US20110108575A1 - Pressurized fluid delivery system - Google Patents

Pressurized fluid delivery system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110108575A1
US20110108575A1 US12916253 US91625310A US2011108575A1 US 20110108575 A1 US20110108575 A1 US 20110108575A1 US 12916253 US12916253 US 12916253 US 91625310 A US91625310 A US 91625310A US 2011108575 A1 US2011108575 A1 US 2011108575A1
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bladder
pressurized
portion
fluid
system
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Abandoned
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US12916253
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Robert Nathan Alder
Cory Tholl
Nick Sorensen
Brady Woolford
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ARGON TECHNOLOGIES Inc
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ARGON TECHNOLOGIES Inc
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45FTRAVELLING OR CAMP EQUIPMENT: SACKS OR PACKS CARRIED ON THE BODY
    • A45F3/00Travelling or camp articles; Sacks or packs carried on the body
    • A45F3/04Sacks or packs carried on the body by means of two straps passing over the two shoulders
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45FTRAVELLING OR CAMP EQUIPMENT: SACKS OR PACKS CARRIED ON THE BODY
    • A45F3/00Travelling or camp articles; Sacks or packs carried on the body
    • A45F3/16Water-bottles; Mess-tins; Cups
    • A45F2003/166Hydration systems attached to the body by straps, e.g. incorporated in a backpack

Abstract

A fluid delivery system comprising a first bladder having a first inlet and a first outlet, the first bladder configured to contain liquid, a second bladder capable of being pressurized by inflation and having a second inlet, the second bladder being formed adjacent to the first bladder, such that the first bladder and the second bladder are integrated to form a pressurized fluid reservoir.

Description

    REFERENCE TO EARLIER FILED APPLICATION
  • This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/259,522, filed Nov. 9, 2009, and titled “PRESSURIZED FLUID DELIVERY SYSTEM,” which is incorporated, in its entirety, by this reference.
  • BACKGROUND
  • 1. Technical Field
  • The present invention relates to fluid delivery systems including a hydration system. More specifically, the present invention relates to a method and system of pressurizing fluids.
  • 2. The Relevant Technology
  • Bicyclists, hikers, runners, walkers and other athletes often use hydration packs to maintain adequate hydration while engaging in their sports. These hydration packs usually have a bag like fluid reservoir, or bladder that is disposed in a pack that can be carried by the user. A long flexible hose can connect to the reservoir and may provide a mouthpiece for the user. The mouthpiece can be carried in the user's mouth to allow the user to draw or suck liquid from the reservoir as desired.
  • These types of hydration packs can be problematic because they depend on hydrostatic head pressure and suction to move fluid from the flexible container through the tube and mouthpiece. Hydrostatic head pressure is the pressure resulting in the hose from the weight of the liquid in the hydration pack. Often this hydrostatic head pressure is inadequate to move a sufficient amount of fluid to quench the user's thirst. Consequently, these types of hydration packs may also require suction by the user through the mouthpiece to provide adequate flow of fluid to the user. Providing the amount of suction force is difficult, if not impossible, for many users, especially when the user is engaged in a vigorous activity such as cycling, running, or the like.
  • Another problem of these suction type hydration packs is that the amount of fluid drawn from the reservoir is directly proportional to the amount of sucking force applied. Consequently, a considerable amount of force may be needed to draw a sufficient amount of water to quench a user's thirst and meet the user's hydration needs. This is especially problematic when the user is short of breath because of participating in a strenuous activity.
  • Some hydration packs have pressurization systems to pressurize the liquid in the reservoir to overcome the sucking force problem. Most of these systems have a second flexible tube coupled between the reservoir and a pressure source, such as a pump. The user can actuate the pump in order to force air, or some other compressible gas into the reservoir, thereby pressurizing the reservoir with the pumped air. The pumped, pressurized air exerts pressure on the liquid and forces the liquid out of the flexible tube when the mouthpiece valve is activated by the user.
  • Unfortunately, these types of hydration packs work best when the pack is in an upright position since the liquid has to remain near the tube outlet in order to be pushed through the tube by the pressurized air. Moreover, as liquid is consumed, more pressurized air is required to maintain pressure on the liquid. Thus, many pressurization cycles may be needed to maintain enough pressure in the bladder to force the liquid through the tube. Additionally, when the pack nears an empty point, the pressurized air is often insufficient to force the remaining liquid out the tube.
  • The subject matter claimed herein is not limited to embodiments that solve any disadvantages or that operate only in environments such as those described above. Rather, this background is only provided to illustrate one exemplary technology area where some embodiments described herein may be practiced.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY
  • These and other limitations are overcome by embodiments of the invention which relate to systems and methods for storing and delivering a fluid from a fluid bladder. As described more fully below, the systems provide a method of pressurizing the fluid stored in the fluid bladder so that the fluid may be more easily delivered from the fluid bladder than in previous systems known in the art.
