Title:
Heater product, system and composition
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A heater product may have a first cavity in which a first part of a heater composition is disposed, a second cavity in which a second part of a heater composition is disposed, and a barrier between the first cavity and the second cavity, such that when the barrier is removed, the first and second parts combine to provide an exothermic reaction. A pull strip may be used to remove the barrier, and at least one reinforcing strip may be used to guide the pull strip. The first part may include calcium oxide and the second part may include water, an reaction-initiation delayer and water-release limiter.



Inventors:
Consoli, Frank J. (Media, PA, US)
Blythe, David A. (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Holme, Theodore L. (Mico, TX, US)
Mariani, Michael L. (Voorhees, NJ, US)
Barbera, Bradley D. (Geneva, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/120307
Publication Date:
01/12/2006
Filing Date:
05/02/2005
Assignee:
Candle Corporation of America (Des Plaines, IL, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
C09K5/18; F24V30/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SUERETH, SARAH ELIZABETH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARSHALL, GERSTEIN & BORUN LLP (233 S. WACKER DRIVE, SUITE 6300, SEARS TOWER, CHICAGO, IL, 60606, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A heater product comprising: a first cavity in which a first part of a heater composition is disposed, the first part comprising calcium oxide; a second cavity in which a second part of a heater composition is disposed, the second part comprising water, an reaction-initiation delayer and water-release limiter; and a barrier between the first cavity and the second cavity, such that when the barrier is removed, the first and second parts combine to provide an exothermic reaction.

2. The heater product according to claim 1, wherein the reaction-initiation delayer comprises sugar.

3. The heater product according to claim 2, wherein the sugar comprises sucrose, glucose or fructose.

4. The heater product according to claim 1, wherein the water-release limiter comprises an absorbent, chemically-inert, thermally-resistant material.

5. The heater product according to claim 4, wherein the water-release limiter comprises perlite.

6. The heater product according to claim 5, wherein the reaction-initiation delayer comprises sugar.

7. The heater product according to claim 6, wherein the ratio of water to calcium oxide, by weight, may vary between 0.15:1 and 1.25:1, the ratio of sugar to water, by weight, may vary between 0:1 and 0.05:1, and the ratio of the perlite to water, by weight, may vary between 0:1 to 0.67:1.

8. The heater product according to claim 7, wherein the ratio of water to calcium oxide, by weight, may vary between 0.2:1 and 0.6:1, the ratio of sugar to water, by weight, may vary between 0.01:1 and 0.02:1, and the ratio of the perlite to water, by weight, may vary between 0.06:1 to 0:0.14.

9. The heater product according to claim 8, wherein the ratio of water to calcium oxide, by weight, may vary between 0.25:1 and 0.35:1, the ratio of sugar to water, by weight, may vary between 0.01:1 and 0.02:1, and the ratio of the perlite to water, by weight, may vary between 0.06:1 to 0:0.14.

10. The heater product according to claim 8, wherein the ratio of water to calcium oxide, by weight, is 0.3:1, the ratio of sugar to water, by weight, is 0.015:1, and the ratio of the perlite to water, by weight, is 0.083:1.

11. The heater product according to claim 10, further comprising preservatives.

12. A heater product comprising: an outer pouch, the outer pouch having a wall with an inner surface that defines an outer pouch cavity and an opening therethrough; an inner pouch disposed within the outer pouch cavity and attached to the outer pouch, the inner pouch having a wall with an inner surface that defines at least one inner pouch cavity and an outer surface; a pull strip with a first portion secured to the outer surface of the inner pouch and a second portion disposed through the opening in the outer pouch; at least one reinforcing strip secured to the outer surface of the inner pouch to guide a tear formed in the wall of the inner pouch when force is applied to the pull strip; a first part of a heater composition disposed in the outer pouch cavity and a second part of a heater composition disposed in the inner pouch cavity, the first and second parts capable of an exothermic reaction when combined.

13. The heater product according to claim 12, further comprising first and second reinforcing strips, the first and second reinforcing strips secured on either side of the pull strip.

14. The heater product according to claim 13, wherein the first and second reinforcing strips are parallel to the pull strip substantially along the first portion.

15. The heater product according to claim 12, wherein the first portion of the pull strip is aligned with and overlaps the at least one reinforcing strip.

16. The heater product according to claim 12, wherein the at least one reinforcing strip comprises at least one strip of reinforced tape applied to the outer surface of the inner pouch.

17. The heater product according to claim 12, wherein the first part comprises calcium oxide and the second part comprises water.

18. The heater product according to claim 17, wherein the second part comprises a reaction-initiation delayer and a water-release limiter.

19. The heater product according to claim 18, wherein the reaction-initiation delayer comprises sugar and the water-release limiter comprises perlite.

20. The heater product according to claim 12, further comprising a sealing mechanism disposed proximate to the opening, the sealing mechanism including first and second pieces each with a slit formed therethrough and the second portion of the pull strip disposed through the slits in the first and second pieces.

21. The heater product according to claim 20, wherein the sealing mechanism includes a third piece disposed between the first and second pieces, the third piece having a slot formed therethrough that is larger than the slits formed in the first and second pieces, the slot defining a cavity to receive material removed from the pull strip.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. Nos. 60/567,878, 60/641,975, and 60/642,652, which were filed May 4, 2004, Jan. 7, 2005, and Jan. 10, 2005, respectively, and which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety in the present application.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure is directed to a heater product, system and composition, and in particular to a flameless heater product, system and composition.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present disclosure, a heater product is provided. The heater product has a first cavity in which a first part of a heater composition is disposed, the first part comprising calcium oxide, a second cavity in which a second part of a heater composition is disposed, the second part including water, an reaction-initiation delayer and water-release limiter, and a barrier between the first cavity and the second cavity, such that when the barrier is removed, the first and second parts combine to provide an exothermic reaction.

