Title:
Fittings for liquid foodstuff, particularly water, containers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention pertains to a method for filling a carboy with liquid foodstuff designed to be installed in a fountain for distribution of such a liquid. The liquid is introduced in a disposable flexible liner, inserted in the carboy, the flexible liner being such that it is pressed against the internal walls of the carboy at the end of the filling process. During the filling, the internal part of the carboy, which is on the outside of the liner, is preferably maintained at atmospheric pressure.



Inventors:
Mabelly, Andre (La Blanc Mesnil, FR)
Application Number:
10/505507
Publication Date:
07/21/2005
Filing Date:
02/24/2003
Assignee:
Sources 77 (Neufmoutiers en Brie, FR)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D77/04; B65D47/06; B65D77/06; B65D83/00; B67D3/00; (IPC1-7): B65B1/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MAUST, TIMOTHY LEWIS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RATNERPRESTIA (King of Prussia, PA, US)
Claims:
1. Method for filling a carboy with liquid foodstuff designed to be installed in a fountain for distribution of such a liquid, characterized in that the liquid is introduced into a disposable, flexible liner via an opening in the flexible liner, the flexible liner being inserted into the carboy, and the flexible liner being configured such that it is pressed against the internal walls of the carboy at the end of the filling process.

2. Method in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that the opening of the liner is integral with a carboy cap which is configured to fit over an opening in the carboy, and the cap comprises an opening to permit the distribution of liquid by gravity when the carboy equipped with the liner and the cap is installed in a distribution fountain.

3. Method in accordance with claim 1 or 2, characterized in that, during filling, an internal part of the carboy outside the liner is maintained at atmospheric pressure.

4. Method in accordance with claim 3, characterized in that during filling, the opening of the liner is slightly moved away outwardly, at a distance from the opening of the carboy so that air is able to penetrate into the carboy via the space between the opening of the carboy and the part of the liner that is located outside the carboy.

5. Method for distribution of liquid foodstuff by means of a carboy filled in accordance with the method according to claims 1 or 2, characterized in that during distribution, the internal part of the carboy that is outside the liner is maintained at atmospheric pressure or a higher pressure.

6. Carboy for the application of the method in accordance with one of the claims 1 or 2 comprising at least one hole for putting the outside atmosphere in contact with the internal space of the carboy which is outside the liner.

7. Fitting for fountain for distribution of liquid foodstuff, characterized in that it comprises a disposable, flexible liner, which is filled with liquid to be distributed and is designed to be introduced into the fountain for the distribution, the flexible liner being such that, as it is emptied of liquid due to gravity, its wall remains in contact with the free surface of the liquid so that practically no empty space remains inside the liner which is partially emptied of liquid.

8. Fitting in accordance with claim 7, characterized in that the flexible liner includes walls formed from an elastic material.

9. Fitting in accordance with claim 7 or 8, characterized in that the liner comprises an edge designed to overlap a carboy neck.

10. Fitting in accordance with one of the claims 7 or 8, characterized in that the liner is integral with a carboy cap.

11. Fitting in accordance with claim 10, characterized in that the carboy cap has a central opening for the introduction and discharging of liquid, this opening being bordered by a cylindrical internal wall, with which the opening of the liner is integral.

12. Fitting in accordance with claim 11, characterized in that the cylindrical internal wall has an end with an edge, with which the opening of the liner is integral.

13. Fitting in accordance with claim 12, characterized in that the liner has an opening which includes an edge that is molded to the end edge of the cylindrical internal wall of the cap.

14. Fitting in accordance with one of the claim 11, characterized in that, to plug its central opening, the carboy cap additionally comprises a central cap, which cooperates with the cylindrical internal wall by locking.

15. Fitting in accordance with claim 14, characterized in that the liner has an opening edge that cooperates with the end edge of the cylindrical internal wall in the form of a gutter and is maintained against the end edge when the central cap is put in place.

16. Fitting in accordance with claim 15, characterized in that it comprises a collar inserted between the end edge of the liner and a end edge of a sleeve of the central cap.

17. Fitting in accordance with claim 11, characterized in that the central opening in the carboy cap has a central cylindrical part sealed by an end internal cap, which can be separated from the central opening in the carboy cap during the installation of the carboy in the liquid distribution fountain.

