Title:
Hermetically sealed storage containers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage container for isolating delicate items from harsh environments has a rigid exterior forming a continuous box with an open mouth. A gasketed door is hinged to the box and is provided with catches cooperating with clasps on the box to compress the gasket and close the open mouth forming a hermetic seal. A one-way valve is mounted on the container to subject the sealed interior to a pressure differential from the atmospheric condition. A pressure gauge is mounted on the container to indicate the pressure differential existing in the container.



Inventors:
Dombroski, Henry (Boynton Beach, FL, US)
Cunningham, Anthony (Tequesta, FL, US)
Campbell, David R. (Jupiter, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/031411
Publication Date:
07/13/2006
Filing Date:
01/07/2005
Assignee:
Airtight, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D81/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BUI, LUAN KIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCHALE & SLAVIN, P.A. (PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hermetically sealed container for temporary storage of delicate items under a pressure differential from atmospheric conditions comprising a continuous rigid box having an opening, a door pivotally connected to said box by a set of hinges, said door having a periphery of a size and shape to close said opening, said door including a sealing gasket about the periphery engaging said opening, said box having at least one clasp, said door having at least one post mounted thereon, said clasp and said post cooperating to fasten said door and box and compressing said gasket, a one-way valve mounted in said container and adapted for permitting pressurized gas to enter said container, and a pressure gauge mounted on said container to visually indicate the pressure differential in said container.

2. A hermetically sealed container for temporary storage of delicate items under a pressure differential from atmospheric conditions comprising a continuous rigid box having an opening, a door pivotally connected to said box by a set of hinges, said door having a periphery of a size and shape to close said opening, said door including a sealing gasket about the periphery engaging said opening, said box having at least one clasp, said door having at least one post mounted thereon, said clasp and said post cooperating to fasten said door and box and compressing said gasket, a one-way valve mounted in said container and adapted for permitting evacuation of said container, and a pressure gauge mounted on said container to visually indicate the pressure differential in said container.

3. A hermetically sealed container of claim 1 wherein a one-way valve mounted in said container and adapted for permitting evacuation of said container, and a gauge mounted on said container to visually indicate the pressure differential in said container.

4. A hermetically sealed container of claim 1 wherein said box has a plurality of clasps, said door has a plurality of posts mounted thereon, said clasps and said posts cooperating to fasten said door and box and compressing said gasket.

5. A hermetically sealed container of claim 2 wherein said box has a plurality of clasps, said door has a plurality of posts mounted thereon, said clasps and said posts cooperating to fasten said door and box and compressing said gasket.

6. A hermetically sealed container of claim 3 wherein said one-way valve for permitting pressurized gas to enter said container and said one-way valve for permitting evacuation of said container each has a cover for closing each said valve, respectively.

7. A hermetically sealed container of claim 1 wherein said container has handles attached thereto and is light weight and portable by hand.

8. A hermetically sealed container of claim 2 wherein said container has handles attached thereto and is light weight and portable by hand.

9. A hermetically sealed container of claim 1 wherein said pressurized gas is provided by a replaceable CO2 cartridge.

10. A hermetically sealed container of claim 1 wherein said pressurized gas is provide by a manual hand pump.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to the field of storage containers, and in particular, to storage containers for protecting of items that can adversely affected by atmospheric conditions or in environments with adverse conditions.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The environment can be destructive to certain metals and sensitive valuables. By way of example, the air in coastal regions typically has a very high moisture and salt content which is capable of corroding most metals. When dissimilar metals are present, the moisture and salt can even result in electrolysis of the metals. Alternatively, a desert region is known to have very high dust particle content wherein fine particles can result in premature wear of coatings and rotating items such as bearings. Obviously numerous conditions therebetween can lead to similar premature wear of the valuable. It should be noted that such conditions can be compounded by the inclusion of high temperatures and man made pollutants. These conditions may not be limited to a particular region and may be replicated around lakes, mountains, cities and so forth.

