US 3779292 A
A filling apparatus for carbonated beverages including a filling valve connected to a beverage source under pressure and including a measuring cylinder movable into and out of a container to be filled. The measuring cylinder has a foot valve on its lower end and is telescopically associated with an inlet valve. The measuring cylinder is filled with a predetermined amount of beverage at superatmospheric pressure by moving the cylinder down into an empty container when the foot valve is closed and the inlet valve is open. The inlet valve is then closed and the cylinder is again moved down a slight amount to increase the volume thus reducing the pressure of a measured volume of beverage to atmospheric pressure. The foot valve is then opened and the measuring cylinder is moved upwardly at one rate and the container is moved upwardly at a slower rate relative to the closed inlet valve to transfer the measured quantity of beverage into the container at atmospheric pressure.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Mencacci Dec. 18, 1973 CARBONATED BEVERAGE FILLER  Inventor: Samuel A. Mencacci, Saratoga,
 Assignee: FMC Corporation, San Jose, Calif.
 Filed: Mar. 17, 1972  Appl. No.: 235,516
 US. Cl ..141/11, 141/172, 141/374,
222/1, 222/451  Int. Cl B65b 3/04  Field of Search 222/436, 451, 365,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,225,087 12/1940 Tade 222/436 Primary ExaminerHouston S. Bell, .lr. Attorney-F. W. Anderson et a1.
[5 7 ABSTRACT A filling apparatus for carbonated beverages including a filling valve connected to a beverage source under pressure and including a measuring cylinder movable into and out of a container to be filled. The measuring cylinder has a foot valve on its lower end and is telescopically associated with an inlet valve. The measuring cylinder is filled with a predetermined amount of beverage at superatmospheric pressure by moving the cylinder down into an empty container when the foot valve is closed and the inlet valve is open. The inlet valve is then closed and the cylinder is again moved down a slight amount to increase the volume thus reducing the pressure of a measured volume of beverage to atmospheric pressure. The foot valve is then opened and the measuring cylinder is moved upwardly at one rate and the container is moved upwardly at a slower rate relative to the closed inlet valve to transfer the measured quantity of beverage into the container at atmospheric pressure.
CARBONATED BEVERAGE FILLER BACKGROUND OF TI-IE INVENTION psi gauge. Thus, the filling valves are provided with resilient can lip seals which engage the upper edge of the cans, and each can must be supported on a can lift table which forces the can upwardly'against the seal with a force at least equal to the beverage supply pressure multiplied by the cross sectional area of the container. Such forces are on the order of about 230 pounds when the beverage pressure is 40 psi and a standard 2 ll/l6th diameter beverage can is being filled. Because of this high sealing pressure, the life of the lip seal is very short, and seal wear which occurs before final seal failure varies the volume of beverage being filled into the cans by leakage past the seal and by inconsistent amounts of bowing of the end of the cans. A further disadvantage of this type of prior art pressure filling apparatus is that the wall thickness of the cans must be relatively thick, to withstand the high sealing pressures and thus the cost of the containers are unnecessarily high. Another disadvantage is that the carbonated liquid which is directed into the container is directed in and runs down the walls of the containers at relatively high speed causing a scrubbing" action which tends to release the carbon dioxide from the liquid providing objectionable foaming of the liquid. Also, air within the empty containers is discharged into the headspace of the supply tank resulting in an undesirable mixture of air and carbon dioxide in the headspace of the tank. Furthermore, each filling valve must be provided with a snifter valve to bleed air and carbon dioxide from the container headspace before the container is released from the lip seal.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the present invention the beverage is filled into the container at substantially atmospheric pressure. For this purpose, each filling valve includes a measuring cylinder having a foot valve and an inlet valve that are relatively movable. The valves and cylinder define a collapsible measuring chamber which when the valves are spaced a predetermined distance apart confines the predetermined quantity of liquid therein at the supply pressure and at a temperature slightly above 32F. The measuring chamber is then expanded slightly to increase the volume of the measuring chamber sufficiently to reduce the pressure therein to a pressure that is substantially equal to atmospheric pressure. When standard beverage cans that are 2 11/ 16th inches in diameter and 4 14/ 16th inches long are being filled, the measuring chamber is expanded linearly only by about 0.00 l-0.003 of an inch to reduce the pressure of the confined liquid to atmospheric pressure.
