US 3769805 A
A stationary display container has a plurality of shelves mounted on a central rotor therein and doors to gain access to the shelves. The container is temperature controlled by thermoelectric means including water cooling and fan circulated air.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Butte States Patent 1 [111 3,769,805 @orlnl 1 1 Nov. 6, 11973  REVOLVING DISPLAY CAPSULE 2,279,558 4/1942 Clerc 62/250 2,414,929 l/1947 Civkin 62/381  Inventor. Louis J. Corrnl, Philadelphia, Pa. 2,418,062 3/1947 Abrahamson 62/250  Assignee: Melbro Corporation, Philadelphia, 2,617,267 11/1952 P A (2/381 Pa 2,701,746 2/1955 Piggott.... 62/381 2,791,889 5/1957 Childers .1 62/381  Filed: Apr. 24, 1972 3,018,631 1/1962 Bury 62/3 3,194,024 7/1965 Bassett 62/3  Appl. No: 246,789
Primary Examinerwilliam J. Wye  1J.S. Cl 62/3, 62/250, 62/255, Attorney-Henry N. Paul, Jr. et a].
' 62/381  11111. C] F251) 21/02 57 ABSTRACT  Field of Search 62/250, 381, 3, 255
A statlonary display container has a plurality of shelves [561 References Cited mounted on a central rotor therein and doors to gain access to the shelves. The container is temperature UMTED STATES PATENTS controlled by thermoelectric means including water 986,875 3/1911 Tilghman 62/381 cooling and fan circulated m 1,796,133 3/1931 Webber 62/381 2,219,912 10/1940 Bireley 62/255 2 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures Patented Nov. 6,1973 j 3,769,805
3 Sheets-Sheet l.
Patented Nov. 6, 1973 3,769,805
3 Sheets-Sheet 2 j I 40 r 42 30 x WATER IN WATER OUT viic Fig. 2
Patented Nov. 6, 1973 3,769,805
3 Sheets-Sheet I,
REVOLVING DISPLAY CAPSULE CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS Reference is made to my prior copending applications for a Portable Reverse Temperature Controlled Container, Ser. No. 216,149, filed Jan. 7, 1972 and a Temperature Controlled Mobile Cart, Ser. No. 218,356, filed Jan. 17, 1972, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a food display capsule of the type used, for example, in cafeterias and the like, and in particular, to a controlled temperature capsule having revolving shelves therein.
In the prior art it is known to use thermoelectric means to control temperatures in a small unit, such as the unit disclosed in my US. Pat. No. 3,445,039, issued May 20, 1969 for a Liquid Dispenser with Timer Control.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention comprises a thermoelectric controlled temperature food display case with rotary means for rotating a plurality of shelves, whereby food can be presented to a access port for removal; said port being normally sealed by a door.
In various embodiments the rotary means is such as to rotate a plurality of shelves at a uniform speed of say 1 or 2 rpm and the device is so constructed that when the access door is opened the rotary means automatically prevents further rotation, so that food may be removed. Upon closing the door the rotary means starts rotating the shelves again. A plurality of access doors can be utilized.
In the alternative, the rotary means can be manually actuated by means of a switch.
The heat transfer means comprises thermoelectric modules mounted on a plate and having a water cooled coil and blocks attachedthereto for transferring and disposing of heat during the cooling cycle.
The thermoelectric means can be wired for reverse polarity so that by simply throwinga switch the means can either heat or cool; such means being shown in my prior applications referenced above.
One of the principal advantages of this device is that it presents a large quantity of diverse foods to a potential customer in line in a cafeteria and allows the food to be removed quickly without dispensing a great deal of heat and without interfering with other food arranged on the shelves. Further the unit can be used for hot foods at one part of the day and cold foods during another thus cutting down on overhead and substantially contributing to the full use of the device.
Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide a rotary unit of the type described for use particularly in a cafeteria, which has both rotation means and thermoelectric temperature control means.
