Title:
System, Apparatus and Method for Monitoring Accumulation of Fluids in a Containment Tank
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method for monitoring accumulation of fluids in a containment tank is provided. The system may be operable to and method may function to prevent (i) fluids destined for an underground storage tank (“UST”) from entering into, diffusing into and/or contaminating the ground soil due to, for example, spillage or overflow of a fill pipe of the UST when filing or otherwise servicing the UST, and/or (ii) fluids present in the ground soil from entering into and/or contaminating fluids stored in the underground storage tank. The system may include a first containment chamber that defines a given volume; a second containment chamber that may be positioned substantially within the given volume; an accumulation zone defined by a volume between the first and second containment chambers; and a monitoring device for detecting accumulation of fluids in the accumulation zone.



Inventors:
Clover, Daniel S. (Newark, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/769535
Publication Date:
01/01/2009
Filing Date:
06/27/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
141/94
International Classes:
B65D90/48; B65D43/02; B65D85/00; B65D90/22
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KUNDU, SUJOY K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MOSER TABOADA (SHREWSBURY, NJ, US)
Claims:
1. A system comprising: a first containment chamber defining a given volume; a second containment chamber positioned substantially within the given volume defined by the first containment chamber; a zone defined by a volume between the first containment chamber and the second containment chamber; and a monitoring device for detecting a presence of at least one fluid within the zone.

2. The system of claim 1, further comprising a fill pipe passing through the first containment chamber, the zone, and the second containment chamber.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the second containment chamber comprises an open top surface.

4. The system of claim 3, further comprising a removable cover positioned over the open top surface of the second containment chamber.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the monitoring device comprises at least one of a resistance sensor or an optical sensor.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the monitoring device comprises a self-contained power device for operating the monitoring device.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the self-contained power device include at least one battery.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the monitoring device comprises an alert for indicating detection of at least one of a presence of at least one fluid in the zone, a power status of the monitoring device, and a diagnostic of the monitoring device.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein the monitoring device comprises at least one indicator for the alert, and wherein the indicator comprises at least one of a liquid-crystal display, a light-emitting diode, a lamp and an audible tone generator.

10. A system comprising: a double-walled containment chamber having an inner wall, an outer wall and a substantially open top surface; a fill pipe having a fill end accessible via the open top surface of the double-walled containment chamber, extending to an underground storage tank, and passing through the double-walled containment chamber; a zone defined by a volume between the inner wall and outer wall; and a monitoring device for a presence of at least one fluid within the zone.

11. The containment tank of claim 10, further comprising a removable cover positioned over the open top surface of the double-walled containment chamber.

12. The containment tank of claim 10, wherein the monitoring device comprises at least one of a resistance sensor or an optical sensor.

13. The containment tank of claim 10, wherein the monitoring device comprises a self-contained power device for operating the monitoring device.

14. The containment tank of claim 10, wherein the monitoring device comprises an alert for indicating a detection of at least one of a presence of at least one fluid within the zone, a power status, and a diagnostic of the monitoring device.

15. The containment tank of claim 14, wherein the monitoring device comprises at least one indicator for the alert, and wherein the indicator comprises at least one of a liquid-crystal display, a light-emitting diode, a lamp and an audible tone generator.

16. A method comprising: measuring, at a monitoring device having at least one sensor inside a containment tank, at least a sensor condition in view of a predetermined threshold, wherein the containment tank comprises a first and second containment chambers, wherein the first containment chamber defines a given volume, wherein the second containment chamber is positioned substantially within the given volume, and wherein the at least one sensor condition is indicative of a presence of at least one fluid within a zone defined by a volume between first and second containment chambers; and triggering, at the monitoring device, an alarm when at least the sensor condition satisfies the predetermined threshold.

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising: measuring a condition of the monitoring device in view of a predetermined threshold; and triggering an alarm if at least the condition of the monitoring device satisfies the threshold.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the monitoring device comprises a self-contained power device for operating the monitoring device.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the condition of the monitoring device comprises: at least one condition associated with the self-contained power device, diagnostic information and positioning of the monitoring device.

20. The method of claim 16, wherein triggering an alarm comprises: triggering the alarm at an end of a predetermined time period.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the predetermined time period is about 24 hours.

22. The method of claim 16, wherein the sensor condition comprises a condition associated with one of at least a resistance sensor, optical sensor and thermal sensor.

23. The method of claim 23, wherein the sensor condition comprises data obtained from at least one of the resistance sensor, optical sensor and thermal sensor.

24. The method of claim 16, wherein the alarm comprises a notification of a detection of at least one of a presence of at least one fluid in the zone, a power status of the monitoring device, and a diagnostic of the monitoring device.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein the alarm causes activation and deactivation of at least one indicator for the alert, and wherein the indicator comprises at least one of a liquid-crystal display, a light-emitting diode, a lamp and an audible tone generator.

26. The method of claim 24, wherein the alarm causes deactivation of at least one indicator for the alert, and wherein the indicator comprises at least one of a liquid-crystal display, a light-emitting diode, a lamp and an audible tone generator.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field

The following generally relates to containment tanks and monitors thereof. More particularly, the following relates to a system, apparatus and method for monitoring and/or detecting an accumulation of fluids that may accumulate in an accumulation zone of the containment tank.

2. Related Art

A legacy holding or containment tank, which typically resides (at least in part) in ground soil below ground level, acts a barrier between the ground soil it resides in and a subterranean fill pipe or other port of an underground storage tank. As a barrier, the legacy containment tank is operable to prevent (i) fluids destined for the underground storage tank from entering into, diffusing into and/or contaminating the ground soil due to, for example, spillage or overflow of the fill pipe when filing of the underground storage tank, and/or (ii) fluids present in the ground soil from entering into and/or contaminating fluids stored in the underground storage tank.

The legacy containment tank typically includes a container that has a substantially circular bottom and an opening or aperture (“bottom aperture”) through which the fill pipe extends, a substantially cylindrical side wall having a first end connected to the bottom and a second end separated from the first end by a given length, and an opening or aperture (“delivery-side opening”) that is disposed at the second end of the cylindrical side wall. This delivery-side opening typically resides at or substantially at ground level, and the second end of the cylindrical side wall typically includes details for affixing or otherwise attaching a manhole cover or the like to cap off the delivery-side opening.

