Title:
METHODS AND DEVICES FOR CONTROLLING AIR INSIDE A CLOSED CONTAINER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system having a sealed container capable of storing an oxygen-degradable product and an air control device attached to the container, where the air control device includes an activation device; at least one air control valve to allow air to flow out of the container, at least one pressure relief valve, an at least one air flow device comprising a vacuum pump, at least one filtration device and at least one controller and where the air control device is designed to securely attach to the container.



Inventors:
Dovner, Edward (Delray Beach, FL, US)
Application Number:
13/488837
Publication Date:
12/06/2012
Filing Date:
06/05/2012
Assignee:
DOVNER EDWARD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B31/00
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Primary Examiner:
COTOV, JONATHAN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREENBERG TRAURIG (NJ) (FLORHAM PARK, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system comprising: a container comprising two sets of opposing solid side walls, a bottom, and a cover, wherein the container is capable of storing an oxygen-degradable product and a mating surface at an upper end of the container mates with a mating surface on an inner portion of the cover to form an airtight seal; and an air control device attached to the container, wherein the air control device comprises: an activation device; at least one air control valve sufficiently designed to allow air to flow out of an inner volume of the container formed by the two sets of opposing walls, the bottom, and the cover of the container; at least one pressure relief valve in fluid communication with the inner volume of the container, wherein the at least one pressure relief valve is sufficiently designed to allow air to flow into the inner volume of the container; an at least one air flow device comprising a vacuum pump in fluid communication with the inner volume of the container, the at least one air control valve, and the at least one pressure relief valve, at least one filtration device in fluid communication with the at least one air flow device and the inner volume of the container; and at least one controller sufficiently designed to start the air flow device in response to activation of the activation device and stop the air flow device based on a vacuum and/or pressure level in the container; and wherein the air control device is sufficiently designed to securely attach to the container.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the air control device is attached to a side wall of the container.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the air control device is attached to the container cover.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the at least one controller comprises a circuit board with a timer.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the activation device comprises a push button.

6. The system of claim 1, further comprising an indicator light.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the container includes an oxygen-degradable product.

8. The system of claim 7, wherein the oxygen-degradable product comprises foodstuffs and/or chemicals.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein the foodstuffs comprises grain, milk powder, and/or animal food.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein the mating surface at the upper end of the container and the mating surface on the inner portion of the cover are threaded.

11. The system of claim 1, wherein the container further comprises a seal sufficiently designed to form an airtight seal.

12. The system of claim 11, wherein the seal comprises a gasket or an o-ring.

13. The system of claim 12, wherein the seal is formed of thermoplastic, rubber, metal, graphite, or combinations thereof.

14. The system of claim 8, wherein the system is sufficiently designed to maintain stability of the oxygen-degradable product for about one week to about 5 years.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 61/493,657, entitled “METHODS AND DEVICES FOR CONTROLLING AIR INSIDE A CLOSED CONTAINER” filed on Jun. 6, 2011, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety for all purposes.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to devices for controlling air in containers.

BACKGROUND

Containers that store various types of materials may include devices for controlling the air volume in those containers.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

In one embodiment, the system includes a container with two sets of opposing solid side walls, a bottom, and a cover, wherein the container is capable of storing an oxygen-degradable product and a mating surface at an upper end of the container mates with a mating surface on an inner portion of the cover to form an airtight seal; and an air control device attached to the container, wherein the air control device has an activation device; at least one air control valve sufficiently designed to allow air to flow out of an inner volume of the container formed by the two sets of opposing walls, the bottom, and the cover of the container; at least one pressure relief valve in fluid communication with the inner volume of the container, wherein the at least one pressure relief valve is sufficiently designed to allow air to flow into the inner volume of the container; an at least one air flow device comprising a vacuum pump in fluid communication with the inner volume of the container, the at least one air control valve, and the at least one pressure relief valve, at least one filtration device in fluid communication with the at least one air flow device and the inner volume of the container; and at least one controller sufficiently designed to start the air flow device in response to activation of the activation device and stop the air flow device based on a vacuum and/or pressure level in the container; and wherein the air control device is sufficiently designed to securely attach to the container.

