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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
CONTAINER CHILLING APPARATUS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/032015
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Apparatus and methods for cooling containers such as beverage containers are disclosed. The apparatus includes a base holding a chilling agent and having a top contoured to fit the bottom of a container, such as a canned beverage. A container may be held to the base using an elastic band.

Inventors:
PETERS, Curt Jerome (3525 Oleander Avenue, Alameda, California, 94502, US)
Application Number:
US2013/056486
Publication Date:
February 27, 2014
Filing Date:
August 23, 2013
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
CP CONCEPTS, LLC (3525 Oleander Avenue, Alameda, California, 94502, US)
International Classes:
F25D31/00; F25D3/08
Foreign References:
US20060059944A1
US20100005828A1
US5212963A
US6786062B1
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAMBERT, William R. et al. (Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, Two Embarcadero Center 8th Floo, San Francisco California, 94111, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for cooling contents of a container, comprising:

a base comprising a top, a bottom, a sidewall, and at least one internal volume, wherein:

a shape of the top is configured to conform to a shape of a bottom of a container; and the sidewall is characterized by an outer diameter that is substantially the same as or less than an outer diameter of the container; and

a chilling agent contained within the at least one internal volume.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the top comprises a recess comprising an outwardly beveled surface.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the top comprises a convex surface configured to substantially conform to the bottom of the container.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the convex surface comprises a thermally conductive material.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the base is configured such that when in contact with the container, the sidewall is substantially flush with a side of the container.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the base comprises a volume between the bottom and the at least one internal volume containing the chilling agent.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the base comprises at least one internal volume configured to thermally insulate the chilling agent.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the bottom and the sidewall comprise a thermally insulating material.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the container is a can.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the container is a beverage container.

11. The apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the container is selected from a soda can and a beer can.

12. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the cooling agent comprises a refrigerant gel.

13. The apparatus of claim 1, comprising a band configured to removably retain the base and the container.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the band is elastic.

15. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the inner diameter of the band is substantially the same as the outer diameter of the sidewall and the outer diameter of the container.

16. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein a height of the band is configured to retain the base and the container.

17. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the band is characterized by a height from 0.5 inches to 2 inches.

18. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the band comprises a thermally insulating material.

19. A method for cooling contents of a container, comprising:

providing the apparatus of claim 1 and an elastic band;

contacting a container against the top of the base; and

retaining the container and the base with the elastic band.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein retaining the container and the base comprises: assembling the band onto the base;

inserting a container within the band; and twisting the container against the top of the base.

Description:
CONTAINER CHILLING APPARATUS

[0001] This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S. C. § 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/824,879, filed on May 17, 2013, U.S. Provisional Application No.

61/849,415 filed on January 28, 2013, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/742,991 filed on August 24, 2012, each of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD

[0002] The present invention relates to apparatus for chilling the contents of containers and to methods for chilling contents of containers.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Consumers often prefer to consume a beverage at a certain temperature. For example, many consumers prefer to drink cold soda and beer. As these beverages warm, the beverage becomes less enjoyable. A beverage that is initially cold will eventually warm when removed from a refrigerated or cold environment such as, for example, a refrigerator, freezer, ice chest, or cooler. Ice can be added to beverages in open containers, but melting ice dilutes the intended flavor. Furthermore, some beverage containers, such as bottles and cans, do not have openings big enough for most types of ice cubes, resulting in a race against time to finish a cold beverage on a warm day. Insulated beverage container sleeves may reduce contact of the beverage container with the air or a user's hand, but serve only to slow the rising temperature of the beverage. Most coasters do little to delay beverage warming.

[0004] Thus, improved apparatus and methods are desired to keep container contents such as beverages cold while a beverage is being consumed.

SUMMARY

[0005] Chilled cooling apparatus in which the top is contoured to conform to the bottom of a container to be cooled and where the width of the apparatus is equal to or less than the outer diameter of a container are disclosed. The apparatus can be used in conjunction with an insulating elastic band or sleeve to retain the apparatus and the container.

