Title:
Packing Method and Apparatus for the Transport of Asphalt at Ambient Temperature
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention discloses an apparatus and method for packaging, cooling and transporting asphalt at ambient temperature. The packaging of the asphalt can be melted and integrated with the asphalt by the end user providing a beneficial additive to improve the characteristics of the asphalt.



Inventors:
Suarez, Michael (Miami Beach, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/757447
Publication Date:
12/04/2008
Filing Date:
06/04/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D85/804
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHEUNG, CHUN HOI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHRISTOPHER J. VANDAM, P.A. (19600 NE 21 Ct., MIAMI, FL, 33179, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for asphalt transport comprising: a. A bag assembly; b. A liner assembly; Where said liner assembly is nested inside said bag assembly and said liner assembly is filled with asphalt.

2. An apparatus for asphalt transport such as disclosed in claim 1 where: a. said bag assembly is made from made of a polymer material with a melting point below 350° F. and can be selected from the group of polyester, polyethylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl or polypropylene fabric; and b. said liner assembly is made from made of a polymer material with a melting point below 350° F. and can be selected from the group of polyester, polyethylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl or polypropylene film; and

3. An apparatus for asphalt transport as disclosed in claim 1 where: a. said liner assembly is made from a petrol based material with a softening point above 180° F. and a melting point below 350° F.; and b. said bag assembly is made from a petrol based material with a softening point above 180° F. and a melting point below 350° F.

4. A method for using an apparatus for asphalt transport such as in claim 1 comprising: a. A rack dimensioned to contain a bag assembly and/or a liner assembly; b. Filling said bag assembly and/or liner assembly with heated viscous asphalt; c. Allowing said asphalt to cool to a solid while remaining in said rack; d. Transporting the solidified asphalt at ambient temperature.

5. A method for using an apparatus for asphalt transport such as in claim 2 comprising: a. A rack dimensioned to contain a bag assembly and/or a liner assembly; b. Filling said bag assembly and/or liner assembly with heated viscous asphalt; c. Allowing said asphalt to cool to a solid while remaining in said rack; d. Transporting the solidified asphalt at ambient temperature.

6. A method for using an apparatus for asphalt transport such as in claim 3 comprising: a. A rack dimensioned to contain a bag assembly and/or a liner assembly; b. Filling said bag assembly and/or liner assembly with heated viscous asphalt; c. Allowing said asphalt to cool to a solid while remaining in said rack; d. Transporting the solidified asphalt at ambient temperature.

7. A method for using an apparatus for asphalt transport such as in claim 4 further comprising melting and combining the bag assembly and/or liner assembly with the asphalt when reheating the asphalt to a liquid state before use.

8. A method for using an apparatus for asphalt transport such as in claim 5 further comprising melting and combining the bag assembly and/or liner assembly with the asphalt when reheating the asphalt to a liquid state before use.

9. A method for using an apparatus for asphalt transport such as in claim 6 further comprising melting and combining the bag assembly and/or liner assembly with the asphalt when reheating the asphalt to a liquid state before use.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to asphalt, and more particularly, to a method and apparatus for the transport of asphalt at ambient temperature with the added value of having the option to use the packaging itself as a valuable additive to enhance the asphalt's characteristics.

2. Description of the Related Art

Several designs for bulk containers have been designed in the past. None of them, however, include a method for receiving, cooling and transporting asphalt and then being able to use the packaging itself to supply an additive to enhance the characteristics of the asphalt upon re-heating by the end-user.

Applicant believes that the closest reference corresponds to U.S. Pat. No. 4,207,937 issued to Allan M. Sandeman, Et. Al. The Sandeman patent discloses generally a woven fabric bulk container. However, it differs from the present invention because the present invention includes, inter alia, a liner, structural support enhancements, a method for receiving and cooling liquid asphalt and a method for integrating the bulk container into the asphalt upon reheating the asphalt.

Other patents describing the closest subject matter provide for a number of more or less complicated features that fail to solve the problem in an efficient and economical way. None of these patents suggest the novel features of the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

About 70 billion pounds of asphalt are used annually in the United States alone, and asphalt usage is in particularly high demand in developing areas of the world.

Almost all asphalt used today is derived from the bottom of the barrel—that is, the last cut in the petroleum refinery after naphtha, gasoline, kerosene, and other fractions have been removed from crude oil.

