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Liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly

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20140103042 patent thumbnailZoom

Liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly


A liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly includes a container, which defines an axis and has an inner surface, top and float. The top is mountable to the upper end with a sealing element engaging the inner surface at a liquid sealing position. The open upper end is least partially unobstructed when the top is at the liquid pouring position. The float includes a top portion, a bottom portion and a sealing edge sized to create a minimal gap between the sealing edge and the interior surface when floating on the liquid surface with the axis generally vertical. Tilting the container creates a gap between the float and the inner surface permitting the liquid to pass the sealing edge and out of the open upper end.


USPTO Applicaton #: #20140103042 - Class: 220216 (USPTO) -
Receptacles > Closures >Floating Closure

Inventors: Ronald Scott Tavenner, Michael Jonathan Liebowitz, Suzanne Janet Nason

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20140103042, Liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO OTHER APPLICATIONS

This application is related to the following US patent applications: U.S. design patent application Ser. No. ______ entitled Top for Liquid Storage Container, and U.S. design patent application Ser. No. ______ entitled Float for Liquid Storage Container, both filed on the same day as this application and both having the same assignee as this application. Disclosures of both are incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Some beverages, such as wine, are susceptible to undergoing chemical changes once the beverage container has been opened, primarily due to contact with the oxygen in air. However, often the wine or other beverage from the newly open container is not consumed or otherwise used. Several techniques have been devised for keeping an open bottle of wine from changing after being opened. One way involves removing the air from the container by either collapsing the container, such as the bag in a box concept, or dropping marbles into the wine bottle to reduce the headspace. Another way is to replace all or most of the air in the bottle, which is about 21% oxygen, with a relatively inert gas such as nitrogen. This is typically accomplished using a spray can of nitrogen followed by resealing the bottle. Another way is to partially evacuate the headspace using a vacuum pump and a special bottle closure. A further way is to pour the wine into a smaller bottle so that there is less headspace. The exposure of other beverages, such as coffee, to air is also a problem. While many of these techniques can be useful to help preserve the quality of a beverage which has not been consumed, they all suffer from one or more of the following shortcomings: being only partially effective, hard to use, expensive, and providing less than elegant solutions, as well as often requiring repeat purchases.

BRIEF

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

A first example of a liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly includes a container, top and float. The container has a bottom and a circumferentially extending sidewall, the sidewall having a lower end an open upper end. The sidewall defines an axis and has an inner surface. The bottom and the sidewall define a container interior for holding a liquid. The top is mountable to the upper end, the top having a sealing element engageable with the inner surface. The top is positionable at a liquid sealing position and at a liquid pouring position. The sealing element creates a liquid seal with the inner surface when the top is at the liquid sealing position. The open upper end is least partially unobstructed when the top is at the liquid pouring position. At least a portion of the inner surface has a constant cross-sectional shape and size along the axis. The float is positionable within the interior. The float includes a top portion, a bottom portion, and a sealing edge. The sealing edge has the same cross-sectional shape as the portions of the inner surface. The sealing edge is sized to create a minimal gap between the sealing edge and the interior surface when (1) the float is floating on the surface of a liquid within the container, (2) the axis is generally vertical, and (3) the liquid surface is along the portion of the inner surface. A liquid within the container can be poured from the container by placing the top at the liquid pouring position and tilting the container causing a portion of the sealing edge of the float to move away from the inner surface permitting the liquid to pass the sealing edge and out of the open upper end.

The first example of the liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly can include one or more the following. At least a portion of the sidewall between the lower end and the upper end can have a cylindrical shape. The entire open upper end can flare outwardly to accommodate pouring from the container in any direction. The top can be completely removed from the container when in the liquid pouring position, and the container can include a float retaining element at the open upper end to help maintain the float in the container interior during use with the top in the liquid pouring position. The container can include a float retaining element at the open upper end to help maintain the float in the container interior during use. The float can have a center of gravity positioned within the bottom portion. The float can be configured so that when the float is floating at the surface of a liquid, the sealing edge is generally coincident with the surface of the liquid.

