend on the type of medium to be transported (e.g. liquid or gas), a threshold pressure, and a stimulus or activation. Further relevant parameters impacting on the liquid transport are the cross-section A and the length L of the transport regions, and the viscosity η of the transported liquid.

For porous membranes, the macroscopic transport properties are mainly depending on the pore size distribution, the porosity, the tortuosity and the surface properties such as hydrophilicity.

If taken alone, the permeability of the port regions should be high so as to allow large flux rates there through. However, as permeability is intrinsically connected to other properties and parameters, typical permeability values for port regions or port region materials will range from about 6*10'20m2, to 7*10"18m2, or 3*10"14 m2, up to 1.2 * 10"10m2 or more.

A further parameter relevant for port regions and respective materials is the bubble point pressure, which can be measured according to the method as described hereinafter.

Suitable bubble point pressure values depend on the type of application in mind. The table below lists ranges of suitable port region bubble point pressure (BPP) for some applications: Application BPP (KPa) broad range typical range Diapers 4.5 to 35 4.5 to 8 Catamenials 1 to 35 1 to 5 Irrigation <2 to > 50 8 to 50

Grease absorption 1 to 20 1 to 5 Oil Separation < 1 to about 50

Port region thickness and size

The port region of a liquid transport member is defined as the part of the wall having the highest permeability. The port region is also defined by having the lowest relative permeability when looking along a path from the bulk region to a point outside the transport member.

The port region can be constructed by readily discernible materials, and then both thickness and size can be readily determined. The port region can, however, have a gradual transition of its properties either to other, impermeable regions of the wall region, or to the bulk region. Then the determination of the thickness and of the size can be made as described hereinafter. When looking at a segment of the wall region, such as depicted in Figure 5A, this will have a surface, defined by the comerpoints ABCD, which is oriented towards the inner or bulk region, and a surface EFGH oriented towards the outside of the member. Thus the thickness dimension is oriented along the lines AE, BF, and so on, i.e. when using Cartesian co-ordinates, along the z-direction. Analogously, the wall region will have the major extension along the two perpendicular directions, i.e. x-, and y- direction.

Then, the port region thickness can be determined as follows: a) In case of essentially homogeneous port region properties at least in the direction through the thickness of the region, it is the thickness of a material having such a homogeneous permeability (such as when a membrane film); b) It is the thickness of the membrane if this is combined with a carrier (be this carrier inside or outside of the membrane) - i.e. this refers to a non- continuous / step change function of the properties along this path. c) For a material having a (determinable) continuous gradient permeability across any segment as in Figure 5A, the following steps can be taken to reach a determinable thickness (refer to Figure 5B): cO) First, a permeability profile is determined along the z-axis, and the curve Kfiocaii vs r is plotted; for certain members, the porosity or pore size curve can also be taken for this determination with appropriate changes of the subsequent procedure. d ) Then the point of lowest permeability (Knw, is determined, and the corresponding length reading (r[minι) is taken. c2) As the third step, the "upper port region permeability" is determined as being 10 times the value of Kmin c3) As the curve has a minimum at K^,, there will be two corresponding r innβr and r outer, defining the inner and outer limit of the port region respectively. c4) The distance between the two limits defines the thickness, and the average K port, average will be determined across this]. If this approach fails due to indeterminable gradient permeability, porosity or pore size, the thickness of the port region will be set to 1 micrometer.

As indicated in the above, it will often be desirable to minimize the thickness of the port region, respectively the membrane materials comprised therein. Typical thickness values are in the range of less than 10Oμrn, often less than 50 μm, 10μm, or even less than 5μm.

Quite analogous, the x-y extension of the port region can be determined. In certain liquid transport member designs it will be readily apparent, which part of the wall region are port regions. In other designs, with gradually changing properties across the wall region, the local permeability curves along the x- and y direction of the wall region can be determined, and plotted analogous to Figure 5B as shown in Figure 5C. In this instance, however, the maximum permeability in the wall region defines the port regions, hence the maximum will be determined, and the region having permeabilities of not less than a tenth of the maximum permeability surrounding this maximum is defined as the port region.. Yet another parameter useful for describing aspects of the port regions useful for the present invention is the permeability to thickness ratio, which in the context of the present invention is also referred to as "membrane conductivity". This reflects the fact, that - for a given driving force - the amount of liquid penetrating through a material such as a membrane is on one side proportional to the permeability of the material, i.e. the higher the permeability, the more liquid will penetrate, and on the other side inversely proportional the thickness of the material.

Henceforth, a material having a lower permeability compared to the same material having a decrease in thickness, shows that thickness can compensate for this permeability deficiency (when regarding high rates a being desirable).

Thus, this parameter can be very useful for designing the port region materials to be used.

Suitable k/d depends on the type of application in mind. The table below lists ranges of typical K/d for some exemplary applications: Application K/d (10"9 m) broad range typical range Diapers 10"6 to 1000 150 to 300

Feminine protection 100 to 500

Irrigation 1 to 300

Grease absorption 100 to 500

Oil Separation 1 to 500

Of course, the port regions have to be wettable by the transport fluid, and the hydrophilicity or lipophilicity should be designed appropriately, such as by using hydrophilic membranes in case of transporting aqueous liquids, or hydrophobic membranes in case of lipophilic or oily liquids.

The surface properties in the port region can be permanent, or they can change with time, or usage conditions.

It is preferred, that the receiding contact angle for the liquid to be transported is less than 70°, more preferably less than 50°, even more preferred less than 20° or even less than 10°. Further, it is preferred, that the material has no negative impact on the surface tension of the transported liquid.

For example, a lipohilic membrane may be made from lipophilic polymers such as polyethylene or polypropylene and such membranes will remain liphophilic during use.

Another example is a hydrophilic material allowing aqueous liquids to be transported. If a polymer like polyethylene or polypropylene is to be used, this has to be hydrophilized, such as by surfactants added to the surface of the material or added to the bulk polymer, such as adding a hydrophilic polymer prior to forming the port material. In both instances, the imparted hydrophilicity may be permanent or not, e.g. it could be washed away with the transport liquid passing therethrough. However, as it is an important aspect of the present invention, that the port regions remain in a wetted state so as to prevent gas passing through, the lack of hydrophilizer will not be significant once the port regions are wetted. Maintaining liquid filling of membrane

For a porous membrane to be functional once wetted (permeable for liquid, not-permeable for air) at least a continuous layer of pores of the membrane always need to be filled with liquid and not with gas or air. Therefore, evaporation of the liquid from the membrane pores must be minimized, either by a decrease of the vapor pressure in the liquid or by an increase the vapor pressure in the air. Possible ways to do this include - without any limitation:

Sealing of the membrane with a impermeable wrap to avoid evaporation between production and usage. Use of strong desiccants (e.g. CaCI2) in the pores, or use of a liquid with low vapor pressure in the pores that mixes with the transported fluid.

Alternatively, the port region may be sealed with soluble polymers, such as poly vinyl alcohol, or poly vinyl acetate, which are dissolved upon contact with liquids and which thereby activate the functionality of the transport member. Apart from the liquid handling requirements, the port regions should satisfy certain mechanical requirements. First, the port regions should not have any negative effect on the intended use conditions. For example when such members are intended in hygienic absorbent articles, the comfort and safety must not be negatively impacted.

Thus it will often be desirable, that the port regions are soft, and flexible, but this may not always be the case. However, the port region should be sufficiently strong to withstand practical use stress, such as tear stress or puncturing stress or the like.

In certain designs, it might be desirable for the port region materials to be extensible or collapsible, or bendable. A single hole in the membrane (e.g. caused by puncturing during use), a failure in membrane sealing (e.g. owing to production), or the membrane tearing (e.g. due to in-use pressure being exerted) can lead to a failure of the liquid transport mechanism. Whilst this can be used as a destructive test method to determine if a materials or member functions according the present invention, this is not desirable during its intended use. If air or another gas penetrates into the inner region, this may block the liquid flow path within the region, or it may also interrupt the liquid connection between the bulk and port regions.

A possibility to make an individual member more robust, is to provide in certain parts of the inner region remote from the main liquid flow path, a pocket where air that enters the system is allowed to accumulate without rendering the system non functional.

A further way to address this issue is to have several liquid transport member in a (functionally or geometrically) parallel arrangement instead of a single liquid transport member. If one of the members fails, the others will maintain the functionality of the "liquid transport member battery".

The above functional requirements of the port regions can be satisfied by a wide range of materials or structures described by the following structural properties or parameters.

The pore structure of the region, respectively of the materials therein, is an important parameter impacting on properties like permeability and bubble point pressure. Two key aspects of the pore structure are the pore size, and pore size distribution. A suitable method to characterize these parameters at least on the surface of the region is by optical analysis.

As has been discussed above in the context of permeability, permeability is influenced by the pore size and the thickness of the regions, respectively the part of the thickness which is predominantly determining the permeability.

Henceforth, it has been found, that for example for aqueous systems typical average pore size values are in the range of 0.5 to 500 μm. Thus the pores have preferably an average size of less than 100 μm, preferably less than 50 μm, more preferably less than 10 μm or even less than 5 μm. Typically, these pores are not smaller than 1 μm.

It is an important feature for example of the bubble point pressure, that this will depend on the largest pores in the region, which are in a connected arrangement therein. For example, having one larger pore embedded in small ones does not necessarily harm the performance, whilst a "cluster" of larger pores together might very well do so.

Henceforth, it will be desirable to have narrow pores size distribution ranges.

Another aspect relate to the pore walls, such as pore wall thickness, which should be a balance of openess and strength requirements. Also the pores should be well connected to each other, to allow liquid passing through readily.

As some of the preferred port region materials can be thin membrane materials, these in themselves may have relatively poor mechanical properties. Henceforth, such membranes can be combined with a support structure, such as a coarser mesh, a non-woven or the like.

Such a support structure could be combined with the membrane such that it is positioned towards the inner / bulk region or towards the outside of the member.

Size / surface area of port regions The size of the port regions is essential for the overall performance of the transport member, and needs to be determined in combination with the "permeability to thickness" (K/d)ratio of the port region.

The size has to be adapted to the intended use, so as to satisfy the liquid handling requirements. Generally, it will be desirable to have the liquid handling capability of the inner/bulk region and the port regions be compatible, such that neither is a grossly limiting factor for liquid transport compared to the other. As the flux of the port regions will generally be lower than the flux through the inner region, it may be preferred to design the port regions larger in size (surface) than the cross-section of the inner region.

Thereby, the exact design and shape of the port regions can vary over a wide range.

For example, if the transport members function is intended to provide a trigger or signal from one port region to another, the port regions can be relatively small, such as about the size of the cross-section of the inner region, such that a substantially smaller transport member results.

Or, when liquids are to be quickly captured and transported, distributed or stored, the member can be shaped for example in the shape of a , dog bone with relatively large port regions at either end of the transport member or alternatively, the port regions can be spoon shaped so as to increase the receiving area.

Alternatively, the port regions can be non-flat, such as for example corrugated, or folded, or having other forms so as to create relative large surface area to volume ratios. Whilst the inlet port and the outlet port can be designed to satisfy the same basic requirements, and thus can be one and the same material, this does not need to be the case. The inlet and outlet port regions can be different with regard to one or more material or performance parameters. The different port regions can be readily discernible, such as by being represented by different materials and/or by being separated by other materials, or the port regions can differ by a property or parameter gradient, which can be continuous or stepwise. One essentially continuous material can have a gradient of properties along either the surface of the material, in the thickness dimension, or both, so as to be able to represent several inlet/outlet/wall regions.

The port region properties may be constant over time, or they may change with time, such as being different before and during use.

For example, the port regions can have properties unsuitable for functioning in members according to the present invention until the point of use. The port regions may be activated, for example by manual activation, intervention by the person using the member, or by an automatic activation means, such as by wetting of the transport member. Other alternative mechanisms for activation of the port regions can include heat, for example the body temperature of a wearer, or pH, for example of the transport liquid, or an electrical or mechanical stimulus.

As has been discussed in the context of osmotic packet materials in the above, membranes useful for the present invention have no specific requirement of a certain salt impermeability.

Whilst the port regions and suitable materials have been described with regard to their properties or descriptive parameters, the following will describe some of the materials that satisfy these various requirements , thereby focusing on the transport of aqueous liquids.

Suitable materials can be open celled foams, such as High Internal Phase Emulsion foams, can be Cellulose Nitrate Membranes, Cellulose Acetate Membranes, Polyvinyldifluorid films, non-wovens, woven materials such as meshes made from metal, or polymers as m Polyamide, or Polyester. Other suitable materials can be apertured Films, such as vacuum formed, hydroapertured, mechanically or Laser apertured, or films treated by electron, ion or heavy-ion beams

Specific materials are Cellulose acetate membranes, such as also disclosed in US 5,108,383 (White, Allied-Signal Inc.), Nitrocellulose membranes such as available from e.g. from Advanced Microdevices (PVT) LTD, Ambala

Cantt. INDIA called CNJ-10 (Lot # F 030328) and CNJ-20 (Lot # F 024248)., Cellulose acetat membranes, Cellulose nitrate membranes, PTFE membranes, Polyamide membranes, Polyester membranes as available e.g. from Sartorius in Gόttingen, Germany and Millipore in Bedford USA, can be very suitable. Also microporous films, such as PE/PP film filled with CaCO3 particles, or filler containing PET films as disclosed in EP-A-0.451.797.

Other embodiments for such port region materials can be ion beam apertured polymer films, such as made from PE such as described in "Ion Tracks and Microtechnology - Basic Principles and Applications" edited by R.Spohr and K.Bethge, published by Vieweg, Wiesbaden, Germany 1990. Other suitable materials are woven polymeric meshes, such as polyamide or polyethylene meshes as available from Verseidag in Geldern-Waldbeck, Germany, or SEFAR in Rϋschlikon, Switzerland. Other materials which can be suitable for present applications are hydrophilized wovens, such as known under the designation DRYLOFT ® from Goretex in Newark, DE 19711 , USA. Further, certain non-woven materials are suitable, such as available under the designation CoroGard ® from BBA Corovin, Peine, Germany, can be used, namely if such webs are specially designed towards a relatively narrow pore size distribution.

For applications with little requirements for flexibility of the members, or where even a certain stiffness is desirable, metal filter meshes of the appropriate pore size can be suitable, such as HIGHFLOW of Haver& Bocker, in Oelde, Germany

Additional Elements - Outside of outer /wall region and other elements In addition to the inner/bulk and wall regions, the liquid transport member according to the present invention can optionally contain other elements, such as liquid impermeable walls or separations, in addition to the wall region with one or more port regions.

Further, there can be additional elements outside of the wall regions, such as materials to provide enhanced physical strength, or improved tactile feel or the like. Whilst such external elements might be arranged such that liquid flows there-through, they do not contribute to the essential functionality of the liquid transport member. Thus, such elements should not be a flow limiting factor, and may not function as a port region. Such elements can be integral with the wall region. Further, there can be elements attached to or integral with the liquid transport member to aid its implementation into an absorbent system, or an article comprising an liquid transport member. Transport member functionality During absorption, both liquid transport members according to the present invention as well as certain conventional materials do not draw air into their respective structures, for conventional materials, fibrous materials or conventional foams, the liquid pulled into the structure displaces air within the structure. However, conventional porous materials, such as fibrous structures, typically do draw air into themselves during desorption, air enters as liquid is drawn out of the structure. The liquid transport member according to the present invention does not draw air into the structure under normal usage conditions. The property that determines the point at which air will enter the system is referred to herein as bubble point pressure. Air will not enter the transport member until the bubble point pressure (bpp) is reached, due to the membrane functionality of the port region(s) material.

Thus, once liquid has entered the member, it will not be replaced by air - up to the bpp of the member.

Permeability A further property of the liquid transport member is the permeability K

(liquid transport member) as the average permeability along the flow path of the transported liquid.

The liquid transport member according to the present invention has a permeability which is higher than the permeability of a capillary system with equal liquid transport capability. This property is referred to as the a "critical permeability". The critical permeability of the liquid transport member of the present invention is preferably at least twice as high as a capillary system with equal vertical liquid transport capability more preferably at least four times as high, and most preferably at least ten times greater than a capillary system with equal vertical liquid transport capability. For capillary tubes, , the permeability K {crit} can be determined via the adhesion tension as derived from Darcy's law as follows:

K {crit} = (ε{liquid transport member}/2)* (σ*cos(Θ))**2 / (bpp {liquid transport member}**2) wherein K {crit} is the critical permeability in units of [m2] ε {liquid transport member} is the average porosity of the liquid transport member [-]; σ {liqu} is the viscosity of the liquid in [cP] σ*cos(Θ) defines the adhesion tension in [cP]. bpp {liquid transport member} is the bubble point pressure of the liquid transport member, expressed in [kPa], as discussed in the above.

The maximum value which can be reached for such a system can be approximated by assuming the maximum value for the term cos(Θ), namely 1 :

K {crit, max} = (ε {liquid transport member} 12 )* σ {liquid}**2 / ( bpp {liquid transport member}) **2

Another way to express the K {crit} is via the ability of the member to transport liquid vertically at least against a hydrostatic pressure corresponding to a certain height:

K {crit, max} = (ε {liquid transport member}/2) * σ{liqu}**2 / (p{liqu}*g*h)**2. The permeability of a material or transport member can be determined by using the vertical permeability test as described hereinafter, and then compared to the critical permeability as calculated from the above equations.

