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Title:
SYSTEM AND DEVICES FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF A COOLING MEDIUM INTO A CONTAINER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/149876
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
The present invention provides a cassette for maintaining low temperature in a container. The cassette is suitable to contain a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2. The invention further provides a loading pistol, a suction head and a filling station for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette.

Inventors:
REMIEZOWICZ ERYK (PL)
LAUTEROWSKI WOJCIECH (PL)
DYCKMANS PETER (BE)
TIMMERMANS RIK (BE)
Application Number:
EP2014/056870
Publication Date:
October 08, 2015
Filing Date:
April 04, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ACP BELGIUM NV (BE)
International Classes:
F25D3/10
Domestic Patent References:
WO2012107518A22012-08-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRANTS, Johan Philippe Emile (Pauline Van Pottelsberghelaan 24, Ghent, BE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A cassette for maintaining low temperature in a container and suitable to contain a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2, said cassette has a box shape and comprises at least one inlet for the introduction of the CO2 cooling medium, at least one outlet for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 formed while exposing the CO2 cooling medium to atmospheric conditions, and a magnetic coupling means; said coupling means comprises a single metal plate attached to the cassette; metal plate comprises at least one opening through which the inlet and the outlet of the cassette are accessible.

2. The cassette according to claim 1, wherein the metal plate is movable in a direction which is substantially perpendicular to the wall of the cassette comprising the outlet and the inlet of said cassette.

3. The cassette according to any of claims 1-2, wherein the metal plate is movable over a distance d.

4. The cassette according to any of claims 1-3, wherein the distance d is at least 0.5 mm, preferably at least 0.8 mm, more preferably at least 1 mm, most preferably at least 2 mm.

5. The cassette according to any of claims 1-4, wherein the distance d is at most 5 mm, preferably at most 4.5 mm, more preferably at most 4 mm, most preferably at most 3 mm.

6. The cassette according to claim 1-5, wherein the metal plate is movable in a direction which is substantially perpendicular to the wall of the cassette thereby creating an angle between the metal plate and the cassette wall, said angle is of at least 0.1° and at most 5°.

7. A cassette for maintaining low temperature in a container and suitable to contain a cooling medium such as liquid CO2, said cassette has a box shape having a lid, a bottom and lateral walls; said cassette comprises at least one inlet for the introduction of the CO2 cooling medium, at least one outlet for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 formed while exposing the CO2 cooling medium to atmospheric conditions; the bottom of said box shaped cassette is provided with corrugations.

8. The cassette according to claim 7 wherein the corrugations of the cassette's bottom are extending in the longitudinal direction of the cassette and are parallel to each other.

9. The cassette according to any of claims 7-8, wherein the lid of the box shaped cassette is provided with longitudinal parallel corrugated channels.

10. A loading pistol suitable for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium in a cassette, said cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving said loading pistol, said loading pistol is provided with at least one outlet and a movable magnetic coupling means which is surrounding at least partially said outlet.

11. The loading pistol according to claim 10, wherein the magnetic coupling means is movable in any direction.

12. The loading pistol according to any of claims 10-11, wherein the magnetic coupling means is movable over a distance d l.

13. The loading pistol according to any of claims 10-12, wherein the distance d l is at least 0.5 mm, preferably at least 0.8 mm, more preferably at least 1 mm, most preferably at least 2 mm.

14. The loading pistol according to any of claims 10-13, wherein the distance d l is at most 5 mm, preferably at most 4.5 mm, more preferably at most 4 mm, most preferably at most 3 mm.

15. A loading pistol for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium in a cassette, the cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving said loading pistol, said loading pistol is provided with at least one inductive sensor for the detection of the presence of a cassette.

16. A suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from a cassette, the cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving said suction head, the suction head is provided with at least one opening through which gaseous CO2 is withdrawn, said opening is at least partially surrounded by a movable magnetic coupling means.

17. The suction head according to claim 16, wherein the magnetic coupling means is movable in any direction.

18. The suction head according to any of claims 16-17, wherein the magnetic coupling means is movable over a distance d2.

19. The suction head according to any of claims 16-18, wherein the distance d2 is at least 0.5 mm, preferably at least 0.8 mm, more preferably at least 1 mm, most preferably at least 2 mm.

20. The suction head according to any of claims 16-19, wherein the distance d2 is at most 5 mm, preferably at most 4.5 mm, more preferably at most 4 mm, most preferably at most 3 mm.

21. A filling station for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette and at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette, characterized in that, the supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose comprise at least one spring which surrounds at least partially said supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose.

22. A filling station according to claim 21, wherein the spring surrounds the supply hose area which proximal to the loading pistol.

23. A filling station according to claim 21-22, wherein the spring surrounds the withdrawal hose area which proximal to the suction head.

24. A filling station for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprises at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette; at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette; said supply hose and said withdrawal hose are attached to a trolley which is movable along substantially horizontal guiding rails of the filling station, said trolley is provided with at least one handle for moving the trolley.

25. A filling station for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette; at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette; and at least one gutter surrounding at least partially the withdrawal hose, characterized in that said gutter comprises at least one heating element.

26. A filling station according to claim 25, wherein the heating element provides heat towards the inside of the gutter.

27. A filling station for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising

- at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette,

- at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette,

- a substantially horizontal guiding rails defining an upper area and a lower area of the filling station, and

- a trolley movable along said guiding rails, the trolley is connected to the supply hose and to the withdrawal hose thereby defining a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the upper area of the filling station and a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the lower area of the filling station,

characterized in that;

the portion of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is provided with two ends wherein the first end is attached to and movable with the trolley and the second end is non-movable and is fixed at a distance from said first end such as both ends and the movement of the trolley define a pendulum movement of said portion of the withdrawal hose.

28. A filling station according to claim 27, wherein the distance separating the second fixed end of the portion of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area from the first end is variable according to the position of the trolley along the guiding rails of the filling station.

29. A filling station according to claim 27-28, wherein the distance separating the trolley from the loading pistol and/or the suction head is fixed.

30. A filling station for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette and at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette.

31. A filling station according to claim 30, wherein the temperature of the gas inserted into the withdrawal hose is higher than then temperature of gaseous CO2 condensation.

32. A filling station according to any of claims 30-31, wherein the gas inserted into the withdrawal hose is at ambient temperature.

Description:
System and devices for the introduction of a cooling medium into a container Field of the invention

The present invention relates to systems and devices for maintaining low temperature in a container. More in particular, the invention relates to systems and devices for filling, with a cryogenic medium, cassettes suitable to be placed in insulated containers.

Background

Low temperatures have to be maintained during transport and/or storage of products, namely food or perishables, inside insulated containers. Therefore, systems and devices wherein the dry ice snow is created were developed. Dry ice is created by expansion of liquid CO2 in special cassettes which are introduced in containers wherein products will be placed and transported. The expansion of liquid CO2 results also in gaseous CO2 production in the cassette. Said gas is preferably removed from the cassette in order to avoid any mechanical stress due to the created CO2 gas volume.

WO 2012/107518 discloses a cassette suitable to be filled with cryogenic medium such as liquid CO2. The cassette comprises one inlet for the introduction of the CO2 cooling medium and one outlet for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2. Each of the inlet and the outlet of the cassette is provided with magnetic coupling means for coupling the inlet to a CO2 loading pistol and for coupling the outlet to a gaseous CO2 suction head. The loading pistol and the suction head are each provided with a magnet for coupling to the magnetic coupling means of the cassette. A disadvantage of said cassette is that the magnetic coupling between the cassette and the loading pistol and/or the suction head is not strong enough thereby leading to the leakage and/or the emission of liquid or gaseous CO2 into the environment. Furthermore, using this system for filling multiple cassettes, it is often the case that connection takes place in a misaligned way in which the magnetic coupling of the cassette and the magnet of the loading pistol and/or the suction head are not parallel to each other. This misalignment creates crevices between the cassette inlet and the loading pistol and/or between the cassette outlet and the suction head. The created crevices lead to leakage and/or emission of liquid and/or gaseous CO2. The leakage and/or emission of liquid and/or gaseous CO2 is risky for the user.

