Title:
INSULATED CONTAINER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container includes a rigid insulated body-portion that defines a first enclosed space, a base lid adapted to be reattachably fastened to an edge of the sides that is proximal to the opening, thereby covering the opening so as to at least substantially prevent fluid communication between the first enclosed space and the area outside the container, a contents-container, a contents-container lid that is adapted to be reattachably fastened to edges of the contents container that are proximal to the opening of the contents container, thereby substantially preventing fluid communication between the second enclosed space of the contents container and the space outside the contents container, the first enclosed space including an interior portion adapted to receive the contents container and a coolant portion adapted to receive at least one coolant container.



Inventors:
Hase, Gary M. (Monee, IL, US)
Arnold, David A. (Schererville, IN, US)
Devoll, Joshuah S. (Streamwood, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/749491
Publication Date:
11/29/2007
Filing Date:
05/16/2007
Assignee:
TEGRANT CORPORATION (DeKalb, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/457.2
International Classes:
F25D3/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
ZEC, FILIP
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BUCHANAN, INGERSOLL & ROONEY PC (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container comprising; a rigid insulated body-portion comprising a base-portion and sides that extend from the base-portion, wherein inside surfaces of the sides and the base-portion together define a first enclosed space and an opening between the first enclosed space and an area outside the body-portion, the opening is at an end of the sides that is distal from the base-portion, a base lid adapted to be reattachably fastened to an edge of the sides that is proximal to the opening, thereby covering the opening so as to at least substantially prevent fluid communication between the first enclosed space and the area outside the container, a contents-container defines a second enclosed space and an opening between the second enclosed space and an area outside the contents-container, a contents-container lid that is adapted to be reattachably fastened to edges of the contents container that are proximal to the opening of the contents container, thereby substantially preventing fluid communication between the second enclosed space of the contents container and the space outside the contents container, the first enclosed space including an interior portion adapted to receive the contents container and a coolant portion surrounding the interior portion and adapted to receive at least one coolant container, the coolant container has at least a first side-wall and a second side-wall that together define a containment space for containing coolant material, the at least one coolant container being adapted to fit inside the coolant portion between the contents container and the inside surfaces of the sides of the body-portion.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein the inside surface of the base-portion comprises a first and a second level, the first level is on the inside of the second level and is recessed with regard to the second level thereby providing a step up to the second level, and the interior portion is defined by the first level and the coolant portion is defined by the second level.

3. The container of claim 2, further comprising a pressure-plate that is adapted to fit between and rest against the base of the contents-container and the first level of the inside surface of the base-portion.

4. The container of claim 3, further comprising a shock-spacer of shock absorbing material, the shock-spacer being adapted to fit between and rest against the contents-container lid and the base-lid.

5. The container of claim 1, wherein the outside surface of the base-portion has eight flat surfaces thereby forming an octagonal cross section in the vertical direction.

6. The container of claim 1, wherein the base-portion and the base lid include fastener elements that together fasten the lid onto the base portion thereby covering the opening.

7. The container of claim 6, wherein the fastener elements comprise a recessed opening in the peripheral edge of the lid, a tension member attached between the base-portion and an object having a diameter that is larger than a largest diameter of the recessed openings.

8. The container of claim 1, further comprising a support device adapted to fit below and support the container, the support device having wheels.

9. The container of claim 4, wherein the shock-spacer is cylindrical in shape.

10. The container of claim 3, wherein the pressure-plate is circular in shape.

11. The container of claim 1, wherein the coolant container has handles for being gripped by a user.

12. The container of claim 8, further comprising support legs that extend from the base in a direction opposite the vertical direction and are adapted to fit with recesses in the support device.

13. The container of claim 1, wherein the body-portion is a seamless part that is rotationally molded of rigid polyethylene.

14. A method for transporting refrigerated contents in a container comprising a body-portion, the body-portion comprising a base-portion and sides that extend from the base-portion in a vertical direction, the inside surfaces of the sides and the base-portion together define an enclosed space and an opening between the enclosed space and an area outside the body-portion, the opening is at an end of the sides that is distal from the base-portion, a lid is adapted to be fastened to an edge of the sides that is proximal to the opening, thereby covering the opening so as to at least substantially prevent fluid communication between the enclosed space and the area outside the container, a contents-container that defines an enclosed space and an opening between the enclosed space and an area outside the contents-container, a contents-container lid that is adapted to be fastened to edges of the contents container that are proximal to the opening of the contents container thereby substantially preventing fluid communication between the enclosed space of the contents container and the space outside the contents container, the method comprising the steps of: placing a pressure-plate on and against the inside surface of the base of the body-portion, placing the base of the contents-container on and against the pressure-plate, placing a shock-spacer on and against the top of the contents-container lid, placing coolant on and against the base of the body-portion and the inside surface of the walls of the body-portion, the, and fastening the base-lid adjacent the sides thereby covering the opening.

