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Container with integrated desiccant closure

Abstrict

A containment vessel is disclosed that generally includes a container body with an interior containment volume and a lid closure having a substantially enclosed cavity configured to hold a desiccant material therein. The integrated desiccant lid closure generally has an interiorly disposed surface with a plurality of openings for exposing the desiccant material to the internal atmosphere of the container while retaining the desiccant material within the lid enclosure. The container body and the lid closure may be adapted to conform to a substantially matched polygonal shape, such as that of a prism. Disclosed features and specifications may be variously controlled, adapted or otherwise optionally modified to improve moisture control for stored food products. Exemplary embodiments of the present invention generally provide for the long-term storage of tea sachets.

Claims

1. A containment vessel comprising: a container body having an interior containment volume; a lid closure having a substantially enclosed cavity, said lid closure suitably adapted for receiving a desiccant material disposed within said cavity, said lid closure comprising an interiorly disposed engagement surface with respect to said container body and at least one opening in said interiorly disposed surface of said lid closure, said opening suitably configured to at least partially expose said desiccant material to the internal atmosphere of said containment vessel while substantially retaining the disposition of said desiccant material within said lid closure cavity; said container body comprising a first substantially polygonal shape; and said lid closure comprising a second substantially polygonal shape, wherein said lid closure is suitably configured for engagement with said container body to provide a substantially sealed interior containment volume.

2. The containment vessel of claim 1 wherein said first polygonal shape is substantially similar to said second polygonal shape.

3. The containment vessel of claim 2 wherein said first and second polygonal shape comprise a triangular shape.

4. The containment vessel of claim 1 wherein said desiccant material comprises at least one of silica gel, a clay desiccant, montmorillonite, vermiculite, activated alumina, a molecular sieve, DRIERITE, and ZORB-IT.

5. The containment vessel of claim 1 wherein at least one of said container body and said lid closure are manufactured from pressed-metal.

6. The containment vessel of claim 1 wherein the interior containment volume of said container body is suitably configured for receiving tea sachets.

7. The containment vessel of claim 6 wherein said tea sachets comprise at least one of a shape, volume and planar projection substantially matched to at least one dimension of said container body.

8. A container body suitably adapted for use as a containment vessel, said container body comprising: an interior containment volume; said container body suitably configured for engagement with a lid closure, said lid closure having a substantially enclosed cavity suitably adapted for receiving a desiccant material disposed within said cavity, said lid closure comprising an interiorly disposed engagement surface with respect to said container body and at least one opening in said interiorly disposed surface of said lid closure, said opening suitably configured to at least partially expose said desiccant material to the internal atmosphere of said containment vessel while substantially retaining the disposition of said desiccant material within said lid closure cavity.

9. The container body of claim 8 wherein said container body comprises a polygonal shape.

10. The container body of claim 9 wherein said polygonal shape comprises a triangular shape.

11. The container body of claim 9 wherein said container body is from pressed-metal.

12. The container body of claim 9 wherein the interior containment volume of said container body is suitably configured for receiving tea sachets.

13. The container body of claim 9 wherein said tea sachets comprise at least one of a shape, volume and planar projection substantially matched to at least one dimension of said container body.

14. A lid closure suitably adapted for use with a container body, said lid closure comprising: a substantially enclosed cavity, said lid closure suitably adapted for receiving a desiccant material disposed within said cavity; an interiorly disposed engagement surface with respect to said container body and at least one opening in said interiorly disposed surface of said lid closure, said opening suitably configured to at least partially expose said desiccant material to the internal atmosphere of said container body while substantially retaining the disposition of said desiccant material within said lid closure cavity; and wherein said lid closure is suitably configured for engagement with said container body to provide a substantially sealed interior containment volume.

15. The lid closure of claim 14 wherein said lid closure comprises a substantially polygonal shape.

16. The lid closure of claim 15 wherein said polygonal shape comprises a triangular shape.

17. The lid closure of claim 14 wherein said desiccant material comprises at least one of silica gel, a clay desiccant, montmorillonite, vermiculite, activated alumina, a molecular sieve, DRIERITE, and ZORB-IT.

18. The lid closure of claim 14 wherein said lid closure is fabricated from pressed-metal.

19. The lid closure of claim 14 wherein the interior containment volume of said container body is suitably configured for receiving tea sachets.

20. The lid closure of claim 19 wherein said tea sachets comprise at least one of a shape, volume and planar projection substantially matched to at least one dimension of said container body.