In some examples of the first example of the assembly, the upper end of the sidewall can define a pouring element, and the sealing element and the inner surface can create a pouring gap between the sealing element and the inner surface at the pouring element when the top is at the liquid pouring position, so that a liquid poured from the container passes through the pouring gap and out of the pouring element. At least a portion of the sidewall between the lower end and the upper end can have an other than round cross-sectional shape, such as an oval cross-sectional shape. The other than round cross-sectional shape can have bilateral symmetry, and the top can be mountable to the open upper end at both the liquid sealing position and at the liquid pouring position, with the liquid sealing and liquid pouring positions of the top being oriented at an angle from one another. The pouring element can include an outwardly extending spout-like pouring element. In some examples, the sidewall defines a first axis extending between the upper and lower ends and the top has a second axis oriented generally parallel to the first axis when the top is mounted to the upper end; the top has a top end and a bottom end, the bottom end being positioned within the upper end of the container when the top is mounted to the upper end; the sealing element is a closed loop sealing element; the sealing element has upper and lower regions at different positions along the sealing element, the upper region being closer to the upper end of the container than the lower region; the upper region is aligned with the pouring element when the top is at the liquid pouring position; and the upper region is misaligned from the pouring element when the top is at the liquid sealing position.

A second example of a liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly includes a container and a float. The container has a bottom and a circumferentially extending sidewall, the sidewall having a lower end extending from the bottom and an open upper end. The container is positionable at a first, storage orientation and a second, liquid dispensing orientation. The sidewall has an inner surface. The bottom and the sidewall define a container interior for holding a liquid. At least a portion of the inner surface has a constant horizontally oriented cross-sectional shape and size. The portion of the inner surface defines an axis extending between the lower end and the upper end. The float is positionable within the interior. The float includes a top portion, a bottom portion, and a sealing edge. The float is configured so that when the float is floating at the surface of a liquid, the sealing edge is generally coincident with the surface of the liquid. The sealing edge has the same cross-sectional shape as the inner surface. The sealing edge is configured so that when the float is floating on the surface of a liquid within the container and the liquid surface is along the portion of the inner surface, (1) a minimal gap is created between the sealing edge and the interior surface when the container is at the first orientation, and (2) a pouring gap created between the sealing edge and the interior surface when the container is at the second orientation.

An example of a liquid storage and dispensing container assembly includes a container and a top. The container has a bottom and a circumferentially extending sidewall, the sidewall having a lower end extending from the bottom and an open upper end. The sidewall has an inner surface. The bottom and the sidewall defines a container interior for holding a liquid. The upper end includes a pouring element. The top is mountable to the upper end. The top includes a sealing element engageable with the inner surface. The top, when mounted to the upper end, is positionable at a liquid sealing position and at a liquid pouring position. The sealing element creates a liquid seal with the inner surface when the top is at the liquid sealing position. The sealing element and the inner surface create a gap between the sealing element and the inner surface at the pouring element when the top is at the liquid pouring position.

Other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention can be seen on review the drawings, the detailed description, and the claims which follow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded side elevation view of a first example of a liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly.

FIG. 2 is a three-dimensional view of the top of the assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a three-dimensional view of the float of the assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the assembly of FIG. 1 in an assembled condition with the float floating on the surface of the liquid within the container.

FIGS. 5-8 are simplified views showing the use of the assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 shows pouring a liquid into the container.

FIG. 6 shows placing the float through the open upper end of the container.

FIG. 7 shows the float resting at the upper surface of the liquid with the top mounted to the open upper end of the container.

FIG. 8 shows the liquid being poured from the container after the top has been removed and illustrates how the float naturally becomes repositioned within the container interior when the container is tilted to allow the liquid to be poured from the container.

FIG. 9 shows a second example of a liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly in which the container has an other than round cross-sectional shape and showing the top in a liquid sealing position.

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 9 showing the oval cross-sectional shape of the container and the spout-like pouring element created at the outwardly flared open upper end of the container.

FIG. 11 is a three-dimensional view of the float of the assembly of FIG. 9.

FIGS. 11A and 11B are side elevation cross-sectional views taken through the widest and narrowest portions of the float of FIG. 11.

FIG. 12 is a three-dimensional view of the top of the assembly of FIG. 9.

FIGS. 12A and 12B are side elevation cross-sectional views taken through the widest and narrowest portions of the top of FIG. 12.

FIG. 13 shows the structure of FIG. 9 but with the top removed and re-oriented 180° from the position of FIG. 9 placing the top in a liquid pouring position and creating a gap between the sealing element of the top and the inner surface of the container at the spout-like pouring element.

FIG. 14 shows the structure of FIG. 13 at a tilted, pouring orientation permitting the liquid within the container to flow through the gap and out of the container

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF THE INVENTION

The following description will typically be with reference to specific structural embodiments and methods. It is to be understood that there is no intention to limit the invention to the specifically disclosed embodiments and methods but that the invention may be practiced using other features, elements, methods and embodiments. Preferred embodiments are described to illustrate the present invention, not to limit its scope, which is defined by the claims. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize a variety of equivalent variations on the description that follows. Like elements in various examples and embodiments are commonly referred to with like reference numerals.