  • A first aspect of the invention is a flexible fluid delivery system. The system comprises a fluid bladder having a first inlet and a first outlet, the fluid bladder configured to contain liquid, an inflatable compartment capable of being pressurized by inflation and having a second inlet, the inflatable compartment being formed adjacent to the fluid bladder, such that the fluid bladder and the fluid bladder form an pressurized fluid reservoir, a seam element formed in the fluid bladder and the inflatable compartment of the integrated fluid delivery reservoir, the seam element being capable of controlling the shape of the pressurized fluid reservoir, a pressurized gas source associated with the second inlet of the inflatable component, the pressurized gas source being configured to inflate the inflatable compartment of the pressurized fluid reservoir, and a valve operatively coupled to the first outlet of the fluid bladder, the valve being capable of releasing the liquid contained in the fluid bladder of the pressurized fluid reservoir.
  • A second aspect of the invention comprises a pressurized fluid reservoir configured to hold and selectively dispense a liquid through an outlet. The pressurized fluid reservoir comprises a bladder portion configured to contain a liquid and having a first inlet capable of receiving the liquid and an outlet capable of dispensing the liquid, an inflatable portion formed adjacent to the bladder portion, the inflatable portion having a second inlet capable of receiving a gas so as to inflate and apply a pressure on the bladder portion formed adjacent to the inflatable portion, a seam element formed in the bladder portion and inflatable portion capable of controlling the shape of the bladder portion and inflatable portion, a pressurized gas source associated with the second inlet of the inflatable portion being configured to inflate the inflatable portion by transferring a gas into the inflatable portion via the second inlet, and a valve operatively coupled to the first outlet of the bladder portion, to the valve being capable of releasing the liquid contained in the fluid bladder portion of the pressurized fluid reservoir.
  • A third aspect of the invention is a flexible fluid delivery system. The flexible fluid delivery system comprises a fluid bladder having a first inlet and a first outlet, the fluid bladder configured to contain liquid, an inflatable component capable of being pressurized by inflation and having a second inlet, the inflatable component being formed adjacent to the fluid bladder, such that the fluid bladder and the fluid bladder form an pressurized fluid reservoir, a seam element formed in the fluid bladder and the inflatable component of the integrated fluid delivery reservoir, the seam element being capable of controlling the shape of the pressurized fluid reservoir, a pressurized gas source associated with the second inlet of the inflatable component, the pressurized gas source being configured to inflate the inflatable component of the pressurized fluid reservoir, and a valve operatively coupled to the first outlet of the fluid bladder, the valve being capable of releasing the liquid contained in the fluid bladder of the pressurized fluid reservoir. In the flexible delivery system, the fluid bladder and the inflatable component are separated by a membrane wall, such that the membrane wall forms a wall of the fluid bladder and a wall of the inflatable component.
  • A fourth aspect of the invention is a fluid delivery system. The fluid delivery system may include a first bladder which may include a first perimeter, an inner wall surface and an outer wall surface, the first bladder also including one or more orifices through which a liquid may pass in and out of the first bladder. The fluid delivery system may include a second bladder operably connected to the first bladder such that the first bladder and second bladder work together to form a pressurized fluid reservoir, the second bladder may include a second perimeter, an inner wall surface and an outer wall surface. The fluid delivery system may include one or more first-bladder-access orifices through which a liquid may pass in and out of the first bladder, and at least one port through which the second bladder can be inflated with a pressurized gas. The fluid delivery system may include a perimeter seam along a portion of the perimeter of the second bladder.
  • In some embodiments, the first outer wall surface of the first bladder and the second inner wall surface of the second bladder are in fluid communication.
  • In some embodiments, the perimeter seam along a portion of the perimeter of the second bladder includes a portion of the first perimeter of the first bladder. In some embodiments, the fluid delivery system includes one or more structure seams that adjoin the first and second bladders spaced from the perimeter of the second bladder.
  • In some embodiments, the fluid delivery system includes a first tube in fluid communication with the first bladder and an outlet. In some embodiments, the fluid delivery system includes a filter operably connected with the first bladder. In some embodiments, the fluid delivery system includes a compressed gas source operably connected to the second bladder and a valve operable to control inflation of the second bladder. In some embodiments, the compressed gas source contains argon.
  • In some embodiments, the fluid delivery system includes a pressurized gas source operably connected to the second bladder and configured to inflate the second bladder when the pressurized gas source is operated. In some embodiments, the fluid delivery system is configured to compress air into the second bladder.
  • In some embodiments, the fluid delivery system includes two chambers in fluid communication with one another in the first bladder, wherein the two chambers are separated by a single structure seam. In some embodiments, the single structure seam is located in approximately the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir which extends in a direction of a length of the pressurized fluid reservoir.
  • In some embodiments, the fluid delivery system includes a plurality of chambers in fluid communication with one another in the first bladder, wherein the plurality of chambers are separated by a plurality of structure seam elements. In some embodiments the plurality of seam elements are in a leaf-shaped configuration located approximately in the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir.
  • This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential characteristics of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter.
  • Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by the practice of the invention. The features and advantages of the invention may be realized and obtained by means of the instruments and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims. These and other features of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the practice of the invention as set forth hereinafter.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • To further clarify the above and other advantages and features of the present invention, a more particular description of the invention will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is appreciated that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pressurizable fluid delivery system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a cross section of the pressurizable fluid delivery system of FIG. 1, shown with an inflatable portion disposed adjacent to a fluid bladder;
  • FIG. 3 is a cut-away view of the pressurizable fluid delivery system of FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 4 is a cross section of an additional embodiment of the pressurizable fluid delivery system which includes reinforcements in the welds between the inflatable portion and the fluid bladder;
  • FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate a method for pressurizing and dispensing liquid from a pressurizable fluid delivery system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 7 is a cross section of a pressurizable fluid delivery system according to an alternative embodiment of the invention; and
  • FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a pressurizable fluid delivery system in accordance with another alternative embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a fluid delivery system of an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 10 is a cross section of an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 11 is a cross section of an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a fluid delivery system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 13 is a cut away view of a fluid delivery system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a fluid delivery system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a fluid delivery system in accordance with some embodiments of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • Reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiments illustrated in the drawings, and specific language will be used herein to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and additional applications of the principles of the inventions as illustrated herein, which would occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention. The following detailed description and exemplary embodiments of the invention will be best understood by reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein the elements and features of the invention are designated by numerals throughout.
  • The present invention is generally directed to a pressurizable fluid delivery system for delivering pressurized fluids. For example, pressurized fluid can be useful in hydrating a person engaging in a strenuous activity, such as cycling, running, hiking or the like. Depending on the specific requirements of the environment where the system is being used, the pressurizable fluid delivery system can include a pressurized fluid reservoir such as a bladder that can be filled with a desired liquid such as a beverage, water, electrolyte replacement fluids, energy drinks, fuel, chemical extinguisher, or other suitable liquid for an intended purpose. Pressurized fluid can also be useful in cleaning equipment or gear. Furthermore, the pressurizable fluid delivery system described herein may be used to hydrate a pet or other animal.
  • A pressurizable portion of an integrated, flexible fluid delivery system can be disposed adjacent to the fluid bladder portion so that the pressurizable portion is capable of pressurizing the bladder. Thus, the pressurizable portion comprises a chamber that can be pressurized. Because the pressurized portion is disposed adjacent to the fluid bladder portion, the pressurized portion is capable of pressing against the fluid bladder portion when the pressurized portion is pressurized. The force of the chamber pressing against the fluid bladder portion can push the fluid in the fluid bladder portion toward an outlet in the fluid bladder portion. A valve can be operatively coupled to the fluid bladder portion so that fluid may be released from the bladder. Thus, the force of the pressurized portion pressing against the bladder portion can produce a pressurized liquid stream from the opened valve.
  • Advantageously, the pressurizable water delivery system of the present invention reduces the need for repressurizing the fluid bladder portion since the pressure from the pressurizable portion can provide an applied force against the fluid bladder portion even as the bladder is emptied. Additionally, the force applied by the pressurizable portion against the fluid bladder portion can result in a more even pressure on the fluid bladder portion which results in a more evenly pressurized liquid stream from the opened valve.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 1, a pressurizable fluid delivery system, indicated generally at 10, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention is shown for use in providing a portable, pressurized stream of liquid from an integrated, pressurized fluid reservoir 56. The integrated, pressurized fluid reservoir 56 is comprised of a fluid bladder portion 25 and a pressurizable portion 20 which is disposed adjacent to the fluid bladder portion 25. The fluid bladder portion 25 may be filled with a desired liquid, such as water, an electrolyte replacement drink, or the like. A pressurized gas source such as a pressure inducer 60, such as a pump, can be operably coupled to the pressurizable portion to supply pressure to the pressurizable portion 20 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56. The pressurizable fluid delivery system 10 can also include a valve 80 that can be operatively coupled to the fluid bladder portion 25 so as to selectively release fluid from the fluid bladder portion 25.
  • The pressurized fluid reservoir 56 may by comprised of a flexible plastic material suitable for containing both liquid fit for human consumption and an inflatable gas. In one embodiment described more fully below, the exterior of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 is comprised of a durable flexible plastic material capable of resisting ripping or tearing, whereas an interior membrane 27 (shown in FIG. 2) of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 which forms a dividing wall between the fluid bladder portion 25 and the pressurizable portion 20 is formed of a second plastic material.
  • The pressurized fluid reservoir 56 includes an inlet 22 and an outlet 36 which are connected to the fluid bladder portion 25 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56. The inlet 22 can be sized and shaped to allow the fluid bladder portion 25 to be filled with the desired liquid and also with a cooling material, such as ice. A lid 28 can close and seal the inlet 22 to restrict leakage of the liquid. As may be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, the precise location of the inlet is not limited and the inlet 22 may be disposed any number of locations in the pressurized fluid reservoir 56, including, but not limited to the seam 32 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56, provided only that the inlet 22 is capable of allowing the fluid bladder portion 25 to be filled with a liquid.