In another embodiment, the system includes an air control device that is attached to a side wall of the container.

In yet another embodiment, the system includes an air control device that is attached to the container cover. In other embodiments, the at least one controller includes a circuit board with a timer. In other embodiments, the activation device comprises a push button.

In another embodiment, the system further includes an indicator light.

In yet another embodiment, the system includes a container with an oxygen-degradable product that may include foodstuffs and/or chemicals. In other embodiments, the foodstuffs includes grain, milk powder, and/or animal food.

In other embodiments, the system includes a mating surface at the upper end of the container and an mating surface on the inner portion of the cover that are threaded.

In yet another embodiment, the container includes a seal sufficiently designed to form an airtight seal. In some embodiments, the seal includes a gasket or an o-ring. In some embodiments, the seal is formed of thermoplastic, rubber, metal, graphite, or combinations thereof.

In yet other embodiments, the system is sufficiently designed to maintain stability of the oxygen-degradable product for about one week to about 5 years.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate containers of some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate a vacuum pump and a fan of some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates an air control valve of an embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 5A, 5B, 5C, and 5D illustrate an air control valve of some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates yet another embodiment of the present invention.

The figures constitute a part of this specification and include illustrative embodiments of the present invention and illustrate various objects and features thereof. Further, the figures are not necessarily to scale, some features may be exaggerated to show details of particular components. In addition, any measurements, specifications and the like shown in the figures are intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In one embodiment, an system for controlling air in a container includes, but is not limited to, an air control device designed to be securely connected to a container for controlling the air to the container. In some embodiments, the container may be a container capable of storing an oxygen-degradable products such as chemicals or foodstuffs having a cover. In some embodiments, the containers can be a cylindrical container 102, rectangular cube-shaped container 104 as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B. In other embodiments, the container can be a square cube-shaped container. In some embodiments, the container may include a two sets of opposing side walls, a bottom, and a cover. In some embodiments, the side walls are solid. In other embodiments, the upper end of the container includes a mating surface that mates with a mating surface on an inner portion of the cover to form an airtight seal. An “airtight seal” is defined as a seal that reduces air flow across the seal. The airtight seal, however, may allow some air leakage over time. In some embodiments, the container and cover are sealed using mating threads. In some embodiments, the container and cover are sealed using mating adhesive surfaces. In other embodiments, a seal is positioned between the cover and the container. In some embodiments, the seal may be a gasket or an o-ring. In some embodiments, the seal may be formed of thermoplastic, rubber, metal, graphite, combinations thereof or other suitable material for forming an airtight seal in the container.

In some embodiments, the air control device may be connected to a side wall of the container. In other embodiments, the air control device may be connected to the cover of the container. In one embodiment, the air control device 202 shown in FIG. 2 can include, but not limited to, at least one air control valve that permits control of air inside the container 204, and at least one activation device such as a push button to activate the air flow device. In one embodiment, the air control device can include, but not limited to, at least one air control valve that permits control of air inside the container, at least one activation device such as a push button to activate the air flow device, and at least one controller such as a circuit board with air flow device timer. In one embodiment, the at least one air control device includes an air flow device such as a pump 302 or fan 304 as shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B. In one embodiment, the air control device can include, but not limited to, at least one controller that permits control of the air inside the container, at least one activation device such as a push button to activate the air flow device, an air flow device such as a vacuum pump and/or fan, at least one controller such as a circuit board with air flow device timer, and at least one indicator showing air condition within the container.

