Title:
NECK RING SEAL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A filling valve device having a gripper and a container mouth seal, in which vertical movement of the gripper holding an empty beverage container relative to a filling valve causes a filling valve container mouth seal to be brought into contact with a neck ring to form a gas seal and fill a beverage containing carbon dioxide. The cross-sectional shape of the container mouth seal approximates an inwardly facing lip shape. Flexibility is imparted in the vertical direction of the filling valve. The inside of the container mouth seal is brought into contact with the neck ring during beverage filling, and a sealing force is applied to the beverage container and the container mouth seal by the gas pressure applied during filling.



Inventors:
Hiroya, Kiyoshi (Nakamura-ku, JP)
Mizukawa, Kenji (Nakamura-ku, JP)
Sato, Hirofumi (Tokyo, JP)
Wada, Shingo (Tokyo, JP)
Akimoto, Tsuyoshi (Tokyo, JP)
Tachibana, Yoshihisa (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
12/190004
Publication Date:
02/18/2010
Filing Date:
08/12/2008
Assignee:
The Coca-Cola Company
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Food & Packaging Machinery Co., Ltd
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
141/368
International Classes:
B65B3/00; B65B31/00; B65B39/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080190512Storage Bag with Evacuation DeviceAugust, 2008Borchardt
20070267097Viscous Fluid Transferring DeviceNovember, 2007Matsumoto et al.
20080196785Filling ApparatusAugust, 2008Schmidhuber
20070215237ORVR COMPATIBLE VACUUM ASSIST FUEL DISPENSERSSeptember, 2007Grantham
20090272461Transfer containerNovember, 2009Alvarez Jr. et al.
20100095963PHARMACEUTICAL COMPOSITIONSApril, 2010Sharpe et al.
20100037988BOTTLING OR CONTAINER FILLING MACHINE AND OTHER ROTARY BOTTLE OR CONTAINER HANDLING MACHINES IN A BOTTLING OR CONTAINER FILLING PLANT AND A DRIVE THEREFORFebruary, 2010Wilhelm et al.
20080121307AIR ENCLOSURE PROVIDED WITH CUT HOLE TYPE AIR LOCK VALVES AND CUT HOLE TYPE AIR LOCK VALVEMay, 2008Liao et al.
20070292314Bent Microstructures For Sampling, Transporting Or Dispensing A Fluid MediaDecember, 2007Effenhauser et al.
20100024916AUTOMATIC FILLERFebruary, 2010Dyer
20070144606Manhole skirt assembly and kitJune, 2007O'brien



Primary Examiner:
KALBACH JR, JOSEPH E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FINNEGAN, HENDERSON, FARABOW, GARRETT & DUNNER (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A filling valve device for filling a container with a fluid, comprising: a filling valve including a ring-shaped seal packing for sealing the container, the seal packing having a cross-sectional shape approximating an inwardly facing lip shape and an inner section resilient in an vertical direction of the filling valve; and a container lift configured to hold the container and to move vertically with respect to the filling valve, whereby the seal packing is brought into contact with a portion of the container to form a gas seal.

2. The filling valve device of claim 1, wherein the portion of the container is a container mouth.

3. The filling valve device of claim 1, wherein the portion of the container is a container neck ring.

4. The filling valve device of claim 1, wherein the portion of the container is a container barrel cone.

5. The filling valve device of claim 1, wherein the seal packing comprises a flexibility in a vertical plane.

6. The filling valve device of claim 1, wherein the seal packing comprises a shaped cross-sectional shape.

Description:

DESCRIPTION

1. Technical Field

Disclosed herein is a device for filling a beverage into a container under the back pressure of carbon dioxide gas inside a fluid storage tank.