[0006] In a first aspect, apparatus for cooling a container is provided, comprising: a base comprising a top, a bottom, a sidewall, and at least one internal volume, wherein: a shape of the top is configured to conform to a shape of a bottom of a container; and the sidewall is characterized by an outer diameter that is substantially the same as or less than an outer diameter of the container; a chilling agent contained within the at least one internal volume; and a band configured to retain the base and the container.

[0007] In a second aspect, methods for cooling a container are provided, comprising: providing an apparatus comprising a base comprising a top, a bottom, a sidewall, and at least one internal volume, wherein: a shape of the top is configured to conform to a shape of a bottom of a container; and the sidewall is characterized by an outer diameter that is substantially the same as or less than an outer diameter of the container; a chilling agent contained within the at least one internal volume; and a band configured to retain the base and the container; contacting a beverage container against the top of the base; and retaining the beverage container and the base with the band.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] FIGS. 1A-1D show top, side, bottom, and perspective views, respectively, of certain embodiments of an apparatus provided by the present disclosure.

[0009] FIG. 2 shows a cross-sectional view of certain embodiments of a base provided by the present disclosure.

[0010] FIG. 3 A shows a cross-sectional view of a container, base, and sleeve or band provided by the present disclosure.

[0011] FIG. 3B shows a cross-sectional view of a container resting on certain

embodiments of a appartus provided by the present disclosure.

[0012] FIGS. 4A-4C show top, side, and perspective views of certain embodiments of a retaining band provided by the present disclosure.

[0013] FIG. 5A shows a cross-sectional view of a container and a base retained by a retaining band according to certain embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0014] FIG. 5B shows a cross-sectional view of a container and a base according to certain embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0015] FIGS. 6A-6C show side, cross-sectional, and perspective views of a beverage container for use with a chilling apparatus according to certain embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0016] FIGS. 7A-7G show cross-sectional views of various embodiments of a base provided by the present disclosure.

[0017] Reference is now made to certain embodiments of methods and apparatus for chilling the contents of containers. The disclosed embodiments are not intended to be limiting of the claims. To the contrary, the claims are intended to cover all alternatives, modifications, and equivalents.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0018] Apparatus provided by the present disclosure can be used to chill the contents of a container such as a beverage within a beverage container.

[0019] The apparatus includes a base having a top, a bottom, and a sidewall. Overall, the apparatus has the shape of a puck. The sidewall has a diameter that can be substantially the same as or smaller than the outer diameter of the container to be chilled. For example, when the container is a soda or beer can, the sidewall has a diameter of about 2.5 inches or less. Having substantially the same diameter means that when a container is resting on the base, the sidewall and the outer diameter of the container are flush and the outer diameter of the sidewall is not greater than that of the container such that the container can rest within the outer diameter of the sidewall and/or be retained by features incorporated within the sidewall that fixedly engage the container.

[0020] The top of the base is configured to efficiently chill the container when contacting the base of the container. For example certain beverage containers such as soda and beer cans have a concave surface at the bottom. Thus, for use with these containers, a base will have a convex surface that substantially conforms to the convex bottom surface of the can. In general, the top of a base will have a shape that is configured to mate with the shape of the bottom of the container to be chilled. Mating of the top surface of a base to the bottom surface of the container is intended to facilitate thermal transfer between the two.

[0021] A base can also include one or more internal volumes. The internal volumes may be unfilled, that is filled with air, an insulating material, or a chilling agent. In certain embodiments, a base includes at least one internal volume at the top, such as directly beneath and adjacent a convex surface. Other internal volumes may be used for providing insulation at the bottom of the base and/or adjacent the sidewalls. Insulating volumes may contain air or an insulation material such as a foam. The size, location, and contents of the volumes within the base can be selected to insulate the chilling agent from the environment and to facilitate thermal transfer between the chilling agent and the contents of the container. One or more of the internal volumes are filled with a chilling agent.