  • The outlet 36 can be a hole positioned at an opposite end (or another location) of the fluid bladder portion 25 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 from the inlet 22. A flexible tube 46 can be coupled to the outlet 36 and can carry liquid from the fluid bladder portion 25 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 to a desired release location, such as a user's mouth. The valve 80 can close the end of the tube 46 to restrict fluid from leaking from the tube 46.
  • As shown in FIG. 2, the exterior wall of the fluid bladder portion 25 comprises the exterior of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 and may comprise a durable flexible plastic material, while the opposing, interior wall of the fluid bladder portion 25 comprises a dividing wall 27 comprised of a flexible plastic which separates the fluid bladder portion 25 from pressurizable portion 20.
  • The pressurizable portion 20 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 is formed adjacent to the fluid bladder portion 25. As shown in FIG. 2, the pressurizable portion 20 comprises a chamber that is capable of being pressurized. As shown in FIG. 2, the exterior wall of the pressurizable portion 20 comprises the exterior of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 and may comprise a durable flexible plastic material, while the opposing, interior wall of the pressurizable portion comprises a dividing wall 27 comprised of a flexible plastic which separates the pressurizable portion 20 from the fluid bladder portion 25. Alternatively, the dividing wall 27 may be comprised of the same material as the exterior wall of the pressurizable portion 20 and the fluid bladder portion 25.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, the pressurizable portion 20 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 can have an inlet 34 that can be coupled to the pressure inducer 60 to supply pressure to the pressurizable portion 20 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56. A flexible tube 30 can be fluidly coupled between the pressure inducer 60 and the pressurizable portion 20. It will be appreciated that the flexible tube 30 can be coupled to any portion of the pressurizable portion 20. The flexible tube 30 can transmit a pressure supply from the pressure inducer 60 to the pressurizable portion 20 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56.
  • The pressure inducer 60 can be a source of compressible gas, such as a hand or electric air pump, an air compressor, a blow tube, a carbon-dioxide gas cartridge, a tank filled with a noble gas such as krypton, argon, or helium, or mixtures and combinations of these and other gas-based sources. For example, the pressure inducer 60 can be a manual pump including a compressible bulb 62. A relief and/or pressure limiting valve 66 can be coupled in line between the tube 30 and the compressible bulb 62 to allow release of the pressure in the pressurizable portion 20 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56. In use, the compressible bulb 62 can be compressed by the user to pump air through the flexible tube 30, indicated by the arrows, and into the pressurizable portion 20 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56, as illustrated by arrows shown within the flexible tube 30. The air can then inflate and pressurize the pressurizable portion 20, exerting a force on the walls of the pressurizable portion 20 (shown by arrows within the pressurizable portion 20) causing the inner wall 27 separating the pressurizable portion 20 and the fluid bladder portion 25 to flex toward the fluid bladder portion 25, pressurizing the fluid bladder portion 25. It will be appreciated that other types of hand pumps, such as bicycle pumps, or piston pumps can also be used, as well as common electrical pumps known in the art.
  • It will be appreciated that, when pressurized, the pressurizable portion 20 can expand to have a larger volume than the pressurizable portion 20 in an unpressurized state. Consequently, when the pressurizable portion 20 is pressurized, the expanded, the pressurizable portion 20 can press against the fluid bladder portion 25 and push the liquid in the fluid bladder portion 25 toward the outlet 36. In this way, the force of the pressure in the inflated or pressurized portion 20 can be transferred to the liquid inside the fluid bladder portion 25. Advantageously, higher pressure supplied to the pressurized portion 20 results in higher pressure in the liquid in the fluid bladder portion 25, and a more forceful release of liquid from the fluid bladder portion 25 when the valve 80 is opened.
  • In order to control the shape of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 when the fluid bladder portion 25 is filled and/or the pressurized portion 20 is expanded, the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 includes a seam component 40 which runs substantially down a portion of the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56. The seam component 40 is typically comprised of a weld which bonds the exterior walls of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 to the inner wall 27 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56. One advantage of this configuration is that the seam component 40 causes the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 to maintain a flattened shape, even when the fluid bladder portion 25 is filled and/or the pressurized portion 20 is expanded.
  • As shown in FIG. 4, the seams 32 and the seam component 40 may be formed with a reinforcing material portions 101 a-101 f formed along the seam 32 and seam component 40 so as to reinforce the seams 32 and the seam component 40.
  • Thus, one advantage of the present invention is a flexible system that is capable of retaining a flattened shape when in use. This is particularly useful in configurations where the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 is used in a backpack and the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 is disposed in the backpack along a user's back where rounded or unequally weighted objects may result in the user's discomfort.