15. A container comprising: a rotationally molded thermally insulated body-portion, the body-portion comprising a base-portion and sides that extend vertically from the base-portion, the inside surfaces of the sides and the base-portion define an enclosed space and an opening between the enclosed space and an area outside the container, the opening is at an end of the sides that is distal to the base-portion, a lid that is adapted to be fastened to an edge of the sides adjacent to the opening thereby covering the opening so as to at least substantially prevent fluid communication between the enclosed space and the area outside the container, a thermally insulated contents-container that defines an enclosed space and an opening between the enclosed space and an area outside the contents-container, a contents-container lid that is adapted to be fastened adjacent edges of the contents-container defining the opening of the contents-container thereby at least substantially preventing fluid communication between the enclosed space of the contents-container and the space outside the contents-container, at least one coolant container comprising a coolant, the coolant container is adapted to fit inside the body portion so as to rest against the inside surface of the sides of the body-portion.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/803,095, filed on May 24, 2007.

BACKGROUND

Shipping substances around the world is common and it is often necessary to maintain shipped contents at a specific refrigerated temperature range. Also, as is normally the case, cost and simplicity of shipping are of great concern.

Accordingly, it is beneficial to have devices and methods that allow for effective and economical transport of materials at a prescribed temperature range for a desired time. Those issues are addressed by the present application.

SUMMARY

The above-noted interests are addressed by a container according to the following exemplary description of certain features.

According to one embodiment, a container comprises a rigid insulated body-portion comprising a base-portion and sides that extend from the base-portion, wherein inside surfaces of the sides and the base-portion together define a first enclosed space and an opening between the first enclosed space and an area outside the body-portion, the opening is at an end of the sides that is distal from the base-portion, a base lid adapted to be reattachably fastened to an edge of the sides that is proximal to the opening, thereby covering the opening so as to at least substantially prevent fluid communication between the first enclosed space and the area outside the container, a contents-container defines a second enclosed space and an opening between the second enclosed space and an area outside the contents-container, a contents-container lid that is adapted to be reattachably fastened to edges of the contents container that are proximal to the opening of the contents container, thereby substantially preventing fluid communication between the second enclosed space of the contents container and the space outside the contents container, the first enclosed space including an interior portion adapted to receive the contents container and a coolant portion surrounding the interior portion and adapted to receive at least one coolant container, the coolant container has at least a first side-wall and a second side-wall that together define a containment space for containing coolant material, the at least one coolant container being adapted to fit inside the coolant portion between the contents container and the inside surfaces of the sides of the body-portion.

According to another embodiment, a container comprises a rotationally molded thermally insulated body-portion, the body-portion comprising a base-portion and sides that extend vertically from the base-portion, the inside surfaces of the sides and the base-portion define an enclosed space and an opening between the enclosed space and an area outside the container, the opening is at an end of the sides that is distal to the base-portion, a lid that is adapted to be fastened to an edge of the sides adjacent to the opening thereby covering the opening so as to at least substantially prevent fluid communication between the enclosed space and the area outside the container, a thermally insulated contents-container that defines an enclosed space and an opening between the enclosed space and an area outside the contents-container, a contents-container lid that is adapted to be fastened adjacent edges of the contents-container defining the opening of the contents-container thereby at least substantially preventing fluid communication between the enclosed space of the contents-container and the space outside the contents-container, at least one coolant container comprising a coolant, the coolant container is adapted to fit inside the body portion so as to rest against the inside surface of the sides of the body-portion.

According to a method of an embodiment of the present invention for transporting refrigerated contents in a container comprising a body-portion, the body-portion comprising a base-portion and sides that extend from the base-portion in a vertical direction, the inside surfaces of the sides and the base-portion together define an enclosed space and an opening between the enclosed space and an area outside the body-portion, the opening is at an end of the sides that is distal from the base-portion, a lid is adapted to be fastened to an edge of the sides that is proximal to the opening, thereby covering the opening so as to at least substantially prevent fluid communication between the enclosed space and the area outside the container, a contents-container that defines an enclosed space and an opening between the enclosed space and an area outside the contents-container, a contents-container lid that is adapted to be fastened to edges of the contents container that are proximal to the opening of the contents container thereby substantially preventing fluid communication between the enclosed space of the contents container and the space outside the contents container, the method comprising the steps of:

placing a pressure-plate on and against the inside surface of the base of the body-portion,

placing the base of the contents-container on and against the pressure-plate,

placing a shock-spacer on and against the top of the contents-container lid,

placing coolant on and against the base of the body-portion and the inside surface of the walls of the body-portion, the, and

fastening the base-lid adjacent the sides thereby covering the opening.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a side section view of an example of a container according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows an exploded assembly drawing of the container shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a side view of the container in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 shows an example of a support device that can be used to support a container according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 shows an example of a gel-sleeve that can be used in a container according to the present invention;