[0022] The top of a base may be any appropriate shape such as concave, convex, flat or textured and are designed to mate with the bottom of a container to be chilled to facilitate thermal transfer between the chilling agent and the contents of the container. [0023] In certain embodiments, the bottom of the base may be any appropriate shape such as, for example, substantially flat. In certain embodiments, a based may include additional features and/or materials that can further serve to insulate the base. For example, a base may include a plurality of standoffs or bumps disposed on the bottom such that the base is stable and that contact of the base with an underlying surface is reduced or minimized. In certain embodiments, a base may include an insulating layer such as a foam or an elastomer that provides additional insulation and can prevent the base from moving or slipping on an underlying surface. In certain embodiments, the insulating layer is made from a material that insulates the base from ambient air or an underlying surface. The insulating layer may be applied to the bottom and/or sidewalls of a base.

[0024] The base may be made out of any appropriate material or combination of materials. For example, a base may be made from a thermoplastic. The base may include materials such as a metal that facilitates thermal transfer or portions of the base may include thermally conductive thermoplastic material. In certain embodiments, a base can be injection molded as a single part. Any suitable thermoplastic material may be used. The base may be made from a combination of materials having different thermal transfer characteristics. For example, at the top of the base it is desirable that thermal transfer be efficient in order to cool the contents of a container. Thus, the top of the base may be made of a material or a combination of materials that have good thermal transfer properties and that facilitate cooling of the container contents. Conversely, it may be desirable to insulate the bottom and the sidewalls of the base to minimize thermal transfer to the ambient environment, to a user's hand, or to an underlying surface. Thus, the bottom and sidewalls of the base may be made from a material or combination of materials having poor thermal transfer properties and that facilitates insulation of the base and sidewalls.

[0025] In certain embodiments, a base may include multiple materials. For example, the top of a base may include one or more materials that facilitate thermal transfer and the materials forming the sidewalls and/or the bottom may comprise one or more materials that serve to insulate the chilling agent within the base. For example, a thin metal may be positioned and insert molded at the top of the base. Alternatively, the top of the base may include a thermally conductive thermoplastic comprising a thermally conductive filler with other parts of the base being fabricated using a thermoplastic without a thermally conductive filler. Similarly, the sidewalls and/or the bottom of the base could be made using a foamed thermoplastic to improve insulation. [0026] Thermal transfer properties of features of the base may also be modified after the base is formed. For example, a metal foil or other metal surface may be affixed or bonded to the top surface to improve thermal transfer properties. In addition or as an alternative, a thermally conductive layer such as a thermally conductive elastomeric layer could be affixed to the top of the base to both improve thermal transfer and to facilitate mating between the top of the base and the bottom surface of the container to be chilled. A layer on the upper surface or top of the base may have metal features extending through the top of the base and into the chilling agent to improve thermal transfer from the chilling agent to the top surface of the base.

[0027] The thickness of the walls of a base may also be selected to optimize the ability of the apparatus to chill a container. For example, the thickness of the wall at the top may be thin to improve thermal transfer, whereas the thickness of the material at the sidewalls and the bottom may be thicker to insulate the chilling agent and also to provide physical integrity to the apparatus.

[0028] Bases provided by the present disclosure can be made, for example, by injection molding, blow molding, or other suitable plastic molding method. Thermally conductive and/or non-conductive elements and/or features can be included using insert molding.

Chilling agent can be injected into an internal volume and the hole filled, for example, with an adhesive or a plug. Layers of thermally conductive or thermally non-conductive material may be applied to one or more of the outer surfaces of the base to modify the thermal transfer properties of the base.