According to another aspect of the present disclosure, another heater product is provided. The heater product includes an outer pouch, the outer pouch having a wall with an inner surface that defines an outer pouch cavity and an opening therethrough, an inner pouch disposed within the outer pouch cavity and attached to the outer pouch, the inner pouch having a wall with an inner surface that defines at least one inner pouch cavity and an outer surface, and a pull strip with a first portion secured to the outer surface of the inner pouch and a second portion disposed through the opening in the outer pouch. At least one reinforcing strip is secured to the outer surface of the inner pouch to guide a tear formed in the wall of the inner pouch when force is applied to the pull strip. A first part of a heater composition is disposed in the outer pouch cavity and a second part of a heater composition is disposed in the inner pouch cavity, the first and second parts capable of an exothermic reaction when combined.

Additional aspects of the disclosure are defined by the claims of this patent.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a heater product according to the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view, partially in section, of the heater product of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged, perspective view of a sealing mechanism for the releasing mechanism of the heater product of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of a first embodiment of a heater system, including the heater product of FIGS. 1-3;

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of the embodiment of the heater system of FIG. 4, as assembled, ready to ship;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a heater system, with the heater product removed;

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the heater system of FIG. 5, with the heater product included;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of a heater system similar to that shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a frontal view of the heater system of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a side elevational view of the heater system of FIG. 7;

FIG. 10 is a plan view of the heater system of FIG. 7;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of a heater system, with the heater product removed;

FIG. 12 is a sectional view of the heater system of FIG. 11, with the heater product included;

FIG. 13 is an exploded, perspective view of a fifth embodiment of a heater system, with the heater product removed;

FIG. 14 is a sectional view of the heater system of FIG. 13, with the heater product included;

FIG. 15 is a sectional view of another embodiment of a heater product;

FIG. 16 is a plan view of another embodiment of an inner pouch, with the pull tab removed;

FIG. 17 is a plan view of the inner pouch of FIG. 16, with the pull tab shown;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a heater product;

FIG. 19 is a perspective view, partially in section, of the heater product of FIG. 18;

FIG. 20A is an exploded view of a sealing mechanism for use with the heater product of FIG. 18;

FIG. 20B is a perspective view of the sealing mechanism of FIG. 20A, as assembled;

FIG. 20C is a perspective view of the heater product, in fragmentary section, of the heater product of FIG. 18 and the sealing mechanism of FIG. 20A, as assembled;

FIG. 21 is a plan view, in section, of the inner pouch of the heater product of FIG. 18;

FIG. 22 is a plan view of the inner pouch of the heater product of FIG. 18; and

FIG. 23 is a bottom view of the inner pouch of the heater product of FIG. 18.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Although the following text sets forth a detailed description of numerous different embodiments of the invention, it should be understood that the legal scope of the invention is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this patent. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possible embodiment of the invention since describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, if not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims defining the invention.

It should also be understood that, unless a term is expressly defined in this patent using the sentence “As used herein, the term ‘______’ is hereby defined to mean . . . ” or a similar sentence, there is no intent to limit the meaning of that term, either expressly or by implication, beyond its plain or ordinary meaning, and such term should not be interpreted to be limited in scope based on any statement made in any section of this patent (other than the language of the claims). To the extent that any term recited in the claims at the end of this patent is referred to in this patent in a manner consistent with a single meaning, that is done for sake of clarity only so as to not confuse the reader, and it is not intended that such claim term be limited, by implication or otherwise, to that single meaning. Finally, unless a claim element is defined by reciting the word “means” and a function without the recital of any structure, it is not intended that the scope of any claim element be interpreted based on the application of 35 U.S.C. §112, sixth paragraph.

FIG. 1 illustrates a heater product 20 for use in a heater system 22, five embodiments of which are shown in FIGS. 4-14.

As shown in FIG. 1, the heater product 20 may include an outer pouch 24 having a first end 26 and a second end 28. The outer pouch 24 may include a pouch wall 30, which may be flexible, semi-rigid, rigid, etc., having an outer surface 32 and an inner surface 34, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. The inner surface 34 of the pouch wall 30 may define a cavity 36 in which is disposed an inner pouch 38. The inner surface 34 of the pouch wall 30 may be described as having a first section 40 and a second section 42, which with the pouch 24 disposed as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 4 may be described as an upper section 40 and a lower section 42.

The inner pouch 38 also has a first end 44 and a second end 46. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, the inner pouch 38 also includes a pouch wall 48 having an outer surface 50 and an inner surface 52. Moreover, the inner surface 52 of the pouch wall 48 may be described as having a first (or upper) section 54 and a second (or lower) section 56, with the inner pouch 38 disposed in the orientation illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 4.

It should be noted that designations such as “upper” and “lower” are for ease of discussion only, and are not meant to limit the disclosure in any fashion, for a similar designation may be used if the pouch was inverted with the section 42 being “upper” and the section 40 being “lower” and the section 56 being “upper” and the section 54 being “lower.”

As illustrated in FIG. 2, the wall 48 of the inner pouch 38 may be sealed at both the first and second ends 44, 46. As seen in FIG. 4, the upper and lower sections 54, 56 of the inner surface 52 may also be joined to define at least two cavities, although a single cavity for the inner pouch 38 would also be within the scope of the present disclosure. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, the upper and lower sections 54, 56 of the inner surface 52 may be joined to form two partitions 58, 60 that in turn define three cavities, or chambers, 62, 64, 66 in which a liquid may be disposed, as will described in greater detail below. The cavities 62, 64, 66 may be of equal or unequal size; as shown, the cavity 64 is larger in volume than the cavities 62, 66.

As further illustrated in FIG. 4, the inner surface 34 of the wall 30 of the outer pouch 24 may be joined to itself at the first and second ends 26, 28 of the outer pouch 24. In particular, as shown in FIG. 4, as well as in FIGS. 6, 8, and 10, the inner surface 34 of the outer pouch 24 may be joined at the second end 28 such that the second end 46 of the inner pouch 38 is disposed between the first and second sections 40, 42 of the inner surface 34 of the wall 30. In this fashion, the second end 46 of the inner pouch 38 may be attached to the second end 28 of the outer pouch 24. The first and second sections 40, 42 of the inner surface 34 of the wall 30 may also be joined at the first end 26 to close the first end 26 of the outer pouch 24.

