Title:
Insert for containers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An insert system for transforming a transport container into a habitable structure. The system includes panels that are inserted into an existing container, wherein an insulating cavity remains between the container and the inert panels. The cavity provides efficient environmental control.



Inventors:
Rene, Svein (Tolvsroed, NO)
Application Number:
11/097801
Publication Date:
10/06/2005
Filing Date:
04/01/2005
Assignee:
MOBILE SHELTER SYSTEMS USA, INC. (WILLIAMSBURG, VA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D65/00; B65D71/08; E04B2/74; E04H1/12; (IPC1-7): B65D65/00; B65D71/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CAJILIG, CHRISTINE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Intellectual Property Group (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
1. An insert system for transforming a container into a habitable structure comprising: a plurality of insert panels to form walls within the container; wherein when the panels are positioned in the container, there remains an insulating cavity between at least a portion of the panels and the container.

2. The insert system of claim 1 further comprising a utility panel.

3. The insert system of claim 2 wherein the utility panel provides hook-ups for one or more utility systems selected from the group comprising telephone, electricity, gas, and cable.

4. The insert system of claim 1 further comprising a frame for positioning the insert panels within the container.

5. The insert system of claim 1 further comprising a temperature control system for controlling the temperature within the cavity.

6. The insert system of claim 1 further comprising a ventilation system to ventilate the cavity.

7. The insert system of claim 6 wherein the ventilation system includes at least one fan.

8. The insert system of claim 1 further comprising a humidity control device to control the humidity within the cavity.

9. The insert system of claim 1 further comprising joining elements to join the panel inserts to one another.

10. The insert system of claim 1 wherein at least some of the insert panels are made of a composite material.

11. The insert system of claim 1 wherein at least some of the insert panels are made of a synthetic material.

12. The insert system of claim 1 wherein at least some of the insert panels are made of a laminate material.

13. The insert system of claim 1 wherein at least some of the insert panels include a material that allows transfer of moisture in only one direction.

14. The insert system of claim 1 further comprising one or more flex-inhibiting components.

15. The insert system of claim 14 wherein the flex-inhibiting components are one or more spacers disposed between the insert panels and container walls.

16. The insert system of claim 14 wherein the flex-inhibiting components are disposed within the insert panel.

17. The insert system of claim 1 further comprising a generator.

18. The insert system of claim 1 wherein at least one panel has a door.

19. The insert system of claim 1 further comprising a filtering system to filter the air in the cavity.

20. The insert system of claim 9 wherein the joining elements have one or more flex-inhibiting components.

21. The insert container of claim 20 wherein the flex inhibiting components have one or more cut-outs.

22. The insert container of claim 9 wherein the joining elements have one or more component positioning mechanisms to position one or more components other than insert panels.

23. A method of creating a habitable structure, comprising the steps of: inserting panels in a container leaving an insulating cavity between the insert panels and said the container.

24. The method of claim 23, further comprising the step of: conditioning the air in the cavity.

Description:

This application is based on, and claims priority to, provisional application having Ser. No. 60/559,787, a filing date of Apr. 6, 2004, and entitled Insert for Containers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is known in the art to convert a structure, such as a transport container, into a shelter by inserting components within the structure such as wall, floor and ceiling panels. Existing products, however, do not adequately address temperature and humidity control. The containers are typically made of metal such as aluminum or steel, which do not insulate well against external temperatures. Panels are therefore made with insulating layers resulting in thicker, heavier panels. Alternatively, or in addition, a temperature control system, such as heating or air conditioning, is operated at great expense. A significant percentage of the available space is also utilized for the temperature control components.

Accordingly, there is a need for an insert system to transform a container into a habitable structure, wherein the interior space is maximized and environmental control is more efficient.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an insert system for transforming a transport container into a habitable structure. Advantageously, the components can reduce temperature and humidity problems associated with conventional systems. The system includes panels that are inserted into an existing container, wherein an insulating cavity remains between the container and the insert panels. The cavity promotes efficient environmental control as compared to tradition insert systems. The use of the cavity also allows thinner inserts, thereby maximizing habitable space.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is best understood from the following detailed description when read with the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 depicts a portion of a container and insert panels according to an illustrative embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 depicts a frame component according to an illustrative embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 depicts a cross section of an exterior structure wall and insert panels according to an illustrative embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 4A-B depict an illustrative embodiment of insert panels connected by joining elements.

FIG. 5 depicts a joining element according to an illustrative embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 6A-B depicts corner or ceiling joining elements according to an illustrative embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 depicts a plurality of wall joining elements connecting a plurality of insert panels according to an illustrative embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide components to transform a structure such as a transport container or other suitable structure, into habitable space. The concept may provide a simple, quick and economical way to create habitable space.

In general, the habitable space is created by inserting panels into the container. Environmental control problems are addressed by providing an insulating cavity between the panels and the container walls, ceiling and/or floor. Advantageously, the insulating cavity reduces temperature control problems and provides more freedom in the panel construction. For example, panels can be thinner as their insulating function is reduced by the insulating cavity.

