Title:
NORMALLY-CLOSED OPENABLE CLOSURE DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There are provided a system and a method for implementing a normally-closed but openable closure device (20) for a fluid-retaining container (10) having a container orifice (11). The closure device prevents unintentional spilling of substance out of an opening, which is disposed in fluid communication with the orifice, by urging a lid (32) to seal the opening closed. For retrieval of substance out of the container, a member of a flow control implement, such as pertaining to a faucet (60) for example, is introduced into the closure device. The introduction of the implement forces the lid open, and allows retrieval of substance out of the container.



Inventors:
Doron, Av (Timrat, IL)
Application Number:
12/759002
Publication Date:
08/19/2010
Filing Date:
04/13/2010
Assignee:
SPOUTLOCK LTD. (TIMRAT, IL)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/254.1, 222/509, 222/556
International Classes:
B65D47/00; B65D51/18
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SHAVER, KEVIN P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLTZ, HOLTZ & VOLEK PC (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A method for implementing a normally-closed openable closure device operative in association with a container having an exterior and an interior, the container having container walls for retaining fluid therein and at least one container orifice which is entered into a container wall, the closure device comprising: a support coupled in sealed connection to the orifice of the container, the support including an opening allowing fluid communication from the exterior to the interior of the container and vice versa, a support attachment coupled to the support, a member configured for coupling to the support attachment, the member comprising: a lid configured for closing the opening in normally-closed and sealed disposition, a lid attachment for coupling the lid to the support attachment, and a lid guide configured for the lid, the method comprising the steps of: configuring the member as at least one single piece of material including the lid attachment, a force applicator, the lid guide and the lid, configuring the force applicator for urging the lid normally-close against the opening, coupling the lid attachment to the support attachment while allowing a plurality of degrees of freedom of motion of the lid, and coupling the lid guide to the support and configuring the lid, guide for controllably orienting and guiding motion of the lid for closing onto the opening.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein: the support is coupled to the orifice in releasable or in fixed connection, or is integral to the container.

3. The method according to claim 1, wherein: the force applicator is configured as a flexible and resilient curved leaf spring or as a wound coil leaf spring.

4. The method according to claim 1, wherein: the lid attachment, the lid guide and the support attachment are configured for operation in mutual association for controlling, orienting, and guiding the lid onto and for normally closing and sealing the opening.

5. The method according to claim 1, wherein: the lid is configured to be lightweight relative to closure force exerted by the force applicator, for avoiding acceleration forces from opening the lid.

6. The method according to claim 1, wherein: the lid has a weight, and force exerted by the force applicator is at least tenfold the weight of the lid.

7. The method according to claim 1, wherein: the member is urged to align onto and close the opening in a motion selected alone and in combination from the group consisting of translation, pitch, yaw, and roll.

8. The method according to claim 1, wherein: the support is coupled to the interior or the exterior of the container.

9. The method according to claim 1, wherein: the member has at least one protrusion configured to enhance orientation control and guidance of the lid to close on the opening.

10. The method according to claim 1, wherein: the lid attachment is rolled-up, formed as a wound coil leaf spring and firmly coupled into a recess.

11. A normally-closed openable closure device operative in association with a container having an exterior and an interior, the container having container walls for retaining fluid therein and at least one container orifice which is entered into a container wall, the closure device comprising: a support coupled in sealed connection to the orifice of the container, the support including an opening allowing fluid communication from the exterior to the interior of the container and vice versa, a support attachment coupled to the support, a member configured for coupling to the support attachment, the member comprising: a lid configured for closing the opening in normally-closed and sealed disposition, a lid attachment for coupling the lid to the support attachment, a lid guide configured for orienting the lid, wherein the member is configured as at least one single piece of material including the lid attachment, a force applicator, the lid guide, and the lid, wherein the force applicator is configured to urge the lid normally-closed against and seal the opening, wherein the lid attachment is coupled to the support attachment while allowing a plurality of degrees of freedom of motion of the lid, and wherein the lid guide is coupled to the support and is configured to controllably orient and guide motion of the lid for closing onto the opening.

12. The device according to claim 11, wherein: the force applicator is configured as a flexible and resilient curved leaf spring or as a wound coil leaf spring.

13. The device according to claim 11, wherein: the member is configured to be flexible and resilient and have a free end and a attached end, the force applicator is configured as a wound-coil formed at the attached end of the member, and the force applicator urges the lid to close onto the opening.

14. The device according to claim 11, wherein: a wall of the container operates as the support and the orifice of the container operates as the opening.

15. A device according to claim 11, wherein the device is configured for use with a standard Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC).

16. The device according to claim 11, wherein: the support is coupled to the orifice in releasable or in fixed connection, or is integral to the container.

17. The device according to claim 11, wherein: the lid is configured to be lightweight relative to closure force exerted by the force applicator, for avoiding development of acceleration forces thereon.

18. The device according to claim 11, wherein: the lid has a weight, and force exerted by the force applicator is at least tenfold the weight of the lid.

19. The device according to claim 11, wherein: the member is urged to align onto and close the opening in a motion selected alone and in combination from the group consisting of translation, pitch, yaw, and roll deflection.

20. The device according to claim 11, wherein: the member has at least one protrusion configured to enhance orientation control and guidance of the lid to close on the opening.

Description:

The present application is a Continuation of PCT/IL 2008/001375 filed on 22 Oct. 2008.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to the reversible closure of an orifice opened in containers such as tanks and vessels, and in particular to a method for implementing normally-closed support-mounted opening closure systems and devices for closing such orifices.