In one embodiment of the instant invention, the air control device can include an air control valve designed to allow air to flow out of the closed container. In one embodiment, the air control device includes an air control valve 402 as shown on FIG. 4. In one embodiment of the instant invention, the air control device can have (1) a first air control valve to remove stale air out of the closed container and (2) a second air control valve such as a pressure relief valve to allow air to flow into the closed container. In an embodiment, the air control device includes an air control valve 500 as shown in FIGS. 5A-5D. In one embodiment, the air control valve 500 includes a hinge pin retainer 502, a spring 504, a hinge pin 506, a plate-lug bearing 508, a full flange 510, a body-lug bearing 512, a stop pin retainer 514, a lug flange 516, a plate 518, and/or a stop pin 520. In one embodiment shown in FIG. 5C, the air control valve is in the closed position. In another embodiment shown in FIG. 5D, the air control valve is in the partially open position. In one embodiment, the air control valve can be responsible for both (1) pulling stale air out of the container and (2) letting new air to enter the container

In one embodiment of the invention, by taking the stale air out of the container, a cover or a lid of the container is securely sealed to the container. In one embodiment of the instant invention, by letting the new air into the container, a cover or a lid of the container can be easily removed to open the container.

In one embodiment of the instant invention, the air control device can be connected to the cover or a lid of the container. In one embodiment of the instant invention, the air control device can be integrated into a cover or a lid of the container. In one embodiment, the air control device can be integral with wall(s) and/or a lid/cover of a container and thus can be incorporated during the manufacture of the container and/or container's lid/cover. In one embodiment of the instant invention, the air control device can be mounted on or attached to wall(s) and/or a lid/cover of a container after the manufacture of the container and/or container's lid/cover.

In one embodiment, the instant invention allows to keep contents of the container, such as food, chemicals, etc., from being spoiled—e.g., keeping food fresh longer. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows the container to maintain substantially moisture-proof environment. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows to protect the contents of the container from extraneous solids and from loss of the content under the ordinary or customary conditions of handling, shipment, storage, and distribution. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows to protect the contents of the container from contamination by extraneous liquids, solids, and/or vapors. In one embodiment, the instant invention makes the container to be substantially impervious to air or any other gas under the ordinary or customary conditions of handling, shipment, storage, and distribution.

In one embodiment of the instant invention, the operation of the air control device can provide a control mechanism for removing or adding air into the container. In one embodiment of the instant invention, the content of air inside the container is measure through air pressure inside the container using any suitable pressure measuring instrument, for example, a manometer.

In one embodiment of the instant invention, the air control device can be started by either manually by pressing an activation device such as a push button or automatically (e.g., by a daily timer).

In one embodiment of the instant invention, the operation of the air control device allows to create a negative pressure (e.g., vacuum-like) conditions inside the container.

In an embodiment shown on FIG. 6, a vacuum pump 602 can be used to remove air from the inside of a container 604 and then shut down when sufficient air is evacuated from the container 604. In an embodiment, the vacuum pump 602 can be powered from a 24 VDC source. In an embodiment, the device may include a backflow preventer 606, a relief valve 608, a filtration device 610, an electrical board 612, an indicator light 614, an activation device 616, and/or a transformer 618. In an embodiment, the relief valve can be actuated by a activation device such as a push button. In some embodiments, the filtration device can be either permanent or replaceable. In some embodiments, the filtration device can include a cartridge filter, filter paper or other filtration device sufficient for removing particulates from the air stream to protect the air flow device. In some embodiments, the electrical board can be a PCB electrical board. In some embodiments, the activation device can be a push button or equivalent. In an embodiment, the transformer also may include a rectifier and can convert the energy source from 115 VAC to 24 VDC. In an embodiment, the transformer and rectifier can convert the energy source voltage from 220 VAC to 24 VDC.

In an embodiment, the container can be sealed by closing the container lid, connecting the air control device to a power source and actuating the activation device. In an embodiment, the power source may be 115 VAC. In another embodiment, the power source may be 220 VAC. In an embodiment, the activation device can include a push button. In an embodiment, the activation device can be identified as a “start” push button.