[0029] One or more internal volumes within the base may be filled with a chilling agent. In certain embodiments, the based comprises an internal volume directly below and adjacent the convex surface toward the top of the base. The chilling agent may be selected from a composition or material that has a freezing point less than or substantially the same as that of water. For example, the chilling agent may have a temperature when fully chilled of 0 °C or less, -10 °C or less, or -20 °C or less. The chilling agent can be frozen, for example, by storing the base with the chilling agent in a refrigerator or contacting the base with ice such as in an ice chest. In certain embodiments, a chilling agent is selected from a refrigerant gel.

[0030] Views of certain embodiments of a base provided by the present disclosure are shown in FIGS. 1A-1D. FIGS. 1A-1D show top, side, bottom, and perspective views of certain embodiments a base useful, for example, to chill the contents of a beverage container. A base includes sidewall 101 having a diameter 104, an upper or top surface including a convex portion 102 and a radial depression 103. The base is characterized by a diameter 104 and includes bottom 106. In certain embodiments the height 105 of sidewall 101 can be from about 0.25 inches to about 2.00 inches, from about 0.25 inches to about 1.00 inches, from about 0.35 inches to about 0.65 inches, and in certain embodiments, about 0.5 inches. The height of the sidewall and hence the height of the base can be selected to optimize the amount of chilling agent used for a particular use and optimize convenience, comfort, and/or ease of use. For example, although a large base can be desirable to retain a large amount of chilling agent, it can also be desirable that the base not be too heavy and be comfortable when held by hand. Convenience, comfort, and handling ability can be particularly important for portable uses such as when used to chill a beverage container. In contrast, for stationary applications, a base could be larger and heavier. Such applications include, for example, chilling a pitcher or a bowl containing food.

[0031] The thickness of the base can be selected to provide a suitable volume to retain an appropriate amount of chilling agent and appropriate for a particular application. For example, in applications in which the base is attached to a can and hand-held, the base should not be too heavy or cumbersome. The radial recess 103, if necessary, is configured to accept the bottom of a container. For example, the recess shown in FIG. 1A and FIG. ID is configured to accept the bottom of a soda can or a beer can. The radial recess or other shape can be configured to mate with or match the corresponding surfaces of other containers.

[0032] FIG. 2 shows a cross-sectional view of the base shown in FIGS. 1A-1D. FIG. 2 shows sidewall 201, convex top surface 202, radial recession 203, bottom surface 206, and internal volume 207. In certain embodiments, internal volume 207 may be filled with a chilling agent. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the base includes a single internal volume that is completely filled with a chilling agent. The thick ness of the walls shown in FIG. 2 may be any suitable thickness to ensure mechanical stability, to provide thermal insulation where appropriate, and to facilitate thermal transfer where appropriate. For example, to enhance insulation, the sidewall and bottom may be relatively thicker than the thickness of the top surface, which is configured to be in contact with the container to be cooled. A thinner top surface wall can facilitate thermal transfer from the chilling agent to the container and to the container contents. As shown in FIG. 2, the top of the sidewall extends to the bottom of the recess 203 with an outwardly beveled surface. The recess and outwardly beveled surface is configured to mate with the bottom surfaces of a container such that a container can rest freely on the upper surfaces of the base.

[0033] Examples of various embodiments of a base are shown in FIGS. 7A-7G. FIG. 7A shows a base with standoffs 701, which serve to separate the bottom of the base from an underlying surface. Standoffs 701 are configured so that the container and base are stable when resting on a surface. A base may include, for example, 3 standoffs, 4 standoffs or more than four standoffs that have a suitable shape for providing stability. FIG. 7B shows a base with a sidewall and the bottom wall 703 that are thicker than the thickness of the top wall 702. FIG. 7C shows a base having a bottom that is concave toward the center 704 and has flat surfaces 704 toward the sidewalls. The shape of the bottom surface shown in FIG. 7C is configured to minimize contact of the base with an underlying surface and thereby reduce thermal transfer with the underlying surface. FIG. 7D shows a base having a metal insert 706 on the top convex surface to facilitate thermal transfer between the chilling agent and the contents of a container. FIG. 7E shows a base having a layer of insulating material 707 on the bottom surface. Insulating material 707 may be, for example, an elastomer or cork, and is intended to reduce thermal transfer between the chilling agent contained within the base and an underlying surface. FIG. 7F shows a base with at least two internal volumes. Internal volume 708 contains a chilling agent and is situated toward the top convex surface of the base to facilitate thermal transfer to the container. Internal volume 709 is situated toward the sidewalls and the bottom and is configured to insulate the sidewall and the bottom from the environment. Internal volume 709 may be filled with air, foam, or other material that improves thermal insulation. Internal volumes 708 and/or 709 may include reinforcement features to enhance the mechanical stability of the base. FIG. 7G shows a base having at least two internal volumes 710 and 711. In FIG. 7G internal volume 710 is filled with a chilling agent and is situated toward the top of the base including both the central convex surface and the top of the sidewall. Internal volume 711 is situated at the bottom of the base and is configured to insulate the chilling agent from the bottom of the base. The