DEFINITIONS

A fluid is a gas or a liquid, including powder or granular material able to be poured through a container's orifice.

A container is a recipient, vessel, or any kind of reservoir containing a fluid.

BACKGROUND ART

Vessels such as fluid containers often include an orifice to which a cover is usually detachably attached by means of threads, bayonets, frictional forces and the like. Many such covers are provided with a mouth to which anti-spillage means of various sorts, a tap or similar means are attached, for filling the containers and for pouring their contents therethrough. It is also common practice to detachably connect such taps or similar means to the orifice of the container by means of screw threads or other known means. Taps or faucets of common design usually protrude to the outside of the envelope of the container and are therefore prone to damage, especially during storage or transportation. It is therefore desirable to find a way to prevent spillage of the container's contents while avoiding damage to the tap or to other closing means. One solution used to prevent such damage is by removing the tap from the orifice during transportation or storage, replacing it with a plug and or other suitable means, and installing the tap back on the container when needed. Unfortunately, this procedure is cumbersome and permits spillage. Many patents address this issue, but two patents relevant to the proposed solution are referred to hereinbelow.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,805,266 to Doron, Av et al. recites a normally-open closure, which is an internally attached and pivot-mounted flap made to cover the interior surface of a container's orifice when so urged by pressure of a liquid when the container is tilted. The flap is openable by depressing a spring loaded pin protruding to the exterior of the container.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,305,196 to Schlabauch, Lewis et al. shows an internally mounted, spring loaded, normally closed semi-ball type valve supported by an appropriate structure, the valve being openable by depressing the semi-ball with a draft rod.

Both U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,305,196 and 6,805,266 offer rather complex devices having many parts and are therefore expensive to assemble.

It would therefore be desirable to provide a normally closed orifice closure for a container, that is simple and reliable and low-cost to implement and assemble, cheap to buy, and easy to use.

It would also be beneficial to provide a simple and inexpensive container closure for the openable closing of an orifice of a container, the closure not being prone to incur damage during handling and use of the container. The container closure should preferably be configured for use alone or in association with other closure means such as taps, faucets, or plugs.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

When opening a container of fluid, such as for example an industrial container holding nocive or dangerous material, the problem is that accidental or unintentional spilling of substance thereout may occur. After opening, an implement is usually connected to the container to allow controlled retrieval of matter.

The solution is provided by coupling a normally closed openable closure device to the container, to prevent accidental spilling. As a practical solution, the closure device has a unitary one-piece member including a closure lid, which is forced onto the opening. The closure device may be coupled to a support attached to the container. For use, a fluid flow control means, say a faucet, is coupled to the closure device to allow opening of the lid, for safe and monitored retrieval of fluid. It is the introduction of the faucet that urges the normally closed closure device to open and permit safe retrieval of substance out of the container.

SUMMARY

It is an object of the present invention to provide a simple and inexpensive method for implementing an assembly or a system which have a normally-closed opening closure device for the openable closing of an orifice entered in a container of fluid, wherein the opening closure is not prone to damage incurred during handling and use of the container. The opening closure device is configured for use alone or in combination with other fluid flow control means such as faucets, taps, or plugs.

It is yet an object of the present invention to provide method steps for implementing a normally closed openable closure device operative in association with a container having an exterior and an interior. The container has container walls for retaining fluid therein and at least one container orifice, which is entered into a container wall. A support is coupled in sealed connection to the orifice of the container, the support including an opening allowing fluid communication from the exterior to the interior of the container and vice versa. The method comprises the steps of configuring the support to include a support attachment in fixed coupling thereto and a member formed as a piece of material accommodated for coupling to the support attachment in a configuration allowing at least one degree of freedom of motion. The member comprises:

a lid, disposed at a free end portion of the member, and configured for closing the opening in normally-closed and sealed disposition,

a lid attachment for coupling to the support attachment,

a flexible and resilient force applicator configured for urging the lid normally-close against and for sealing the opening, and

a lid guide configured for controllably orienting and guiding motion of the member and of the lid for closing onto the opening.

It is still an object of the present invention to provide a method for coupling the support to the orifice in either one of both releasable and fixed connection, however the support may also be integral to the container.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a method for enhancing sealing by providing a seal coupled to either one of both the lid and the support which seal is appropriately disposed to enhance sealing of the opening. Furthermore, a seal may be appropriately disposed on the support to enhance sealed connection between the support and the container.

It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a method wherein the lid attachment, the lid guide and the support attachment are configured for operation in mutual association for controlling, orienting, and guiding the lid onto and for normally close and seal the opening. Moreover, at least one portion of the member is configured to be flexible and resilient, and furthermore, the member is configured to be flexible and resilient and have a free end and an attached end, and the attached end is configured as the lid attachment and as a force applicator, which may be pre-stressed. Additionally, the attached end of the member is configured as the lid guide.

It is moreover an object of the present invention to provide a method wherein the lid is either one of both an integral portion of the member or a separate portion fixedly coupled thereto, and the lid has a rigidity enhancing bent lid rim lip.

It is moreover another object of the present invention to provide a method wherein the support is coupled to either one of both the interior and the exterior of the container, with the lid being normally closed but openable when urged to deflect by application of a predetermined force directed from the exterior to the interior of the container.