In an embodiment, the container can be unsealed by actuating a relief valve. In an embodiment, the container can be unsealed by pressing a push button that actuates the relief valve. In an embodiment, the relief valve can be identified as a “pressure relief valve.”

In one embodiment, after feeding your pet, a user can press a push button which starts a vacuum pump. In one embodiment, the vacuum pump vacuums the air out on the food and container, stopping when the vacuum is complete. In one embodiment, an indicator light alerts the user when the process is complete. In one embodiment, the indicator light is green. In one embodiment, the vacuum pump is enclosed by a housing or cover. In one embodiment, the housing or cover is formed of plastic, glass, metal, or other material. In another embodiment, a pressure valve is released when access is required to allow the user to open the container cover. In one embodiment, the access is required when a user desires to feed his or her pet.

In one embodiment, a user presses a push button on the container to actuate the vacuum pump. In one embodiment, an indicator light turns on when the push button is pressed. In one embodiment, the indicator light is an LED light. In one embodiment, the indicator light is identified as a “pumping” indicator light.

In an embodiment, when the required vacuum was achieved, the vacuum pump would stop. In an embodiment, an indicator light would actuate when the vacuum pump stops. In some embodiments, the indicator light is a green LED. In an embodiment, the indicator light is identified as a “vacuum reached” indicator light.

In some embodiments, the vacuum pump turns on if a leak occurred and actuates the green LED light indicating proper operation. In some embodiments, if the user opened the container, a microcontroller or equivalent device can be used to detect the vacuum was lost too quickly to be a leak. In some embodiments, the microcontroller would keep the vacuum pump turned off if the vacuum was lost too quickly. In some embodiments, an indicator light would indicate when the vacuum was lost too quickly. In some embodiments, the indicator light is a yellow LED. In an embodiment, the indicator light is identified as an “open” indicator light.

In an embodiment, if the vacuum pump operated for too long a period without achieving vacuum, a microcontroller is used to terminate operation of the pump. In some embodiments, an indicator light would actuate when the vacuum pump is turned off by the microcontroller. In some embodiments, the indicator light is an LED. In some embodiments, the indicator light is identified as an “error” or “open” indicator light. In some embodiments, if the user didn't get the lid on quite right, the vacuum pump would not continue to run.

In some embodiments, the system parameters such as vacuum level, vacuum pump operation timing, and other parameters can be adjusted by reprogramming the control software and/or changing the firmware.

In some embodiments, vacuum pumping would continue until a hardwired vacuum level was achieved and the vacuum pump was turned off.

In one embodiment, the instant invention allows the substantial elimination of the presence of oxygen in oxygen-degradable products such as chemicals and foodstuffs such as grain, milk powder, animal food, or other product degradable when exposed to oxygen, ensuring long-term shelf stability. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows for a long-term shelf stability of the product in at least a week. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows for a long-term shelf stability of the product in at least two week. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows for a long-term shelf stability of the product in at least a month than if content is stored in the dark as well as dry and cool. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows for a long-term shelf stability of the product in at least 3 months longer than if content is stored in the dark as well as dry and cool. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows for a long-term shelf stability of the product in at least 6 months longer than if is content stored in the dark as well as dry and cool. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows for a long-term shelf stability of the product in at least 12 months longer than if is content stored in the dark as well as dry and cool. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows for a long-term shelf stability of the product in at least 24 months longer than if is content stored in the dark as well as dry and cool. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows for a long-term shelf stability of the product in at least 3 years longer than if is content stored in the dark as well as dry and cool. In one embodiment, the instant invention allows for a long-term shelf stability of the product in at least 5 years longer than if content is stored in the dark as well as dry and cool.

