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SUBSTANCE CONTAINMENT APPARATUS
This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 07/804,883, filed Dec. 6, 1991, now abandoned. 5
1. Field of the Invention 10 The present invention relates to a multi-chamber substance containment apparatus for separately storing two or more substances in one container.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Dehydration is a common method of preserving perish- 15 able foods. For example, the usable periods ("shelf-life") of liquid milk is increased from a few weeks to several months or more by dehydrating the liquid milk to form powdered milk. Dehydrated substances are particularly useful when refrigeration is not available because the dehydrated sub- 20 stances can be stored at room temperature. Of course, when dehydrated edible substances are re-hydrated by mixing with a liquid, the shelf-life of the re-hydrated edible substance is typically the same as or shorter than the perishable food from which the dehydrated substance was produced. There- 25 fore, it is advantageous to postpone the hydration process until the dehydrated substance and liquid are mixed; that is, immediately prior to consumption.
FIG. 1 shows a prior art baby bottle 10 used to dispense liquid baby formula or milk. The baby bottle 10 includes an 30 outer wall 11 defining a chamber 12, a mouth 13 defining an opening 14, and a nipple assembly 15 which covers the opening 14. The nipple assembly 15 includes a base 16 and a nipple 17. The nipple assembly 15 is typically connected to the bottle portion 10 by means of mating threads 8 and 18 35 which are located on the mouth 13 and the base 16, respectively.
Powdered baby formula and water are mixed in the prior art baby bottle 10 by inserting predetermined amounts of 4Q powdered formula and water through the opening 14 into the chamber 12, attaching the nipple portion 15, and shaking the baby bottle 10 until the powdered formula and water mix to produce liquid baby formula. The liquid baby formula is then either immediately consumed or refrigerated for later 45 consumption.
There are several disadvantages associated with the use of prior art single-chamber containers, such as the abovedescribed baby bottle, for preparing hydrated mixtures from a dehydrated substance. One disadvantage is that two stor- 50 age containers are required to store the water and the dehydrated substance prior to mixing. Mixing requires transferring one of the dehydrated substance and the water from one container to the other. The dehydrated substance and the water can be contaminated during the transfer, particularly 55 when mixing is performed away from home. In addition, in some situations, such as when mixing is performed in a car, spillage or incorrect mixing quantities can result because level surfaces and suitable measuring devices are not available. 60
Prior art containment apparatuses addressing the abovedescribed disadvantages are taught in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,793, 776, 2,807,384 and 2,813,649 (the "Lipari patents"). Each apparatus taught in the Lipari patents includes first and second chambers joined by a narrow channel which is 65 blocked by an axially-displaced seal or a seal punctured by an axially-displaced plunger.
A problem with the apparatuses taught in the Lipari patents is that the narrow channel between the first and second chambers is too small to allow thorough mixing of the liquid and substance.
Another problem is that the axially-displayed seals and plunger impede mixing through the narrow channel after the seals are opened. That is, the liquid is impeded from entering the chamber containing the substance because the axiallydisplaced seals and plunger block a portion of the effective "flow area" between the two chambers.
Another problem with the apparatuses taught in the Lipari patents is that they are comprised of numerous parts and mechanisms. Therefore, the apparatuses are complicated to use and expensive to produce.
The present invention is directed to an apparatus that satisfies the need for a multi-chamber container which allows thorough mixing of two substances. The apparatus comprises a bottle having a first opening, and a hollow member which includes a curved wall and a second opening. The hollow member is adjustable between a closed position, in which the curved wall is disposed to block the first opening, and an open position in which the first and second openings align to define a passage between an interior of the bottle and an interior of the hollow member.
The apparatus provides a sanitary method for storing and mixing two substances, such as water and powdered baby formula, which overcomes the problems associated with prior art multi-chamber apparatus. The rotating or pivoting action of the curved wall between the open and closed positions provides a large, unobstructed flow area. In addition, the rotating or pivoting action allows for a less complicated and less expensive design.
In a first embodiment the apparatus includes a bottle and a hollow member, the hollow member being comprised of a housing connected to the bottle and a ball member rotatably disposed in the housing. The ball member includes the second opening. A portion of the ball member blocks the first opening of the bottle when the ball member is in a closed position, and the second opening aligns with the first opening to form a passage between the interior of the bottle and an interior of the ball member when the ball member is in an open position.
In a presently preferred embodiment, the hollow member is a sphere defining an upper opening and a lower opening, and the apparatus further comprises a housing adjustably connected to the bottle. The housing includes an interior portion wherein the hollow member is rotatably disposed when the housing is loosely connected to the bottle. When the housing is tightly connected to the bottle, the hollow member is fixedly held in a selected position such as an open position, wherein the lower opening aligns with the first opening of the bottle, or a closed position, wherein a portion of the hollow member blocks the first opening of the bottle. The hollow member can be fixedly held such that the lower opening only partially aligns with the first opening in the bottle to provide a slower mixing of the substances stored in the hollow member and the bottle.
In accordance with the present invention, a method of containing a substance and a liquid for mixing at a predetermined time comprises the steps of disposing a first predetermined amount of the liquid in a bottle having a first opening, rotating a curved wall to block the first opening, storing a second predetermined amount of a substance in a
hollow member having a second opening, and at the predetermined time, rotating the curved wall away from the opening such that a passage is created between the liquid and the substance.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The display device of the present invention as described in detail below will be best understood by reference to the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 shows a section view of a prior art baby bottle;
FIGS. 2A to 2E show side section views of substance containment apparatus incorporating the present invention.