The measuring chamber is filled and reduced to atmospheric pressure when the lower portion of the measuring cylinder is moving to a position within the container wherein the foot valve is disposed immediately adjacent the bottom of the container. The foot valve is then opened and the inlet valve remains closed. The foot valve and measuring cylinder are moved toward the inlet valve at a predetermined rate less than about six linear feet per second thereby allowing the liquid beverage to gravitate, as opposed to being forced out of the measuring cylinder, into the container. As the foot valve and cylinder are moving toward the closed inlet valve, the container is also gradually raised but such raising is at a slower rate allowing the foot valve to remain below the level of the liquid in the container at all times during filling except upon initial opening of the foot valve. Accordingly, foaming will be greatly minimized since there is very little opportunity for air to mix with the liquid. Also, foaming due to scrubbing of the carbon dioxide containing liquid will be minimized since the velocity of the liquid relative to the container walls is reduced to a minimum. It will also be noted that the air within the container is bled directly to the atmosphere and not into the headspace of the supply tank as in the prior art devices.
Since the open upper end of the container is not subjected to any sealing pressures during filling, the walls of the container may be quite thin since no pressure resisting forces, except that required to resist the forces of applying covers to the containers, is required. Also, because the containers are filled at atmospheric pressure, rather than at superatmospheric pressure as in the prior art devices, uncontrollable bowing of the end walls of the containers is not a problem. It has been determined that filling accuracies of 0.1 percent by weight are obtained with the apparatus of the present invention as compared to an accuracy of i 0.5 percent by weight of containers filled by the prior art device. Also, because upward sealing pressures are not required in the present beverage filler, expensive can lifters are not required and can tracks that are coated with a low friction material such as teflon are used to support and vary the elevation of the containers during filling.
It is therefore one object of the present invention to provide a method and an apparatus for filling containers with a gas containing liquid such as a carbonated liquid at atmospheric pressure.
Another object is to provide a carbonated beverage filler capable of filling light weight thin walled containers.
Another object is to provide a carbonated beverage filler wherein headspace gases from the containers being filled is discharged directly to the atmosphere without contaminating the gas or liquid in the beverage supply tank.
Another object is to provide a more accurate method and apparatus for filling carbonated liquids into containers.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic plan with parts broken away of the carbonated beverage filler of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a vertical section taken along lines 2-2 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 2A is a horizontal section taken along lines 2A-2A of FIG. 2 illustrating the flexible hoses for connecting the beverage supply tank to the several filling valves.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged diagrammatic vertical section taken through one of the valves and its operating mechanism.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged central section taken through one of the inlet valves.
FIG. 5 is a perspective of a portion of one of the measuring cylinders.
FIGS. 6-11 are operational views in elevation illustrating progressive steps in the container filling operation.
FIG. 12 is a cam diagram illustrating the sequence of operation of the several components of each filling valve.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT In FIGS. 1 and 2 the reference numeral indicates generally the filling machine of the present invention which includes a stationary base 22 that supports a stationary tubular center post 23. The base also supports an outer wall member 24 that has, extending around the major portion of its upper edge, an inwardly projecting rim 25 on which a pair of circular container support tracks 26 are mounted. A guide rail 27, which is supported from three fixed standards 28 projecting upwardly from the side of the outer wall member 24, retains containers C on the platform as they are moved in a circular path. The containers C, which may be jars, metal cans or the like, are fed onto the platform by a star wheel 29 that is keyed to a shaft 29a. As seen in FIG. 2, the shaft 290 is journalled near its upper end in a bushing carried by the rim 25, and near its lower end, in a bushing carried in a bracket 31 and another bushing carried by the base 22. The shaft 29a and the star wheel attached thereto are driven at a speed up to about 1,500 cans per minute through a bevel gear set 32 from a drive shaft 33 that is adapted to be driven continuously.
