Title:
Performed slab for use as a foundation or splash pad for industrial equipment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Apparatus and methods of use for foundations including a precast slab system for industrial equipment. The slab may have attachment means incorporated therein order to move the slab. Industrial equipment may be installed and removed from the slab. After a period of time, the slab may be retrieved and, in one embodiment, reused at another location.



Inventors:
Chappell, Ralph L. (Martinez, CA, US)
Towles, Christopher V. (Oakland, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/368173
Publication Date:
11/09/2006
Filing Date:
03/03/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/00; B65D90/24; E02D27/01; E02D27/32; E02D27/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GILBERT, WILLIAM V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Linda K. Russell (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for installing an equipment foundation for compressed gas equipment, comprising: a) providing a precast slab having a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface, wherein the slab is formed of concrete; b) placing the lower surface of the slab on a support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the support surface; and c) placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab, wherein the industrial equipment comprises at least one compressed gas vessel containing compressed gas.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the at least one compressed gas vessel comprises a plurality of gas cylinders manifolded together.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the support surface is unimproved earth.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab is done prior to placing the lower surface of the slab on the support surface.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the density of the slab is nonuniform in order to achieve a desired distribution of weight.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein weights are disposed on the slab in order to provide stability against torques applied to the slab.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the industrial equipment comprises a plurality of compressed gas vessels.

8. The method of claim 1, further comprising installing a fence around at least a portion of the slab.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the pad is a splash pad configured for receiving a volatile liquid being delivered to the industrial equipment.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein placing the lower surface of the slab on the support surface and placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab occur substantially at the same time as part of a facility installation at a customer site.

11. The method of claim 1, further comprising, after placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab, mechanically securing the industrial equipment to the top surface.

12. The method of claim 1, further comprising, prior to placing the lower surface of the slab on the support surface: a) placing the slab on a delivery vehicle in response to a customer order; and b) transporting the slab on the delivery vehicle to a site where the support surface is located; wherein the slab preexists the customer order.

13. The method of claim 1, further comprising, prior to placing the lower surface of the slab on the support surface: a) removing the slab from a delivery vehicle.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein removing the slab from the delivery vehicle is done using a crane.

15. The method of claim 13, wherein removing the slab from the delivery vehicle is done using a fork lift.

16. The method of claim 1, further comprising fluidly coupling the industrial equipment to a facility located off of the slab, whereby contents of the compressed gas vessel are delivered to the facility.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the support surface is a part of a permanent structure housing the processing facility.

18. A method for installing an equipment foundation, comprising: a) providing a precast slab having a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface, wherein the slab is formed of concrete; b) placing the lower surface of the slab on a support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the support surface; c) placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab, wherein the industrial equipment comprises at least one compressed gas vessel; and d) removing the slab from the support surface.

19. The method of claim 17, further comprising, after removing the slab from the support surface, hauling the slab away from the support surface on the vehicle.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein the at least one compressed gas vessel comprises a plurality of gas cylinders manifolded together.

21. A method for installing an equipment foundation, comprising: a) placing a precast slab on a delivery vehicle in response to a customer order, wherein the slab has a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface and is formed of concrete, and wherein the slab preexists the customer order; b) transporting the slab on the delivery vehicle to a site where a support surface is located; c) removing the slab from the delivery vehicle; d) placing the lower surface of the slab on a support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the support surface; e) placing a plurality of compressed gas vessels on the top surface of the slab; and f) fluidly coupling the plurality of compressed gas vessels to a facility located off of the slab.

22. The method of claim 20, wherein the plurality of compressed gas vessels comprises a plurality of gas cylinders manifolded together.

23. The method of claim 20, wherein the support surface is a part of a permanent structure housing the facility.

24. The method of claim 20, wherein the plurality of compressed gas vessels are mounted in a frame, and further comprising securing the frame to the top surface of the slab.

25. A method for installing an equipment foundation, comprising: a) placing a precast slab on a delivery vehicle in response to a customer order, wherein the slab has a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface and is formed of concrete, and wherein the slab preexists the customer order; b) transporting the slab on the delivery vehicle to a site where a support surface is located; c) removing the slab from the delivery vehicle; d) placing the lower surface of the slab on a support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the support surface; e) placing a plurality of compressed gas vessels on the top surface of the slab; f) fluidly coupling the plurality of compressed gas vessels to a facility located off of the slab; and g) subsequently removing the slab from the support surface.

26. The method of claim 24, wherein the plurality of compressed gas vessels comprises a plurality of gas cylinders manifolded together.

27. The method of claim 24, further comprising, prior to removing the slab from the support surface, removing the plurality of compressed gas vessels from the slab.

28. The method of claim 24, further comprising transporting the slab on the delivery vehicle from the site.

29. The method of claim 24, further comprising, after removing the slab from the support surface: a) transporting the slab on the delivery vehicle to another site where another support surface is located; b) removing the slab from the delivery vehicle; and c) placing the lower surface of the slab on the other support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the other support surface.

30. A method for installing an equipment foundation, comprising: a) providing a plurality of precast slabs each having a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface, wherein each slab is formed of concrete; b) placing the lower surface of a first slab on a support surface of a site in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the support surface; c) placing a second slab at least partially on top of the first slab; and d) placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the second slab, wherein the industrial equipment comprises at least one of a cryogenic liquid bulk tank and a plurality of compressed gas vessels.

31. The method of claim 29, wherein the plurality of compressed gas vessels comprises a plurality of gas cylinders manifolded together.

32. The method of claim 29, wherein the industrial equipment further comprises at least one of a pressure control apparatus, a gas filtering apparatus, a telemetry device, and a tank filling facility for filling the cryogenic liquid bulk tank with a cryogenic liquid.

33. The method of claim 29, wherein the cryogenic liquid bulk tank contains a liquid selected from the group consisting of: a) nitrogen; b) oxygen; c) argon; d) carbon dioxide; e) hydrogen; f) helium; and g) mixtures thereof.

34. The method of claim 29, wherein the first and second slabs have the same dimensions.

35. The method of claim 29, wherein the first and second slabs have different dimensions.

36. The method of claim 29, further comprising: a) retrieving the first and second slabs from the site; and b) reusing at least one of the first and second slabs at a different site.

37. A method for providing a foundation for industrial equipment, comprising: a) providing a precast slab having a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface, wherein the slab is comprised of concrete; b) mounting at least one piece of industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab, wherein the industrial equipment comprises at least one of a cryogenic liquid bulk tank and a plurality of compressed gas vessels; c) transporting the slab, with the industrial equipment mounted thereto, to a site having a support surface; and d) placing the lower surface of the slab on the support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently retrieved from the site.

38. The method of claim 36, wherein the plurality of compressed gas vessels comprises a plurality of gas cylinders manifolded together.

39. The method of claim 36, further comprising fluidly coupling the industrial equipment to a facility located off of the slab.

40. The method of claim 36, wherein the industrial equipment is mounted in a manner to be subsequently removable from the slab.

41. A method for installing an equipment foundation, comprising: a) providing a precast slab having a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface, wherein the slab is formed of concrete; b) placing the lower surface of the slab on a support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the support surface; c) placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab, wherein the industrial equipment comprises a cryogenic fluid source; and d) fluidly coupling the industrial equipment to a facility located off of the slab, whereby the cryogenic fluid is deliverable from the cryogenic fluid source to the facility, wherein the facility is a cryogenic fluid injection system configured to inject the cryogenic fluid into a cement mixer.

42. The method of claim 40, wherein the cryogenic fluid is liquid nitrogen.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is claims the benefit of the following commonly-owned, co-pending U.S. patent applications all of which are incorporated herein by reference: U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/768,945, filed Jan. 30, 2004, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/941,705, filed Sep. 15, 2004, both of which claim the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/503,961, filed Sep. 19, 2003.

