US20110000250A1 - Beverage preservation and dispensing apparatus incorporated within a refrigerator door - Google Patents

Beverage preservation and dispensing apparatus incorporated within a refrigerator door Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110000250A1
US20110000250A1 US12644605 US64460509A US20110000250A1 US 20110000250 A1 US20110000250 A1 US 20110000250A1 US 12644605 US12644605 US 12644605 US 64460509 A US64460509 A US 64460509A US 20110000250 A1 US20110000250 A1 US 20110000250A1
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Prior art keywords
dispensing
wine
apparatus
preservation
door
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Abandoned
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US12644605
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Matthew A. Sommerfield
Steven DiDonato
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Sommerfield Matthew A
Didonato Steven
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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F25REFRIGERATION OR COOLING; COMBINED HEATING AND REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS; HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; MANUFACTURE OR STORAGE OF ICE; LIQUEFACTION SOLIDIFICATION OF GASES
    • F25DREFRIGERATORS; COLD ROOMS; ICE-BOXES; COOLING OR FREEZING APPARATUS NOT COVERED BY ANY OTHER SUBCLASS
    • F25D31/00Other cooling or freezing apparatus
    • F25D31/006Other cooling or freezing apparatus specially adapted for cooling receptacles, e.g. tanks
    • F25D31/007Bottles or cans
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D1/00Apparatus or devices for dispensing beverages on draught
    • B67D1/04Apparatus utilising compressed air or other gas acting directly or indirectly on beverages in storage containers
    • B67D1/0412Apparatus utilising compressed air or other gas acting directly or indirectly on beverages in storage containers the whole dispensing unit being fixed to the container
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D1/00Apparatus or devices for dispensing beverages on draught
    • B67D1/04Apparatus utilising compressed air or other gas acting directly or indirectly on beverages in storage containers
    • B67D1/0412Apparatus utilising compressed air or other gas acting directly or indirectly on beverages in storage containers the whole dispensing unit being fixed to the container
    • B67D1/0437Apparatus utilising compressed air or other gas acting directly or indirectly on beverages in storage containers the whole dispensing unit being fixed to the container comprising a gas pressure space within the container for the liquid
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D1/00Apparatus or devices for dispensing beverages on draught
    • B67D1/08Details
    • B67D1/0801Details of beverage containers, e.g. casks, kegs
    • B67D1/0802Dip tubes
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D1/00Apparatus or devices for dispensing beverages on draught
    • B67D1/08Details
    • B67D1/0857Cooling arrangements
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D1/00Apparatus or devices for dispensing beverages on draught
    • B67D1/08Details
    • B67D1/0889Supports
    • B67D1/0891Supports for the beverage container
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D1/00Apparatus or devices for dispensing beverages on draught
    • B67D1/08Details
    • B67D1/12Flow or pressure control devices or systems, e.g. valves, gas pressure control, level control in storage containers
    • B67D1/14Reducing valves or control taps
    • B67D1/1405Control taps
    • B67D1/145Control taps comprising a valve shutter movable in a direction perpendicular to the valve seat
    • B67D1/1455Control taps comprising a valve shutter movable in a direction perpendicular to the valve seat the valve shutter being opened in the same direction as the liquid flow
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F25REFRIGERATION OR COOLING; COMBINED HEATING AND REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS; HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; MANUFACTURE OR STORAGE OF ICE; LIQUEFACTION SOLIDIFICATION OF GASES
    • F25DREFRIGERATORS; COLD ROOMS; ICE-BOXES; COOLING OR FREEZING APPARATUS NOT COVERED BY ANY OTHER SUBCLASS
    • F25D23/00General constructional features
    • F25D23/02Doors; Covers
    • F25D23/028Details
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D1/00Apparatus or devices for dispensing beverages on draught
    • B67D1/04Apparatus utilising compressed air or other gas acting directly or indirectly on beverages in storage containers
    • B67D2001/0475Type of gas or gas mixture used, other than pure CO2
    • B67D2001/0481Single inert gas, e.g. N2
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D2210/00Indexing scheme relating to aspects and details of apparatus or devices for dispensing beverages on draught or for controlling flow of liquids under gravity from storage containers for dispensing purposes
    • B67D2210/00028Constructional details
    • B67D2210/00031Housing
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D2210/00Indexing scheme relating to aspects and details of apparatus or devices for dispensing beverages on draught or for controlling flow of liquids under gravity from storage containers for dispensing purposes
    • B67D2210/00028Constructional details
    • B67D2210/00031Housing
    • B67D2210/00041Doors
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F25REFRIGERATION OR COOLING; COMBINED HEATING AND REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS; HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; MANUFACTURE OR STORAGE OF ICE; LIQUEFACTION SOLIDIFICATION OF GASES
    • F25DREFRIGERATORS; COLD ROOMS; ICE-BOXES; COOLING OR FREEZING APPARATUS NOT COVERED BY ANY OTHER SUBCLASS
    • F25D2331/00Details or arrangements of other cooling or freezing apparatus not provided for in other groups of this subclass
    • F25D2331/80Type of cooled receptacles
    • F25D2331/803Bottles

Abstract

A preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door includes a wine preservation and dispensing apparatus and a door of a refrigerator within which the wine preservation and dispensing apparatus is integrated. The wine preservation and dispensing apparatus includes a housing framework composed of a rigid frame secured to the refrigerator door along an opening cut into the door.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/193,752, entitled “BEVERAGE PRESERVATION AND DISPENSING APPARATUS INCORPORATED WITHIN A REFRIGERATOR DOOR”, filed Dec. 22, 2009.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0003]
    The invention relates to a wine (or other beverage) preservation and dispensing apparatus incorporated within a refrigerator door.