Another disadvantage is the weakening of the cassette wall comprising the inlet and the outlet. By repetitively coupling and decoupling the cassette to the loading pistol and suction head of a filling station, a pressure is applied on the cassette wall in particular in the area which is in close vicinity and surrounding the magnetic coupling means of the cassette. This may alter the geometry of the elements used for the connection of pistol and/or the suction head to the cassette, leading to potential misalignments, which result in insufficient connection strength.

WO 2012/107518 also discloses a filling station comprising a hose connected to a loading pistol and used for the transport of liquid CO2 and another hose connected to a suction head and used for the transport of gaseous CO2. Each of the loading pistol and the suction head is provided with a grip allowing the user to handle and move said loading pistol and/or the suction head. When the filling station is used, the user moves the loading pistol and/or the suction head from one cassette to the other. Said movement is made by moving the grips in the desired direction. Moving the loading pistol and/or the suction head applies a strong tension on the hose. Said tension is, in first place, spread over a limited length of the hose which is proximal to the loading pistol and/or the withdrawal hose. Frequently, said tension applies on a specific point of the hose thereby leading to the sharp bending of said hose. This leads to the weakening or even the rupture of the hose area which is proximal to the loading pistol and/or the withdrawal hose.

Another drawback of the filling station of WO 2012/107518 is the condensation of water vapor on and/or in the hose used for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette. Said condensation reduces the mobility of the hose thereby making it difficult for the user to move said hose from one cassette to the other. This lowers work efficiency, increases the working time required for filling a certain number of cassettes with liquid CO2 and shortens hoses life time.

The aim of the present invention is to provide a solution to overcome at least part of the above mentioned disadvantages by providing improved devices and systems for the filling of cassette with a cooling cryogenic medium such as liquid CO2. Further details of the invention are provided by the description hereunder, the figures and the appended claims. Summary of the invention

The present invention provides a cassette for maintaining low temperature in a container and suitable to contain a CO2 cooling medium such as solid CO2, said cassette has a box shape and comprises at least one inlet for the introduction of the CO2 cooling medium, at least one outlet for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 formed while exposing the CO2 cooling medium to atmospheric conditions, and a magnetic coupling means; said coupling means comprises a single metal plate attached to the cassette; metal plate comprises at least one opening through which the inlet and the outlet of the cassette are accessible.

The presence of a single metal plate, improves the connection of the cassette to a loading pistol and/or a suction head of a filling station. In particular, the presence of the single metal plate avoids misaligned connections between the cassette and the loading pistol and/or the suction head of a filling station, thereby considerably reducing and even avoiding any leakage and/or emission of liquid and/or gaseous CO2. Indeed, the single metal plate ensures an alignment of the magnets of the pistol and/or the suction head and the magnetic coupling means of the cassette in which they will be parallel to each other thereby creating a close contact between the magnets of the pistol and/or the suction head and the magnetic coupling means of the cassette. This provides high strength and tight connection.

Another advantage is the provision of a larger connection surface between the cassette and the loading pistol and/or the suction head of a loading station. Indeed, the metal plate size is selected such as to provide a large magnetic coupling surface for connecting the loading pistol and/or the suction head of a loading station. This increases the connection strength between the cassette and the loading pistol and/or the suction head of a loading station. In addition the presence of the metal plate increases the ruggedness of the cassette wall comprising the inlet and the outlet of the cassette thereby increasing the cassette life time. Said metal plate also provides a single surface for connection of the suction head and the loading pistol, said single surface does not alter with time and ensures mutual alignment of the suction head and the loading pistol versus each other and versus cassette. The present invention provides a cassette for maintaining low temperature in a container and suitable to contain a cooling medium such as solid CO2, said cassette has a box shape having a lid, a bottom and lateral walls; said cassette comprises at least one inlet for the introduction of the CO 2 cooling medium, at least one outlet for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 formed while exposing the CO2 cooling medium to atmospheric conditions; the bottom of said box shaped cassette is provided with corrugations. The presence of corrugations increases the heat exchange surface of the cassette, thereby reducing the time required for cooling the inside of the container into which the cassette filled with cryogenic medium will be inserted.

The present invention provides a cassette for maintaining low temperature in a container and suitable to contain a cooling medium such as solid CO2, said cassette has a box shape having a lid, a bottom and lateral walls; said cassette comprises at least one inlet for the introduction of the CO 2 cooling medium, at least one outlet for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 formed while exposing the CO2 cooling medium to atmospheric conditions. The cassette comprises a magnetic coupling means which comprises a single metal plate attached to the cassette. The metal plate comprises at least one opening through which the inlet and the outlet of the cassette are accessible. The bottom of said box shaped cassette is provided with corrugations.

The present invention provides a loading pistol suitable for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium in a cassette. The cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving said loading pistol. Said loading pistol is provided with at least one outlet and a movable magnetic coupling means which is surrounding at least partially said outlet. The movable magnetic means avoids misaligned connection between the cassette and the loading pistol thereby improving operation and user's safety. The present invention provides a loading pistol for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium in a cassette, the cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving said loading pistol, said loading pistol is provided with at least one sensor for the detection of the presence of a cassette. In a preferred embodiment, the sensor is an inductive sensor. The presence of sensor allows detection of a proper connection between the loading pistol and the cassette. This provides information to the user that loading operation can be initiated in a safe manner.

The present invention provides a loading pistol for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium in a cassette. The cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving said loading pistol. Said loading pistol is provided with at least one outlet and a movable magnetic coupling means which is surrounding at least partially said outlet. The loading pistol is provided with at least one sensor for the detection of the presence of a cassette. In a preferred embodiment, the sensor is an inductive sensor.

The present invention provides a suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from a cassette. The cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an outlet for receiving said suction head. The suction head is provided with at least one opening through which gaseous CO 2 is withdrawn, said opening is at least partially surrounded by a movable magnetic coupling means. The movable magnetic means avoids any misaligned connection between the cassette and the suction head thereby improving operation and user's safety. In addition, gaseous CO2 is prevented from escaping into the environment.

The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette and at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette. The filling station is characterized in that the supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose comprise at least one spring which surrounds at least partially said supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose. In a preferred embodiment, the spring surrounds the supply hose area which proximal to the loading pistol. In a preferred embodiment, the spring surrounds the withdrawal hose area which proximal to the suction head. The presence of the spring provides more rigidity to the hoses. Furthermore, the presence of the spring allows spreading the tension and pressure created during the movement of the loading pistol and/or the suction head over a longer hose distance compared to a hose devoid of spring. Consequently, the applied tension and pressure are not located on a limited hose zone which increases the hose life time.

The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette. Said filling station comprises at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette; at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette. Said supply hose and said withdrawal hose are attached to a trolley which is movable along substantially horizontal guiding rails of the filling station. The trolley is provided with at least one handle for moving the trolley.

The handle of the filling station of the invention presents several advantages. The handle provides for the simultaneous movement of the loading pistol and the suction head thereby considerably reducing operation time and increasing user's safety. In addition, the use of the handle prevents the user from coming too close to the loading pistol and the suction head for moving them which further increases user's safety.

The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette; at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette; and at least one gutter surrounding at least partially the withdrawal hose. The gutter comprises at least one heating element. In a preferred embodiment, the heating element provides heat towards the inside of the gutter thereby preventing condensation of water vapor inside and outside the withdrawal hose

The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette; at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette; and gas insertion means connected to the withdrawal hose thereby inserting gas into said hose. In a preferred embodiment, the temperature of the gas inserted into the withdrawal hose is higher than then the temperature of water vapor condensation. This is advantageous as it decreases and even prevents condensation of water vapor inside the withdrawal hose of the filling station.