BACKGROUND

Embodiments of the present invention are generally related to methods fabricating, installing and removing equipment foundations for industrial applications.

Various industrial applications often require a foundation be formed on which industrial equipment may be installed. Typically, the foundation is constructed by first conditioning (e.g., leveling or digging into the soil) a surface where the foundation is to be located. Then, a form having the desired dimensions is constructed on, or partially in, the conditioned surface. Finally, concrete is poured into the form and allowed to cure. Once the concrete is fully cured, the appropriate industrial equipment may be placed on the foundation.

This method of installation results in disadvantages to both the customer and the equipment/service provider. One disadvantage to customer is the time required. Concrete cure times can be on the order of weeks, which may place a significant burden on the customer requesting the installation in that the area occupied by the curing foundation is rendered unusable for any purpose for a period of time.

A disadvantage to equipment/service provider stems for the fact that industrial equipment (and related services) is often provided for a limited time (e.g., 7 years), after which the industrial equipment is retrieved. Since the customer now has a permanent foundation available, the customer is free to solicit bids from competing providers. Thus, the current business model in which permanent foundations are installed provides no means or incentives to retaining customers once the contract expires.

Further, the foundation has to be removed from leased locations, resulting in demolition charges. Thus, the customer has to pay to build a foundation, and then to remove it. In other cases, a given foundation may be too small to accommodate new or additional equipment. In these cases, the customer is required to install a second foundation.

Therefore, there is a need for method and apparatus for the installation of foundations for industrial equipment.

SUMMARY

The present invention generally relates to methods and apparatus for the installation of foundations for industrial equipment. In particular embodiments, the present invention relates to portable pads or slabs, particularly to portable precast slabs for use as temporary, removable, or permanent foundations for industrial equipment, bulk storage tanks, cryogenic liquid pumps, compressed gas vessels and the like; as well as to related methods of making and using the slab. In one embodiment, the slab is also suitable as a protective surface, for example as an off loading or splash pad for liquid oxygen, or liquid hydrogen, or other cryogenic liquids.

One embodiment provides a method for installing an equipment foundation for compressed gas equipment, including providing a precast slab having a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface; wherein the slab is formed of concrete; placing the lower surface of the slab on a support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the support surface; and placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab; wherein the industrial equipment comprises at least one compressed gas vessel containing compressed gas.

Another embodiment of a method for installing an equipment foundation includes providing a plurality of precast slabs each having a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface; wherein each slab is formed of concrete; placing the lower surface of a first slab on a support surface of a site in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the support surface; placing a second slab at least partially on top of the first slab; and placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the second slab; wherein the industrial equipment comprises at least one of a cryogenic liquid bulk tank and a plurality of compressed gas vessels.

Yet another embodiment provides a method for providing a foundation for industrial equipment, including providing a precast slab having a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface; wherein the slab is comprised of concrete; mounting at least one piece of industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab; wherein the industrial equipment comprises at least one of a cryogenic liquid bulk tank and a plurality of compressed gas vessels; transporting the slab, with the industrial equipment mounted thereto, to a site having a support surface; and placing the lower surface of the slab on the support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently retrieved from the site.

Yet another method for installing an equipment foundation includes providing a precast slab having a top surface, at least one side surface, and a lower surface; wherein the slab is formed of concrete; placing the lower surface of the slab on a support surface in a manner allowing the slab to be subsequently removed from the support surface; placing industrial equipment on the top surface of the slab; wherein the industrial equipment comprises a cryogenic fluid source; and fluidly coupling the industrial equipment to a facility located off of the slab, whereby the cryogenic fluid is deliverable from the cryogenic fluid source to the facility; wherein the facility is a cryogenic fluid injection system configured to inject the cryogenic fluid into a cement mixer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a further understanding of the nature and objects of the present invention, reference should be made to the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like elements are given the same or analogous reference numbers and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a view of a reinforcing means of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a side view of an attachment means of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a side view of an attachment means of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 is a top view of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional side view of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7A is a cross-sectional side lengthwise view of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7B is a cross-sectional side endwise view of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7C is a side view of an attachment means of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 is a side view of an attachment means of an alternate embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 9 shows plan views of a circular slab;

FIG. 10 shows plan views of an ellipsoidal slab;

FIG. 11 shows plan views of a conical slab;

FIG. 12 shows a plan view of one embodiment of a slab having a main portion and a landing extending therefrom;

FIG. 13 shows perspective view of a stacked support structure including a bottom slab and a top slab;

FIG. 14 shows a perspective view of a stacked support structure having a bottom slab and a top slab with different dimensions;

FIG. 15 shows another embodiment of a stacked support structure from a perspective view;

FIG. 16 shows a side view of a slab partially recessed below an upper surface of the ground;

FIG. 17 shows a side view of a slab fully recessed below the upper surface by a height;

FIG. 18A shows a plan view and a side cross-sectional view, respectively, of a slab;

FIG. 18B shows a plan view and a side cross-sectional view, respectively, of a slab;

FIG. 19 shows a cross-section view of another embodiment of a slab configured with recesses formed on a top surface of the slab and each adapted to receive a weight therein;

FIG. 20 shows a perspective view of a customer site having a customer building and a system adjacent to the building;

FIG. 21 shows one embodiment of a fluid supply module and a support equipment module disposed on a slab and configured to supply a fluid to a cement mixer mounted on a cement truck; and

FIG. 22 shows a side view of a tube rack.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the following, reference is made to embodiments of the invention. However, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to specific described embodiments. Instead, any combination of the following features and elements, whether related to different embodiments or not, is contemplated to implement and practice the invention. Furthermore, in various embodiments the invention provides numerous advantages over the prior art. However, although embodiments of the invention may achieve advantages over other possible solutions and/or over the prior art, whether or not a particular advantage is achieved by a given embodiment is not limiting of the invention. Thus, the following aspects, features, embodiments and advantages are merely illustrative and are not considered elements or limitations of the appended claims except where explicitly recited in a claim(s). Likewise, reference to “the invention” shall not be construed as a generalization of any inventive subject matter disclosed herein and shall not be considered to be an element or limitation of the appended claims except where explicitly recited in a claim(s).

For purposes of the description of this invention, the terms “upper,” “lower,” “left,” “vertical,” “horizontal,” “top,” “bottom,” “lower,” “side,” and other related terms shall be defined in relation to embodiments of the present invention as described herein and as illustrated in the accompanying figures. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative structures and processes and still be within the scope and meaning of this disclosure. Further, it is to be understood that any specific dimensions and/or physical characteristics related to the embodiments disclosed herein are capable of modification and alteration while still remaining within the scope of the present invention and are, therefore, not intended to be limiting. Embodiments of the present invention relate to portable pads or slabs comprised of precast concrete or cement for use as temporary or removable (or permanent) foundations for industrial equipment, bulk storage tanks, cryogenic liquid pumps, heat exchangers and associated equipment, such as manifolds, distillation columns, small buildings, and the like.

The use of portable or preformed structures that can readily be transferred from one location to another, and/or can be used immediately after delivery and set up is very advantageous. In certain locations permanent foundations cannot be installed and/or there is a need for a foundation that can immediately be used. In other situations, rather than purchasing and installing permanent industrial equipment and components, a business owner may choose to lease portions of equipment for a certain duration, and such equipment may be best set up on a foundation, which may also be leased.

Certain suppliers will also lease expensive equipment, such as a bulk storage tanks to third parties that is used in conjunction with the purchase of commodities, such as liquid nitrogen and oxygen that are used and replenished on a regular basis. Due to the limited duration of the supply contracts and/or leases, it may be unfeasible for these business owners to permanently install bulk storage tanks or other industrial equipment. In such a case, a foundation for the bulk storage tank or other industrial equipment is necessary, and a slab/pad that is portable and removable can be used in conjunction with the storage tank or other industrial equipment.