It is moreover a further object of the present invention to provide a method wherein the member has a surface finish treatment or coating which is disposed at least on a portion of the device, and the surface finish treatment or coating is disposed at least on the lid, to operate as a seal.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a method wherein the member has at least one protrusion configured to enhance orientation control and guidance of the lid to close on the opening, the least one protrusion being configured to enhance coupling to the support.

It is yet still another object of the present invention to provide a method wherein the closure device is configured to include at least one magnet operative in mutual association with either one of both a ferromagnetic material and a magnetic material for applying additional positive attraction force for urging the lid close onto the opening, and the at least one magnet is disposed on either one of both the support and the lid. Likewise, the lid may have a concave portion oriented toward the opening to enhance both self-alignment of the lid on the opening and sealed closure of the opening.

It is yet an object of the present invention to provide a method wherein the closure device is configured for coupling to a removable fluid flow control means and is also configured for receiving therein a removable cap or sealing plug, which is configured for reversible removal while remaining coupled to the support.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide a method wherein the lid and the flexible member are configured as two separate portions coupled together to form one unitary member, and the attachment support is disposed in the interior of the container and coupled to the container by a flange disposed on the exterior thereof.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a method wherein the lid attachment of the member is coupled directly to the container, which is operative as a support.

It is yet an additional object of the present invention to provide a method wherein deflection of the member induces elastic resilient forces in the force applicator thereby urging the lid to close onto the opening. The member is configured to be flexible and resilient and have a free end and a attached end, the force applicator being configured as a wound-coil formed at the attached end of the member, and pre-stress of the force applicator urges the lid to close onto the opening. Furthermore, the member is urged to align onto and close the opening in a motion selected alone and in combination from the group consisting of translation, pitch, yaw, and roll deflection.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a method wherein a wall of the container operates as the support and the orifice of the container operates as the opening. Alternatively, the support is coupled to a wall of the container and the orifice of the container operates as the opening.

Finally, it is further an additional object of the present invention to provide an assembly or a device for keeping an opening normally closed according to any one of the method steps described hereinabove.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

Non-limiting embodiments of the invention will be described with reference to the following description of exemplary embodiments, in conjunction with the figures. The figures are generally not shown to scale and any measurements are only meant to be exemplary and not necessarily limiting. In the figures, identical structures, elements, or parts that appear in more than one figure are preferably labeled with a same or similar number in all the figures in which they appear, in which:

FIG. 1 is a conceptual block diagram of a closure device,

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate a first embodiment of the closure device,

FIGS. 4 and 5, and 5a depict a second embodiment of the closure device,

FIGS. 6 and 7 show a third embodiment of the closure device,

FIGS. 8 and 8.1 show a lid with a depression,

FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate a fourth embodiment of the closure device,

FIGS. 10a to 10c depict a fifth embodiment of the closure device,

FIG. 11 is an illustration of another embodiment, and

FIG. 12 depicts a more elaborate block diagram of a closure device.

MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a container 10 having an orifice 11 to which a closure device 20 is coupled in sealed retention. A bushing-like support 40, shown as an inverted capital letter U and having an opening 12 is engaged in sealed coupling to the orifice 11.

The closure device 20 has a member 30, which normally closes the opening 12 in sealed disposition. The member 30, which is actually coupled in cantilever-like fashion to the support 40, is able to deflect and extends longitudinally to terminate in a lid 32, which forcefully closes the opening 12.

The support 40 has a support attachment 42 that is coupled to a lid attachment 34 forming the cantilever-like coupling of the member 30 carrying the lid 32. When the lid attachment 34 is coupled to the support attachment 42, in cantilevered-like fashion, the member 30 may elastically and resiliently deflect thereabout.

A force applicator 36, also coupled to the support 40, is provided for urging the lid 32, disposed at the free end of the member 30, onto the opening 12. The lid 32 is thus urged by the force applicator 36 as a normally closed lid onto the opening 12, for closing and sealing the opening 12.

In addition, a lid guide 38 coupled to the attachment 40 controls the orientation of the deflection motion and possible translation of the cantilevered-like retained member 30 and lid 32. Control or orientation control of the motion of the lid 32, as well as of the member 30, means control of the orientation of the lid in pitch, yaw and roll relative to the length of the member 30, and possibly in translation, to achieve appropriate self-alignment for effectively closing and sealing the opening 12.

FIG. 1 thus represents a closure device 20 having a support 40 and a member 30 for sealing close an opening 12. The member 30 is possibly manufactured as a unitary, single piece of material that is coupled to the support 40, which is engaged in the orifice of the container 10. The unitary member 30 may be implemented as one piece of material configured to perform as a lid attachment 34, as a force applicator 36, and as a lid guide 38, as well as a lid 32 for sealing the opening 12. In FIG. 1 the closure device 20 and the member 30 are divided into functional or logical portions, which do not correspond to physical portions of implementation.

FIG. 2 shows an exemplary embodiment 1000 of the concept described according to FIG. 1.

FIG. 2 relates to a container 10, not shown, having walls, for example a standard oil drum having a container bottom from the periphery from which container sidewalls rise forming container lateral walls that are closed by a container top wherein the container orifice 11 is entered. For the sake of clarity, the container top and the container orifice 11 are the only portions of the container 10 shown in FIG. 2.