2. Background

When filling beverage containers with carbonated beverages using conventional filling valves, gas pressure is applied to the interior of the container. The pressure prevents the carbon dioxide gas dissolved in the beverage from foaming and escaping during filling. To seal the container, seal packing is typically pressed onto the container mouth. A large pressing force sufficient to seal the interior of the container was needed even at maximum carbonated beverage pressures, resulting in a shortened seal packing life, especially when using the soft materials. For instance, as described in Tokkyo 2856057, the seal packing is enlarged, and a pressure sufficient to seal, even at the maximum pressure of the carbonated beverage, is required. The resulting seal force is large, leading to a shortened life of the seal packing. This carbonated beverage filling device is a system emphasizing sanitation, in which a packing furnished at the bottom end of an external cylindrical chamber integral with a filling valve is pressed into the top surface of a plastic container neck ring, sealing it such that the container mouth does not directly contact the filling nozzle.

In the container barrel portion of the filling valve device shown in JP 03-098803, the system of gas sealing by a ring-shaped air tube expands inwardly. An inwardly expanding ring-shaped packing is fit into a ring-shaped groove provided on the inside cylinder side of a filling valve external cylinder. When the container is drawn in, air pressure is applied, causing the air tube to expand inward and constricting the barrel portion of the container to form a seal. It was difficult, however, to apply the system to containers in which the barrel portion was not circular in cross-section, or which have convex and/or concave sides. It also had a complex structure and was costly.

In the sealing system shown in JP 03-098894, in which seal packing at the bottom end of an external cylinder integral with the filling valve is pressed into the conical surface of the upper barrel portion of the container to form a seal, the seal packing is enlarged, and a pressure sufficient to seal even at the maximum pressure of the carbonated beverage is required, therefore the large sealing force led to shortened life of the seal packing.

SUMMARY

Disclosed herein is a filling valve device having a filling valve with a ring-shaped seal packing for sealing a container and a container lift configured to hold the container and to move vertically with respect to the filling valve such that the seal packing is brought into contact with a portion of the container to form a gas seal. The seal packaging can have a cross-sectional shape approximating an inwardly facing lip shape. The device may also include a supply of pressurized gas to apply a sealing force to the seal packing in contact with the container.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are not restrictive of the invention, as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a side elevation cross-sectional diagram of a filling valve device according to one embodiment disclosed herein;

FIG. 2 depicts a side elevation cross-sectional diagram showing a container mouth seal and container mouth periphery according to an embodiment disclosed herein;

FIG. 3 depicts a side elevation cross-sectional diagram showing the operation of the container mouth seal of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 depicts a side elevation cross-sectional diagram showing a container mouth seal and container mouth periphery according to an embodiment disclosed herein;

FIG. 5 depicts a side elevation cross-sectional diagram showing the operation of the container mouth seal of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 depicts a side elevation cross-sectional diagram showing a container mouth seal and container mouth periphery, in operation, according to an embodiment disclosed herein;

FIG. 7 depicts a side elevation cross-sectional diagram showing the shape of the container mouth seal in an embodiment disclosed herein; and

FIG. 8 depicts a side elevation cross-sectional diagram showing the operation of the container mouth seal of FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Disclosed herein is a filling valve device with a simple constitution and having a container seal structure in which a pressing force is applied to the seal packing without causing the permanent deformation or wear on the seal packing.

In one embodiment, the filling valve device includes a container lift and a filling valve furnished with a ring-shaped seal packing for sealing a beverage container. The container lift is configured to move vertically relative to the filling valve and is capable of holding a beverage container. When the container mouth portion or a container neck ring portion of the empty container contacts the seal packing, a gas seal forms, allowing a carbonated beverage to be dispensed into the container. The cross-sectional shape of the seal packing resembles an inwardly facing lip shape.

Flexibility is imparted in the vertical axis of the filling valve to the inner perimeter of the beverage container. When the container lift raises the beverage container towards the filling valve, the interior of the seal packing is brought into contact with the container mouth portion or the neck ring portion during a cycle of a filling mode. A sealing force is applied to the beverage container and the seal packing by gas pressure of filling. In another embodiment, the filling device is configured to fill a beverage container having a barrel cone portion instead of a container mouth or neck ring portion.