The legacy containment tank may also include one or more seals for sealing any gap between the fill pipe and the bottom aperture. These seals, which are typically fabricated from elastomer and/or other deformable elastic materials, generally permit relative movement of the fill pipe and the bottom aperture, which may result from, for example, contraction and/or expansion of the fill pipe and/or the bottom aperture due to weather or other environmental conditions. By sealing the gap (if any) between the fill pipe and the bottom aperture, the seals enhance the barrier afforded by the legacy containment tank.

In use, the legacy containment tank may accumulate the fluids (i) spilled during filling or overfilling of the underground storage tank and/or (ii) transmitted from the ground. Generally, the legacy containment tank includes or can be fitted with a pump (e.g., a sump-type pump) to evacuate such fluids. To detect an accumulation of the fluids when the manhole cover is not in place, a person can visual inspect and/or chemically test (e.g., by way of litmus paper) any accumulation in the legacy containment tank. To detect an accumulation of the fluids when the manhole cover is in place, the manhole cover typically includes a sight glass though which a person can visually inspect to determine a level of accumulation in the legacy containment tank, if any.

Recently, certain new government regulations mandated, in certain jurisdictions, all new installations of containment tanks have to provide an additional layer of protection to the barrier afforded by the legacy containment tanks. In addition, some of these regulations required replacement of the legacy containment tanks with containment tanks that provide such additional layer of protection. Responsive to the regulations, various implementations of double-walled containment tanks were introduced.

Each of these double-walled containment tanks typically includes a first container that is similar to the container of the legacy containment tank disposed within a second container, which is also similar to the legacy containment tank. The first and second containers may be sealed so as to create an accumulation zone (i.e., a volume) between an outer surface of the first container and an inner surface of the second container. This accumulation zone may be used to accumulate the fluids (i) spilled during filling or overfilling of the underground storage tank and/or (ii) transmitted from the ground before such fluids are evacuated (e.g. pumped) from the accumulation zone.

Like the legacy containment tank, the first container of a double-walled containment tank may be fitted with a manhole cover. Detection of fluids within the first container is substantially the same as the legacy containment tank. In addition, the double-walled containment tank may include a port to the accumulation zone to enable detection of fluids accumulated therein.

The port can be sealed with a cover (“port cover”). To detect an accumulation of the fluids when the port cover is not in place, a person can visual inspect and/or chemically test (e.g., by way of litmus paper) any accumulation in the accumulation zone. To detect an accumulation of the fluids when the port cover is in place, the port cover may includes a sight glass though which a person can visually inspect to determine a level of accumulation, if any.

Unfortunately, the visual inspection and/or chemical testing of the legacy containment and double-walled containment tanks has to be performed on a periodic (e.g., daily) basis so as to ensure that the any fluids accumulated in the containers and/or the accumulation zone do not overfill and/or contaminate the ground and/or the underground storage tank. Many times, such inspections and testing do not accurately indicate an amount and/or type of fluid accumulating.

In addition, such inspections and testing may not be performed often enough to detect a rapid accumulation of the fluids. On the other hand, the inspections and testing may turn out to be an utter waste of resources (e.g., manpower, testing supplies, etc.) when little or no fluids accumulate in the containers and/or the accumulation zone.

Therefore, there is a need for a monitor for alert personnel of accumulation of fluids in containers and/or the accumulation zone of legacy and double-walled containment tanks.

SUMMARY

Examples described herein below generally relate to a system, apparatus and method for monitoring accumulation of fluids in a containment tank. The system and apparatus may be operable to and the method may function to prevent (i) fluids destined for an underground storage tank (“UST”) from entering into, diffusing into and/or contaminating the ground soil due to, for example, spillage or overflow of a fill pipe of the UST when filing or otherwise servicing the UST, and/or (ii) fluids present in the ground soil from entering into and/or contaminating fluids stored in the underground storage tank. The system may include a first containment chamber that defines a given volume; a second containment chamber that may be positioned substantially within the given volume; an accumulation zone defined by a volume between the first and second containment chambers; and a monitoring device for detecting accumulation of fluids in the accumulation zone.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

So the manner in which the above recited features are attained and can be understood in detail, a more detailed description is described below with reference to the Figures illustrated in the appended drawings.

It is to be noted the Figures in the appended drawings, like the detailed description, are examples. As such, the Figures and the detailed description are not to be considered limiting, and other equally effective examples are possible and likely. Furthermore, like reference numerals in the Figures indicate like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of an example of a system for detecting an accumulation of at least one fluid in an accumulation zone of a containment tank;

FIG. 2A is a schematic diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of an example of a monitoring device for detecting an accumulation of at least one fluid in a containment tank;

FIG. 2B is a schematic diagram illustrating a top view of an example of a monitoring device for detecting an accumulation of at least one fluid in a containment tank;

FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating an example of a flow for detecting an accumulation of at least one fluid in a containment tank;

FIG. 4A is a schematic diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of an example of a monitoring device for detecting an accumulation of at least one fluid in a containment tank;

FIG. 4B is a schematic diagram illustrating a top view of an example of a monitoring device for detecting an accumulation of at least one fluid in a containment tank; and

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of another example of a system for detecting an accumulation of at least one fluid that may accumulate in an accumulation zone of a containment tank.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following detailed description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of exemplary embodiments or other examples described herein. However, it will be understood that these embodiments and examples may be practiced without the specific details. In other instances, well-known methods, procedures, components and circuits have not been described in detail, so as not to obscure the following description. Further, the embodiments disclosed are for exemplary purposes only and other embodiments may be employed in lieu of, or in combination with, the embodiments disclosed.

In addition, the headings used herein are for organizational purposes only and are not meant to be used to limit the scope of the description or the claims. As used throughout this application, the word “may” is used in a permissive sense (i.e., meaning having the potential to), rather than the mandatory sense (i.e., meaning must). Similarly, the words “include”, “including”, and “includes” mean including but not limited to.