Description

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/574855 filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office on May 26 2004 by David Watson and Jeffery Irish.

FIELD OF INVENTION

[0002] The present invention provides systems, devices and methods for food storage; and more particularly, representative and exemplary embodiments of the present invention generally relate to tea canisters having integrated desiccant lid assemblies.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

[0003] It is well known that food products may be packaged in a variety of ways in order to address various types of problems such as, for example: protection of a food product from damage or tampering; providing an aesthetically pleasing display of the product to consumers; extending the shelf-life of the product; preventing the degradation of characteristics of the product, such as flavor and/or the like; reducing the incidence of food-borne illness; as well as other problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] In various representative aspects, the present invention provides a container body with an interior containment volume and a lid closure having a substantially enclosed cavity configured to retain a desiccant material therein. The integrated desiccant lid closure generally has an interiorly disposed surface (with respect to the interior volume of the container body) and a plurality of openings in the interiorly disposed surface to at least partially expose the desiccant material to the internal atmosphere of the container while retaining the desiccant material within the desiccant lid enclosure. The container body and the lid closure may be suitably configured to conform to a substantially matched polygonal shape, such as a trigonal shape (e.g., a prism).

[0005] Advantages of the present invention will be set forth in the Detailed Description which follows and may be apparent from the Detailed Description or may be learned by practice of exemplary embodiments of the invention. Still other advantages of the invention may be realized by means of any of the instrumentalities, methods or combinations particularly pointed out in the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] Representative elements, operational features, applications and/or advantages of the present invention reside inter alia in the details of construction and operation as more fully hereafter depicted, described and claimed--reference being made to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout. Other elements, operational features, applications and/or advantages will become apparent in light of certain exemplary embodiments recited in the Detailed Description, wherein:

[0007] FIG. 1 representatively illustrates a container in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

[0008] FIG. 2 representatively illustrates an integrated desiccant lid in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and

[0009] FIG. 3 representatively illustrates a pyramidal tea sachet that may be stored in an integrated desiccant container in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

[0010] Elements in the Figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions of some of the elements in the Figures may be exaggerated relative to other elements to help improve understanding of various embodiments of the present invention. Furthermore, the terms "first", "second", and the like herein, if any, are used inter alia for distinguishing between similar elements and not necessarily for describing a sequential or chronological order. Moreover, the terms "front", "back", "top", "bottom", "over", "under", and the like in the Description and/or in the claims, if any, are generally employed for descriptive purposes and not necessarily for comprehensively describing exclusive relative position. Any of the preceding terms so used may be interchanged under appropriate circumstances such that various embodiments of the invention described herein may be capable of operation in other configurations and/or orientations than those explicitly illustrated or otherwise described.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

[0011] The following representative descriptions of the present invention generally relate to exemplary embodiments and the inventors' conception of the best mode, and are not intended to limit the applicability or configuration of the invention in any way. Rather, the following description is intended to provide convenient illustrations for implementing various embodiments of the invention. As will become apparent, changes may be made in the function and/or arrangement of any of the elements described in the disclosed exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0012] Various representative implementations of the present invention may be applied to any system for food packaging, storage or containment. A detailed description of an exemplary application, namely an integrated desiccant lid enclosure for the packaging, storage and/or containment of whole-leaf tea in order to extend the tea's shelf life, is provided as a specific enabling disclosure that may be generalized to any application of the disclosed system, device and method for controlling the moisture content in food containers in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

[0013] In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a containment vessel with an integrated desiccant lid assembly is disclosed. The desiccant may be generally retained in a lid enclosure in order to substantially extend the shelf-life of such food products as tea, for example, by as much as up to about six (6) months to about more than two (2) years. This may generally be accomplished by the action of the desiccant material absorbing moisture through openings in the lid enclosure, thus controlling or otherwise modifying the level of moisture in the container. Additionally, the desiccant lid enclosure helps to prevent the desiccant material from being lost, damaged, or co-mingled with the product disposed in the interior containment volume of the container body.

[0014] The geometry of the containment vessel may be configured to allow a plurality of containers to be `close-packed` to minimize occluded volume for shipping, storage and/or display. Similarly, the volume of the containment vessel may be adapted to hold contents of a specific shape, volume, and/or planar projection substantially matched to at least one dimension of the containment vessel in order to maximize the volume of the contents that may be stored in the container.

[0015] The containment vessel may be fabricated from a variety of different materials such as metal, wood, plastic, etc.; depending on the relative need for strength, durability, weight, aesthetic appearance or other desired features.

