US 20070006872 A1
A modular product cup is mounted in an outer container of standardized dimensions in an arrangement for changing the temperature of the product in the cup. The cup can come from different product suppliers, each able to use its product cup in the arrangement to promote wide commercial acceptance.
1. A system for making an arrangement for selectably changing a temperature of a product, comprising:
a) an outer container having a side wall bounding an interior of standardized dimensions and spaced radially from an axis;
b) a breakable membrane fixedly mounted within, and subdividing, the interior of the container into a pair of compartments;
c) a pair of reactants respectively contained in the compartments and kept apart by the membrane prior to use;
d) a breaking member mounted within the interior of the container for breaking the membrane, to allow the reactants to mix and form a chemical reaction; and
e) a product cup having a chamber for containing the product whose temperature is changed by the chemical reaction, the product cup having modular dimensions for reception by the standardized dimensions of the container, the product cup being fixedly mounted within the interior of the container after the reception of the product cup.
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13. A method of making an arrangement for selectably changing a temperature of a product, comprising the steps of:
a) forming a container with a side wall bounding an interior of standardized dimensions, the side wall surrounding, and being spaced radially from, an axis;
b) subdividing the interior of the container into a pair of compartments by mounting a breakable membrane within the container;
c) at least partly filling a pair of reactants respectively into the compartments;
d) mounting a breaking member within the interior of the container;
e) forming a product cup with modular dimensions for reception by the standardized dimensions of the container;
f) at least partly filling the cup with the product; and
g) fixedly mounting the cup within the interior of the container.
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This application is a continuation-in-part of pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/175,818, filed Jul. 6, 2005.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention generally relates to an arrangement that adds or removes heat from a product, such as a food, beverage, medicine, or like product and, more particularly, to a system for and a method of making the arrangement that promotes wide commercial acceptance.
2. Description of the Related Art
Self-heating or self-cooling arrangements are known in which a product, typically a beverage, is heated or cooled by employing two chemical reactants which are stable when separated, but which produce an exothermic or an endothermic reaction when mixed. U.S. Pat. No. 4,793,323 shows one example of a single-use, self-heating arrangement container for liquids or solids, in which a breakable membrane keeps the reactants apart, and a breakable member is actuated by a user to break the membrane and allow the reactants to mix to form the chemical reaction that changes the temperature of the product.
As advantageous as the known self-heating arrangements are, each is custom-made. More specifically, each self-heating arrangement is designed with proprietary dimensions so that a product cup supplied by one supplier with one set of dimensions cannot be interchangeably used with a product cup supplied by a different supplier with a different set of dimensions. Commercial acceptance of custom-made, self-heating arrangements has been limited.
Accordingly, it is a general object of this invention to promote wide commercial acceptance of arrangements that add or remove heat from a product.
In keeping with the above objects and others which will become apparent hereinafter, one feature of the present invention resides, briefly stated, in a system for, and a method of, making an arrangement for changing a temperature of a product, typically a food or a beverage, comprising an outer container, preferably made of a thermally insulating material, having a side wall bounding an interior and spaced radially from an axis, and a product cup, preferably made of a thermally conductive material, or a thermoformed plastic material, the cup having a chamber for containing the product.
A breakable membrane, for example a circular, thin foil, is fixedly mounted within, and subdivides, the interior of the container into a pair of compartments. The container is formed with an internal annular shoulder, and a circular periphery of the membrane is adhered to the shoulder. A pair of reactants is respectively contained in the compartments, and the reactants are kept apart by the membrane prior to use. For example, the reactants may be water and anhydrous calcium oxide or calcium chloride which, when mixed, produce an exothermic chemical reaction.
A breaking member is mounted within the interior of the container in a juxtaposed relationship with the membrane. The breaking member is at least partially supported by the internal shoulder of the container. A radial pressure may be exerted by the user on the side wall of the container, and this radial pressure causes the breaking member to break the membrane and allow the reactants to mix and produce the chemical reaction that will be used to change the temperature of the product in the cup.
In accordance with this invention, the product cup is made of modular dimensions, and the interior of the outer container is made of standardized dimensions for reception of the modular cup. After the modular cup is received in the outer container, juxtaposed flanges on the cup and the container are fused together, preferably by spin welding. Thus, the modular cup having a standard size can be supplied from different suppliers, thereby promoting wide commercial acceptance.
Also, it is conventional for some suppliers to supply a product in a cup made of a plastic material on a production line. This product cup is not intended to have its temperature changed by a self-heating arrangement. However, now, in accordance with this invention, the product cup can be fitted into, and utilized in, a self-heating arrangement In case a more rapid heating of the product within the cup is desired, the cup can be fabricated at least in part of a thermally conductive material. Due to the modular sizing of the product cup, a different production line is not necessary, thereby further enhancing commercial acceptance of this arrangement.