FIG. 6 shows an example of a fastener that can be used on a container according to the present invention; and

FIG. 7 shows an example of a locking device that can be used on a container according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The Figures show an embodiment of a container 1 that comprises refrigerated gel and maintains a transported material's temperature over periods of time. That embodiment includes an exterior body-portion 100 having sides 102 that extend vertically from a base-portion 104. Support legs 140 extend downward from the base-portion 104 and fit within recesses 430 in a support device 400. The support legs 140 are preferably 2-5″ long. The support device 400 has a body 410 that is connected to and supported by wheels 420 so that the container 1 can be moved by rolling the support device 400. The wheels 420 are preferably 5″ rotating wheels. The support device 400 is preferably constructed such that the support device 400 and container 1 can be lifted by a forklift, and the forklift can approach the support device from a plurality of sides.

As an alternative to a separate dolley or support device 400, as described above, casters could be molded directly into the base portion 104.

The body portion 100 can be formed by one-piece seamless molded construction, e.g., by a known rotational molding process. Preferably, the body portion 100 is made from FDA approved high-impact polyethylene. The rotationally molded polyethylene provides a sturdy and easy to clean surface for the container 1.

Insulation may be in the body portion 100 and the insulation is preferably urethane insulation such as polyurethane foam. A lid 150 is located adjacent to the top edges of the sides 102.

The sides 102 and the base-portion 104 have outside and inside surfaces. Preferably, the container is formed with eight sides 102. The outside surfaces 110 of the sides 102 are preferably flat surfaces that are configured so that the outside of the body portion 100 and the lid 150 have an octagonal cross section when viewed in the vertical direction. Alternately, other configurations, e.g., three sides, four sides, five sides, six sides, etc., can be used. The outside surfaces 110 of the sides 102 can be rectangular in shape and extend in the long dimension from the base-portion 104 to the top of the sides 102, the short dimensions of the surfaces 110 can be adjacent to one another. The inside surfaces of the sides 102 can have correspondingly flat surfaces. In addition, the body-portion 100 could have a cylindrical outer surface.

Alternatively, the body portion 100 could be made from some other rigid construction such as a collection of panels that could be shipped flat and assembled into a container at location. Such panels could be made from any suitable materials including, but not limited to, cardboard panels with a foam interior.

In one embodiment, the container 1 includes knobs or posts 158 on the lid 150 to facilitate handling of the closed container 1.

As seen in FIG. 7, the container 1 may be made tamper-resistant by adding locking plates 350, constructed to stainless steel or other suitable materials, to opposing surfaces of the lid 150 and the body-portion 100. The plates 350 can be riveted to the container 1 such that the lid 150 can be secured to the body-portion 100 with a lock 352 and chain or wire 354.

Furthermore, a pocket 356 may be molded or otherwise formed on the outer surface of the container 1 for holding shipping information.

The inside surfaces of the sides 102 and the base 104 together define an enclosed space 106 for containment and an opening 108 between the enclosed space 106 and the area outside the container 1. The lid 150 can be fastened to the top edges of the sides 102 thereby covering the opening 108. Preferably, when the lid 150 is fastened to the tops of the sides 102, fluid communication between the enclosed space 106 and the area outside the container 1 is prevented. This can be aided by provision of a sealing membrane (not shown) between the lid 150 and the tops of the sides 102.

The inside surface of the base-portion 104 can have a first level 122 and a second level 124. The first level 122 is concentrically arranged inside the second level 124, and is recessed with respect to the second level 124. That is, the first level 122 is lower than the second level 124, thereby defining a step up to the second level 124. The second level 124 is adjacent to the inside surfaces of the sides 102.

