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Publication numberUS3699740 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 24, 1972
Filing dateJan 27, 1971
Priority dateJan 29, 1970
Also published asDE2003909A1
Publication numberUS 3699740 A, US 3699740A, US-A-3699740, US3699740 A, US3699740A
InventorsKnabe Uwe
Original AssigneeHolstein & Kappert Maschf
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for filling bottles or cans with beer or the like
US 3699740 A
Abstract
Bottles, cans or like containers which tend to undergo deformation in response to excessive reduction of internal pressure below atmospheric pressure are filled with beer or another liquid which is adversely affected by contact with air by evacuating some air from their interior so that the pressure in the interior of a container does not decrease below a pressure at which the container is subject to deformation, circulating through the interior of the container an inert gas to expel the remainder of air, raising the pressure of inert gas in the interior of the container, and thereupon admitting into the container a stream of liquid at a pressure corresponding to the pressure of inert gas in the interior of the container whereby the liquid expels the gas and fills the container to a desired level. The pressure in the interior of the thus filled container is reduced prior to sealing.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [151 3,699,740

Knabe Oct. 24, 1972 [54] METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR 3,212,537 10/1965 Hinxlage et al ..l4l/6 FILLING BOTTLES OR CANS WITH 3,380,488 4/1968 Herbst ..l4l/6 BEER OR THE LIKE Primary Examiner-Houston S. Bell, Jr. [72] Inventor. gwe Knabe, Dortmund-Hombruch, Atwmey Michaal Striker errnany [73] Assignee: Holstein & Kappert Muchinen- [57] ABSTRAT gbrik GmbH Dortmund Bottles, cans or like containers which tend to undergo ermany deformation in response to excessive reduction of in- [22] Filed: Jan. 27, 1971 temal pressure below atmospheric pressure are filled with beer or another liquid which is adversely affected [2!] Appl' llozog by contact with air by evacuating some air from their interior so that the pressure in the interior of a con- [30] Foreign Application Priority Data tainer does not decrease below a pressure at which the container is subject to deformation, circulating 1970 Germany 20 03 9092 through the interior of the container an inert gas to expel the remainder of air, raising the pressure of inert (5| ..53/22 R, gas in the interior of the container, and thereupon [58] i 37 39 mitting into the container a stream of liquid at a pressure corresponding to the pressure of inert gas in the 141/52 53/22 interior of the container whereby the liquid expels the gas and fills the container to a desired level. The pres- [56] References cued sure in the interior of the thus filled container is UNlTED STATES PATENTS reduced prior to sealing.

3,548,891 12/1970 Hull ..141/7 10 CIalms,4Drawing Figures FAN 2m METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FILLING BOTTLES OR CANS WITH BEER OR THE LIKE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION or another liquid which is adversely effected by contact with oxygen.

It is already known to store a supply of liquid in a vessel wherein the liquid is subjected to pressure by a cushion of compressed gas. Bottles, cans or analogous containers are transported by a conveyor which places successive containers into a predetermined position for filling with liquid. In the first step, a container is connected with the space above the supply of liquid so that its interior is filled with compressed gas and that the pressure in the interior of the bottle rises to equal the pressure at the upper level of the supply of liquid. The liquid is thereupon permitted to flow into the container so that the latter is filled to a desired level whereby the inflowing liquid expels compressed gas back into the space above the liquid level in the vessel.

Such procedure is quite satisfactory for rapid filling of containers with liquids which are not affected by contact with air. If filling of containers with beer or another liquid which is affected by contact with air, it is customary to evacuate air from the interior of a container prior to admission of an inert gas which takes place prior to admission of liquid. A drawback of such procedure is that many containers consist of a material which is too weak to withstand atmospheric pressure when the pressure in the interior of such container is reduced to an extent necessary to evacuate all or nearly all of atmospheric air therefrom. Thus, a bottle or can which consists of elastic plastic or metallic material is likely to collapse in response to evacuation of air from its interior. On the other hand, if the pressure in the interior of the container is not reduced well below atmospheric pressure, oxygen which remains in the container is likely to react with the liquid and to affect its quality, color and/or other characteristics.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved method of filling bottles, cans or other types of containers with liquids, particularly with a liquid which is adversely affected by contact with atmospheric air.

Another object of the invention is to provide a method of filling bottles or analogous containers with liquids which can be introduced into the containers only upon complete expulsion of air.

A further object of the invention is to provide a method of filling bottles or like containers with liquids which should be kept out of contact with oxygen and which are to be stored in containers consisting of a material which is unable to withstand atmospheric pressure in response to a reduction of pressure in its interior to a relatively low subatmospheric pressure, i.e., to a pressure which is not much less than atmospheric pressure.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a novel apparatus for filling relatively weak (readily deformable) containers with liquids which are to be kept out of contact with air during filling as well as during storage.