A first example of a liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly 10 is shown in FIG. 1 as including a carafe type container 12, a float 14 and a top 16. Container 12 includes a grip ring 18 which is positioned within a groove 20 at the open upper end 22 of container 12. Container 12 has a generally cylindrical side wall 24 extending from a bottom 26 at the lower end 28 of the sidewall to a position 30 adjacent to groove 20 at open upper end 22. Open upper end 22 is outwardly flared around its entire circumference to facilitate pouring.

Float 14 includes a float body 34 having a top portion 36 and a bottom portion 38 joined by a sealing edge 40. Top portion 36 is configured to form lifting handle. Sealing edge 40 includes a groove 42 housing a sealing edge skirt 44. Float 14 also includes a cap 46 which covers an opening at the top portion 36. Float 14 is shown in an assembled form in FIGS. 3 and 4.

Top 16 includes a top body 48 having a lower extension 50 to which a top sealing element 52 is mounted. See FIGS. 2 and 4 which show top 16 in an assembled form. Sealing element 52 and the sealing edge skirt 44 can be made of flexible, resilient material, such as high density polypropylene (HDPP), which should be compatible with the wine or other liquid to be held within container 12.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the assembly 10 in an assembled condition with top 16 mounted to open upper end 22 and float 14 floating on the surface 54 of the liquid 56 within container 12. The inner surface 58 of container 12 is cylindrical in shape from position 30 just below grip ring 18 down to a position 60 at bottom 26 of container 12. The inner surface 58 of container 12 from position 30 down to position 60 defines a container axis 55. Inner surface 58 above position 30 has a smaller inner diameter than below the lower position 30 to help keep float 14 from inadvertently passing through open upper end 22 during use; that portion of inner surface can be referred to as a float retaining element 62. Sealing edge skirt 44 is sufficiently flexible to permit float 14 to be passed through open upper end 22 and past float retaining element 62 to get the float into the container interior 64. Float 14 has an axis generally parallel to, and typically coincident with, container axis 55. Float 14 is configured so that it is bottom-heavy with an axially-centered center of gravity 66 within bottom portion 38; this helps to ensure that float 14 remains upright within liquid 56. The weight and configuration of float 14 is designed based upon the expected specific gravity of liquid 56 so that sealing edge skirt 44 is generally coincident with liquid surface 54.

In some examples, the sealing edge skirt 44 may be arranged to be offset from, such as somewhat above, liquid surface 54 without creating an excessive area of exposed liquid surface 54. Also, in some examples float 14 could be designed so that the center of gravity 66 is aligned with sealing edge skirt 44 so that the float would be stably positioned on liquid surface 54 regardless of its orientation, that is with the top facing up or down. In addition, float 14 could be shaped, such as a flattened disk shaped member, so that it would float stably on the liquid regardless of whether the top were facing up or down. In some examples, the top portion could be at the level of the sealing edge skirt 44. Float 14 could, for example, be a flat disc having a sealing edge skirt 44 positioned between its two edges or along one of the two edges, or in some examples the sealing edge skirt 44 and could be positioned along both of the two edges.

During use the level of liquid surface 54 will change. To ensure that float 14 properly follows the liquid level at liquid surface 54, the outside diameter of sealing edge skirt 44 is made to be somewhat less than the inside diameter of inner surface 58 between positions 30 and 60. The difference between the two diameters can be chosen to create a minimal gap, such as about 0.03 inch (0.76 mm) to about 0.13 inch (3.3 mm). A larger gap will help ensure that float 14 freely follows liquid surface 54 but also exposes more of liquid 56 to the air above the float. Also, making skirt 44 out of a slippery material, such as PTFE, should help to ensure free movement of float 14 within container 12.

It should be noted that the flange elements 57 of top sealing element 52 would typically be deflected upwardly to rest on the inner surface 58 of container 12 when the top 16 is mounted to open upper end 22 of container 12. However, flange elements 57 are shown extending straight outwardly in FIG. 4 as an artifact of the drafting process. This artifact is also present in FIGS. 7, 9, 13 and 14.

FIG. 5 shows pouring a liquid 56 into container 12. In some cases, in particular with certain still wines, it may be desired to provide additional aeration to the wine as it is poured into container 12, which can act as a serving carafe. In that case, float 14 can be placed into container 12 before all or part of liquid 56 is poured into the container. The liquid 56 landing on top portion 36 of float 14 will cause additional aeration of the wine. FIG. 6 shows float 14 being passed through the open upper end 22 of the container. Flange 67 of sealing edge skirt 44 is sufficiently flexible to permit float 14 to pass through float retaining element 62 and enter the cylindrical region of inner surface 58 between positions 30 and 60.