A tubular post 37, which surrounds the center post 23, is secured at its lower end to a large gear 38 that also surrounds center post 23 and is supported for rotation on the base 22 by an anti-friction bearing ring 39. The gear 38 is in mesh with a pinion 40 that is keyed to shaft 29a.
About halfway up from its lower end, the post 37 has a pusher ring 41 secured thereto as by setscrews. At its outer periphery the ring 41 is provided with twelve equi-spaced pockets 42 (FIG. 1) that receive containers from the star wheel 29 and subsequently discharge them onto chute 43 leading to a conventional takeaway conveyor.
At its upper end, the tubular post 37 carries a supply tank or reservoir 46 having a cover 46a thereon for maintaining liquid that is to be filled into the containers C under superatmospheric pressure. The reservior is a heavy sheet metal member that has a conical base wall 47 and a cylindrical outer wall 48. A short outwardly extending flanged platform 49 is rigid with the outer wall 48 and supports a plurality of filler valves 50. Each filler valve 50 is guided for vertical reciprocal movement by a spider 52 and is connected to the reservoir by flexible resilient conduits 53 that extend tangentially from the reservoir 46 as indicated in FIG. 2A. Liquid is supplied to the reservoir by a central overhead supply conduit 56 and carbon dioxide is supplied through a conduit 57, preferably at a superatmospheric pressure of between about l5-40 psig.
In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1 there are twelve valve assemblies 50 positioned in equi-shaped angular relation around the outer portion of the reservoir. Only nine valves are shown in FIG. 1. The valves are identical and, as seen in FIG. 3, each valve includes a measuring cylinder 58 that is guided for vertical movement in an annular passage in the spider 52. The measuring chamber or cylinder 58 (FIG. 4) includes a cylinder head 59 and is also vertically movable relative to an annular valve seat 60 that is suspended by four rods 62 (two only being shown in FIG. 3). The rods 62 are fixed to and depend from a vertically adjustable collar 63 which is normally secure in adjusted position to the platform 49. The rods 62 are also slidably received in and sealed by O-rings to the cylinder head 59. As seen in FIG. 4, a conventional rubber seal ring is disposed in the outer periphery of the valve seat 60 to maintain a sealing contact with the measuring cylinder 58 as it moves vertically relative to the valve seat 60.
Vertical movement of the measuring cylinder 58 is effected by a tube 73 (FIG. 3) which is connected to the cylinder head 59 and is guided for vertical movement in the collar 63 and in a bracket 65 secured to a vertical cylindrical wall 48 of the reservoir. A collar 76, which is secured to the upper end of the tube 73, carries a guide roller 77 at one side and a cam follower roller 78 at the other side. The guide roller 77 travels in a vertical slot defined by spaced vertical tracks 79 and 80 that are supported by the lower bracket 65 and by upper brackets 82 and 83. The cam follower 78 travels in a cam track 84 defined between upper and lower plates 85 and 86 that are secured to three fixed tubular standards 87 projecting upwardly from the base 22. It will be apparent that, as the reservoir is rotated about its central axis, all of the filling valves are moved in a circular path, and the cam follower 78 associated with each valve travels in the cam track 84 and reciprocates the measuring cylinder vertically. The contour of the cam track 84 will be discussed hereinafter.
Each valve assembly 50 also includes an inlet valve 90 and a foot valve 91. The inlet valve 90 comprises a valve member 90a, that is adapted to engage a seal ring 94 (FIG. 4) carried in the valve seat 60, and a lifting tube 90b that is slidably joumaled in the tube 73. The tube 90b is reciprocated vertically by means of a collar 97 that is secured to the tube 90b and carries a guide roller 98 and a cam follower roller 99. The guide roller is disposed in the track between plates 79 and 80, and the follower 99 travels along a cam track 100 defined by members 101 and 102.