  • Returning to FIG. 1, the valve 80 can be positioned at an end of the flexible tube 46 so as to be positionable by the user of the pressurizable fluid delivery system 10 in an easily accessible position. The valve 80 can be a standard gate type valve, such as a ball valve, a compression valve, a T valve, or the like. For example, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the valve 80 can be a compression valve that can be closed in an uncompressed configuration and open in a compressed configuration. The compression valve 80 can include a bite shroud 82 that can be placed between the teeth of the user so that the user can bite on the bite shroud to compress and open the compression valve 80. In this way, the compression valve 80 can be a bite valve or mouth valve that can allow hands free operation. Additionally, the shroud 82 can be compressed between the thumb and fingers of the user to open the compression valve 80, as shown in FIG. 6. In this way, the user can selectively open the valve 80 to release liquid from the pressurized fluid reservoir 56. The pressurized fluid delivery system 10 may optionally include a pack or harness for securing the pressurized fluid delivery system 10 to a user or object.
  • Advantageously, as shown in FIG. 6 the force of the pressure from the chamber 20 can push the liquid in the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 through the flexible tube 30 and out the valve 80 with sufficient force so as to create a projecting stream of liquid 86 that can project into the mouth of the user without having the valve 80 directly in the mouth of the user.
  • Additionally, it is a particular advantage of the present invention that the liquid can be forced by pressure from the tube as a pressurized, projected stream. Such a pressurized stream can be useful in many applications. For example, the projecting stream of liquid 86 can be used to wash and clean dirt and debris from shoes, bicycles, or other equipment employed by the user. The projecting stream of liquid 86 can also be used to create a mist of liquid that can be sprayed onto the user to cool and refresh the user, or a pet, or a partner that is engaged in strenuous activity. The projecting stream of liquid can also be used to fill another container or bowl. Additionally, the projected pressurized stream of liquid can be used to put out a fire, thereby allowing the present invention to be used as a light weight fire extinguisher.
  • In this way, the pressurizable fluid delivery system 10 can be used in any number of scenarios, including as a personal hydration device that can be placed in a pack such as a back pack, lumbar carry back, shoulder harness, cross-shoulder hardness, vest, toolbar, automobile or ATV mounted carrier, or fanny pack. As may be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, the size and shape of the pressurizable fluid delivery system 10 may be modified depending on the specific pack or carrier configuration. Furthermore, embodiments of the invention may be integrated with and form a component of the pack.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates various embodiments that may be made to the pressurizable fluid delivery system 10. As illustrated in FIG. 7, the flexible tube 46 coupled to the outlet 36 which carries liquid from the fluid bladder portion 25 and the flexible tube 30 coupled to the inlet 34 which transmits a pressure supply to the pressurized portion 20 may be joined together in at least portion of the flexible tube 46 and the flexible tube 30 to form a single bifurcated tube 140. One advantage of this configuration is that there is only one bifurcated tube 140 for the user to locate when he or she wishes to use the pressurizable fluid delivery system 10.
  • In an additional embodiment illustrate in FIG. 7, the outlet 36 of the fluid bladder portion 25 includes a cap 110 which includes a number of holes through which the fluid may pass into the outlet 36. One advantage of this embodiment is that the cap 110 prevents the inner wall 27 of the fluid bladder portion 25 from expanding so far into the fluid bladder portion 25 that the outlet 36 is sealed by the inner wall 27. More specifically, even in situations where the pressurized portion 20 is so pressurized that the inner wall 27 of the fluid bladder portion 25 flexes so far into the fluid bladder portion 25 that the inner wall 27 comes into contact with the outer wall of the fluid bladder portion 25, the cap 110 has holes in its side walls which enable fluid disposed on either side of the cap 110 to enter the outlet 36. Thus, the cap 110 ensures the continual flow of fluid out of the outlet 36, even in situations where the pressurized portion 20 is highly pressurized and there is only a small amount of fluid in the fluid bladder portion 25.
  • As may be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, the specific shape or configuration of the seam component may be varied. In the embodiment described herein, the seam component 40 comprises a single line disposed in the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 and extending in the lengthwise direction of the pressurized reservoir 56. Alternatively, the seam component may comprise a plurality of smaller seam components, such as a series of dots or small lines formed in the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56. As shown in FIG. 8, the seam component may also comprise a leaf or vein-like shape with a central portion 160 disposed in the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir 56 and extending in the lengthwise direction of the pressurized reservoir 56, with a series of extending portions 165 which extend away from the central portion 160 in the widthwise direction of the pressurized reservoir. Thus, the seam component 40 may comprise any number of different shapes and sizes without departing from the meaning and scope of the claimed invention.
  • In another aspect, embodiments the fluid bladder portion may be enclosed within the pressurized portion of the fluid delivery system.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 9-11, a fluid delivery system indicated generally at 210 is shown. The fluid delivery system may be useful in providing, for example, a portable, pressurize stream of liquid from an integrated, pressurized fluid reservoir 256. The integrated, pressurized fluid reservoir 256 is comprised of a first bladder 225 and a second bladder 220 which are operably connected to one another and disposed adjacent to one another. In some embodiments, the first bladder 25 is laterally adjacent to the second bladder 20 (see FIGS. 2-4). In some embodiments, the first bladder 225 is radially adjacent to the second bladder 220 (see for example FIGS. 10 and 11).