System Architecture Example

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of an example of a system 100 for detecting an accumulation of fluids (in trace or other amounts) that may accumulate in an accumulation zone of the containment tank. The system 100 includes a containment tank 102 and a monitoring device 104.

The containment tank 102, which typically resides (at least in part) in ground soil 103 below ground level, acts a barrier between the ground soil 103 it resides in and a subterranean fill pipe or other port of an underground storage tank (“UST”), such as fill pipe 105, may be deployed in petroleum-refueling stations, petroleum refineries, residences, commercial buildings, etc., and any other installation having a direct or remote connection to a fill pipe of an UST. Details of examples of the containment tank 102 are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,655,361 issued on Apr. 7, 1987 to Clover, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

To facilitate providing such barrier, the containment tank 102 includes a first containment chamber 106 and a second containment chamber 108. The first containment chamber 106 has a given volume, and the second containment chamber 108 may be (i) positioned substantially within this volume and (ii) removably or irremovably affixed to the first containment chamber 106.

The containment tank 102 also defines an accumulation zone 110 into which fluids, such as water, gasoline, heating oil, diesel, kerosene, waste oil, etc., may undesirably accumulate due to spillage, discharge, condensation and/or other passage into the first and/or second containment chambers 106, 108. This accumulation zone 110 may be defined as a volume of space disposed between the first and second containment chambers 106, 108. The monitoring device 104, which may be disposed (at least in part) in the accumulation zone 110, is operable to monitor the accumulation zone 110, and is discussed in greater detail with respect to FIGS. 2A, 2B and 3.

The fill pipe 105 extends from a valve 107, positioned inside the second containment chamber 108, through the accumulation zone 110 and the first containment chamber 106. One exemplary underground storage tank is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,202,667, issued Apr. 13, 1993, to Alvin, and is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Generally, during a filling process, a tanker truck (not shown) is attached to the valve 107 via a hose (not shown).

The containment tank 102 may, optionally, include a cover 112. When positioned over and/or sealed to the second containment chamber 102, the cover 112 is operable to prevent the fluids from undesirably entering into the second containment tank 108, and in turn the accumulation zone 110.

Each of the first and second containment chambers 106, 108 may be constructed or otherwise formed from a non-corrosive material, such as stainless steel, plastic and the like. Additionally and/or alternatively, each of the first and second containment chambers 106, 108 may be formed so as to comply with various state and federal regulations governing the construction and/or installation of containment tanks.

The first containment chamber 106 may include a first bottom wall 114, a first sidewall 116, a supporting flange 118, a first sealing assembly 120 and an anchor-support ring 122. The first bottom wall 112 may be substantially flat, and have a shape that is substantially circular. Alternatively, the shape of the first bottom wall 112 may be rectangular, oval, square and the like. The first bottom wall 112 may have a thickness (“first bottom-wall thickness”) that is typically between about 0.035 inches (20 gauge) and about 3 inches. The first bottom-wall thickness may, however, be larger or smaller than about 0.1 inch and about 3 inches. Additionally and/or alternatively, the first bottom-wall thickness may be selected on accordance with the geographic location and environmental conditions where the containment tank 102 is installed.

The first bottom wall 112 may include an opening or aperture (“first-bottom opening”) 117 through which the fill pipe 105 may extend when the first containment chamber 106 is installed in the ground soil 103. Attached, affixed or otherwise connected to the first bottom wall 112 and disposed about the first-bottom opening 118 is the first seal assembly 122.

The seal assembly 122 generally permits the first-bottom opening 117 to be larger than the fill pipe 105, and aids in preventing (i) fluids destined for the UST from entering into, diffusing into and/or contaminating the ground soil 103 due to, for example, spillage or overflow of the fill pipe 105, and/or (ii) fluids present in the ground soil 103 from entering into and/or contaminating fluids stored in the UST. By permitting the first-bottom opening 117 to be larger than the fill pipe 105, the first seal assembly 122 facilitates installation of the first containment chamber 106 over the fill pipe 105. In addition, the first seal assembly 122 allows for relative movement of the fill pipe 105 and the first-bottom opening 117, which may result from, for example, contraction and/or expansion of the fill pipe 105 and/or the first-bottom opening 117 due to weather and/or other environmental conditions.

The first seal assembly 122 includes a first plate 124, a gasket 126, a second plate 128 and a thru-hole 130. The thru-hole 130 allows the fill pipe 105 to pass through the first plate 124, gasket 126 and top plate 128. The first plate 124, which may be may be constructed or otherwise formed from a non-corrosive material, such as stainless steel, plastic and the like, may be affixed to the first bottom wall 114 by welding, threaded fasteners and/or other fastening devices. The gasket 126, which may be formed from an elastomer and/or other deformable elastic material, is operable to form a seal between the seal assembly 112 and the fill pipe 105. The second plate 124, which may be may be constructed or otherwise formed from a non-corrosive material, such as stainless steel, plastic and the like, may be affixed to the first plate 128 by welding, threaded fasteners and/or other fastening devices.

The first sidewall 116 includes a first end 134, a second end 136 and a body 138. The first end 134 may be attached, affixed or otherwise connected to the first bottom wall 112 by welding, molding or other construction process. The first end 134 may have a cross section that matches the shape of the bottom wall 112. For instance, when the first bottom wall 112 is substantially circular, the first end 134 may have a cross section that is substantially circular at the intersection of the bottom wall 112 and the sidewall 116. If, on the other hand, the shape of the bottom wall 112 is substantially rectangular, oval, square, or the like, this cross section may be substantially rectangular, oval, square and the like, respectively.

The second end 136 may have a cross section that matches the shape of the bottom wall 112. Alternatively, the second end 136 may have a cross section that is different from the shape of the first bottom wall 112. The cross section of the second end 136 may be substantially circular, rectangular, oval, square and the like.

The body 138, which extends from between the first and second ends 134,136, may be shaped and/or have a cross section that matches, blends and/or integrates the one or both of the cross sections of the first and second ends 134,136. Alternatively, the body 138 may be shaped and/or have a cross section that is different from cross sections of the first and second ends 134, 136. As another alternative, the body 138 may be substantially cylindrical and/or have a cross section that is substantially circular, rectangular, oval, square, and the like.