In operation, the contents of the cavities 62, 64, 66 are to be released into the cavity 36. Consequently, the heater product 20 may include a release mechanism 70, which includes a pull strip 72 (which may act as a barrier, as explained in greater detail below), holes 74, 76, and partitions 58, 60 (which may act as barriers, as explained in greater detail below). As will be explained in greater detail below, the release mechanism 70 shown represents merely one possible release mechanism 70 that may be used in the heater product 20 of the present invention.

The release mechanism 70 may now be discussed in greater detail with reference to FIGS. 2 and 4. In particular, the pull strip 72 may have a first end 78 and a second end 80. In between the first end 78 and the second end 80 may be a first section 82, a second section 84, and a third section 86.

The first section 82 of the pull strip 72 overlies the holes 74, 76, preventing the material in cavities 62, 66 from being released into the cavity 36. The first section 82 may be releasably secured to the outer surface 50 of the inner pouch 38 through the use of, for example, a peelable seal, such as a thermally-induced peelable seal. It may not be necessary to secure the entirety of the first section 82 of the pull strip 72 to the outer surface 50 of the inner pouch 38; for example, the first section 82 may be releasably secured to the outer surface 50 only in the area adjacent to the holes 74, 76.

The second section 84 may be connected to the first section 82, and may lie back on top of the first section 82, as best seen in FIG. 4, for example. The second section 84 may also be disposed through an opening 88 in the wall 30 of the outer pouch 24. In fact, a sealing mechanism 90 may be disposed in the opening 88, and the section 84 of the pull strip 72 may be disposed through the sealing mechanism 90. As best seen in FIG. 3, the sealing mechanism 90 may include an inner piece 92 and an outer piece 94, each of which may have a slit formed therethrough (only the slit 96 in the outer piece 94 being visible in FIG. 3) and both of which may be made of, for example, a high-temperature flexible material, such as silicone rubber, polypropylene, low density polyethylene (LDPE), etc. The inner and outer pieces 92, 94 may be sealed to the wall 30 with a sealing mechanism appropriate for the materials which are used to make the inner and outer pieces 92, 94. The section 84 of the pull strip 72 may be disposed through the slits in the pieces 92, 94, which serve to keep the heater composition within the outer pouch 24 during shipment and to wipe the surfaces of the section 84 of the pull strip 72 as the section 84 is removed from the heater product 20.

The third section 86 may terminate in the second end 80 of the pull strip 72. The third section 86 of the pull strip 72 may be outside the outer pouch 24 of the heater product 20, and may include an enlarged region 98. The enlarged region 98 may be included to make it easier for the user of the product 20 to grip the end 80 of the pull strip 72 to apply force to the pull strip 72.

As mentioned above, the release mechanism 70 may include not only the pull strip 72 and the holes 74, 76, but also the partitions 58, 60. In particular, the partitions 58, 60 may include at least a weakened section that will permit materials to pass between the cavity 64 and the cavities 62, 66 after the weakened section has given way. For example, the partition 58 may include a middle section 100 that is weakened relative to side sections 102, 104, and the partition 60 may include a middle section 110 that is weakened relative to side sections 112, 114.

The weakened sections 100, 110 may be defined in a variety of manners. As one example, seals at the weakened sections 100, 110 may not be as resistant to a pressure differential as the sections 102, 104 and 112, 114. As a consequence, a significantly smaller pressure differential experienced across the weakened sections 100, 110 will cause those sections to fail and give way than would cause a similar behavior in sections 102, 104 and 112, 114.

As noted above, the release mechanism 70 described herein is merely one embodiment of such a release mechanism. As one alternative embodiment, the release mechanism may include a pull strip, but rather than having the pull strip expose holes in the wall 48 of the inner pouch 38, the pull strip may cause the wall 48 (which acts as a barrier in this embodiment) to separate along a section attached to the pull strip, and thereby release the contents of the inner pouch 38 into the outer pouch 24. Alternatively, the release mechanism may not be an internal release mechanism. The release mechanism may include a separate tool that may be used to puncture through the outer pouch 24 and the inner pouch 38 and release the contents of the inner pouch 38 into contact with the contents of the outer pouch 24. Moreover, the tool may be provided with the heater product 20 or heater system 22 (such as in the form of a specially-designed tool for such purpose), or the tool may be an implement that is generally available (such as a knife or a screwdriver, for example). As a further alternative, the release mechanism may include one or more seals or sealed apertures defined in the inner pouch 38 in communication with the cavities 62, 66, which seals or sealed apertures (which may act as barriers) may burst under application of sufficient pressure to the outer surface 50 of the inner pouch 38, thus removing the barrier and releasing the contents.

As further examples, there may be variation in the release mechanism 70 described above. For example, while only two holes 74, 76 are shown, the holes 74, 76 may each be replaced with a plurality of holes. Moreover, a plurality of holes may be defined in the wall 48 of the inner pouch 38, in the upper section 54 of the wall 48. These holes may be sealed until the time of release, and they may be of very small size. These holes may permit the contents of the cavity 64 to be released, preferably slowly, into the contents of the outer pouch 24.

The heater product 20 and the heater system 22 may also include mechanisms that cooperate to limit the movement of the heater product 20 relative to the remainder of the heater system 22 when the heater product 20 is assembled with the heater system 22, although such mechanisms are optional. Specifically, the heater product 20 may include holes 120, 122 at the first end 26 of the outer pouch 24 and holes 124, 126 at the second end 28. As best seen in FIG. 4, the heater system 22 may include four anchors (two of which are shown) 130, 134 that may be attached to a base 138 and the holes 120, 122, 124, 126 to thereby limit the movement of the heater product 20 relative to the remainder of the heater system 22. The heater product 20 may be stored separately from the remainder of the system 22, and may only be assembled with the remainder of the system 22, using the anchors 130, 134 for example, at the time of activation.