embodiments shown in FIGS. 7A-7G may be used in any suitable combination and may include other features as appropriate.

[0034] FIG. 3A shows a perspective view of a container, in this case, a soda can or beer can, positioned above a base and a sleeve. As shown in the figure, the top surface of the base 301 is configured to accept the bottom of the container 302 such that the top surface of the base can mate with the bottom surface of the container 302. As shown in FIG. 3B, when assembled, the bottom of the container mates with the top surface of the base. Also as shown in FIG. 3B, in this embodiment, the outer diameter of the sidewall of the base is substantially the same as the outer diameter of the container, such that when assembled, the outer surface of the sidewall is substantially flush with the outer surface of the container. Also, as is apparent form FIG. 3B, the container and the base are not fixedly connected. In other words, the base does not include features that serve to fixedly retain the container and base as a single unit. The container can be freely disengaged from the base. In this embodiment, the chilling base functions similar to a coaster in that the container rests on the base. Also, in the embodiments shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B, the base 301 and the beverage container 302 are held in contact by band 303, which fits around the sidewall of the base and the outer diameter of the beverage container. As shown in FIGS. 3 A and 3B, band 303 extends at least part of the length of the container, effectively forming a sleeve around the beverage container. The sleeve or band can be configured to insulate the beverage can from the ambient environment and from a user's hand, as well as to retain the top of the base against the bottom of the can. In certain embodiments, the band or sleeve may be made from a thermally insulating material.

[0035] In certain embodiments, it is desirable that a container be fixedly attached to a base such that the container and base function as a single unit. For example, people drinking a beverage often stand and walk around while drinking a beverage. It is therefore useful to chill a beverage while the user is mobile and holding the beverage container.

[0036] To address these and other needs, in certain embodiments, a container may be fixedly attached to a base using a band. A band is configured to retain a container and a base. An example of a band is illustrated in FIGS. 4A-4C, which show top, side, and perspective views, respectively, of certain embodiments of a band. In certain embodiments, a band is dimensioned to hold a container against a base. In certain embodiments, a band is elastic such that it can be stretched around the sidewall of a base and the outer wall of a container. In certain embodiments, a band has a height from about 0.5 inches to about 2 inches, from about 0.75 inches to about 1.25 inches, and in certain embodiments, is about 1 inch. In other embodiments, it can be desirable to insulate the beverage container from a user's hand, and accordingly a band may extend a certain length of the beverage container. In certain embodiments, a band is formed from a thermoplastic elastomer. In certain embodiments, the band is made from a thermally insulating material, and can function to thermally insulate the chilling base and to insulate a user's hand from the chilling base and at least partially from the cold beverage.

[0037] FIGS. 5A and 5B show cross-sectional views, respectively, of a container 501 and base 502 held together with a band 503. As shown in these figures, the height of the band spans the thickness of the base and extends beyond the base to capture secure the bottom portion of the container. The band provides a compressive force against the sidewall of the base and the outer surface of the container. Thus, in certain embodiments, an apparatus for chilling a beverage includes a base and a band configured to retain the base and a container. The band, the container, and the base, can be disassembled. The base and the band can be reused. The dimension and the elasticity of the band may be selected such that a user can assemble the band against the sidewall of the base and holding the apparatus in one hand using a twisting motion secure a container against the base with the other hand. Disassembly can be accomplished by using a twisting motion to release the container from the elastic band.

