Title:
Grease capturing pad
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The grease capturing pad of the present invention includes one or more liquid absorptive layers or regions. Each liquid absorptive layer is one selected to take in food-based grease in liquid or semi-solid form. For instance, one of the liquid absorptive layers or regions may form an accumulation region to act as a repository for grease absorbed by another liquid absorptive layer. Various layers or regions of the grease capturing pad may have odor suppression properties, and a thermally insulating layer may be provided below other layers of the pad to insulate a surface below the pad from the hot grease. Additionally, a handle may be attached with the pad for improved manipulation of the pad and to keep a user's hand at a safe distance from the hot grease.



Inventors:
Crawford, Lisa (Kansas City, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/159671
Publication Date:
12/28/2006
Filing Date:
06/23/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24C15/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHIN, RANDALL E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LISA CRAWFORD (KANSAS CITY, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for capturing food-based grease comprising: a pad formed of a grease absorption layer capable of withstanding temperatures at least up to about 300° F.; a handle for manipulating the position of the pad; and means for coupling the handle with the pad.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the grease absorption layer is capable of withstanding temperatures at least up to about 500° F.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the pad further comprises an inner accumulation region adjacent to the grease absorption layer for sequestering the grease absorbed by the grease absorption layer.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the pad has odor suppression properties.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the pad has anti-scratch properties.

6. A pad for use in capturing food-based grease, comprising: a layer having a liquid absorptive properties and capable of withstanding temperatures at least up to about 300° F.; and an accumulation region adjacent to and contacting the layer and having liquid absorptive and odor suppression properties.

7. The pad of claim 6, wherein the pad is configured to be coupled with a handle for manipulating the position of the pad.

8. The pad of claim 6, wherein the layer of the pad is capable of withstanding temperatures at least up to about 500° F.

9. The pad of claim 6, wherein the accumulation region is surrounded by the layer.

10. The pad of claim 6, wherein the layer of the pad has anti-scratch properties.

11. A pad for use in capturing food-based grease, comprising: an upper layer having liquid absorptive properties; and a lower barrier layer coupled with the upper layer.

12. The pad of claim 11, wherein the upper layer is capable of withstanding temperatures at least up to about 300° F.

13. The pad of claim 11, wherein the lower barrier layer is impervious to the passage therethrough of liquids.

14. The pad of claim 11, wherein the lower barrier layer has thermally insulative properties.

15. The pad of claim 11, wherein the upper layer has odor suppression properties.

16. The pad of claim 11, further comprising an accumulation region interposed between the upper layer and the lower barrier layer for sequestering the grease absorbed by the upper layer.

17. The pad of claim 16, wherein the accumulation region has odor suppression properties.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to the containment of food-grade grease. More particularly, the present invention forms a grease capturing pad holding quantities of food-grade grease.

A common problem encountered when cooking foods having a certain amount of fat content is the disposal of quantities of liquid grease generated during such cooking. This grease is formed by the fat leaving the food item in liquid form in combination with cooking oils (e.g., vegetable oils or animal fats) utilized in the cooking process. This food-grade grease is generally composed at least partially of lipids, such as triglycerides, that become liquefied at the elevated temperatures of cooking and return to a semi-solid or fully solid state upon cooling to room temperature.

It is tempting to dispose of this leftover grease from cooking down a sink drain while the grease is still in the liquid state. However, this would be ill-advised because the grease usually cools quickly and solidifies within drain pipes connected with the sink, constricting the diameter of the pipes and increasing the risk that the pipes will become blocked. Another grease disposal method is to pour such grease into a can or other container stored in the kitchen area (e.g., beneath the sink) for convenient storage. Upon filling the container, then contents may be disposed of outside of the immediate environment (e.g., in an outdoor receptacle for pickup). As a downside to this method, most containers do not sufficiently suppress the odor created by the decaying grease, and sanitation concerns are raised in that the container must be accessed each time grease is to be placed therein. Large scale cooking establishments sometimes utilize grease traps that may be integrated into a drain system, to avoid the problems of other grease disposal methods. Grease traps and the like, however, can be expensive and must be emptied from time to time, making them not suitable for use in many residential applications.