Like the first bottom-wall thickness, the first sidewall 116 may have a thickness (“first sidewall thickness”) between about 0.035 inches (20 gauge) and about 3 inches. The first sidewall thickness may, however, be larger or smaller than about 0.035 inches (20 gauge) and about 3 inches, and may be different than the first bottom-wall thickness. Additionally and/or alternatively, the sidewall thickness may be selected in accordance with the geographic location and environmental conditions where the containment tank 102 is installed.

The supporting flange 118 extends inwardly at a given angle from an inner surface 132 of the first sidewall 116 at or near the second end 136. This angle may be about ninety degrees. Alternatively, the angle may be between about 90 and 270 degrees.

The supporting flange 118 may be designed such that it can support the secondary containment chamber 108 and the cover 112 and any weight corresponding thereto. As such, the supporting flange 118 may be formed to the first sidewall 116 using any advantageous forming process for superior strength. This process may include, for example, welding, molding, using fasteners, etc. In addition, the first containment chamber 106 may include buttresses or other supporting structures (not shown) for supporting the supporting flange 118.

The anchor-support ring 122 is operable to anchor the first containment tank 106, and in turn, the containment tank 102, into ground soil 103 surrounding the containment tank 102. Generally, the ground soil 103 is formed of concrete, asphalt, gravel, packed dirt or a similar structurally stable substance. The anchor support ring 118 may be constructed or otherwise formed from a non-corrosive material, such as stainless steel, plastic and the like, and may be affixed to the second end 136 of the first sidewall 116 and/or the supporting flange 118 by welding, threaded fasteners and/or other fastening devices.

The second containment chamber 108 may include a second bottom wall 140, a second sidewall 142, a receiving flange 144, a sealing assembly 146 and a resilient barrier ring 148. The second bottom wall 140 may be substantially flat, and have a shape that is substantially circular. Alternatively, the shape of the second bottom wall 140 may be rectangular, oval, square and the like. The second bottom wall 140 may have a thickness (“second bottom-wall thickness”) that is typically between about 0.035 inches (20 gauge) and about 3 inches. The second bottom-wall thickness may, however, be larger or smaller than about 0.035 inches (20 gauge) and about 3 inches. Additionally and/or alternatively, the second bottom-wall thickness may be selected in accordance with the geographic location and environmental conditions where the containment tank 102 is installed.

The second bottom wall 140 may include an opening or aperture (“second-bottom opening”) 150 through which the fill pipe 105 may extend when the second containment chamber 108 is positioned within the first containment chamber 106. Attached, affixed or otherwise connected to the second bottom wall 140, and disposed about the second-bottom opening 150 is the second seal assembly 146.

The second seal assembly 146 generally permits the second-bottom opening 150 to be larger than the fill pipe 105, and aids in preventing (i) fluids destined for the UST from entering into, diffusing into and/or seeping into the accumulation zone 110 due to, for example, spillage or overflow of the fill pipe 105, and/or (ii) fluids present in the accumulation zone 110 from entering, diffusing and/or seeping into fluids stored in the UST. By permitting the second-bottom opening 150 to be larger than the fill pipe 105, the second seal assembly 146 facilitates installation of the second containment chamber 108 over the fill pipe 105. In addition, the second seal assembly 122 allows for relative movement of the fill pipe 105 and the second-bottom opening 150, which may result from, for example, contraction and/or expansion of the fill pipe 105 and/or the second-bottom opening 150 due to weather and/or other environmental conditions.

Like the first seal assembly 120, the second seal assembly 146 includes a first plate 152, a gasket 154, a second plate 156 and a thru-hole 158. The thru-hole 158 allows the fill pipe 105 to pass through the first plate 152, gasket 154 and top plate 156. The first plate 158, which may be may be constructed or otherwise formed from a non-corrosive material, such as stainless steel, plastic and the like, may be affixed to the second bottom wall 140 by welding, threaded fasteners and/or other fastening devices. The gasket 154, which may be formed from an elastomer and/or other deformable elastic material, is operable to form a seal between the second seal assembly 146 and the fill pipe 105. The second plate 156, which may be may be constructed or otherwise formed from a non-corrosive material, such as stainless steel, plastic and the like, may be affixed to the first plate 152 by welding, threaded fasteners and/or other fastening devices.

The second sidewall 142 includes a first end 160, a second end 162 and a body 164. The first end 160 may be attached, affixed or otherwise connected to the second bottom wall 140 by welding, molding or other construction process. The first end 160 may have a cross section that matches the shape of the second bottom wall 140. For instance, when the second bottom wall 140 is substantially circular, the first end 160 may have a cross section that is substantially circular at the intersection of the second bottom wall 160 and the second sidewall 140. If, on the other hand, the shape of the second bottom wall 140 is substantially rectangular, oval, square, or the like, this cross section may be substantially rectangular, oval, square and the like, respectively.

The second end 162 may have a cross section that matches the shape of the second bottom wall 140, as well. Alternatively, the second end 162 may have a cross section that is different from the shape of the second bottom wall 140. The cross section of the second end 162 may be substantially circular, rectangular, oval, square and the like.

The body 164, which extends from between the first and second ends 160,162, may be shaped and/or have a cross section that matches, blends and/or integrates the one or both of the cross sections of the first and second ends 160,162. Alternatively, the body 164 may be shaped and/or have a cross section that is different from cross sections of the first and second ends 160,162. As another alternative, the body 164 may be substantially cylindrical and/or have a cross section that is substantially circular, rectangular, oval, square, and the like.

Like the second bottom-wall thickness, the second sidewall 142 may have a thickness (“second sidewall thickness”) between about 0.035 inches (20 gauge) and about 3 inches. The second sidewall thickness may, however, be larger or smaller than about 0.035 inches and about 3 inches, and may be different than the second bottom-wall thickness. Additionally and/or alternatively, the second sidewall thickness may be selected in accordance with the geographic location and environmental conditions where the containment tank 102 is installed.