Once the asphalt is produced at the refinery, it is stored in specially heated and insulated storage tanks that sit alongside the refinery docks for subsequent pumping into heated asphalt ships. In order to pump the asphalt from the storage tanks into the ships, it is heated to about 300° F. (roughly 150° C.) prior to loading to decrease its viscosity and make it more manageable.

The storage of asphalt at the refineries or inland terminals is an expensive, energy consuming and dangerous operation. It is particularly expensive because of the fuel that must be burned to keep the asphalt at a temperature of 300° F. (roughly 150° C.) to be able to pump it into the specialized, heated asphalt ships.

Presently the transportation and storage of asphalt requires substantial infrastructure in the refineries along the coast where the ships can load and unload their cargo. Because of the economies of scale asphalt shipping requires large ships and deep water ports. In the case of the Caribbean and the Western Mediterranean markets, small ships are required in order to access the limited depth of the harbors which in turn causes the local prices to rise. This problem is particularly acute in the Caribbean Market which does not require large quantities of asphalt to be delivered at any given time and have limited infrastructure and storage facilities and therefore the prices are particularly high.

This situation causes prices of asphalt to remain high and limits the development of some of the third world country roads and infrastructure. This is more pronounced in land-locked countries in Africa, South East Asia, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and Mediterranean markets.

Once the asphalt arrives at its terminal destination, in order to get into the market it must still be stored hot in storage tanks for several days before it is loaded unto heated tanker trucks and delivered to the customers.

The whole process of asphalt transportation, storage and distribution is cumbersome and expensive, because under present conditions the asphalt must be heated several times along the process and remain hot until it is delivered to the customers. Subsequently the customer must also re-heat it to use for its particular applications.

This invention solves many problems associated with the shipping and distribution of asphalt on a world wide basis.

The invention consists of having developed a packing method and apparatus that permits the asphalt to be packed, cooled, transported at ambient temperature in ocean going containers and conventional dry cargo ships, and trucked in unheated semi-trailer trucks. Furthermore it allows for the asphalt to be stored very economically in any given storage yard at ambient temperature without the need for expensive infrastructure and heated storage tanks.

This invention substantially reduces the cost of heating, the cost of transportation in specialized ships, the cost of storing in heated terminals upon arrival at destination, and the cost of transporting in heated trucks for final distribution to customers. It permits transportation in ocean going containers and conventional cargo ships which are more abundant than asphalt ships. In addition it permits relatively easy access to land-locked countries and small markets like the Caribbean and Western Mediterranean Markets. It reduces energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions and potential danger and liability of dealing with a very hot product in the process shipping and delivery to end-users.

Since the price fluctuation for asphalt on a world wide basis is seasonal (generally, higher prices in summer and lower prices in winter) it allows for asphalt to be purchased when market is low and storing it very economically for later use.

It is one of the main objects of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus to transport asphalt at ambient temperature.

It is another main object of this invention to provide a transport container for asphalt that also acts as an additive to enhance the characteristics of the asphalt when re-heated by the end user.

It is another object of this invention to provide a method and apparatus to transport asphalt that does not require heating during the transport process.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus to reduce the necessity of specialized asphalt handling and transportation facilities and equipment.

It is another object of this invention to provide a method and apparatus to transport asphalt to locations where currently it is not feasible.

It is another object of this invention to provide a method and apparatus to transport asphalt in a manner safe to handlers and to the environment.

It is another object of this invention to provide a method and apparatus to transport asphalt in small batches.

It is another object of this invention to provide a method and apparatus to transport asphalt that can also act as a long term storage solution for asphalt.

It is yet another object of this invention to provide such an apparatus and method that is inexpensive to manufacture and maintain while retaining its effectiveness.

It is another object of this invention to provide a container for asphalt transportation that can be used as an asphalt additive by melting the container into the asphalt by the end-user thereby improving the characteristics of the asphalt.

Further objects of the invention will be brought out in the following part of the specification, wherein detailed description is for the purpose of fully disclosing the invention without placing limitations thereon.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

With the above and other related objects in view, the invention consists in the details of construction and combination of parts as will be more fully understood from the following description, when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 represents a perspective view of a liner assembly nested inside a bag assembly.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a liner assembly.

FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a liner assembly.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a rack assembly.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a bag assembly.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a bag assembly.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a bag assembly.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a bag assembly.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a liner assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings, where the present invention is generally referred to with numeral 10, it can be observed that it basically includes a bag assembly 100 and a liner assembly 200.