It is in view of these deficiencies in grease sequestration and disposal methods that the grease capturing pad of the present invention has been developed. As one example of usage, large scale cooking establishments may implement a version of the grease capturing pad that is dimensionally larger than another version of the pad more suitable for use with cooking in the home, so that each particular version of the pad is tailored to the sanitation and environmental issues that are faced in different cooking situations.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The grease capturing pad of the present invention provides utility in capturing food-grade grease released in liquid form during cooking. One objective for the present invention is to provide a grease capturing pad that is disposable for easy and convenient use in the kitchen environment. Other features and advantages provided by the grease capturing pad will be illuminated in the following discussion.

In one aspect of the invention, the grease capturing pad includes one or more liquid absorptive layers or regions. Each liquid absorptive layer is one selected to take in food-based grease in liquid and/or semi-solid form, and may be configured with odor suppression or trapping properties to control the odors created by the decomposition of organic matter within the grease. A thermally insulating layer may be provided in the pad beneath the one or more liquid absorptive layers. Embodiments of the invention implementing a thermally insulating layer utilize materials with low thermal conductivity and/or high specific heat properties to form the thermally insulating layer. Preferably, the thermally insulating layer is not liquid permeable. Furthermore, the grease capturing pad may have a first liquid absorptive layer and a separately-formed second inner layer that is configured with odor suppression or trapping properties. In any embodiment, the one or more liquid absorptive layers should be formed of materials that are chemically stable at the high temperatures encountered in the cooking environment, and also preferably are sufficiently non-abrasive as to avoid scratching the coating of conventional cookware when moved across the cooking surface of the cookware.

In another aspect of the invention, the grease capturing pad may have a means for attachment with a handle so that a user may hold the handle while placing the pad in a heated cooking pan to capture grease during the cooking process or right after cooking is completed. Therefore, the user may manipulate the pad around the cooking pan to contact and absorb the grease, or may pour the grease into the pad while holding the handle and avoid the danger of grease spilling over the edge of the pad and onto the user's hand, as may occur if the user holds the pad without a handle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1A is a perspective view, partially in section, illustrating one embodiment of the grease capturing pad of the present invention;

FIG. 1B is a perspective view, partially in section, illustrating another embodiment of the grease capturing pad having an accumulation region;

FIG. 1C is a perspective view, partially in section, illustrating another embodiment of the grease capturing pad having an accumulation region and an insulative barrier;

FIG. 2 is a front view illustrating an embodiment of the grease capturing pad with an attached handle; and

FIG. 3 is a front view, partially in section, illustrating another embodiment of the grease capturing pad with an attached handle and further showing the accumulation region surrounded by the liquid absorptive layer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With specific reference to the drawing and the several views thereof, where like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several views, there is shown various embodiments of a grease capturing pad of the present invention. The grease capturing pad provides for the absorption of food-based grease resulting for cooking at elevated temperatures. In one embodiment, the pad may provide odor suppression properties for the grease sequestered in the pad. A material layer of the pad may, in certain embodiments, be configured to also have thermally insulative properties in order to facilitate a person holding the pad (or placing the pad upon a thermally sensitive surface) when the pad is absorbing grease at elevated temperatures. Furthermore, in another embodiment, a handle and bracket assembly may be provided for manipulating the pad and reducing the risk of a user coming in direct contact with hot grease.