The receiving flange 144 extends outwardly at a given angle from an outer surface 166 of the second sidewall 142 at or near the second end 162, and may align substantially with the supporting flange 118. The receiving flange 144 may be designed such that it can support the secondary containment chamber 108 and the cover 112 and any weight corresponding thereto. As such, the receiving flange 144 may be formed to the second sidewall 142 using any advantageous forming process for superior strength. This process may include, for example, welding, molding, using fasteners, etc. In addition, the second containment chamber 108 may include buttresses or other supporting structures (not shown) for supporting the receiving flange 144.

The resilient barrier ring 148 may be positioned between the receiving flange 144 and supporting flange 118. The resilient barrier ring 116 aids in preventing contaminants from undesirably entering the second containment chamber 108, and in turn, the accumulation zone 110.

To further aid in supporting the cover 112 and/or aligning the cover 112 to the second containment chamber 108, the receiving flange 144 may include a recessed portion 168. This recessed portion 168 is operable to receive a securing ring 170 affixed, provided by and/or otherwise associated with the cover 112. Optionally, the containment tank 102 may include a water-tight washer or other seal (not shown), which may be placed between the recessed portion 168 and the securing ring 170 so as to prevent fluids from entering the second containment chamber 108.

The second containment tank 108 may also include a sump basin 172 disposed in the second bottom wall 140, and a sump pump 174. The sump basin 172 provides a location for fluids to accumulate within the second containment chamber 108, and may be substantially annular. When contaminants accumulate in the sump basin 172, the sump pump 174 may be utilized to remove the contaminants from the second containment chamber 174.

The sump pump 174 may be affixed to the sidewall 138. The sump pump 174 may be provided with a filter (not shown) and a flexible hose 176, which in operation, allows for the fluids to be pumped into the UST or out of the containment tank 102.

The second bottom wall 140 may also include an opening 176 into which the monitoring device 104 may be installed. This opening 176 may be positioned anywhere along the second bottom wall 140, including, for example, the sump basin 172. The opening 172 may alternately be used for a sight glass. The opening 146 may be provided with a seal, such as a gasket, water-tight threads, or the like, for ensuring a secure connection to the monitoring device 104.

Monitoring-Device Architecture Example

FIGS. 2A and 2B are block diagrams respectively illustrating cross-sectional and top views of an example of a monitoring device 200 for detecting an accumulation of fluids that may accumulate in an accumulation zone of the containment tank. The monitoring device 200 is similar to the monitoring device 104 of FIG. 1, except as described herein below. For convenience, the monitoring device 200 is described with reference to the system 100 of FIG. 1. The monitoring device 200, however, may be used in other architectures as well.

The monitoring device 200 generally includes a sensor 202, an operating panel 204 and a housing 206. The sensor 202 may include one or more sensing elements. These sensing elements may include at least one of a resistive sensor, optical sensor, thermal sensor, any environmental or conditional sensing device capable of determining the identity, quantity and/or quality of a substance in a confined volume, and the like. Examples of the sensing elements may be Adsistor Vapor Sensors from Adsistor Technology, P.O. Box 51160, Seattle, Wash. 98115 and/or Figaro Gas Sensors from Figaro Engineering, Inc., 3703 West Lake Ave. Suite 203, Glenview, IL 60026 USA.

As described in more detail below, the sensor 202 may be communicatively coupled to a substrate 212 (disposed within the housing 206) via a communication link 210 to facilitate interaction between electrical components (shown generally as “213”) disposed on the substrate 212. This communication link 210 allows the sensor 202 to exchange measurements and/or other information with the electrical components 213 so as to enable detection of fluids that may accumulate in the accumulation zone 110.

The communication link 210 may be, for example, a wiring harness or other wired or wireless link that allows the sensor 202 to be physically separate from the housing 206, yet exchange the measurements and/or other information with the electrical components 213. As an alternative, the communication link 210 may be a bus, ribbon cable or other wired or wireless link that allows the sensor 202 to be disposed on the substrate 212 or otherwise within the housing 206, yet leaving at least a portion of the sensing elements exposed; thereby enabling the sensing elements to detect fluids that may accumulate in the accumulation zone 110. The communication link 210 may take other forms as well.

The housing 206 defines a voluminous container adapted for holding electrical components (shown generally as “213”) configured to obtain information from the sensor 202 to allow for detection an accumulation of fluids that may accumulate in an accumulation zone 110. In addition, the housing 206 may be adapted to protect the electrical components 213 from environmental conditions, such as moisture, static electricity, fuel vapors, etc. To facilitate this, the housing may be coated or encapsulated with a conformal coat and/or membrane.

The housing 206 may include and/or be fitted with an attachment details 208. The attachment details 208 are operable to attach the housing 206 to the opening 178 of the second containment chamber 108, and may be in a form of any fastening details known in the industry, including, for example, a plurality of threads, a quick-release fitting, and the like. The attachment details 208 may also include and or be fitted with any complementary structure or apparatus for sealing of the housing 206 to the opening 178 of the second containment chamber 108. Examples of such complementary structure or apparatus for sealing of the opening 178 include a gasket and a washer; each of which may be formed from an elastomer and/or other deformable elastic material.

The housing 206 may include and/or be fitted, removably or otherwise, with the substrate 212. Alternatively, the housing 206 may include details (not shown) to provide access to the electrical components 213. These details may include one or more removable, hinged and/or replaceable panels; one or more apertures and the like.

The substrate 212 may be in a form of one or more printed circuit boards (“PCB”) and/or a flexible circuits (“flex circuits”) onto which the electrical components 213, such as electrical traces, wires, electronic circuitry, etc., may be disposed. Each of the PCB and flex circuits may be fabricated from one or more layers of plastic, ceramic, metals and like-type materials typically used for fabrication of such substrate. The materials selected may be commensurate with the environmental conditions in which the substrate 212, and in turn, the housing 206 and monitoring device 200 may be situated. Like the housing 206, the substrate 212 may be coated or encapsulated with a conformal coat and/or membrane to protect the electrical components 213 coated or encapsulated therein from environmental conditions, such as moisture, static electricity, fuel vapors, etc.