Additionally, business strategies as well as investment and accounting principles may necessitate portable equipment and components. Supplier response time can be also be shortened; by inventorying portable pads, equipment can be installed in less time.

Portable structures are also useful in locations, such as easements and leased premises where permanent structures are forbidden and the structures and equipment can be readily moved or relocated.

The invention contemplates a portable precast slab, with or without reinforcement, which is used as a foundation or splash pad. The slab/pad has a top surface, a bottom surface, a plurality of side surfaces, a length, a width, and a thickness, wherein the thickness varies and a weight bearing slab/pad is preferably at least about 6 inches to about 24 inches or more, and may be up to about 48 inches thick. The thickness of the pad is also important to prevent the slab from breaking apart during lifting, loading, handling, use, and the like. Further, the slab is preferably at least about 6 feet in length, and may be up to about 20 feet in length. Of course in other embodiments, slabs of similar square footage ranges may also be preferable. Similarly, the slab is preferably at least about 6 feet in width, and may be up to about 12 feet in width and even wider with the ultimate limitation being portability. In one embodiment, a slab of the dimensions of 10′×15′16″ has been especially advantageous for use as a foundation for cryogenic storage tanks. In another embodiment, slabs of the dimensions of 10′×15′ by 6″ thick, 10′×15′ by 16″ thick, and 10′×15′ by 12″ thick have been found to be especially desirous for use as a foundation for cryogenic storage tanks. The sixteen-inch thick slab that is 10′×15′ weighs approximately 29,250 pounds.

The slab can be used as a foundation for a variety of industrial equipment and/or components. The slab may be used indoors or outdoors. The invention also contemplates a portable precast slab, with or without reinforcement, which is used as a splash pad for the offloading of liquid cryogens (especially those that are flammable) or oxidizers. Certain types of substrates, such as asphalt are flammable, and the dripping of certain cryogens, such as oxygen, onto asphalt can increase the risk of starting a fire, and is not allowed by code. In contrast, a cement or concrete surface or substrate is not flammable, and meets code. As such, embodiments of this invention are also directed to slabs that are used as splash pads. No special coating or films are required on the surface of the cement or concrete in order for them to be used as splash pads.

Of course the slabs of this invention that are used as a foundation for industrial equipment can also be used as splash pads, with or without holding industrial equipment. If the slab is to be used as only a splash pad and not as a weight bearing foundation, it does not require that the slab be of the same thickness as the slab that is used as a foundation. If for example the splash pad and foundation pad are to be placed adjacent to one another, slabs of the same thickness may be easier to install.

Further splash pads may be used alone or in conjunction with slabs that are used as a foundation. Just like the slabs used as a foundation, the splash pad has a top surface, a bottom surface, a plurality of side surfaces, a length, a width, and a thickness, wherein the thickness varies and is at least about 2 inches to about 48 inches, but is more preferably at least about 2 inches to 6 inches in thickness. The splash pad is preferably a minimum of about 6 feet in length, and may be up to about 20 feet in length or more. In one embodiment, the minimum size is defined according to applicable industry regulations.

In one embodiment, the splash pad is preferably a minimum of about 6 feet in width, and may be up to about 12 feet in width or more. In a further embodiment, a preferable splash pad is of a length of about 4 feet and a width of about 8 feet. In another embodiment, the preferable splash pad is of a length of about 8 feet and a width of about 8 feet. Of course, in other embodiments, splash pads of similar square footage may also be used. In all other respects, the splash pad can have the same characteristics and features of the foundation pad.

Further, the slabs/pads may have a means for attachment that allows the slab to be lifted and/or moved. The means for attachment may comprise a variety of apparatus, known to one skilled in the art, such as at least one lift pin or eye loop that is accessible from the top or side surfaces of the slab/pad, and that may or may not be recessed. The slab could also be designed to be moved by a forklift, or alternatively may be rigged without any specific attachment apparatus.

The slab/pad may also have a plurality of apertures that are cast into the slab and that are visible from the top or side surfaces. The apertures can be used for a variety of purposes, such as to hold posts or bollards, or to install fence posts therein.

Further, the slab/pad may interconnect or interface with another slab or pad that may be portable or permanent. This may include at least one side surface that is shaped and/or sized to interconnect or interface with at least one side surface of another slab.

The slab/pad may have structural reinforcement. If so, a variety of means known to one skilled in the art may be used to reinforce the concrete or cement.

Also, if the industrial equipment comprises a bulk oxygen or hydrogen storage tank, preferably an at least 10 foot length by 10 foot width area on the top surface should be available for liquid oxygen delivery after the bulk storage tank is placed on the surface of the slab (i.e., an offloading area for the working end of a tanker truck), or a splash pad may be placed adjacent to the foundation that has the same or similar width area. In one embodiment, if the slab is used for a bulk storage tank, the slab should at least support a storage tank that is filled with at least up to about 300 to about 6000 gallons of liquid or more. Of course the pads may be used for tanks holding any other liquids and having any other function. The pads have also been used for Argon and Nitrogen tanks.

Just like the slabs used as a foundation and splash pads, the pads that are used for cryogenic liquid pumps or other industrial equipment have a top surface, a bottom surface, a plurality of side surfaces, a length, a width, and a thickness, wherein the thickness varies and is at least about 4 inches to about 16 inches, but is more preferably at least about 4 inches to about 10 inches in thickness. The pads used for cryogenic pumps are preferably a minimum of about 6 feet in length, at least about 15 feet in length, and may be up to about 25 feet in length or more. A pad that is 8′8″×24′ by 8″ thick is one such size that has been used to hold a number of high-pressure cryogenic liquid pumps. Other pads of various thickness and sizes are also contemplated for use to hold such pumps.

Because the pad/slab structure must be portable and movable, it is preferably light enough so that it can be lifted by equipment that is commonly used to lift apparatuses, such as cranes and forklifts. Is should also be weighted and sized so that it can be carried by a vehicle that can safely travel on roads (with or without permits) or other carriers, such as boats.

This invention also contemplates a method of making and using a portable precast reinforced cement or concrete slab.

As shown in FIG. 1, the precast slab/pad 2 has a top surface 4, a plurality of side surfaces 6, and a lower surface 8. A precast or premolded slab means a slab, pad, foundation, or foundation component that is formed by casting cement into a form or mold at a different location, prior to the time of actual use as a slab, pad, or foundation for industrial equipment. The slab 2 also has a length 10, a width 12, and a thickness 14.

Preferably, the slab has a thickness of at least about 6 inches to about 24 inches. The slabs that are used for foundations are preferably comprised of reinforced cement or concrete 24 and preferably have an attachment means 16, which allows the slab to be lifted. Again, splash pads may also have such attachment means.

Attachment means are typically employed to lift and/or move the precast slab, pad, or foundation elements. The term attachment means refers to a device or apparatus that can be incorporated into the slab that allows the slab to be moved or movable. For example, the means for attachment may essentially comprise lift pins, lift rings, lift bolts, and the like and a combination thereof that are preferably are cast steel, or other such apparatus known or used by one skilled in the art for such purposes. The means for the attachment are preferably accessible from the top surface and/or side surface. The cable may be directly wrapped around or looped through the attachment means, and for example in attachment means with a loop clips, hooks and the like that is attached to cable can be inserted into or through the eye of the loop or around the other types of attachment means. According to the present invention, the attachment means can also be used to secure other elements to the precast slabs, including elements from the industrial equipment, such as tie down lines, ground lines, and the like used by one skilled in the art.

