US 20060260326 A1
The present invention is a device releasably attachable to a beverage-containing can or bottle that is operable to selectively heat or cool a beverage dispensed from the container and through the device for consumption by an individual. The device includes an outer sleeve securable to the beverage container and an inner cartridge containing reactants utilized to generate an endothermic or exothermic reaction within the cartridge. The reaction created by the reactants heats or cools beverages dispensed from the container as the beverage flows through conduits disposed in thermal contact with the reactants that extend from a beverage inlet adjacent a lower end of the cartridge to a dispensing outlet adjacent an upper end of the cartridge. The device is removable from the container for use with additional containers, or for disposal and replacement of the cartridge within the sleeve after each use.
1. A device for heating or cooling a beverage held within a container, the device comprising:
a) a first chamber disposed within the device;
b) a second chamber disposed within the device adjacent the first chamber;
c) a selectively openable closure disposed between the first chamber and the second chamber; and
d) at least one beverage dispensing tube extending through the second chamber and the first chamber.
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17. A device for heating or cooling a beverage held within a container, the device comprising:
a) a first chamber disposed within an inner member;
b) a second chamber disposed within the inner member adjacent the first chamber;
c) a selectively openable closure disposed between the first chamber and the second chamber;
d) at least one beverage dispensing tube extending through the second chamber in a non-linear direction and through the first chamber; and
e) an outer sleeve positioned around the inner member.
18. A method for varying the temperature of a beverage disposed in a beverage container, the method comprising the steps of:
a) providing a device including a first chamber disposed within an inner member, a second chamber disposed within the inner member adjacent the first chamber, a selectively openable closure disposed between the first chamber and the second chamber, at least one beverage dispensing tube extending through the second chamber in a non-linear direction and through the first chamber and an outer sleeve positioned around the inner member;
b) securing the outer sleeve of the device to the beverage container;
c) initiating an exothermic or endothermic reaction with the device; and
d) dispensing the beverage from the container through the inner member of the device.
19. The method of
20. The method of
a) disengaging the inner member from the outer sleeve; and
b) engaging a replacement inner member within the outer sleeve.
This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/683,366, filed on May 20, 2005, the entirety of which is expressly incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention relates to devices for heating and cooling beverages, and more specifically to a device that can be attached to a beverage container in order to heat or cool the beverage held in the container as it is dispensed for consumption.
With a large portion of consumable beverages being sold in transportable containers, such as bottles and cans, it is often desirable or necessary to vary the temperatures of beverages held within these types of containers to suit the preferences of the individuals drinking the beverages. Thus, often times beverages in these containers must be heated or cooled in order to be appropriate for consumption by an individual.
In many cases, the beverage must be dispensed from the beverage container into a separate container, enclosure or heating or cooling element in order to properly vary the temperature of the beverage for consumption. This creates an extra step in the consumption process for the beverage, that is often quite time consuming as well, and is therefore undesirable.
However, many of these beverage containers are designed such that both the beverage and the beverage container can be heated or cooled simultaneously. Thus, the entire container can be placed into a cooler or suitable heating apparatus to cool or warm the container and its contents. Nevertheless, when cooling beverages in these types of containers, such as a soda can, the time required to properly cool the beverage in the container can be quite long. Additionally, when heating a beverage in its container, due to the enclosed nature of the container, it is difficult to determine when the beverage has been sufficiently heated, such that most often the beverage is under heated, or is overheated, each of which can potentially ruin the beverage for consumption purposes.
To overcome these problems, additional developments have been made to the beverage containers themselves in which the container includes a temperature-varying element disposed directly within the container that can be utilized to quickly change the temperature of the beverage within the container to the desired temperature. Examples of devices of this type are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,178,753, 6,266,879 and 6,351,953, which are each herein incorporated expressly by reference in their entirety.
However, by varying the construction of the container to incorporate the temperature changing mechanism within the container, the cost for manufacturing the container goes up significantly, consequently greatly increasing the cost and complexity for the container and beverage held therein.
Therefore, it is desirable to develop an apparatus and method for varying the temperature of a beverage in a container that does not require the beverage to be dispensed from the container prior to consumption in order to be heated or cooled. Additionally, it is desirable that the apparatus and method do not require any significant changes to the structure of existing beverage containers such that the device can be utilized with numerous existing and commonplace beverage container configurations.