As shown in the system 22 illustrated in FIG. 4, the anchors 130, 134 may be shaped to be disposed about a tray 140 that may be disposed into the base 138. In particular, the tray 140 may have an L-shaped edge 142 that runs about the periphery of the tray 140 (see FIG. 3). The anchors 130, 134 may each have a first (or upper) section 144 that may be shaped to be disposed about the L-shaped edge 142. The anchors 130, 134 may also each have a second (or lower) section 146 that may be shaped to be disposed through one of the holes 120, 122, 124, 126. Although the lower sections 146 of, for example, the anchor 130 and the anchor 134 may have a different shape, the anchors may have the same shape as well.

Additionally, formed in the wall 30 of the outer pouch 24 is a plurality of holes 148 used for venting. The vent holes 148 are covered with a patch 149 that is releasably attached to the outer surface 32 of the wall 30 of the outer pouch 24. The patch 149 prevents the materials disposed in the cavity 36 from being released through the vent holes 148. As explained below, the patch 149 may be removed prior to activation; alternatively, the patch 149 may separate from the outer surface 32 under the influence of the thermal energy, pressure, steam, etc. generated in the outer pouch 24 after activation without the involvement of the user (self-opening or self-releasing).

Alternatively, a valve may be used in place of or in combination with the plurality of vent holes 148. As one such example, a valve may be used that makes an audible noise (e.g., a “whistle”) with the build up of pressure, steam, etc. in the heater product 20. The valve may thus serve as an indicator, for purposes of safety or to indicate that the product is “on” or “off”, for example.

Finally, as shown in FIG. 4, the heater system 22 may include a food tray 150 and a lid 152 disposed on the food tray 150. The food tray 150 may be disposed (or nestled) within the tray 140, and may have a lip 154 that cooperates with the edge 142 to keep the food tray 150 disposed over the heater product 20. While there may exist a slight spacing or a gap between the food tray 150 and the heater pouch 20, either initially or throughout the heating process, it is believed that heat transfer may be enhanced if the food tray 150 is in contact with the heater pouch 20.

As for the contents of the outer and inner pouches 24, 38, the structure of the heater product 20 is not limited to use with a particular type of chemical system, nor is the chemical system discussed herein limited to use in the heater product 20 described above. The heater product 20 and the chemical system enclosed therein as disclosed below may be useful separate and apart from the combination discussed in greater detail herein. For example, while the heater product 20 described above has outer and inner pouches 24, 38, each of which contains one part of a two-part system, explained in greater detail below, inner pouch 38 may be removed entirely, and still the two-part system discussed below may be used, with the outer pouch 24 containing one part of the two-part system and the second part of the two-part system being introduced into the outer pouch 24 by puncturing the outer pouch and pouring the second part into the outer pouch 24 or by being absorbed through the outer pouch 24.

Therefore, according to one embodiment of this disclosure, a two-part heater composition may be disposed in the outer and inner pouches 24, 38, with the first part of the two-part heater composition initially disposed in the inner pouch 38 and the second part of the two-part heater composition initially disposed in the cavity 36 between the outer pouch 24 and the inner pouch 38. When the first part is released from the inner pouch 38, it comes in contact with the second part, and an exothermic reaction takes place.

The first part in the inner pouch 38 may include water (H2O), and the outer pouch 24 may include a basic anhydride, such as calcium oxide (CaO) or calcium chloride (CaCl2). The outer pouch 24 may also include an acidic anhydride, such as phosphorous pentoxide (P2O5), in addition to the basic anhydride. The first part in the inner pouch 38 may also include at least one chemical or composition that delays the initiation of the reaction when the water is released into contact with the calcium oxide. The first part in the inner pouch 38 may thus include sugar, such as sucrose, glucose, or fructose, for example. The first part in the inner pouch 38 may further include at least one chemical or composition that limits the rate at which water is released to the calcium oxide, although this may alternatively be provided by, for example, a semi-permeable membrane that may vary its permeability according to solubility, pressure and/or temperature. For example, this chemical or composition may be an absorbent, chemically-inert, thermally-resistant material, such as an absorbent, mineral-based, chemically-inert, thermally-resistant material. In this regard, the first part in the inner pouch 38 may include expanded perlite (“perlite”) and/or vermiculite, for example, which material may or may not be pre-moistened. Other absorbent materials, such as charcoal and wood flour, may also be used. The first part in the inner pouch 38 may also include other chemicals or compositions that may or may be not important to the reaction or the components of the reactive system. For example, the first part in the inner pouch 38 may include a preservative for the sugar used to delay the initiation of the exothermic reaction.

The ratio of the chemicals or compositions in the two-part system described herein may have a considerable degree of variation therein. For example, the ratio of water to calcium oxide, by weight, may vary between 0.15:1 and 1.25:1. Moreover, while a material such as perlite may be used, it need not be used; consequently, the ratio of perlite (in a moisture-free or bone-dry state) to water, by weight, may vary between 0:1 and 0.67:1. Likewise, while a material such as sugar may be used, it need not be used; hence, the ratio of sugar to water, by weight, may vary between 0:1 and 0.05:1. Factors that may influence the ratios used may include, among others, the heater product used, the heater system used, and the amount of material (food mass) to be warmed. It is believed that, relative to the amount of the material to be warmed, a direct relationship exists between the amount of material to be warmed and the amount of water and calcium oxide required; i.e., a greater amount of food mass requires more water and calcium oxide to be used.