  • [0004]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0005]
    Wine is a very popular beverage, and its popularity within the United States has recently increased substantially. Most wine is distributed to consumers in bottles that are sealed with a cork to prevent exposure to the air and to preserve the wine. Since removal of the cork exposes the wine to air and ultimately oxidation of the wine, wine will begin to degrade as soon as the wine bottle is open. As such, many people will only drink wine when they are drinking an entire bottle. In addition, many restaurants and bars require most wines to be bought by the bottle and offer a limited number of wine choices for those wishing to purchase only a single glass of wine.
  • [0006]
    More particularly, those skilled in the art will appreciate that from the instant one opens a bottle of wine the air begins to affect the character of the wine. This is a process known as oxidation and is readily recognizable. While it is widely held that allowing the wine to “breathe” is beneficial, it is the opinion of many people excessive exposure to air can negatively affect the wine's taste. In fact, it is understood oxidation can begin to break down the character of a young, red wine in as little as six hours, while white wines and older red wines may begin to suffer in only two hours. This means some wine drinkers will be able to notice a reduction in the aromatic qualities of the wine, a negative change in the color of the wine and flat, stale and/or lifeless taste in the wine.
  • [0007]
    With the foregoing in mind, attempts have been made to reduce the oxidation and degradation of wine once a wine bottle is opened. While these attempts have achieved some success, a need continues to exist for a system which will provide for the preservation and dispensing of wine in a manner allowing an individual to only drink a single glass of wine and save the remainder for a later time or allow a restaurant to serve wine by the glass without worrying the wine sold later to another consumer is of a lower quality than the wine when it was initially opened.
  • [0008]
    The present invention addresses these problems by providing a wine preservation and dispensing apparatus which is integrated with a refrigerator door.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0009]
    It is, therefore, an object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door including a wine preservation and dispensing apparatus and a door of a refrigerator within which the wine preservation and dispensing apparatus is integrated. The wine preservation and dispensing apparatus includes a housing framework composed of a rigid frame secured to the refrigerator door along an opening cut into the door.
  • [0010]
    It is also an object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the refrigerator includes a storage compartment composed of a top wall, a first sidewall, a second sidewall, a bottom wall, a back wall and an opening along a front side thereof for access to the storage compartment.
  • [0011]
    It is another object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the opening is selectively covered by the door that is pivotally secured to the storage compartment.
  • [0012]
    It is also an object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the housing framework further includes a support platform upon which multiple wine bottles are supported, a bottom storage compartment in which underlying working components are stored and hidden from view and an upper support plate in which dispensing assemblies are mounted.
  • [0013]
    It is another object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the dispensing assemblies include dispensing nozzles.
  • [0014]
    It is a further object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein a window is secured along a front surface of the frame in a manner positioning it directly along and in alignment with an exterior surface of the door.
  • [0015]
    It is also an object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the upper support plate is positioned above the window with the support platform and the bottom storage compartment connected to the upper support plate via the frame.
  • [0016]
    It is another object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the upper support plate is concave as it faces the away from a back surface of the frame.