FIG. 1 depicts a portion of an illustrative container 100 and insert system 102. Endwall panels 104 and sidewall panels 106 are positioned by angles 108 on the floor of container 100. A container would typically have a floor, ceiling and sidewalls and endwalls to form a complete box. Panels can be inserted adjacent to any or all of the container faces to form the habitable space. The container can also be partitioned to form a smaller habitable space or a plurality of habitable spaces.

FIG. 2 depicts an illustrative embodiment of a frame component used to position panels in the enclosure. Angle 108 has an angle bottom portion 110, which is mostly hidden in the figure, and an angle top portion 112. Bottom portion 110 lies flat on the container floor. Angle top portion 112 extends upward from bottom portion 110 to provide a guide for positioning panels. Bottom portion 110 provides support for top portion 112. In this particular embodiment, the angles are notched to facilitate fitting them together. As shown in FIG. 1, the angles are preferably placed with the angle opened toward the container walls as opposed to the interior space. The panels can then be placed so that the top portion of the angle is flush with the interior side of the panel and the angle's bottom portion is flush with the panel's bottom surface. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that other alignment frames can be used. Frames may also have vertical components to provide additional support and alignment of panels.

FIG. 3 depicts a top view of a cross section of an exterior structure wall 302 and insert panels 304 and 306. Joining element 308 joins adjacent panels such as 304 and 306. Ribs 310, which are preferably rigid, are positioned between exterior structure wall 302 and insert panels 304 and 306 to reduce panel flexing. It is also noted that the joining elements may contain the flex-reducing elements instead of the panels. Other component configurations that can join panels or other insert components, and reduce insert panel flexing, are within the spirit and scope of the invention. Insulating cavity 312 is provided between insert panels 304, 306 and exterior structure wall 302 to enhance environmental control, such as control of temperature, humidity, and/or air quality.

FIGS. 4A-B depict an illustrative embodiment of insert panels 402 connected by joining elements 404. Internal surface 406 of joining element 404 faces into the interior of a container. Each joining element 404 connects at least two insert panels 402. A single panel may be the height of the desired habitable space, or a plurality of insert panels may be stacked one above the other to reach the desired height. The joining elements may serve to connect panels that are adjacent in a side-by-side manner or align panels that are positioned on top of one another to form a wall.

FIG. 5 depicts a joining element 500 according to an illustrative embodiment of the invention. Slots 502 accommodate insert panels thereby connecting them to form a wall, ceiling or floor. A flex inhibiting portion 504 may be included to keep insert panels from flexing. One or more cut-outs 506, such as shown on flex-inhibiting portion 504, may be provided in any of the faces of joining element 500. The cut-outs are most beneficial on flex-inhibiting portion 504 because they facilitate air flow between insert panels and container walls. Cut-outs may also decrease the weight of the joining elements. Joining elements 500 may be of any material having the integrity necessary for the application. Material examples include, but are not limited to, aluminum, plastic, and composites.

FIGS. 6A-B depict corner or ceiling joining elements 600 according to an illustrative embodiment of the invention. Slots 602 connect insert panels at right angles to one another. If containers are not plumb or if a configuration other than that having right angles is desired, the corner or ceiling joining elements can be constructed to accommodate such arrangements. Joining elements 602 are depicted having curved corner portions 604, which will provide air flow around the corners. The corner portions can also be formed to be flush with the container corners. Corner joining elements 600 may also have stiffener portions, such as are depicted on wall joining elements in FIGS. 4A-B and FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 depicts a plurality of wall joining elements 702 connecting a plurality of insert panels 704. Corner joining elements 706 are also shown. Corner joining elements can also be placed on top of wall insert panels to connect ceiling insert panels to wall insert panels. Although corner joining elements can also be used to join floor insert panels to wall insert panels, they are not as necessary because the floor panels may stay properly positioned merely by placing them on the container floor. Joining elements are also optional to connect insert panels that are adjacent to one another in the same plane on the floor.

It is also understood that joining elements can be configured to put jogs in the walls, floors or ceilings. This can be to accommodate components behind insert panels or to form desired shapes of interior space. Joining elements may also contain slots or other mechanisms for positioning shelves or other components, such as utility-related components with respect to the insert panels.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the insert kit can be set up without damage or permanent modification to the container or exterior structure into which it is inserted, so that the insert may be removed, and the exterior structure may be used for other purposes.

The cavity may be ventilated to keep it at lower temperatures than would exist if an enclosed space was left in the sun. Although cavity ventilation may enhance the effect of the cavity under certain conditions, it is an optional component of the invention. A cavity without ventilation may be utilized in certain conditions. Ventilation may be provided by one or more fans. Fans may be directed to draw air from the cavity space or blow air into it. Cooling systems may be incorporated into conditioning of the cavity air. Likewise, when the outside air temperature is lower than would be desired for the habitable space, the cavity area may be heated to provide more efficient temperature control of the interior space. A gasket is preferably provided to seal the cavity between the insert and exterior structure. It is also understood that a cavity could be created by adding panels outside of the structure, but this approach may be more complicated and does not afford the ability to transform the container's interior walls to form habitable space with the same panels as are used to form the cavity.