When installed, the top surface of the pad is horizontal with regard to the ground/substrate, and the pad may be level or substantially level, although it need not be. The term side surfaces refer to the edges or other regions of the slabs between the top and bottom surfaces, and where a vertical side surface may begin.

The slab should be heavy enough to provide a force great enough to resist sliding and movement during wind and seismic events as well as displacement, overturning and/or sliding of the equipment, such as a bulk storage tank during such events. Additional weight can also be added on site, and consist of concrete, cement, or other weights, such as steel, lead, and water. Piers, gripping members, or other methods known to one skilled in the art can be used in conjunction with the slab to resist sliding and overturning forces.

The slab should be sized such that it is capable of bearing the weight of the industrial equipment that sits upon the surface of the slab. For example, the design criteria of the preferred embodiment of the slab/pad should resist moving during wind or seismic events. For example, the slab/pad should preferably withstand wind speeds and seismic forces per applicable building codes (e.g., the Uniform Building Code).

The slab/pad may comprise a unitary piece, or multiple pieces that are placed adjacent to each other that touch or abut each other. A single piece slab/pad is preferable as it is easier and to set up. If a large slab is required, such as one larger than 15 feet long by 10 feet wide, or, there are weight or transportation problems, a slab comprised of multiple pieces would be more desirable. Yet, there may be disadvantages to using a slab/pad comprised of multiple pieces as is may be more difficult to level multiple pieces, the assembly may be awkward, and the pieces may come apart. FIG. 1 shows a slab/pad comprised of multiple pieces with overlapping portions 9 in a stepped fashion that interface or interconnect. Alternatively, the slab/pad pieces can fit together in a variety of ways similar to puzzle pieces and may have a uniform depth at the edges with interlocking or interfitting projections and recesses, or may instead be square or rectangular pieces or other shaped pieces that abut one another. In cases where multiple pieces are used to make a slab, pad, or foundation, the side surfaces are preferably the area where two pieces are joined together or placed adjacent to one another to form a pad or a slab. If so, at least on one side of the slab may have the ability to interconnect and/or interface other pads or slabs, portable or not, in order to create a larger surface. Should it become necessary to join the portable foundation to another, numerous joining means are possible that can be used to connect one slab/pad to another. Several stakes may be used around the perimeter of the slab, or a frame may be installed around the perimeter of the slab to ensure that the slab pieces do not come apart. Alternatively, metal strap portions may be placed around the joint areas. The slab/pad of FIG. 1 may also be comprised of a unitary piece, and would lack overlapping portions 9.

The slab/pad may be of any shape. Preferably, the slab used as a foundation will be shaped and sized so that there will be a perimeter of slab left after the industrial equipment is placed on the slab. In some applications, the slab may be circular, rectangular, square, or of other shapes that will fit into the area designated for the slab. In certain applications, a certain slab area is desirable. For example, if the slab is used as foundation for a bulk storage tank, in one embodiment, at least about an 8 foot length by an 8 foot width area on the top surface that is adjacent to the tank should be available for liquid oxygen delivery after the bulk storage tank is placed upon the pad or slab to comply with industry requirements for liquid oxygen systems.

The slab/pad may be made a variety of ways that are known or used by one skilled in the art. For example, concrete or cement can be poured into a form that that sits on a table, similar to wooden forms that are built by contractors when foundations are constructed on-site, and the table must be designed to bear the weight of the filled form. The forms may be made of plastic, wood, metal and other durable materials. The forms are preferably steel as is the table. Once the concrete or cement is cured, which typically takes about 1-2 weeks, the sides of the form are removed leaving the slab/pad sitting on the steel table. When the concrete or cement dries, it pulls away from the table and the slab can be lifted off the table. Other methods of molding as well as other types of concrete or cement may be used that are known or used by one skilled in the art.

Adequate curing is essential to obtaining good quality concrete or cement and contributes to the durability and the wear resistance of the slab/pad. During the curing process, the concrete or cement should not dry out prematurely, but should retain moisture and gradually dry in order to build up strength and gain durability and wear resistance. The amount of time required to cure will depend upon the size and thickness of the slab pieces as well as type of concrete or cement used. To slow the drying, the slab/pad can be covered with plastic sheeting after the mold is filled. Alternatively, a commercial curing compound may be sprayed, brushed or rolled onto the surface of the concrete or cement. Also, for example, a water-reducing admixture, such as one that meets ASTM C494 standards may also be mixed into the concrete or cement. Further, it is preferable that calcium chloride admixtures be avoided.

In one embodiment, the bottom of the slab/pad is concrete or cement. Of course the plates or other apparatuses may also be attached or joined to the bottom of the slab/pad. For example to increase friction between the soil and the foundation or to grip the substrate, rebar or other metal or other materials that are rigid or semi-rigid could be could be molded into or otherwise attached the bottom of the concrete or cement pad/slab.

The cement that is used is preferably conventional cement, such as Portland cement, ASTM C 150, Type 1. The concrete that is used is preferably conventional concrete, such as Portland cement, ASTM C 150, Type 1, which has an ultimate compressive strength of at least about 2000 psi, and preferably to about 4000 psi. Of course, high strength concrete could also be used for at least a portion of the slab/pad. The maximum water cement ratio is preferably about 0.45, with normal weight aggregate, such as ASTM C33, with preferably no more than about 5% voids in the concrete. Other aggregates and criteria that are known or used by one skilled in the art can also be used with respect to the choice of concrete or cement, aggregate, and percentage of voids in the concrete or cement. Depending upon the weight requirements, a portion of lightweight concrete or cement may also be used to form the slab/pad. Of course, the foregoing specifications are merely illustrative and persons skilled in the art will appreciate other specifications that are within the scope of the invention.

Varying densities of concrete or cement can also be used to increase the stability of the slab. For example, higher density concrete or cement may be used in certain areas, such as the perimeter and edges, with lighter weight concrete or cement in locations, such as the center. Also the slab/pad can be weighted, such as at the edges to increase the stability of the slab/pad.

To increase its strength, the concrete or cement is preferably reinforced. For example, a plurality of wires, rebars, rods, bars, plates, gravel, glass, glass fibers, or carbon fibers and a combination thereof can be used as a reinforcing means and are cast into the concrete or cement. Bars or rods 22, and rebars 26, such as those made from metal, fiberglass, or polymers or a combination thereof are preferably used to reinforce the concrete or cement slab. See FIG. 1. Rebars are the most preferable.

In one embodiment, the preferable rebar comply with ASTM A 615 specification, and are grade 60 bars. Other standards known or used by one skilled in the art may also be used. If the bars are bent or deformed, they are preferably bent or deformed while cold. Further, the rebar or rods may also be formed into a support frame, and if desired, the means for attachment can be is removably or securably attached to the support frame, rebar, or rods. Preferably, there is at least a 2-inch to 3-inch thickness of concrete or cement that covers the rebars, bars, or rods, or plates. If glass, gravel, pebbles, broken stone, slag, or carbon fibers are chosen, they are preferably interspersed throughout the concrete or cement. See e.g. FIG. 8. The rebars or rods are placed in the form at the time of casting and act to strengthen the slab after the slab has cured.

Preferably, conventional rebar 26, such as ASTM A36 steel is used. The rebars may be arranged and spaced in a variety of ways. Preferably, the rebars or rods are no more than about 3 feet apart, and are preferably about 12 inches to about 18 inches on center with respect to each other. Also, the rebars are preferably at least about #3 to about #10 rebar which is equivalent to about ⅜ inch in diameter to about 1¼ inches in diameter or more. Of course, rebar of a greater diameter can also be used. Further, the rebars may be parallel to one another and are preferably further criss-crossed. The rebar may be one layer thick, made into a 3 dimensional support frame, or instead two layers or more of rebars can be used. For example, in one embodiment, the top rebars can be #5 or ⅝ rebar in diameter, are criss-crossed, and are spaced about 16 inches each way, while the bottom rebars are # 8 rebar, or 1 inch in diameter, and are criss-crossed with spacing about 12 inches to about 18 inches on center from each rebar. Further, when two layers are used and the rebar is criss-crossed, the rebar may be staggered and spaced such that rebar is present about every 6 inches to about every 8 inches.