The electrical components 213 may include a processing platform 214 that is operable to control, manipulate or otherwise interact with the sensor 200 and/or the operating panel 204 via respective couplings 224, 226. Each of these couplings 224, 226 may be implemented as any of a serial bus, a parallel bus, etc., and may include a connector (such as edge-card connector) or cable (such as a ribbon cable) on each end of the couplings 224, 225 to facilitate assembly of the monitoring device 200.

The processing platform 214 may include a large number of elements; most of which are not shown in FIG. 2 for simplicity of exposition. As shown, the processing platform 214 includes one or more processing units (collectively “processor”) 216, memory 218, supports circuits 220 and bus 222. The processor 216 may be one or more conventional processors, microprocessors, multi-core processors and/or microcontrollers.

The memory 218 may store (and receive requests from the processor 216 to obtain) stored software packages, such as an operating system and/or a basic input/output system (“BIOS”). The memory 218 may be or employ random access memory, read-only memory, optical storage, magnetic storage, removable storage, erasable programmable read only memory and variations thereof, content addressable memory and variations thereof, flash memory, disk drive storage, removable storage, any combination thereof, and the like.

In addition, the memory 218 may store (and receive requests from the processor 216 to obtain) operands, operators, dimensional values, configurations, and other data that are used by the operating system and other software, such a monitoring software 230, to control the operation of and/or to facilitate performing functions of the monitoring device 200. The operating system may include code for operating the monitoring device 200 and for providing a platform onto which the monitoring software 230 can be executed.

The support circuits 220 facilitate operation of the processor 216 and may include well-known circuitry or circuits. Such circuitry may include, for example, one or more I/O interfaces 232 for interfacing with the sensor 202 and/or the operating panel 204 via the respective couplings 224, 226; cache; timing and/or clock circuits 227, digital and/or analog logic circuits; one or more power supplies 228; and the like.

Each of the power supplies 228 may include any power source known in the industry for delivering its stored electrical energy to power the electrical components 213. The power supplies 228 are operable to deliver their stored electrical energy to power some or all of the electrical components 213 on a continuous or a (regular or irregular) periodic basis. Such delivery may be a function of an amount of electrical energy stored in the power supplies 228 and/or a mode of operation of the monitoring device 200, as described in more detail below with reference to FIG. 3. Examples of the each of the power supplies 228 include any or any combination of a gel battery, a lead-acid battery, a nickel-cadmium battery, a nickel metal hydride battery, a lithium ion battery, a lithium polymer battery, a zinc bromide battery, a proton exchange membrane fuel cell, a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell, a formic acid fuel cell, and the like.

The support circuits 220 may further include a power-monitor circuitry 234 for determining and reporting (e.g., by sending one or more signals) to the processor 218 (i) when one or more of the power supplies 228 discharges below a given threshold (e.g., below about ten percent of capacity of power supply); and/or when to switch to an alternative source of power, if available. The power monitor 34 may also report (e.g., send a signal) to the processor 218 on a continuous or a periodic basis a status of one or more of the power supplies 228. The status may include, for example, an amount of power remaining in one or more of the power supplies 228. As an alternative, the power-monitor circuitry 234 may be included within the power supplies 228.

Although not shown, the power supplies 228, the support circuits 220, and/or the operation panel 204 may include charging and charging-interface circuits. These charging and charging-interface circuits may be used to (i) deliver electrical energy supplied from a charging device (not shown) to the power supplies 228 for charging (or recharging), and/or (ii) to route the electrical energy to the electrical components 213 without drawing from the power supplies 228.

The bus 222 provides for transmissions of digital information among the processor 216, the memory 218, support circuits 220 and other portions of the monitoring device 200 (shown and not shown). The I/O interfaces 232 may be adapted to control transmissions of digital information between (shown and not shown) components of the monitoring device 200. In addition, the I/O interfaces 232 may be adapted to control transmissions of digital information between I/O devices (not shown) disposed within, associated with or otherwise attached to the monitoring device 200, such as the operating panel 204.

The operating panel 204 may be affixed or otherwise coupled to the housing 206 via fasteners 236-246 or other fastening mechanism. The housing 206 and/or the operating panel 204 may further include one or more protective gaskets, seals, conformal coatings, etc. to prevent fluids and/or other contaminants from contaminating the monitoring device 200 via transmission at an interface between the housing 206 and the operating panel 204. Alternatively, the housing 206 may include one or more protective gaskets or seals one or more protective gaskets, seals, conformal coatings, etc. to prevent fluids and/or other contaminants from contaminating the monitoring device 200 via transmission at an interface between the housing 206 and the attachment details 208.

The operating panel 204 includes a display panel 248 and a switch 250. The switch 250 may include any of or any combination of on/off switch, a reset button and the like for shutting off and/or cycling power of the power supplies 228, and in turn, the processing platform 214, sensor 202, operating panel 204 and/or related components thereof.

The display panel 248 may include one or more perceptible indicators for indicating or otherwise making known (i) accumulation of fluids in the accumulation zone 110 and/or (ii) status of the power supplies 228. Each of these perceptible indicators may be at least one or combination of a liquid-crystal display, a light-emitting diode, a lamp or other visual indication; an audible tone generator; and the like.

As shown, the display panel 248 includes a first indicator 252, a second indicator 254, a third indicator 256 and a fourth indicator 258; each of which may be activated and/or deactivated by the processing platform 214 in accordance with one or more given conditions. For instance, the first indicator 252 is operable to be activated when the accumulation zone 110 has an accumulation of the fluid destined for the UST, which may be for example, gasoline or other fuel product. The first indicator 252 is also operable to be deactivated when the accumulation zone 110 does not have an accumulation of the fluid destined for the UST.

Similar to the first indicator 252, the second indicator 254 is operable to be activated when the accumulation zone 110 has an accumulation of the fluid from ground soil 103, which may be for example, water. The second indicator 254 is also operable to be deactivated when the accumulation zone 110 doe not have an accumulation of the fluid from ground soil 103.