  • The first bladder 225 may be filled with a desired liquid, such as a beverage, water, fuel, chemical extinguisher, or other suitable liquid for an intended purpose. A pressurized gas source (not shown) can be operably connected to the second bladder 220. In some embodiments, the pressurized gas source is a pump. In some embodiments, the pressurized gas source is a compressed gas tank. The first bladder 225 is operably connected to the second bladder 220. A pressure change in either the first bladder 225 or the second bladder 220 results in a pressure change in the other.
  • The first and second bladders may be made from durable, flexible, plastic materials. In some embodiments, the first and second bladders may be made from the same durable, flexible, plastic material.
  • The pressurized fluid reservoir 256 may by comprised of a flexible plastic material suitable for containing both liquid fit for human consumption and an inflatable gas. In some embodiments, the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 may by comprised of a flexible plastic material suitable for containing a chemical or fuel and an inflatable gas.
  • In some embodiments, the first bladder 225 may comprise an orifice 270 through which a liquid may pass in and out of the first bladder 225. In such embodiments, the orifice may act as both an inlet and an outlet depending upon the direction a liquid flows. In some embodiments, the first bladder 225 may comprise a second orifice 271 through which a liquid may pass in and out of the first bladder 225. In embodiments where the first bladder 225 includes two orifices, one orifice may serve as an inlet for a liquid, and the second orifice may serve as an outlet for the liquid. The orifices may be large or small depending upon the components that pass through them to the first bladder 225. In some embodiments, an orifice may be large, thereby enabling greater access for a user to add contents to the first bladder 225.
  • In some embodiments, the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 includes an inlet 222 and an outlet 236 which are connected to the first bladder 225 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256. The inlet 222 can be sized and shaped to allow the first bladder 225 to be filled with a desired liquid and other suitable material such as ice or beverage additives. The inlet 222 and outlet 236 may include optional fittings such as a hose connection elbow or the like to facilitate efficient passage of the liquid into or out of the first bladder 225.
  • A lid 228 or cap can close and seal the inlet 222 to restrict leakage of the liquid. As may be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, the precise location of an inlet is not limited, and the inlet 222 may be disposed at any number of locations in the pressurized fluid reservoir 256, including, but not limited to the seam 232 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256, provided only that the inlet 222 is capable of allowing the first bladder 225 to be filled with a liquid.
  • The outlet 236 can be a hole positioned at an opposite end (or another location) of the first bladder 225 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 from the inlet 222. A flexible tube 246 can be coupled to the outlet 236 and can carry liquid from the first bladder 225 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 to a desired release location, such as a user's mouth or spray nozzle. A valve 280 can close the end of the tube 246 to restrict fluid from leaking from the tube 246.
  • As shown in different embodiments depicted in FIGS. 10 and 11, the first bladder 225 comprises an inner wall surface 229 and an outer wall surface 231, and the second bladder comprises an inner wall surface 249 and outer wall surface 251. In some embodiments, such as two depicted in FIGS. 10 and 11, the outer wall surface 231 of the first bladder 225 and the inner wall surface 249 of the second bladder 220 are in fluid communication with one another, and a dividing wall 227 separates the first bladder 225 from the second bladder 220.
  • In other embodiments, such as those depicted in FIGS. 1-4, 7, and 8, the inner wall surfaces of the first and second bladders, respectively, correspond to opposing surfaces of a dividing wall 27. Thus, the dividing wall 27 separates the first bladder 25 from the second bladder 20.
  • The second bladder 220 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 is formed adjacent to the first bladder 225. As shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the second bladder 220 comprises at least one chamber that is capable of being pressurized. Also shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the outer wall surface 251 of the second bladder 220 comprises the exterior of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256.
  • In some embodiments, the second bladder 220 may comprise one or more orifices through which a liquid may pass in and out of the first bladder 225 and through the second bladder 220. Orifices in the first bladder 225 may be adjacent to corresponding orifices in the second bladder 220 such as embodiments with seams circumferentially joining the first and second bladders. In other embodiments, a tube 289 may operably connect an orifice in the first bladder 225 to an orifice in the second bladder 220. The tube 289 may be in fluid communication with the first bladder 225 and a component external to or integral to the pressurized fluid reservoir 256, for example a pressurized gas source, water source, or valve. The tube 289 will be sealed where it passes though a wall of the first bladder and a wall of the second bladder.
  • In some embodiments, the second bladder 220 may comprise one or more orifices through which a fluid such as a gas may pass in and out of the second bladder 220. For example, a port 291 may be present through which the second bladder 220 may be inflated with a pressurized gas. In some embodiments, the port 291 may be a one-way valve or a two-way valve. The port, thus, enables fluid communication or closure between a pressurize gas source and the second bladder 220. In some embodiments (and as illustrated in FIG. 12), the second bladder comprises two orifices through which a gas may pass in and out of the second bladder 220. For example, a first port 291A may be used to pass a pressurized gas into the second bladder 220. A second port 291B may be used to vent a pressurized gas out of the second bladder 220.