Another object of the invention is to provide an apparatus which is sufi'iciently versatile to be useful in connection with filling of relatively sturdy or readily deformable containers consisting of vitreous, metallic or plastic material with different types of liquids, especially with beer or other liquids which are adversely affected by contact with air.

The method of the present invention comprises the steps of reducing the pressure in the interior of an open air-filled container to thereby evacuate some air from its interior and to reduce the pressure in the container to a pressure which is higher than the pressure at which the container is likely to undergo deformation or complete collapse in response to atmospheric pressure against its exterior, circulating through the thus evacuated container a stream of an inert gas to expel the remainder of air from its interior, raising the pressure of inert gas in the container by admitting additional inert gas into its interior, maintaining a supply of liquid under a pressure which at least approximates the raised pressure of inert gas in the container, and introducing pressurized liquid from the supply into the container with attendant filling of the container to a desired level and simultaneous expulsion of inert gas.

The pressure reducing step can begin simultaneously with the circulating step, and the method preferably further comprises the steps of reducing the pressure in the interior of the filled container and thereupon sealing the container.

The pressure raising step preferably comprises raising the pressure of inert gas in the container to a pressure equaling that to which the liquid is subjected dur ing introduction into the container.

If the container consists of a material which is likely to be deformed by atmospheric pressure in response to a reduction of pressure in its interior to a predetermined pressure, the pressure reducing step comprises reducing the air pressure in the interior of the container to a pressure which is below the predetermined pressure to thus insure that the evacuation of some air prior to introduction of inert gas cannot result in partial deformation or complete collapse of the container.

The novel features which are considered as characteristic of the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The improved filling apparatus itself, however, both as to its construction and its mode of operation, together with additional features and advantages thereof, will be best understood upon perusal of the following detailed description of certain specific embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. I is a fragmentary schematic vertical sectional view of a filling apparatus which embodies the invention, a container being shown in a position which it assumes prior to evacuation of some air from its interior;

FIG. 2 illustrates the structure of FIG. 1 but with the gas-admitting valve open to pennit circulation of compressed inert gas from a source of supply through the container and into a suction chamber;

FIG. 3 shows the structure of FIG. I or 2 but with the container sealed from the suction chamber so as to raise the pressure of inert gas to a pressure which equals the pressure of a supply of pressurized liquid which is to be introduced into the container; and

FIG. 4 illustrates the structure of FIG. 1, 2 or 3 during introduction of liquid into the container.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS FIG. 1 illustrates a portion of a ring-shaped vessel or tank I which contains a source of supply L of liquid and a source of supply 16 of gas which is compressed to subject the liquid to a predetermined pressure. The liquid is assumed to be beer or another liquid which is affected by contact with oxygen in the air, and the gas forming the supply 16 is assumed to be an inert gas which does not react with such liquid.

The tank 1 is surrounded by a suction chamber 2 provided with one or more adjustable flow restrictors 11 which maintain the interior of the chamber at a predetermined but variable pressure. The chamber 2 is connected with a fan 2a or other suitable suction generating means.

The bottom wall of the tank 1 supports a plurality of equidistant valve bodies or blocks 3 (only one shown) each of which contains a normally closed liquid-admitting valve 4 which is opened automatically (see FIG. 4) at a certain stage of a filling operation to admit a stream of pressurized liquid from the supply L into the interior of a bottle, can or analogous container 13 while the container is held in a predetermined position with reference to the respective block 3. The means for supporting the container 13 in such position includes a suitable conveyor C. The block 3 is further provided with a pressure relief valve 5, a gas-admitting valve 6 and a further valve 7 which can connect the interior of the container 13 with the suction chamber 2 by way of a conduit 10. The block 3 defines a seat 40 for the valve 4 and the latter carries a downwardly extending pipe 8 which enters the opening at the top of the container 13 and extends into the interior of such container when the latter is held in the illustrated position. The pipe 8 can admit compressed gas from the supply 16 into the container 13 in response to opening of the valve 6. Furthermore, the pipe 8 can convey gas from the container 13 back to the supply 16 when the valve 4 is open to admit into the container a predetermined quantity of liquid.

The block 3 is further provided with an internal compartment 9 which is normally sealed from the tank 1 by the valve 4 and communicates with the suction chamber 2 when the valve 7 is open.