The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette. The filling station comprises:

- at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette, - at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette,

- a substantially horizontal guiding rails defining an upper area and a lower area of the filling station, and

- a trolley movable along said guiding rails, the trolley is connected to the supply hose and to the withdrawal hose thereby defining a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the upper area of the filling station and a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the lower area of the filling station.

The filling station is characterized in that the portion of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is provided with two ends wherein the first end is attached to and movable with the trolley and the second end is non- movable and is fixed at a distance from said first end such as both ends and the movement of the trolley define a pendulum movement of said portion of the withdrawal hose. This is advantageous as it increases the mobility of the withdrawal hose thereby making it easier for the user to move said hose which leads to the shortening of operation time. Another advantage is the increase of hose life time. The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette and at least one withdrawal hose connected at one end to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette. The withdrawal hose is connected at another end to a ventilator to which gaseous CO2 is transported. The supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose comprise at least one spring which surrounds at least partially said supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose. In a preferred embodiment, the spring surrounds the supply hose area which proximal to the loading pistol. In a preferred embodiment, the spring surrounds the withdrawal hose area which proximal to the suction head.

In a preferred embodiment, the filling station comprises a trolley which is movable along substantially horizontal guiding rails of the station. Preferably, said supply hose and said withdrawal hose are attached to the trolley which is provided with at least one handle for moving it. In a preferred embodiment, the trolley is connected to the supply hose and to the withdrawal hose thereby defining a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the upper area of the filling station and a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the lower area of the filling station. Preferably, the portion of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is provided with two ends wherein the first end is attached to and movable with the trolley and the second end is non-movable and is fixed at a distance from said first end such as both ends and the movement of the trolley define a pendulum movement of said portion of the withdrawal hose. This is advantageous as it increases the mobility of the withdrawal hose thereby making it easier for the user to move said hose which leads to the shortening of operation time and an increase of hose life time.

In a preferred embodiment, the filling station comprises at least one gutter surrounding at least partially the withdrawal hose. Said gutter comprises at least one heating element. In a preferred embodiment, the heating element provides heat towards the inside of the gutter.

In a preferred embodiment, the filling station further comprises gas insertion means connected to the withdrawal hose thereby inserting gas into said hose. In a preferred embodiment, the temperature of the gas inserted into the withdrawal hose is higher than then temperature of water vapor condensation.

Description of the figures

Figure 1 shows the lateral wall of the cassette comprising at least one inlet for the introduction of the CO2 cooling medium, one outlet for the collection of gaseous CO2 and the metal plate of the cassette.

Figure 2A shows the metal plate of the cassette.

Figure 2B shows a perspective view of an embodiment of the cassette.

Figure 3 shows a top view of an embodiment of the cassette.

Figure 4A shows a perspective view of an embodiment of the cassette. The bottom of the cassette is provided with corrugations. The lid the cassette was removed for clarity.

Figure 4B shows a perspective view of an embodiment of the cassette shown in Figure 4A. The cassette is shown upside down.

Figure 4C shows an enlarged view of the circled area of figure 4A.

Figure 4D shows an enlarged view of the circled area of figure 4B. Figure 4E shows a cross section view of one corrugated channel of the cassette. Figure 5 shows a side view of the pistol according to an embodiment of the invention.

Figure 6 shows a front view of the pistol of figure 5.

Figure 7 shows a side view of the suction head according to an embodiment of the invention.

Figure 8 shows a front view of the suction of figure 7.

Figure 9 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station comprises at least one spring which surrounds at least partially the supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose.

Figure 10 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station comprises at least one handle for moving the supply hose and the withdrawal hose.

Figure 11 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station is provided with at least one heating element for heating the gutter of the withdrawal hose.

Figure 12 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station comprises gas insertion means for inserting gas into the withdrawal hose.

Figure 13 shows a side view of the filling station of figure 12.

Figure 14 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station comprises a withdrawal hose portion which movement defines a pendulum movement. Detailed description of the invention

The present invention provides improved devices and systems for filling a cassette with a cooling cryogenic medium such as liquid CO2. More in particular, the present invention provides an improved cassette, and improved loading pistol, an improved suction head, an improved filling station, an improved system and improved methods for the filling of cassette with a cooling cryogenic medium such as liquid C0 2 .

Unless otherwise defined, all terms used in disclosing the invention, including technical and scientific terms, have the meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. By means of further guidance, term definitions are included to better appreciate the teaching of the present invention. As used herein, the following terms have the following meanings:

"A", "an", and "the" as used herein refers to both singular and plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. By way of example, "a compartment" refers to one or more than one compartment.

"About" as used herein referring to a measurable value such as a parameter, an amount, a temporal duration, and the like, is meant to encompass variations of +/- 20% or less, preferably +/-10% or less, more preferably +/-5% or less, even more preferably +/-1% or less, and still more preferably +/-0.1% or less of and from the specified value, in so far such variations are appropriate to perform in the disclosed invention. However, it is to be understood that the value to which the modifier "about" refers is itself also specifically disclosed.

"Comprise," "comprising," and "comprises" and "comprised of" as used herein are synonymous with "include", "including", "includes" or "contain", "containing", "contains" and are inclusive or open-ended terms that specifies the presence of what follows e.g. component and do not exclude or preclude the presence of additional, non-recited components, features, element, members, steps, known in the art or disclosed therein.

The recitation of numerical ranges by endpoints includes all numbers and fractions subsumed within that range, as well as the recited endpoints.

The expression "% by weight" (weight percent), here and throughout the description unless otherwise defined, refers to the relative weight of the respective component based on the overall weight of the formulation. Cassette

As mentioned above, amongst the disadvantages of the cassette of WO 2012/107518 is the misalignment between the cassette magnetic coupling means and the magnets of the loading pistol and/or the suction head. Another disadvantage is the weakening of the cassette wall comprising the inlet and the outlet. By repetitively coupling and decoupling the cassette to the loading pistol and suction head of a filling station, a pressure is applied on the cassette wall in particular in the area which is in close vicinity and surrounding the magnetic coupling means of the cassette. The present invention provides a solution to overcome the described disadvantages.

The present invention provides a cassette for maintaining low temperature in a container. Said cassette is suitable to contain a CO2 cooling medium such as solid CO2. It is known to the person skilled in the art that said solid CO2 is obtained by injection of liquid CO2 into the cassette; the liquid CO2 solidifies under atmospheric conditions. The cassette has a box shape which comprises a lid, a bottom and four lateral walls. The cassette further comprises at least one inlet for the introduction of the CO2 cooling medium, one outlet for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 formed while exposing the CO2 cooling medium to atmospheric conditions. The inlet and the outlet are preferably positioned in one lateral wall of the cassette's walls. The cassette is provided with a magnetic coupling means. Said coupling means comprises a single metal plate attached to the cassette. The metal plate comprises at least one opening through which the inlet and the outlet of the cassette are accessible. Said at least one opening can have any shape such as circular, rectangular, triangular, oval or even a dumb-bell shape. The metal plate might comprise two separate openings such as one opening surrounds the inlet of the cassette while the other opening surrounds the outlet of the cassette thereby providing access to said inlet and outlet of the cassette.

In a preferred embodiment, the metal plate is movable in a direction which is substantially perpendicular to the wall of the cassette comprising the outlet and the inlet of said cassette. Preferably, the metal plate is movable over a distance d . Said distance d is at least 0.5 mm, preferably at least 0.8 mm, more preferably at least 1 mm, most preferably at least 2 mm . The distance d is at most 5 mm, preferably at most 4.5 mm, more preferably at most 4 mm, most preferably at most 3 mm .