  • [0017]
    It is a further object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the upper support plate includes an upper wall, a rear wall and a flat base wall, as well as side walls closing off sides of a cavity defined by the walls.
  • [0018]
    It is also an object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the flat base wall is provided with a drip pan positioned beneath dispensing ends of the dispensing assemblies.
  • [0019]
    It is another object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the support platform is composed of a container or bottle support assembly including a base and a retaining member.
  • [0020]
    It is a further object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the base and the retaining member are shaped and dimensioned to support bottles in an upright configuration for ease of use and ready replacement of the bottles, and the retaining member is a rigid member which extends rearwardly from the frame and the support platform is readily accessible when the door is opened to allow ready replacement of bottles when desired.
  • [0021]
    It is also an object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the preservation and dispensing apparatus also includes a pressurized gas supply assembly providing necessary pressure for forcing fluid from the bottles and through a dispensing assembly.
  • [0022]
    It is another object of the present invention to provide a preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door wherein the pressurized gas supply assembly includes an inert gas output which is linked to the various bottles via a conduit arrangement composed of flexible tubing and dispensing assemblies selectively secured to, that is, within, openings of the bottles.
  • [0023]
    Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description when viewed in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which set forth certain embodiments of the invention.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0024]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the present preservation and dispensing apparatus incorporated within a refrigerator door.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 2 is a rear plan view of the present preservation and dispensing apparatus.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the present preservation and dispensing apparatus.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 4 is a rear perspective view of the present preservation and dispensing apparatus.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 5 is a detailed perspective view along the area marked “5” in FIG. 3.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 6 is a front plan view of the present preservation and dispensing apparatus.
  • [0030]
    FIG. 7 is a detailed view of the area marked “7” in FIG. 2.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 8 is a cross sectional view of the present preservation and dispensing apparatus along the line 8-8 in FIG. 6.
  • [0032]
    FIGS. 9 and 10 show the connecting seal of the present preservation and dispensing apparatus.
  • [0033]
    FIG. 11 is a cross sectional view showing the dispensing nozzle mounted within the upper support plate.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • [0034]
    The detailed embodiment of the present invention is disclosed herein. It should be understood, however, that the disclosed embodiment is merely exemplary of the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, the details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for teaching one skilled in the art how to make and/or use the invention.
  • [0035]
    With reference to the various figures, a wine preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 for integration within a refrigerator door 12 is disclosed. As will be appreciated based upon the following disclosure, the present invention allows users to display wine bottles 14 ready for dispensing while simultaneously cooling the wine 16, preserving the opened wine bottles 14 and dispensing the wine 16 without opening the refrigerator door 12. Although the present wine preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 is disclosed in accordance with a preferred embodiment for use in conjunction with the preservation and dispensing of wine, the present preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 may be used for the dispensing of other beverages and liquid products without departing from the spirit of the present invention.
  • [0036]
    Many restaurants have learned that it is highly desirable, and profitable, to offer consumers wine by the glass as opposed to requiring consumers to purchase a full bottle of the wine. However, with this service comes the problem of preserving the wine remaining in a bottle after a consumer has ordered a single glass and before the bottle is finished by others ordering the same wine. With this in mind, the present wine preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 has been developed. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that, although a preferred embodiment disclosed herein shows an apparatus suitable for holding five wine bottles 14, the present preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 may readily be adapted for use with more or less dispensing stations without departing from the spirit of the present invention.
  • [0037]
    As briefly discussed above, the present wine preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 is integrated into the door 12 of a standard commercial or consumer refrigerator 20. As such, and with reference to FIG. 1, the refrigerator 20 includes a storage compartment 22 composed of a top wall 24, first and second sidewalls 26, 28, a bottom wall 30, a back wall 32 and an opening 34 along the front side thereof for access to the cavity 36 of the storage compartment 22 defined by the top wall 24, first and second sidewalls 26, 28, a bottom wall 30, and a back wall 32. This opening 34 is selectively covered by a refrigerator door 12 that is pivotally secured to the first or second sidewalls 26, 28 of the storage compartment 22 (in accordance with this embodiment, the first sidewall 26) by hinges 38 secured between the refrigerator door 12 and the first or second sidewall 26, 28. The refrigerator 20 is also provided with a conventional cooling system 40 which functions to cool the storage compartment 22 when the refrigerator door 12 is closed. As such, and as those skilled in the art will certainly appreciate, it is important to keep the refrigerator door 12 closed to keep the cavity of the storage compartment 22 at an optimal cool temperature.