In some embodiments, the shelf life stability is an ability of contents, such as food, to maintain its qualities (e.g., nutritional, physical qualities) over a certain time period having deterioration in original qualities (e.g., at the time of making (e.g., foods, chemical materials, etc.) or collecting (e.g., fruits, vegetables)) of less than 1%. In some embodiments, the shelf life stability is an ability of contents, such as food, to maintain its qualities (e.g., nutritional, physical qualities) over a certain time period having deterioration in original qualities (e.g., at the time of making (e.g., foods, chemical materials, etc.) or collecting (e.g., fruits, vegetables)) of less than 2%. In some embodiments, the shelf life stability is an ability of contents, such as food, to maintain its qualities (e.g., nutritional, physical qualities) over a certain time period having deterioration in original qualities (e.g., at the time of making (e.g., foods, chemical materials, etc.) or collecting (e.g., fruits, vegetables)) of less than 5%. In some embodiments, the shelf life stability is an ability of contents, such as food, to maintain its qualities (e.g., nutritional, physical qualities) over a certain time period having deterioration in original qualities (e.g., at the time of making (e.g., foods, chemical materials, etc.) or collecting (e.g., fruits, vegetables)) of less than 10%. In some embodiments, the shelf life stability is an ability of contents, such as food, to maintain its qualities (e.g., nutritional, physical qualities) over a certain time period having deterioration in original qualities (e.g., at the time of making (e.g., foods, chemical materials, etc.) or collecting (e.g., fruits, vegetables)) of less than 20%. In some embodiments, the shelf life stability is an ability of contents, such as food, to maintain its qualities (e.g., nutritional, physical qualities) over a certain time period having deterioration in original qualities (e.g., at the time of making (e.g., foods, chemical materials, etc.) or collecting (e.g., fruits, vegetables)) of less than 30%. In some embodiments, the shelf life stability is an ability of contents, such as food, to maintain its qualities (e.g., nutritional, physical qualities) over a certain time period having deterioration in original qualities (e.g., at the time of making (e.g., foods, chemical materials, etc.) or collecting (e.g., fruits, vegetables)) of less than 50%.

In some embodiments, the storage capacity of the container ranges from about 15 pounds to about 100 pounds. In some embodiments, the storage capacity of the container ranges from about 25 pounds to about 80 pounds. In some embodiments, the storage capacity of the container ranges from about 35 pounds to about 65 pounds. In some embodiments, the storage capacity of the container ranges from about 45 to about 55 pounds. In one embodiment, the container includes a 12″ width, a 12″ length, and a 10″ depth.

Example 1

Calculating Amount of Oxygen (Air) to be Removed

Below are listed the volumes (in cubic centimeters) of various containers. The air inside each container contains 21.0% oxygen.

    • Container (approx. vol. cubic centimeters) Oxygen Volume (cubic centimeters)

Number 10 cans 3,980 cc × 0.21 = 835.80
5 gallon plastic pails (19,000)19,000 cc × 0.21 = 3,990
6 gallon plastic pails (22,800)22,800 cc × 0.21 = 4,788

There are two components of the container to consider: the headspace and the voidspace. If a five-gallon bucket were filled to the rim with marbles, the spaces in between the marbles (void spaces) would represent 38% of the volume of the five-gallon pail (0.38×19,000=7,220 cubic centimeters). Of this number, 21% is oxygen. So, if the marbles were food, a 5 gallon pail would have almost 1500 cubic centimeters of oxygen that must be removed in order to insure viable long term food storage.

The next item to consider is the headspace. If you fill a number ten can to 90% of its volume, you will have 398 cubic centimeters of headspace. This headspace will contain 83.6 cubic centimeters of oxygen (0.21×398=83.6). In order to determine how much oxygen absorbing capacity required, the oxygen level in the headspace and the void space is first determined.

There are 231 cubic inches in a gallon and 16.4 cubic centimeters in a cubic inch.

Among those benefits and improvements that have been disclosed, other objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures. Detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely illustrative of the invention that may be embodied in various forms. In addition, each of the examples given in connection with the various embodiments of the invention which are intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive.

While a number of embodiments of the present invention have been described, it is understood that these embodiments are illustrative only, and not restrictive, and that many modifications may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.