Whilst the bpp property has already been discussed in the context of the port regions, also the complete transport member can be described thereby. Accordingly, suitable bpp for the member depends on the intended use, and suitable as well as typical values and ranges are essentially the same for the member as for the port region as described above.

A liquid transport member according to the present invention can also be described by being substantially air impermeable up to a certain bpp, whereby the liquid transport member of the present invention has an overall permeability which is higher than the permeability for a given material having a homogeneous pore size distribution and an equivalent bpp.

Yet another way to describe the functionality of a Liquid transport member is by using the average fluid permeability Kb of the bulk/inner region, and the bubble point pressure of the member.

The liquid transport member according to the present invention should have a relatively high bpp {liquid transport member} and a high K {liquid transport member} at the same time. This can be graphically represented when plotting K{liquid transport member} over bbp in a double logarithmic diagram (as in fig 6 wherein the bbp is expressed in "cm height of water column", which then can be readily converted into a pressure).

Therein, for a given surface energy combination of the liquid and the member materials generally a top left to down right correlation can be observed. Members according to the present invention are have properties in the upper right region (I) above the separation line (L), whilst properties of conventional materials are much more in the left lower corner in the region (II), and have the limitations of the pure capillary transport mechanism, as schematically indicated by the straight line in the log-log diagram.

Yet another way to describe the functionality of the liquid transport member is to consider the effect of liquid transport as a function of the driving force.

In contrast, for liquid transport members according to the present invention, the driving force is independent from the flow resistance as long as the pressure differential is less than the bpp of the transparent member. Thus the flux is proportional to the driving pressure (up to the bpp). A liquid transport member according to the present invention can further be described by having high flux rates, as calculated on the cross-sectional area of the inner region. Thus, the member should have an average flux rate at 0.9kPa additional suction pressure differential to the height H0 when tested in the vertical liquid transport test at a height H0, as described herein after, of at least 0.1 g/s/cm2, preferably of at least 1g/cm2/sec, more preferably at least 5 g/cm2/sec, even more preferably at least 10 g/cm2/sec, or even at least 20 g/cm2/sec, and most preferably at least 50 g/cm2/sec.

In addition to the above requirements, the liquid transport member should have a certain mechanical resistance against external pressure or forces.

For certain embodiments, the mechanical resistance to external pressures or forces can be relatively high to prevent squeezing liquid out of , the transport member, which for example, can be achieved by using stiff / non-deformable material in the inner region.

For certain other embodiments, this resistance can be in a medium range, thus allowing exploitation of external pressure or forces on the transport member for creating a "pumping effect".

In order to further explain suitable structures for a liquid transport member, the above mentioned simple example of a hollow tube having an inlet and outlet, said inlet and outlet being covered, i.e. closed, by membranes is considered. This type of structure can alternatively include a further support structure such as an open mesh attached to the port region membrane towards the inner region.

Therein, the permeability requirement can be satisfied by the membrane itself, i.e. not considering the effect of the support structure, if the support structure is sufficiently open to have no negative impact on the overall permeability or on the liquid handling properties thereof. Then, the thickness of the port region refers to the thickness of the membrane only - i.e. not including the thickness of the support structure. It will become apparent in the specific context, if for example such a support structure should be seen as an element of the port region having no significant impact on the port region properties, or - for example if the support structure has a significant thickness and thus impacts on the permeability for the liquid after the port region is penetrated - whether the support structure should be considered as a part of the inner region. If, for example, the support structure becomes more extended in thickness, still remaining connected with the membrane, it yet can be considered as functionally belonging to the inner region, such as when the permeability of the composite "support - inner void" is significantly impacted by the permeability of the support structure.

Accordingly, this principle should be considered for each of the respective aspects, such as when looking at the port region(s), the bulk regions or the complete transport member. The following describes how various elements can be combined to create structures suitable as a liquid transport member. It should be noted, that because of the multiple design options one or the other structure might not be discernible by all of the above described properties, but it will be readily apparent to the skilled person to design even further options following the general teachings in combination with the more specific embodiments.

Relative permeability

If the permeability of both the inner/bulk region and the port regions can be determined independently, it is preferred that one or both of the port regions have a lower liquid permeability than the inner region.

Thus, a liquid transport member should have a ratio of the permeability of the bulk region to the port region of preferably at least 10:1 , more preferably at least 100:1 , even more preferably at least 1000:1 , even ratios of 10000:1 are acceptable .

Relative arrangement of regions

Depending on the specific embodiments, there can be various combinations of the inner, the wall and the port region.

At least a portion of the port region(s) have to be in liquid communication with the inner region, so as to allow fluid to be transferred thereto. The inner/bulk region should comprise larger pores than the wall region. The pore size ratio of inner pores to port region pores are preferably at least 10:1, more preferably at least 30:1 , even more preferably at least 100:1 and most preferable at least 350:1.

The area of the port regions will typically be larger than the cross-section of the inner regions, thereby considering the respective regions together, namely - if present - the inlet regions or respectively the outlet regions. In most instance, the port regions will be twice as large as said inner region cross-section, often four times as large, or even 10 times as large.

Structural relation of regions

The various regions can have , similar structural properties or different, possibly complementing structural properties, such as strength, flexibility, and the like. For example, all regions can comprise flexible material designed to cooperatively deform, whereby the inner region comprises a thin-until-wet material which expands upon contact with the transported liquid, the port region(s) comprise flexible membranes, and the walls can be made of liquid impermeable flexible film. The liquid transport member can be made of various materials, whereby each region may comprise one or more materials.

For example, the inner region may comprise porous materials, the walls may comprise a film material, and the ports may comprise a membrane material. Alternatively, the transport member may consist essentially of one material with different properties in various regions, such as a foam with very large voids to provide the functionality of the inner region, with membrane type materials to function as port materials.

One way to look at a liquid transport member is to see the inner region being enclosed by at least one wall and/or port region. A very simple example for this is the above mentioned tube filled with liquid and closed by membranes at both ends, as indicated in Figure 7. Such members can be considered to be a "Closed Distribution Member", as the inner region (703) is "enclosed" by the wall region (702) comprising port regions (806, 807). It is characteristic for such systems, that - once the transport member is activated, or equilibrated - a puncturing of the outer region can interrupt the transport mechanism. The transport mechanism can be maintained if only a small amount of air , enters the system. This small quantity of air can be accumulated in an area of the inner region wherein it is not detrimental to the liquid transport mechanism.

For the example of the hollow tube with at least one open port, puncturing the walls will result in immediate interruption of the liquid transport and fluid loss.

This mechanism can be exploited to define the "Closed System Test", as described in the below), which is a "sufficient but not necessary" condition for liquid transport member according to the present invention (i.e. all transport members which satisfy this test can be considered to function within the principles of the present invention, but not all transport members which fail this test are outside the principle).

In a further embodiment as depicted in figure 8, , the liquid transport member may comprise several inlet and/or several outlet port regions, for example as can be achieved by connecting a number of tubes (802) together and closing several end openings with inlet ports 806 and an outlet port 807, thereby circumscribing the inner region 803, or a "split" system where fluid is transported simultaneously to more than one location (more than one exit port). Alternatively, the transport to different locations may be selective (e.g., the voids in a transport material on the route to one port may be filled with a water soluble material, and the voids in the transport material on the route to a second port may be filled with an oil soluble material. Also, the transport medium may be hydro- and/or oleo-philic to further enhance the selectivity.)

In yet a further embodiment as indicated in Figure 9, the inner region (903) can be segmented into more than one region, such as can be visualized by looking a bundle of parallel pipes, held in position by any suitable fixation means (909), circumscribed by a wall region (902), comprising port regins (906. 907), and the inner separation means (908). It also can be contemplated, that at least some of the membrane material is placed inside the inner/bulk regions, and the membrane material can even form the walls of the pipes.

In an even further embodiment (Fig. 10), the outer wall region consists essentially of permeable port region with inlet (1006) and outlet (1007) port regions, i.e., the inner region (1003) is not circumscribed by any impermeable region at all. The inlet and outlet port regions may have the same permeability, or can have a different degree of permeability. Also, the port regions and the inner region can be connected by a gradual transition region, such that the transport member appears to be a unitary material with varying properties.

In further embodiments (Fig. 11 ), the liquid transport member can have one inlet and one outlet port region (1006 resp. 1007), and the member can be designed to receive and/or release liquid. To achieve this, parts of the wall region (1102) can be deformable, such that the total member can increase the volume of the inner region (1103), so as to accommodate the additionally received volume of liquid, or so as to accommodate the initially contained liquid, which then can be released through the port region(s). In these members, a liquid sink or source can be integrally combined with the liquid transport member. This can be achieved by a liquid sink or source integrally incorporated in the member, such as depicted by element (1111 ) in Fig. 11.

A further embodiment can comprise highly absorbent materials such as superabsorbent materials or other highly absorbent materials as described in more detail in (high suction application number), combined with a port regions made of a suitable membrane, and flexibly expandable walls to allow for an increase in the volume of the storage member. A further embodiment of such an system with a liquid sink integral with the liquid transport member, is a "Thin- until-wet" material in combination with a suitable membrane. Such materials are well known such as from US-A-5.108.383, which are open celled porous hydrophilic foam materials, such as produced by High Internal Phase Emulsion process. The pore size, polymer strength (Tg) and the hydrophilic properties are designed such that the pores collapse when they are dewatered and at least partially dried, and expand upon wetting. A specific embodiment is a foam layer, which can expand its caliper upon absorption of liquid. .

In even a further embodiment, the inner region can be void of liquid at the beginning of the liquid transport process (i.e. contains a gas at a pressure less than the ambient pressure surrounding the liquid transport member). In such cases, the liquid supplied by a liquid source can penetrate through the inlet port region(s) to first fill the voids of the membrane and then the inner region. The wetting then initiates the transport mechanisms according to the present invention thereby wetting, and penetrating the outlet port region. In such an instance, the inner regions may not be completely filled with the transport fluid, but a certain amount of residual gas or vapor may be retained. If the gas or vapor is soluble in the transported liquid, it is possible that after some liquid passes through the member, that substantially all of the initially present gas or vapor is removed, and the inner regions become substantially free of voids. Of course, in cases with some residual gas or vapor being present in the inner region, this may reduce the effective available cross-section of the fluid member, unless specific measures are taken, such as indicated in Fig.12, with wall region

(1202) comprising port regions (1206 and 1207) circumscribing the inner region

(1203) and with region (1210) to allow gas to accumulate. Yet another embodiment can use different types of fluid - for example, the member can be filled with an aqueous based liquid, and the transport mechanism is such, that a non-aqueous, possibly immiscible liquid (like oil) enters the liquid transport member via the inlet port while the aqueous liquid leaves the member via the outlet port. In yet even further embodiments of the present invention, one or more of the above described embodiments can be combined. Liquid Transport System

The following describes suitable arrangement of such a liquid transport member to create a suitable Liquid Transport System (LTS) according to the present invention. A Liquid Transport System within the scope of the present invention comprises the combination of at least one liquid transport member with at least one further liquid sink or source in liquid communication with the member.

The source can be any form of free liquid or loosely bound liquid so as to be readily available to be received by the transport member.

For example a pool of liquid, or a freely flowing volume of liquid, or an open porous structure filled with liquid.

The sink can be any form of a liquid receiving region. In certain embodiments, it is preferred to have the liquid more tightly bound than the liquid in the liquid source. The sink can also be an element or region containing free liquid, such that the liquid would be able to flow freely or gravity driven away from the member. Alternatively, the sink can contain absorbent, or superabsorbent material, absorbent foams, expandable foams, alternatively it can be made of a spring activated bellows system, or it can contain osmotically functioning material, or combinations thereof.

Liquid communication in this context refers to the ability of liquids to transfer or to be transferred from the sink or source to the member, such as can be readily achieved by contacting the elements, or bringing the elements so closely together, that the liquid can bridge the remaining gap. Such a liquid transport system comprises a liquid transport member according to the above description plus at least one liquid sink or source. The term at least applies to systems, where the liquid transport member itself can store or release liquids, such that a liquid transport system comprises a sink and a liquid releasing liquid transport member; or a source and a liquid receiving liquid transport member; or a sink and a source and a liquid transport member. In each of these options, the liquid transport member can have liquid releasing or receiving properties in addition to a sink or source outside of the member. At least a portion of the port region(s) must be in liquid communication with the source liquid and where applicable the sink material. One approach is to have the port region material form the outer surface of the liquid transport member, in part or as the whole outer surface, so as to allow liquids such as liquids of the liquid source or sink to readily contact the port regions. The effective port region size can be determined by the size of the liquid communication with the sink or source respectively. For example, the total of the port regions can be in contact with the sink or source, or only a part thereof. Alternatively, e.g., when there is one homogeneous port region, this can be distinguished into separate effective inlet port regions and effective outlet port regions where the port region is in contact with the liquid sink an/or source. It will be apparent, that a sink must be able to receive liquid from the member (and where applicable from the respective port regions), and a source must be able to release liquid to the member (and where applicable to the respective port regions).

Henceforth, a liquid source for a liquid transport member according to the present invention can be a free flowing liquid, such as urine released by a wearer, or a open water reservoir.

A liquid source region can also be an intermediate reservoir, such as a liquid acquisition member in absorbent articles...

Analogously, a liquid sink can be a free flow channel, or an expanding reservoir, e.g., a bellowed element combined with mechanical expansion or spacer means, such as springs.

A liquid sink region can also be an ultimate liquid storage element of absorbent members, such as being useful in absorbent articles and the like.

Two or more liquid transport systems according to the present invention can also be arranged in a "cascading design" (Fig. 13), with wall regions (1302), port regions (1306) and liquid sink materials (1311 ). Therein, the overall fluid flow path will go through one liquid transport system after the next. Thereby, the inlet port region of a subsequent liquid transport system can take over the sink functionality of a previous system, such as when the inlet and outlet port regions are in fluid communication with each other. Such a fluid communication can be direct contact, or can be via an intermediate material. A specific embodiment of such a "cascade" can be seen in connecting two or more "membrane osmotic packets" comprising membranes of appropriate properties, whereby the osmotic suction power increases with subsequent packets. Each of the packets can then be considered a liquid transport member, and the connection between the packets will define the inlet and outlet port regions of each packet or member. Thereby, the packets can be enclosed by one material (such as one type of flexible membrane), or even several packets can have a unitary membrane element.

In a preferred embodiment, a liquid transport system has an absorption capacity of at least 5g/g, preferably at least 10g g, more preferably at least 50g/g and most preferably at least 75 g/g on the basis of the weight of the sink material.

In yet another preferred embodiment, the liquid transport system contains a sink having an absorption capacity of at least 10 g/g, preferably at least 20 g/g and more preferably at least 50 g/g, on the basis of the weight of the sink material, and / a capillary suction of at least 4kPa, preferably at least 10kPa. In certain specific embodiments, the liquid transport member also contains superabsorbent materials or foam made according to the High Internal Phase Emulsion polymerization, such as described in PCT application US98/05044. Typically, the suction of the liquid sink material will not exceed the bubble point pressure of the port region.

Applications

There is a wide field for applying liquid transport members or systems according to the present invention. The following should not be seen to be limiting in any way, but rather to exemplify areas, where such members or systems are useful.

Other suitable applications can be found for a bandage, or other health care absorbent systems. In another aspect, the article can be a water transport system or member, optionally combining transport functionality with filtration functionality, e.g. by purifying water which is transported. Also, the member can be useful in cleaning operation, so as by removing liquids or as by releasing fluids in a controlled manner. A liquid transport member according to the present invention can also be a oil or grease absorber. One specific application can be seen in self-regulating irrigation systems for plants. Thereby, the inlet port can be immersed into a reservoir, and the transport member can be in the form of a long tube. In contrast to known irrigation systems (such as known under BLUMAT as available from Jade @ National Guild, PO Box 5370, Mt Crested Butte, CO 81225), the system according to the present invention will not loose its functionality upon drying of the reservoir, but remain functional until and after the reservoir is refilled.

A further application can be seen in air conditioning systems, with a similar advantage as described for the irrigation systems. Also, because of the small pore sizes of the port regions, this system would be easier to clean than conventional wetting aids, such as porous clay structures, or blotter paper type elements.

Yet a further application is the replacement of miniature pumps, such as can be envisaged in biological systems, or even in the medical field.

An even further application can be seen in selective transport of liquids, such as when aiming at transporting oil away from an oil/water mixture. For example, upon oil spillages on water, a liquid transport member can be used to transfer the oil into a further reservoir. Alternatively, oil can be transported into a liquid transport member comprising therein a sink functionality for oil.

An even further application uses the liquid transport member according to the present invention as a transmitter for a signal. In such an application, the total amount of transported liquid does not need to be very large, but rather the transport times should be short. This can be achieved, by having a liquid filled transport member, which upon receipt of even a little amount of liquid at the inlet port practically immediately releases liquid at the outlet port. This liquid can then be used to stimulate further reaction, such as a signal or activated a response, e.g., dissolving a seal to release stored mechanical energy to create a three dimensional change in shape or structure.