According to one group of embodiments, useful with the heater product 20 discussed above and below, the ratio of water to calcium oxide, by weight, may vary between 0.2:1 and 0.6:1, and may particularly vary between 0.25:1 and 0.35:1. Moreover, the ratio of perlite (in a moisture-free or bone-dry state) to water, by weight, may vary between 0.06:1 and 0.14:1. Further, the ratio of sugar to water, by weight, may vary between 0.01:1 and 0.02:1. While the proportions of the chemicals and compositions used may vary within this group, one embodiment according to this disclosure uses 600 g of calcium oxide, 180 g of water, 15 g of perlite, and 2.7 g of sugar to produce a sufficient amount of thermal energy to maintain the temperature of 2 kg of food mass (e.g., chili) in an aluminum tray for upwards of one hour. It has also been found, according to another embodiment of this system, that use of 1200 g of calcium oxide, 360 g of water, 30 g of perlite and 5.4 g of sugar produces a sufficient amount of thermal energy to maintain the temperature of 2 kg of food mass in an aluminum tray for upwards of two hours. According to still another embodiment of this system, it has been further found that use of 750 g of calcium oxide, 225 g of water, 18.75 g of perlite and 3.375 g of sugar produces a sufficient amount of thermal energy to maintain the temperature of 2 kg of food mass in an aluminum tray for upwards of two hours. This further embodiment also included certain preservatives (0.4 g of citric acid (anhydrous) 99%, 0.2 g of sodium benzoate 99%, and 0.2 g of potassium sorbate 99%).

Other embodiments of the composition are possible.

For example, it has been found that suitable amounts of heat (for example, to maintain the temperature of 2 kg of food mass for approximately 45-50 minutes) may be produced when 200 g of calcium oxide is combined with a liquid component that includes 100 g of water and 1.5 g of sugar, the ratio of water to calcium oxide being 0.5:1 and the ratio of sugar to water being 0.015:1. Similar compositions using the same ratio of calcium oxide, water and sugar have also been tested and found useful, such as 400 g calcium oxide, 200 g water, and 3 g sugar; 420 g calcium oxide, 210 g water, and 3.15 g sugar; 450 g calcium oxide, 225 g water, and 3.38 g sugar; 500 g calcium oxide, 250 g water, and 3.75 g sugar; and 800 g calcium oxide, 400 g water, and 6 g sugar.

Additionally, it has been found that suitable amounts of heat (for example, to maintain the temperature of 2 kg of food mass for approximately one hour) may be produced when 500 g of calcium oxide is combined with a liquid component that includes 125 g of water and 1.56 g of sugar, the ratio of water to calcium oxide being 0.25:1 and the ratio of sugar to water being 0.012:1. It has also been found that suitable amounts of heat may be produced when 600 g of calcium oxide is combined with a liquid component that includes 150 g of water and 2.25 g of sugar, the ratio of water to calcium oxide being 0.25:1 and the ratio of sugar to water being 0.015:1.

It has further been found that suitable amounts of heat (for example, to maintain the temperature of 2 kg of food mass for approximately 90 minutes) may be produced when 600 g of calcium oxide is combined with a liquid component that includes 180 g of water, 2.7 g of sugar and 15 g of perlite, the ratio of water to calcium oxide being 0.3:1, the ratio of sugar to water being 0.015:1, and the ratio of perlite to water being 0.08. Similar success was found with similar amounts of calcium oxide, water and sugar and varying amounts of perlite, including 17.5 g (0.10:1), 20 g (0.11:1), 25 g (0.14:1) and 30 g (0.17:1). Suitable amounts of heat were also produced when 1200 g of calcium oxide is combined with a liquid component that includes 360 g of water, 5.4 g of sugar and 40 g of perlite, the ratio of water to calcium oxide being 0.3:1, the ratio of sugar to water being 0.015:1, and the ratio of perlite to water being 0.11:1.

It has also been found that suitable amounts of heat (for example, to maintain the temperature of 2 kg of food mass for approximately 90 minutes) may be produced when 600 g of calcium oxide is combined with a liquid component that includes 180 g of water, 9 g of sugar and 20 g of perlite, the ratio of water to calcium oxide being 0.3:1, the ratio of sugar to water being 0.050:1, and the ratio of perlite to water being 0.11:1.

To assemble the heater product 20, the inner pouch 38 may be initially formed with ends 44, 46 closed and the pull strip 72 disposed over the holes 74, 76, but with at least one side seam 158 open. A mixture of water, perlite and sugar may be disposed into each of the three cavities 62, 64, 66. According to one embodiment, the cavities 62, 64, 66 are filled with unequal proportions of the mixture; for example, the proportions for the cavities 62, 64, 66 may be 20:60:20. The side seam 158 may then be sealed. The second and third sections 84, 86 of the pull strip 72 may then be disposed through the sealing mechanism 90, which may already be fitted in the opening 88 of the wall 30 of the outer pouch 24. The cavity 36 may then be filled with calcium oxide. The end 28 of the outer pouch 24 may then be sealed with the end 46 of the inner pouch 38 inside the seal, thereby attaching the inner pouch 38 to the outer pouch 24.

It may be noted that, as shown, the orientation of the inner pouch 38 relative to the outer pouch 24 places the holes 74, 76 facing upwards. It is believed that this orientation of the holes 74, 76 may limit pooling of the material in the inner pouch 38 beneath the inner pouch 38 after release. Additionally, as shown, the inner pouch 38 is positioned such that it is proximate to the bottom of the outer pouch 24. It is believed that this orientation of the inner pouch 38 relative to the outer pouch 24 prevents the inner pouch and/or the contents of the inner pouch 38 from acting as an insulator, limiting exchange of thermal energy with the food tray 150. Moreover, the release mechanism 70 is disposed on top of the inner pouch 38 as shown. It is believe that this orientation of the release mechanism 70 may limit the resistance that the calcium oxide may present relative to removal of the release mechanism 70 from the heater product 20.

To assemble the heater product 20 with the remainder of the heater system 22, the anchors 130 may be disposed through the holes 120, 122 in the first end 26 of the outer pouch 24, with the anchors 130 already attached to the tray 140 and the product 20 oriented as shown in FIG. 4 with the opening 88 in the wall 30 of the outer pouch 24 disposed facing the bottom of the tray 140. The anchors 134 may then be disposed through the holes 124, 126 in the second end 28 of the pouch 24. The food tray 150 may then be disposed so that the lip 154 of the food tray 150 abuts and rests on the edge 142 of the tray 140.