The novel features which are considered as characteristic of the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, both as to its construction and its method of operation, together with additional objects and advantages thereof, will be best understood from the following description of specific embodiments when read in connection with the accompanying drawings.
As best shown in
The container 10 is symmetrical about an upright axis 32, and the side wall 12 circumferentially surrounds the axis 32. The side wall 12 is preferably frusto-conical or cylindrical. The container 10 is formed with an interior annular shoulder 34 on which a circular periphery of the membrane 26 is adhesively secured. A circular periphery of the breaking member 26 also rests on the shoulder 34. The compartment 18 above the membrane 16 is filled with one of the reactants 22, for example, water, and the compartment 20 below the membrane 16 is filled with the other of the reactants 24, for example, anhydrous calcium oxide or calcium chloride. Other reactants are contemplated by this invention, and the positions of the reactants could be reversed, that is, the water could be in the lower compartment, while the anhydrous calcium oxide or calcium chloride could be in the upper compartment. The container 10 is preferably constituted of a thermally insulating material, for example, a thermoformed foamed polypropylene, and the side wall 12 is preferably deformable radially inwardly, as described in detail below.
The inner product cup 14 contains the product and can consist of a thermoformed plastic material, or is preferably constituted of a thermally conductive material, for example, a polyethylene coating over an aluminum core formed by a deep draw stamping process. The product can be virtually anything, but is preferably a beverage, such as coffee or tea, or a soup, or a foodstuff. The seal 28 seals the product within the cup. The seal 28, as best shown in
The membrane 16 is a thin, tearable foil die cut into a circular shape and preferably constituted of aluminum. An adhesive at its periphery adheres the membrane to the shoulder 34 and is preferably thermally activated.
The breaking member 26, as best seen in
As shown in
To promote the speed and efficiency of the chemical reaction, the user can shake the arrangement, typically for about 10-20 seconds, and can even invert the arrangement and allow it to stand, typically for less than two minutes. In the preferred embodiment, about 28 grams of a granulated calcium chloride (grain size 1-2 mm) are used. The liquid reactant need not be pure water, but can be mixed with an acid, such as oxalic acid. In about one minute's time, the temperature of the exothermic reaction caused when water and calcium chloride interact rises from a room temperature of about 19° C. to a temperature of about 60° C., which is sufficient to heat the product within the cup.
The radial pressure is exerted between the opposing fingers 66. As shown, there are four zones, one corresponding to each abutment 56, 58, 60, 62, at which the finger pressure should be applied. These zones can be highlighted and marked on the side wall 12. Otherwise, it is sufficient for the user to merely hold the container in his or her hand and grip tightly as if making a fist. This radial squeezing is continued until resistance is felt when the side wall 12 engages the cup 14. This cup thus serves as a safety stop for preventing the user from completely crushing the arrangement. A label can be applied on the side wall which not only provides sales and marketing information, but also prominently displays the finger pressure zones.
Once the recommended waiting period has elapsed, the arrangement is returned to its original upright position, and the pull tab 42 is pulled back to either partially or completely remove the diaphragm 40 depending upon the type of product in the cup and how it will be consumed. For example, a spoon requires more room to access soup within the cup as compared to a beverage which is directly sipped. If the product is a beverage, such as coffee, then the sip lid 30 is snapped over the opened seal, and the beverage is consumed through an aperture 70 (see
In accordance with this invention, the product cup is made of modular dimensions, for example, a 7.5 to 8.0 ounce cup, and the interior of the outer container is made of standardized dimensions for reception of the modular cup. The modular cup of standardized size can thus be supplied from different suppliers, each supplier having the opportunity to use its modular cup in the arrangement of this invention without any retooling being necessary.
It is conventional for some food and beverage suppliers to package their respective products in a cup, usually of a plastic material. For example, a soup can be packaged in a cup and sold to consumers who might heat the soup in a microwave oven prior to consumption. This invention proposes that the product cup, e.g., the soup-containing cup, be made of modular dimensions so that it can easily be received in the outer container of this invention, and then sold in a self-heating arrangement in which the aforementioned microwave oven is not used. If other suppliers follow suit, then the self-heating arrangement of this invention is more versatile, and multiple suppliers can use this invention.
The use of a plastic product cup is not ideal due to the extra time needed to change the temperature of the product. Therefore, it is preferred if the product cup is made, at least in part, of a thermally conductive material. Due to the modular size of the product cup, a different production line is not necessary to fabricate the thermally conductive cup.
It will be understood that each of the elements described above, or two or more together, also may find a useful application in other types of constructions differing from the types described above.
While the invention has been illustrated and described as embodied in a system for and a method of making an arrangement for selectably changing the temperature of a product, it is not intended to be limited to the details shown, since various modifications and structural changes may be made without departing in any way from the spirit of the present invention.
Without further analysis, the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features that, from the standpoint of prior art, fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic or specific aspects of this invention and, therefore, such adaptations should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalence of the following claims.
What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is set forth in the appended claims.