  • [0038]
    The wine preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 of the present invention is integrated within the refrigerator door 12. As such, the refrigerator door 12 is modified to include a window 42 for viewing the wine 16 being served, a support platform 44 for retaining the wine bottles in a desired orientation and dispensing nozzles 46 extending from the interior of the refrigerator 20 to the external environment for access by users of the present wine preservation and dispensing apparatus 10. It is contemplated doors integrating the present wine preservation and dispensing apparatus may be sold new with refrigerators currently being sold or be retrofitted to existing refrigerators for replacement of the existing refrigerator door.
  • [0039]
    More particularly, the wine preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 includes a housing framework 48. The housing framework 48 includes a rigid frame 50 to which the remaining components of the wine preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 are mounted such that the rigid frame 50 may be secured to the refrigerator door 12 along an opening 52 cut into the refrigerator door 12. As those skilled in the art will certainly appreciate the opening 52 is shaped and dimensioned for attachment of the frame 50 to the border 53 thereof with the window 42 being viewable from the exterior of the refrigerator 20. As such, the window 42 is secured along the front surface 54 of the frame 50 in a manner positioning it directly along and in alignment with the exterior surface of the refrigerator door 12. Once the housing framework 48 is mounted to the border 53 of the opening 52 formed in the refrigerator door 12, a trim piece (not shown) may be secured to the exterior surface of the refrigerator door 12 to cover the functional components of the housing framework 48 and provide an aesthetically pleasing product.
  • [0040]
    The housing framework 48 also includes various components for supporting wine bottles 14 for use in accordance with the present invention. The components generally extend rearwardly of the frame 50 such that they sit within the storage compartment 22 of the refrigerator 20 once the wine preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 is fully installed. More particularly, the housing framework 48 includes a support platform 44 upon which multiple wine bottles 14 are supported, a bottom storage compartment 60 in which the underlying working components are stored and hidden from view and an upper support plate 62 in which the dispensing assemblies 64, in particular, the dispensing nozzles 46, are mounted. As such, and as shown with reference to FIGS. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8, the upper support plate 62 is positioned above the window 42 with the support platform 44 and bottom storage compartment 60 being connected to the upper support plate 62 via the frame 50.
  • [0041]
    The support plate 62 is concave as it faces the away from the back surface of the frame 50, that is, as it faces the external environment. As such, the support plate 62 includes an upper wall 148, a rear wall 150 and a flat base wall 152, as well as side walls 154, 156 closing off the sides of the cavity 158 defined by the walls. The flat base wall 152 is provided with a drip pan 160 positioned beneath the dispensing ends 118 of the dispensing nozzles 46.
  • [0042]
    The support platform 44 is composed of a container or bottle support assembly 68 including a base 70 and a retaining member 72. The base 70 and retaining member 72 are shaped and dimensioned to support wine bottles 14 in an upright configuration for ease of use and ready replacement of the wine bottles 14. The retaining member 72 is preferably a rigid member, for example, a formed metal member, which extends rearwardly from the frame 50. As such, the support platform 44 is readily accessible when the refrigerator door 12 is opened to allow ready replacement of wine bottles 14 when desired.
  • [0043]
    The preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 also includes a pressurized gas supply assembly 74. As will be discussed below in greater detail, the pressurized gas supply assembly 74 provides the necessary pressure for forcing wine (or other fluid) 16 from the wine (or other fluid filled) bottles 14 through the dispensing assembly 64. The pressurized gas supply assembly 74 also provides a mechanism for pressurizing the wine 16 through the utilization of argon gas in a manner that effectively creates a barrier protecting the wine 16 from the harmful effects of oxygen. Argon gas is inert and stable, and many times denser than nitrogen. For these reasons, it is far superior as a wine preservative. It envelops the wine 16 and keeps out the harmful effects of oxidation. In fact, many high caliber wine producers use argon to replace the negative, degenerate qualities of oxygen in their wine making.