To activate the heater product 20, the user may first remove the patch 149 from over the vent holes 148. The user may then grasp the enlarged region 98 of the pull strip 72, and may apply an outward force to the pull strip 72 until at least the holes 74, 76 have been exposed. According to one embodiment of the disclosure, force may be applied to the pull strip 72 until the entire pull strip 72 has been removed from the heater product 20.

As the water/perlite/sugar mixture is released into the calcium oxide, the exothermic reaction may be initially delayed by the presence of the sugar, to permit, for example, the user to assemble the heater product 20 with the remainder of the heater system 22 (e.g., by disposing the heater product 20 into the tray 140 and disposing the tray 150 on top of the tray 140 and the heater product 20). After the initial release of water into contact with the calcium oxide, further release of water to the calcium oxide may occur in a controlled fashion by virtue of, for example, the presence of the perlite and the multiple cavities or chambers 62, 64, 66 of the inner pouch 38. That is, it is believed that, as the perlite material is heated, the perlite material may release moisture in the form of steam into contact with the calcium oxide in the outer pouch 24. Additionally, the thermal energy generated by the release of moisture in contact with the calcium oxide, may cause the water/perlite/sugar mixture in the second cavity 64, which has remained sealed thus far, to increase in temperature. It is presently believed that, as the temperature of the mixture increases, given that the amount of mixture present is constant and the volume of the cavity 64 is relatively constant, the pressure in the cavity 64 increases and causes a pressure differential across the weakened sections 100, 110. It is also believed that an increase in pressure in the cavity 64 may also be caused by the interaction between the trays 140, 150 and the heater product 20. Further, it is believed that the seals that form the partitions 58, 60 may begin to weaken because of the increase in temperature. Eventually, the weakened section 100, 110 of at least one of the partitions 58, 60 may fail and give way, causing the material in the second cavity 64 to be released, preferably slowly, into contact with the calcium oxide in the cavity 36 via at least one of the cavities 62, 66. As an alternate path, the material in the second cavity 64 may also be released via the plurality of small holes defined in the upper section 54 of the wall 48, as discussed above.

It is believed that by using a system in which water and water vapor are released in a controlled fashion into contact with the calcium oxide, undesirable spiking of the temperature of the food may be avoided. That is, it is believed that the gradual release of the water to the calcium oxide, through the use of moisture-absorbent material, for example perlite, and the sequential release of the first part of the two-part system from the cavities 62, 64, 66 may cause undesirable spiking of the temperature of the food to be avoided, which may have the additional consequence of avoiding charring of the food. It is also believed that the gradual release of thermal energy may improve the efficiency of the exchange of thermal energy between the heater product 20 and the food tray 150. Further, it may improve the overall efficiency of the system 22 by minimizing the energy losses to the production of vented steam.

The reaction between the water and the calcium oxide continues for some amount of time, during which time thermal energy may be supplied to the food in the food tray 150. The thermal energy may be supplied to the food in the tray 150 along a first path defined by contact between the heater pouch 20 and the food tray 150. However, thermal energy may also be supplied to the food in the food tray 150 as a consequence of the release of, for example, steam from the heater product 20, even if the heater product 20 is not in direct contact with the food tray 150. Because the indirect exchange of thermal energy through steam may not be as efficient as the direct exchange of thermal energy through contact, it may be preferred to partially close the vent holes 148 through contact with the underside of the food tray 150 to prevent steam losses.

Having thus discussed the structure, assembly and operation of an embodiment of the heater product 20 and heater system 22, the further embodiments of the present disclosure are discussed.

FIGS. 4-15 show various alternative embodiments of the heater system 22 using a heater product 20, as previously described. In discussing these additional embodiments, similar elements will be designated using similar reference numerals with the use of a single prime for the embodiment shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, a double prime for the embodiment shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, and a triple prime for the embodiment shown in FIGS. 13 and 14. While the heater product 20 is common to all four embodiments of the heater system 22, this need not necessarily be the case, and the structure of the heater product 20 and the composition of the materials disposed in the heater product 20 may vary between and among the various embodiments.

While the embodiment shown in FIG. 4 has a base 138 into which a plurality of trays 140, 150 are nested, with the heater product 20 disposed between the trays 140, 150, the embodiment of the heater system 22′ shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 includes a different mechanism for disposing the heater product 20′ proximate to the food tray 150′. As shown, the base 138′ has an opening 170 formed in the side, as well as an opening in the top through which the food tray 150′ is disposed. Into the opening 170 is disposed a drawer 172, which can be moved relative to the base 138′ between an open state, as shown in FIG. 5, and a closed state, as shown in FIG. 6. The drawer 170 has side walls 174 and a bottom 176, which define a receptacle 178 into which a heater product 20′ may be placed. Rather than using the clip-like anchors 130, 134 shown in FIG. 4, anchors 180 (two of which are shown in FIG. 6) are used that are attached to the side walls 174. The anchors 180 cooperate with the holes 120, 122, 124, 126 as the anchors 130, 134 did in the previous embodiment.

The embodiment of FIGS. 7-10 is similar to that shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 in that a drawer is included in the base, and is moveable between an open state and a closed state. The embodiment of FIGS. 7-10 differs from that shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 in that a lid is included above the base, covering the food tray to prevent loss of heat.

The embodiment of FIGS. 11 and 12 shows a heater system 22″ wherein the heater product 20″ is used with a conventional chafer dish arrangement. In this embodiment, anchors 130″, 134″ (two of which are shown) similar to those used in FIG. 4 are included to limit the movement of the heater product 20″ relative to the remainder of the system 22″. Further, a thin platform, or spacer, 190 may be disposed under the heater product 20″ to ensure the proximity between the heater product 20″ and the food tray 150″.