In yet another embodiment, the filling valve device includes an exterior frame of the ring-shaped seal packing. Flexibility is provided with a shaped cross-sectional shape that resembles a backwards C, open at the interior, facilitating a filling valve seal packing press-in channel, while maintaining a sealing force between the filling valve and the ring-shaped seal packing by gas pressure action. This imparts flexibility to the seal packing and enables the seal packing to fit easily into a seal fitting groove without splitting the filling valve, while maintaining a sealing force between the filling valve and the ring-shaped packing using gas pressure. Thus, the structure of the seal packing and the filling valve fitting groove is simplified, reducing costs.

When the seal packing is brought into contact with the container mouth portion, neck ring portion, or the container barrel cone portion, the amount of deformation is small, and back pressure (gas pressure) from the gas-containing beverage is applied such that a sufficient seal can be obtained proportional to the beverage gas pressure. Thus, this structure gives longer durability life of the seal packing while simplifying the structure and reducing the manufacturing costs.

Reference will now be made in detail to various exemplary embodiments, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

Turning now to FIG. 1, a beverage conduit 12 supplying carbonated beverage is connected to a main unit valve 17 of a filling valve 11. Gas conduits 37a, 37b for supplying carbon dioxide gas and a gas return conduit 37c are connected to a gas conduit 17b inside main valve unit 17. A container mouth seal 43 is attached by a nut 19 to a cylindrical portion at the bottom portion of main valve unit 17. A flow meter 26 for measuring the carbonated beverage filling volume is provided on beverage conduit 12, as is a flow switchover valve 27 to adjust the flow in two stages, so that the fluid flow can be precisely measured.

An air cylinder 22 is attached to the upper portion of main valve unit 17, and a fluid valve 18 is directly coupled to a drive rod on air cylinder 22. By switching the operating air at a switchover valve 24, air cylinder 22 is driven up or down in the vertical plane, such that fluid valve 18 moves and main valve unit 17 opens and closes. A seal packing 15 seals fluid valve 18.

The ends of gas conduits 37a, 37b and gas return conduit 37c opposing the ends connected to gas conduit 17b are connected to a switchover main valve unit 31. In rotary filling machines, switchover main valve unit 31 has a ring shape and can include a triple ring-shaped gas conduit (not shown). Electromagnetic valves 34a, 34b, and 34c are attached to main valve unit 17.

In operation, a PET bottle 8 is placed at a predetermined position at filling valve 11. Before PET bottle 8 is filled with a carbonated beverage, electromagnetic valve 34a opens, and low pressure carbon dioxide gas is fed to the PET bottle 8 via gas conduit 17b. In an aspect, the pressure of low pressure carbon dioxide gas ranges from about 0.5 kg/cm2G to about 1.5 kg/cm2G. In a further aspect, the pressure of low pressure carbon dioxide gas ranges from about 0.8 kg/cm2G to about 1.2 kg/cm2G. In yet another aspect, the low pressure carbon dioxide is about 1 kg/cm2G. Electromagnetic valve 34c is opened, and gas return conduit 37c is turned on. Air in PET bottle 8 is replaced by low pressure carbon dioxide gas. Before filling the beverage, electromagnetic valves 34a, 34c are closed, gas return conduit 37c is closed, and electromagnetic valve 34b is opened. In an aspect, the time period for closing electromagnetic valves 34a, 34c and gas return conduit 37c and opening electromagnetic valve 34b is about 0.4 seconds or less. In another embodiment, the time period is about 0.2 seconds or less. PET bottle 8 is filled with carbon dioxide gas at the same, or substantially the same, pressure as the back pressure of the carbonated beverage. Filling fluid valve 18 is opened, and PET bottle 8 is filled with a preset volume of beverage in place of the carbon dioxide gas. Air cylinder 22 is operated when filling is completed. Filling fluid valve 18 is closed, electromagnetic valve 34b is closed, and electromagnetic valve 34c is opened. Gas return conduit 37c is turned on, the gas in the bottle 8 is snifted, reducing gas pressure, and PET bottle 8 is lowered and released from filling valve 11.