In addition to the cavity providing enhanced temperature control, the cavity can serve to protect against harmful contaminants, such as chemicals or biological contaminants, by adding an additional layer of protection. Filters may also be incorporated into the apparatus for this purpose. Filters can be used to provide cleaner air in the cavity, and can also be used in an interior ventilation system.

Condensation in a structure converted to habitable space can also be a problem. By keeping the cavity at an appropriate temperature, condensation in the interior space will be reduced or eliminated. Incorporation of materials into the insert walls that allow transfer of moisture in only one direction can further alleviate the problem of condensation affecting the interior space. An example of such a material is Gortex® or a Gortex®-like material. Moisture absorbing materials may also be used on the panels or within the cavity to address humidity and condensation problems.

Preferably the insert does not touch the exterior structure walls so that heat is not transferred between the exterior structure walls and the insert walls. Although such a configuration is preferred, various degrees of contact between the insert walls and the exterior walls are within the scope of the invention. Some contact may be beneficial, for example to keep panels from flexing, which will be discussed in more detail below.

Insert components may be provided in a kit. The kit may include some or all of the following: insert panels such as walls, floors and ceiling; utility panel and components; environmental control components such as heating, air conditioning, fan, air handler, humidifier and dehumidifier; frames; joining elements; doors and door frames. In an illustrative embodiment of the invention, a kit includes 14 endwall, sidewall and ceiling panels; 1 door panel; 1 HVAC/electrical/telephone knock out panel (utility panel); 18 notched angles; and a plurality of screws.

Preferably the width of an insert panel is evenly divisible into the interior length of the exterior structure. For example, in an exemplary embodiment of the invention, panels are 90 inches tall by 45 inches wide. The container into which they are to be inserted is approximately 232″ deep. Therefore, five rows of panels can be placed side by side extending from the container front to the container rear. This leaves approximately 7 inches for storing miscellaneous items on the floor of the container. Similarly, stacks of panels can be placed in a container so they fill most of the vertical space in the container. In an illustrative example, a full insert kit has a height of approximately 16.5 inches. Kits are typically stacked on pallets in a container. Four units can be stacked on pallets in a container having a door height of 90 inches. This leaves additional room for utility components and miscellaneous items, or possibly another insert kit.

Use of the cavity to facilitate efficient temperature and/or condensation control, can reduce the necessary insert panel thickness, thereby further promoting efficient use of space. Insert panels may be constructed of various materials. The choice of material may depend on such factors as, cost, weight, environment in which the insert will be used and the type of exterior structure. Panels may be for example, composites or sandwiched materials such as laminates. In an exemplary embodiment, the outer surface is steel or aluminum. Synthetic materials may also be used. Panel materials may serve to protect occupants by being impenetrable by projectiles. Panels can also be constructed of combinations of material types.

Utility components may include for example, HVAC, electrical, telephone, cable and other communication provisions. Generators and fuel tanks can be included in kits or supplied separately. Various other components related to the utility systems can be supplied either with the kits or separately, such as telephones and computers.

Joining elements may include those necessary to join components to one another and/or to the exterior structure. Panels may need to be joined to one another or to the floor or ceiling. Utility components may need to be joined or affixed to a utility panel. Panels may be joined by various means, for example, hooks, hinges, snapable parts, screws or other fasteners, or combinations of joining elements. Panels may be joined directly to one another or by use of joining elements.

Depending on the materials used and the size of the insert panels, insert panels may not be totally rigid, allowing them to bend or flex. Flex-inhibiting components may prevent or reduce wall flexing. The flex-inhibiting components may be for example, spacers attached to the insert panels or otherwise positioned between the panels and the container, or they may be support components incorporated into the insert walls such as beams or cross pieces. Flex-inhibiting components may also be incorporated into insert component joining elements. Flex-inhibiting components will allow for use of relatively thin insert panel materials, which can help reduce weight and increase the habitable interior space.

It is noted that the structure floor may serve as the floor of the insert or a separate insert component may be used. The insert floor may sit directly on the exterior structure floor or there may be a cavity between the insert floor and the exterior structure floor.

Although it is preferable to have an insulating cavity between all insert panels and the container, it is within the scope of the invention to include an insulating cavity in only certain areas. This may be desirable for certain applications. For example, if a container is protected on one or more sides or is adjacent to another container, the insulating cavity may not be needed in that area. In such a case, no panel may be needed in the area except perhaps for aesthetic purposes or to incorporate a utility panel.

While the invention has been described by illustrative embodiments, additional advantages and modifications will occur to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to specific details shown and described herein. Modifications, for example, to the material types, sizes of the panels and joining elements may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the specific illustrative embodiments, but be interpreted within the full spirit and scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.





 
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