This and other objects of my invention will become apparent from the following description with reference to the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a capsule in accordance with the preferred embodiment of my invention, shown with one access door open;
FIG. 2 is a vertical central section taken as indicated by the lines and arrows 2-2 in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a horizontal section taken as indicated by the lines and arrows in 3-3 in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing thermoelectric modules and cooling coils disclosed in the proceeding two figures;
FIG. 5 shows a modification of a portion of the device as shown in FIG. 2 with portions removed for the sake of simplicity and the outline of a capsule base shown in phantom lines; and
FIG. 6 shows a section of the outer portion of the capsule taken similar to FIG. 2, showing a further modification with portions shown in phantom lines or broken away and portions removed for the sake of simplicity.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Although specific forms of the invention have been selected for illustration in the drawings, and the following description is drawn in specific terms for the purpose of describing these forms of the invention, this description is not intended to limit the scope of the invention which is defined in the appended claims.
FIG. 1 shows a complete capsule designated generally 10 with an access door 12 in the open position. The capsule has a rotor means designated generally 14. This particular embodiment shows a cylindrical capsule made of a glass or plastic material (which shall be discussed further hereinafter) and having a plurality of access doorsjThe circular shelves 16, 18 and 20 are typical food carrying shelves similar to those found in-a counter top pie dispenser in a luncheonette, and they are arranged in similar spacing to that known in the industry so as to afford room for placing a number of dishes of dessert, salad or the like for easy removal by hand. However, the unit has a great advantage over prior art units in that the access port or opening (over which the door is mounted in the close position) is of a sufficient size only for inserting a hand and removing the food. Thus when the door is opened, only a small portion of the heat or cold is lost from the inner chamber formed by the capsule. In prior art units the access area was large in comparison to the container, and accordingly, a great deal of heat or cold was lost when opening the container for access of the food, thereby making it practically impossible to maintain controlled temperature.
The shelves are mounted on the rotor means in any suitable way such as by flanges and screws 22, 24 FIG,
2. The shelves, of course, could be mounted on a tapered center post with various diameter holes therein and upwardly extending flanges for a mating relation.- ship with the tapered surface of the rotor means.
The rotor means 14 also serves as an air ventura, and in this regard, the upper portion has a plurality of slots 26 FIG. 2 through which air is circulated as shown by the arrows. The air travels down the central column 28, through the enlarged base portion 30, under the outwardly extending base portion 32, up through the louvers 34 and thence through the capsule chamber 36 and back into the slots 26. The air is moved by the fan 38.
The rotor 28, 30, 32 is driven by a gear reduction motor 40 ata speed of approximately 1 or 2 rpm (revolutions per minute). The motor 40 is mounted on the open web 42 of a cylindrical bracket 44 which is fixedly mounted to a plate 46. The shaft 48 of the motor extends upwardly and is engaged with the web 50 of a drive spider 52. The spider comprises four equally spaced strap flanges 54, each of which has a ball bearing 56 mounted to its outer terminal end. The bearings 56 ride on the plate 46, and are spaced slightly from the outwardly extending base portion 32 of the rotor. The spider strap flanges have holes therein (as shown) for reception of shoulder pins 58; such that the shoulders of the pins rest upon the horizontally. extending portions of the spider strap flanges. The pins 58 are fixedly connected to the rotor base portion 32 and serve as both spacers and the means by which the spider 52 turns the rotor (28,30,32) in response of movement of the shaft 48 of the gear reduction motor 40.
In order to channel and distribute the hot or cold air, the cylindrical member 44 has mounted therein the fan 38 on struts 60 and below the fan and cylindrical member, there is a circular hole in the plate 46 giving access to a plurality of channels 62 formed by radial extending ribs 64. The plate 46, ribs 64 and base plate 66 form a circular finned air diffuser through which the air is forced as shown by the arrows.