The foot valve 91 includes a valve member 910 (FIG. 3), that seats on a seal ring 92 in the lower end of cylinder 58, and a lift rod 91b that is slidably journaled in the tube 90b. A collar 104, which is secured to the upper end portion of rod 91b, carries a guide roller 105 and a cam follower roller 106. The guide roller 105 is disposed in the slot between plates 79 and 80, and the follower 106 travels in a cam track 108 defined by members 109 and 110.
Referring to FIG. 1, it will be noted that the containers C are advanced in the direction of arrow A by a feed screw which delivers them to the star wheel 29. The star wheel rotates in a counterclockwise direction and moves each container into a separate pocket 42 of the pusher ring 41 which travels clockwise. The container C is fully in the pocket 42 and directly below a valve 50 when it reaches the position indicated by the zero degree radial line position (FIG. 12). Since the lower wall of the reservoir and the valve supporting flange 49 in effect constitutes a turret which carries the valves 50 in a circular path, the reservoir will be referred to as a turret hereinafter to coordinate the movements of the valve elements with their circular move- 1 ment.
, The major operations of each valve 50 as it and the container C therebelow travel in a clockwise path with the turret are indicated in FIGS. 61 1. In addition, FIG. 12 indicates graphically the movements of the various elements. FIG. 6 illustrates the position of the members at the zero degree entry position. The foot valve 91a is closed; the inlet valve 90a is closed; and the measuring cylinder 58 is in its raised position.
For the first ten degrees of rotation the valves and the cylinder are held in the FIG. 6 position, allowing the containers C to become fully oriented under the valve 50. At about the position of the turret the measuring cylinder 58 and the foot valve 91a are moved downwardly as a unit, the valve 91a remaining on its seat. Also, at the 10 position, the inlet valve 90a is moved upwardly off its seat to permit liquid to flow into the cylinder 58 as it moves downwardly.
At about the 45 position the unitary downward movement of the measuring chamber 58 and the foot valve 91a is stopped as shown in FIG. 7. During the next five degrees of rotation, the inlet valve 900 is moved downwardly to closed position to trap a predetermined charge of liquid in the measuring chamber.
An important feature of the invention is that after the valve 90a is closed, the measuring chamber 58 and the foot valve 91a are again lowered to a position close to, but spaced slightly above, the bottom of the container as indicated at 118 in FIGS. 7 and 8. The second downward movement of the cylinder and foot valve is initiated at about the 52 position and is completed during about three degrees of rotation of the turret. This second downward movement of the cylinder and foot valve causes a slight increase in the volume of the measuring chamber 58. As a result the initial pressure in the cylinder, which may be substantially equal to the equalizing pressure of the dissolved gas in the liquid at a specific temperature plus the hydrostatic head of the liquid in the measuring chamber and reservoir, plug any overriding gas pressure in the reservoir, is reduced substantially to atmospheric pressure. As mentioned previously, the overriding pressure is conventionally on the order of 15-40 psig, but it will be understood that this pressure may be as low as atmospheric pressure if desired.
After the pressure is reduced, the foot valve 91a is moved upwardly toward the open position of FIG. 9, the opening movement starting at about the 65 position and being completed at the 75 position. At this position, the measuring cylinder and the open foot valve are moved upwardly as a unit. As the cylinder is elevated, liquid flows into the container as indicated in FIG. 10. When the 272 position is reached, the cylinder has been completely emptied, and the foot valve has been tightly closed on its seat 92.
It will be noted in FIGS. 6 to 11 that the support tracks 26 on which the container rides-are relatively low up until theFlG. 9 position is reached. Thereafter, starting at about the 94 position of the turret, the height of the tracks is increased to gradually elevate the container during the container filling period. Also, the innermost track is of less height than the outermost track to hold the container in a tilted position to counteract the effect of centrifugal force on the liquid in the container.