In a preferred embodiment, the metal plate is movable in a direction which is substantially perpendicular to the wall of the cassette thereby creating an angle between the metal plate and the cassette wall, said angle is of at least 0.1° and at most 5°, preferably at least 0.5° and at most 4°, more preferably at least 1° and at most 3.5°, most preferably at most 1.5° and 3° . In a preferred embodiment, the metal plate is movable in a direction which is substantially parallel to the wall of the cassette comprising the outlet and the inlet of said cassette. Preferably, the metal plate is movable over a distance d . Said distance d is at least 0.5 mm, preferably at least 0.8 mm, more preferably at least 1 mm, most preferably at least 2 mm . The distance d is at most 5 mm, preferably at most 4.5 mm, more preferably at most 4 mm, most preferably at most 3 mm .

The metal plate can be attached to the cassette using any means known to the person skilled in the art. Said metal plate can be attached to the cassette using a plurality of screws, rivets, using elastic glue or can be molded into the cassette during the production process.

In a preferred embodiment, the thickness of said metal plate is at least 50 mm, preferably at least 60 mm, more preferably at least 70 mm, most preferably at least 90 mm. The thickness of said plate is at most 2 cm, preferably at most 1.8 cm, more preferably at most 1.5 cm, most preferably at most 1.3 cm. The thickness of the metal plate is preferably about 1 cm . In a preferred embodiment, the metal plate has a rectangular shape. In a preferred embodiment, the length of the metal plate is from 20% to 100%, preferably from 30 to 90%, more preferably 40 to 80%, most preferably 50 to 70% of the length of the cassette lateral wall to which said plate is attached . Preferably, the length of the metal plate is at least 10 cm, preferably at least 15 cm, more preferably at least 20 cm, most preferably ate least 25 cm . The length is at most 50 cm, preferably at most 45 cm, more preferably at most 40 cm, most preferably at most 35 cm .

The width of said rectangular metal plate is from 20% to 100%, preferably from 30 to 90%, more preferably 40 to 80%, most preferably 50 to 70% of the width of the cassette lateral wall to which said plate is attached . Preferably, the width of the metal plate is at least 5 cm, preferably at least 8 cm, more preferably at least 10 cm, most preferably ate least 12 cm . The width is at most 25 cm, preferably at most 20 cm, more preferably at most 18 cm, most preferably at most 15 cm. Figure 1 shows a cassette 1 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The cassette is provided comprises an inlet 2 for the introduction of the CO2 cooling medium, one outlet 4 for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 formed while exposing the CO2 cooling medium to atmospheric conditions. The cassette is provided with a metal plate 3 which comprises two openings 2',4' (figure 2A) through which the inlet and the outlet of the cassette are accessible. The cassette shown in figure 1 is provided with corrugations 6 and further comprises two side protrusions 5 for introducing and/or maintaining said cassette in a container. The person skilled in the art will appreciate that the cassette can be introduced and maintained in a container using other means. Figure 2A shows the metal plate 3 separately from the cassette shown on figure 2B. The openings 2',4' of the metal plate are designed such as the inlet 2 and the outlet 4 of the cassette accessible when the metal plate is attached to said cassette.

Figure 3 shows a top view of the cassette according to an embodiment of the present invention. The metal plate of the cassette is movable in a direction which is substantially perpendicular to the wall of the cassette comprising the outlet and the inlet of said cassette. The movement direction of the metal plate is represented by the arrows A of figure 3.

The cassette might further comprise at least one gasket between the metal plate and the cassette. The gasket material is selected from the list comprising gasket paper, rubber, ethylene propylene diene monomer, ethylene propylene diene monomer nitrile, buna, neoprene, flexible graphite, grafoil, aflas, kalrez, viton, silicone, metal, mica, felt and plastic polymer such as Teflon® (PTFE), peek, urethane, or ethylene propylene (EP).

In a preferred embodiment, the cassette comprises one or more chambers wherein liquid CO2 is injected.

Cassettes filled with cryogenic liquid are used for maintaining a constant temperature in a container. Said temperature is generally rather low and the container is used for the storage and/or the transport of products that should be kept at low temperature thereby not breaking the cold-chain. Cassettes of the prior art are provided with a metallic bottom. Said bottom is usually attached to the cassette using rivets and/or nails. This increases the risk of gaseous C02 leakage into the container which detrimental for the products inserted therein. Additionally said metallic bottoms of the cassettes of the prior art are usually made of thin material for ensuring heat transfer between the cassette and the inside of the container. This makes the cassette and in particular its bottom prone to deformations and even to damage of the cassette. Another drawback of the cassettes of the prior art is their limited heat exchange surface which leads to a disruption of the cold chain if products are being loaded in the container while the temperature of said container is higher compared to the required temperature. If the temperature inside the container is monitored prior loading products in the container, the limited heat exchange surface of the cassettes of the prior art translates into a long operation time preceding the filling of the products into the container. The present invention provides a solution to at least part of the above mentioned disadvantages of the cassettes of the prior art.

The present invention provides a cassette for maintaining low temperature in a container and suitable to contain a cooling medium such as solid CO2. The cassette has a box shape having a lid, a bottom and lateral walls. Said cassette comprises at least one inlet for the introduction of the CO 2 cooling medium, at least one outlet for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 formed while exposing the CO2 cooling medium to atmospheric conditions. The bottom of said box shaped cassette is provided with corrugations. The presence of corrugations increases the heat exchange surface of the cassette, thereby reducing the time required for cooling the inside of the container into which the cassette filled with cryogenic medium will be inserted .

In a preferred embodiment, the thickness of said corrugated cassette bottom is of from 0.5 mm to 1 cm, preferably from 0.8 mm to 9 mm, more preferably from 1 mm to 8 mm, more preferably from 1.5 mm to 7 mm. This increases the ruggedness of the cassette bottom compared to the cassettes described in the prior art. At the same time, the corrugations of the cassette increase heat transfer coefficient of the cassette thereby reducing the time required for cooling the inside of the container.

In a preferred embodiment, the corrugated bottom is attached to the cassette using rivets. Preferably, the corrugated bottom overlaps at least partially with the bottom of the cassette thereby defining an overlap layer. Preferably, rivets are positioned in said overlap layer. The advantage of such attachment is that leakage of gaseous C02 through the holes of the cassette bottom into the inside of the container is avoided. The overlap increases the tightness of the connection between the cassette's bottom and the corrugated bottom during liquid C02 injection. The overpressure created in the cassette presses the overlapping edges of the plate to the cassette's bottom, thereby tightening and reinforcing the connection.

In a preferred embodiment, the corrugations of the cassette's bottom are extending in the longitudinal direction of the cassette and are parallel to each other. The lid of the box shaped cassette might also be provided with longitudinal parallel corrugated channels. The corrugations of the lid and of the bottom of the cassette can be similar or different from each other. Preferably, the lid of the cassette is gastight.

Figure 4A shows a perspective view of an embodiment of the cassette 1 of the invention. The cassette comprises two chambers. The bottom of one chamber the cassette is provided with corrugations 6'. The lid the cassette was removed for clarity. Figure 4C shows an enlarged view of the circled area of figure 4A. The corrugations are attached to the cassette bottom using rivets 7'. The cassette shown in figure 4A and figure 4B is provided with corrugations having a triangular shape. The corrugations can have any other shape.

A cassette comprising one or more than two chambers is also disclosed by the present invention. One chamber or more of said cassette might be provided with corrugations. It is also to be understood that the lid of the cassette might be provided or devoid of corrugations.

Figure 4B shows a perspective view of an embodiment of the cassette shown in Figure 4A. The cassette is shown upside down. Figure 4D shows an enlarged view of the circled area of figure 4B.