The third and fourth indicators 256,258 are operable to be activated when the status of respective power supplies 228 indicates that the respective power supplies 228 have discharged below a given threshold. Additionally and/or alternatively, the third and fourth indicators 256,258 are operable to be deactivated when the status of respective power supplies 228 indicates that the respective power supplies 228 have not discharged below a given threshold. In the foregoing, activation and deactivation are complements of two states. For example, activation may be on (e.g., illuminated if a visual indicator) or off (e.g., not illuminated if a visual indicator), and deactivation is the complement of the state activation.

Operation Example

FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating an example of a flow 300 for detecting an accumulation of fluids that may accumulate in an accumulation zone of the containment tank. For convenience, the flow 300 is described with reference to the system 100 of FIG. 1 and the monitoring device 200 of FIG. 2. The flow 200, however, may be carried out using other architectures as well.

The flow 300 starts at termination block 310, after the monitoring device 200 is installed in containment tank 102. After termination block 310, the flow 300 transitions to process block 320.

At process block 320, the timing and/or clock circuitry 227 wakes up the processor 216 by issuing an electrical signal to the processor 216. This electrical signal may be issued on a periodic basis, and as such may indicate a predetermined amount of period (“time period”) has passed. This predetermined time period may be, for example, about 24 hours. Alternatively, the predetermined time period may ranges from between about 0.01 seconds and about 168 hours (i.e., one week). The predetermined time period may be other values as well. After process block 320, the flow 300 transitions to process block 330.

At process block 330, the processor 216 checks a current status of the power supplies 228 (“power-supply status”). To do this, the processor 216 may query the power supplies 228 (and/or the power monitor 234) so as to ascertain the power-supply status. The power-supply status returned from the queries may include, for each of the power supplies 228 (e.g., power supply A, power supply B, etc.), an identity of such power supply, a indication that indicates an amount electrical energy remaining in the such power supply, and a flag or other indicator that indicates that one or more components of such power supply should be recharged and/or replaced. The processor 216 may record the power-supply status in memory 218. After process block 330, the flow 300 transitions to decision block 340.

At decision block 340, the processor 216 may determine if one or more of the power supplies 228 are functioning properly. To facilitate this, the processor 216 may retrieve from memory 218 the power-supply status, and then analyzes it against one or more predetermined thresholds for determining if the power supplies are functioning properly. These thresholds include, for example, a maximum and/or minimum voltage level, a maximum and/or minimum current draw for a given load, etc. If the processor 216 determines that one or more of the power supplies 228 are functioning properly so as to allow for continued processing of the flow 300, then flow 300 transitions to process block 350. If, on the other hand, the processor 216 determines that the power supplies 228 are not functioning properly to allow for continued processing of the flow 300, then flow 300 transitions to process block 370.

At process block 350, the processor 216 checks a current status of the sensor 202 (“sensor status”). To do this, the processor 216 may query the sensor 202 so as to ascertain the sensor status of the sensor 202. The sensor status returned from the queries may include one or more indications that indicate an accumulation of one or more fluids in the accumulation zone 110. For example, the sensor status may indicate that the sensor 202 detects (i) water, by way of a resistive measurement; and/or (ii) fuel vapor, by way of an optical or chromatograph transducer measurement. The processor 216 may record the sensor status in memory 218. After process block 350, the flow 300 transitions to decision block 360.

At decision block 360, the processor 216 may determine the sensor status indicates accumulation of the fluids within the accumulation zone 110. To facilitate this, the processor 216 may retrieve from memory 218 the sensor status, and then analyzes it against one or more predetermined thresholds for determining if the sensor 202 detects accumulation of the fluids. These thresholds include, for example, a maximum, minimum and/or other voltage level for the optical transducer measurement, a maximum, minimum and/or other current draw for the resistive measurement, etc. Other thresholds are possible as well.

If the processor 216 determines that sensor 202 does not detect accumulation of the fluids, then the flow 300 transitions to termination block 390. If, on the other hand, the processor 216 determines that sensor 202 detects accumulation of one or more of the fluids, then flow 300 transitions to process block 370.

At process block 370, the processor 216 triggers an alarm. To do this, the processor 216 may cause one or more of the perceptible indicators for indicating or otherwise making known (i) accumulation of fluids in the accumulation zone 110 and/or (ii) status of the power supplies 228. For example, the processor 216 may activate the first indicator 252 when the sensor 202 indicates the accumulation of fuel in the accumulation zone 110. Alternatively, the processor 216 may activate the second indicator 254 when the sensor 202 indicates the accumulation of water in the accumulation zone 110.

The processor 216 may also activate the third indicator 256 when one of the power supplies 228 is no longer functional. Similarly, the processor 216 may activate the fourth indicator 258 when another one of the power supplies 228 is no longer functional. After process block 370, the process block may transition to optional process block 380. Generally, an individual responsible for maintaining the containment tank 102 will note the alarm and rectify the situation. To rectify the situation the individual may pump out the fluids via the sump pump 174120, charge and/or replace the power supplies 228, etc.

At optional process block 380, the processor 216 may await an input or have an interrupt for detecting a power cycle caused by the switch 248. Generally, the individual responsible for maintaining the containment tank 102 presses the switch 248 to reset the system after rectifying the alarm. Upon reset, the processor 216 causes the flow to transition to the termination block 390.

At termination block 390, the flow 300 terminates, at which point the processor 216 takes no further action, and places itself in sleep or other dormant mode. Alternatively, the flow 300 may be repeated periodically (regularly or irregularly), in continuous fashion, or upon being triggered as a result of a condition, such a reset.

Alternative Monitoring-Device Architecture Example

FIGS. 4A and 4B are block diagrams respectively illustrating cross-sectional and top views of an example of a monitoring device 400 for detecting an accumulation of fluids that may accumulate in an accumulation zone of the containment tank. The monitoring device 400 is similar to the monitoring device 200 of FIG. 2, except as described herein below.

To not obscure the following description of the monitoring device 400 with previously described details and/or features of the elements of the monitoring device 200, most of these details and/or features are not repeated in the following description or shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B. Other details and/or features not described above and/or not shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B are presented.