An even further application exploits the very short response times of liquid transport and practically immediate response time. A particularly useful application for such liquid transport members can be seen in the field of absorbent articles, such as disposable hygiene articles, such as baby diapers or the like, for disposable absorbent article.

Absorbent Articles - general description An absorbent article generally comprises:

- an absorbent core or core structure (which may comprise the improved fluid transport members according to the present invention, and which may consist of additional sub-structures);

- a fluid pervious topsheet; - a substantially fluid impervious backsheet;

- optionally further features like closure elements or elastification.

Figure 14 is a plan view of an exemplary embodiment of an absorbent article of the invention which is a diaper. The diaper 1420 is shown in Figure 14 in its flat-out, uncontracted state (i.e. with elastic induced contraction pulled out except in the side panels wherein the elastic is left in its relaxed condition) with portions of the structure being cutaway to more clearly show the construction of the diaper 1420 and with the portion of the diaper 1420 which faces away from the wearer, the outer surface 1452, facing the viewer. As shown in Figure 14, the diaper 1420 comprises a containment assembly 1422 preferably comprising a liquid pervious topsheet 1424, a liquid impervious backsheet 1426 joined with the topsheet 1424, and an absorbent core 1428 positioned between the topsheet 1424 and the backsheet 1426; elasticized side panels 1430; elasticized leg cuffs 1432; an elastic waist feature 1434; and a closure system comprising a dual tension fastening system generally multiply designated as 1436. The dual tension fastening system 1436 preferably comprises a primary fastening system 1438 and a waist closure system 1440. The primary fastening system 1438 preferably comprises a pair of securement members 1442 and a landing member 1444. The waist closure system 1440 is shown in Figure 14 to preferably comprise a pair of first attachment components 1446 and a second attachment component 1448. The diaper 1420 also preferably comprises a positioning patch 1450 located subjacent each first attachment component 1446.

The diaper 1420 is shown in Figure 14 to have an outer surface 1452 (facing the viewer in Figure 14), an inner surface 1454 opposed to the outer surface 1452, a first waist region 1456, a second waist region 1458 opposed to the first waist region 1456, and a periphery 1460 which is defined by the outer edges of the diaper 1420 in which the longitudinal edges are designated 1462 and the end edges are designated 1464. The inner surface 1454 of the diaper 1420 comprises that portion of the diaper 1420 which is positioned adjacent to the wearer's body during use (i.e. the inner surface 1454 generally is formed by at least a portion of the topsheet 1424 and other components joined to the topsheet 1424). The outer surface 1452 comprises that portion of the diaper 1420 which is positioned away from the wearer's body (i.e. the outer surface 1452 generally is formed by at least a portion of the backsheet 1426 and other components joined to the backsheet 1426). The first waist region 1456 and the second waist region 1458 extend, respectively, from the end edges 1464 of the periphery 1460 to the lateral centerline 1466 of the diaper 1420. The waist regions each comprise a central region 1468 and a pair of side panels which typically comprise the outer lateral portions of the waist regions. The side panels positioned in the first waist region 1456 are designated 1470 while the side panels in the second waist region 1458 are designated 1472. While it is not necessary that the pairs of side panels or each side panel be identical, they are preferably mirror images one of the other. The side panels 1472 positioned in the second waist region 1458 can be elastically extensible in the lateral direction (i.e. elasticized side panels 1430). (The lateral direction (x direction or width) is defined as the direction parallel to the lateral centreline 1466 of the diaper 1420; the longitudinal direction (y direction or length) being defined as the direction parallel to the longitudinal centreline 1467; and the axial direction (Z direction or thickness) being defined as the direction extending through the thickness of the diaper 1420). Figure 14 shows a specific of the diaper 1420 in which the topsheet 1424 and the backsheet 1426 have length and width dimensions generally larger than those of the absorbent core 1428. The topsheet 1424 and the backsheet 1426 extend beyond the edges of the absorbent core 1428 to thereby form the periphery 1460 of the diaper 1420. The periphery 1460 defines the outer perimeter or, in other words, the edges of the diaper 1420. The periphery 1460 comprises the longitudinal edges 1462 and the end edges 1464.

While each elasticized leg cuff 1432 may be configured so as to be similar to any of the leg bands, side flaps, barrier cuffs, or elastic cuffs described above, it is preferred that each elasticized leg cuff 1432 comprise at least an inner barrier cuff 1484 comprising a barrier flap 1485 and a spacing elastic member 1486 such as described in the above-referenced US Patent 4,909,803. In a preferred embodiment, the elasticized leg cuff 1432 additionally comprises an elastic gasketing cuff 14104 with one or more elastic strands 14105, positioned outboard of the barrier cuff 1484 such as described in the above-references US Patent 4,695,278.

The diaper 1420 may further comprise an elastic waist feature 1434 that provides improved fit and containment. The elastic waist feature 1434 at least extends longitudinally outwardly from at least one of the waist edges 1483 of the absorbent core 1428 in at least the central region 1468 and generally forms at least a portion of the end edge 1464 of the diaper 1420. Thus, the elastic waist feature 1434 comprises that portion of the diaper at least extending from the waist edge 1483 of the absorbent core 1428 to the end edge 1464 of the diaper 1420 and is intended to be placed adjacent the wearer's waist. Disposable diapers are generally constructed so as to have two elastic waist features, one positioned in the first waist region and one positioned in the second waist region. The elasticized waist band 1435 of the elastic waist feature 1434 may comprise a portion of the topsheet 1424, a portion of the backsheet 1426 that has preferably been mechanically stretched and a bi-laminate material comprising an elastomeric member 1476 positioned between the topsheet 1424 and backsheet 1426 and resilient member 1477 positioned between backsheet 1426 and elastomeric member 1476.

This as well as other components of the diaper are given in more detail in WO 93/16669 which is incorporated herein by reference.

Absorbent core

The absorbent core should be generally compressible, conformable, non- irritating to the wearer's skin, and capable of absorbing and retaining liquids such as urine and other certain body exudates. As shown in Figure 14, the absorbent core has a garment surface ("lower" or "bottom" part), a body surface, side edges, and waist edges. The absorbent core may - in addition to the liquid transport member according to the present invention - comprise a wide variety of liquid-absorbent or liquid handling materials commonly used in disposable diapers and other absorbent articles such as - but not limited to - comminuted wood pulp which is generally referred to as airfelt; meltblown polymers including coform; chemically stiffened, modified or cross-linked cellulosic fibers; tissue including tissue wraps and tissue laminates.

General examples for absorbent structures are described in U.S. Patent 4,610,678 entitled "High-Density Absorbent Structures" issued to Weisman et al. on September 9, 1986; U.S. Patent 4,673,402 entitled "Absorbent Articles With Dual-Layered Cores" issued to Weisman et al. on June 16, 1987; U.S. Patent 4,888,231 entitled "Absorbent Core Having A Dusting Layer" issued to Angstadt on December 19, 1989; EP-A-0 640 330 of Bewick-Sonntag et al.; US 5 180 622 (Berg et al.); US 5 102 597 (Roe et al.); US 5 387 207 (Dyer et al.). Such and similar structures might be adapted to be compatible with the requirements outlined below for being used as the absorbent core 28. The absorbent core can be a unitary core structure, or it can be a combination of several absorbent structures, which in turn can consist of one or more sub-structures. Each of the structures or sub-structures can have an essentially two-dimensional extension (i.e. be a layer) or a three-dimensional shape.

The liquid transport member according to the present invention can comprise at least one inlet port region, which should be located in the loading zone of the article. This port region can be made from flexible membrane material satisfying the requirements as described herein, which can be connected to a high resiliency, open fibrous structure forming the inner region, which can be wrapped in flexible impermeable films to form the wall regions which can be adhesively closed at all edges except for the port region. In order to allow good overall sealing, the impermeable film can overlap the port region somewhat so as to allow also adhesive bonding there between. Figure 15 shows a specific embodiment of an article as shown in Figure 14,

- with analogous numerals - and Figure 16A shows a partly exploded simplified cross-sectional view along A - A of Figure 15, again with analogous numbering. Therein, an absorbent core (1528/1628) is made of suitable liquid handling member which is constructed from a wall region (1502,1602), port regions (1506, 1507, 1606, 1607), and inner region (1503, 1603). The member may be connected to a liquid sink (1511 , 1611), and optionally a topsheet (1512, 1612) is attached. The sink (1511 , 1611) can comprise ultimate storage material, such as superabsorbent material, or highly absorbing porous material.

The inner regions can be filled with liquid, such as water, so as to be ready for liquid transport there through immediately after receipt of the liquid at the inlet port. Alternatively, the inner region can be under a vacuum, which can suck in liquid through the inlet port such as upon activation of a barrier film like a polyvinyl alcohol film which can dissolve upon wetting. Once the inner region is filled with liquid, and thus also the outlet port region becomes wetted by the liquid, the transport mechanism as for a pre-filled system takes place.

The embodiment as shown in Figure 16B differs from the one of Figure 16A in that the inner regions comprise ultimate liquid storage material, such as superabsorbent material, or highly absorbing porous material therein. Also promotor materials for enhancing osmotic liquid storage mechanisms - such as disclosed in the hereinbefore mentioned US-publication US-A-5.108.383 (White, Allied Signal) - can be within the inner region. In this instance, it may be preferable to have the inner region not prefilled - or at least not to a major degree - with transport liquid, but rather to keep the inner region under vacuum until the transport liquid is to be received.

The absorbent core can be designed so as to not require any further fluid handling element.

For example, the area of the inlet port region can be adjusted to its permeability and caliper so as to enable the port region to immediately acquire the liquid at the gush rate, and the inner region can be adjusted by its permeability and cross-sectional area so as to immediately transmit the liquid to the ultimate storage region .

Alternatively, the absorbent core may comprise other fluid handling elements, such as acquisition regions, or interim storage regions, or the like. Also, the "cascading liquid transport member" or "MOP" can be suitable elements within the core construction.

Method of making liquid transport members

The liquid transport members according to the present invention can be produced by various methods, which have to have in common the essential steps of combining a bulk or inner region with a wall region comprising port regions with appropriate selection of the respective properties as described in the above. This can be achieved by starting from a homogeneous material, and imparting therein different properties. For example, if a member is a polymeric foam material, this can be produced form one monomer with varying pore sizes, which will then be polymerized to form a suitable member.

This can also be achieved by starting from various essentially homogeneous materials and combining these into the a member. In this execution, a wall material can be provided, which may have homogeneous or varying properties, and a bulk material can be provided, which can be open porous material, or a void space can be defined to represent the bulk region. The two materials can the be combined my suitable techniques, such as by wrapping or enveloping as well known in the art, such that the wall material completely circumscribes the bulk region or bulk region material.

In order to enable liquid transport, the bulk region can be filled with liquid, or can be subjected to vacuum, or can be equipped with other aids so as to created vacuum, or liquid filling.

Optionally, the method of forming a member according to the present invention can comprise the step of applying activation means, which can be of the mechanical type. This activation means can also comprise materials which react upon the transport liquid, such as dissolve. Such materials may be applied in the port regions, e.g. to open the port regions upon use, or such materials may be applied to the bulk regions, such as to allow expansion of these regions upon wetting.

The making of members according to the present invention can be done in an essentially continuous way, such as by having various materials provided in roll form, which are then unwound and processed, or any of the materials can be provided in discrete form, such as foam pieces, or particulates.

Examples

The following section provides specific suitable examples for liquid transport members and systems according to the present invention, thereby starting by describing various samples suitable for being used in certain regions of these members or systems.

S-1 Samples suitable for port regions:.

S-1.1: - Woven filter mesh HIFLO ®, type 20 such as available from Haver & Boecker, Oelde, Germany, made from stainless steel, having mesh dimensions of 165*1100, designed for filtering down to 19 μm to 20 μm, at a porosity of 61 %, and a caliper of 0.09 mm.

S-1.2: - Polyamide mesh Monodur Type MON PA 20 N such as available from Verseidag in Geldem-Waldbeck, Germany.

S-1.2a: Polyamide mesh Monodur Type MON PA 42.5 N such as available from Verseidag in Geldem-Waldbeck, Germany. S-1.3: Polyester mesh such as 07-20/13 of SEFAR in Rϋschlikon,

Switzerland.

S-1.3a: Polyamide mesh 03-15/10 of SEFAR in Rϋschlikon, Switzerland.

S-1.3b: Polyamide mesh 03-20/14 of SEFAR in Rϋschlikon, Switzerland.

S-1.3c: Cellulose acetate membranes such as described in US 5,108,383 (White, Allied-Signal Inc.).

S-1.4: HIPE foam produced according to the teachings of U.S. Patent

Application Serial No. , filed March 13, 1998 by T. DesMarais et al. titled

"High Suction polymeric foam materials" (P&G Case ).

S-1.5: Nylon Stockings e.g. of 1.5 den type, commercially available in Germany, such as from Hudson.

S-2 Samples suitable for wall regions not representing port regions

S-2.1: Flexible adhesive coated film, such as commercially available under the trade name "d-c-fix" from Alkor, Grafelfing, Germany. S-2.2: Plastic funnel Catalog # 625 617 20 from Fisher Scientific in

Nidderau, Germany. S-2.3: Flexible tubing (inner diameter about 8 mm) such as Masterflex 6404-17 by Norton, distributed by the Barnant Company, Barrington, Illinois 60010 U.S.A..

S-2.4: Conventional polyethylene film such as used as backsheet material in disposable diapers, such as available from Clopay Corp., Cincinnati, OH, US, under the code DH-227.

S-2.5: Conventional polyethylene film such as used as backsheet material in disposable diapers, such as available from Nuova Pansac SpA in Milano, Italy under the code BS code 441118. S-2.6: Flexible PVC tube e.g. Catalog # 620 853 84 from Fisher Scientific in

Nidderau, Germany.

S-2.7: PTFE Tube e.g. Catalog # 620 456 68 from Fisher Scientific in Nidderau, Germany.

S-3 Samples suitable inner region

S-3.1: Void as created by any stiff wall/port region.

S-3.2: Metallic springs having a outer diameter of 4 mm and a length of about 6 cm with any applied force, as available from Federnfabrik Dietz in Neustadt, Germany under the designation "federn" article # DD/100. S-3.3: Open cell foams from Recticel in Brussels, Belgium such as Filtren

TM10 blue, Filtren TM20 blue, Filtren TM30 blue, Filtren Firend 10 black, Filtren Firend 30 black, Filtren HC 20 grey, Filtren Firend HC 30 grex, Bulpren S10 black, Bulpren S20 black, Bulpren S30 black).

S-3.4: HIPE foams as produced according to the teachings of U.S. Patent Application Serial No. , filed March , 1998 by T. DesMarais et al. titled "Absorbent Materials For Distributing Aqueous Liquids" (P&G Case ), the disclosure of each of which is incorporated by reference herein. S-3.5: Particulate pieces of S-3.4 or S-3.3.

S-4 Samples for pressure gradient creation means S-4.1: Osmotic pressure gradient materials according to the teachings of US -A-5, 108,383 (White, Allied Signal).

S-4.2: Height difference between inlet and outlet generating a hydrostatic height generated pressure difference.

S-4.3: Various partially saturated porous materials (Absorbent foams, superabsorbent materials, particles, sand, soils) generating a capillary pressure difference.

S-4.4: Difference in air pressure at the inlet and the outlet as e.g. generated by a vacuum pump (airtight sealed) to the outlet.

Example A for Transport member

Combination of wall region with port region, inner region filled with liquid: A-1 ) check for liquid vs. water: A ca 20 cm long tube (S-2.6) is connected in an air tight way with a glass funnel (S-2.2). Sealing can be made with Parafilm M (available from Fischer Scientific in Nidderau, Germany catalog number 617 800 02). A circular piece of port material (S-1.1), slightly larger than the open area of the funnel is sealed in an air tight way with the funnel. Sealing is made with suitable adhesive, e.g., Pattex ™ of Henkel KGA, Germany.

Optionally a port region material (S-1.1) may be connected to the lower end of the tube and be sealed in a air tight way. The device is filled with water by putting it under water and removing the air inside the device with a vacuum pump tightly connected to the port region. In order to demonstrate the functionality of a member, the lower end does not need to be sealed with a port region, but then the lower end needs to be in contact with water or needs to be the lowest part of the device in order to not allow air to enter the system.

A-2) Two circular (e.g. of a diameter of about 1.2 cm) port region materials as in S-1.1 are sealed in an air tight way (e.g. by heating the areas intended to become the port regions and pressing the ends of S-2.3 onto these areas, such that the plastic material of S-2.3 starts melting, thereby creating a good connection) at the two ends of a ca 1 m long tube as the one of S-2.3. One end of the tube is dropped into water, the other end is connected to a vacuum pump creating an air pressure substantially smaller than atmospheric pressure. The vacuum pump draws air from the tube until effectively all air is removed from the tube and replaced by the liquid. Then the pump is disconnected from the port and thus the member is created.