According to a first aspect of the present invention, a temperature changing device for a beverage container is provided that includes an outer sleeve member releasably attachable to a beverage container around the dispensing opening of the beverage container. The outer sleeve member is secured to and encloses an inner cartridge member that contains the beverage warming or cooling mechanism. The mechanism includes an activation mechanism positioned on the exterior of the inner cartridge member that extends into the inner cartridge member in order to selectively open a valve separating a pair of compartments within the inner cartridge member. When the valve is opened, chemical reagents held within the respective compartments are mixed to initiate an endothermic or exothermic reaction that is used in heating or cooling of the beverage. The inner cartridge member also includes a number of dispensing tubes extending from an inlet end of the inner member adjacent the dispensing opening in the beverage container to an outlet end adjacent the activation mechanism. The beverage to be dispensed from the container is directed through the tubes to be thermally contacted by the reagents reacting within the inner cartridge member. As the beverage flows through the tubes, the beverage is heated or cooled depending upon the reaction caused by the particular reactants utilized prior to being dispensed from the tubes at the outlet end for consumption by an individual at the desired temperature.
Numerous other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will be made apparent from the following detailed description taken together with the drawing figures.
The drawings illustrate the best mode currently contemplated of practicing the present invention.
In the drawings:
With reference now to the drawing figures in which like reference numerals designate like parts throughout the disclosure, a heating or cooling device for a beverage container is indicated generally at 10 in
The sleeve 12 can be formed with any necessary, or desired shape. However, as shown in
The inner cartridge 14 is formed to be complimentary in shape to the outer sleeve 12, and is preferably cylindrical in shape, having a cylindrical outer wall 34 that is enclosed on each end by a lower wall 36 and upper wall 38, respectively. The cartridge 14 also includes an inner wall 40 that extends across the outer wall 34 between the lower wall 36 and upper wall 38. The inner wall 40 divides the interior of the cartridge 14 into an upper compartment 42 and a lower compartment 44.
The upper wall 38 of the cartridge 14 is formed to be complimentary in shape to the cross section of the outer sleeve 12 and is dimensioned to be slightly larger in cross section than the outer sleeve 12. Therefore, when the cartridge 14 is positioned within the outer sleeve 12, the upper wall 38 extends over the outer periphery of the upper end 18 of the outer sleeve 12 in order to provide a seamless top surface to the device 10 and to prevent any materials from falling between the sleeve 12 and cartridge 14. Additionally, the cartridge 14 includes a securing ridge 46 or other suitable securing member disposed on the outer wall 34 of the cartridge 14 and spaced from the upper wall 38 that, in conjunction with the upper wall 38, engages the cartridge-engaging ring 32 on the sleeve 12 to releasably secure the cartridge 14 with respect to the outer sleeve 12.
The upper wall 38 also includes an activator, preferably formed as a button 48 that is positioned above the upper wall 38 and includes a shaft 49 extending downwardly through the upper wall 38 into the upper compartment 42. The button 48 and the attached shaft 49 are movable with respect to the upper wall 3, and the shaft 49 is sealingly engaged with the upper wall 38, such as by an O-ring (not shown) positioned in the upper wall 38 and through which the shaft 49 extends, to prevent any of the contents of the inner cartridge 14 from leaking out of the cartridge 14 around the shaft 49. The shaft 49 is positioned directly over a valve 50, preferably formed as a one-way valve, formed in the inner wall 40 that is selectively opened by the depressing of the button 48, which in turn causes the shaft 49 move into contact with and open the valve 50. This, in turn, allows a first solid or liquid reagent (not shown) held within the upper compartment 42 to flow through the valve 50 into the lower compartment 44 for intermixing with a second solid or liquid reagent (not shown) disposed within the lower compartment 44. The reagents are selected such that the mixing of the reagents initiates an endothermic or exothermic reaction in the lower compartment 44, with the result that the atmosphere within the lower compartment 44 is cooled or heated, as desired. The particular reagents selected for use in the device 10, as well as the amounts of these reagents can be chosen to provide an exact amount of heating or cooling to the beverage to be dispensed from the device 10. In this manner, the total heating or cooling of the beverage can be closely controlled to achieve the desired amount of heating or cooling to the beverage.