In FIG. 2 the container 10 is shown to have a container exterior EX separated by a container top 14 from a container interior IN. Evidently, the container walls and the container bottom, not shown, also separate the exterior EX from the interior IN of the container 10. A bushing 100 that implements the support 40, is inserted, say from the exterior EX toward the interior IN, into an orifice 102 opened in the container top 14. The bushing 100 may be disposed in sealed engagement and retained in the container top 14 for example by a male screw thread 104 disposed on the bushing and configured to engage a matching female screw thread 16 disposed on the interior of the orifice 12. The bushing 100 may be coupled in sealed engagement to the container top 14, or to any other portion of the walls of the container 10 by other means known to the art, such as swaging and welding for example.

The bushing 100 has a hollow passage 106 allowing fluid communication from the interior IN to the exterior EX of the container 10 and vice versa. The hollow passage 106 is not necessarily concentric, and is terminated by the opening 12 disposed in the interior IN of the container 10, and by an aperture 108 opening to the exterior EX of the container. The bushing 100 also has a bushing bottom 110 on which the lid 32 of the closure device 20 abuts, in the interior IN.

The member 30 is shown as a leaf spring having a rectangular attached end 302 that may be fixedly retained or anchored in a groove 112 disposed in the bushing bottom 110. The attached end 302 forms the lid attachment 34 while the groove 112 implements the support attachment 42. The attached end 302 may be firmly attached in the groove 112 by friction achieved for example by providing a plastic deformation to the attached end 302 before insertion into the groove, or by any other means known in the art. The attached end 302 may also be anchored to or floatingly retained within the support attachment 42, 112, by plastic deformation of the latter, or by other means retention means known to those skilled in the art.

Furthermore, the member 30 may have a curved portion 304 forming the force applicator 36, implemented as a flexible and resilient curved leaf spring that is configured for urging the lid 32 onto the opening 12. The attached end 302 and the curved portion 304 shown in FIG. 2 may be implemented out of a rectangular piece of thin material, such as an appropriate leaf or sheet of metal, which is treated and curved to become a force applicator 36 that may be pre-stressed to forcefully seal the opening 12.

The free end extremity of the member 30 forms the lid 32 having a shape appropriate to fully cover and seal the opening 12. For example, when the passage 106 of the bushing 100 ends in an opening 12 that is circular, then the lid 32 may also be circular. Other mutually matching shapes for the lid 32 and for the opening 12 are also possible. In the present example, the member 30 may be initially configured, thus prior to bending, as a flat elongated rectangular strip of material, forming the lid attachment 34 and the force applicator 36, and terminated by a generally circular lid 32. Only circular lids 32 are described hereinbelow, for the sake of ease of description.

If desired, a flat elongated rectangular strip and the lid 32 may be implemented as more than one single piece of material. The flat elongated rectangular strip may be made out of more than a single strip, and even be replaced by one or more thin wires or slender rods.

FIG. 2 depicts that if desired, the closure device 20 may include a sealing plug 50, or cap 50 shown schematically only, that is received in the closure device 20 for the releasable capping and sealing-off of the aperture 108 of the bushing 100, to prevent unintentional opening of the normally closed lid 32 during handling or transportation for example. The cap 50 may have a male cap screw thread 52 configured to engage a matching female screw thread 113 disposed in continuation of a bushing entrance 114 opening to the exterior EX at a bushing top 116.

Furthermore, the cap 50 may remain permanently coupled to the bushing 100 by means of a link 54, say a chain or a cable, that is fixedly coupled to the cap 50 and to the bushing 100 by means not shown in the Figs., but well known in the art. The link 54 is provided to avoid loss or misplacement of the cap 50. It is noted that the link 54 and the coupling thereof to the cap 50 and to the bushing 100 are shown only schematically, without illustrating implementation details.

To draw fluid out of a container 10 fitted with a normally closed closure device 20, a fluid flow control means, for example, a faucet 60 or a similar device may be used, as shown in FIG. 3.

In FIG. 3 a fluid flow control means 60 such as a faucet 60 having a faucet end portion 61 with a matching faucet male screw thread 62 is shown engaged within the passage female screw thread 118 disposed in the interior of the hollow passage 106. Thereby, the faucet threaded-extremity 64 may be engaged to protrude out of the bushing bottom 110 and into the interior IN of the container 10. While being introduced into the passage female screw thread 118, the faucet threaded-extremity 64 first abuts against and then displaces the lid 32 against the force applicator 36, by deflection of the member 30. Once the lid 32 is displaced out of sealing closure of the opening 12, and the valve 66 of the faucet 60 is opened, fluid communication is established between the exterior EX and the interior IN of the container 10, and vice versa. When the faucet 60 is retrieved out of the bushing 100, the flexible and resilient force applicator 36 will return the lid 32, under control of the lid guide 38, in position to close the opening 12 in sealed closure.

It is noted that the force needed for opening the lid 32 is controllable and predetermined as desired and the necessary precautions are taken to prevent self-locking of the faucet end portion 61 with the lid 32 when retrieving the faucet 60 out of engagement from the closure device 20. Furthermore, the closure device 20 is configured to retrieve the maximum possible amount of fluid out of the container 10, leaving therein but a minimum of residuum.

Evidently, the closure device 20 may be implemented as an integral portion of the container 10, and the container may be made for example, out of plastic material, metal, any suitable material or a combination thereof.

FIG. 4 presents a second embodiment 2000 of the container closure 20.