Delicate items, such as cameras, binoculars, electronic equipment including but not limited to computers, firearms, electrical appliances, medical equipment, instruments and clothing, may be protected by enclosures but the atmospheric conditions of the region will pervade the space over time. The resulting corrosion and growth of mildew or mold can degrade, if not destroy such items. Also, certain activities, such as camping, boating, RV travel and other sustained outdoors activities, subject such delicate items to varying environmental conditions deleterious to them, if unprotected.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

The prior art is replete with examples of hermetically sealed containers, for example carbonated beverages and certain canned foods, which may be pressurized or vacuum packed. Such containers are rigid and require a complete seal between the interior and the exterior. Usually, these containers have a frangible seal that cannot be resealed once it is breached. Even if the container can be resealed there is no provision for restoring the pressure differential in the container.

Another example of pressurized containers is the cannister used for housing tennis balls. Tennis balls are placed in a pressurized container during the manufacturing step but once the container is opened, the tennis ball cover is porous and the optimum pressure within the ball slowly dissipates after the balls are removed from the cannister package. In view of this condition, storage containers are available for use with the tennis balls wherein a a hand pump is used to keep the balls in a pressurized state to increase their useful life.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,046,491 to Roeder teaches another type of container for storing tennis balls. The container is pressurized by coupling to a high pressure reservoir. The reservoir is connected to a control housing including gauges, an air compressor, and valves to maintain the storage container at a pre-determined pressure. The storage container has an access door for loading and unloading tennis balls.

Thus what is needed is a versatile storage container that can maintain a positive or negative internal pressure to protect sensitive equipment and instruments from adverse atmospheric conditions.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

A container for storing items from adverse environments having a rigid exterior forming a continuous box with an open mouth. A gasketed door is hinged to the box and is provided with catches cooperating with clasps on the box to compress the gasket and close the open mouth forming a hermetic seal. A one-way valve is mounted on the container to subject the sealed interior to a pressure differential from the atmospheric condition. A pressure gauge is mounted on the container to indicate the pressure differential existing in the container. Preferably the container will maintain a pressure of 0.5 psi to 30 psi, or a vacuum of −0.5 to −30. The pressure introduced is by an inert gas or air.

Therefore, it is an objective of this invention to provide a container, sufficiently rigid and impervious, to prevent physical damage to stored items and to withstand a negative or positive internal pressure without deformation.

It is another objective of this invention to provide a container with a one-way valve for pressurizing the container.

It is a further objective of this invention to provide a container with a one-way valve for evacuating the container.

It is yet another objective of this invention to provide a gauge in the container for showing the amount of negative pressure or positive pressure within the interior of the container.

It is a still further objective of this invention to provide an opening in the container with a removable door for gaining access to the interior. The door including a seal for forming a hermetic closure when in place.

Another objective is to provide a versatile storage container that can maintain a positive or negative internal pressure to protect sensitive equipment and instruments from adverse atmospheric conditions.

Still another objective is to provide a storage container capable of overcoming the certain environmental deleterious effects by use of a pressure differential.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective of the hermetically sealed container of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective of the container of this invention with the door in the open position;

FIG. 3 is a cross section of the door seal along lines 3-3 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross section of the pressure valve along lines 4-4 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a cross section of the vacuum valve of this invention; and

FIG. 6 is a pictorial of a hermetically sealed storage container having a CO2 cartridge for creating a pressure differential or a hand pump for creating pressure or pulling a vacuum.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The storage container 10, shown in FIG. 1, is a portable unit that may be made in various sizes. The container may be small enough to be hand carried or larger for transport in vehicles. The container 10 may also be incorporated into vehicles or permanent structures. As shown, the container 10 has handles 18 to facilitate lifting and/or carrying the container from place to place. Larger containers may be mounted on casters or wheels (not shown).