5 A-3) A ca 10 cm X 10 cm rectangular sheet of foam material (S-3.3, Filtren

TM 10 blue) "sandwiched" on one side by a wall material as S-2.5 of dimensions ca 12 cm X 12 cm, on the other side by a port region material of dimensions ca 12 cm X 12 cm as S-1.3. The wall material S-2.5 and the port region material S- 1.3 are sealed together in the overlap region in a convenient air tight way, e.g by o gluing with the above mentioned commercially available Pattex ™ adhesive of Henkel KGA, Germany. The device is immersed under water, and by squeezing the device, air is forced out. Releasing squeezing pressure from the device whilst keeping it under liquid, the inner region is filled with liquid. Optionally (if necessary) a vacuum pump can suck the remaining air inside the device through s the port region while the device is under water.

A-4) Figure 17 schematically shows a distribution member (x17.10), suitable for example for absorbent articles, such as a disposable diapers.

The inlet port region (1706) is made of port region material such as S-1.3a, the outlet port region (1705) is made of port region material such as S-1.3b. In 0 combination with an impermeable film material (1702) such as S-2.3 or S-2.4, each of the port regions forms a pouch, which can have dimensions of about 10cm by 15 cm cm for the inlet port region respectively 20 cm by 15 cm for the outlet port region. The port materials of the pouches overlap in the crotch region (1790) of the article, and a tube (1760) is positioned therein. 5 The inner regions within the pouches (1740, 1750) can be S-3.3 (Filtren

TM10 blue), and the inlet and outlet regions respectively inner regions enclosed by them, can be connected by tubes (1760) such as S-2.6 of an inner diameter of about 8 mm.

Walt and port material (1702, 1707, 1706) must be sufficiently larger than 0 the inner material to allow airtight sealing of wall material to port material. Sealing is done by overlapping of a ca 1.5 cm wide stripe of wall and port material and can be done in any convenient air tight way e.g. by using the above mentioned Pattex ™ adhesive. Sealing of the tubes to the inner regions (1740 and 1750) is not required, if the tube (1760) is attached to the wall regions (1702, 1706, 1705) such that the distance between the tubing (1760) and the inner regions is such that a void space will be maintained therebetwen during use. The rest of the operation to create a functioning liquid distribution member is also analogous to A-3. Optionally the device can be filled with other liquids in a similar fashion.

A5) In Figure 18, a further example for a liquid distribution member (1810), also useful for construction of disposable absorbent articles, such as diapers, is schematically depicted, omitting other elements such as adhesives and the like.

Therein, inlet (1806) and outlet port (1807) regions having a dimensin of about 8 cm by 12 cm are made from sheets of port material S-1.2, the other wall regions are made of wall material S-2.1. Inner material (1840) are stripes of material S-3.3 (Bulpren S10 black) having dimension of about 0.5 cm by 0.5 cm by 10 cm, placed at a distance of about 1 cm to each other, under the inlet and outlet regions (1806, 1807 respectively) and spacer springs S-3.2 (1812) in the remaining areas. Individual layers (wall and port material) are sealed and further filled with water as described in A-3. Optionally the device can be filled with other liquids in a similar fashion.

A6) Spacer materials such as springs according to S-3.2 are positioned between an upper and a lower sheet of port material S-1.2a, having a dimension of 10 cm by 50 cm, such that the springs are equally distributed over the area in a region of about 7 cm times 47 cm leaving the outer rim of about 1.5 cm free of springs, with a of about 2 mm between the individual springs. Upper and lower port material are sealed in an air tight way by overlapping ca 1.5 cm and sealing in a convenient air tight way such as by gluing with the above mentioned Pattex ™ adhesive. The device is immersed under the testing liquid, by squeezing the device air is forced to leave the interior of the device. Releasing the squeezing pressure while being immersed, the member will be filled with liquid. Optionally (if necessary) a vacuum pump can suck the remaining air from inside the member through the port region while the device is under water.

Example B for Transport system (i.e. member and (source and/or sink)) B-1) As a first example for a liquid transport system, a liquid transport member according to A-1) is combined with particulate superabsorbent material, such a available under the designation W80232 from HULS-Stockhausen GmbH, Marl, Germany, with coarse particles being removed by sieving through a 300 μm metal sieve. 7.5 g of this material have been evenly sprinkled over the outlet port region of A-1 , thereby creating a liquid sink.

B-2) To exemplify the use of absorbent foam materials to create an absorbent system, a sheet of three layers of HIPE foam produced as for S-1.4 each having a thickness of about 2 mm, and a corresponding basis weigth of about 120 g/m2 are positioned on the outlet port of a liquid transport member according to A-1. The sheets were cut circular with a diameter of about 6 cm, and a segment of about 10° was cut out to provide better conformity to the port region surface. Optionally a weight corresponding to a pressure of about 0.2 psi can be applied to enhance liquid contact between outlet and sink material.

B-3) The liquid transport member according to A-1 has been combined with a circular cut out section of ca 6 cm diameter taken from a commercially available diaper core, consisting of a essentially homogeneous blend of superabsorbent material such as ASAP2300 commercially available from CHEMDAL Corp. UK, and conventional airfelt at a 60 % by weight superabsorber concentration and a basis weight of the superabsorbent of about 400 g/m2 ). This cut out is placed in liquid communication with the outlet port region of A-1 to create a liquid transport system.

B-4) To further exemplify an application of a liquid transport system, the liquid transport member of A-2 has been positioned between a liquid source reservoir and a flower pot, such that a portion of the inlet port region is immersed in the liquid reservoir, and the outlet port being put into the soil of the flower pot. The relative height of the reservoir and the flower pot is of no relevance for this length of the member, and would not be up to a length of the member of about 50 cm.

B-5) A further application of a liquid transport system with an integral liquid sink which can be constructed by creating a liquid transport member as in A-3, 5 but filling it with oil (instead of water). When squeezing the member (so as to create expanding voids within the member), and immediately thereafter contacting it with cooking oil (so as to simulate a kitchen frying pan), the system will rapidly absorb the oil in the pan.

B-6) When combining a liquid transport member according to A-4 or A-5 o with a liquid sink such as used in B-1 or B-2 , optionally covering the sink material by a containment layer, such as a non-woven web, the structure can function as a absorbent pad, whereby the urine as released by the wearer can be seen to provide the liquid source.

s METHODS

Activation

As the properties which are relevant for the liquid handling ability of a liquid transport member according to the present invention are considered at the time of liquid transport, and as some of the materials or designs might have properties o which differ from these, for example to ease transport or other handling between manufacturing of the member and its intended use, such members should also be activated before they are submitted to a test.

The term "activation" means, that the member is put into the in use condition, such as by establishing a liquid communication along a flow path, or 5 such as by initiating a driving pressure differential, and this can be achieved by mechanical activation simulating the pre-use activation of a user (such as the removal of a constraining means such as a clamp, or a strip of a release paper such as with an adhesive, or removal of a package seal, thereby allowing mechanical expansion optionally with creation of a vacuum within the member). o Activation can further be achieved by another stimulus transmitted ton the activation means, such as pH or temperature change, by radiation or the like. Activation can also be achieved by interaction with liquids, such as having certain solubility properties, or changing concentrations, or are carrying activation ingredients like enzymes. This can also be achieved by the transport liquid itself, and in these instances, the member should be immersed in testing liquid which should be representative for the transport liquid, optionally removing the air by means of a vacuum pump, and allowing equilibration for 30 minutes. Then, the member is removed from the liquid, a put on a coarse mesh (such as a 14 mesh sieve) to allow dripping off of excess liquid.

Closed System Test

Principle:

The test provides a simple to execute tool to assess if a transport material or member satisfies the principles of the present invention. It should be noted, that it is not useful to exclude materials or members, i.e. if a material or members does not pass the Closed System Test, it may or may not be a liquid transport member according to the present invention.

Execution

First, the test specimen is activated as described herein above, and the weight is monitored. Then, the wall region is opened to a size which is sufficient to allow liquid flowing out without adding pressure or squeezing.

The opening should be done at a location of the material or member which is not positioned at the upper end of the member, as then no liquid could leave the member or material in analogy to a glass or cup which is open. The opening can be done by any suitable means, such as by using a pair of scissors, a clipping tongue, needle, a sharp knife or a scalpel and the like.

Care should be taken that no additional weight is added, or pressure or squeezing is exerted on the sample. Similarly, care should be take, that no liquid is removed by the opening means, unless this could be accurately considered when calculating the weight differences. If the material or member is a liquid transport member according to the present invention, liquid will flow through the opening.

The weight thereof is being monitored (such as by catching the liquid in a Petri dish, which is put on a scale. Alternatively, the weight of the material or member can be determined after 10 minutes and compared to the initial weight. Care should be taken, that no excessive evaporation takes place, if this would be the case, this can be determined by monitoring the weight loss of a sample without having it opened over the test time, and by then correcting the results accordingly. If the dripping weight more than or equal to 3 %, then the tested material or member has passed this test, and is a liquid transport member according to the present invention.

If the dripping weight less than 3 % of the initial total weight, then this test does not allow assessment whether the material is a liquid transport member according to the present invention or not.

Bubble Point Pressure (port region)

The following procedure applies when it is desired to asses the bubble point pressure of a port region or of a material useful for port regions. First, the port region respectively the port region material is connected with a funnel and a tube as described in example A-1. Thereby, the lower end of the tube is left open i.e. not covered by a port region material. The tube should be of sufficient length, i.e. up to 10m length may be required.

In case the test material is very thin, or fragile, it can be appropriate to support it by a very open support structure (as e.g. a layer of open pore non- woven material) before connecting it with the funnel and the tube.

In case the test specimen is not of sufficient size, the funnel may be replaced by a smaller one (e.g. Catalog # 625 616 02 from Fisher Scientific in Nidderau). If the test specimen is too large size, a representative piece can be cut out so as to fit the funnel. The device is filled with testing liquid (e.g. distilled water, or oil depending on the intended use) by immersing it in a reservoir of sufficient size filled with the testing fluid and by removing the remaining air with a vacuum pump.

Whilst keeping the lower (open) end of the funnel within the liquid in the reservoir, the part of the funnel with the port region is taken out of the liquid. If appropriate - but not necessarily - the funnel with the port region material should remain horizontally aligned.

Whilst slowly continuing to raise the port material above the reservoir, the height is monitored, and it is carefully observed through the funnel or through the port material itself (optionally aided by appropriate lighting) if air bubbles start to enter through the material into the inner of the funnel. At this point, the height above the reservoir is registered to be the bubble point height.

From this height H the Bubble point pressure BPP is calculated as: BPP = p-g-H with the liquid density p, gravity constant g (g « 9.81 m/s2). In particular for bubble point pressures exceeding about 50 kPa, an alternative determination can be used, such as commonly used for assessing bubble point pressures for membranes used in filtration systems.

Therein, the membrane is separating two liquid filled chambers, when one is set under an increased gas pressure (such as an air pressure), and the point is registered when the first air bubbles "break through".

Bubble point pressure (liquid transport member)

For measuring the bubble point pressure of a liquid transport member (instead of a port region or a port region material), the following procedure can be followed.

First, the member is activated as described above.

A part of a port region under evaluation is connected to a vacuum pump connected by a tightly sealed tube/pipe (such as with Pattex ™ adhesive as described above). Care must be taken, that only a part of the port region is connected, and a further part of the region next to the one covered with the tube is still uncovered and in contact with ambient air.

The vacuum pump should allow to set various pressures pvac, increasing from atmospheric pressure Patm to about 100 kPa . The set up (often integral with the pump) should allow monitoring the pressure differential to the ambient air (Δp = Patm- Pvac) and of the gas flow.

Then, the pump is started to create a light vacuum, which is increased during the test in a stepwise operation. The amount of pressure increase will depend on the desired accuracy, with typical values of 0.1 kPa providing acceptable results.

At each level, the flow will be monitored over time, and directly after the increase of Δp, the flow will increase primarily because of removing gas from the tubing between the pump and the membrane. This flow will however, rather quickly level off, and upon establishing an equilibrium Δp, the flow will essentially stop. This is typically reached after about 3 minutes.

This step change increase is continued up to the break through point, which can be observed by the gas flow not decreasing after the step change of the pressure, but remaining after reaching an equilibrium level essentially constant over time.

The pressure Δp one step prior to this situation is the BPP of the LTM. For materials having bubble point pressures in excess of about 90 kPa, it will be advisable or necessary to increase the ambient pressure surrounding the test specimen by a constant and monitored degree, which is the added to Δp as monitored.

Liguid Transport Test

The following test can be applied to liquid transport members having defined inlet and outlet port regions with a certain transport path length H0 between inlet and outlet port regions. For members, where the respective port regions cannot be determined such as because they ate made of one homogeneous material, these regions may be defined by considering the intended use thus defining the respective port regions.

Procedure The liquid transport member should be activated if necessary, as described in the above.

The test specimen is placed into the vertical liquid transport test equipment

(as depicted in Figure 19 for a flexible member) whereby the inlet port remains completely immersed in liquid in the reservoir; the outlet port remains completely connected to a vacuum pump and sealed in an air tight way as described in the above bubble point pressure method for a liquid transport member.

The lowermost point of the outlet port is adjusted to be at a height H0 above the liquid level in the reservoir.

The pressure differential is slowly increased to a pressure P0 = 0.9 KPa + p g Ho with the liquid density p, gravitational constant g (g « 9.81 m/sΛ2).

After reaching this pressure differential, the decrease of the weight reservoir is monitored, preferably by connecting a scale measuring the weight of the reservoir to a computing equipment. After an initial unsteady decrease (typically taking not more than about one minute), the weight decrease in the reservoir will become constant (i.e. showing a straight line in a graphical data presentation). This constant weight decrease over time is the flow rate (in g/s) of the liquid transport member at suction of 0.9 kPa and a height H0.

The corresponding flux rate of the liquid transport member at 0.9 KPa suction and a height H0 is calculated from the flow rate by dividing the flow rate with the average cross section of the liquid transport member along a flow path, expressed in g/s/cm2.

Care should be take, that the reservoir is large enough so that the fluid level in the reservoir does not change by more than 1 mm. In addition, the effective permeability of the LTM can be calculated by dividing the flux rate by the average length along a flow path and the driving pressure difference (0.9 KPa).

Liquid Permeability Test

Generally, the test should be carried out with a suitable test fluid representing the transport fluid. For example, when the application is in the context of absorbent disposable articles, Jayco SynUrine ss available from Jayco Pharmaceuticals Company of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania has been found to be suitable. The formula for the synthetic urine is: 2.0 g/: of KCl; 2.0 g/l of Na2SO4; 0.85 g/l of (NH4)O4; 0.15 g/l (NH4)O4; 0.19 g/l of CaCI2; ad 0.23 g/l of MgCI2. All of the chemicals are of reagent grade. The pH of the synthetic Urine is in the range of 6.0 to 6.4. Also for such applications, it has been found useful to carry out the tests under controlled laboratory conditions of about 23 +/- 2°C and at 50 +/-10% relative humidity. Test specimen are stored under these conditions for at least 24 hours before testing, and - if applicable - activated as described in the above.

The present Permeability Test provides a measure for permeability for two special conditions: Either the permeability can be measured for a wide range of porous materials (such as non-wovens made of synthetic fibres, or cellulosic structures) at 100% saturation, or for materials, which reach different degrees of saturation with a proportional change in caliper without being filled with air (respectively the outside vapour phase), such as the collapsible polymeric foams, for which the permeability at varying degrees of saturation can readily be measured at various thicknesses.

In particular for polymeric foam materials, such as disclosed in US-A- 5.563.179 or US-A-5.387.207 it has been found useful to operate the test at an elevated temperature of 31 °C, so as to better simulate in-use conditions for absorbent articles. In principle, this tests is based on Darcy's law, according to which the volumetric flow rate of a liquid through any porous medium is proportional to the pressure gradient, with the proportionality constant related to permeability. Q/A = (k/η) * (ΔP/L) where:

Q= Volumetric Flow Rate [cm3/s]; A= Cross Sectional Area [cm2]; k= Permeability (cm2 ) (with 1 Darcy corresponding to 9.869* 10"13 m2); η= Viscosity (Poise) [Pa*s]; ΔP/L= Pressure Gradient [Pa/m]; L= caliper of sample [cm].

Hence, permeability can be calculated - for a fixed or given sample cross- sectional area and test liquid viscosity - by measurement of pressure drop and the volumetric flow rate through the sample:

k= (Q/A) * (L/ΔP) * η

The test can be executed in two modifications, the first referring to the transplanar permeability (i.e. the direction of flow is essentially along the thickness dimension of the material), the second being the in-plane permeability (i.e. the direction of flow being in the x-y-direction of the material).

The test set-up for the transplanar permeability test can be see in Figure 19 which is a schematic diagram of the overall equipment and - as an insert diagram - a partly exploded cross-sectional, not to scale view of the sample cell.