In FIG. 4 the member 30 is shown as being generally planar but for a lid attachment 34 that is rolled-up and firmly coupled or anchored into a recess 120 entered in the bushing bottom 110 of the bushing 100. The rolled-up lid attachment 34 is formed as a wound coil coupled end 306 of the member 30, which is configured substantially as a wound coil leaf spring. The rolled-up lid attachment 34 may be wound or coiled in clock-wise or anti-clockwise as desired.

The wound coil coupled end 306 integrates the functions of both the lid attachment 34 anchored into the recess 120, and of the force applicator 36, where the force is provided by the wound coil.

Furthermore, the wound coil coupled end 306 is also configured as the lid guide 38 that controls the orientation of the member 30 as further described hereinbelow.

FIG. 5 is a partial bottom elevation of the bushing bottom 110 of the bushing 100, showing an exemplary parallelepiped recess 120. The parallelepiped shape of the recess 120 is configured for snugly receiving and anchoring therein, and for controlling the orientation of the wound coil coupled end 306, or wound coil 306 for short, whereby the orientation of the member 30 is also controlled.

FIG. 5a is a view of the embodiment 2000 of the closure device 20 showing the open lid 32. In this example the lid 32 is coupled to the member 30, even though the lid 32 is preferably implemented as an integral portion of the member. The wound coil 306 is shown and so are slits 124 and magnets 80, which enhance the closure forces of the lid 32 onto the opening 12.

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate an exemplary embodiment 3000 aimed at improving the lid guidance function of the lid guide 38. Reference is made to a set of right-hand Cartesian coordinates, with the x-axis being taken along the length of the member 30. Pitch, yaw and roll of the member 30 are relative to pivoting about the, respectively, y-axis, z-axis, and x-axis.

FIG. 6 shows that the lid attachment 34 at the attached end 302 extremity of the member 30 may be configured to have two protrusions 308 that protrude laterally out of the wound coil 306. The two protrusions 308 are configured for coupling the member 30 to the support 40, and for guidance and orientation of the lid 32 onto the opening 12. Both the support 40 and the opening 12 are not shown in FIG. 6.

In FIG. 7, the length of the parallelepiped recess 120 of FIG. 5 is shown to be extended on both opposite sides by a slit 124 to now form an protrusion-recess 122 for receiving the wound coil 306 and the two protrusions 308 therein. The protrusion-recess 122 is thus an implementation of the support attachment 42. The slits 124 are provided for receiving therein each one of the two protrusions 308, or protrusions 308. The protrusion-recess 122 is configured for receiving and for retaining therein the wound coil 306, and for controlling motion and orientation of the member 30 for application of the lid 32 onto the opening 12. The lateral protrusions 308 enhance control of yaw and roll orientation of the member 30 to ensure a sealing closure fit of the lid 32 on the opening 12.

Reference is made to FIGS. 6 and 7. When the lateral protrusions 308 are fixedly coupled into the slits 124, such as by tight-fit, the member 30, and the lid 32, are restricted to motion in only one degree of freedom, which is deflection in pitch. Tight-fit refers also to pressure-fit or force-fit, to retention of the protrusions 308 into the slits 124 by plastic deformation of the latter, or retention by other means known in the art. If desired, the wound coil 306 may also be fixedly retained within the parallelepiped portion 120 of the protrusion-recess 122 to allow only deflection in pitch of the member 30. Thereby, the displacement of the member 30 is limited to only one degree of freedom, namely to pitch, which is the deflection about the y-axis.

In contrast, when the slits 124 are configured to receive the lateral protrusions 308 in sliding-fit or slidingly retention, the lateral protrusions 308 may slide in translation within and along the slits 124. Sliding-fit refers to a narrow clearance just allowing for translation in sliding, but practically without any other motion of the protrusions 308. Thereby, the member 30 is not fixedly cantilevered for pivoting about a single location but the lateral protrusions 308 may “float” along the height, or the depth of the slits 124. This travel or translation along the height of the protrusions-recesses 122, or “floating”, allows the displacement of the member 30 in two degrees of freedom, namely in pitch and translation in height. Height refers here to the displacement of the lateral protrusions 308 in translation, and thus also of the member 30 and of the lid 32 along the height, or the depth of the slits 124 of the protrusion-recess 122, thus along the z-axis.

However, with appropriately dimensioned slits 124, slidingly retention of the lateral protrusions 308 may also allow translation thereof without the protrusions remaining at the same height, or level, but also with both lateral protrusions 308 being disposed at different heights, or in oblique relative, for example, to the bushing bottom 110. Thereby the elongated member 30 may roll about its longitudinal x-axis. The slidingly retention, or translational “floating” displacement of the member 30, and thus of the lid 32 now allows displacement in three degrees of freedom, namely in pitch, in roll, and translation in height.

Furthermore, when the slits 124 are configured to receive the lateral protrusions 308 in loose-fit, thus with larger clearance than in sliding-fit, an additional degree of freedom is created, allowing the displacement of the member 30, and thus of the lid 32 in four degrees of freedom, namely in pitch, in roll, in yaw, and in translation along the height. Yaw is pivoting about the z-axis.

The retention of the member 30 to the support 40 in “floating” attachment with many degrees of freedom permits self-alignment of the lid 32 onto the opening 12 and enhances closure thereof. Thereby, when in production, at the stage of assembly of the closure device 20, it is not necessary to very accurately align the member 30 in the protrusion-recess 122 to ensure proper closure of the opening 12 by the lid 32.