  • [0044]
    The pressurized gas supply assembly 74 includes an inert gas output 76 which is linked to the various wine bottles 14 via a conduit arrangement 78 composed of flexible tubing 80 and a dispensing assembly 64 selectively secured to, that is, within, the openings 82 of the wine bottles 14. In particular, inert gas output 76 includes a regulator assembly 84 to which an argon gas capsule 86 is selectively secured via a threaded coupling arrangement 88 for supplying argon gas in accordance with the present invention. The threaded coupling arrangement 88 includes a piercing pin 90 shaped and dimensioned to puncture the sealed coupling end 92 of a new gas capsule 86 as it is secured to the regulator assembly 84. In particular, a new gas capsule 86 will have a sealed coupling end 92 with external threading 94 shaped and dimensioned to mate with the threading 95 of the threaded coupling arrangement 88 and an end cap 96 shaped and dimensioned for penetration by the piercing pin 90. As the gas capsule 86 is secured to the regulator assembly 84, the piercing pin 90 passes through the end cap 96 of the gas capsule 86 allowing gas from the gas capsule 86 to pass through the piercing pin 90 and the remainder of the regulator assembly 84, and to the various wine bottles 14 connected to the preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 in accordance with the present invention. A tight seal between the threaded coupling arrangement 88 and the gas capsule 86 is ensured by the placement of a rubber gasket 98 between the gas capsule 86 and the body of the threaded coupling arrangement 88.
  • [0045]
    The regulator assembly 84 allows for the utilization of argon gas maintained at high pressure, but which may be shipped in non-hazardous containers of less that 4 (four) fluid ounces. In particular, the regulator assembly 84 is able to reduce the pressure of the argon gas as maintained within the gas capsule from 2700 psi to 5 psi for use in accordance with the present invention.
  • [0046]
    The regulator assembly 84 used in accordance with the present invention provides for enhanced performance and improved safety. In accordance with a preferred embodiment, the regulator assembly 84 is manufactured by Leland Gas Technologies and is sold as Model No. 50043 of the NR 30 fixed series. In particular, by providing a pressure drop from 2700 psi to 5 psi in a single step, the argon gas is transferred from the gas capsule 86 at a useful pressure without the need for a multiple step pressure reduction. This improves the efficiency in applying gas pressure to the wine 16 and allows for a relatively compact system.
  • [0047]
    As to safety issues, the regulator assembly is provided with a dump valve which monitors coupling of the gas capsule to the threaded coupling arrangement of the regulator assembly and releases pressure within the system in the event it senses a full or partially filled gas capsule is being removed from the threaded coupling arrangement since the force of the gas escaping the gas capsule might cause substantial damage. The regulator assembly also includes a burst prevention system composed of a rupture disk that will release pressure in the event undesirably high pressure is identified as coming from the gas capsule.
  • [0048]
    As those skilled in the art will appreciate, an argon gas capsule 86 will only hold a limited amount of argon gas and replacement capsules will be consequently required. As such, the bottom storage compartment 60 of the present preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 is provided with a capsule support 100 for storing multiple replacement argon gas capsules 86 such that when one is used up, the operator of the present apparatus may readily retrieve an additional capsule and replace the used capsule.
  • [0049]
    Access to the bottom storage compartment 60 in which the gas capsules 86 and the regulator assembly 84 are found is achieved by providing the bottom storage compartment 60 with doors 102 that pivotally open rearwardly to reveal the working components and allow for ready access. In fact, access is further improved by securing the valve and regulator assembly 84 to one of the doors such that it pivots outwardly in a manner openly revealing the regulator assembly 84 and the gas capsule 86 secured thereto. Such structure is similar to that disclosed in commonly owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/797,681, filed May 7, 2007, entitled “WINE PRESERVATION AND DISPENSING APPARATUS”, which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0050]
    As discussed above, the argon gas capsule 86 is linked to the various wine bottles 14 via a conduit arrangement 78. The conduit arrangement 78 is composed of various tubes 80 connected to respective dispensing assemblies 64. More particularly, the ends 108 of the tubes 80 are secured to gas inlets 109 of the connecting seals 110 of the dispensing assemblies 64 via quick disconnect members 111 which are open to the flow of pressurized gas when secured to the connecting seals 110 and include a valve (not shown) preventing the flow of pressurized gas therethrough when disconnected from the connecting seals 110. The connecting seals 110 are selectively secured within the openings 82 of wine bottles 14.
  • [0051]
    As those skilled in the art will certainly appreciate, argon gas is very effective at preserving the wine. As such, it is critical that the present preservation and dispensing apparatus 10 provide for a closed system and that the dispensing assemblies 64, in particular, the connecting seals 110, be securely mounted within the openings 82 of the respective wine bottles 14. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the dispensing assemblies 64 are of a two-part construction with a dispensing nozzle 46 connected to a connecting seal 110 via a fluid connecting tube 112.
