05171545 cites 7 patents.
An apparatus and method for decontaminating contaminated microspheres of a patient support system employing a fluidizing medium to fluidize the microspheres to provide support for the patient, includes a tank for containing the microspheres. The tank includes a diffuser mounted inside the tank to form a plenum in the bottom of the tank. A rigid shell surrounds heat-insulating material around the outside of the tank. A recirculation channel is defined in the shell. A cover seals the tank. An air heater member and a gas blower provide hot air to fluidize the microspheres inside the tank. A valve permits a heating mode of operation, a cooling mode of operation, and a holding temperature mode of operation. The valve is switched between modes by action of a solenoid or a motor. A temperature probe monitors the temperature inside of the tank. A control circuit controls the air heater, the valve, and the gas blower according to a predetermined timed sequence of actuation. The monitored temperatures are recorded to provide a hard record of same.
The method includes sieving the contaminated microspheres before placing them into the container and fluidizing them with heated air until a predetermined temperature is maintained for a predetermined time. The heated air is recirculated. The decontaminated microspheres are cooled by introducing ambient air into the tank and expelling the hot air from the tank. The heating of the gas is discontinued when the holding temperature is attained and resumed when the temperature falls below the holding temperature.