The lateral protrusions 308 may be prevented from exiting out of the slits 124 by terminating the opening of these slits with a narrower portion. For example, a plastic deformation may restrict the width of the slits 124 on the bushing bottom 110 after insertion of the lateral protrusions 308 therein.

The wound coil 306 may be pre-stressed before installation of the two protrusions 308 into the protrusion-recess 122, to provide the member 30 and thus also the lid 32 with additional pre-loaded closure force onto the opening 12.

The member 30 of the embodiment 3000 still combines the lid 32, the lid attachment 34, the force applicator 36, and the lid guide 38 but it is the wound coil 306 that now integrates all the three functions of the lid attachment 34, the force applicator 36, and the lid guide 38. The mid-section 301, which is preferably kept short and even practically non-existent, is the section that couples between the lid 32 and the lid attachment 34.

FIGS. 4 and 8 depict examples of the embodiment 3000, showing how the hermetical sealing of the lid 32 against the opening 12 may be enhanced.

In FIG. 4 it is shown that a lid seal 70 may be added to the bushing bottom 110 around the opening 12. The lid seal 70 is possibly configured as an O-Ring, which is a Trademark, seated in a matching lid seal groove 126. Other seals known to the art may also be selected for the same purpose. Alternatively, a lid seal may be coupled to the lid 32 to seal against the bushing bottom 110, but preferably the lid is kept a lightweight as possible.

FIG. 8 illustrates an alternative self-alignment sealing enhancement method, wherein the lid 32 has a concave depression 322 configured to match and to partially protrude into the opening 12. The concave depression 322 stiffens and adds to the rigidity of the lid 32, and so does a peripheral pan-like bend, such as a swaged bent lid rim lip, shown in FIG. 10c.

FIG. 8.1 depicts another embodiment where the force applicator 36 has a wound coil coupled end 306 that is coiled in the opposite direction relative to FIG. 8.

FIG. 4, which is now referred to again, illustrates an example of how the hermetical sealing of the bushing 100 against the container 10 may be enhanced.

FIG. 4 shows that a support seal 72 or bushing seal 72 may be added to the bushing head 128. The bushing seal 72 is possibly configured as an O-Ring, which is a Trademark, seated in a matching bushing seal groove 130 disposed in the bushing head 128 on the bushing head face 132 abutting the container 10. Other seals known to the art may also be selected for the same purpose.

Even though the force applicator 36 provides ample closing force strongly urging the lid 32 against the opening 12, magnetic force is applicable to even further increase the closing force.

In FIG. 4, a magnet 80 may be embedded and fixedly retained in a matching magnet receptacle 134 disposed on the bushing bottom 110 and opposite to the lid 32, preferably opposite the lid free extremity 324. For the purpose of force enhancement, more magnets 80 may be embedded in the bushing bottom 110 if desired. One or more magnets 80 disposed preferably on the support 40, or on the bushing bottom 110 in FIG. 4, may apply positive attraction forces on the lid 32 when made out of ferromagnetic material, and enhance the closure of the lid on the opening 12.

Should the lid 32 not be made out of a ferromagnetic material, then such a material may be attached to the lid. Alternatively, one or more magnets may be affixed to the lid 32. Likewise, should the bushing 100 not be made out of a ferromagnetic material, then such a material may be attached to the bushing bottom 110, possibly in the same manner as the magnet 80, or even as one or more magnets.

It is noted that the lid 32 and the non-attached portion of the member 30, thus without the weight of the lid attachment 34, the force applicator 36, and lid guide 38, are best kept as lightweight as possible. This is to minimize acceleration forces developing thereon from opening the lid 32 when the container 10 is dropped for example, or as a result of shocks and vibrations, say during transportation. The closure forces exerted by the force applicator 36 are kept as large as possible relative to the weight of the non-retained portion of the member 30.

For example with a closure device 20 configured to normally close an oil drum, the arm 30 may weigh about 15 grams and the force applicator 36 may apply onto the opening 12 a force, measured at the center of the lid 32, of some 450 grams. When enhanced by magnet(s) 80, the opening force may typically reach some 2 kg. The opening force required to open the closure device 20 is controllable, and a predetermined opening force is selected as desired for the application at hand. The lid 32 is thus normally closed but is openable when urged to deflect by application of a predetermined force, selected a priori. The opening force in this example is directed from the exterior EX to the interior IN of the container 10, but the opposite is also possible.

Repetitive drop tests from a height of 3 m onto a concrete floor proved the sealing efficiency of the device 20.

The embodiment 2000 may operate in association with a fluid flow control means, such as a faucet 60, and may have a cap 50 in the same manner as described hereinabove with respect to the embodiment 1000.

FIG. 9 illustrates a fourth embodiment 4000 having an inverted bushing 101 which engages the orifice 102 from the interior IN of the container 10.

In FIG. 9 the inverted bushing 101 is shown to be introduced into the orifice 102 and protruding thereout to the exterior EX, to be retained by a flange 90 to the container top 14. The inverted bushing 101 has a male screw thread 104 configured to engage a matching female screw thread 92 disposed on the flange 90, and also has an interior passage 106 providing fluid communication between the exterior EX and the interior IN. If desired, the bushing 101 may be fastened to the container top 14 by means known to those skilled in the art, without the need for a flange 90.

In FIG. 10, which is an upside-down detail, two bushing posts 140, each having a cut 142 therein, operate as support attachment 42, which is fixedly retain the member 30 in anchored position. The bushing bottom 110 thus supports the two bushing posts 140 that anchor the protrusions 308 into the cuts 142, in appropriate distanced apart separation.