If the slab/pad is such a length that extensions must be used to splice the rebars to each other, the rebar is preferably overlapped at the spliced areas 27, such as in accordance with ACI 318, and preferably not less than 40 bar diameter, not less than about 1 inch to about 6 inches of rebar in the lapped area. See e.g., FIG. 7A. Other criteria known or used by one skilled in the art may also suffice. The rebars or rods can also be prestressed prior to molding, if desired. Prestressed refers to an object that is stretched and stressed prior to being molded in the slab.

Because the slab is portable, it preferably has a means of attachment that allows the slab to be moved and/or lifted, such as by a cable. The term cable refers to a line, strand, or chain or other such devices known or used by one skilled in the art that are which may be attached or connected to the attachment means. A variety of apparatuses can be incorporated into the slab/pad that allows the slab/pad to be moved. For example, the means for attachment may comprise lift pins or lift rings that preferably are cast steel, or other such apparatus known or used by one skilled in the art, and are preferably accessible on and from the top or side surface. FIG. 3 is a cross-section of a lift pin that is removably attachable to the slab. The pin 30 is steel and has an enlarged head 32 that allows cable 40 to be wrapped around the head, and has a threaded end 34 that is insertable into corresponding threads 36 in a metal housing 38. FIG. 3, shows the use of gravel 39 in a cement matrix 40. Mortar could also be used. Of course the concrete may also be comprised of cement or mortar with pebbles, broken stone, or slag.

If the lift pin or other attachment means are accessible from the top, they are preferably perpendicular to the top surface of the slab. If they are accessible from the side surface, they are preferably perpendicular to the side surface(s). One such lifting pin is supplied by Jenson Pre-Cast, and is an 8-ton lift pin. Preferably, the lift pins do not extend beyond the top surface of the concrete or cement. In one embodiment, attachments known as “knuckles” are attached to embedded lift pins, and cables are attached to the “knuckles”.

Lift pins are also sold by other companies, such as Conac, and come in varying strengths ranging from at least about 1 ton to about 26 tons. The required strength of the lift pin will depend upon weight, thickness, and size of the slab/pad or other such factors known or used by one skilled in the art. FIG. 4 shows an attachment means that has a looped end 42 that protrudes from the top surface 4 of the slab 2 that is embedded in the 24 slab. The eye loop allows for cable hooks to be inserted into the eye 44 of the loop. Preferably, the attachment means do not protrude from the surface, and are preferably recessed as in FIG. 7C. The eyebolt may be threaded on one end and looped on the other end. FIGS. 7B and 7C shows a further embodiment of an attachment means that is a pin 50 having an enlarged end 52 at both the surface of the slab and the end that is embedded into the slab. Also, the pin may be located in a recessed surface 5 of the slab so that it does not protrude above the top surface of the slab. This can be accomplished by placing a cap on top of the pin to create the void at the top of the lifting pin. As a further alternative, FIG. 8 shows an anchor bolt 54 with similar stress and weight bearing capabilities that has an enlarged end 58 that allows cables to be attached thereto. The anchor bolt may be embedded directly into the concrete or cement, such as at a depth 56 of 12 inches.

If the attachment means, such as a lift pin or bolt is not attached to the rebar, it is preferable to embed the attachment means at least about one-half to about three-fourths of the width of the slab so that the attachment means will not pull out of the slab when the slab is lifted and/or lowered by attaching cables and the like to the attachment means.

All of the foregoing pins and attachment means are preferably placed within the form before the concrete or cement is poured into the form or mold and/or before the concrete or cement begins to dry. However, the attachment means may also be installed after the concrete or cement is cured. For example, a hole could be drilled through the pad and a rod with a hook or eyelet with a bottom plate would be installed. Also, the holes may be filled with epoxy after the attachment means is inserted.

The attachment means should be placed at a certain depth that precludes them from pulling out of the concrete or cement, such as a depth of at least about 4 to about 8 inches to about 12 inches to 14 inches or more. Of course the depth will be limited by the thickness of the slab. The slab when used as a foundation is preferably at least about 1 foot thick to about 4 feet thick, depending upon the specific use. For example, in a slab that is 16 inches thick, the attachment means, such as a pin is preferably inserted to a depth of about 12 inches. Alternatively, the embedded end of the attachment means may be attached to the rebar, such as by wrapping the embedded end of the attachment means around the rebar or otherwise securably or removably attaching the attachment means to the rebar.

Depending upon the size and thickness of the slab, one or multiple means for attachment may be used. The number and spacing of the means for attachment should be apparent to one skilled in the art and will depend upon the strength of the attachment means as compared to the weight and size of the slab so that stresses do not break the means for attachment or cause the attachment means to pull out of the slab. For example, in FIG. 1, there is only one means for attachment 16 that is located at or near the center of each slab 2. In contrast, the slab 2 of FIG. 5 has a plurality of separate means for attachment, and in one embodiment that is 10 feet width by 15 feet length and 16 inches thick, three to four 8-ton lift pins are used. In any case, the means for attachment should be spaced and located so that the slab will be approximately level and easy to control when it is moved and placed upon the ground or other substrate.

The substrate 18, such as asphalt or ground upon which the slab is placed, is preferably level prior to placing the slab on the substrate or ground. See FIG. 7A. If the surface is not level, the surface will preferably be leveled by a layer not more than about ½ inch depth to about 1 foot depth of about ¼ inch to about ½ inch, or more size angular aggregate below the pad. Alternatively, the slab can be leveled after it is placed upon the substrate or ground. For stability, it is preferable that the slab not be installed on wet or soft soil. To ensure stability, the preferable allowable soil bearing pressure is at least about 1000 psf (pounds per square foot). Also, preferably, there will be positive drainage from the substrate.

After the slab is installed, there is no waiting for the slab to dry as it is already dried and cured prior to installing the slab (it is contemplated that the slab may be cured while being moved, or even at the site of installation). Therefore the slab can immediately be used as a foundation for industrial equipment 66, such as a bulk storage tank 64 that can be placed directly upon the top surface of the slab. See FIGS. 5 and 7A. Any equipment can be placed upon the slab as long as the slab meets the seismic load demands of the equipment, as determined by a structural engineer or other person skilled in the art.

Further, if the slab is used to support a storage tank that is placed upon the top surface, the additional weight from the stored liquid must be taken into account with respect to the size and thickness of the slab. For example, in one embodiment, for a slab that is 15 foot long by 10 foot wide slab, and 16 inches thick, the storage tank can be filled with up to about 1500 to about 6000 gallons of liquid oxygen. The weight of a storage tank with about 1500 gallons of liquid is about 28,100 pounds, and a storage tank with about 3000 gallons of liquid is about 47,000 pounds.

If it is desirable to install fencing around the perimeter of the slab and/or the industrial equipment, multiple apertures 70 which can hold fence posts can be incorporated, into the slab, such as by molding or drilled into the molded slab. See FIG. 5. The apertures 70 may comprise blind holes that extend part way through the depth of the slab, or may comprise holes that extend through the thickness of the slab. See FIGS. 6 and 7A. The holes may be of a diameter that is sufficient to receive fence posts. For example, 4-inch diameter holes are used to receive 3-inch diameter fence posts that are installed in the field. To create the holes, 4-inch PVC capped pipe is placed in the mold/form before the concrete or cement is poured. The PVC pipes create the multiple 4-inch diameter voids. At a minimum, it is preferable to provide holes at least in every corner of a rectangular or square slab. It may also be advantageous to provide additional holes for the fence posts 7. For example, in a 15 foot long by 10 foot wide slab that holds a bulk storage tank or vessel 64, it has been determined that at least nine holes should be molded into the slab.