Said bag assembly is essentially a variation of a commonly available bulk bag, also known as a flexible intermediate bulk container (FIBC), used in the transportation industry. Said bag assembly comprises, inter alia, a top panel 102, side panel 104, loops 108, band 110, side panel 114 and porthole 116. In the preferred embodiment said bag assembly has six sides comprised of a top panel 102, a bottom panel (opposite top panel 102 but not seen in this view) side panels 104, 114 and two other side panels (opposite side panels 104 and 114, respectively, but not seen in this view.) Said four side panels 114, 104 (and the two panels opposite these side panels), top panel 102 and bottom panel (opposite top panel 102 but not shown in this view) can be individual pieces attached to each other by seams or they may a unitary piece.

Said top panel 102 has a porthole 116 where said liner assembly 200 penetrates the top panel 102 to provide access to the liner assembly 200. An optional band 110 encircles the bag assembly 100 and is positioned generally in the middle three-quarters of the height of each side panel 114, 104 (and the two panels opposite these side panels). In the preferred embodiment said band 110 is sewn onto each side panel to fix its position. Said band 110 provides additional support to the bag assembly 100 especially when the temperature of the contents of the bag assembly 100 is high enough to cause the side panel material to soften and/or stretch. At four equally spaced positions along the seam between the top panel 102 are loops 108. Said loops 108 serve the purpose of aiding in securing the bag assembly 100 while filling and providing a lifting point to transport a filled bag assembly 100. To improve the lifting capacity that the loops 108 can support the lower end of the loops can be sewn along the height of the seams between the side panels.

Now referring to FIG. 2 where a liner assembly 200 is shown to comprise, inter alias, a cap 202, fitment 204 and panel 208. Said liner assembly 200 in a preferred embodiment is formed of a unitary, flexible and impermeable material. A fitment 204 is welded or otherwise affixed to upper side of the liner assembly 200 at a seam 206. The fitment 204 provides access to the interior of the liner assembly 200 and can be sealed with a threaded cap 202. When in use said liner assembly 200 is employed to line the interior of a bag assembly such as bag assembly 100 shown in FIG. 1 or any of the other bag assemblies described throughout this description.

Referring to FIG. 3 where an alternate embodiment of a liner assembly 300 is demonstrated comprised of, inter alia, a panel 308, neck 304, rim 306 and top panel 302. Said liner assembly 300 in preferred embodiment is formed of a unitary, flexible and impermeable material. In this embodiment a distinguishing feature is the neck 304 as an alternative to the fitment 204 (shown in FIG. 2). The neck 304 provides access to the interior of the liner assembly 300 through the rim 306. After the liner assembly is filled with asphalt the neck can be heat sealed, welded, tied, banded or otherwise closed. When in use said liner assembly 300 is employed to line the interior of a bag assembly such as the bag assembly 100 in FIG. 1.

Now referring to FIG. 4 where a rack assembly 400 is shown. Said rack assembly 400 is comprised of, inter alia, panel 402, panel 404, panel 406, panel 408, hinges 410, casters 412, latch 414, handle 416, grille 418 and hooks 420. Said rack assembly 400 is formed from five panels with an open top. Said casters 412, panel 402 and panel 404 are affixed to a bottom panel (not shown in this figure). Said panels 408 and 406 are supported by hinges 410 affixed to panel 402 and panel 404, respectively. Arranged near the upper edge of each of said panels is affixed a hook 420. These hooks 420 are utilized to support a bag assembly such as the bag assembly 100 shown in FIG. 1 when filling the bag assembly 100 by securing the loops 108 over the hooks 420. Said panels 402, 404, 406 and 408 are each constructed of a unitary frame that supports one or more grilles 418. Said grilles 418 provide airflow to aid cooling the heated asphalt contained in, for example, the bag assembly 100 and liner assembly 200. Said casters 412 facilitate easy movement of the rack assembly 400.

In typical use a bag assembly such as the bag assembly 100 shown in FIG. 1 is fit inside the rack assembly 400 and secured by the hooks 420 fit into the loops 108 on the bag assembly 100. Inside the bag assembly 100 is a liner assembly 200. Heated, viscous asphalt is dispensed into the liner assembly 200. When the liner assembly 200 is filled the rack assembly is rolled to an area where the asphalt can cool to a solid. Once cool, said latch 414 is opened and the handle 416 is pulled and panels 406 and 408 are opened on the hinges 410 to permit removal of the bag assembly 100 with the then cooled and solidified asphalt.