A lid seal 70 and/or a bushing seal 72 may also be implemented similarly to the embodiment 2000. Furthermore, a cap 50, not shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, may be provided to engage either the male screw thread 104 disposed on the exterior of the inverted bushing 101, or an internal female screw thread 118 disposed on the interior of the hollow passage 106.

Assembly of the normally closed opening closure device is straightforward: the member 30 is simply coupled to the support 40. With the first embodiment 1000 this means that the cantilevered end 302 of the member 30 is introduced into the groove 112 in firm secured retention therein. This may be achieved by friction due to prior to assembly plastic deformation of the cantilevered end 302 and/or by plastic deformation of the groove 112 after insertion therein of the cantilevered end 302 to prevent exit thereof out of the groove 112. A similar assembly procedure is valid for the second embodiment 2000.

The assembly of the third and fourth embodiment, respectively 3000 and 4000, requires the insertion of the laterally extending protrusions 308 into the, respectively, slit 124 and cut 142. Preferably, the member 30 is pre-stressed prior to assembly into the support attachment 42. To pre-stress the wound coil 306 of the force applicator 36, the lid 32 is held in place while a first laterally extending protrusion 308 is gripped and rotated to wind-up the coil 306. Then, the second protrusion 308 is inserted into the, respectively, slit 124 and cut 142, which is followed by release of the grip and insertion of the previously gripped first protrusion 308. If desired, plastic deformation of the, respectively, slit 124 and cut 142 may follow.

FIGS. 10a, 10b, and 10c show an embodiment 5000, where the device 20 is coupled from the interior IN to the exterior EX of a vessel 10 having a container top 14 with an orifice 11 therein. As shown in FIGS. 10a and 10b, the device 20 may be swaged, or otherwise fixedly attached to and become an integral portion of the vessel 10. The support attachment 42 is implemented as a bracket 141 having a flat elongated back portion 143 coupled to the support 40 and two substantially perpendicular side legs 144 presenting cuts 142 for receiving the protrusions 308 therein. Plastic deformation of the side legs 144 may be used to retain the member 30 fixedly retained to the bracket 141.

FIG. 10c shows the lid 32 with a swaged or bent stiffening lid rim lip 145 for enhancing rigidity and for preventing self-locking when a fluid flow control means is retrieved out of the device 20.

The closure device 20 is not limited to oil drums but adaptable for use with various types of containers, reservoirs and tanks, such as for example Intermediate Bulk Containers, or IBCs, and gas tanks for motor vehicles, all well known in the art.

FIG. 11 is a schematic partial cross-section illustrating an example of the use of a closure device 20 with a standard Intermediate Bulk Container 150, or IBC 150 for short. Seals are omitted for the sake of clarity. The IBC 150 has an IBC orifice 152 terminated by a protruding IBC male extension 154 with an IBC external screw thread 156 to which a first upstream end of a hollow connector bushing 158 having a mating female internal connector screw thread 160 may be coupled. The IBC 150 has an interior IN and an exterior EX.

The closure device 20 may be introduced into the connector bushing 158 until abutment with the protruding extremity 162 of the protruding male extension 154. Next, a retention ring 164 having an external male screw thread 156 mating with the internal connector female screw thread 160 may be introduced into the connector bushing 158 until the closure device 20 is firmly pushed against the protruding extremity 162 of the protruding male extension 154. The retention ring 164 may have fastening slots 168 for facilitating assembly.

If desired, the connector bushing 158 may be supplied readily integrating the closure device 20 therein, thereby possibly making the retention ring 164 redundant. Alternatively, the IBC 150 may be supplied with an integrally built-in closure device 20, whereby the connector bushing 158 is superfluous.

At this stage the lid 32 of the closure device 20 is still normally closed on the orifice 12, as shown by the dashed line 166, thereby denying any exit of fluid out of the orifice 152 of the IBC 150.

A fluid flow control means 170, such as a faucet device 170 having a faucet external male screw thread 172 mating the internal connector female screw thread 160 may be coupled until abutment to a second downstream end 169 of the connector bushing 158. The faucet device 170 has a faucet hollow male protrusion 174 with a faucet downstream extremity 176, which when introduced into the closure device 20, is configured to push open the lid 32, whereby fluid communication between the IBC 150 and the faucet 170 is established.

To retrieve fluid out of the IBC 150 once the faucet 170 is properly installed, it suffices to open the faucet. When necessary, such as for transportation for example, the faucet 170 may be retrieved out of connector bushing 158 and the IBC 150 will remain closed by the closure device 20, which prevents spilling of the fluid thereout. An IBC 150 equipped with a closure device 20 may be emptied with a minimum of residuum remaining therein.

With motor vehicles, the fuel or gas tank may easily be equipped with a closure device 20. In a passenger car, the gas tank cap may be configured to accommodate or integrate therein the closure device 20. Thereby, when refueling, the gas tank door of the vehicle may be opened, and insertion of the gasoline pump nozzle or fuel delivery spout into the closure device 20 will open the lid 32, avoiding the need to unscrew the gas tank cap. Conventional closure of the gas tank door of the vehicle may isolate the interior of the gas tank from the exterior by help of the closure device 20.

FIG. 12 shows a more elaborate block diagram of a closure device 20, which better depict the abilities thereof. In contrast with the block diagram of FIG. 1, the support now features seals, such as a lid seal 70 and a support or bushing seal 72, and force enhancement means, such as provided by one or more magnets 80.