The block 3 carries a ring-shaped sealing portion 17 and a centering bell 12 which is pressed against the sealing portion 17 when the container 13 is held in the illustrated position. The portion 17 then seals the in terior of the container 13 from the surrounding atmosphere. The valve 6 is connected to an elongated control member 14 which can be actuated from without the tank 1 to admit gas from the supply 16 into the container 13 or vice versa. An adjustable control cam can move the valve 6 and/or 7 to open position during a selected stage of movement of the container 13 with the tank 1.

THE OPERATION The conveyor C moves the container 13 into engagement with the sealing portion 17 whereby the neck 13a of the container is centered by the bell 12. The container 13 then moves along an are about the axis of the tank 1 which also rotates about such axis so that the neck 13a remains in registry with the sealing portion 17 and the pipe 8 extends into the interior of the container. The control cam 15 thereupon opens the valve 7 so that the suction chamber 2 is connected with the interior of the container 13 by way of the conduit 10 whereby the fan 2a withdraws from the container a certain amount of air so that the pressure in the container drops to a pressure which is still above that pressure at which the wall of the container is likely to be deformed by atmospheric pressure. The cam 15 is mounted on a frame (not shown) which supports the tank 1. This cam 15 (or a separate cam) thereupon opens the valve 6 so that the partially evacuated container 13 receives a stream of gas from the supply 16; such gas is caused to circulate in the interior of the container as shown in FIG. 2 and is drawn into the suction chamber 2. The circulation of gas is continued until the interior of the container 13 is filled only with gas, i.e., until the evacuation of last traces of oxygen is completed.

In the next step, the control cam 15 causes or permits the valve 7 to close while the valve 6 remains open so that the pipe 8 continues to admit compressed gas into the interior of the container 13 until the pressure in the container equals that which prevails above the upper level of the supply L of liquid in the tank 1. This is shown in FIG. 3.

In the next-following step, the control means of the apparatus causes the valve 4 to open (or the valve 4 opens automatically under the weight of the body of liquid in the tank 1) so that the liquid is free to flow into the container 13 (see FIG. 4) with attendant expulsion of inert gas through the pipe 8 and back into the supply 16 above the supply of liquid in the tank 1. The valve 4 closes when the container 13 is filled to a desired level, and the valve 5 is caused to open so as to reduce the pressure in the filled container. The sealing step (not shown) follows the reduction of pressure in the container 13 in response to opening of the valve 5 while the valve 6 is closed.

The apparatus of the present invention can be used for filling of expendable or reusable bottles, cans or like containers. The flow restrictor 11 is adjustable to insure that the pressure in the interior of a container 13 which assumes the illustrated predetermined position cannot be reduced to a pressure at which the container is likely to undergo deformation in response to pressure of atmospheric air against its external surface.

The length of the interval during which the valve 6 is held in open position simultaneously with the valve 7 (circulation of inert gas through the container 13) depends on the pressure in the suction chamber 2 and should be long enough to insure complete evacuation of air from the container prior to closing of the valve 7 (while the valve 6 remains open) and attendant rise of gas pressure in the container. The pressure in the chamber 2 is adjusted by the flow restrictor l l in such a way that the drop of air pressure in the container on opening of the valve 7 but prior to opening of the valve 6 cannot result in undue deformation of the container walls in response to atmospheric pressure against the external surfaces of the container. It was found that regulation of pressure in the chamber 2 by way of one or more adjustable flow restrictors 11 is more convenient and takes up less time than an adjustment or replacement of the suction generating means 20.

The control means of the filling apparatus can be adjusted to open the valve 6 simultaneously with opening of the valve 7 so that the evacuation of air from the container begins simultaneously with circulation of inert gas through the interior of the container.

The cam preferably forms part of a system of cams or analogous control means (which can be mounted at different levels on the frame of the filling apparatus) serving to effect opening and closing of valves 4, 5, 6, 7 in a predetermined sequence, for predetermined intervals of time and at predetermined times. The cams are adjustable to insure that the apparatus can be converted for filling of larger, smaller, thinwalled, thick-walled, elastically deformable or nonelastic containers. The adjustment of control means is preferably such that the length of intervals allotted for circulation of inert gas through the containers invariably suffices to insure complete evacuation of air even if the pressure of gas which forms the supply 16 varies within a relatively wide range and even if the opening of valve 6 takes place simultaneously with opening of the valve 7.

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 which fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic and specific aspects of my contribution to the art and, therefore, such adaptations should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalence of the claims.

What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is:

l. A method of filling bottles, cans or analogous containers with liquids, particularly with liquids which are adversely affected by contact with air, comprising the steps of reducing the pressure in an open air-filled container to thereby evacuate some air from the interior of such container; circulating through the thus evacuated container a stream of inert gas to expel the remainder of air from the container; raising the pressure in the container by admitting additional inert gas into the interior thereof; maintaining a supply of liquid under a pressure which at least approximates the raised pressure in the container; and introducing pressurized liquid from such supply into the container with attendant filling of the container and simultaneous expulsion of compressed gas.

2. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein said circulating step takes place simultaneously with said pressure reducing step.

3. A method as defined in claim 1, further comprising the steps of relieving the pressure in the interior of the filled container and thereupon sealing the container.

4. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein said pressure raising step comprises raising the pressure of inert gas in the container to a pressure which equals the pressure to which the supply of liquid is subjected during introduction of liquid into the container.

. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein the container consists of a material which is deformed by the pressure of surrounding atmospheric air in response to a reduction of pressure in its interior to a predetermined pressure and wherein said pressure reducing step comprises reducing the pressure of air in the con tainer to a pressure which is at least slightly below said predetermined pressure so that the container remains in substantially undeformed condition during circulation of inert gas through the interior thereof.

6. Apparatus for filling bottles, cans or analogous containers with liquids, particularly with liquids which are adversely affected by contact with air, comprising a source of pressurized liquid; means for supporting an open air-filled container in a predetermined position with reference to said source and for sealing the interior of the container from the atmosphere; first valve means openable to permit liquid to flow from said source into the container in said position; a suction chamber; second valve means openable to connect said chamber with the container in said position to thereby evacuate some air from such container; a source of compressed inert gas; third valve means openable to connect said source of inert gas with the container in said position; and control means for effecting opening and closing of said valve means in a predetermined sequence to effect first partial evacuation of air from and circulation of inert gas through the container in said position whereby the circulating gas evacuates the remaining air from the container, to thereupon raise the pressure of inert gas in the container, and to thereupon admit pressurized liquid into and to simultaneously expel gas from the container.

7. Apparatus as defined in claim 6, wherein said control means is arranged to open said third valve means in the open position of said second valve means and to effect closing of said second valve means prior to closing of said third valve means.

8. Apparatus as defined in claim 6, wherein said control means is adjustable to change the length and timing of intervals during which at least one of said valve means remains in open position.

9. Apparatus as defined in claim 6, further comprising means for regulating the pressure in said suction chamber.

10. Apparatus as defined in claim 6, further comprising a vessel for said sources, said second source being adjacent to the upper level of liquid in said first mentioned source so that the compressed gas pressurizes the liquid.

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Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3212537 *Aug 29, 1962Oct 19, 1965Holstein And Kappert MaschinenProcess and apparatus for handling air-sensitive liquids
US3380488 *Oct 19, 1965Apr 30, 1968Enzinger Union Werke AgValved filling device for filling carbon dioxide-containing beverages into a vessel and method for doing so
US3548891 *May 27, 1969Dec 22, 1970Haskon IncMethod and apparatus for filling receptacles
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4103721 *Dec 23, 1976Aug 1, 1978Mitsubishi Jukogyo Kabushiki KaishaMethod and apparatus for bottling beer
US4499931 *Nov 15, 1982Feb 19, 1985Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc.Nitrogen injector system
US4655029 *Oct 18, 1985Apr 7, 1987Krones Ag Herman Kronseder MaschinenfabrikMethod and apparatus for filling bottles or the like with liquid
US4693054 *Nov 6, 1984Sep 15, 1987Anheuser-Busch, IncorporatedProcess for filling beer into containers
US4888936 *Jan 27, 1989Dec 26, 1989The Coca-Cola CompanyApparatus for producing bottled beverages
US5016684 *Aug 10, 1990May 21, 1991Seitz Enzinger Noll Maschinenbau AktiengesellschaftMethod and apparatus for dispensing carbonated liquids, especially beverages, into containers under counter pressure
US5058632 *May 7, 1990Oct 22, 1991Precision Metalcraft CorporationFilling valve apparatus
US5209274 *Aug 13, 1991May 11, 1993Lawarre Precision Technologies IncorporatedFilling valve apparatus having shortened vent tube
US5295517 *Oct 7, 1992Mar 22, 1994Krones Ag Hermann Kronseder MaschinenfabrikProcess and device for the filling of a vessel with a liquid
US7162851 *May 10, 2005Jan 16, 2007Eiji YoshidaMethod for changing a stopper
US7299601Feb 8, 2006Nov 27, 2007Eiji YoshidaDevice for exchanging a bottle closure
DE3731757A1 *Sep 22, 1987Mar 30, 1989Orthmann & HerbstFuellorgan fuer getraenkefuelleinrichtungen mit vorevakuierung
Classifications
U.S. Classification53/432, 53/474, 141/39, 53/467, 53/510, 141/6
International ClassificationB67C3/02, B67C3/10
Cooperative ClassificationB67C3/10
European ClassificationB67C3/10