Referring to FIG. 5 where an alternate embodiment of a bag assembly 500 is demonstrated and comprises side panels 504, 510, 502 and 514, and loops 508. Said bag assembly 500 also has a bottom panel that is not visible in this view. Said bag assembly 500 is dimensioned to fit around a liner assembly such as the liner assembly 200 as shown in FIG. 2 or the liner assembly 300 in FIG. 3. Although not shown in FIG. 5 the bag assembly 500 optionally may include a band analogous to band 110 shown in FIG. 1.

Referring to FIG. 6 where an alternate embodiment of a bag assembly 550 is shown comprising, inter alia, a top panel 562, side panel 560, side panel 558, sleeves 552, neck 554, drawstrings 556 and bands 564. Not visible in this view, but also present are a bottom panel and side panels opposite side panels 560 and 558, respectively. Extending from the top panel 562 is a neck 554 that provides access to the interior of the bag assembly 550 and any of the liner assemblies, for example the liner assemblies shown in either FIG. 2 or 3. Bands 564 are optional and may be present singly or in pairs and wrapping around the bag assembly 550 horizontally and spaced apart to contribute to the strength of the bag assembly 550. Sleeves 552 provide a lifting point when transporting the bag assembly 550.

FIG. 7 shows an alternate embodiment of a bag assembly 600 comprised of, inter alia, side panel 604, side panel 606, loops 608, skirt 602 and a drawstring 610. Not visible in this view, but also present are a bottom panel and side panels opposite side panels 604 and 606, respectively. Any of the liner assemblies, for example the liner assemblies shown in either FIG. 2 or 3, are suitable to be placed inside the bag assembly 600. After filling, the liner assembly may be protected on top by closing the drawstrings 610 thereby cinching the top of the skirt 602. Loops 608 provide a lift point to aid in moving the bag assembly and to hold the bag assembly up in the rack assembly 400 as shown in FIG. 4 by placing the loops 608 over said hooks 420.

FIG. 8 shows an alternate embodiment of a bag assembly 650 comprised of, inter alia, side panels 660, 658, 664 and 662, loops 652, loops 654 and straps 656. Like the other embodiments of bag assemblies described above, this bag assembly 650 is dimensioned to have a liner assembly, such as the liner assemblies shown in FIG. 2 or 3, fit inside. Although not visible in this view, the top of this bag assembly could have an open top similar to the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, a neck and drawstring similar to the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, a top panel and porthole similar to the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 or a skirt and drawstring similar to the embodiment shown in FIG. 7. The distinguishing feature of this embodiment is the straps 656 and the loops 654 that interact to close the bottom of the bag assembly 650. Said straps 656 are fastened to said loops 654 to create a bottom panel. Said straps 656 are released from said loops 654 to open the bottom of the bag assembly 650 and release the contents with the aid of gravity. Loops 652 are positioned in the upper corners and aid in transporting the bag assembly 650 and holding the bag assembly 650 up into a rack similar to the rack assembly 400 shown in FIG. 4 with hooks 420.

FIG. 9 shows a liner assembly 700 compatible with any of the bag assemblies described above and comprising, inter alia, side panels 702, 704, 706 and 708. A bottom panel is present but not visible in this view. Said liner assembly 700 in a preferred embodiment is formed of a unitary, flexible and impermeable material.

In their preferred embodiment all of the above described liner assemblies and bag assemblies are made of a polymer material with a melting point below 300° F. and can be selected from the group of polyester, polyethylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl, polypropylene or any combination or mixture thereof.

The preferred embodiment of any of the liner assemblies described above are constructed of an impermeable solid film of any of the above listed polymers. The preferred embodiment of any of the bag assemblies described above are constructed of a fabric made of any of the polymers described above to provide structural strength. In yet another preferred embodiment the interior surface of any of the above described bag assemblies is coated with a film of any of the above described polymers to become an integrated unit.

Any of the bag assemblies described above may also be filled with asphalt without any liner at all if the fabric is woven tight enough to prevent any viscous asphalt from leaking through the fabric.

Each of the liner assemblies can be melted with the asphalt with or without the bag assemblies to be incorporated into a unitary viscous mix of asphalt and polymer resulting in superior characteristics demonstrated by the asphalt.

The foregoing description conveys the best understanding of the objectives and advantages of the present invention. Different embodiments may be made of the inventive concept of this invention. It is to be understood that all matter disclosed herein is to be interpreted merely as illustrative, and not in a limiting sense.