FIG. 7 shows assembly 10 in a storage condition or state. Float 14 is shown resting at the surface 54 of the liquid 56 with top 16 mounted to the open upper end of the container. Float 14 covers virtually the entire liquid surface 54 to effectively prevent air above float 14 from affecting the wine or other liquid 56 within container 12. It is therefore important that float 14 be properly buoyant so that the flange 67 of skirt 44 is at or close to liquid surface 54.

FIG. 8 shows assembly 10 of FIG. 7 after removal of top 16 with container 12 being tilted to cause liquid 56 to be poured from container 12. This figure illustrates how float 14 naturally becomes repositioned within the container interior 64 when container 12 is tilted to allow liquid 56 to be freely poured from the container.

FIG. 9 shows a second example of a liquid storage, isolation and dispensing assembly 10 in which container 12 has an other than round cross-sectional shape; in this example, an oval cross-sectional shape. Other cross-sectional shapes are also possible. FIG. 10 is a top plan view of container 12 of FIG. 9 showing the oval cross-sectional shape of the container and an outwardly extending, spout-like pouring element 68 created along the outwardly flared open upper end 22 of the container. FIGS. 11, 11A, 11B, 12, 12A and 12B are three-dimensional and side elevation cross-sectional views of the float 14 and top 16 used with this example.

Top 16 of FIGS. 9-14 is similar to top 16 of FIGS. 1-8 with the main difference being that the orientation of the plane defined by top sealing element 52 is at an angle 70 to container axis 55. Top 16 has a top axis 74 which is generally coincident with axis 55. Angle 70 can be in the range of about 21° to 25°; in this example, angle 70 is 23°. Sealing element 52 has upper and lower regions 76, 78 at different positions along the sealing element. Upper region 76 is closer to upper and 22 of container 12 than is lower region 78. The upper region 76 misaligned with the spout like pouring element 68 when the top is at the liquid sealing position of FIG. 9. In this way top sealing element 52 can provide a full 360° circumferential seal by its engagement with the inner surface 58 when at the liquid sealing position of FIG. 9.

Sealing edge 40 of float 14 of FIG. 9 has the same oval shape as the inner surface 58 of container 12 between positions 30, 60. Again there is a small gap between sealing edge 40 and inner surface 58 to permit float 14 to move freely with liquid 56 during use.

FIG. 13 shows the structure of FIG. 9 but after top 16 has been removed and re-oriented 180° from the liquid sealing position of FIG. 9. Doing so places top 16 in a liquid pouring position and causes upper region 76 to be aligned with spout like pouring element 68. This creates a gap 72 between top sealing element 52 and inner surface 58 of container 12 at the spout-like pouring element 68.

FIG. 14 shows the structure of FIG. 13 at a tilted orientation permitting the liquid within the container to flow through gap 72. In contrast with the example of FIGS. 1-8, in which top 16 is completely removed from open upper end 22 when at the pouring position, top 16 remains mounted to open upper end 22 at the pouring position. Top 16, being mounted to open upper end 22, prevents float 14 from passing out of container 12 while pouring liquid 56. This eliminates the need for the float retaining element 62 of the FIG. 1-8 example and the need for any type of flexible flange, such as flange 67 of skirt 44.

The above descriptions may have used terms such as above, below, top, bottom, over, under, et cetera. These terms may be used in the description and claims to aid understanding of the invention and not used in a limiting sense.

While the present invention is disclosed by reference to the preferred embodiments and examples detailed above, it is to be understood that these examples are intended in an illustrative rather than in a limiting sense. It is contemplated that modifications and combinations will occur to those skilled in the art, which modifications and combinations will be within the spirit of the invention and the scope of the following claims. For example, the other than round cross-sectional shape of container 12 can be other than generally oval, such as triangular. With a triangular configuration, spout like pouring element 68 could be made at, for example, two of the corners of the triangular shaped container 12 and could have different size gaps 72 to control desired for the flow of liquid 56 out of container 12. Container axes 55 of the disclosed examples are straight lines. However, in appropriate cases container 12 could be configured so that axis 55 is not a straight line; this would, however, typically require that the cross-sectional shape and size of the inner surface 58 between positions 30 and 60 as measured along horizontal planes would need to remain constant for the gap between sealing edge 40 and inner surface 58 to remain constant.

Any and all patents, patent applications and printed publications referred to above are incorporated by reference.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20140103042 A1
Publish Date
04/17/2014
Document #
13651352
File Date
10/12/2012
USPTO Class
220216
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
65D88/34
Drawings
12




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