The slab must preferably also adequately drain. In most circumstances, a flat slab will adequately drain. As an alternative, the slab may further have a plurality of furrows 75 in the top surface of the slab to ensure drainage of water from the slab. See FIG. 5. Furrows may be incorporated by pressing a form into at least a portion of the top surface of the concrete or cement, which has not hardened, or the furrows may be made by other ways known to one skilled in the art. However, the furrows should be strategically located so that they do not cause the top surface of the slab to be unlevel. Further, the concrete or cement may be finished by a broom before it hardens so that the top surface is not slick.

In one embodiment, a vessel leg plate 62 of the vessel leg 66, such as for a bulk storage tank, is also anchored to the slab, such as by an anchor bolt and epoxy. In one embodiment, a hole of a diameter of approximately ¾″ to about ½″ that may extend as deep as the thickness of the slab is drilled into the slab and/or vessel leg plate at the desired position, then an epoxy pack is inserted and is ruptured by the bolt, mixing the epoxy portions together. A nut may then be installed upon the bolt to further secure the leg plate, which is accessible through a portion of the vessel leg that is typically open. For example, Hilti supplies such epoxies and anchor bolts, and other such adhesives and fasteners are also commercially available. Of course, other such methods of securing the vessel leg and leg plate known to one skilled in the art may also be used. In one embodiment, a layer of grout 60 may also be used between the vessel plate and the top surface 4 of the slab. The legs or portions of other types of industrial equipment may also be secured to the slab.

Again, a method of using a portable precast slab as a foundation for industrial equipment is contemplated comprises: providing a portable precast slab that has a top surface, a plurality of side surfaces, a lower surface, a length, a width, and a thickness. During use, the lower surface of the slab is placed on ground, and the level of the slab is checked and/or the slab is leveled, although it need not be. Next, at least one piece of industrial equipment can be placed on the top surface of the slab.

The method also contemplates the step of casting reinforcing means into the concrete or cement, wherein the reinforcing means is selected from the group consisting essentially of wires, rebars, rods, bars, plates, gravel, glass, or carbon fibers or a combination thereof.

The method also comprises the step of providing means for moving or lifting the slab that is accessible from the top surface or side surface of the slab. The means for lifting or moving may be selected from the group consisting essentially of at least one lift pin, at least one lift ring, at least one lift bolt, an anchor bolt, and a combination thereof. The means for attachment may be securably attached or removably attachable. Also, the method further comprises the step of attaching a cable to the lifting means and lifting the slab.

In this method, for example, the industrial equipment may comprise a bulk storage tank. If so, it may be desirable to provide a slab that has at least a 10-foot length by a 10-foot width area on the top surface adjacent to the tank that is available for liquid oxygen delivery after the bulk storage tank is placed on the top surface of the slab.

The slab may comprise multiple pieces and the pieces may be placed adjacent to each other to form the slab.

Further in this method, fencing may be installed around the perimeter of the slab and/or the industrial equipment.

Also, this method may further comprise the step of using at least a portion of the slab as a splash pad.

A method is also contemplated for making a precast reinforced slab that is used as a foundation for at least one bulk storage tank or system that comprises providing a mold or form, at least partially filling the mold with concrete and placing at least one rebar or rod within the concrete or cement to reinforce the concrete or cement, wherein at least one rebar or rod has at least one lift pin or means for attachment that is integral with or removably attached to the at least one rebar. Next, the rebars or rods are covered with concrete or cement.

Then, the concrete or cement is allowed to dry and/or cure, thereby forming a slab/pad, wherein the slab/pad has a top surface, a bottom surface, a plurality of side surfaces, a length, a width, and a thickness. The slab is removed from the form when the slab is at least partially dried. In this method, there may also be a plurality of apertures that are cast into the slab that are visible from the top surface. The apertures have a variety of uses and for example can be used to install fence posts therein.

In this method, the mold or form provides at least one side surface shaped so that the slab is capable of interconnecting or interfacing with at least one side surface of another slab.

Further, in this method, a plurality of rebars or rods are used as a reinforcing means, and the rebar is placed parallel to one another and/or in a crisscross fashion.

Further, where a plurality of rebars or rods are used as a reinforcing means, the rebars or rods are arranged to form a three-dimensional support structure that is cast into the concrete or cement. Also in this method, the rebar or rod may be prestressed prior to molding.

In this method, the slab is dried and/or cured prior to use.

In this method, at least a portion of lightweight concrete or cement or other materials designed to reduce the weight of the preformed pad may be used to form the slab.

Further, as part of this method, a plurality of furrows may be made in the top surface of the slab to ensure drainage of water from the top surface of the slab.

Additionally, if the pad is used as a foundation for a bulk storage tank, the slab preferably has at least a 10-foot width by 10-foot length area on the top surface that will be available for liquid oxygen delivery after the bulk storage tank is placed on the top surface of the slab.

The method of invention also contemplates the creation of a cryogenic liquid storage and supply system, which can be easily installed and removed as desired. Various embodiments of the invention include a cryogenic liquid storage tank; and optionally, one or more of the following pieces of equipment, which are typically used in the industrial gas industry: a vaporizer; a pressure control means; a gas filtering means; a telemetry unit means; a pump means; a tank filling means; piping, a piping support; a gas storage cylinder; and a splash pad.

In one preferred embodiment, the cryogenic system has a fence enclosure. The fence enclosure is added for safety reasons to protect against unauthorized entry by personnel not trained to properly operate the cryogenic system. Additionally, the fencing provides a demarcation of the boundary lines between what belongs to the cryogenic system owner and what does not.

The method further includes installing the concrete foundation at substantially the same time as any other members of the system. As described earlier, the foundation is placed into position by offloading it with a crane. Once the system is no longer required at the specific location, the system is disassembled in accordance with standard engineering practices. The equipment is first removed, and then the slab is removed in a similar manner as it was installed.

Once the system is dismantled, each of its pieces is available, either separately or together, for use at another location. In one preferred embodiment, the entire system, including the foundation, is re-assembled for use at another location. This may be an advantage for a customer that needs to move the system to another location at their existing facility, or at a new facility. The demolition costs would typically be significantly lower as well.

The invention also contemplates an apparatus for storing and supplying cryogenic liquids comprising at least one portable pre-cast slab foundation, as described earlier in the specification, and a cryogenic liquid storage tank. Preferred embodiments include one or more of the following pieces of equipment, which are typically used in the industrial gas industry: a vaporizer; a pressure control means; a gas filtering means; a telemetry unit means; a pump means; a tank filling means; piping, a piping support; a gas storage cylinder; and a splash pad.

The stored cryogenic liquid contained in the tank may be nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and helium. Other cryogenic contents of the tank include N2O or mixtures of liquids.

The details associated with the construction of such a portable pad suitable for this use have been previously described.

It is noted that the methods and embodiment of apparatus described herein in detail for exemplary purposes is of course subject to many different variations in structure, design, application and methodology. Because many varying and different embodiments may be made within the scope of the inventive concept(s) herein taught, and because many modifications may be made in the embodiment herein detailed in accordance with the descriptive requirements of the law, it is to be understood that the details herein are to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

Further, it will be understood that many additional changes in the details, materials, steps and arrangement of parts, which have been herein described and illustrated in order to explain the nature of the invention, may be made by those skilled in the art within the principle and scope of the invention as expressed in the appended claims. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the specific embodiments in the examples given above and/or the attached drawings.