The corrugated channels are preferably longitudinal, parallel to each other and cover at least 50%, preferably 70%, more preferably 80%, most preferably 100% of the cassette bottom surface. The number of corrugated channels is comprised between 1 and 25, preferably between 2 and 20, more preferably between 3 and 15, most preferably between 4 and 10. The corrugated channels, in cross sectional view, can be of any shape such as circular, rectangular, triangular or conical. Preferably, the channels have a frusto-conical shape.

The height H of the corrugated channels is comprised between 0.5 and 15 cm, preferably between 0.8 and 13 cm, more preferably between 1 and 10 cm, most preferably between 1.2 and 8 cm, even most preferably between 1.4 and 6 cm. The height H is defined as the distance separating the point of the channel which is most proximal to the bottom of the cassette from the point of the channel which is most distal from the channel. Said distance is measured perpendicularly to the bottom of the cassette as shown in figure 4E. Wherein the channels have a frusto-conical shape, the width Wl of the base of the frusto-conical shape is comprised between 0.5 and 8 cm, preferably between 0.6 and 6 cm, more preferably between 0.8 and 5 cm, most preferably between 1 and 4 cm. The width W2 of the top of the frusto- conical shape is comprised between 1 and 6 cm, preferably between 1.2 and 5 cm, more preferably between 1.4 and 4.5 cm, most preferably between 1.6 and 4 cm. The angle β, between the base of the frusto-conical shape and the lateral side of said shape as shown on figure 4E. is comprised between 10 and 170°, preferably between 30 and 160°, more preferably between 50 and 150°, most preferably between 70 and 140°, even most preferably between 90 and 130°.

The present invention further provides a cassette for maintaining low temperature in a container. Said cassette is suitable to contain a CO2 cooling medium such as solid CO2. The cassette has a box shape which comprises a lid, a bottom and four lateral walls. The cassette further comprises at least one inlet for the introduction of the CO2 cooling medium, one outlet for the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 formed while exposing the CO2 cooling medium to atmospheric conditions. The inlet and the outlet are preferably positioned in one lateral wall of the cassette's walls. The cassette is provided with a magnetic coupling means. Said coupling means comprises a single metal plate attached to the cassette. The metal plate comprises at least one opening through which the inlet and the outlet of the cassette are accessible. The bottom of said box shaped cassette is provided with corrugations. The metal plate and the corrugations of the bottom are as described above.

Loading pistol

CO2 cooling medium loading pistols described in the prior art are provided with a non-movable magnetic coupling mean. A considerable chance exists to connect the loading pistol to the inlet of a cassette in a misaligned manner. When filling multiple cassettes subsequently, it is often the case that connection takes place in a misaligned way in which the magnetic coupling of the cassette's inlet and the magnet of the loading pistol are not parallel to each other. This misalignment creates crevices between the cassette's inlet and the loading pistol. The created crevices lead to leakage liquid CO2. The leakage of liquid CO2 is risky for the user and for the environment. This happens as the misaligned connection between the loading pistol and the cassette's inlet is not strong enough to stand the pressure applied during the injection of liquid CO2 in the cassette. The present invention provides a solution to at least part of mentioned the disadvantages.

The present invention provides a loading pistol suitable for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium in a cassette, said cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving said loading pistol. The loading pistol is provided with at least one outlet and a movable magnetic coupling means which is surrounding at least partially said outlet. In a preferred embodiment, the magnetic coupling means is movable in any direction. Preferably, the magnetic coupling means is movable in a direction which is substantially perpendicular to the wall of the cassette to which the loading pistol will be connected. Preferably, said magnetic coupling means is movable over a distance d l. Said distance d l is at least 0.5 mm, preferably at least 0.8 mm, more preferably at least 1 mm, most preferably at least 2 mm. The distance dl is at most 5 mm, preferably at most 4.5 mm, more preferably at most 4 mm, most preferably at most 3 mm. In a preferred embodiment, the magnetic coupling means is movable in any direction. Preferably, the magnetic coupling means is movable in a direction which is substantially parallel to the wall of the cassette to which the loading pistol will be connected. Preferably, said magnetic coupling means is movable over a distance d l. Said distance d l is at least 0.5 mm, preferably at least 0.8 mm, more preferably at least 1 mm, most preferably at least 2 mm. The distance d l is at most 5 mm, preferably at most 4.5 mm, more preferably at most 4 mm, most preferably at most 3 mm.

Figure 5 shows a side view of a pistol according to an embodiment of the invention and figure 6 shows a front view of the same pistol. The pistol is provided with a grip 11 for holding and/or moving the pistol. The pistol further comprises a fixation point 12 for fixing and/or attaching said pistol to a filling station. The pistol is contained in a housing 15 and comprises an injection nose 13 for injecting liquid CO2 into the cassette. Said injection nose is suitable to be inserted through the inlet of a cassette. The pistol further comprises a magnet 14 as shown in figure 6. Said magnet is movable in the direction shown by the arrows B of figure 5.

In a preferred embodiment, the loading pistol is provided with a heating element in order to prevent the pistol's outlet from freezing. Said freezing could make it impossible to connect properly the magnets to the cassette, as the presence of snow between the magnets and the metal plate impairs the connection strength. The heating element warms the pistol's outlet.

In a preferred embodiment, the loading pistol is connected to the cassette in an airtight manner and/or gastight manner. The present invention provides a loading pistol for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium in a cassette; the cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving said loading pistol. The loading pistol is provided with at least one sensor for the detection of the presence of a cassette. The presence of a sensor allows detection of the presence of cassette which is connected to the loading pistol. Preferably, the loading pistol is provided with a security system whereby the loading pistol is not functioning unless the presence of a connected cassette is detected. This improves the user's security. Said sensor is preferably a proximity sensor and is selected from the group comprising capacitive sensor, inductive sensor, photoelectric sensor and magnetic sensor. Preferably, said sensor in an inductive sensor.

In a preferred embodiment, the loading pistol is provided with a heating element in order to prevent the pistol's outlet from freezing. Said freezing could make it impossible to withdraw the pistol after completion of the injection. The heating element warms the pistol's outlet. The heating element can be a resistance wire mounted into the pistol's outlet. In a preferred embodiment, the heating element is the magnet itself.

In a preferred embodiment, the loading pistol is connected to the cassette in an airtight manner and/or gastight manner.

The present invention provides a loading pistol for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium in a cassette. The cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving said loading pistol. Said loading pistol is provided with at least one outlet and a movable magnetic coupling means which is surrounding at least partially said outlet. The loading pistol is provided with at least one sensor for the detection of the presence of a cassette. In a preferred embodiment, the sensor is an inductive sensor. The magnetic coupling means and the sensor of the loading pistol are as described above.

Suction head CO2 cooling medium suction heads described in the prior art are provided with a non-movable magnetic coupling mean. A considerable chance exists to connect the suction head to the outlet of a cassette in a misaligned manner. When filling multiple cassettes subsequently, it is often the case that connection takes place in a misaligned way in which the magnetic coupling of the cassette's outlet and the magnet of the suction head are not parallel to each other. This misalignment creates crevices between the cassette's outlet and the suction head. The created crevices lead to the emission of gaseous CO2 into the working environment. This is risky for the user and for the environment. This happens as the misaligned connection between the suction head and the cassette's outlet is not strong enough. The present invention provides a solution to at least part of mentioned the disadvantages. The present invention provides a suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from a cassette. The cassette comprises a metal component at, around or near an inlet for receiving the suction head. Said suction head is provided with at least one opening through which gaseous CO 2 is withdrawn, said opening is at least partially surrounded by a movable magnetic coupling means.