  • [0052]
    In particular, and with reference to the first wine bottle 14 as shown in FIGS. 8, 9, 10 and 11, the pressurized argon gas enters the pressurized gas supply assembly 74 and runs through the conduit arrangement 78 into the connecting seal 110 where it is exposed to the upper surface 114 of the wine 16 and fills in any open space within the wine bottle 14 in a manner preventing the wine 16 from corning in contact with oxygen which would otherwise harm the quality of the wine 16. When the spring biased valve 116 at the dispensing end 118 of the dispensing nozzle 46 of the dispensing assembly 64 is actuated to open the passageway from the wine bottle 14 to the dispensing end 118 of the dispensing nozzle 46, the pressure of the argon gas forces the wine 16 upwardly through the draw tube 120, into the fluid connecting tube 112, into the dispensing nozzle 46 and out the dispensing end 118 of the dispensing nozzle 46 for collection within a wine glass. Since it is the argon gas that is pushing the wine 16 out, the argon gas fills the space created by the dispensing of the wine 16.
  • [0053]
    As those skilled in the art will certainly appreciate, it is very important that the free first end 122 of the draw tube 120 be positioned at the bottom 124 of the wine bottle 14 so that all of the wine 16 may be dispensed in accordance with the present invention. With this in mind, the second end 126 of the draw tube 120 is mounted within the outlet lumen 128 of the connecting seal 110 in a manner permitting the draw tube 120 to telescopically move within the outlet lumen 128 of the connecting seal 110 (see FIG. 9).
  • [0054]
    Since the openings 82 of wine bottles 14 come in various shapes and often are not perfect circles, the connecting seal 110 for attaching the dispensing assemblies 64 within the opening 82 of the wine bottle 14 must be adapted to accommodate various wine bottles 14 without allowing leakage of either oxygen into the wine bottle 14 or argon out of the wine bottle 14. With reference to FIGS. 9 and 10, the connecting seal 110 of the dispensing assembly 64 includes a first end 130 and a second end 132. The first end 130 is adjacent the free end 134 of the connecting seal 110 and is provided with a series of outwardly directed, flexible fins 136. The flexible fins 136 extend outwardly from a central supporting structure 138 and are shaped and dimensioned to engage the inner wall 140 defining the opening 82 of the wine bottle 14 once the connecting seal 110 is secured thereto. In particular, the flexible fins 136 provide friction on the inner wall 140 of the opening 82 of the wine bottle 14, hold the connecting seal 110 in place by resisting internal pressure created as the argon is pumped into the wine bottle 14, and conform to a variety of bottle opening sizes. In addition, and due to the material from which they are composed, the fins 136 will “reset” upon the application of hot water. With this in mind, the flexible fins are composed of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), although other equivalent materials may be used without departing from the spirit of the invention.
  • [0055]
    Above the flexible fins 136 and extending from the central portion 142 to the second end 144 of the connecting seal 110 is an outwardly tapered rubber seal member 146. In accordance with a preferred embodiment, the seal member 146 is composed of silicone rubber. Silicone rubber limits changes to the seal member 146 that may occur due to interaction thereof with the wine and gas. The seal member 146 tapers outwardly as it extends from the central portion 142 to the second end 144 of the connecting seal 110. The rubber seal member 146 provides a tight seal to prevent gas escape at pressures at, and slightly beyond, normal operating conditions. The rubber seal member 146 is shaped and dimensioned to conform to regular and varying bottle opening sizes. While a rubber seal member is disclosed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, other materials may be utilized without departing from the spirit of the present invention.
  • [0056]
    Through the application of the flexible fins 136 in combination with the tapered rubber seal member 146, and the utilization of different materials for the flexible fins 136 and the seal member 146, a dual seal arrangement is provided which accommodates variations in wine bottle size openings, allows for reuse of the dispensing nozzle without fully replacing the seal, and ultimately increases the flavor of the wine over time. In accordance with a preferred embodiment, the connecting seal is shaped and dimensioned to accommodate wine bottle openings ranging in size from approximately 17.25 mm to 19.5 mm.
  • [0057]
    In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the flexible fins and the rubber seal member are distinct members secured about an inner substrate of the connecting seal to create the connecting seal. However, those skilled in the art will appreciate they may be integrally molded without departing from the spirit of the present invention.