The embodiment of FIGS. 13 and 14 shows a heater system 22′″, in the form of a take-out container, wherein the heater product 20′″ is used with a nested arrangement of trays, as is shown in FIG. 4. However, unlike the nested arrangement of trays shown in FIG. 4, anchors 200 are attached, as in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, to the side walls 202 of the tray 140′″ that is disposed into the base 138′″. For that matter, the trays need not be nested, but instead stacked one on top of the other to form a space in between into which a heater product 20′″ may be disposed.

Also illustrated, in FIG. 15, is an alternative embodiment of the heater product 20, which will be designated with the reference numeral 20A. Unlike the heater product 20, the heater product 20A may include an outer tray 210 and an inner pouch 212. The outer tray 210 may have an opening 214 over which a lid 216 may be disposed. The outer tray 210 may have a lip 218 that extends about the periphery of the tray 210 and about which an edge 220 of the lid 216 may be secured, by crimping, for example. In particular, the inner pouch 212 may have a tail section 222 that is secured to the outer tray 210, by securing the tail section 222 between the tray 210 and the lid 216. The heater product 20A may also include a release mechanism 224, which may be of the pull-strip variety that causes a wall of the inner pouch 212 to separate to permit materials within the inner pouch 212 to be released into the outer tray 210.

In assembly, the inner pouch 212 may be filled with the first part (e.g., water/sugar/perlite) of the two-part exothermic composition referenced above, although other compositions and system may be used. The inner pouch 212 may then be disposed in the outer tray 210, with the tail section 222 disposed on the lip 218 of the tray 210. The outer tray 210 may then be filled with other part (e.g., calcium oxide and/or phosphorous pentoxide) of the two-part system. The lid 216 may then be disposed onto the outer tray 210, with the release mechanism (pull strip) 224 fed through an opening 226 in the lid 216. The edge 220 of the lid 216 may then be crimped about the lip 218 of the tray 210, thereby closing the tray 210 and securing the pouch 212 to the tray 210.

In operation, an end of the release mechanism 224 may be grasped by the user, and a force applied to separate or tear the wall of the inner pouch 212 along a line of attachment of the release mechanism 224 with an outer surface 228 of the inner pouch 212. The tearing or separation of the inner pouch 212 may cause the contents of the inner pouch 212 to be released into the material in the outer tray 210.

It may be noted that because the outer tray 210 may be made of a more rigid material than the outer pouch 24 of the heater product 20, it may not be necessarily to utilize a system of anchors, as shown in the embodiments of the system 22, 22′, 22″, 22′″. Moreover, the rigidity of the product 20A may also assist in maintaining a consistent area of contact between the product 20A and a food tray disposed on top of the product 20A, for example.

Additionally illustrated, in FIGS. 16 and 17, is an alternative embodiment of the inner pouch 38 of the heater product 20, the alternative embodiment being designated with the reference numeral 38A. The inner pouch 38A may be assembled with the other components of the heater product as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 relative to inner pouch 38, and as explained in greater detail below.

Unlike the inner pouch 38, the inner pouch 38A may have a single cavity 250 that may be formed by sealing (e.g., heat sealing) the inner pouch 38A along ends 252, 254 and 256, 258. Also unlike the inner pouch 38, the inner pouch 38A has no holes 74, 76, but instead relies upon rupture of the inner pouch wall 260 to release the contents therefrom.

In particular, a pull tab, or strip, 262 may be fixedly secured (e.g., with one or more heat seals) to an outer surface 264 of the inner pouch wall 260, which pull tab 262 may depend from the heater product in the same or similar fashion to the pull tab 72 illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. Strips 266, 268 of reinforcing material (such as, for example, SCOTCH-brand Reinforced Filament Tape #8981, available from 3M of St. Paul, Minn.) may also be fixedly secured to the outer surface 264 of the inner pouch wall 262. The first strip of reinforcing material 266 may be disposed such that it is axially aligned with the pull tab 262, while the strips 268 may be disposed at an angle to a line that passes through the pull tab 262 and the first strip 266.

In use, force may be applied to the pull tab 262 causing it to move from the left to the right, across the inner pouch 38A as shown in FIGS. 16 and 17. This, in turn, may cause the inner pouch wall 260 to rupture. The first strip 266 of reinforcing material, which may be partially overlapped by the pull tab 262, may guide the tear in the inner pouch wall 260 initiated by the force applied to the pull tab 262 so as to limit the likelihood that the tear will be too small to release the contents of the inner pouch 38A. On the other hand, the strips 268 may guide the tear in the inner pouch wall 260 to limit the likelihood that the tear will be too large such that the user will be unable to remove the pull tab 262 and associated portion of the ruptured inner pouch wall 260 from the heater product.

FIGS. 18-23 illustrates an alternative heater product 20B, with an outer pouch 300 similar to that shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 and an inner pouch 314 similar to that shown in FIGS. 16 and 17.

As shown in FIG. 18, the heater product 20B may include an outer pouch 300 (made of, for example, foil on a linear low density polyethylene sealant) having a first end 302 and a second end 304. As shown in FIG. 19, the outer pouch 300 may include a pouch wall 306, which may be flexible, semi-rigid, rigid, etc., having an outer surface 308 and an inner surface 310 (see FIG. 20C). The inner surface 310 of the pouch wall 306 may define a cavity 312 in which is disposed an inner pouch 314. The inner surface 310 of the pouch wall 306 may be described as having a first section and a second section, which with the pouch 300 disposed as illustrated in FIGS. 18 and 19 may be described as an upper section and a lower section.

The inner pouch 314 (made of, for example, polyester on foil on a polyethylene sealant) also has a first end 320 and a second end 322. As shown in the Figures, the inner pouch 314 also includes a pouch wall 324 having an outer surface 326 (FIG. 18) and an inner surface 328 (FIG. 21). Moreover, the inner surface 328 of the pouch wall 324 may be described as having a first (or upper) section and a second (or lower) section.