As noted above, the pad/slab of the present invention may be formed as any variety of shapes. Thus, while embodiments above may be been illustrated or described as being rectangular, other shapes are contemplated, including other polygonal slabs and oval slabs. By way of illustration only, FIGS. 9-11 show plan views of a circular slab 2A (FIG. 9), an ellipsoidal slab 2B (FIG. 10), a conical slab 2C (FIG. 11). Further, the shapes need not be regular or symmetrical; thus, irregular and asymmetrical shapes are also contemplated. For example, FIG. 12 shows a plan view of one embodiment of a slab 12D having a main portion 1202 and a landing 1204 extending therefrom. Such one embodiment may be desirable to accommodate permanent structures located at a customer's site. In particular, the opening 1206 formed in part by the orthogonal surfaces of the main portion 1202 and the landing 1204 may be appropriately sized to receive such a permanent structure (e.g., the side of a building). According to the embodiments described herein, it is contemplated that the slabs 12A-D are formed as unitary pieces, or multiple interlocking pieces. Further, although not shown in FIGS. 9-12 the slabs 12A-D may include any of the features described herein as well as other features recognized by those skilled in the art having the benefit of the present disclosure. For example, the slabs may include attachment means and apertures for receiving reinforcement means (fence poles, etc.), as described above.

According to another embodiment, the slabs of the present invention may be stacked on one another or another object. For example, FIG. 13 shows perspective view of a stacked support structure 1300 including a bottom slab 2E and a top slab 2F. Although only two slabs are shown in FIG. 13, it is contemplated that the stacked support structure 1300 may have any number of stacked slabs. Furthermore, a stacked support structure of the present invention may include slabs of different types. For example, FIG. 14 shows a perspective view of a stacked support structure 1400 having a bottom slab 2G and a top slab 2H with different dimensions. In general, the slabs of the support structure 1400 may differ in at least one dimension (height, width, depth). In addition to differences in dimensions, the slabs of the stacked support structure 1400 may also differ in composition. For example, the bottom slab 2G may be rebar reinforced, while the top slab is not.

FIG. 15 shows another embodiment of a stacked support structure 1500 from a perspective view. In this embodiment, the stacked support structure 1500 includes a top slab 2 supported by a pair of support members 1502A-B. Illustratively, the support members 1502A-B are elongated, rectangular columns disposed on opposite sides of a lower surface of the slab 2. In this configuration, the support members 1502A-B are separated from each other by a width 1506 and provide a clearance 1504 between a lower surface of the slab 2 and the ground on which the support members 1502A-B are disposed. In one embodiment, the support members are fixedly secured to the slab 2 (e.g., by bolts). The support members 1502A-B may be slabs according to the present invention, or may be some other structure (permanent or portable).

While the slabs of the stacked support structure of the present invention may be in direct contact with one another (i.e., the top surface of a lower slab interfaces and contacts a lower surface of a top slab), it is also contemplated that intermediary objects may be disposed between adjacent slabs. According to one aspect, an interposing material may be selected to increase friction. The resulting friction may be sufficient to resist the relative movement of the pads in case of an earthquake or high wind. The interposing material may be sufficiently deformative so that the material fills any voids in the pad surfaces and produces good support.

Further, although not shown in FIGS. 13 and 14 the slabs of the stacked support structures may include any of the features described herein (e.g., attachment means and apertures for receiving reinforcement means) as well as other features recognized by those skilled in the art having the benefit of the present disclosure. Further, one or more removable pads 2 may be disposed on structures other than additional removable pads. For example, a first pad may be placed on a permanent foundation and then one or more additional pads may be placed on the first pad.

Once a stacked structure having at least one pad is provided, industrial equipment may be disposed thereon. For example, the equipment may be a cryogenic liquid supply system including cryogenic liquid bulk tank, a vaporizer and/or a pump fluidly coupled to the tank; although any combination of equipment (including the equipment disclosed herein and other equipment appreciated by those skilled in the art) may be installed on the slab. It is contemplated that, in the case of stacked slabs in which a portion of the upper surface of the underlying slab(s) is(are) exposed, the equipment may be disposed partially on the exposed surface(s) of the underlying slab(s) and partially on the upper surface of the uppermost slab. Alternatively, the equipment may be disposed entirely on the upper surface of the uppermost slab.

The stacked arrangements contemplated herein provide flexibilities to accommodate various industrial applications. In one aspect, stacking pads may be useful to achieve a desired weight bearing structure. Specifically, a given industrial application may require a support structure capable of supporting N lbs of weight. Assuming a single pad is manufactured to accommodate less than N lbs of weight, the desired weight bearing structure may be achieved by stacking two or more pads. The same approach can be applied to a permanent foundation. That is, one or more pads may be stacked on the permanent foundation in the event that the permanent foundation is not capable of directly supporting industrial equipment in excess of a specified weight. The weight bearing limit of a composite support structure that includes one or more pads stacked in the permanent foundation may be sufficient.

In some embodiments, it may be desirable to at least partially or fully recess the slab below an upper surface. For example, FIG. 16 shows a side view of a slab 2 partially recessed below an upper surface 1602 of the ground. In contrast, FIG. 17 shows a side view of a slab 2 fully recessed below the upper surface 1602 by a height 1702. The upper surface 1602 may that of the earth or some other medium. Such recessed configurations may be useful, for example, to provide some retaining force to secure the slab in place.

In a number of the embodiments, the slab has a generally uniform cross-section. However, in other embodiments the slab may have a non-uniform cross-section.

In another embodiment, a slab may be configured with an anchoring system to ensure it desired degree of stability against, e.g., a torque that may cause the slab to pivot and potentially even flip over. One embodiment is illustrated in FIGS. 18A and 18B which show a plan view and a side cross-sectional view, respectively, of a slab 2. The slab generally includes a central portion 1902 and a perimeter portion 1904. The central portion 1902 may have a composition as described in FIG. 1. The perimeter portion 1904 includes a plurality of weights 1906. The weights 1906 are rectangular members that are generally spaced equidistant from one another on each side of the slab. However, the size and relatives spacing of the weights 1906 may be varied according to particular applications. With reference to FIG. 18B, the weights 1906 are shown fully embedded in the slab 2. However, in another embodiment the slab 2 may be configured with recesses 2002 formed on a top surface 4 of the slab and each adapted to receive a weight 1906 therein, as shown in cross-section by FIG. 19. The recesses 2002 may be sufficiently deep so that the upper surfaces 1908 of the weights 1906 are substantially flush with the upper surface 4 of the slab 2. In this way, the particular configuration of the weights (and the respective masses of the weights) may be selected at a customer site. To this end, it is contemplated that the weights 1906 include a handle or some other lifting means to facilitate placing the weights in, and removing the weights from, the recesses. In another embodiment, the weights are disposed in the sidewalls of the slab and may be permanently or removably disposed therein.

In yet another embodiment, the perimeter portion 1904 may be, or may include, a separately formed structure relative to the central portion 1902. For example, the perimeter portion 1904 may be constructed of a denser and heavier material than the central portion 1902. In a particular embodiment, the perimeter portion 1904 may be formed of a relatively more dense concrete than the central portion 1902. While it is contemplated that the slab is manufactured as a unitary piece, the slab may also be composed of multiple, individual pieces. For example, the perimeter portion and the central portion may be manufactured a separate pieces. The perimeter portion of the central portion may then be coupled to one another using any appropriate securing mechanism, such as bolts or other fasteners. In such one embodiment, is contemplated that the perimeter portion 1904 may be made up of a plurality of pieces that can be assembled to form the perimeter portion 1904. Further, the materials of the central portion 1902 and the perimeter portion 1904 may be different. For example, if one of the portions is cement, the other portion may be steel, lead, bricks, rocks or water. Further, although FIGS. 18A and 18B includes two portions, a slab may include any number of portions including, or being made from, different materials.