The test set-up comprises a generally circular or cylindrical sample cell (19120), having an upper (19121) and lower (19122) part. The distance of these parts can be measured and hence adjusted by means of each three circumferentially arranged caliper gauges (19145) and adjustment screws (19140). Further, the equipment comprises several fluid reservoirs (19150, 19154, 19156) including a height adjustment (19170) for the inlet reservoir (19150) as well as tubings (19180), quick release fittings (19189) for connecting the sample cell with the rest of the equipment, further valves (19182, 19184, 19186, 19188). The differential pressure transducer (19197) is connected via tubing (19180) to the upper pressure detection point (19194) and to the lower pressure detection point (19196). A Computer device (19190) for control of valves is further connected via connections (19199) to differential pressure transducer (19197), temperature probe (19192), and weight scale load cell (19198).

The circular sample (19110) having a diameter of 1 in (about 2.54 cm) is placed in between two porous screens (19135) inside the sample cell (19120), which is made of two 1 in (2.54 cm) inner diameter cylindrical pieces (19121, 19122) attached via the inlet connection (19132) to the inlet reservoir (19150) and via the outlet connection (19133) to the outlet reservoir (19154) by flexible tubing (19180), such as tygon tubing. Closed cell foam gaskets (19115) provide leakage protection around the sides of the sample. The test sample (19110) is compressed to the caliper corresponding to the desired wet compression, which is set to 0.2 psi (about 1.4 kPa) unless otherwise mentioned. Liquid is allowed to flow through the sample (19110) to achieve steady state flow. Once steady state flow through the sample (19110) has been established, volumetric flow rate and pressure drop are recorded as a function of time using a load cell (19198) and the differential pressure transducer (19197). The experiment can be performed at any pressure head up to 80 cm water (about 7.8 kPa), which can be adjusted by the height adjusting device (19170). From these measurements, the flow rate at different pressures for the sample can be determined. The equipment is commercially available as a Permeameter such as supplied by Porous Materials, Inc, Ithaca, New York, US under the designation PMI Liquid Permeameter, such as further described in respective user manual of 2/97. This equipment includes two Stainless Steel Frits as porous screens (19135), also specified in said brochure. The equipment consists of the sample cell (19120), inlet reservoir (19150), outlet reservoir (19154), and waste reservoir (19156) and respective filling and emptying valves and connections, an electronic scale, and a computerized monitoring and valve control unit (19190).

The gasket material (19115) is a Closed Cell Neoprene Sponge SNC-1

(Soft), such as supplied by Netherland Rubber Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, US. A set of materials with varying thickness in steps of 1/16" (about 0.159 cm) should be available to cover the range from 1/16" -1/2" (about 0.159 cm to about 1.27 cm) thickness.

Further a pressurized air supply is required, of at least 60 psi (4.1 bar), to operate the respective valves. Test fluid is deionized water.

The test is then executed by the following steps:

1 ) Preparation of the test sample(s):

In a preparatory test, it is determined, if one or more layers of the test sample are required, wherein the test as outlined below is run at the lowest and highest pressure. The number of layers is then adjusted so as to maintain the flow rate during the test between 0.5 cm3/seconds at the lowest pressure drop and 15 cm3/second at the highest pressure drop. The flow rate for the sample should be less than the flow rate for the blank at the same pressure drop. If the sample flow rate exceeds that of the blank for a given pressure drop, more layers should be added to decrease the flow rate.

Sample size: Samples are cut to 1" (about 2.54 cm) diameter, by using an arch punch, such as supplied by McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Cleveland, OH, US. If samples have too little internal strength or integrity to maintain their structure during the required manipulation, a conventional low basis weight support means can be added, such as a PET scrim or net.

Thus, at least two samples (made of the required number of layers each, if necessary) are precut. Then, one of these is saturated in deionized water at the temperature the experiment is to be performed (70 ° F, (31 ° C) unless otherwise noted). The caliper of the wet sample is measured (if necessary after a stabilization time of 30 seconds) under the desired compression pressure for which the experiment will be run by using a conventional caliper gauge (such as supplied by AMES, Waltham, MASS, US) having a pressure foot diameter of 1 1/8 " (about 2.86 cm), exerting a pressure of 0.2 psi (about 1.4 kPa) on the sample (19110), unless otherwise desired.

An appropriate combination of gasket materials is chosen, such that the total thickness of the gasketing foam (19115) is between 150 and 200% of the thickness of the wet sample (note that a combination of varying thicknesses of gasket material may be needed to achieve the overall desired thickness). The gasket material (19115) is cut to a circular size of 3" in diameter, and a 1 inch (2.54 cm) hole is cut into the center by using the arch punch.

In case, that the sample dimensions change upon wetting, the sample should be cut such that the required diameter is taken in the wet stage. This can also be assessed in this preparatory test, with monitoring of the respective dimensions. If these change such that either a gap is formed, or the sample forms wrinkles which would prevent it from smoothly contacting the porous screens or frits, the cut diameter should be adjusted accordingly.

The test sample (19110) is placed inside the hole in the gasket foam (19115), and the composite is placed on top of the bottom half of the sample cell, ensuring that the sample is in flat, smooth contact with the screen (19135), and no gaps are formed at the sides.

The top of the test cell (19121) is laid flat on the lab bench (or another horizontal plane) and all three caliper gauges (19145) mounted thereon are zeroed.

The top of the test cell (19121 ) is then placed onto the bottom part (19122) such that the gasket material(19115) with the test sample (19110) lays in between the two parts. The top and bottom part are then tightened by the fixation screws (19140), such that the three caliper gauges are adjusted to the same value as measured for the wet sample under the respective pressure in the above. 2) To prepare the experiment, the program on the computerized unit (19190) is started and sample identification, respective pressure etc. are entered.

3) The test will be run on one sample (19110) for several pressure cycles, with the first pressure being the lowest pressure. The results of the individual pressure runs are put on different result files by the computerized unit (19190). Data are taken from each of these files for the calculations as described below. (A different sample should be used for any subsequent runs of the material.)

4) The inlet liquid reservoir (19150) is set to the required height and the test is started on the computerized unit (19190).

5) Then, the sample cell (19120) is positioned into the permeameter unit with Quick Disconnect fittings (19189).

6) The sample cell (19120) is filled by opening the vent valve (19188) and the bottom fill valves (19184, 19186). During this step, care must be taken to remove air bubbles from the system, which can be achieved by turning the sample cell vertically, forcing air bubbles - if present - to exit the permeameter through the drain.

Once the sample cell is filled up to the tygon tubing attached to the top of the chamber (19121), air bubbles are removed from this tubing into the waste reservoir (19156).

7) After having carefully removed air bubbles, the bottom fill valves (19184, 19186) are closed, and the top fill (19182) valve is opened, so as to fill the upper part, also carefully removing all air bubbles.

8) The fluid reservoir is filled with test fluid to the fill line (19152). Then the flow is started through the sample by initiating the computerized unit (19190).

After the temperature in the sample chamber has reached the required value, the experiment is ready to begin.

Upon starting the experiment via the computerized unit (19190), the liquid outlet flow is automatically diverted from the waste reservoir (19156) to the outlet reservoir (19154), and pressure drop, and temperature are monitored as a function of time for several minutes.

Once the program has ended, the computerized unit provides the recorded data (in numeric and/or graphical form). If desired, the same test sample can be used to measure the permeability at varying pressure heads, with thereby increasing the pressure from run to run.

The equipment should be cleaned every two weeks, and calibrated at least once per week, especially the frits, the load cell, the thermocouple and the pressure transducer, thereby following the instructions of the equipment supplier. The differential pressure is recorded via the differential pressue transducer connected to the pressure probes measurement points (19194, 19196) in the top and bottom part of the sample cell. Since there may be other flow resistances within the chamber adding to the pressure that is recorded, each experiment must be corrected by a blank run. A blank run should be done at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 cm requested pressure, each day. The permeameter will output a Mean Test Pressure for each experiment and also an average flow rate.

For each pressure that the sample has been tested at, the flow rate is recorded as Blank Corrected Pressure by the computerized unit (19190), which is further correcting the Mean Test Pressure (Actual Pressure) at each height recorded pressure differentials to result in the Corrected Pressure. This Corrected Pressure is the DP that should be used in the permeability equation below.

Permeability can then be calculated at each requested pressure and all permeabilities should be averaged to determine the k for the material being tested.

Three measurements should be taken for each sample at each head and the results averaged and the standard deviation calculated. However, the same sample should be used, permeability measured at each head, and then a new sample should be used to do the second and third replicates. The measuring of the in-plane permeability under the same conditions as the above described transplanar permeability, can be achieved by modifying the above equipment such as schematically depicted in Figures 20A and 20B showing the partly exploded, not to scale view of the sample cell only. Equivalent elements are denoted equivalently, such that the sample cell of Figure 20 is denoted (20210), correlating to the numeral (19110) of figure 19, and so on.

5 Thus, the transplanar sample cell (19120) of figure 19 is replaced by the in-plane simplified cell (20220), which is designed so that liquid can flow only in one direction (either machine direction or cross direction depending on how the sample is placed in the cell). Care should be taken to minimize channeling of liquid along the walls (wall effects), since this can erroneously give high o permeability reading. The test procedure is then executed quite analogous to the transplanar test.

The sample cell (20220) is designed to be positioned into the equipment essentially as described for the sample cell (20120) in the above transplanar test, except that the filling tube is directed to the inlet connection (20232) the 5 bottom of the cell (20220). Figure 20A shows a partly exploded view of the sample cell, and Figure 20B a cross-sectional view through the sample level.

The test cell (20220) is made up of two pieces: a bottom piece (20225) which is like a rectangular box with flanges, and a top piece (20223) that fits inside the bottom piece (20225) and has flanges as well. The test sample is cut 0 to the size of 2" in x 2"in (about 5.1 cm by 5.1 cm) and is placed into the bottom piece. The top piece (20223) of the sample chamber is then placed into the bottom piece (20225) and sits on the test sample (20210). An incompressible neoprene rubber seal (20224) is attached to the upper piece (20223) to provide tight sealing. The test liquid flows from the inlet reservoir to the sample space 5 via Tygon tubing and the inlet connection (20232) further through the outlet connection (20233) to the outlet reservoir. As in this test execution the temperature control of the fluid passing through the sample cell can be insufficient due to lower flow rates, the sample is kept at the desired test temperature by the heating device (20226), whereby thermostated water is o pumped through the heating chamber (20227). The gap in the test cell is set at the caliper corresponding to the desired wet compression, normally 0.2 psi ( about 1.4 kPa). Shims (20216) ranging in size from 0.1 mm to 20.0 mm are used to set the correct caliper, optionally using combinations of several shims.

At the start of the experiment, the test cell (20220) is rotated 90° (sample is vertical) and the test liquid allowed to enter slowly from the bottom. This is necessary to ensure that all the air is driven out from the sample and the inlet/outlet connections (20232/20233). Next, the test cell (20220) is rotated back to its original position so as to make the sample (20210) horizontal. The subsequent procedure is the same as that described earlier for transplanar permeability, i.e. the inlet reservoir is placed at the desired height, the flow is allowed to equilibrate, and flow rate and pressure drop are measured. Permeability is calculated using Darcy's law. This procedure is repeated for higher pressures as well.

For samples that have very low permeability, it may be necessary to increase the driving pressure, such as by extending the height or by applying additional air pressure on the reservoir in order to get a measurable flow rate. In plane permeability can be measured independently in the machine and cross directions, depending on how the sample is placed in the test cell.

Optical Determination of Pore Size Optical determination of pore size is especially used for thin layers of porous system by using standard image analysis procedures know to the skilled artisian.

The principle of the method consists of the following steps: 1 ) A thin layer of the sample material is prepared by either slicing a thick sample into thinner sheets or if the sample itself is thin by using it directly. The term "thin" refers to achieving a sample caliper low enough to allow a clear cross-section image under the microscope. Typical sample calipers are below 200μm. 2) A microscopic image is obtained via a video microscope using the appropriate magnification. Best results are obtained if about 10 to 100 pores are visible on said image. The image is then digitized by a standard image analysis package such as OPTIMAS by BioScan Corp. which runs under Windows 95 on a typical IBM compatible PC. Frame grabber of sufficient pixel resolution (preferred at least 1024 x 1024 pixels) should be used to obtain good results. 3) The image is converted to a binary image using an appropriate threshold level such that the pores visable on the image are marked as object areas in white and the rest remains black. Automatic threshold setting procedures such as available under OPTIMAS can be used. 4) The areas of the individual pores (objects) are determined. OPTIMAS offers fully automatic determination of the areas. 5) The equivalent radius for each pore is determined by a circle that would have the same area as the pore. If A is the area of the pore, then the equivalent radius is given by r=(A/π)2. The average pore size can then be determined from the pore size distribution using standard statistical rules. For materials that have a not very uniform pore size it is recommended to use at least 3 samples for the determination.

Liquid Permeability Test

Generally, the test should be carried out with a suitable test fluid representing the transport fluid. For example, when the application is in the context of absorbent disposable articles, Jayco SynUrine ss available from Jayco Pharmaceuticals Company of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania has been found to be suitable. The formula for the synthetic urine is: 2.0 g/: of KCl; 2.0 g/l of Na2SO4; 0.85 g/l of (NH4)2HPO4; 0.15 g/l (NH4)H2PO4; 0.19 g/l of CaCI2; ad 0.23 g/l of MgCI2. All of the chemicals are of reagent grade. The pH of the synthetic Urine is in the range of 6.0 to 6.4. Also for such applications, it has been found useful to carry out the tests under controlled laboratory conditions of about 23 +/- 2°C and at 50 +/-10% relative humidity. Test specimen are stored under these conditions for at least 24 hours before testing, and - if applicable - activated as described in the above.

The present Permeability Test provides a measure for permeability for two special conditions: Either the permeability can be measured for a wide range of porous materials (such as non-wovens made of synthetic fibres, or cellulosic structures) at 100% saturation, or for materials, which reach different degrees of saturation with a proportional change in caliper without being filled with air (respectively the outside vapour phase), such as the collapsible polymeric foams, for which the permeability at varying degrees of saturation can readily be measured at various thicknesses. In particular for polymeric foam materials, it has been found useful to operate the test at an elevated temperature of 31 °C, so as to better simulate in- use conditions for absorbent articles.

In principle, this tests is based on Darcy's law, according to which the volumetric flow rate of a liquid through any porous medium is proportional to the pressure gradient, with the proportionality constant related to permeability. Q/A = (k/η) * (ΔP/L) where:

Q= Volumetric Flow Rate [cm3/s]; A= Cross Sectional Area [cm2]; k= Permeability (cm2 ) (with 1 Darcy corresponding to 9.869* 10"13 m2); η= Viscosity (Poise) [Pa*s]; ΔP/L= Pressure Gradient [Pa/m]; L= caliper of sample [cm].

Hence, permeability can be calculated - for a fixed or given sample cross- sectional area and test liquid viscosity - by measurement of pressure drop and the volumetric flow rate through the sample:

k= (Q/A) * (L/ΔP) * η

The test can be executed in two modifications, the first referring to the transplanar permeability (i.e. the direction of flow is essentially along the thickness dimension of the material), the second being the in-plane permeability (i.e. the direction of flow being in the x-y-direction of the material). The test set-up for the simplified, transplanar permeability test can be see in Figure 19 which is a schematic diagram of the overall equipment and - as an insert diagram - a partly exploded cross-sectional, not to scale view of the sample cell.

The test set-up comprises a generally circular or cylindrical sample cell (19120), having an upper (19121) and lower (19122) part. The distance of these parts can be measured and hence adjusted by means of each three circumferentially arranged caliper gauges (19145) and adjustment screws (19140). Further, the equipment comprises several fluid reservoirs (19150, 19154, 19156) including a height adjustment (19170) for the inlet reservoir (19150) as well as tubings (19180), quick release fittings (19189) for connecting the sample cell with the rest of the equipment, further valves (19182, 19184, 19186, 19188). The differential pressure transducer (19197) is connected via tubing (19180) to the upper pressure detection point (19194) and to the lower pressure detection point (19196). A Computer device (19190) for control of valves is further connected via connections (19199) to differential pressure transducer (19197), temperature probe (19192), and weight scale load cell (19198).

The circular sample (19110) having a diameter of 1 in (about 2.54 cm) is placed in between two porous screens (19135) inside the sample cell (19120), which is made of two 1 in (2.54 cm) inner diameter cylindrical pieces (19121 , 19122) attached via the inlet connection (19132) to the inlet reservoir (19150) and via the outlet connection (19133) to the outlet reservoir (19154) by flexible tubing (19180), such as tygon tubing. Closed cell foam gaskets (19115) provide leakage protection around the sides of the sample. The test sample (19110) is compressed to the caliper corresponding to the desired wet compression, which is set to 0.2 psi (about 1.4 kPa) unless otherwise mentioned. Liquid is allowed to flow through the sample (19110) to achieve steady state flow. Once steady state flow through the sample (19110) has been established, volumetric flow rate and pressure drop are recorded as a function of time using a load cell (19198) and the differential pressure transducer (19197). The experiment can be performed at any pressure head up to 80 cm water (about 7.8 kPa), which can be adjusted by the height adjusting device (19170). From these measurements, the flow rate at different pressures for the sample can be determined.