18. Fitting in accordance with claim 11, characterized in that the central opening in the carboy cap has a central cylindrical part sealed by a element with precut sections, these precut sections permitting the passage of a tube during the installation of a carboy in a liquid distribution fountain.

19. Fitting in accordance with claim 18, characterized in that the precut sections have radial directions.

20. Fitting in accordance with claim 18, characterized in that the precut sections have a spiral shape.

21. Fitting in accordance with claim 7 or 8, characterized in that it comprises a collar integral with the opening of the liner, this collar having at least one channel for placing the internal space of a carboy, which is outside the liner, in contact with the atmosphere.

22. Fitting in accordance with claim 10, characterized in that the cap has at least one aperture for placing the internal space of the carboy, which is outside the liner, in contact with the atmosphere.

23. Fitting in accordance with one of the claim 7 or characterized in that a collar is integral with the opening of the liner, this collar having at least one said channel for placing the internal space of the carboy, which is outside the liner, in contact with the atmosphere.

Description:

The present invention pertains to a fountain for distribution of liquid foodstuff, particularly water, and to fittings for such a fountain. It generally pertains to a liquid foodstuff reservoir and to fittings for such a reservoir.

The water distribution fountains of the carboy type are more and more widely used in public or private places. Such fountains have the advantage of not requiring distribution pipes and fittings and the qualities of the distributed water are the same as those of water sold in disposable bottles.

Carboys are, in general, semi-rigid and have a large capacity. Thus, for reasons of cost, they are not of the disposable type like water bottles, but are reusable, i.e., can be filled several times.

Each carboy generally comprises a cap sealed with a safety plug. Therefore, to install the carboy in such a fountain, the plug must be removed and a water distribution pipe, which is part of the fountain, must be passed through the cap.

When the carboys are empty, they are cleaned and then refilled.

It has been observed that, in spite of washing the carboys, this would not guarantee the total quality of this operation and that an accidental residual pollution would remain possible.

Moreover, the risks are those that cause concern to the health authorities.

The goal of the present invention is to guarantee a water distribution fountain and, more generally, containers for liquid foodstuff, such as fruit juices, against all risks of accidental pollution.

Thus, the present invention, according to a first of its aspects, pertains to a reservoir for a fountain for distribution of liquid foodstuff, which comprises, on the one hand, a carboy with a more or less rigid wall and, on the other hand, a liner that is flexible, preferably extensible by filling with liquid, and disposable, this liner being such that it can be pressed against the internal walls of the carboy when the reservoir is filled with liquid.

Thus, the liquid foodstuff to be distributed is contained in a disposable liner, which offers the same foodstuff safety guarantees as for the distribution in disposable bottles.

In addition, since the liner is flexible, contrary to a rigid reservoir, it does not comprise an available remaining volume for air intake when it is emptied. Thus, unlike the fountains currently used, the outside air is not introduced into the liner and is not in contact with the liquid, which eliminates the risks for pollution of the liquid remaining to be distributed.

The flexible liner of the fountain according to the present invention may be used with the classical carboys currently in service. Under these conditions, the present invention does not require significant investments.

Since the flexible liner does not rigorously conform to the shape of the internal walls of the container, the air that is between the liner and the internal walls of the container ensures an insulation and guarantees a better resistance to gelling.

Since, with the flexible liner of the fountain according to the present invention, there is practically no longer any risk of contamination due to a faulty washing of the carboy, the health constraints imposed on this washing can be relaxed. In addition, it is conceivable to no longer limit the number of uses of each carboy as is the case presently. In other words, the lifetime of carboys can be extended, which, on the one hand, has an economic advantage and, on the other hand, limits the amount of waste caused by the discarding of the carboys.

In a preferred embodiment, the liner is made of elastic material. In this case, the elasticity makes the distribution of the liquid easier because, when this liner is filled, it exerts a slight pressure on the liquid.

When the flexible liner is being filled, the volume of the space separating the liner from the internal wall of the carboy decreases. If air is present in this volume, it must be discharged in order to enable the liner to press against the wall of the carboy.