In addition, a pressure relief device 180, or pressure relief valve 180 may be integrated within the support 40 to prevent excessive pressure to build-up in the interior of a container 10. A relief valve is a type of valve used to control or limit the pressure in a system or a container, which can build up by a process upset, instrument or equipment failure, or fire. The build-up of excessive pressure ambient in the interior of the container 10 is relieved when the pressurized fluid is allowed to flow thereout via the pressure relief device 180. The relief valve 180 is designed or set to open at a predetermined pressure to protect pressure vessels and other equipment from being subjected to pressures that exceed their design limits. When the pressure setting is exceeded, the relief valve becomes the “path of least resistance” as the valve is forced open and a portion of the fluid is diverted out of the container 10. The diverted fluid, such as liquid, gas liquid-gas mixture, powder, granules or the like, is usually routed to the atmosphere. As the fluid is diverted, the pressure inside the container 10 will drop. Once it reaches the re-seating pressure of the relief device 180, the valve will close again.

Alternatively, the relief device 180 may be configured as a rupture disk or diaphragm or membrane, or as a pop-out member such as a sealed rubber grommet, all well known in the art.

The various features of the closure device 20 described hereinabove may be implemented in combination in any of the illustrated implemetations. For example, a wall of the container 10 may operate as the support 40 and the orifice 11 of the container may operate as the opening 12. Alternatively, the support 40 may be coupled to a wall of the container 10 and the orifice 11 of the container may be operated as the opening 12.

The description hereinabove relates to a method for the implementation of a closure device 20, and to a closure device 20.

In use, a user may buy the opening closure 20 off-the-shelf as an independent stand-alone unit, or as integrated within a replacement unit or assembly, or as a portion of a container for integration into the container, or as readily integrated within the structure of the container. For example, in the case of an oil drum, the originally supplied closure may be removed and replaced by an opening closure 20, ensuring a normally closure of the drum while facilitating frequent or intermittent retrieval of the fluid contained in the oil drum while. Alternatively, the top portion 14 of oil drums may be readily manufactured to inherently include a closure device 20, for supply of such enhanced top portions to manufacturers of oil drums. The oil drum may also be fabricated by the manufacturer of oil drums to include a structurally incorporated closure device 20.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The embodiments described hereinabove are applicable in industry, for example with drums and barrels.

It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art, that the present invention is not limited to what has been particularly shown and described hereinabove. For example, the closure device is also a system or a device for use in association with a fluid, such as contained in a piping system or a supply of fluid in general. The closure device may be applied to containers associated with vehicles such as transported containers or inherent to the vehicle, such as tanks of combustion fuel, to various vessels used in laboratories, in industry and in households. Evidently, the closure device 20 may be implemented as an aggregation of various portions coupled together by means known to those skilled in the art, instead of a minimal number of components. Furthermore, the closure device 20 may be coupled to the walls or to the bottom of the container. In addition, at least one portion of the device may closure device 20 may be heat treated and/or protected by a surface finish treatment such as coating, cladding or painting. Rather, the scope of the present invention is defined by the appended claims and includes both combinations and subcombinations of the various features described hereinabove as well as variations and modifications thereof which would occur to persons skilled in the art upon reading the foregoing description.

LIST OF ITEMS

  • 10 container
  • 11 opening
  • 12 opening
  • 14 container top
  • 16 female screw thread on the interior of the orifice 102
  • 20 closure device
  • 30 member
    • 32 lid
      • 322 concave depression of lid 32
      • 324 lid free extremity
    • 34 lid attachment
    • 36 force applicator
    • 38 lid guide
      • 301 mid-section
        • 302 attached end of the member 30
        • 304 curved portion of the member 30
          • 306 wound coil coupled end
          • 308 laterally extending protrusions
  • 40 support
  • 42 support attachment
  • 50 cap
  • 52 male cap screw thread
  • 54 link
  • 60 faucet
  • 61 faucet end portion 61
  • 62 faucet male screw thread
  • 64 faucet threaded extremity
  • 66 valve
  • 70 lid seal
  • 72 bushing seal
  • 80 magnet
  • 90 flange
  • 100 bushing
  • 101 inverted bushing
  • 102 orifice
  • 104 male screw thread on the bushing 100
  • 106 hollow passage in the bushing 100
  • 108 aperture
  • 110 bushing bottom
  • 112 groove
  • 114 bushing entrance
  • 116 bushing top
  • 118 passage female screw thread
  • 120 parallelepiped recess
  • 122 protrusion-recess
  • 124 slit
  • 126 lid seal groove
  • 128 bushing head
  • 130 bushing seal groove
  • 132 bushing head face
  • 134 magnet receptacle
  • 140 bushing post
  • 141 bracket
  • 142 cut
  • 143 back portion
  • 144 side leg
  • 145 lid rim lip
  • 150 Intermediate Bulk Container, or IBC
  • 152 IBC orifice 152
  • 154 IBC male extension 154
  • 156 IBC external screw thread
  • 158 hollow connector bushing
  • 160 female internal connector screw thread
  • 162 protruding extremity
  • 164 retention ring
  • 166 dashed line
  • 168 fastening slots
  • 169 second downstream end
  • 170 faucet device
  • 172 faucet male external screw thread
  • 174 faucet hollow male protrusion
  • 176 faucet downstream extremity
  • 180 pressure relief device
  • IN container
  • EX container exterior interior