  • [0058]
    While the preferred embodiments have been shown and described, it will be understood that there is no intent to limit the invention by such disclosure, but rather, is intended to cover all modifications and alternate constructions falling within the spirit and scope of the invention.

Claims (15)

  1. 1. A preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door, comprising:
    a wine preservation and dispensing apparatus;
    a door of a refrigerator within which the wine preservation and dispensing apparatus is integrated;
    wherein the wine preservation and dispensing apparatus includes a housing framework composed of a rigid frame secured to the refrigerator door along an opening cut into the door
  2. 2. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 1, wherein the refrigerator includes a storage compartment composed of a top wall, a first sidewall, a second sidewall, a bottom wall, a back wall and an opening along a front side thereof for access to the storage compartment.
  3. 3. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 2, wherein the opening is selectively covered by the door that is pivotally secured to the storage compartment.
  4. 4. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 1, wherein a window is secured along a front surface of the frame in a manner positioning it directly along and in alignment with an exterior surface of the door.
  5. 5. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 1, wherein the housing framework further includes a support platform upon which multiple wine bottles are supported, a bottom storage compartment in which underlying working components are stored and hidden from view and an upper support plate in which dispensing assemblies are mounted.
  6. 6. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 5, wherein the dispensing assemblies include dispensing nozzles.
  7. 7. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 5, wherein a window is secured along a front surface of the frame in a manner positioning it directly along and in alignment with an exterior surface of the door.
  8. 8. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 7, wherein the upper support plate is positioned above the window with the support platform and the bottom storage compartment connected to the upper support plate via the frame.
  9. 9. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 7, wherein the upper support plate is concave as it faces away from a back surface of the frame.
  10. 10. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 9, wherein the upper support plate includes an upper wall, a rear wall and a flat base wall, as well as side walls closing off sides of a cavity defined by the walls.
  11. 11. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 10, wherein the flat base wall is provided with a drip pan positioned beneath dispensing ends of the dispensing assemblies.
  12. 12. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 5, wherein the support platform is composed of a container or bottle support assembly including a base and a retaining member.
  13. 13. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 12, wherein the base and the retaining member are shaped and dimensioned to support bottles in an upright configuration for ease of use and ready replacement of the bottles, and the retaining member is a rigid member which extends rearwardly from the frame and the support platform is readily accessible when the door is opened to allow ready replacement of bottles when desired.
  14. 14. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 1, the preservation and dispensing apparatus also includes a pressurized gas supply assembly providing necessary pressure for forcing fluid from the bottles and through a dispensing assembly.
  15. 15. The preservation and dispensing apparatus integrated within a refrigerator door according to claim 14, wherein the pressurized gas supply assembly includes an inert gas output which is linked to the various bottles via a conduit arrangement composed of flexible tubing and dispensing assemblies selectively secured to, that is, within, openings of the bottles.
US12644605 2008-12-22 2009-12-22 Beverage preservation and dispensing apparatus incorporated within a refrigerator door Abandoned US20110000250A1 (en)

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US20110139828A1 (en) * 2009-12-10 2011-06-16 Wine Gadgets Llc Wine preservation and dispensing apparatus
US20140182698A1 (en) * 2011-06-02 2014-07-03 Carrier Corporation Universal Bag Connector
WO2014191908A1 (en) * 2013-05-28 2014-12-04 Enomatic S.R.L. An automatic centering system for bottles and vessels for beverage dispensing apparatuses
US9073741B2 (en) 2012-11-30 2015-07-07 Igusa Llc Beverage dispensing system
US20150344282A1 (en) * 2011-08-29 2015-12-03 Napa Technology Liquiid dispensing head forcibly detachable from bottle or container

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Cited By (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20110139828A1 (en) * 2009-12-10 2011-06-16 Wine Gadgets Llc Wine preservation and dispensing apparatus
US8453888B2 (en) * 2009-12-10 2013-06-04 Wine Gadgets, Llc Wine preservation and dispensing apparatus
US20140182698A1 (en) * 2011-06-02 2014-07-03 Carrier Corporation Universal Bag Connector
US20150344282A1 (en) * 2011-08-29 2015-12-03 Napa Technology Liquiid dispensing head forcibly detachable from bottle or container
US9073741B2 (en) 2012-11-30 2015-07-07 Igusa Llc Beverage dispensing system
WO2014191908A1 (en) * 2013-05-28 2014-12-04 Enomatic S.R.L. An automatic centering system for bottles and vessels for beverage dispensing apparatuses

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