Additionally, when the button 48 is released, the button 48 and shaft 49 are moved upwardly away from the valve 50 using any suitable return mechanism, such as a spring (not shown) disposed around the shaft 49 between the button 48 and the upper wall 38, or the inherent resiliency of the material forming the valve 50, such that the valve 50 closes, preventing the now-mixed reagents from flowing back through the valve 50 from the lower compartment 44 into the upper compartment 42.
In order to thermally contact the beverage held within the container 22 with the reactants in the lower compartment 44, the cartridge 14 also includes a number of beverage tubes 52 positioned within the cartridge 14. Each of the tubes 52 extends through the cartridge 14 from a tube guide 54 extending outwardly from the lower wall 36 and engageable with a dispensing opening 56 in the lid 30 of the can 28, to an aperture 58 formed in the upper wall 38 and spaced from the button 48. The tubes 52, immediately upon exiting the guide 54, extend in a convolute, and preferably helical fashion within the lower compartment 44 to maximize the thermal contact of the tubes 52 and beverage flowing therein with the reactants creating the exothermic or endothermic reaction in the lower compartment 44. The tubes 52 can be formed of any suitable material that allows for sufficient heat exchange between the reactants in the lower compartment 44 and the beverage flowing through the tubes 52, such as aluminum, plastic, extruded nylon, or other suitable materials. Additionally, the tubes 52 are affixed to the cartridge 14 within both the guide 54 and the aperture 58 in a manner that provides a durable fluid-tight seal therebetween, such that the reactants in the cartridge 14 cannot exit the cartridge 14 through either the guide 54 or the aperture 58. Further, the point at which the tubes 52 pass through the inner wall 40 is also sealed around the tubes 52 to prevent the reactants from passing between the compartments 42 and 44 other than through the valve 50. Additionally, in order to prevent the leaking of any off the beverage dispensed from within the can 28 that may flow around the guide 54 from coming between the cartridge 14 and the outer sleeve 12, a sealing gasket 60 is positioned around the periphery of the lower wall 36 that is sealingly engaged with the lid 30 of the can 28 when the cartridge 14 is held on the can 28 by the sleeve 12. Further, in an embodiment where the sleeve 12 is not utilized, the lower end 36 can also include the engagement member 20 to engage the cartridge 14 directly with the container 22.
In conjunction with the particular types and amounts of the reagents selected to generate the desired exothermic or endothermic reaction, the length of the tubes 52 extending through the lower compartment 44 can be varied as desired to enable the beverage to be maintained within the tubes 52 in the lower compartment 44 in thermal contact with the reactants for a specified time to achieve the desired level of heating or cooling for the beverage prior to consumption. This can most easily be achieved by varying the number of loops formed in the preferred helical configuration for the portion of the tubes 52 that are disposed within the lower compartment 44.
After passing through the lower compartment 44, the tubes 52 extend in a generally vertical direction within the upper compartment 42 to provide a generally laminar flow of the beverage out of the aperture 58 for consumption by an individual. Additionally, within the lower compartment 44, the convolute configuration of the tubes 52 allows for a continuous flow of the beverage through the tubes 52 with a minimum of backpressure.
In a second embodiment of the device 10 of the present invention for use with a beverage container 22 that takes the form of a bottle 62, illustrated in
In operation, the device 10 is designed so that after a particular use where all of the beverage in a particular container 22 has been consumed, the cartridge 14 and the sleeve 12 can be removed from that particular container 22 and either used to modify the temperature of a beverage held in a separate container 22, or to enable the cartridge 14 to be removed from within the outer sleeve 12 and disposed of if the reactants in the lower compartment 44 no longer are producing a sufficient temperature change. When the cartridge 14 is to be disposed of, the cartridge 14 is pressed or otherwise urged out of the outer sleeve 12, thereby disengaging the ring 32 from between the upper wall 38 and ridge 46, such that the dispensed cartridge 14 can be discarded and a fresh cartridge 14 inserted within the sleeve 12 for continued use of the device 10. Additionally, in order to protect the materials within the cartridge 14 from contamination prior to use, removable protective covers (not shown), such as adhesively attached peelable covers or hard plastic caps, among others, can be positioned over one or both ends of the cartridge 14 until removal immediately prior to use of the cartridge 14.
Various alternatives are contemplated as being within the scope of the following claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter regarded as the invention.