In a preferred embodiment, the magnetic coupling means is movable in any direction. Preferably, the magnetic coupling means is movable in a direction which is substantially perpendicular to the wall of the cassette to which the suction head will be connected. In a preferred embodiment, the magnetic coupling means is movable over a distance d2 of at least 0.5 mm, preferably at least 0.8 mm, more preferably at least 1 mm, most preferably at least 2 mm. The distance d2 is at most 5 mm, preferably at most 4.5 mm, more preferably at most 4 mm, most preferably at most 3 mm. In a preferred embodiment, the magnetic coupling means is movable in any direction. Preferably, the magnetic coupling means is movable in a direction which is substantially parallel to the wall of the cassette to which the suction head will be connected. In a preferred embodiment, the magnetic coupling means is movable over a distance d2 of at least 0.5 mm, preferably at least 0.8 mm, more preferably at least 1 mm, most preferably at least 2 mm. The distance d2 is at most 5 mm, preferably at most 4.5 mm, more preferably at most 4 mm, most preferably at most 3 mm.

The suction head might be provided with a sensor for the detection of the presence of a cassette. Said sensor is preferably a proximity sensor and is selected from the group comprising capacitive sensor, inductive sensor, photoelectric sensor and magnetic sensor. Preferably, said sensor in an inductive sensor. In a preferred embodiment, the suction head is connected to the cassette in an airtight manner and/or gastight manner, thereby guaranteeing high purity of the recovered gaseous CO2. This makes the subsequent reliquefaction possible. In a preferred embodiment, in operation mode, the suction head is first activated so as to create a vacuum effect in the cassette. After activation of the suction head, the loading pistol will be activated for the injection of cooling medium. This allows minimizing the impact of the cooling medium injection on the cassette which is already placed in the container.

Figure 7 shows a side view of a suction head according to an embodiment of the invention and figure 8 shows a front view of the same suction head. Said suction head is provided with a grip 11' for holding and/or moving it. The suction head further comprises a fixation point 12' for fixing and/or attaching said head to a filling station. The suction head is contained in a housing 15' and comprises a magnet 14' as shown in figure 8. Said magnet is movable in the direction shown by the arrows C of figure 7.

Filling station

It is to be understood that in addition to the different characteristics and elements of the different embodiments of the filling station provided by the invention, said filling station has the general features. Said features are mentioned below and can apply to any embodiment of the filling station.

The station is for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette. The filling station comprises at least one cooling medium supply hose connected at one end to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO 2 cooling medium in the cassette and at the other hand to a CO2 cooling medium source. The station further comprises at least one withdrawal hose connected at one end to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette and at the other hand to a ventilator and/or a reliquefaction system. The ventilator removes the gaseous CO2 produced during decompression of liquid CO2 inside the cassette. The usage of ventilator is advantageous as it increases safety of the process. In a preferred embodiment, the hoses of the filling station are insulated. Insulation prevents the user from being in contact with cold surfaces, reduces condensation of water vapor on the hoses and decreases liquid CO2 heat loss. The filling station might further comprise a control box. Preferably, said box comprises a programming device for choosing the time of the injection, depending on the weather conditions, the temperature to be maintained in the container, the length of the road, the time of storage after transport, the type of transported goods or any combination of these factors. Preferably, the control box is also provided with a control system which protects the employees from unintended functioning of the filling station. The control system can be operated by any means selected from the group comprising mechanical key, numeric access code, electronic chip, or any similar system known to person skilled in the art. In a preferred embodiment, the suction head and the loading pistol of the filling station are contained in a single housing. Said suction head and the loading pistol might also spatially and/or functionally separate from each other.

It is self-evident that the dimensions of the filling station are to be adapted to the requirements of the user. These dimensions comprise length of the different hoses, height and width of the frame.

As mentioned above, sharp bending, weakening and/or rupture of the withdrawal hose area which is proximal to the suction head is one of the disadvantages of the filling stations of the prior art. Also sharp bending, weakening and/or rupture of the supply hose area which is proximal to the loading pistol is one of the disadvantages of the filling stations of the prior art. The present invention provides a solution to overcome said disadvantages. The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette. The filling station comprises at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette and at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette. The supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose comprise at least one spring which surrounds at least partially said hose. In a preferred embodiment, the supply hose is connected to a liquid CO2 source. The withdrawal hose is preferably connected to a ventilator and/or to a reliquefaction system. The loading pistol and/or the suction head are positioned within the filling station such as to be accessible to the user and might be provided each with a grip allowing their movement by the user. The supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose are movable when the loading pistol and/or the suction head are moved. The supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose are preferably movable in any direction desired by the user. This allows aligning the loading pistol and/or the suction head to the cassettes to be filled with liquid CO2. Said cassettes might be introduced in a container during the filling operation.

When the filling station is not in use, the supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose might be positioned within the filling station such as to extend from the liquid CO2 source and/or the ventilator to the loading pistol and/or the suction head in a substantially linear position. The supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose might also be positioned within the filling station such as to extend from the liquid CO2 source and/or the ventilator to the loading pistol and/or the suction head in a non-linear position. Said non-linear position is preferably a position in which the hoses form an angle of about 90°. For having such non-linear position of the hoses, the filling station might be provided with tubes, gutter like tubes or conduits for holding at least partially the hoses of the station. In said non-liner position, the filling station preferably further comprises at least one system of counterbalances, fixed to said tubes, gutter-like tube or conduits. The system of counterbalances helps and facilitates the movement of the loading pistol and/or the suction head.

In a preferred embodiment, the supply hose comprises a spring surrounding the supply hose area which is proximal to the loading pistol and/or a spring surrounding the supply hose area which is most distal from the loading pistol. Similarly, the withdrawal hose comprises a spring surrounding the withdrawal hose area which is proximal to the suction head and/or a spring surrounding the withdrawal hose area which is most distal from the suction head. The presence of the spring provides more rigidity to the hoses. Furthermore, the presence of the spring allows spreading the tension and pressure created during the movement of the loading pistol and/or the suction head over a longer hose distance compared to a hose devoid of spring. Consequently, the applied tension and pressure are not located on a limited hose zone which increases the hose life time. Preferably, the spring is made of steel or stainless steal. In a preferred embodiment, the spring length is at least 5 cm, preferably at least 8 cm, more preferably at least 10 cm, most preferably at least 12 cm. The spring length is at most 30 cm, preferably at most 25 cm, more preferably at most 22 cm, most preferably at most 20 cm. It is self-evident that the length of the hose surrounded by the spring is substantially equal to the length of the spring.

Figure 9 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station comprises a station frame 26, a suction head 21 and an injection pistol 22. The pistol and the suction head are connected to a ventilator 25 via a supply hose 33 and a withdrawal hose 32 respectively. The filling station of figure 9 comprises a gutter 28 wherein a part of the withdrawal hose is located and a trolley 24 for moving the pistol and the suction head. The filling station further comprises at least one valve 29 for controlling the flow of liquid CO2 inside the supply hose and a control box 27 to program and control of the injection of liquid CO2 and withdrawal of gaseous CO2. The filling station further comprises a spring 23 which surrounds at least partially the supply hose. It is to be understood that a second spring surrounding at least partially the withdrawal hose might be provided.

One of the disadvantages of the filling stations of the prior art relates to the movement of the loading pistol and/or the suction head. During operation, the user has to fill several cassettes and has to align the loading pistol and/or the suction head to the position of each cassette to be filled. These operations are performed in a cooled room. Therefore, for the safety and the health of the user, reducing operation time is highly recommended and desired.

The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprises at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette; at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette; said supply hose and said withdrawal hose are attached to a trolley which is movable along substantially horizontal guiding rails of the filling station, said trolley is provided with at least one handle for moving the trolley. The movement of the handle leads to the movement of the supply hose and the withdrawal hose in the same direction. For instance if the handle is moved from the left to the right of a user, the supply hose and the withdrawal hose of the filling station will be also moved from the left to the right of the same user. Preferably, said handle is movable in any desired direction. The handle of the filling station of the invention presents several advantages. The handle provides for the simultaneous movement of the loading pistol and the suction head thereby considerably reducing operation time and increasing user's safety. In addition, the use of the handle prevents the user from coming too close to the loading pistol and the suction head for moving them which further increases user's safety.