For this purpose, according to one embodiment, the carboy has an air discharge opening or vent. This embodiment has the advantage of preventing the use of carboys without a safety liner.

In one variant the opening of the liner is integral with a collar or with a cap for closing the carboy, which comprises at least one air discharge opening.

Thus, the present invention pertains to a method for filling a carboy with liquid foodstuff designed to be installed in a fountain for distribution of said liquid, in which the liquid is introduced into a disposable, flexible liner, inserted in the carboy, the flexible liner being such that it is pressed against the internal walls of the carboy at the end of the filling process.

During the filling, the internal part of the carboy, which is located on the outside of the liner, is preferably maintained at atmospheric pressure.

The present invention also pertains to a method for distributing liquid foodstuff by means of a carboy filled in accordance with the method defined above, in which, during the distribution, the internal part of the carboy, which is located on the outside of the liner, is maintained at atmospheric pressure or at a higher pressure.

The present invention pertains to a disposable liner for the application of the filling method defined above as well.

This liner is, for example, made of an elastic material, its initial volume, before filling, being markedly less than the internal volume of the carboy.

In one embodiment, the liner comprises an edge which is designed to overlap the neck of the carboy.

The present invention also pertains to a liner and carboy cap set, in which the opening of the liner is integral with the cap, the diameter of the opening of the liner being less than the internal diameter of the neck of the carboy and the cap having at least one hole for placing the internal space of the carboy, which is outside the liner, in contact with the atmosphere.

According to one embodiment, this set is such that the cap has a central opening for the introduction and discharging of liquid, and this central opening is bordered by a cylindrical internal wall, with which the opening of the liner is integral.

For plugging its central opening, the cap may additionally comprise a central cap, which cooperates by locking with the cylindrical internal wall. According to one embodiment, the central cap has a central cylindrical part sealed with an end internal cap, which can be separated from the central cap during the installation of the carboy in a liquid distribution fountain.

The present invention also pertains to a set consisting of the liner and a collar integral with the opening of the liner, this collar having at least one channel for placing the internal space of the carboy, which is outside the liner, in contact with the atmosphere.

The present invention also pertains to a fitting for a fountain for liquid foodstuff distribution, which is characterized in that it comprises a disposable, flexible liner, which is filled with liquid to be distributed and is designed to be introduced into the fountain for this distribution, and the flexible liner is such that, as it is emptied of the liquid, its wall remains in contact with the free surface of this liquid so that practically no empty space remains inside the liner, partially emptied of liquid.

The material of the wall of the flexible liner is preferably elastic.

In one embodiment, the liner comprises an edge designed to overlap a carboy neck.

The liner may be integral with a carboy cap. In this case, the carboy cap has, for example, a central opening for the introduction and discharging of liquid, this opening being bordered by a cylindrical internal wall, with which the opening of the liner is integral. In one embodiment the end of the cylindrical internal wall has an edge, with which the opening of the liner is integral. The opening edge of the liner is, for example, molded to the end edge of the cylindrical internal wall of the cap. For plugging its central opening, the carboy cap may additionally comprise a central cap, which cooperates by locking with the cylindrical internal wall. In one embodiment, the opening edge of the liner cooperates with the end edge of the cylindrical internal wall in the form of a gutter and is maintained against this edge when the central cap is put in place. In the latter case, a collar may be provided inserted between the end edge of the liner and the end edge of a sleeve of the central cap.

In one embodiment, the central cap has a central cylindrical part which is sealed with an end internal cap, which can be separated from the central cap during the installation of a carboy in a liquid distribution fountain.

According to one embodiment, the central cap has a central cylindrical part which is sealed with an element with precut sections, these precut sections permitting the passage of a tube during the installation of a carboy in a liquid distribution fountain.

The precut sections have, for example, radial directions or a spiral shape.

The fitting may comprise a collar integral with the opening of the liner, this collar having at least one channel for placing the internal space of a carboy, which is outside the liner, in contact with the atmosphere.