The equipment is commercially available as a Permeameter such as supplied by Porous Materials, Inc, Ithaca, New York, US under the designation PMI Liquid Permeameter, such as further described in respective user manual of 2/97. This equipment includes two Stainless Steel Frits as porous screens (19135), also specified in said brochure. The equipment consists of the sample cell (19120), inlet reservoir (19150), outlet reservoir (19154), and waste reservoir (19156) and respective filling and emptying valves and connections, an electronic scale, and a computerized monitoring and valve control unit (19190).

The gasket material (19115) is a Closed Cell Neoprene Sponge SNC-1

(Soft), such as supplied by Netherland Rubber Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, US. A set of materials with varying thickness in steps of 1/16" (about 0.159 cm) should be available to cover the range from 1/16" -1/2" (about 0.159 cm to about 1.27 cm) thickness.

Further a pressurized air supply is required, of at least 60 psi (4.1 bar), to operate the respective valves.

Test fluid is deionized water.

The test is then executed by the following steps:

1) Preparation of the test sample(s):

In a preparatory test, it is determined, if one or more layers of the test sample are required, wherein the test as outlined below is run at the lowest and highest pressure. The number of layers is then adjusted so as to maintain the flow rate during the test between 0.5 cm3/seconds at the lowest pressure drop and 15 cm3/second at the highest pressure drop. The flow rate for the sample should be less than the flow rate for the blank at the same pressure drop. If the sample flow rate exceeds that of the blank for a given pressure drop, more layers should be added to decrease the flow rate. Sample size: Samples are cut to 1" (about 2.54 cm) diameter, by using an arch punch, such as supplied by McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Cleveland, OH, US. If samples have too little internal strength or integrity to maintain their structure during the required manipulation, a conventional low basis weight support means can be added, such as a PET scrim or net.

Thus, at least two samples (made of the required number of layers each, if necessary) are precut. Then, one of these is saturated in deionized water at the temperature the experiment is to be performed (70 ° F, (31 ° C) unless otherwise noted).

The caliper of the wet sample is measured (if necessary after a stabilization time of 30 seconds) under the desired compression pressure for which the experiment will be run by using a conventional caliper gauge (such as supplied by AMES, Waltham, MASS, US) having a pressure foot diameter of 1 1/8 " (about 2.86 cm), exerting a pressure of 0.2 psi (about 1.4 kPa) on the sample (19110), unless otherwise desired.

An appropriate combination of gasket materials is chosen, such that the total thickness of the gasketing foam (19115) is between 150 and 200% of the thickness of the wet sample (note that a combination of varying thicknesses of gasket material may be needed to achieve the overall desired thickness). The gasket material (19115) is cut to a circular size of 3" in diameter, and a 1 inch (2.54 cm) hole is cut into the center by using the arch punch. In case, that the sample dimensions change upon wetting, the sample should be cut such that the required diameter is taken in the wet stage. This can also be assessed in this preparatory test, with monitoring of the respective dimensions. If these change such that either a gap is formed, or the sample forms wrinkles which would prevent it from smoothly contacting the porous screens or frits, the cut diameter should be adjusted accordingly.

The test sample (19110) is placed inside the hole in the gasket foam (19115), and the composite is placed on top of the bottom half of the sample cell, ensuring that the sample is in flat, smooth contact with the screen (19135), and no gaps are formed at the sides. The top of the test cell (19121) is laid flat on the lab bench (or another horizontal plane) and all three caliper gauges (19145) mounted thereon are zeroed.

The top of the test cell (19121 ) is then placed onto the bottom part (19122) such that the gasket material(19115) with the test sample (19110) lays in between the two parts. The top and bottom part are then tightened by the fixation screws (19140), such that the three caliper gauges are adjusted to the same value as measured for the wet sample under the respective pressure in the above. 2) To prepare the experiment, the program on the computerized unit

(19190) is started and sample identification, respective pressure etc. are entered.

3) The test will be run on one sample (19110) for several pressure cycles, with the first pressure being the lowest pressure. The results of the individual pressure runs are put on different result files by the computerized unit (19190). Data are taken from each of these files for the calculations as described below. (A different sample should be used for any subsequent runs of the material.)

4) The inlet liquid reservoir (19150) is set to the required height and the test is started on the computerized unit (19190). 5) Then, the sample cell (19120) is positioned into the permeameter unit with Quick Disconnect fittings (19189).

6) The sample cell (19120) is filled by opening the vent valve (19188) and the bottom fill valves (19184, 19186). During this step, care must be taken to remove air bubbles from the system, which can be achieved by turning the sample cell vertically, forcing air bubbles - if present - to exit the permeameter through the drain.

Once the sample cell is filled up to the tygon tubing attached to the top of the chamber (19121 ), air bubbles are removed from this tubing into the waste reservoir (19156). 7) After having carefully removed air bubbles, the bottom fill valves (19184, 19186) are closed, and the top fill (19182) valve is opened, so as to fill the upper part, also carefully removing all air bubbles.

8) The fluid reservoir is filled with test fluid to the fill line (19152). Then the flow is started through the sample by initiating the computerized unit (19190).

After the temperature in the sample chamber has reached the required value, the experiment is ready to begin.

Upon starting the experiment via the computerized unit (19190), the liquid outlet flow is automatically diverted from the waste reservoir (19156) to the outlet reservoir (19154), and pressure drop, and temperature are monitored as a function of time for several minutes.

Once the program has ended, the computerized unit provides the recorded data (in numeric and/or graphical form). If desired, the same test sample can be used to measure the permeability at varying pressure heads, with thereby increasing the pressure from run to run.

The equipment should be cleaned every two weeks, and calibrated at least once per week, especially the frits, the load cell, the thermocouple and the pressure transducer, thereby following the instructions of the equipment supplier. The differential pressure is recorded via the differential pressue transducer connected to the pressure probes measurement points (19194, 19196) in the top and bottom part of the sample cell. Since there may be other flow resistances within the chamber adding to the pressure that is recorded, each experiment must be corrected by a blank run. A blank run should be done at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 cm requested pressure, each day. The permeameter will output a Mean Test Pressure for each experiment and also an average flow rate.

For each pressure that the sample has been tested at, the flow rate is recorded as Blank Corrected Pressure by the computerized unit (19190), which is further correcting the Mean Test Pressure (Actual Pressure) at each height recorded pressure differentials to result in the Corrected Pressure. This Corrected Pressure is the DP that should be used in the permeability equation below.

Permeability can then be calculated at each requested pressure and all permeabilities should be averaged to determine the k for the material being tested.

Three measurements should be taken for each sample at each head and the results averaged and the standard deviation calculated. However, the same sample should be used, permeability measured at each head, and then a new sample should be used to do the second and third replicates. The measuring of the in-plane permeability under the same conditions as the above described transplanar permeability, can be achieved by modifying the above equipment such as schematically depicted in Figures 20A and 20B showing the partly exploded, not to scale view of the sample cell only. Equivalent elements are denoted equivalently, such that the sample cell of Figure 20 is denoted (20210), correlating to the numeral (19110) of figure 19, and so on. Thus, the transplanar simplified sample cell (19120) of figure 19 is replaced by the in-plane simplified sample cell (20220), which is designed so that liquid can flow only in one direction (either machine direction or cross direction depending on how the sample is placed in the cell). Care should be taken to minimize channeling of liquid along the walls (wall effects), since this can erroneously give high permeability reading. The test procedure is then executed quite analogous to the transplanar simplified test.

The sample cell (20220) is designed to be positioned into the equipment essentially as described for the sample cell (20120) in the above transplanar test, except that the filling tube is directed to the inlet connection (20232) the bottom of the cell (20220). Figure 20A shows a partly exploded view of the sample cell, and Figure 20B a cross-sectional view through the sample level.

The test cell (20220) is made up of two pieces: a bottom piece (20225) which is like a rectangular box with flanges, and a top piece (20223) that fits inside the bottom piece (20225) and has flanges as well. The test sample is cut to the size of 2" in x 2"in (about 5.1 cm by 5.1 cm) and is placed into the bottom piece. The top piece (20223) of the sample chamber is then placed into the bottom piece (20225) and sits on the test sample (20210). An incompressible neoprene rubber seal (20224) is attached to the upper piece (20223) to provide tight sealing. The test liquid flows from the inlet reservoir to the sample space via Tygon tubing and the inlet connection (20232) further through the outlet connection (20233) to the outlet reservoir. As in this test execution the temperature control of the fluid passing through the sample cell can be insufficient due to lower flow rates, the sample is kept at the desired test temperature by the heating device (20226), whereby thermostated water is pumped through the heating chamber (20227). The gap in the test cell is set at the caliper corresponding to the desired wet compression, normally 0.2 psi ( about 1.4 kPa). Shims (20216) ranging in size from 0.1 mm to 20.0 mm are used to set the correct caliper, optionally using combinations of several shims.

At the start of the experiment, the test cell (20220) is rotated 90° (sample is vertical) and the test liguid allowed to enter slowly from the bottom. This is necessary to ensure that all the air is driven out from the sample and the inlet/outlet connections (20232/20233). Next, the test cell (20220) is rotated back to its original position so as to make the sample (20210) horizontal. The subseguent procedure is the same as that described earlier for transplanar permeability, i.e. the inlet reservoir is placed at the desired height, the flow is allowed to eguilibrate, and flow rate and pressure drop are measured. Permeability is calculated using Darcy's law. This procedure is repeated for higher pressures as well.

For samples that have very low permeability, it may be necessary to increase the driving pressure, such as by extending the height or by applying additional air pressure on the reservoir in order to get a measurable flow rate. In plane permeability can be measured independently in the machine and cross directions, depending on how the sample is placed in the test cell. Capillary Sorption Purpose The purpose of this test is to measure the capillary sorption absorbent capacity, as a function of height, of storage absorbent members of the present invention. In the Capillary Sorption experiment, capillary sorption absorbent capacity is measured as a function of fluid pressure due to the height of the sample relative to the test fluid reservoir.

The method for determining capillary sorption is well recognized. See Burgeni, A.A. and Kapur, C, "Capillary Sorption Equilibria in Fiber Masses," Textile Research Journal, 37 (1967), 356-366; Chatterjee, P.K., Absorbency, Textile Science and Technology 7, Chapter II, pp 29-84, Elsevier Science Publishers B.V, 1985; and U.S. Patent No. 4,610,678, issued September 9, 1986 to Weisman et al. for a discussion of the method for measuring capillary sorption of absorbent structures. The disclosure of each of these references is incorporated by reference herein. Principle A porous glass frit is connected via an uninterrupted column of fluid to a fluid reservoir on a balance. The sample is maintained under a constant confining weight during the experiment. As the porous structure absorbs fluid upon demand, the weight loss in the balance fluid reservoir is recorded as fluid uptake, adjusted for uptake of the glass frit as a function of height and evaporation. The uptake or capacity at various capillary suctions (hydrostatic tensions or heights) is measured. Incremental absorption occurs due to the incremental lowering of the frit (i.e., decreasing capillary suction).

Time is also monitored during the experiment to enable calculation of initial effective uptake rate (g/g/h) at a 200 cm height.

Reagents Test Liquid: Synthetic urine is prepared by completely dissolving the following materials in distilled water. Compound F.W. Concentration (g/L) KCI 74.6 2.0

Na2SO4 142 2.0

(NH4)H2PO4 1 15 o.85 (NH4)2HPO4

132 0.15 CaCI2-2H2O 147 0.25 s MgCl2-6H2θ 203 0.5

General Description of Apparatus Set Up

The Capillary Sorption equipment, depicted generally as 2120 in Figure 2A , used for this test is operated under TAPPI conditions (50% RH, 25°C). A test sample is placed on a glass frit shown in Figure 2A as 2102 that is 0 connected via a continuous column of test liquid (synthetic urine) to a balance liquid reservoir, shown as 2106, containing test liquid. This reservoir 2106 is placed on a balance 2107 that is interfaced with a computer (not shown). The balance should be capable of reading to 0.001 g; such a balance is available from Mettler Toledo as PR1203 (Hightstown, 5 NJ). The glass frit 2102 is placed on a vertical slide, shown generally in Figure 2A as 2101, to allow vertical movement of the test sample to expose the test sample to varying suction heights. The vertical slide may be a rodless actuator which is attached to a computer to record suction heights and corresponding times for measuring liquid uptake by the test sample. A o preferred rodless actuator is available from Industrial Devices (Novato, CA) as item 202X4X34N-1 D4B-84-P-C-S-E, which may be powered by motor drive ZETA 6104-83-135, available from CompuMotor (Rohnert, CA). Where data is measured and sent from actuator 2101 and balance 2107, capillary sorption absorbent capacity data may be readily generated for 5 each test sample. Also, computer interface to actuator 2101 may allow for controlled vertical movement of the glass frit 2102. For example, the actuator may be directed to move the glass frit 2102 vertically only after "equilibrium" (as defined below) is reached at each suction height. The bottom of glass frit 2102 is connected to Tygon® tubing 2103 that connects the frit 2105 to three-way drain stopcock 2109. Drain stopcock

2109 is connected to liquid reservoir 2105 via glass tubing 2104 and stopcock 2110. (The stopcock 2109 is open to the drain only during cleaning of the apparatus or air bubble removal.) Glass tubing 2111 connects fluid reservoir 2105 with balance fluid reservoir 2106, via stopcock 2110. Balance liquid reservoir 2106 consists of a lightweight 12 cm diameter glass dish 2106A and cover 2106B. The cover 2106B has a hole through which glass tubing 2111 contacts the liquid in the reservoir 2106. The glass tubing 2111 must not contact the cover 2106B or an unstable balance reading will result and the test sample measurement cannot be used.

The glass frit diameter must be sufficient to accommodate the piston/cylinder apparatus, discussed below, for holding the test sample. The glass frit 2102 is jacketed to allow for a constant temperature control from a heating bath. The frit is a 350 ml fritted disc funnel specified as having 4 to 5.5 μm pores, available from Corning Glass Co. (Corning, NY) as #36060-350F. The pores are fine enough to keep the frit surface wetted at capillary suction heights specified (the glass frit does not allow air to enter the continuous column of test liquid below the glass frit).

As indicated, the frit 2102 is connected via tubing to fluid reservoir 2105 or balance liquid reservoir 2106, depending on the position of three- way stopcock 2110.

Glass frit 2102 is jacketed to accept water from a constant temperature bath. This will ensure that the temperature of the glass frit is kept at a constant temperature of 88°F (31 °C) during the testing procedure. As is depicted in Figure 2A, the glass frit 2102 is equipped with an inlet port 2102A and outlet port 2102B, which make a closed loop with a circulating heat bath shown generally as 2108. (The glass jacketing is not depicted in Figure 2A. However, the water introduced to the jacketed glass frit 2102 from bath 2108 does not contact the test liquid and the test liquid is not circulated through the constant temperature bath. The water in the constant temperature bath circulates through the jacketed walls of the glass frit 2102.) Reservoir 2106 and balance 2107 are enclosed in a box to minimize evaporation of test liquid from the balance reservoir and to enhance balance stability during performance of the experiment. This box, shown generally as 2112, has a top and walls, where the top has a hole through which tubing 2111 is inserted. The glass frit 2102 is shown in more detail in Figure 2B. Figure 2B is a cross-sectional view of the glass frit, shown without inlet port 2102A and outlet port 2102B. As indicated, the glass frit is a 350 ml fritted disc funnel having specified 4 to 5.5 μm pores. Referring to Figure 2B, the glass frit 2102 comprises a cylindrical jacketed funnel designated as 2150 and a glass frit disc shown as 2160. The glass frit 2102 further comprises a cylinder/piston assembly shown generally as 2165 (which comprises cylinder 2166 and piston 2168), which confines the test sample, shown as 2170, and provides a small confining pressure to the test sample. To prevent excessive evaporation of test liquid from the glass frit disc 2160, a Teflon ring shown as 2162 is placed on top of the glass frit disc 2160. The Teflon® ring 2162 is 0.0127 cm thick (available as sheet stock from McMasterCarr as # 8569K16 and is cut to size) and is used to cover the frit disc surface outside of the cylinder 2166, and thus minimizes evaporation from the glass frit. The ring outer diameter and inner diameter is 7.6 and 6.3 cm, respectively. The inner diameter of the Teflon® ring 2162 is about 2 mm less than the outer diameter of cylinder 2166. A Viton® O-ring (available from McMasterCarr as # AS568A-150 and AS568A-151) 2164 is placed on top of Teflon® ring 2162 to seal the space between the inner wall of cylindrical jacketed funnel 2150 and Teflon® ring 2162, to further assist in prevention of evaporation. If the O-ring outer diameter exceeds the inner diameter of cylindrical jacketed funnel 2150, the O-ring diameter is reduced to fit the funnel as follows: the O-ring is cut open, the necessary amount of O-ring material is cut off, and the O-ring is glued back together such that the O-ring contacts the inner wall of the cylindrical jacketed funnel 2150 all around its periphery.