In a preferred embodiment, the handle is at least partially made of a heat non- conductive material. Said material can be plastic or rubber. Preferably, the handle is made of steel. The handle may be at least partially covered by polyurethane foam. More preferably, the foam is positioned at the grip area, so at the contact point of the user's hand with the handle. In a preferred embodiment, the handle comprises at least one on-off button for initiating or stopping the working of the loading pistol and/or the suction head.

In a preferred embodiment, the supply hose is connected to a liquid CO2 source. The withdrawal hose is preferably connected to a ventilator and/or to a reliquefaction system. When the filling station is not in use, the supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose might be positioned within the filling station such as to extend from the liquid CO2 source and/or the ventilator to the loading pistol and/or the suction head in a substantially linear position. The supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose might also be positioned within the filling station such as to extend from the liquid CO2 source and/or the ventilator to the loading pistol and/or the suction head in a non-linear position. Said non-linear position is preferably a position in which the hoses form an angle of about 90°. For having such non-linear position of the hoses, the filling station might be provided with tubes, gutter like tubes or conduits for holding at least partially the hoses of the station. In said non-liner position, the filling station preferably further comprises at least one system of counterbalances, fixed to said tubes, gutter-like tube or conduits. The system of counterbalances helps and facilitates the movement of the loading pistol and/or the suction head. Figure 10 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station comprises a station frame 26, a suction head 21 and an injection pistol 22. The pistol and the suction head are connected to a ventilator (not shown) via a supply hose 33 and a withdrawal hose 32 respectively. The filling station of figure 10 comprises a gutter 28 wherein a part of the withdrawal hose is located and a trolley 24 for moving the pistol and the suction head. The filling station further comprises at least one valve 29 for controlling the flow of liquid CO2 inside the supply hose and a control box 27 to program and control of the injection of liquid CO2 and withdrawal of gaseous CO2. The filling station further comprises a handle 30 attached to the trolley 24. Movement of the handle leads to the movement of the trolley and to the movement of the supply hose and the withdrawal hose in the same direction. The trolley movement direction is represented by the arrow D shown in figure 10. For instance if the handle is moved from the left to the right of a user, the supply hose and the withdrawal hose of the filling station will be also moved from the left to the right of the same user.

One of the drawbacks of the filling stations described in the prior art is the condensation of water vapor into ice inside and outside the withdrawal hose, especially that the filling station is often placed in a cooled room. The withdrawal hose is generally made of rubber material. Condensation of gaseous CO2 inside the withdrawal hose increases the rigidity of said hose. Movement of said hose becomes then difficult thereby increasing operation time and decreasing user's working comfort. Besides that, the lifetime of the hose is shortened. The present invention provides a solution to overcome the described drawback.

The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette; at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette; and at least one gutter surrounding at least partially the withdrawal hose, characterized in that said gutter comprises at least one heating element. The presence of the heating element and prevents water vapor condensation inside and outside the withdrawal hose.

In a preferred embodiment, the supply hose is connected to a liquid CO2 source. The withdrawal hose is preferably connected to a ventilator and/or to a reliquefaction system. Preferably, the supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose are positioned within the filling station such as to extend from the liquid CO2 source and/or the ventilator to the loading pistol and/or the suction head in a non-linear position. Said non-linear position is preferably a position in which the hoses form an angle of about 90°. For having such non-linear position of the hoses, the gutter provided with heating elements might be holding at least partially the withdrawal hose of the station. In said non-linear position, the filling station preferably further comprises at least one system of counterbalances, fixed to said tubes, gutter-like tube or conduits. The system of counterbalances helps and facilitates the movement of the loading pistol and/or the suction head.

In a preferred embodiment, the supply hose is connected to a liquid CO2 source. The withdrawal hose is preferably connected to a ventilator and/or to a reliquefaction system. Preferably, the supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose are positioned within the filling station such as to extend from the liquid CO2 source and/or the ventilator to the loading pistol and/or the suction head in a substantially linear position. The gutter is provided such as to surround at least partially the withdrawal hose of the station. In a preferred embodiment, said gutter is made of steel, stainless steel or aluminium. Preferably, the heating elements comprise at least one tracing cable.

Figure 11 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station comprises a station frame 26, a suction head 21 and an injection pistol 22. The pistol and the suction head are connected to a ventilator (not shown) via a supply hose 33 and a withdrawal hose 32 respectively. The filling station of figure 11 comprises a gutter 28 wherein a part of the withdrawal hose is located and a trolley 24 for moving the pistol and the suction head. The filling station further comprises at least one valve 29 for controlling the flow of liquid CO2 inside the supply hose and a control box 27 to program and control of the injection of liquid CO2 and withdrawal of gaseous CO2. The gutter 28 of the filling station comprises at least one heating element 31 which prevents condensation of water vapor inside and outside the withdrawal hose. Also in order to prevent condensation of water vapor inside and outside the withdrawal hose, the present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette. Said filling station comprises at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette and at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette. The filling station further comprises gas insertion means connected to the withdrawal hose thereby inserting gas into said hose. Preferably, the withdrawal hose is connected at one end to at least one suction head and at the other end to at least one ventilator for withdrawing and guiding the gaseous CO2 outside the room wherein the filling station is placed. In a preferred embodiment, the temperature of the gas inserted into the withdrawal hose is higher than then temperature at which condensation of water vapor takes place. Preferably, the gas inserted into the withdrawal hose is at ambient temperature and is hence comprised between 18°C and 22°C, preferably between 19°C and 21°C.

In a preferred embodiment, said gas insertion means comprise at least one opening positioned in the withdrawal hose. Said opening is preferably provides with valves. Said valves are movable from a closed position in which ambient gas is prevented from entering inside the withdrawal hose to an open position in which ambient gas enters inside the withdrawal hose. Preferably, the opening of the valves is linked to the functioning of the hose meaning that said valves opens automatically when the suction head attached to the withdrawal hose is connected to a cassette.

Whether provided or not with valves, the gas is inserted into the withdrawal hose by the function of the ventilator. In working mode and for filling multiple cassettes, the ventilator is continuously working thereby continuously withdrawing gas inside the withdrawal hose. When the suction head of the filling station is not withdrawing gaseous CO2 from a cassette, for instance when moving the suction head from one cassette to another cassette, the ventilator aspires and introduces ambient gas into the withdrawal hose through the gas insertion means of said hose.

In a preferred embodiment, at least 1 cubic meter of gas per minute, preferably at least 2 cubic meter of gas per minute in inserted into the withdrawal hose, more preferably at least 4 cubic meter of gas per minute, most preferably at least 6 cubic meter of gas per minute. Preferably, at most 15 cubic meter of gas per minute, preferably at most 12 cubic meter of gas per minute in inserted into the withdrawal hose, more preferably at most 10 cubic meter of gas per minute, most preferably at most 8 cubic meter of gas per minute. Figure 12 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station comprises a station frame 26, a suction head 21 and an injection pistol 22. The pistol and the suction head are connected to a ventilator 25 via a supply hose 33 and a withdrawal hose 32 respectively. The filling station of figure 12 comprises a gutter 28 wherein a part of the withdrawal hose is located and a trolley 24 for moving the pistol and the suction head . The filling station further comprises at least one valve 29 for controlling the flow of liquid CO2 inside the supply hose and a control box 27 to program and control of the injection of liquid CO2 and withdrawal of gaseous CO2. When the suction head 21 is not connected to a cassette, the ventilator 25 can be maintained in a working mode thereby inserting gas at ambient temperature into the withdrawal hose 32. Figure 13 shows a side view of the filling station of figure 12. The gas flow direction is shown by arrows E in figures 12 and 13.