Other characteristics and advantages of the present invention shall become evident from the description of some of its embodiments, this description being made with reference to the attached drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 shows a reservoir according to the present invention before its filling,

FIG. 2 shows a reservoir according to the present invention after filling,

FIG. 3 is a larger-scale view of the part for filling the reservoir shown in FIGS. 1 and 2,

FIGS. 4 and 4a show a fountain according to the present invention,

FIG. 5 is a diagram of a liner and a cap according to the present invention for another embodiment of the reservoir according to the present invention,

FIG. 6 is a larger-scale, detailed diagram for a variant of the embodiment shown in FIG. 5,

FIGS. 7 and 8 are diagrams of parts of a reservoir for yet another embodiment of the present invention, and

FIGS. 9 through 16 are diagrams illustrating still other embodiments of the present invention.

In the embodiment of the present invention that is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, a carboy 10 made of a more or less rigid, e.g., transparent, plastic material is provided for the distribution of water in an autonomous fountain, i.e., not connected to a pipeline of a distribution network, and to guarantee the purity of the distributed water, which is contained in a liner 12 made of elastomer material, which, before filling (FIG. 1), has a volume that is markedly less than that of the carboy 10.

For example, as can be seen in FIG. 1, before its filling, the length of the liner 12 is about equal to half of the height of the carboy 10 and its diameter is markedly less than that of the neck 14 of the carboy (FIG. 2). Generally, the diameter and the length of the extensible or elastic liner shall be determined by the viscosity of the liquid foodstuff.

After filling with water, the liner 12 conforms in shape to the internal wall of the carboy.

In this example, the liner 12 has an opening bordered by an edge 16 overlapping the neck 14 (FIGS. 1 and 3).

To enable the liner 12 to press against the internal wall of the carboy 10 (FIG. 2), during the filling of the liner 12 with water, the air located in the carboy 10 must be discharged. For this purpose, in this embodiment, the carboy 10 comprises at least one hole (not shown) at any location.

After filling, the carboy is sealed with a cap 20 (FIG. 3) of the known type.

This known cap 20 comprises a skirt 22 held by locking with the upper part 24 of the neck, whose external wall is covered by the edge 16 of the liner 12.

The cap 20 comprises a central opening 26 bordered by a cylindrical part 28 dipping inside the carboy and the internal end of this cylindrical part 28 is sealed by an internal cap 30 which itself comprises two edges 32 and 34. The edge 32 is pressed against the internal wall of the cylindrical wall 28, while the edge 34 is pressed against the external wall of the cylindrical wall 28. The internal cap 30 is maintained at the end of the wall 28 due to a locking of the edge 34 on an external flange 36 of this wall 28.

The central opening 26 is sealed by a plug 40. The adhesive pressing the plug 40 against the external wall of the cap 20 is such that when the plug 40 is detached, it can no longer be reattached. Thus, a carboy without a plug 40 must not be used because it does not comprise the plug which constitutes a guarantee against an unauthorized access to the inside of the carboy.

Also in a manner known per se, the opening 26, the wall 28 and the cap 30 are designed to cooperate with a distribution tube 42 of the fountain. Thus, when the carboy is installed in the fountain, the neck is turned downwards (i.e., in the opposite direction of that shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3), and the distribution tube 42 is made to penetrate into the opening 26. The end of this tube 42 that penetrates into the carboy is closed. It pushes away the internal cap 30, which remains, in principle, locked at the end of the tube 42 as shown in broken lines in FIG. 3. Inside the carboy, this conduit 42 has openings 44 through which the water of the carboy can be discharged. The conduit 42 is connected to an external tap (not shown).

When the carboy is removed from the fountain, the cap 30 will, in principle, resume its place at the end of the cylindrical wall 28, which guarantees the tightness of the carboy after its separation from the fountain.

The carboy is then sent to a cleaning and filling center. In this center, the cap 20 and the liner 12 are discarded, the carboy is cleaned, and a new liner 12 and a new cap are installed before or after filling depending on the variant used, which guarantees the cleanliness of the reservoir.

Thus, the fountain equipped with a carboy with a liner 12 has the same hygiene guarantees as the water distributed in disposable bottles.

FIGS. 4 and 4a show a fountain 50 equipped with a carboy 10 and with an internal liner 12 according to the present invention. In FIG. 4, it is seen that the liner is full, while in FIG. 4a, the water no longer fills more than one-fourth of the volume of the carboy 10. During the distribution of water, since the liner is flexible, outside air does not rise through the liquid because the liner tends to resume its initial low volume. Thus, the water does not come into contact with the outside air, which constitutes an additional guarantee of the quality of the bottled liquid.