[0016] In particular, with reference to FIG. 1 a containment vessel according to exemplary aspects of the present invention may comprise a container body 120 with a base 130 and a lid 100. Lid 100 may be removed to allow contents to be added to or removed from the internal containment volume of container body 120.

[0017] Lid 100 may comprise an external surface 105 presented to the environment as well as an interiorly disposed surface 210 that generally provides a barrier to prevent stored articles from being removed from container body 120 when lid 100 and container body 120 are engaged to substantially enclose the interiorly disposed containment volume formed thereby. (see FIG. 2 for example)

[0018] Desiccant lid 200 generally comprises a desiccant enclosure cavity that holds a desiccant material therein. The interiorly disposed surface 210 of desiccant lid 200 may be further configured with openings 215 that allow the desiccant material in the lid enclosure to experience exposure to the atmosphere of the interiorly disposed containment volume of container body 120. This allows the desiccant material to absorb moisture from the interior containment volume of container body 120.

[0019] Container body 120 may comprise any material, shape, size, and/or configuration suitably adapted for a particular application or operating environment. For example, container body 120 may be fabricated from any material suitable for use in a food container such as metal, wood, plastic, or composite material. Container body 120 may also comprise any suitable shape, such as trigonal, tetragonal, pentagonal, and the like. In the exemplary embodiment representatively illustrated in FIG. 1 for example, container body 120 and lid enclosure 100 are trigonal (e.g., 3-sided). In a representative application, the containment vessel formed by engagement of desiccant lid enclosure 100 with container body 120 may comprise three sidewalls that are about 25/8'' wide and about 9'' tall. In a preferred exemplary embodiment, the containment vessel components may be fabricated from pressed-metal and may be configured to hold pyramidal-shaped tea satchets (as representatively depicted, for example, in FIG. 3) that are sized to fit substantially securely in the internal containment volume of container body 120.

[0020] Desiccant lid enclosure 100 may comprise any material, shape, size or configuration for a particular application and/or operating environment. For example, lid enclosure 100 may be fabricated from any material suitable for use in a food container lid such as metal, wood, plastic, or composite material and need not be limited to the same material used to fabricate any other element of the disclosed containment vessel. Lid enclosure 100 may also comprise any suitable shape, such as trigonal, tetragonal, pentagonal, etc. In the exemplary embodiment representatively illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 for example, lid enclosure 100 200 may comprise a trigonal shape (e.g., 3-sided) and fabricated from pressed-metal. Lid enclosure 100 200 may be about 25/8'' wide on each side and about 3/8'' thick and further configured to fit the opening of the internal cavity of the container body 120 substantially opposite base 130.

[0021] With reference to FIG. 2 the openings 215 in desiccant lid enclosure 200 may be of any number, shape, size and/or arrangement, and may be formed in any suitable manner. For example, the representatively illustrated exemplary embodiment has a plurality of openings 215 in the form of three substantially circular holes arranged in a triangular pattern.

[0022] In the foregoing specification, the invention has been described with reference to specific exemplary embodiments; however, it will be appreciated that various modifications and changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention as set forth in the claims below. The specification and Figures are to be regarded in an illustrative manner, rather than a restrictive one and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined by the claims appended hereto and their legal equivalents rather than by merely the examples described above.

[0023] For example, the steps recited in any method or process claims may be executed in any order and are not limited to the specific order presented in the claims. Additionally, the components and/or elements recited in any apparatus claims may be assembled or otherwise operationally configured in a variety of permutations to produce substantially the same result as the present invention and are accordingly not limited to the specific configuration recited in the claims.

[0024] Benefits, other advantages and solutions to problems have been described above with regard to particular embodiments; however, any benefit, advantage, solution to problems or any element that may cause any particular benefit, advantage or solution to occur or to become more pronounced are not to be construed as critical, required or essential features or components of any or all the claims.

[0025] As used herein, the terms "comprise", "comprises", "comprising", "having", "including", "includes" or any variation thereof, are intended to reference a non-exclusive inclusion, such that a process, method, article, composition or apparatus that comprises a list of elements does not include only those elements recited, but may also include other elements not expressly listed or inherent to such process, method, article, composition or apparatus. Other combinations and/or modifications of the above-described structures, arrangements, applications, proportions, elements, materials or components used in the practice of the present invention, in addition to those not specifically recited, may be varied or otherwise particularly adapted to specific environments, manufacturing specifications, design parameters or other operating requirements without departing from the general principles of the same.


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