Turning to FIGS. 1A-1C, there is a depiction of a set of embodiments of the grease capturing pad 10 of the present invention. Each of the pads 10a, 10b, 10c, which may all be referenced generically as pad 10, has a liquid absorptive layer 12 which includes a layer of a material configured to absorb a quantity of food-based grease in liquid or semi-solid form (e.g., containing lipids such as triglycerides). The layer 12 may have a fibrous configuration, and may be woven or non-woven, but should be capable of absorbing food-based grease at elevated cooking temperatures. Exemplary materials that may be used for layer 12 include cellulose acetate, various nylons, and/or polysaccharide and derivatives. However, those of skill in the art should appreciate that other materials may be used for the layer 12 that have the desired physical properties, including grease absorptiveness and thermal stability necessary for the cooking environment, such as in a pan used on a stove top burner where grease temperatures often range between about 150-500° F. If pad 10 is only to be used after cooking has been completed, where lower grease temperatures may be encountered, layer 12 may alternatively be formed of an absorptive materials that are stable in a temperature range of exposure of up to about 300° F. Preferably, the material selected for layer 12 is also one that provides for a fairly rapid speed of liquid grease absorption, and also is sufficiently non-abrasive as to avoid scratching the coating of conventional cookware when moved across the cooking surface of the cookware. As one example, the layer 12 may be coated with a low friction material, such as TEFLON®.

The grease capturing pad 10b shown in FIG. 1B further includes an inner, or lower, accumulation region 14 that is surrounded or overlayed by the liquid absorptive material layer 12 as an outer layer. The inner accumulation region 14 may provide both liquid absorption and odor suppression properties for the decaying organic matter forming the grease, and acts as a repository for the captured grease. The inner accumulation region 14 and the outer liquid absorptive material layer 12 are preferably secured to one another in facing relation with, for example, adhesives or other securing or bonding means. Optionally, the outer layer 12 and inner region 14 may be woven together at the interface between the layer 12 and the inner region 14.

A variety of materials and configurations may be employed to form the inner accumulation region 14. The material in the inner region 14 may configure to suppress odoriferous compounds by various mechanisms, including forming a non-odoriferous compound by chemical reaction between the odoriferous compounds of the food-based grease and the material of inner accumulation region 14 and/or by adsorption of the odoriferous compounds of the food-based grease into a solid or liquid by the material of inner accumulation region 14. One exemplary configuration for inner accumulation region 14 is to include a fibrous layer of a material configured to absorb a quantity of food-based grease in liquid form, and a molecular sieve disposed within the fibrous material to adsorb odors given off by the food-based grease. For example, the molecular sieve may be in the form of a crystalline siliceous molecular sieve as taught in U.S. Pat. No. 4,826,497, issued to Marcus et al. on May 2, 1989, the teachings of which are incorporated herein by reference. The base fibrous material of inner accumulation region 14 that absorbs food-based grease may, for example, including any of wood fluff, cellulosic derivatives (rayon), cotton, synthetic polymer and synthetic polymer blends (e.g., polyester, polypropylene, nylon, polyethylene, and the like). Additionally, the fibrous material may be arranged to form a woven or non-woven structure. Solid adsorbents that may be employed with the fibrous material for odor suppression include, as examples, activated charcoal or active carbon, silica gel, activated alumina, zeolites, various clay minerals, or any combination thereof. In the case of using polymers as the base fibrous material of inner accumulation region 14, these may also be formed as “hydrogels”, “superabsorbents” or “hydrocolloid” material, as is well known and taught in U.S. Pat. No. 3,699,103, issued to Harper et al. on Jun. 13, 1972, and U.S. Pat. No. 3,770,731, issued to Harmon on Jun. 20, 1972, the teachings of which are both incorporated herein by reference.

It should be understood that the examples provided above for suitable materials that may be used to form the inner accumulation region 14 are merely exemplary and for illustrative purposes. The contemplation of other types of materials and configurations for inner accumulation region 14 of the grease capturing pads 10b and 10c providing grease absorption and odor suppression properties are within the scope of the teachings of the present invention. Furthermore, the layer 12 may, if desired, be configured with odor suppression properties in addition to liquid absorptive properties, similar to inner accumulation region 14. In the embodiment of the grease capturing pad 10a illustrated in FIG. 1A, the layer 12 may also act as the repository for the captured grease.