The overall case of the machine comprising the upper cylindrical glass or plastic portion and the base designated generally 68 is effectively sealed and ventilated by one of the following means. In the preferred embodiment, the upper glass cap 70 FIG. 2 is made of a thermopane material having a sealed air space therein and the lower portion comprises mating glass containers forming a capsule inner body 72 and a capsule outer body 74 and a seal 76 disposed between them at the bottom made of a silica gel or similar material well known in the industry for preventing fogging of the insulating air space provided between the bodies. Mullions are provided (not shown) around the ports forming the openings (which are covered by the doors) in order to provide an adequate seal. The cap 70 and bodies 72, 74 are held together by any suitable means, such as adhesive.
The base is fully insulated as shown at 78 and within the insulated portion the thermoelectric modules 80 are mounted. Such modules are known and are disclosed in my prior patent and applications referenced above and can be wired for reverse polarity as described in my prior applications. Indeed the thermoelectric modules of this application are wired for reverse polarity and are controlled by thermostats (shown in part'at 82). However, no separate wiring diagram will be disclosed herein for the thermostats modules, fan, motor or any other part, since each circuitry would be obvious in view of my prior disclosure and forms no part of this invention.
A new feature shown in this embodiment is the provision for cooling the cold shoes or blocks 84 attached to each of the thermoelectric modules. These blocks are attached in any suitable way allowing for heat transfer, such as by adhesive, and each of the blocks is bored and tapped for reception of cooling coils 86, 88 to provide a sealed water circuit as shown in FIG.'4. During the cooling cycle the thermoelectric modules draw heat from the bottom plate 66 and dissipate it into the cold blocks 84 from which it is removed by virtue of the flowing water in the coil 86, 88. Fresh water is inserted in the water inlet shown and the water is disposed of in any manner.
In the alternate embodiment shown in FIG. 5, a separate air distribution means is not included and therefore the fan 38 is mounted to a spider frame 90 which is mounted to the bottom plate directly and the air circulates between the bottom plate 66 and the base portion 32.
In the further alternate embodiment shown in FIG. 6, defogging is taken care of by means of an air channel 92 through which air is continuously pumped (the air flowing in the direction of the arrows, as shown from the air inlets through the air outlet port 94 in the doom 96). Since the device needs to be taken apart for cleaning purposes, the doom 96 is sealed to the base 68 by a close fit and the seal 98.
It will be understood that various changes in the details, materials and arrangement of parts which have been herein described and illustrated in order to explain the nature of this invention, may be made by those skilled in the art within the principle and scope of the invention as expressed in the following claims. For example, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, a bottom switch 100 is provided for manually starting or stopping the rotation of the rotor (28,30,32). However, the rotor could rotate constantly at l or 2 rpm and be stopped automatically on opening of the door.
It will further be understood that the Abstract of the Disclosure set forth above is intended to provide a non-legal technical statement of the contents of the disclosure in compliance with the Rules of Practice of the United States Patent Office, and is not intended to limit the scope of the invention described and claimed herein.
What is claimed is:
l. A controlled temperature container having a rotatable inner shelf means, comprising:
a. a base;
b. a capsule mounted on said base and having an access port therein and a door mounted thereon covering said access port;
c. a rotor means comprising a rotor having a central cylindrical portion extending upwardly from a horizontally extending base portion and having a plurality of shelves mounted on said central portion, disposed within said capsule for rotation with re- .spect thereto; said central portion being hollow and having a plurality of holes therein; said base portion having a plurality of louvers therein; and
d. controlled temperature means comprising at least one thermoelectric module; and air circulation means comprising a fan mounted below said base portion to circulate air through said central portion and said louvers.
2. The invention of claim 1 wherein said rotor means has a motor mounted to a frame and a spider member attached to said motor for rotation in response to rotation of the shaft of said motor; said spider member being connected to said base portion of said rotor so that said base portion rotates with said spider member. l