As indicated, a cylinder/piston assembly shown generally in Figure 2B as 2165 confines the test sample and provides a small confining pressure to the test sample 2170. Referring to Figure 2C, assembly 2165 consists of a cylinder 2166, a cup-like Teflon® piston indicated by 2168 and, when necessary, a weight or weights (not shown) that fits inside piston 2168. (Optional weight will be used when necessary to adjust the combined weight of the piston and the optional weight so a confining pressure of 0.2 psi is attained depending on the test sample's dry diameter. This is discussed below.) The cylinder 2166 is Lexan® bar stock and has the following dimensions: an outer diameter of 7.0 cm, an inner diameter of 6.0 cm and a height of 6.0 cm. The Teflon® piston 2168 has the following dimensions: an outer diameter that is 0.02 cm less than the inner diameter of cylinder 2166. As shown in Figure 2D, the end of the piston 2168 that does not contact the test sample is bored to provide a 5.0 cm diameter by about 1.8 cm deep chamber 2190 to receive optional weights (dictated by the test sample's actual dry diameter) required to attain a test sample confining pressure of 0.2 psi (1.4 kPa). In other words, the total weight of the piston 2168 and any optional weights (not shown in figures) divided by the test sample's actual diameter (when dry) should be such that a confining pressure of 0.2 psi is attained. Cylinder 2166 and piston 2168 (and optional weights) are equilibrated at 31 °C for at least 30 minutes prior to conducting the capillary sorption absorbent capacity measurement.

A non-surfactant treated or incorporated apertured film (14 cm x 14 cm) (not shown) is used to cover the glass frit 2102 during Capillary Sorption experiments to minimize air destablization around the sample. Apertures are large enough to prevent condensation from forming on the underside of the film during the experiment. Test Sample Preparation

The test sample can be obtained by punching out a 5.4 cm diameter circular-shaped structure from a storage absorbent member. When the member is a component of an absorbent article, other components of the article must be removed prior to testing. In those situations where the member cannot be isolated from other components of the article without significantly altering its structure (e.g., density, relative disposition of the component materials, physical properties of constituent materials, etc.) or where the member is not a component of an absorbent article, the test sample is prepared by combining all the materials that constitute the member such that the combination is representative of the member in question. The test sample is a 5.4 cm diameter circle and is obtained by cutting with an arch punch.

The dry weight of the test sample (used below to calculate capillary sorption absorbent capacity) is the weight of the test sample prepared as above under ambient conditions. Experimental Set Up 1. Place a clean, dry glass frit 2102 in a funnel holder attached to the vertical slide 2101. Move the funnel holder of the vertical slide such that the glass frit is at the 0 cm height. 2. Set up the apparatus components as shown in Figure 2A, as discussed above. 3. Place 12 cm diameter balance liquid reservoir 2106 on the balance 2107. Place plastic lid 2106B over this balance liquid reservoir 2106 and a plastic lid over the balance box 2112 each with small holes to allow the glass tubing 2111 to fit through. Do not allow the glass tubing to touch the lid 2106B of the balance liquid reservoir or an unstable balance reading will result and the measurement cannot be used.

4. Stopcock 2110 is closed to tubing 2104 and opened to glass tubing 2111. Fluid reservoir 2105, previously filled with test fluid, is opened to allow test fluid to enter tubing 2111, to fill balance fluid reservoir 2106.

5. The glass frit 2102 is leveled and secured in place. Also, ensure that the glass frit is dry.

6. Attach the Tygon® tubing 2103 to stopcock 2109. (The tubing should be long enough to reach the glass frit 2102 at its highest point of 200 cm with no kinks.) Fill this Tygon® tubing with test liquid from liquid reservoir 2105.

7. Attach the Tygon® tubing 2103 to the level glass frit 2102 and then open stopcock 2109 and stopcock 2110 leading from fluid reservoir 2105 to the glass frit 2102.. (Stopcock 2110 should be closed to glass tubing 2111.) The test liquid fills the glass frit 2102 and removes all trapped air during filling of the level glass frit. Continue to fill until the fluid level exceeds the top of the glass frit disc 2160. Empty the funnel and remove all air bubbles in the tubing and inside the funnel. Air bubbles may be removed by inverting glass frit 2102 and allowing air bubbles to rise and escape through the drain of stopcock 2109. (Air bubbles typically collect on the bottom of the glass frit disc 2160.) Relevel the frit using a small enough level that it will fit inside the jacketed funnel 2150 and onto the surface of glass frit disc 2160.

8. Zero the glass frit with the balance liquid reservoir 2106. To do this, take a piece of Tygon® tubing of sufficient length and fill it with the test liquid. Place one end in the balance liquid reservoir 2106 and use the other end to position the glass frit 2102. The test liquid level indicated by the tubing (which is eguivalent to the balance liguid reservoir level) is 10 mm below the top of the glass frit disc 2160. If this is not the case, either adjust the amount of liquid in the reservoir or reset the zero position on the vertical slide 2101. 9. Attach the outlet and inlet ports from the temperature bath 2108 via tubing to the inlet and outlet ports 2102A and 2102B, respectively, of the glass frit. Allow the temperature of the glass frit disc 2160 to come to 31 °C. This can be measured by partially filling the glass frit with test liquid and measuring its temperature after it has reached equilibrium temperature. The bath will need to be set a bit higher than 31 °C to allow for the dissipation of heat during the travel of water from the bath to the glass frit. 10. The glass frit is equilibrated for 30 minutes. Capillary Sorption Parameters The following describes a computer program that will determine how long the glass frit remains at each height.

In the capillary sorption software program, a test sample is at some specified height from the reservoir of fluid. As indicated above, the fluid reservoir is on a balance, such that a computer can read the balance at the end of a known time interval and calculate the flow rate (Delta reading/time interval) between the test sample and reservoir. For purposes of this method, the test sample is considered to be at equilibrium when the flow rate is less than a specified flow rate for a specified number of consecutive time intervals. It is recognized, that for certain material, actual equilibrium may not be reached when the specified "EQUILIBRIUM CONSTANT" is reached. The time interval between readings is 5 seconds.

The number of readings in the delta table is specified in the capillary sorption menu as "EQUILIBRIUM SAMPLES". The maximum number of deltas is 500. The flow rate constant is specified in the capillary sorption menu as "EQUILIBRIUM CONSTANT'. The Equilibrium Constant is entered in units of grams/sec, ranging from 0.0001 to 100.000.

The following is a simplified example of the logic. The table shows the balance reading and Delta Flow calculated for each Time Interval. Equilibrium Samples = 3 Equilibrium Constant = .0015

0.350

0.300

0.250

3 0.200

§ 0.150 0.100 0.050 0.000

4 6 10

Time Interval

Delta Table:

The equilibrium uptake for the above simplified example is 0.318 gram. The following is the code in C language used to determine equilibrium uptake:

takedata.c int take_data (int equιl_samples, double equιlibrιum_constant )

double delta; static double αeltas[500] /* table to store up to 500 deltas */ double value; double prev_vaιue; clock_t next_tιme; int 1;

for (ι=0; ι<equ -_samples; ι++) deltas[ι] = 9999.; /* initialize all values in the delta table to 9999. gms/sec */ delta_table_ιnαex = 0; /* initialize where in the table to store the next delta */ equιlιbrιum_reacneα = 0; /* initialize flag to indicate equilibrium has not been reacned */ next_tιme = ciockf); /* initialize when to take the next reading */ prev_readιng = C; /* initialize the value of the previous reading from the oalance */

while ( ' equιliDrι-,-ι_reached) /* start of loop for checking for eαuilibπum next_tιme τ= 5000L; /* calculate wnen to take next reading

*/ while (clock!) < next_tιme); /* wait until 5 seconds has elasped from prev reading */ value = get_balance_readmg( ) ; /* read the balance in grams */ delta = faDs (prev value - value) / 5.0; /* calculate aDsolute value of flow in last 5 seconds */ prev_value = value; /* store current va ue for next loop

*/ deltas [delta_table_mdex] = delta; /* store current delta value in the table of deltas */ delta_tabιe_ιndex++; /* increment pointer to next position in table */ if (delta_table_mdex == equιl_samples ) /* when the number of deltas = the number of */ delta_ able_ιndex = 0; /* equilibrium samples specified, /*

/* reset the pointer to the start of the table. T ιs way */

/* the table always contains the last xx current samples. */ = 1; /* set the flag to indicate equilibrium is reached */ for (ι=0; i < equιl_samples; ι++) /* check all the values In the delta table */ if (deltas [l] >= equιlιbrιum_constant ) /* if any value is > or = to the equilibrium constant */ eαuιlιbrιum_reached = 0; /* set the equlibrium flag to 0 (not at equilibrium) */

} /* go back to the start of the loop */ )

Capillary Sorption Parameters

Load Description (Confining Pressure): 0.2 psi load Equilibrium Samples (n): 50 Equilibrium Constant: 0.0005 g/sec

Setup Height Value: 100 cm Finish Height Value: 0 cm

Hydrostatic Head Parameters: 200, 180, 160, 140, 120, 100, 90, 80,

70, 60, 50, 45, 40, 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 and 0 cm.

The capillary sorption procedure is conducted using all the heights specified above, in the order stated, for the measurement of capillary sorption absorbent capacity. Even if it is desired to determine capillary sorption absorbent capacity at a particular height (e.g., 35 cm), the entire series of hydrostatic head parameters must be completed in the order specified. Although all these heights are used in performance of the capillary sorption test to generate capillary sorption isotherms for a test sample, the present disclosure describes the storage absorbent members in terms of their absorbent properties at specified heights of 200, 140, 100, 50, 35 and 0 cm. Capillary Sorption Procedure

1 ) Follow the experimental setup procedure.

2) Make sure the temperature bath 2108 is on and water is circulating through the glass frit 2102 and that the glass frit disc 2160 temperature is 31 °C. 3) Position glass frit 2102 at 200 cm suction height. Open stopcocks 2109 and 2110 to connect glass frit 2102 with the balance liquid reservoir 2106. (Stopcock 2110 is closed to liquid reservoir 2105.) Glass frit 2102 is equilibrated for 30 minutes. 4) Input the above capillary sorption parameters into the computer. 5) Close stopcocks 2109 and 2110.

6) Move glass frit 2102 to the set up height, 100 cm.

7) Place Teflon® ring 2162 on surface of glass frit disc 2160. Put O-ring 2164 on Teflon® ring. Place pre-heated cylinder 2166 concentrically on the Teflon® ring. Place test sample 2170 concentrically in cylinder 2166 on glass frit disc 2160. Place piston 2168 into cylinder 2166.

Additional confining weights are placed into piston chamber 2190, if required.

8) Cover the glass frit 2102 with apertured film.

9) The balance reading at this point establishes the zero or tare reading. 10) Move the glass frit 2102 to 200 cm. 11 ) Open stopcocks 2109 and 2110 (stopcock 2110 is closed to fluid reservoir 2105) and begin balance and time readings. Glass Frit Correction (blank correct uptake)

Since the glass frit disc 2160 is a porous structure, the glass frit (2102) capillary sorption absorption uptake (blank correct uptake) must be determined and subtracted to get the true test sample capillary sorption absorption uptake. The glass frit correction is performed for each new glass frit used. Run the capillary sorption procedure as described above, except without test sample, to obtain the Blank Uptake (g). The elapsed time at each specified height equals the Blank Time (s).

Evaporation Loss Correction

1) Move the glass frit 2102 to 2 cm above zero and let it equilibrate at this height for 30 minutes with open stopcocks 2109 and 2110 (closed to reservoir 2105).

2) Close stopcocks 2109 and 2110.

3) Place Teflon® ring 2162 on surface of glass frit disc 2160. Put O- ring 2164 on Teflon® ring. Place pre-heated cylinder 2166 concentrically on the Teflon® ring. Place piston 2168 into cylinder 2166. Place apertured film on glass frit 2102.

4) Open stopcocks 2109 and 2110 (closed to reservoir 2105) and record balance reading and time for 3.5 hours. Calculate Sample Evaporation (g/hr) as follows:

[balance reading at 1 hr - balance reading at 3.5 hr] / 2.5 hr Even after taking all the above precautions, some evaporative loss will occur, typically around 0.10 gm/hr for both the test sample and the frit correction. Ideally, the sample evaporation is measured for each newly installed glass frit 2102. Cleaning the Eguipment New Tygon® tubing 2103 is used when a glass frit 2102 is newly installed. Glass tubing 2104 and 2111, fluid reservoir 2105, and balance liguid reservoir 2106 are cleaned with 50% Clorox Bleach® in distilled water, followed by distilled water rinse, if microbial contamination is visible. 5 a. Cleaning after each experiment

At the end of each experiment (after the test sample has been removed), the glass frit is forward flushed (i.e., test liquid is introduced into the bottom of the glass frit) with 250 ml test liquid from liquid reservoir 2105 to remove residual test sample from the glass frit disc pores. With o stopcocks 2109 and 2110 open to liquid reservoir 2105 and closed to balance liquid reservoir 2106, the glass frit is removed from its holder, turned upside down and is rinsed out first with test liquid, followed by rinses with acetone and test liquid (synthetic urine). During rinsing, the glass frit must be tilted upside down and rinse fluid is squirted onto the test sample 5 contacting surface of the glass frit disc. After rinsing, the glass frit is forward flushed a second time with 250 ml test liquid (synthetic urine). Finally, the glass frit is reinstalled in its holder and the frit surface is leveled. b. Monitoring glass frit performance o Glass frit performance must be monitored after each cleaning procedure and for each newly installed glass frit, with the glass frit set up at 0 cm position. 50 ml of test liquid are poured onto the leveled glass frit disc surface (without Teflon® ring, O-ring and the cylinder/piston components). The time it takes for the test fluid level to drop to 5 mm above the glass frit 5 disc surface is recorded. A periodic cleaning must be performed if this time exceeds 4.5 minutes. c. Periodic cleaning

Periodically, (see monitoring frit performance, above) the glass frits are cleaned thoroughly to prevent clogging. Rinsing fluids are distilled water, o acetone, 50% Clorox Bleach® in distilled water (to remove bacterial growth) and test liguid. Cleaning involves removing the glass frit from the holder and disconnecting all tubing. The glass frit is forward flushed (i.e., rinse liquid is introduced into the bottom of the glass frit) with the frit upside down with the appropriate fluids and amounts in the following order: 1. 250 ml distilled water.

2. 100 ml acetone.

3. 250 ml distilled water.

4. 100 ml 50:50 Clorox®/distilled water solution.

5. 250 ml distilled water. 6. 250 ml test fluid.

The cleaning procedure is satisfactory when glass frit performance is within the set criteria of fluid flow (see above) and when no residue is observable on the glass frit disc surface. If cleaning can not be performed successfully, the frit must be replaced. Calculations

The computer is set up to provide a report consisting of the capillary suction height in cm, time, and the uptake in grams at each specified height. From this data, the capillary suction absorbent capacity, which is corrected for both the frit uptake and the evaporation loss, can be calculated. Also, based on the capillary suction absorbent capacity at 0 cm, the capillary absorption efficiency can be calculated at the specified heights. In addition, the initial effective uptake rate at 200 cm is calculated. Blank Correct Uptake

Blank Time(s)* Sample Evap. (g / hr)

Blank Correct Uptake (g) = Blank Uptake(g)

3600(s/ hr)

Capillary Suction Absorbent Capacity ("CSAC") Saπplel^g) - ^^^ ^ ^ ^ - ^Co^ rt^ CSAC(g/^) = Dy ^i^ ofSarrϊie®

Initial Effective Uptake Rate at 200 cm ("lEUR") IEUR (g/g/hr) = CSAC at 200 cm (α/α) Sample Time at 200 cm (s) Reporting

A minimum of two measurements should be taken for each sample and the uptake averaged at each height to calculate Capillary Sorption Absorbent Capacity (CSAC) for a given absorbent member or a given high surface area material. With these data, the respective values can be calculated:

- The Capillary Sorption Desorption Height at which the material has released x% of its capacity at 0 cm (i.e. of CSAC 0), (CSDH x) expressed in cm;

- The Capillary Sorption Absorption Height at which the material has absorbed y % of its capacity at 0 cm (i.e. of CSAC 0), (CSAH y) expressed in cm; - The Capillary Sorption Absorbent Capacity at a certain height z (CSAC z) expressed in units of g {of fluid} / g { of material}; especially at the height zero (CSAC 0), and at heights of 35cm, 40cm, etc

- The Capillary Sorption Absorption Efficiency at a certain height z (CSAE z) expressed in %, which is the ratio of the values for CSAC 0 and CSAC z. If two materials are combined (such as the first being used as acquisition / distribution material, and the second being used as liquid storage material), the

CSAC value (and hence the respective CSAE value) of the second material can be determined for the CSDH x value of the first material .

Teabaα Centrifuge Capacity Test (TCC test) Whilst the TCC test has been developed specifically for superabsorbent materials, it can readily be applied to other absorbent materials. The Teabag Centrifuge Capacity test measures the Teabag Centrifuge

Capacity values, which are a measure of the retention of liquids in the absorbent materials. The absorbent material is placed within a "teabag", immersed in a 0.9% by weight sodium chloride solution for 20 minutes, and then centrifuged for 3 minutes. The ratio of the retained liquid weight to the initial weight of the dry material is the absorptive capacity of the absorbent material. Two litres of 0.9% by weight sodium chloride in distilled water is poured into a tray having dimensions 24 cm x 30 cm x 5 cm. The liquid filling height should be about 3 cm.