Gel-sleeves 300 have sides 310 that define a containment space 320 for holding gel-packs 350. Preferably, three gel-packs 350 are stored in each gel-sleeve 300, although any suitable number of gel-packs 350 can alternately be stored. The gel-packs 350 are preferably 64 oz. packs of thermal gel, although gel packs of other sizes can also be used. An example of a commercially available gel-pack is a 64 oz. Gel Brick available from SCA Inc. (part no. FPP64). The gel-sleeves 300 can rest on the second level 124 and against the inside surfaces of the sides 102. Preferably, the number of gel-sleeves 300 corresponds to the number of flat surfaces 110 of the sides 102. The gel-sleeves 300 are preferably provided with handles 305 at the top of the gel-sleeve 300 for gripping by a user. The gel-sleeves 300 can be made from corrugated polypropylene or any other suitable material. The dimensions of the gel-sleeves 300 are preferably around 9″×2″ inches×33″ (±2″). The gel-sleeves could be malleable bags, e.g., mesh bags.

When used with a multi-sided body-portion, the gel sleeves are preferably made of a trapezoidal shape, as can be seen in FIG. 5. The trapezoidal shape enables the gel-sleeves to fit in a compact manner with a minimum amount of space between adjacent gel-sleeves.

In an alternative embodiment, the gel-sleeves 300 could contain a coolant directly, i.e., without using gel packs. For example, pellets of dry ice could be placed in the gel sleeves 300. The type of coolant would preferably depend on whether the contents are to be shipped in a refrigerated state or in a frozen state.

A contents-container 200 is provided for containment of a substance to be transported. The contents-container 200 is preferably in a cylindrical shape and thermally insulated. The contents-container 200 can be made of stainless steel or any other suitable material. The outer diameter of the contents-container 200 is preferably the same or slightly smaller than a diameter of the first level 122, thereby allowing the contents-container to rest on the first level 122 within the second level 124. The contents-container 200 defines an enclosed space therein and an opening between that enclosed space and the area outside the contents-container 200. The contents-container 200 preferably holds between 35 L and 200 L of contents. A lid 210 is provided for attachment to the contents-container 200 thereby covering the opening and preferably preventing fluid communication between the enclosed space in the contents-container 200 and the area outside the contents-container 200. A gasket seal (not shown) can aid in the prevention of fluid communication. There are many different means that can be used to attach the lid 210, but preferably the lid 210 is screwed onto the contents-container 200 by way of mating female and male threads. Alternately, many known clamping and fastening means could adequately serve to fasten the lid 210 in place.

One example of a contents container that could be used with the present invention is illustrated and described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,209,343, the entire contents of which is incorporated herein by reference.

In an alternative embodiment, the contents-container could be in the form of a soft bag, instead of the rigid contents-container 200 described above.

A shock-spacer 240 is constructed of shock absorbing material, e.g., elastic material such as extruded polyethylene foam, and is fitted above the contents-container lid 210 and below the lid 150. The shock-spacer 240 can have an o-shaped cross section. Preferably, when assembled, the shock-spacer 240 is adjacent and against the contents-container lid 240 and the lid 150, thereby stabilizing the contents-container 200.

A pressure-plate 220 is preferably made of stainless steel, but can be made from most other metals or synthetic materials such as plastics or composite materials. The pressure-plate 220 is dimensioned to fit adjacent to the first level 122 and within the second level 124. The pressure-plate 220 can have a circular shape and be shaped like a disk. The pressure-plate 220 fits adjacent to the contents-container 200 and the first level 122, preferably against the contents-container 200 and the first level 122.

The lid 150 can be attached to the tops of the sides 102 in many ways. One way is with fastener members 162 that are connected to the sides 102 and through openings 165 in the lid 150, with a head 164 on one end of the fastener member 162. The radius of the head 164 is larger than the radius of the openings 165. The other end of each the fastener members 162 is preferably threaded so that it can be engaged in a respective socket in the upper portion of the side walls 102. Other well known clamping and fastening devices can be used.

As noted above, certain thermal requirements are desired. For example, it is desired to configure the container 1 so that contents of the contents-container 200 can be maintained at a temperature between 2-8 degrees centigrade for at least 120 hours under normal shipping conditions when assembled within the container 1. Alternately, it may be adequate to maintain the temperature for up to 72 hours, 30 hours, or as little as 24 hours.

Also, certain physical dimensions are advantageous in achieving those thermal properties. For example, the outside dimensions of the container body portion 100 can be about 38″ in diameter and 53.5″ tall (±5″). The internal dimensions can be about 24″ in diameter and 39″ tall (±5″). The radial width of the second level 124 can be around 2-3″.

Some preferred embodiments have been shown in the foregoing, but it should be stressed that the invention is not limited to these, but may be embodied in other ways within the subject-matter defined in the following claims and equivalents thereof.