One of the disadvantages of the filling stations of the prior art relates to the movement of the hoses, in particular the movement of the withdrawal hose. During operation, the user has to fill several cassettes and has to align the loading pistol and/or the suction head to the position of each cassette to be filled. By moving the loading pistol and/or the suction head, the user also moves the supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose. These operations are performed in a cooled room. Therefore, for the safety and the health of the user, reducing operation time is highly recommended and desired. Generally condensation of water vapor occurs inside and outside the withdrawal hose thereby making it more rigid and decreasing its mobility. This increase the operation time, the effort required by the user for moving the withdrawal hose and shortens hose lifetime. The present invention provides a solution to overcome the described disadvantages. In addition and regardless of the condensation of water vapor inside the withdrawal hose, the present invention aims at providing a filling station wherein the withdrawal hose and/or the supply hose is easily movable by the user.

The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette. The filling station comprises:

- at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette,

- at least one withdrawal hose connected to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette,

- a substantially horizontal guiding rails defining an upper area and a lower area of the filling station, and

- a trolley movable along said guiding rails, the trolley is connected to the supply hose and to the withdrawal hose thereby defining a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the upper area of the filling station and a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the lower area of the filling station.

The filling station is characterized in that the portion of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is provided with two ends wherein the first end is attached to and movable with the trolley and the second end is non- movable and is fixed at a distance from said first end such as both ends and the movement of the trolley define a pendulum movement of said portion of the withdrawal hose. Preferably, said second end of the withdrawal hose portion which is located in the upper area of the filling station is attached to a ventilator also positioned in the upper area of said filing station. This is advantageous as it increases the mobility of the withdrawal hose thereby making it easier for the user to move said hose which leads to shortening of operation time. Said pendulum movement is defined by the movement of the trolley along the guiding rails. Preferably, said pendulum movement is substantially vertical and linear.

Preferably, the distance D separating the first end of portion of the withdrawal hose located in the upper area of the filling station from the second end of said portion is at least 0.5 m, preferably at least 1 m, more preferably at least 1.5 m, most preferably at least 2 m. Said distance D is at most 10 m, preferably at most 8 m, more preferably at most 6 m, most preferably at most 4 m.

The portion of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is hence maintained in a substantially vertical position. In a preferred embodiment, the second end of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is non-movable and is fixed to the filling station or to the roof of the room wherein the filling station is placed.

In a preferred embodiment, the distance separating the second fixed end of the portion of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area from the first end is variable according to the position of the trolley along the guiding rails of the filling station.

In a preferred embodiment, the distance separating the trolley from the loading pistol and/or the suction head is fixed.

In a preferred embodiment, the supply hose can be positioned in the filling station in a similar manner compared to the withdrawal hose. Meaning that the portion of the supply hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is provided with two ends wherein the first end is attached to and movable with the trolley and the second end is non-movable and is fixed at a distance from said first end such as both ends and the movement of the trolley define a pendulum movement of said portion of the supply hose. Said pendulum movement is defined by the movement of the trolley along the guiding rails. Preferably, said pendulum movement is substantially vertical and linear. The supply hose can also be positioned in the filling station in a different manner compared to the withdrawal hose. Preferably, the distance D separating the first end of the supply hose portion located in the upper area of the filling station from the second end of said portion is at least 0.5 m, preferably at least 1 m, more preferably at least 1.5 m, most preferably at least 2 m. Said distance D is at most 10 m, preferably at most 8 m, more preferably at most 6 m, most preferably at most 4 m.

The portion of the supply hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is hence maintained in a substantially vertical position. In a preferred embodiment, the second end of the supply hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is non-movable and is fixed to the filling station or to the roof of the room wherein the filling station is placed.

In a preferred embodiment, the distance separating the second fixed end of the portion of the supply hose which is located in the upper area from the first end is variable according to the position of the trolley along the guiding rails of the filling station.

Figure 14 shows a filling station according to an embodiment of the invention. The filling station comprises a station frame 26, a suction head 21 and an injection pistol 22. The pistol and the suction head are connected to a ventilator 25 via a supply hose 33 and a withdrawal hose 32 respectively. The filling station of figure 14 comprises a substantially horizontal guiding rails 35 defining an upper area and a lower area of the filling station, and a trolley 24 movable along said guiding rails. The trolley is connected to the supply hose and to the withdrawal hose thereby defining a supply hose portion 33' and a withdrawal hose 32' portion located in the upper area of the filling station and a supply hose portion 33" and a withdrawal hose portion 32" located in the lower area of the filling station. The portion 32' of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is provided with two ends wherein the first end is attached to and movable with the trolley 24 and the second end is non-movable and is fixed at a distance from said first end such as both ends and the movement of the trolley define a pendulum movement of said portion of the withdrawal hose. Said second end is attached to the ventilator 25 positioned in the upper area of the filling station.

The present invention provides a filling station having any combination of all above mentioned embodiments. A filling station provided with at least one spring surrounding at least one hose and/or a gutter provided with at least one heating element and/or a trolley and/or guiding rails and/or a withdrawal hose wherein one portion of said hose is movable according to a pendulum movement and/or at least one gas insertion element is also provided by the present invention.

The present invention provides a filling station for the introduction of a CO 2 cooling medium such as liquid CO2 into a cassette and the withdrawal of gaseous C02 from the cassette, said filling station comprising at least one cooling medium supply hose connected to at least one loading pistol for the injection of the CO2 cooling medium in the cassette and at least one withdrawal hose connected at one end to at least one suction head for the removal of gaseous CO2 from the cassette. The withdrawal hose is connected at another end to a ventilator to which gaseous CO2 is transported. The supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose comprise at least one spring which surrounds at least partially said supply hose and/or the withdrawal hose. In a preferred embodiment, the spring surrounds the supply hose area which proximal to the loading pistol. In a preferred embodiment, the spring surrounds the withdrawal hose area which proximal to the suction head.

In a preferred embodiment, the filling station comprises a trolley which is movable along substantially horizontal guiding rails of the station. Preferably, said supply hose and said withdrawal hose are attached to the trolley which is provided with at least one handle for moving it.

In a preferred embodiment, the trolley is connected to the supply hose and to the withdrawal hose thereby defining a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the upper area of the filling station and a supply hose portion and a withdrawal hose portion located in the lower area of the filling station. Preferably, the portion of the withdrawal hose which is located in the upper area of the filling station is provided with two ends wherein the first end is attached to and movable with the trolley and the second end is non-movable and is fixed at a distance from said first end such as both ends and the movement of the trolley define a pendulum movement of said portion of the withdrawal hose.

In a preferred embodiment, the filling station comprises at least one gutter surrounding at least partially the withdrawal hose. Said gutter comprises at least one heating element. In a preferred embodiment, the heating element provides heat towards the inside of the gutter.

In a preferred embodiment, the filling station further comprises gas insertion means connected to the withdrawal hose thereby inserting gas into said hose. In a preferred embodiment, the temperature of the gas inserted into the withdrawal hose is higher than then temperature of water vapor condensation.

In a preferred embodiment, the spring surrounding at least one hose, the gutter provided with at least one heating element, the trolley, the guiding rails, the withdrawal hose wherein one portion of said hose is movable according to a pendulum movement and the gas insertion element are as described above.

The preferred embodiments of the invention described herein are not intended to limit the scope of the invention, since these embodiments are illustrations of several preferred aspects of the invention. Any equivalent embodiments are intended to be within the true spirit and scope of this invention. Indeed, various modifications of the invention in addition to those shown and described herein will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the preceding detailed description. Such modifications are also intended to fall within the scope of the appended claims.