A container lift 35 provided on each fluid filling valve 11 includes a gripper 41 for gripping PET bottle 8 at a neck ring 8a, for example, at the bottom portion, and a container lift cam 36 for lifting and lowering gripper 41. Gripper 41 grips empty PET bottle 8, and container lift 35 moves gripper 41 vertically relative to filling valve 11, thereby bringing container mouth seal 43 at the bottom portion of filling valve 11 into contact with the upper surface of neck ring 8a, forming a gas seal.

Turning now to FIGS. 2 and 3, the cross-sectional shape of container mouth seal 43 is an inwardly facing lip shape. Flexibility in the vertical axial direction of filling valve 11 is imparted on the inside inner circumference. During a filling step, as shown in FIG. 3, the inside of container mouth seal 43 contacts neck ring 8a and bends, and the gas pressure applied during filling becomes the sealing force on container mouth seal 43. In one embodiment, an additional pushing force to neck ring 8a from filling valve 11 is not needed to maintain the sealing force. Moreover, additional force is not required for gripper 41 and/or container lift 35 other than the force used to support PET bottle 8 when filling.

In yet another embodiment, the filing device is configured to seal a container at the mouth portion of the container. Gripper 41 holds an empty PET bottle 8. Container lift 35, by moving gripper 41 vertically relative to filling valve 11, brings a container mouth seal 44 on the bottom portion of filling valve 11 into contact with a top surface 8b of the mouth portion of PET bottle 8, forming a seal. Nut 21 attaches container mouth seal 44 to filling valve 17.

As shown in FIG. 4, the cross-sectional shape of container mouth seal 44 is an inwardly facing lip shape. Flexibility in the vertical axial direction of filling valve 11 is imparted on the inside inner circumference.

When filling with carbonated beverage, as shown in FIG. 5, the inside of container mouth seal 44 contacts top surface 8b of PET bottle 8 and bends, and the gas pressure applied during filling becomes the sealing force on container mouth seal 44. In one embodiment, an additional pushing force to top surface 8b from filling valve 11 is not needed to maintain the sealing force. Moreover, additional force is not required for gripper 41 and/or container lift 35 other than the force used to support PET bottle 8 when filling.

In this connection, container mouth seal 44 can be applied to other containers having no neck ring, for example, a bottle can 28. Because the location where bottle can 28 and filling valve 11 are sealed is a cone portion 28a and there is no neck ring, a star wheel, fixed container guide, or the like (not shown) can be used to grip or handle bottle can 28 below filling valve 11. Container lift 38 pushes in an upward direction at the bottom of bottle can 28.

As shown in FIG. 6, a container seal 45, as a lip shape directed toward the interior, imparts flexibility in the axial direction on the inside inner circumference, bringing the inside of container seal 45 into contact with cone portion 28a during beverage filling. A sealing pressure is applied to container seal 45 by the gas pressure applied when filling. In one embodiment, an additional pushing force to bottle can 28 from filling valve 11 is not needed to maintain the sealing force. Moreover, additional force is not required to container lift 38 other than the force to support bottle can 28 when filling. Nut 58 attaches container seal 45.

Turning now to an embodiment depicted in FIGS. 6 and 7, a container seal 46 may be used in place of container mouth seals 43, 44, or 45. As shown in FIG. 7, the exterior frame of the ring-shaped seal packing for sealing containers is given flexibility with a shaped cross-sectional shape, open at the interior so that for purposes of attaching container seal 46, container seal 46 can easily fit into a fitting groove 51a on a main valve unit 51 (a single integrated piece including main valve unit 17 and container seal attaching nuts 19, 21, or 58), even without splitting the main valve unit 17 described in connection with FIGS. 1-5 above. At the same time, the sealing force between the main valve unit 51 and the container seal 46 can be maintained by the gas pressure action and, because the gas pressure pushes on the shaped section of container seal 46, the sealing force between container seal 46 and main valve unit 51 can also be maintained.

Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope and spirit of the invention being indicated by the following claims.