The teabag pouch has dimensions 6.5 cm x 6.5 cm and is available from Teekanne in Dϋsseldorf, Germany. The pouch is heat sealable with a standard kitchen plastic bag sealing device (e.g. VACUPACK2 PLUS from Krups, Germany).

The teabag is opened by carefully cutting it partially, and is then weighed. About 0.200g of the sample of the absorbent material, accurately weighed to +/- 0.005g, is placed in the teabag. The teabag is then closed with a heat sealer. This is called the sample teabag. An empty teabag is sealed and used as a blank.

The sample teabag and the blank teabag are then laid on the surface of the saline solution, and submerged for about 5 seconds using a spatula to allow complete wetting (the teabags will float on the surface of the saline solution but are then completely wetted). The timer is started immediately.

After 20 minutes soaking time the sample teabag and the blank teabag are removed from the saline solution, and placed in a Bauknecht WS130, Bosch 772 NZK096 or equivalent centrifuge (230 mm diameter), so that each bag sticks to the outer wall of the centrifuge basket. The centrifuge lid is closed, the centrifuge is started, and the speed increased quickly to 1 ,400 rpm. Once the centrifuge has been stabilised at 1 ,400 rpm the timer is started. After 3 minutes, the centrifuge is stopped.

The sample teabag and the blank teabag are removed and weighed separately. The Teabag Centrifuge Capacity (TCC) for the sample of absorbent material is calculated as follows: TCC = [(sample teabag weight after centrifuging) - (blank teabag weight after centrifuging) - (dry absorbent material weight)] ÷ (dry absorbent material weight).

Also, specific parts of the structures or the total absorbent articles can be measured, such as "sectional" cut outs, i.e. looking at parts of the structure or the total article, whereby the cutting is done across the full width of the article at determined points of the longitudinal axis of the article. In particular, the definition of the "crotch region" as described above allows to determine the "crotch region capacity". Other cut-outs can be used to determine a "basis capacity" (i.e. the amount of capacity contained in a unit area of the specific region of the article. Depending on the size of the unit area (preferably 2 cm by 2 cm) the defines how much averaging is taking place - naturally, the smaller the size, the less averaging will occur.

Claims

Claims
1. A liquid transport member for the transport of liquids against gravity against a vertical height H0 of at least 5cm preferably at least 20 cm wherein said member has an average flux rate at a suction of ( 0.9 kPa + pgH0) of at least 0.1 g/s/cm2 when tested in the vertical liquid transport test at said height H0, preferably of at least 1g/cm2/sec, more preferably at least 5 g/cm /sec, even more preferably at least 10 g/cm2/sec, or even at leat 20 g/cm2/sec, and most preferably at least 50 g/cm2/sec.
2. A liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein the member further comprises an outer region that is in contact with the wall region.
3. A liquid transport member according to Claim 2 wherein the outer region has a capillary pressure for absorbing the liquid that is lower than the bubble point pressure of said member.
4. A liquid transport member according to Claim 2 wherein the outer region comprises a softness layer.
5. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein the ratio of permeability of the bulk region and the permeability of the port region is at least 10, preferably at least 100, more preferably at least 1000, and even more preferably at least 10000.
6. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein the member has a bubble point pressure of at least 1 kPa, preferably at least 2 KPa, more preferably at least 4.5 KPa, even more preferably 8 KPa, most preferably 50 KPa.
7. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said port region has a bubble point pressure of at least 1 kPa, preferably at least 2 KPa, more preferably at least 4.5 KPa, even more preferably 8 KPa, most preferably 50 KPa.
8. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said member looses liquid in the closed system test.
9. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said bulk region has a larger average pore size than said port regions, preferably such that the ratio of average pore size of the bulk region and the average pore size of the port region is at least 10, preferably at least 50, more preferably at least 100, and even more preferably at least 500, and most preferably at least 1000.
10. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said bulk region has an average pore size of at least 200╬╝m, preferably at least 500╬╝m, more preferably of at least 1000╬╝m, and most preferably of at least 5000╬╝m.
11. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said bulk region has a porosity of at least 50%, preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, even more preferably of at least 98%, and most preferably of at least 99%.
12. A Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said port region has a porosity of at least 10%, preferably at least 20%, more preferably of at least 30%, and most preferably of at least 50%.
13. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said port regions have an average pore size of no more than 100╬╝m, preferably no more than 50╬╝m, more preferably of no more than 10╬╝m, and most preferably of no more than 5╬╝m.
14. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said port regions have a pore size of at least 1 ╬╝m, preferably at least 3╬╝m.
15. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said port regions have an average thickness of no more than 100╬╝m, preferably no more than 50╬╝m, more preferably of no more than 10╬╝m, and most preferably of no more than 5╬╝m.
16. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said bulk region and said wall region have a volume ratio of at least 10, preferably at least 100, more preferably at least 1000, and even more preferably at least 10000.
17. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said port region is hydrophilic, preferably by having a contact angle for the liquid to be transported less than 70 degrees, preferably less than 50 degrees, more preferably less than 20 degrees, and even more preferably less than 10 degrees.
18. Liquid transport member according to Claim 3.11 wherein the port regions do not substantially decrease the liquid surface tension of the liquid that is to be transported.
19. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said port region is oleophilic, preferably by having a contact angle for the liquid to be transported less than 70 degrees, preferably less than 50 degrees, more preferably less than 20 degrees, and even more preferably less than 10 degrees.
20. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said bulk region is deformable and may expand during liquid transport.
21. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims which has a sheet-like shape, or has a cylindrical like shape.
70
22. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein the cross-section area of the member along the direction of liquid transport is not constant.
75 23. Liquid transport member according to Claim 25 wherein the port regions have a larger area than the average cross-section of the member along the direction of liquid transport, preferably by at least a factor of 2, preferably a factor of 10, most preferably a factor of 100.
20 24. A material according to any of the preceding claims characterized in that the material can expand and recollapse during liquid transport.
25. A material according to any of the preceding claims characterized in that the material has an volume expansion factor of at least 5 between the
25 original state and when fully immersed in liquid.
26. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said bulk region comprises a material selected from the groups of fibers, particulates, foams, spirals, films, corrugated sheets, or tubes.
30
27. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said wall region comprises a material selected from the groups of fibers, particulates, foams, spirals, films, corrugated sheets, tubes, woven webs,woven fiber meshes, apertured films, or monolithic films.
5
28. Liquid transport member according to Claim 29 or 30, wherein said foam is a open cell reticulated foam, preferably selected from the group of cellulose sponge, polyurethane foam, HIPE foams.
o 29. Liquid transport member according to Claims 29 or 30, wherein said fibers are made of polyolefins, polyesters, polyamids, polyethers, polyacrylics, polyurethanes, metal, glass, cellulose, cellulose derivatives.
30. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein s the member is made by a porous bulk region that is wrapped by a separate wall region.
31. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims comprising water soluble materials. 0
32. Liquid transport member according to Claim 34, wherein at least one of the port regions comprises a water soluble material.
33. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein 5 said member is initially filled with liquid.
34. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein said member is initially under vacuum.
0 35. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims for transport of water-based liquids or of viscoelastic liquids.
36. Liquid transport member according to Claim 38 for transport of bodily discharges, as urine, blood menses, sweat or feces.
5 37. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims for transport of oil, grease, or other non-water based liquids.
38. Liquid transport member according to claim 40 for selective transport of oil or grease, but not water based liquids. 0
39. Liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims wherein any of the member properties or parameter are established prior to or at the liquid handling, preferably by activation by contact with the liquid, pH, temperature, enzymes, chemical reaction, salt concentration or mechanical s activation.
40. A liquid transport system comprising a liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims and a source of liquid that is outside the liquid transport member, or a sink of liquid that is outside the liquid transport o member, or both a source of liquid and a sink of liquid that are outside the liquid transport member.
41. A liquid absorbent system comprising a liquid transport member according to any of the preceding claims that has an absorption capacity of at least 5 5g/g, preferably at least 10g/g, more preferably at least 20g/g.
42. Liquid absorbent system according to any of the preceeding claims comprising a sink that has an absorption capacity of at least 10 g/g, preferably at least 20 g/g and more preferably at least 50 g/g. 0
43. Liquid absorbent system comprising a sink that has a capillary suction of at least 4kPa, preferably at least 10kPa.
44. Liquid absorbing system comprising a liquid transport member according to any of the preceeding claims and comprising superabsorbent material or open celled foam of the High Internal Phase Emulsion (HIPE) type.
45. An article, or an absorbent article, or a disposable article, or a personal hygiene disposable absorbent article comprising a liquid transport member according to the preceding claims.
46. An article according to Claim 48 which is a baby or adult incontinence diaper, a feminine protection pade, a pantiliner, a training pant.
47. An article according to claim 48 which is a grease absorber.
48. An article according to claim 48 which is a water transport member.
49. Method of making a liquid transport member comprising the steps of a) providing a bulk or inner material; b) providing a wall material comprising a port region; c) completely enclosing said bulk region material by said wall material; d) providing a transport enablement means selected from d1) vacuum; d2) liquid filling; d3) expandable elastics / springs;
50. Method according to claim 52, further comprising the step of e) applying activation means e1 ) liquid dissolving port region; e2) liquid dissolving expandable elastication / springs.
51. Method of making a liquid transport member consisting of the steps of a) wrapping a highly porous bulk material with a separate wall material that contains at least one permeable port region, b) completely sealing the wall region, and c) evacuating the member essentially of air.
52. Method according to claim 54, wherein the member is filled with liquid.
53. Method according to claim 52 or 54, wherein the member is sealed with a liquid dissolvable layer at least in the port regions.
PCT/US1998/013521 1998-06-29 1998-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity WO2000000130A1 (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
PCT/US1998/013521 WO2000000130A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1998-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity

Applications Claiming Priority (60)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
PCT/US1998/013521 WO2000000130A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1998-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity
US09720224 US6659992B1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article instanteously storing liquid in a predefined pattern
CA 2333760 CA2333760C (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member having high suction and high permeability
CA 2333765 CA2333765A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article instantaneously storing liquid in a predefined pattern
PCT/US1999/014795 WO2000000149A3 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member that rapidly distributes acquired liquid
EP19990932007 EP1093347A2 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member having high suction and high permeability
US09720164 US6500337B1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for oil removal and transport
CA 2335622 CA2335622A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for absorbing or collecting a liquid
EP19990930804 EP1093351A2 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for managing body fluids comprising a fast acquiring liquid handling member that expands upon liquid acquisition and contracts upon liquid release
JP2000556864A JP2003523840A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for absorbing or collecting liquid
PCT/US1999/014642 WO2000000016A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transfer device, and use of the device for irrigation
JP2000556612A JP2003525577A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transporting apparatus, and the use of said device for water distribution
JP2000556724A JP2003520698A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for the purpose of high fluence against gravity
JP2000557048A JP2003526746A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Apparatus for the process as well as oil removal and transport for oil removal and transport
EP19990930805 EP1091640A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transfer device, and use of the device for irrigation
US09720191 US6545194B1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for managing body fluids comprising a fast acquiring liquid handling member that expands upon liquid acquisition and contracts upon liquid release
CA 2355149 CA2355149A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Disposable absorbent article storing liquid in a constant pattern
JP2000556727A JP2003523779A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Body fluid treatment apparatus for transporting a body fluid by wicking siphon
JP2000556971A JP2003523894A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Containers products and tools comprising retrieval means
US09720192 US6764476B1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member that rapidly distributes acquired liquid
JP2000557047A JP2003526535A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux between pore region and the opening
CA 2333697 CA2333697C (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for managing body fluids comprising a fast acquiring liquid handling member that expands upon liquid acquisition and contracts upon liquid release
CA 2334158 CA2334158C (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article exhibiting high sustained acquisition rates
PCT/US1999/014641 WO2000000139A3 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for managing body fluids comprising a fast acquiring liquid handling member that expands upon liquid acquisition and contracts upon liquid release
EP19990932088 EP1091715A2 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member that rapidly distributes acquired liquid
US09857742 US6683229B1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Disposable absorbent article storing liquid in a constant pattern
PCT/US1999/014638 WO2000000138A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity
CA 2334162 CA2334162A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for handling body liquids which transports body liquid by siphoning
EP19990932014 EP1091714B1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for handling body liquids which transports body liquid by siphoning
US09720225 US6506960B1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member having high suction and high permeability
EP19990932015 EP1089696A2 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article exhibiting high sustained acquisition rates
US09720167 US6727403B1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article exhibiting high sustained acquisition rates
CA 2336205 CA2336205A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity
PCT/US1999/014632 WO2000000118A3 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member having high suction and high permeability
PCT/US1999/014648 WO2000000141A3 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for handling body liquids which transports body liquid by siphoning
DE1999608776 DE69908776T2 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for handling of body fluids, the body fluids transported by suction
JP2000556735A JP2003527140A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member to rapidly distribute the captured liquid.
JP2000556726A JP2003523778A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorber in specified pattern to store the liquid instantly
PCT/US1999/014646 WO2000000140A3 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article instantaneously storing liquid in a predefined pattern
PCT/US1999/014644 WO2000000702A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Method for oil removal and transport, and device for oil removal and transport
EP19990930801 EP1091711A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity
EP19990930807 EP1093539A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Method for oil removal and transport, and device for oil removal and transport
JP2000556704A JP2003527877A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent body having a liquid treatment member having a high suction power and high permeability
CA 2333719 CA2333719C (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member that rapidly distributes acquired liquid
EP19990932011 EP1091887A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Packaged prodcut and device with dispensing means
PCT/US1999/014634 WO2000000701A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates between a port region and an opening
CA 2335589 CA2335589A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transfer device, and use of the device for irrigation
CA 2335639 CA2335639A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Packaged prodcut and device with dispensing means
PCT/US1999/014649 WO2000000142A3 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article exhibiting high sustained acquisition rates
JP2000556725A JP2003525646A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 It expands during liquid acquisition, device for managing fluid comprising a high-speed capture liquid treatment member which contracts during liquid discharge
CA 2334180 CA2334180A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates between a port region and an opening
PCT/US1999/014645 WO2000000406A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Packaged prodcut and device with dispensing means
CA 2335625 CA2335625A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Method for oil removal and transport, and device for oil removal and transport
EP19990930799 EP1099030A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates between a port region and an opening
JP2000556728A JP2003515357A (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorber showing high durability uptake rate
EP19990932012 EP1091713A2 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Absorbent article instantaneously storing liquid in a predefined pattern
PCT/US1999/014643 WO2000000281A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for absorbing or collecting a liquid
PCT/US1999/014647 WO2001010371A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Disposable absorbent article storing liquid in a constant pattern
DE1999608776 DE69908776D1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for handling of body fluids, the body fluids transported by suction
EP19990930806 EP1096996A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Device for absorbing or collecting a liquid

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO2000000130A1 true true WO2000000130A1 (en) 2000-01-06

Family

ID=22267398

Family Applications (2)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/US1998/013521 WO2000000130A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1998-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity
PCT/US1999/014638 WO2000000138A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity

Family Applications After (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/US1999/014638 WO2000000138A1 (en) 1998-06-29 1999-06-29 Liquid transport member for high flux rates against gravity

Country Status (4)

Country Link
EP (1) EP1091711A1 (en)
JP (1) JP2003520698A (en)
CA (1) CA2336205A1 (en)
WO (2) WO2000000130A1 (en)

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US8084491B2 (en) 2000-11-30 2011-12-27 Novodermix International Limited Treatments for wound healing
US9662246B2 (en) 2012-08-01 2017-05-30 Smith & Nephew Plc Wound dressing and method of treatment
US9877872B2 (en) 2011-07-14 2018-01-30 Smith & Nephew Plc Wound dressing and method of treatment

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US6764476B1 (en) 1998-06-29 2004-07-20 The Procter & Gamble Company Absorbent article comprising a liquid handling member that rapidly distributes acquired liquid
EP1112728A1 (en) 1999-12-23 2001-07-04 THE PROCTER &amp; GAMBLE COMPANY Liquid removal system having improved dryness of the user facing surface
EP1110517A1 (en) 1999-12-23 2001-06-27 THE PROCTER &amp; GAMBLE COMPANY Compressible urine collector

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EP0810078A1 (en) * 1996-05-28 1997-12-03 THE PROCTER &amp; GAMBLE COMPANY Method for making fluid distribution materials
WO1998022063A1 (en) * 1996-11-18 1998-05-28 The Procter & Gamble Company Absorbent article having a fluid pumping element
WO1998022068A1 (en) * 1996-11-22 1998-05-28 Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. Heterogeneous surge material for absorbent articles

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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US8084491B2 (en) 2000-11-30 2011-12-27 Novodermix International Limited Treatments for wound healing
US9877872B2 (en) 2011-07-14 2018-01-30 Smith & Nephew Plc Wound dressing and method of treatment
US9662246B2 (en) 2012-08-01 2017-05-30 Smith & Nephew Plc Wound dressing and method of treatment

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
WO2000000138A1 (en) 2000-01-06 application
CA2336205A1 (en) 2000-01-06 application
JP2003520698A (en) 2003-07-08 application
EP1091711A1 (en) 2001-04-18 application

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