[0038] Apparatus disclosed herein may be used in several applications such as for chilling a container and/or chilling a beverage container. A base may be used similar to an ice pack to chill the interior or contents of a container. For chilling a beverage container, a beverage may be placed on top of the base and used as a coaster. The base chills the beverage when the beverage is placed on top of the base. A beverage container may also be chilled by retaining the base and the beverage container using a band. In this application, the beverage container is continuously chilled while the person drinking the beverage is holding the beverage with the attached chilling base. In another application, such as in a lunch box, the chilling base may be attached to a beverage container with a band and placed in the lunch box to cool both the interior of the lunch box as well as directly keeping the beverage cold.

[0039] While the embodiments disclosed herein have focused on use with cans and more specifically beverage cans such as soda and beer cans, it can be appreciated that the apparatus disclosed herein can be adapted for use with other containers. For example, beverages are available in boxes, plastic bottles, and glass bottles. For each container configuration, a based can be configured in an appropriate shape to facilitate chilling. Similarly, a band may be shaped to facilitate retention of the base and the container.

[0040] For example, FIGS. 6A-6C show a container for use with a chilling base. Certain beverages may not come pre-packaged in a can, may be provided in a large container that is not easily held by a user, or may be provided in a container that does not have good thermal transfer properties such as in a plastic bottle. In such circumstances it can be desirable to transfer the beverage to a container having good thermal transfer properties and that is configured to mate with a base provided by the present disclosure. The container may be formed from a material having good thermal transfer properties such as metal, glass, or other suitable material. An example is shown in FIGS. 6A-6C, which shows a container having a sidewall 601 and a bottom surface 602, where the bottom surface has a concave surface and is configured to mate with a base provided by the present disclosure. In certain

embodiments, a container may comprise a base formed from a material having good thermal transfer properties and sidewalls having poor thermal transfer properties. In certain embodiments, the sidewalls, the base, or both the sidewalls and the base, of a container may include one or more internal volumes that are configured to provide insulation or are configured to contain a chilling agent. In such embodiments, the beverage can be cooled by both the detachable base as well as the chilling agent contained within the sidewalls and/or base of the container. It can be appreciated that the sidewalls of the container may have other shapes. As for other embodiments, a base and container may be held in contact with an elastic band or an at least partially elastic sleeve.

[0041] Other embodiments may be used to chill contents of containers that are primarily stationary. For example, a chilling apparatus may be configured to retain and chill the contents of a pitcher or a bowl. In other embodiments, a chilling apparatus may be configured to retain and chill food within a container such as salads. In such embodiments in which size a weight are not as limiting as in portable beverage container uses, the sidewalls of the apparatus may be configured to be wider than those of the container such that the container fits at least partially within the chilling apparatus. Containers and chilling apparatus may be designed to work in combination.

EXAMPLE

[0042] Embodiments provided by the present disclosure are further illustrated by reference to the following example. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that many modifications, both to materials, and methods, may be practiced without departing from the scope of the disclosure.

Example 1

[0043] A standard 12 fl-oz beverage can retained by a band against a chilling apparatus having a sidewall height of about 0.5 inches and a similar beverage can without the chilling apparatus were left at room temperature for about 20 minutes. The temperature of the contents of the beverage can with the chilling apparatus was about 10 °F cooler than the temperature of the contents of the beverage without the chilling apparatus.

[0044] Finally, it should be noted that there are alternative ways of implementing the embodiments disclosed herein. Accordingly, the present embodiments are to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive. Furthermore, the claims are not to be limited to the details given herein, and are entitled their full scope and equivalents thereof.