FIG. 3 shows a front view of a first embodiment of the present invention. ;5
FIG. 4 shows a section side view of the first embodiment taken along line 4—4 of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 shows an exploded section view of the hollow member of the first embodiment.
FIGS. 6A and 6B show partial side section views showing the open and closed positions of the hollow member in accordance with the first embodiment.
FIG. 7 shows an exploded perspective view of a second embodiment incorporating the present invention. 25
FIG. 8 shows a section side view of the apparatus of FIG. 7 in a closed position.
FIG. 9 shows a section side view of the apparatus of FIG. 7 in an open position.
As shown in FIGS. 2A to 2D, a substance containment apparatus incorporating the present invention includes a bottle 110 having a first opening 115 and a hollow member 35 120 adjustably disposed adjacent the bottle 110. A connector 130 connects the hollow member 120 to the bottle 110. The hollow member 120 includes a curved wall 121, a second opening 125 and a third opening 126. A cover 105 is disposed over the third opening 126. The hollow member 40 120 is adjustable relative to the bottle 110 such that when the hollow member 120 is in a closed (first) position, as shown in FIG. 2A, a portion 122 of the curved wall 121 is disposed to block the first opening 115 of the bottle 110, and when the hollow member 120 is in an open (second) position, as 45 shown in FIG. 2B, the first opening 115 and the second opening 125 align to define a passage (indicated by arrow P) between an interior 119 of the bottle 110 and an interior 123 of the hollow member 120. The connector 130 fixedly connects the hollow member 120 to the bottle 110 in the 50 open position, the closed position, or an intermediate position (not shown). The hollow member 120 can be fixedly held such that the second opening 125 only partially aligns with the first opening 115 in the bottle to provide a slower mixing of the substances stored in the hollow member 120 55 and the bottle 115.
As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, in one embodiment of the present invention, the hollow member 120 is integrally formed with the curved wall 121. In this embodiment, the second opening 125 is formed in the curved wall 121, and 60 the curved wall 121 pivots or rotates relative to the bottle 110 from the open position to the closed position. The curved wall 121 can either be a planar curved surface, a spherical surface, or a surface combining planar and spherical portions. The remaining portions of hollow member 120 65 can be any other shape, so long as adjustment from the open position to the closed position is not impeded.
As shown in FIGS. 2C and 2D, in another embodiment of the present invention, hollow member 120' and curved wall 121' are formed as separate elements. Hollow member 120' is a housing having second opening 125' and third opening 126'. A removable cover 105' is disposed over third opening 126'. Curved wall 121' is shown as a partial cylinder or sphere which is rotatably or pivotably disposed in the hollow member 120'; however, the curved wall 121' can also be a full cylinder or sphere.
As shown in FIG. 2E, in another embodiment, bottle 110' includes an upper opening 116' covered by removable cover 105" and a lower opening 115'. A hollow member 120" is adjustably disposed adjacent the lower opening 115'. In this embodiment the substances stored in the hollow member 120" and in the bottle 110' can pass through the upper opening 116' after the hollow member 120" is in the open position and the cover 105" is removed.
A method of containing and mixing a substance and a liquid using the substance storage apparatuses described above includes the steps of disposing a first predetermined amount of the liquid in the bottle 110, adjusting the curved wall 121 to block the opening 115, and storing a second predetermined amount of a substance in the hollow member 120. At a desired mixing time, the hollow member 120 is adjusted such that the curved wall 121 no longer blocks the opening 115, thereby allowing the liquid in the bottle 110 to mix with the substance stored in the hollow member 120. The substance storage apparatus is then manually or mechanically shaken to thoroughly mix the substance and the liquid.
A benefit of the present invention over the containment systems of the prior art is that the curved wall 121 can be rotated away from the opening 115 of the bottle 110, thereby allowing a large, unobstructed passage through which the substances stored in the bottle 110 and the hollow member 120 can be mixed. Further, the hollow member 120 incorporating the present invention is inexpensive to manufacture, and simple to use.
Other aspects and benefits of the present invention will become apparent in the following descriptions of two embodiments of the present invention. First Embodiment
FIGS. 3 to 6B illustrate a first embodiment of a substance containment apparatus incorporating the present invention.
As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the apparatus comprises a bottle 210 and a hollow member 220 comprised of a lower casing 230 connected to the bottle 210, an upper casing 240 disposed on the lower casing 230, means 250 for connecting the lower casing 230 to the upper casing 240, and a ball member 221 rotatably disposed within a hollow portion defined by the upper casing 240 and the lower casing 230. A cover or nipple assembly 205 is optionally connected to the upper casing 240. All parts of the housing are preferably made of plastic and are produced using known molding methods.
As shown in FIG. 5, the lower casing 230 includes a lower portion 231, and an upper portion 232. The lower portion 231 includes a shelf 233 which abuts a mouth of the bottle 210 when the lower casing 230 is connected to bottle 210. The lower portion 231 includes an opening 234 and includes lower threads 235. The lower threads 235 and the shelf 233 are disposed to mate with the bottle 210 such that a passage is formed through the lower opening 234 and the opening 215 of the bottle 210. The upper portion 232 includes upper threads 236 which connect the lower casing 230 to the upper casing 240 using the connector 250, as described below. The lower casing 230 also has a curved inner surface 237 shaped