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Tuesday, December 8, 1998 Published at 18:36 GMT


Sci/Tech

A groovy kind of pot

The secret is under the lip of the spout


Damini Kumar demonstrates her pot on BBC News 24
Soggy tablecloths could soon be a thing of the past thanks to the development of a non-drip teapot.

The new design features a simple groove on the underside of the spout to stop the tea dribbling down the outside of the pot.


[ image: Milk, no dribbles please]
Milk, no dribbles please
It is the brainchild of a London woman who has filed a patent on the design she developed while completing a masters at South Bank University.

The announcement of the non-drip pot is yet another fillip for the drinkers of tea - the UK's favourite beverage.

Already this year, researchers at Bristol University have explained the maths behind the perfectly dunked biscuit. And only last week, a professor from the University of East Anglia (UEA) revealed precisely why tea has that infuriating habit of running down the spout and flooding the saucer.

Dribbling phenomenon


[ image: Dribbles fall away from sharp edges]
Dribbles fall away from sharp edges
But Damini Kumar, 23, has gone much further in her research than the UEA professor. Not only has she explained the dribbling phenomenon, she has also produced a number of prototype pots to counteract the problem.

She got her inspiration from looking at windowsills which are plagued by a similar dribble hazard. With sills, rainwater is the problem. Without preventative measures it would run back along the underside of the wood or concrete into the wall, potentially causing damage.

"With windowsills, the problem was solved by cutting a rectangular groove underneath," says Kumar. "The groove is too steep for the water to flow over and the water falls directly from the groove downwards.

"This is what led me to put a grove on the underside of the teapot spout."

The teapot has several other features to improve the teatime experience:

  • Long spout - This prevents liquid surges, ensuring a smooth flow of tea down the spout and into the cup.
  • Raised lip - The groove on the underside of the lip is mirrored by a raised edge inside the lip. This interior edge acts as a barrier to hold back any potential drips when the pouring motion is completed.
  • Ergonomic handle - Special indentations on the pot make it easy to hold using one or both hands - left handed or right handed.
  • Tea leaf/bag container - The tea is housed in a container which sits inside the top of the pot. This stops leaves or bags blocking the entrance to the spout and interrupting the smooth flow of liquid. The lid also fits snugly into place to prevent it falling into your cup!

The design features are of particular relevance to ceramic teapots which, because of the glazing process, cannot be made to have very sharp edges - a factor known to reduce dribbling.

Student project


[ image: Many design features]
Many design features
Chris Dowlen, the South Bank lecturer who set Kumar onto the project as part of her engineering product design course, says it now requires a company to come forward and back-up the excellent research.

Like many inventions, the pot has received an apathetic response from British industry.

"What we need is for someone to come along and have a look at it and say 'yes, this is something we'd like to put on the market'. We'd like to see it go from being just a student project into something people can use."


[ image: Kumar: Needs backing]
Kumar: Needs backing
Kumar says the pot would be easy to produce. "It has been designed for mass manufacture. I didn't want to make something which couldn't be made from a normal four-piece mould."

"A lot of people haven't taken me seriously to be totally honest.

"It has been difficult. I tried for some time and then gave up for a bit."

The patent which has been filed is not so much for the pot as the pouring technology, which has a wide range of applications.



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