At about the 292 position of the turret the FIG. 11 position is reached and the filled container is moved into the downwardly inclined tangential discharge chute 43.
Although the specification and claims refer to the filling of carbonated liquids or beverages, it is to be understood that the claims are to be construed broadly enough to cover the filling of any liquid having any type of gas under pressure absorbed therein. It is also to be understood that the valve of the present invention is capable of handling liquid having gas absorbed therein when the liquid in the reservoir is at substantially atmospheric pressure.
Although a multiple valve beverage filler has been illustrated, it is to be understood that the invention is to be construed broadly enough to cover a single manually operated beverage filler of the type used to fill glasses or mugs at a refreshment stand.
From the foregoing description it is apparent that the carbonated beverage filler of the present invention is operable to confine a measured quantity of carbonated liquid in a measuring chamber, to reduce the pressure of the confined liquid by increasing the size of the chamber, and to dispense the measured quantity of liquid into a container at atmospheric pressure. Because the containers need not be sealed to the filling valve at high pressure, the containers are supported on inexpensive can tracks which are banked to accommodate filling at speeds up to about 1,500 cans per minute.
Although the best mode contemplated for carrying out the present invention has been herein shown and described, it will be apparent that modification and variation may be made without departing from what is regarded to be the subject matter of the invention.
What I claim is:
1. An apparatus for filling a carbonated liquid into a container comprising, supplying means for maintaining a supply of carbonated liquid under superatmospheric pressure, means defining a variable volume measuring chamber for receiving and confining a predetermined quantity of liquid at said superatmospheric pressure from said supply means, means for slightly increasing the volume of said chamber defining means for reducing the pressure of said liquid to about atmospheric pressure, and foot valve means for releasing the liquid from the measuring chamber into a container at atmospheric pressure.
2. An apparatus according to claim 1 and additionally comprising means for lowering the measuring chamber into the container during confinement of the measured quantity of liquid, and means for raising the measuring chamber from the container during the release of the liquid into the container.
3. An apparatus according to claim 1 and additionally comprising container supporting means for raising the container at a slower rate than the rate of upward movement of the measuring chamber during the release of liquid into the container.
4. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said variable volume measuring chamber defining means includes, means defining an inlet valve, a tubular cylinder telescopically associated with said inlet valve means, a foot valve on the lower end of said tubular cylinder, valve control means for opening and closing said valves, cylinder control means for telescopically moving said cylinder relative to said inlet valve between a first position wherein said foot valve contacts said inlet valve, a second position wherein said foot valve is spaced a predetermined distance from said inlet valve for confining a predetermined quantity of liquid at superatmospheric pressure therebetween, and a third position slightly extended from said second position for reducing the pressure of the liquid to about atmospheric pressure.
5. An apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the additional extension of said cylinder from said second position to said third position is about 0.001 0.003 of an inch.
6. An apparatus for filling a carbonated liquid in a container comprising a driven turret, a stationary container supporting track surrounding a portion of said turret and having portions which vary in elevation, means on said turret for receiving open top containers and driving them around the turret, a supply tank on said turret for maintaining a supply of carbonated liq-v uid, a filling valve carried by said turret and disposed in axial alignment with the container, conduit means connecting said supply tank to said filling valve, a tubular measuring cylinder included in said filling valve, a foot valve on the lower end of said measuring cylinder, an inlet valve disposed above said foot valve, valve control means for opening and closing said inlet valve and said foot valve, cylinder control means for telescopically moving said cylinder relative to said inlet valve between a first position wherein said foot valve contacts said inlet valve and a second position wherein said foot valve is spaced a predetermined distance from said inlet valve for confining a predetermined quantity of liquid at superatmospheric pressure therebetween, and a third position slightly extended from said second position for reducing the pressure of the liquid to about atmospheric pressure, said cylinder control means being adapted to move the cylinder and foot valve down into the container when moving from said first to said second and third positions, said foot valve being opened to release the liquid at atmospheric pressure into the container while said cylinder control means raises said tubular measuring cylinder out of the container.