  • As shown in FIG. 13, the second bladder 220 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 can have an inlet 234 that can be coupled to the pressurized gas source (not shown) to supply pressure to the second bladder 220. A flexible tube 230 can be fluidly coupled between the pressurized gas source (not shown) and the second bladder 220. It should be appreciated that inlet 234 for port 291 may be located at any location of the second bladder 220, and the flexible tube 230 can be coupled at that location to inlet 234 for port 291. The flexible tube 230 can transmit a pressure supply from the pressurized gas source (not shown) to the second bladder 220 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256.
  • The pressurized gas source (not shown) can be a source of compressible gas, such as from a hand or electric air pump, an air compressor, a blow tube, a cartridge or tank filled with air or a purified gas such as carbon-dioxide, nitrogen, or a noble gas (such as krypton, argon, or helium) or mixtures and combinations of these and other gas-based sources.
  • For example, in some embodiments the pressurized gas source can be a manual pump including a compressible bulb 262. A relief and/or pressure limiting valve 266 can be coupled in line between the tube 230 and the compressible bulb 262 to allow release of the pressure in the second bladder 220 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256. In use, the compressible bulb 262 can be compressed by a user to pump air through the flexible tube 230, and into the second bladder 220 of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256, as indicated by arrows shown within the flexible tube 230. The air can then inflate and pressurize the second bladder 220, exerting a fluidic force on the first fluid bladder 225, thereby pressurizing the first bladder 225. It will be appreciated that other types of hand pumps, such as bicycle pumps, or piston pumps can also be used, as well as common electrical pumps known in the art.
  • In other embodiments, the pressurized gas source can be a cartridge or tank filled with a filled with compressed air or a gas such as carbon-dioxide, nitrogen, or a noble gas (such as krypton, argon, or helium) or mixtures and combinations of these and other gas-based sources. Examples of pressurized gas sources which can be coupled to the second bladder 220 are disclosed in WO2008/124414, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/013,326, which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • It will be appreciated that, when pressurized, the second bladder 220 will exert pressure when inflated on the second bladder 220. Consequently, when the second bladder 220 is pressurized, the pressurized, second bladder 220 can press against the first bladder 225 and force liquid in the first bladder 225 toward the outlet 236. In this way, the force of the pressure in the inflated, second bladder 220 can be transferred to the liquid inside the first bladder 225. It should be appreciate that the wall between the interior cavity can be displaced as liquid is forced out of the first bladder 225. Advantageously, higher pressure supplied to the second bladder 220 results in higher pressure in the liquid in the first bladder 225, and a more forceful release of liquid from the first bladder 225 when the valve 280 is opened. Moreover, when a pressurized gas is used to fill the second bladder 220, advantageously, the first bladder 225 can be insulated from its environment.
  • As shown in FIG. 13, a perimeter 212 of the second bladder 220 includes a perimeter seam 232. In some embodiments, the perimeter seam 232 encompasses the entire perimeter of the second bladder 220. It should be understood that the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 contains a perimeter comprising plurality of sides, a perimeter with four sides being one example among many. In some embodiments comprising a four-side perimeter, the perimeter seam only encompasses three sides (232A, 232B, and 232C) of the second bladder 220 (the fourth side being 232D). In such embodiments, the fourth side may comprise a fold in the durable, flexible, plastic material. In those embodiments where the perimeter seam 232 encompasses the entire perimeter of the second bladder 220, a fold in the durable, flexible, plastic material along a side may be present or absent.
  • In some embodiments, all or a portion of a perimeter 213 of the first bladder 225 may be included in perimeter seam 232 with the perimeter 212 of the second bladder 220.
  • In some embodiments, a plurality of flanges 214 may be present along all or a portion of perimeter 213 of the first bladder 225. All or a portion of the plurality of flanges 214 may be included in the perimeter seam 232, thereby fusing a portion or all of the perimeter 213 of the first bladder to the perimeter 212 of the second bladder 220 in the perimeter seam 232.
  • In some embodiments containing a four-sided perimeter of a pressurized fluid reservoir 256, three sides of perimeter 213 of the first bladder 225 are included in perimeter seam 232, and a fourth side of perimeter 213 of the first bladder 225 is not included in perimeter seam 232. In these embodiments, the second bladder 220 comprises at least two chambers (for example a top chamber and a bottom chamber) which are in fluid communication with one another. In other embodiments containing a plurality of perimeter sides, all sides of perimeter 213 of the first bladder 225 are included in perimeter seam 232. In these embodiments, the second bladder 220 comprises at least two chambers (for example a top chamber and a bottom chamber) which are not in fluid communication with one another as the first bladder 225 separates the chambers. Optionally in these embodiments, additional outlets and inlets may be added to the separate chambers for inflation and deflation.