The water contained in the liner 12 is distributed solely by gravity. However, if the liner 12 is made of an elastic material, the elasticity exerts a slight pressure, which improves the regularity of the distribution of the water.

Thus, it is noted that, with the present invention, it is possible to continue using the classical carboys and caps, and that it is not necessary to modify the water distribution fountains, while significantly reducing the risks of water contamination. In fact, during the filling, residues that may remain in the carboy after washing will not have a contaminating effect, and the air surrounding the water distribution fountain does not pass through the distributed water.

The presence of the liner 12 also limits the risks for the water distribution tank during filling. In fact, with the classical filling method, it is provided that too much water coming back from full carboys is poured back into the distribution tank. Thus, with the current system, a contaminated carboy may contaminate the entire distribution tank, which cannot be the case with the use of a disposable liner.

In the embodiment of the present invention described above, the only modifications made to the classical fountains are, on the one hand, a piercing of the carboy depending on the variant used, and, on the other hand, low-priced, flexible liners.

In the embodiment of the present invention that is shown in FIG. 5, the liner 60 is integral with a cap 62 designed to seal the carboy (not shown in FIG. 5).

This cap 62 thus comprises an upper wall 64 with a central opening 66, which is bordered by a cylindrical wall 68 projecting towards the inside of the liner 60. The cap also comprises an external edge 70 similar to the edge 22 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, i.e., designed to be locked at the top of the neck of the carboy.

The edges of the opening of the liner 60 are integral, for example, by sealing or heat-sealing, with the internal face of the wall 64, between the cylindrical wall 68 and the external edge 70.

A central cap 72 is designed to seal the central opening 66 after filling the liner 60, and the cap 62 is installed on the neck of the carboy.

The upper wall 64 comprises at least one air discharge hole 74, which is located between its external periphery and the liner 60. This hole 74 makes it possible to discharge the air between the liner 60 and the internal wall of the carboy when the liner 60 is filled. This hole 74 also makes it possible to collect the air in the carboy outside the liner 60 when the latter is emptied during use, i.e., when it is installed on the fountain.

FIG. 6 corresponds to a variant of the embodiment of FIG. 5. In this example, the upper edge of the liner 60 is integral with the internal cylindrical wall 68. The central cap 72 has an external cylindrical edge 76 designed to cooperate, by locking, with the internal cylindrical wall 68. In this example, the edge 76 of the central cap 72 has a groove 80 designed to cooperate with a rib 82 of the internal face of the wall 68.

The central cap 72 comprises a central opening 84 bordered by an internal cylindrical part 86 designed to permit passage of the water distribution tube of the fountain (as described in relation to FIG. 3). The conduit 86 is sealed by an internal cap similar to the cap 30 shown in FIG. 3 and having the same role as this cap 30.

This cap 88, like the cap 30, is dissociated from the cylindrical conduit 86 when the carboy is installed in the fountain and will reseal this conduit when the carboy is removed from the fountain. However, it may occur that, during the operation of removing the carboy from the fountain, the internal cap 88 (just like the internal cap 30 of FIG. 3) will not replug the conduit 86 and remains in the liner 60 to be discarded. However, this operating defect is not a drawback because the liner 60 must be discarded.

An embodiment of the present invention that makes it possible to use a carboy cap of the classical type, i.e., a cap similar to the cap 20 described in relation to FIG. 3, without, however, having to pierce the carboy in order to permit the discharge of air during the filling as well as the introduction of air during the distribution of water, shall now be described in relation to FIGS. 7 and 8.

For this purpose, the opening of the liner 90 (FIG. 7) is integral with a collar 92, whose lower face is designed to rest on the upper edge 94 of the carboy 96 and this lower face of the collar 92 has at least one groove 98, which emerges, on the one hand, inside 100 the carboy, between the liner 90 and the internal wall of this carboy, and, on the other hand, outside the carboy.

In the example, a plurality of such grooves 981, 982, etc. are provided (FIG. 8).