7. An' apparatus according to claim 6 wherein said container drive means slides the container around the track and wherein the track lifts the container at a slower rate than the rate of upward movement of the measuring cylinder when the liquid is being released into the container.
8. An apparatus according to claim 7 wherein the rate of upward movement of the measuring cylinder is less than six linear feet per second.
9. An apparatus according to claim 6 wherein a movement of between about 0.001 to 0.003 of an inch is required when said measuring cylinder moves from said second to said third position.
10. An apparatus according to claim 9 wherein said conduit means is a flexible hose.
11. A method of filling a carbonated liquid into a container comprising the steps of providing a supply of carbonated liquid maintained at superatmospheric pressure, confining a measured quantity of the liquid at said superatmospheric pressure within a measuring chamber, slightly increasing the volume of the measuring chamber for reducing the pressure of the measured quantity of liquid to approximately atmospheric pressure, and releasing the measured quantity of liquid from the measuring chamber into a container at atmospheric pressure.
12. A method according to claim 11 and including the steps of lowering the measuring chamber into the container while confining the measured quantity pf liquid, and raising the measuring chamber from the container during release of the liquid into the container.
13. A method according to claim 12 and additionally including the step of raising the container at a slower rate than the rate of rise of the measuring chamber during the release of liquid into the container.
14. A method according to claim 12 including the step of releasing the liquid from the measuring chamber at a point below the level of liquid in the container during a major portion of the upward travel of the measuring chamber from the container.
15. A method according to claim 11 wherein the upper surface of the container is open to the atmosphere for allowing air within the container to flow directly into the atmosphere.
16. A method according to claim 12 and additionally including the steps of moving the measuring chamber along a predetermined path, slidably supporting a container, moving the container into position below and concentric with the measuring chamber when moving through a portion of the path, moving the container through said portion of said path while retaining concentric alignment with the chamber, and vertically moving the container by sliding the container along said path.
17. A method according to claim 16 wherein said path is a circular path.
18. A method according to claim 11 wherein said superatmospheric pressure is within the range of about 15-40 psi gauge.
19. A high speed apparatus for filling a carbonated liquid into a container comprising a driven turret, supply means for maintaining a supply of carbonated liquid, means defining a variable volume measuring chamber carried by said turret and communicating with said supply means for receiving and confining a predetermined quantity of the carbonated liquid therein, means for slightly increasing the volume of said chamber after the liquid has been confined therein, means defining a container track for receiving the container and maintaining the upper open end of the container in position to telescopically receive a portion of said measuring chamber while said chamber is being filled with liquid, means for advancing the container around said track while maintaining axial alignment with said measuring chamber means, a foot valve in said chamber defining means, means for opening said foot valve after said chamber has been slightly increased in volume, and means for raising said measuring chamber means out of said container at a predetermined rate for releasing the liquid from said measuring chamber into said container, said track means including an upwardly inclined portion for raising the container at a rate slower than tainer.
22. An apparatus according to claim 21 wherein twelve variable volume measuring chambers are evenly spaced around the periphery of the turret, and wherein the turret is driven at a speed which will fill between LOGO-1,500 containers per minute.
Disclaimer 8,779,292.Samuel A. Mencacci, Saratoga, Calif. CARBONATED BEER- i AGE FILLER. Patent dated Dec. 18, 1973. Disclaimer filed Jan. 19,
1976, by the assignee, FMO Gowpomtz'on. Hereby enters this disclaimer to claims 1, 2, 4-6, 9-12, 14, 15 and 18 01'' said. patent.
[Ofiicial Gazette Mamh 30, 1976.]