With specific reference to FIG. 1C, the grease capturing pad 10c also includes a lower insulative barrier 16 disposed beneath the inner accumulation region 14. The lower insulative barrier 16 has thermal insulative properties to reduce the amount of heat transferred from the grease absorbed by the liquid absorptive material layer (outer layer) 12 and the inner accumulation region 14 to a surface upon which the pad 10c is resting. For instance, the lower insulative barrier 16 allows a person to hold such a barrier 16 while pouring grease onto the outer layer 12. Preferably, the lower insulative barrier 16 is also impervious to the passage therethrough of liquids, specifically food-based greases. Examples of suitable materials that may be used to form the lower insulative barrier 16 include plastics (such as thermally bonded layers of polyvinyl chloride and polyvinyl fluoride, foams, etc.) or metallic materials having thermally reflective coatings, or a combination of the two (such as metallized polyester films). Other natural or synthetic materials having thermally insulative properties may also be uses for lower barrier 16. Ideally, materials chosen for lower barrier 16 will have a thermal conductivity value of less than about 1, and preferably, less than about 0.1, where the thermal conductivity value is represented in units of Watts/(meter * Kelvin).

The material of the inner accumulation region 14 and lower insulative barrier 16 are preferably secured to one another in facing relation with, for example, adhesives or other securing or bonding means. Optionally, the inner accumulation region 14 may also be formed onto a thin mounting layer (not shown) of plastic or nylon, for example, so that such the mounting layer is what bonds directly with the lower insulative barrier 16.

With each embodiment of the grease capturing pad 10, a raised perimeter area 18 and a concave central area 20 may optionally be formed into the respective pad 10. This configuration facilitates the pouring of a sizeable quantity of the liquid grease onto the pad 10 without the grease spilling over the perimeter area 18 and off of the pad 10b. Additionally, the pad 10c illustrated in FIG. 1C may, in another embodiment, have only the liquid absorptive layer 12 without the inner accumulation region 14, so that the layer 12 is secured directly to the lower insulative barrier 16, with or without the above-mentioned thin mounting layer.

Additional embodiments of the present invention are shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 as grease capturing pads 100a, 100b, both of which may be referenced generically as pad 100. The pad 100a of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2 takes the form of a body of material that is formed of the liquid absorptive layer 12. On the other hand, the pad 100b of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3 takes the form of a body of material that is formed of the liquid absorptive layer 12 surrounding the inner accumulation region 14. When integrated into pad 100, the liquid absorptive layer 12 and the inner accumulation region 14 function essentially as described above with respect to the grease capturing pad 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B, accumulating quantities of grease encountered by the pad 100, and optionally having odor suppression properties.

The pads 100a, 100b are configured to have affixed thereto a bracket 22 to which may be removably coupled a variety of handles 200. It should be understood that the handle 200 depicted in FIG. 1 is exemplary, and any number of configurations may be selected as a matter of design choice. The bracket 22 and handle 200, as well as the liquid absorptive layer 12 and the bracket 22, may be coupled together though a friction fit, a fastener arrangement, adhesives, or by other interlocking means. As one example, spring-loaded prongs (not shown) of the bracket 22 may be activated to release a grip on the pad 100 for disposal after the pad 100 has absorbed a desired amount of grease. Then, a new pad 100 may be pressed into the prongs for gripping of the pad by the prongs, and the user can manipulate the assembly by holding the handle 200. The bracket 22 may also be formed of a material that can withstand the high temperatures encountered by layer 12 at the point of bracket 22 attachment (e.g., high thermal and melt resistant plastics, rubber, etc.).

Since certain changes may be made in the above invention without departing from the scope hereof, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawing be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. It is also to be understood that the following claims are to cover certain generic and specific features described herein.