Embodiments of the present invention include an adaptable slab capable of providing support for any number of industrial applications. As a general example of an on-site configuration, FIG. 20 shows a perspective view of a customer site having a customer building 2102, and a system 2104 adjacent to the building 2102. The building 2102 houses a processing facility 2106 (shown in phantom with dashed lines). In one embodiment, the system 2104 supplies one or more materials to the processing facility 2106. For example, the system 2104 may supply one or more chemicals to the processing facility 2106. In the illustrative embodiment, the system 2104 includes a fluid supply module 2108 and a support equipment module 2110. The fluid supply module 2108 and the support equipment module 2110 are each fluidly coupled to the processing facility 2106 by respective fluid lines 2112, 2114. In addition, the modules 2108, 2110 are shown fluidly coupled to one another by a fluid line 2116.

In a particular embodiment, the fluid supply module 2108 may include a storage container containing a cryogenic liquid or compressed gas. Illustrative storage containers include dewars, cylinder packs (e.g., 6 pack, 8 pack, 12 pack cylinders, which may be manifolded together), bulk storage tanks, tubes, etc. A fluid from such a container may be supplied to the processing facility 2106 via the delivery line 2112. Additionally, the support equipment module 2110 may include, for example, a vaporizer for vaporizing a liquid provided by the fluid supply module 2108, and then supplying the vaporized fluid to the processing facility 2106 via the delivery line 2114. Additional equipment included with either module 2108, 2110 includes compressors, skids (e.g., skid containers for holding tanks or cylinders), gas receivers, pumps, gas filtering devices, discharge stanchions, gas manifolds, etc.

The fluid supply module 2108 and the support equipment module 2110 may be disposed on a unitary slab, or, as shown in FIG. 20, the fluid supply module 2108 may be disposed on a first slab 2120A and the support equipment module 2110 may be disposed on a second slab 2120B (shown separated by a dashed line). The first and second slabs may be interlocked according to the stepped profile described with reference to FIG. 1, or any other appropriate interface. Alternatively, the slabs 2120A, 2120B may be separated from one another by a distance.

The combination of a slab and the equipment disposed thereon may itself be considered a module since the integral unit may be transported to and from a site as such, and because these integral units may be strategically positioned relative to one another to form a larger system. Accordingly, the combination of a slab and the equipment disposed thereon may be referred to herein as slab/equipment modules According to one embodiment, the slab/equipment modules may be preconfigured prior to be being delivered to the customer's site. The configuration of the module may be done in response to a customer order, or prior to receiving the order. Once at the customer's site, the slab/equipment modules may be placed on the ground (the earth or some other foundation) and positioned relative to each other in a desired manner. In the event a slab/equipment module needs to be changed out, the slab/equipment module may be removed from the customer's site, placed on a truck and hauled away. A replacement slab/equipment module may then be placed in the vacant position of the removed slab/equipment module (or in some other location). Additionally or alternatively, one or more additional slab/equipment module may be added to the system 2104 without removing any slab/equipment modules. To this end, equipment disposed on the slab(s) may include appropriate fittings to couple additional equipment thereto in the field. Additionally or alternatively, instead of removing a slab/equipment module, just the equipment may be retrieved, while the slab is left in place.

Although FIG. 20 shows the modules 2108, 2110 coupled to a processing facility 2106 located in a permanent structure (i.e., the building 2102), it is also contemplated that one more slab/equipment modules (i.e., a slab with industrial equipment disposed thereon) may be fluidly coupled to a temporary piece of equipment. For example, FIG. 21 shows one embodiment of a fluid supply module 2202 and a support equipment module 2204 disposed on a slab 2 and configured to supply a fluid to a cement mixer 2206 mounted on a cement truck 2208. In a particular embodiment, the fluid supply module 2202 includes a tank 2210 containing liquid nitrogen. The liquid nitrogen is flowed via delivery lines from the tank 2210, or from a vaporizer 2212 of the support equipment module 2204, into the cement mixer 2206. While the delivery may be made directly from the equipment modules 2202, 2204 to the mixer 2206, FIG. 21 shows delivery being made via an intermediary delivery system 2214, which may itself be portable. In particular, FIG. 21 shows the intermediary delivery system 2214 having a stand 2216 and a lance 2218 disposed thereon. The lance 2218 is positionable to be inserted into the cement mixer 2206 and deliver liquid (or vaporized) nitrogen into the cement mixer 2206. Although only the equipment modules 2202, 2204 are shown disposed on a slab 2, is also contemplated that the intermediary delivery system 2214 may itself be disposed on a slab, which may be connected to or separated from the slab on which the modules 2202, 2204 are disposed.

In another embodiment, the system 2104 is a filling station. Accordingly, the support module 2110 may include supply lines with appropriate fittings to be coupled and quickly decoupled to containers to be filled with the contents of the tank on the fluid supply module 2108. In one embodiment, the containers to be filled are gas cylinders.

As noted above, the equipment disposed on a slab may include tubes containing e.g., compressed gases. Referring now to FIG. 22, a side view of a tube rack 2302 is shown. Illustratively, the tube rack 2302 includes a plurality of tubes 2304 secured at their respective ends by mounting plates 2306A-B and supported from below by a bottom plate 2308. The tubes are horizontally disposed and include nozzles 2305 at one end. Persons skilled in the art will recognize that the tube rack 2302 of FIG. 22 is merely illustrative and that other configurations, known or unknown, may be used. Known sources of tube racks (and other tube configurations including mobile configurations, such as those disposed on a trailer) include Hydril, Inc. and Fiba, Inc.

As shown in FIG. 22, the tube rack 2302 is disposed on a pair of slabs 2310A-B located at either end of the rack 2302. The slabs are shown in cross-section and illustrate a pair of cross bars 2312A-B (which may be part of the rack 2302) extending orthogonally (into the page) to the longitudinal axis of the tubes 2304. One of the cross bars is disposed on each of the respective slabs, and each bar has the bottom plate 2308 of the rack disposed thereon. A bolt 2314A-B is disposed through each of the cross bars and secured in the respective pads 2310A-B. It is understood that this configuration is merely illustrative and that other configurations are within the scope of the present invention.

Accordingly, the slab of the present invention provides a means for servicing the time critical needs of customers. According to one embodiment, of an inventory of slabs is maintained by a provider (although, slabs made-to-order is also contemplated). The inventory may be of identical slabs or of a variety of different kinds of slabs (e.g., slabs of different dimensions and/or compositions). In either case, the slabs are sufficiently modular so that pre-existing slabs can be quickly dispatched in response to a customer order and then configured on site to meet the particular customer's needs. Further, the respective sources of the equipment, chemicals and slab may or may not be the same. For example, in one embodiment, the equipment, chemicals and slab are all provided by the same company. In another embodiment, the slab is provided by a first company, the equipment is provided by a second company, and the chemicals are provided by yet a third company. Any combination of sources is contemplated.

Various embodiments have been separately described herein. However, it is understood, and specifically contemplated by the present inventors, that any of the separately described embodiment may be combined to define other embodiments within the scope of the present invention. For example, pads having different cross-sections may be stacked on one another to form a desired stacked support structure. Persons skilled in the art having the benefit of the present disclosure will recognize other combinations within the scope of the present invention.

Illustrative processes and apparatus for practicing the present invention have been described. It will be understood that many additional changes in the details, materials, steps, and arrangement of parts, which have been herein described and illustrated in order to explain the nature of the invention, may be made by those skilled in the art within the principle and scope of the invention as expressed in the appended claims. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the specific embodiments in the examples given above and/or the attached drawings.