Like the monitoring device 200, the monitoring device 400 includes a housing 402. The housing 402, in turn, includes proximal and distal ends 404 and 406, respectively. As an alternative to including or fitting the housing with attachment details starting from the distal end 406, the housing 402 may include attachment details 408 that extend from the proximal end 404 towards the distal end 406 by a given length.

The attachment details 408 may be operable to attach the housing 402 to the opening 178 of the second containment chamber 108 or, alternatively, to an opening in the cover 112 of the containment tank 102 (as described in more detail below). The attachment details 408 may be in a form of any fastening details known in the industry, including, for example, a plurality of threads, a quick-release fitting, and the like. The attachment details 408 may also include and or be fitted with any complementary structure or apparatus for sealing of the housing 402 to the opening 178 of the second containment chamber 108 or, alternatively, to an opening in the cover 112 of the containment tank 102. Examples of such complementary structure or apparatus for sealing include a gasket and a washer; each of which may be formed from an elastomer and/or other deformable elastic material.

Although not shown, the attachment details 408 may be disposed on any portion of the housing 402. Alternatively, the 402 attachment details 408 may be disposed over the entirety of the housing 402.

Alternative System Architecture Example

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of another example of a system 500 for detecting an accumulation of fluids (in trace or other amounts) that may accumulate in an accumulation zone of a containment tank. The system 500 is similar to the system 100 of FIG. 1, except at described herein. The system 500 includes the containment tank 102 and the monitoring device 400 (FIG. 4).

As above, to not obscure the following description of the system 500 with previously described details and/or features of the elements of the system 100 and/or monitoring device 400, some of these details and/or features are not repeated in the following description or shown in FIG. 5. Other details and/or features not described above and/or not shown in FIGS. 1, 4A and 4B are presented.

As an alternative to disposing or attaching the housing 206 of the monitoring device 104 (FIG. 1) in the opening 178 of the second containment chamber 108, the housing 402 of monitoring device 400 may be disposed in or attached to the cover 112. To facilitate this, the cover 112 may include a thru-hole 502. The thru-hole 502, in turn, may include attachment details 504 to which the attachment details 408 of the housing 402 may be disposed or otherwise attached. These attachment details 504 may be in a form of any type of fastening details known in the industry, including, for example, a plurality of threads, a quick-release fitting, and the like.

Although the housing 402 may be disposed in or attached to the cover 112, the sensing elements of the sensor 202, however, may reside, at least in part, in the accumulation zone 110. As noted above, the communication link 210 allows the sensor 202 to be physically separate from the housing 402, and as such, the sensor 202 may be disposed in the in the accumulation zone 110.

To prevent fluids from entering into the first containment chamber and/or facilitate accurate measurements of fluids accumulating in the accumulation zone 110, if any, the monitoring device 400 or portion thereof (e.g., the sensor 202 and/or communication link 210) and/or the opening 178 of the second containment chamber 108 may include and or be fitted with any complementary structure or apparatus 506 for sealing off the opening 178 of the second containment chamber 108. Examples of such complementary structure or apparatus 506 include a gasket and a washer; each of which may be formed from an elastomer and/or other deformable elastic material.

As above, the monitoring device 400 is operable to detect an accumulation of fluids that may accumulate in an accumulation zone 110 of the containment tank 102. Such detection may, for example, be may be carried out using the flow 300. The detection, however, may be performed in other ways as well.

Although not shown, the system 500 may include a single-chamber containment tank instead of the containment tank 102. Details of examples of a single-chamber containment tank may be found in U.S. Pat. No. 4,655,361.

Like the containment tank 102 shown in FIG. 5, the system 500 may include a cover (like the cover 112) for the single-chamber containment tank. As above, the housing 402 of monitoring device 400 may be disposed in or attached to such cover. Given that the single-chamber containment tank does not include the previously-described accumulation zone 110, the sensor 202 of monitoring device 400 may be disposed or otherwise placed in a volume that exists between the single-chamber containment tank and its cover. As such, the monitoring device 400 and the sensor 202 thereof may be operable to detect an accumulation of one or more fluids that may accumulate in such volume. This detection may be carried out, for example, using the flow 300. The detection, however, may be performed in other ways as well.

CONCLUSION

Variations of the apparatus and method described above are possible without departing from the scope of the invention. For instance, in the examples described above, controllers and other devices containing processors are noted. These devices may contain at least one Central Processing Unit (“CPU”) and a memory. In accordance with the practices of persons skilled in the art of computer programming, reference to acts and symbolic representations of operations or instructions may be performed by the various CPUs and memories. Such acts and operations or instructions may be referred to as being “executed,” “computer executed” or “CPU executed.”

One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the acts and symbolically represented operations or instructions include the manipulation of electrical signals by the CPU. An electrical system represents data bits that can cause a resulting transformation or reduction of the electrical signals and the maintenance of data bits at memory locations in a memory system to thereby reconfigure or otherwise alter the CPU's operation, as well as other processing of signals. The memory locations where data bits are maintained are physical locations that have particular electrical, magnetic, optical, or organic properties corresponding to or representative of the data bits. It should be understood that the exemplary embodiments are not limited to the above-mentioned platforms or CPUs and that other platforms and CPUs may support the described methods.

The data bits may also be maintained on a computer readable medium including magnetic disks, optical disks, and any other volatile (e.g., Random Access Memory (“RAM”)) or non-volatile (e.g., Read-Only Memory (“ROM”)) mass storage system readable by the CPU. The computer readable medium may include cooperating or interconnected computer readable medium, which exist exclusively on the processing system or are distributed among multiple interconnected processing systems that may be local or remote to the processing system. It should be understood that the examples are not limited to the above-mentioned memories and that other platforms and memories may support the described methods.

In view of the wide variety of embodiments that can be applied, it should be understood that the illustrated examples are exemplary only, and should not be taken as limiting the scope of the following claims. Further, the claims should not be read as limited to the described order or elements unless stated to that effect. In addition, use of the term “means” in any claim is intended to invoke 35 U.S.C. §112., ¶ 6, and any claim without the word “means” is not so intended.