The sealing cap is not installed during the filling of the liner 90 with water. In contrast, as described in relation to FIG. 3, the cap (not shown in FIG. 7) is installed during the distribution of water. This cap partly opposes the intake of air in the space between the liner 90 and the carboy. However, the cap does not ensure complete air-tightness and therefore permits the introduction of air in the space between the liner 90 and the carboy 96. However, this air flow is less significant than during the filling. However, this difference between the flows is not a drawback because the water is distributed much more slowly than the filling with water.

To reduce the number or the section of the channels 98, the liner 90 may be filled with water by removing the collar 92 from the edge 94 of the carboy 96. Under these conditions the air located in the carboy outside the liner 90 can, during the filling, escape through the space made between the edge 94 and the collar 92.

Regardless of the embodiment, in one variant, an overpressure is applied around the liner in the carboy to make the distribution of water in the fountain easier.

In the embodiment of the present invention that is shown in FIGS. 9, 10 and 11 the cap 110 comprises towards the interior a sleeve 112, e.g., similar to the sleeve 68 of the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, having at its lower end a gutter 114, with which the liner 116 is integral by means of duplicate molding (FIG. 11).

For this purpose, the cap is made, for example, of polyethylene or polypropylene with a gutter 114, the bottom of which has holes 1181, 1182 regularly spaced apart and the edge of which comprises spout holes 1201, etc. also regularly spaced apart.

This gutter is then immersed in a molten latex bath to create the liner 116 which is soldered and molded to the gutter as shown in FIG. 11.

In this case, both the cap and the liner can be discarded.

In the example shown in FIGS. 12, 13 and 14, the cap 122 comprises a peripheral part 122 and a central part 134. The peripheral part comprises a sleeve 124 with a groove 126 at its end for receiving the rolled edge 128 of the liner 130.

The rolled edge 128 is maintained at the bottom of the groove 126 due to a collar 132 that cooperates with the central part 134 which has an external sleeve 138, whose end edges 140 shall support the collar 132 against the rolled edge 128 in order to press it against the bottom of the groove 126 when the central part 134 of the cap is associated with the peripheral part 122 due to cooperation of a projection 144 of the sleeve 138 in a groove 146 of the central sleeve of the peripheral part 122 of the cap.

In this embodiment, the diameter of the end part of the sleeve 124 is greater than the diameter of the rest of the sleeve so as to create an edge 150 constituting an upper stop for the collar 132.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 12, the central part 134 of the cap comprises a central sleeve 152 similar to the sleeve 86 of the example in FIG. 6, which ends, at its lower end, with a truncated part 154 having a role similar to the element 88 in FIG. 6, i.e., it prevents, or limits, liquid leaks when the carboy is removed from the fountain.

In these two examples, this element 154 has cut sections, or precut sections, to enable the tube 42 (FIG. 3) to be able to penetrate inside the carboy. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 13, the precut sections have a radial shape, i.e., the cuts 156 converge at the center 158 along the axis 160 of the cap.

In the example shown in FIG. 14, the element 154 is cut into a spiral 160.

The example shown in FIG. 15 is distinguished from that shown in FIG. 12 by the fact that the cylindrical central part of the principal cap 170 has an upper part 172 of larger diameter, in which the central cap 174 penetrates by catching 176, and this upper part 172 is extended downwards by another cylindrical wall 178 of lesser diameter, which is connected to the upper part 172 via a shoulder 180. This shoulder 180 is a support for the lower end 182 of the central cap 174.

The cylindrical wall 178 ends with an edge 184, turned inwards, to which the liner 190 is soldered.

The embodiment of the present invention that is shown in FIG. 16 is distinguished from that shown in FIG. 15 by the fact that the wall 178 does not have a lower edge. The liner 192 is soldered to the lower part 194 of this wall 178.

In these embodiments, the material of the liner is either flexible and expansible, or flexible and non-expansible.

Generally, in all the embodiments, it is the flexible character of the liner that prevents air, during the distribution of liquid, from being able to penetrate into the liquid because the upper part of the liner that is emptied sinks due to gravity and leaves practically no space for a return of air. In other words, the upper part folds up and remains practically in contact with the free surface of the remaining liquid. In the case of an elastic liner, the folds are less numerous.