It should be noted that designations such as “upper” and “lower” are for ease of discussion only, and are not meant to limit the disclosure in any fashion, for a similar designation may be used if the pouch was inverted with the second section of the outer pouch being “upper” and the first section being “lower” and the second section of the inner pouch being “upper” and the first section being “lower.”

As illustrated in FIG. 21, the wall 324 of the inner pouch 314 may be sealed at both the first and second ends 320, 322. Thus, similar to the embodiment of the inner pouch 38A shown in FIGS. 16 and 17, the inner pouch 314 has a single cavity 334. Unlike the embodiment of inner pouch 38A, the seals at the first and second ends 320, 322 may have a chevron-shaped section, which chevron-shaped section may assist in lowering the pull force required to tear the wall 324 of the inner pouch 314.

As further illustrated in FIG. 19, the inner surface 310 of the wall 306 of the outer pouch 300 may be joined to itself at the first and second ends 302, 304 of the outer pouch 300. In particular, as shown in FIG. 19, the inner surface 310 of the outer pouch 300 may be joined at the second end 304 such that the second end 322 of the inner pouch 314 is disposed between the first and second sections of the inner surface 310 of the wall 306. In this fashion, the second end 322 of the inner pouch 314 may be attached to the second end 304 of the outer pouch 300. The first and second sections of the inner surface 310 of the wall 306 may also be joined at the first end 302 to close the first end 302 of the outer pouch 300.

The outer and inner pouches 300, 314 may also be attached together in other ways. For example, the outer surface 326 of the inner pouch 314 may have adhesive strips 339 attached thereto, as shown in FIG. 23. The adhesive strips may be used to attach the outer an inner pouches 300, 314 together to limit the space beneath the inner pouch 314 between the outer pouch 300 and the inner pouch 314.

In operation, the contents of the cavity 334 are to be released into the cavity 312. Consequently, the heater product 20B may include a release mechanism 340, which includes a pull strip 342 and strips of reinforcing material 344, 346. In this regard, the inner pouch 314 is similar to the inner pouch 38A shown in FIGS. 16 and 17.

The release mechanism may now be discussed in greater detail with reference to FIGS. 19 and 22. In particular, the pull strip 342 (made of, for example, nylon laminated to a low density polyethylene sealant) may have a first end 348 and a second end 350. In between the first end 348 and the second end 350 may be a first section 352, a second section 354, and a third section 356.

The first section 352 of the pull strip 342 may be fixedly secured (e.g., with one or more heat seals) to the outer surface 326 of the inner pouch wall 324. The strips 344, 346 of reinforcing material (such as, for example, SCOTCH-brand Reinforced Filament Tape #8981, available from 3M of St. Paul, Minn.) may also be fixedly secured to the outer surface 326 of the inner pouch wall 324. The first strip of reinforcing material 344 may be disposed such that it is axially aligned with the pull strip 342, while the strips 346 may be disposed parallel to and slightly offset from a line that passes through the pull strip 342 and the first strip 344. There also exists a gap between the first strip 344 and the second strips 346.

In use, force may be applied to the pull strip 342. This, in turn, may cause the inner pouch wall 324 to rupture. The first strip 344 of reinforcing material, which may be totally overlapped by the pull strip 342 (see FIG. 19, only a portion of the pull strip 342 is shown in FIG. 22 to improve clarity), may guide the tear in the inner pouch wall 324 initiated by the force applied to the pull tab 342 so as to limit the likelihood that the tear will be too small to release the contents of the inner pouch 314. On the other hand, the strips 346 may guide the tear in the inner pouch wall 324 to limit the likelihood that the tear will be too large such that the user will be unable to remove the pull strip 342 and associated portion of the ruptured inner pouch wall 324 from the heater product.

The second section 354 may be connected to the first section 352, and may lie back on top of the first section 352, as best seen in FIG. 19, for example. The second section 354 may also be disposed through an opening 360 in the wall 306 of the outer pouch 300. In fact, a sealing mechanism 362 (see FIGS. 20A-20C) may be disposed beneath the opening 360, and the section 354 of the pull strip 342 may be disposed through the sealing mechanism 362 and then the opening 360.

As best seen in FIG. 20A, the sealing mechanism 362 may include a first piece 364, a second piece 366 and a third piece 368, although the mechanism may be formed as a one or two-piece mechanism as well. The first piece 364 and the second piece 368 may have slits 370, 372 formed therethrough, while the middle piece 364 may have a larger slot 374 formed therethrough. All three pieces 364, 366, 368 may be made of, for example, low density polyethylene (LDPE). The three pieces 362, 364, 368 may be joined together, for example through the use of fasteners, such as staples, as shown in FIG. 20B. As shown in FIG. 20C, the assembly of pieces 362, 364, 366 may then be attached to the inner surface 310 of the wall 306 through the use of an attachment patch 376, as shown, the attachment patch 376 also having a slit (not shown) formed therethrough. In operation, the cavity defined by the slot 374 may act as a “catch” to receive any material that is not removed from the strip 342 by the third piece 368, but that is removed by the first piece 362.

The third section 356 may terminate in the second end 350 of the pull strip 342. The third section 356 of the pull strip 342 may be outside the outer pouch 300 of the heater product 20B, and may include an enlarged region 380. The enlarged region 380 may be included to make it easier for the user of the product 20B to grip the end 350 of the pull strip 342 to apply force to the pull strip 342.

The embodiment of heater product 20B may also differ from that shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in that the vent holes 148 have been replaced with a number of pinholes 390 (see FIG. 18). In fact, the several hundred pinholes may be made in the wall 306 of the outer pouch 300. These pinholes 390 may permit steam to escape from the outer pouch 300 during operation. While the holes 390 should be small enough to prevent the escape of materials from the outer pouch 300, the holes 390 (and the opening 360) may be covered by a removable adhesive label that prevents loss of material in shipment and may be removed prior to activation.