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the container 10 has an outer front wall 11 and a door 12. The walls and door may be double thickness sealed together. The volume between the inner walls and the outer walls may be filled or evacuated.

The outer front wall 11 and inner front wall 27 are connected to outer end walls 13 and 14 with inner walls 28, 29, respectively, are connected to outer back wall 15 and inner back wall 30 forming a four sided structure. The front wall, back wall and end walls are connected to the outer bottom wall 19 and inner back wall 26 forming an open topped container. In effect, this constitutes a box within a box with the margins sealed together. The outer walls are of sufficient strength and rigidity to prevent puncture and breaking from normal usage.

The door 12 has an outer wall and an inner wall made of the same construction as the box. The door 12 is pivotably connected to the box by hinges 20 and 21 mounted to form a pressure seal between the box and the door. The periphery of the door has a sealing gasket 31, shown in FIG. 3, to complete the seal when the door is closed.

As shown, over-center clasps 22 and 23 are mounted on the front outer wall of the container 10 with bails that extend to engage posts 24 and 25 on the door. As the over-center clasps are pivoted downwardly the bails place compression on the sealing gasket of the door. The opening and closing of the door along with the fastening of the clasps permit convenient entry and exit of the container for temporary storage of items. Other suitable fasteners may be used, such as threaded clasps and wing nuts, circumferential straps, etc.

The inner walls, gasket and clasps of the box and door form a pressure vessel capable of withstanding positive and negative pressures in the range of 0.5 psi (pounds per square inch) to +30 psi without deformation. The pressure differential between the interior of the container and the outside atmosphere effectively separates the two environments from each other.

Once the items, such as camera 100, have been stored in the container and the door closed and fastened, a source of positive or negative pressure may be connected to the one-way valves 17 or 40, shown in FIG. s 4 and 5. Of course, the container may be provided with only one valve for either a positive pressure or a negative pressure storage. FIG. 4 illustrates a positive pressure valve 17 flush mounted in the door to prevent inadvertent activation. A cover 36 has threads 37 for engaging the threads 38 in the valve body. In the two valve embodiment, shown, the cover also serves to seal the valve if negative pressure is being used. The valve 17 has a valve stem 32 that is spring biased closed by spring 35. The valve structure is illustrative and other one-way valves may be substituted for the valve shown. A pressure hose fitting (not shown) engages the valve plate 33 and depresses the valve stem to open the valve orifice 39 for influx of pressurized air. In boats and RVs with access to a source of electricity, electric positive or negative air pumps may be used, otherwise a hand pump may be provided with the container. The use of other inert gases to pressurize the container is also possible.

FIG. 5 illustrates a negative pressure valve mounted flush with the outer wall in the same manner as the positive pressure valve, explained above. The valve 40 has a cover 45 with threads 46 to engage threads 47 on the valve body. The valve stem 41 is spring biased closed by spring 44. Valve stem 41 has a valve plate 43 closing the valve orifice 48. The valve structure is illustrative and other one-way valves may be substituted for the valve shown.

A pressure gauge 16 is mounted on the end wall of the container. The gauge may read both negative pressure and positive pressure of the condition of the interior of the container. Obviously, when only one one-way valve is used, the gauge would read only the pressure differential produced in the container. The gauge may have an additional aural device to signal low pressure differential. The aural device may be operated by air or battery powered. The gauge serves as a visual indicator of the condition of the interior of the container.

FIG. 6 illustrates the container 10 having an outer walls 11, 13 and 14 and a door 12. The source of positive or negative pressure may be provided by a hand pump or replaceable CO2 cartridge 50. In this embodiment, a CO2 cartridge with an on/off valve protruding to the outside of the container provides a means for creating a pressure within the container, thereby providing a pressure differential. Alternatively, the container can be pressurized with the gauge 52 indicating the pressure differential and container seal condition.

A number of embodiments of the present invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited by the specific illustrated embodiment but only by the scope of the appended claims.