  • In order to control the form and shape of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 when the first bladder 225 is filled and/or the second bladder 220 is expanded, the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 may include one or more structural seams. In some embodiments, a structural seam may run substantially down a portion of the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256. The structural seam 240 is typically comprised of a weld which bonds the walls of the first and second bladders 225 and 220. One advantage of this configuration is that the structural seam 240 causes the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 to maintain a flattened shape or form, even when the first bladder 225 is filled and/or the second bladder 220 is inflated (expanded).
  • As may be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, the specific shape or configuration of the structural seam or seams may be varied. In one embodiment described herein, the structural seam 240 comprises a single line disposed in the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 and extending in a lengthwise direction of the pressurized reservoir 256. In another embodiment, the structural seam 240 may comprise a plurality of structural seams, such as a plurality of parallel lines (for example 240A and 240B in FIG. 12) extending in a lengthwise direction of the pressurized reservoir 256. In other embodiments, a plurality of structural seams may include a series small lines or dots in a variety of configurations such as being radially disposed from the center of pressurized reservoir 256. In some embodiments, a structural seam (or plurality of structural seams) may comprise a leaf or vein-like shape with a central portion 460 disposed in the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 and extending in the lengthwise direction of the pressurized reservoir 256, with a series of extending portions 465 which extend away from the central portion 460 in a widthwise direction of the pressurized reservoir. Thus, the structural seam (or plurality of structural seams) may comprise any number of different shapes and sizes.
  • Thus, one advantage from the inclusion of one or more structural seams, a flexible system capable of retaining a substantially flattened shape is available. This is useful in configurations, for example, where the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 is used in a backpack and the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 is disposed in the backpack along a user's back where rounded or unequally weighted objects may result in the user's discomfort.
  • A valve 280 can be positioned at an end of the flexible tube 246 so as to be positionable by a user of the pressurizable fluid delivery system 210 in an easily accessible position. The valve 280 can be a standard gate type valve, such as a ball valve, a compression valve, a T valve, or the like. For example, the valve 280 can be a compression valve that can be closed in an uncompressed configuration and open in a compressed configuration. The compression valve 280 can include a bite shroud 282 that can be placed between the teeth of a user so that the user can bite on the bite shroud to compress and open the compression valve 280. In this way, the compression valve 280 can be a bite valve or mouth valve that can allow a hands-free operation. Additionally, the shroud 282 can be compressed between the thumb and fingers of a user to open the compression valve 280. In this way, the user can selectively open the valve 280 to release liquid from the pressurized fluid reservoir 256.
  • Advantageously, the force of the pressure from the second bladder 220 can push the liquid in the pressurized fluid reservoir 256 through the flexible tube 230 and out valve 280 with sufficient force to create a projecting stream of liquid 286 that can project into the mouth of a user without having the presence of valve 280 directly in the mouth of the user.
  • Additionally, when the liquid can be forced by pressure from the tube as a projected stream, that stream can be useful in many applications. For example, the projecting stream of liquid 286 can be used to wash and clean dirt and debris from shoes, bicycles, or other equipment employed by the user, for example as a portable camping shower. The projecting stream of liquid 286 can be used to create a mist of liquid that can be sprayed through a nozzle onto the user to cool and refresh the user or a pet. The projecting stream of liquid 286 can be used to apply a chemical extinguisher (or water) to a fire. The projecting stream of liquid can also be used to fill another container such as a prepositioned fuel depot for refueling vehicles, aircraft or resupplying fuel cells.
  • In this way, the fluid delivery system 210 can be used in any number of scenarios, including as a personal hydration device that can be placed in a pack such as a back pack, lumbar carry back, shoulder harness, cross-shoulder hardness, vest, toolbar, automobile or ATV mounted carrier, or fanny pack. As may be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, the size and shape of the pressurizable fluid delivery system 210 may be modified depending on the specific pack or carrier configuration. Furthermore, various embodiments may be integrated with and form a component of the pack.
  • In some embodiments, a flexible tube 246 (coupled to an outlet 236) carries liquid from the first bladder 225, and the flexible tube 230 (coupled to the outlet 234) transmits a pressure to the second bladder 220. As represented in another embodiment depicted in FIG. 7, the flexible tubes 230 and 246 may be joined together in at least portion of the length of flexible tube 246 to form a single bifurcated tube. One advantage of this configuration is that there is only one bifurcated tube for the user to locate when he or she wishes to use the pressurizable fluid delivery system 210.
  • In some embodiments, the outlet 236 of the first bladder 225 includes a lid or cap 228 which includes a number of holes through which a liquid may pass into the outlet 236. One advantage of these embodiments is that the cap prevents the inner wall surface 229 of the first bladder 225 from expanding so far into the first bladder 225 that the outlet 236 is sealed by the inner wall surface 229. More specifically, even in situations where the second bladder 220 is so pressurized that the inner wall surface 229 of the first bladder 225 flexes so far into the first bladder 225 that the inner wall surface 227 comes into contact with an opposing inner wall surface 229A of the first bladder 225, the cap has holes in its side walls enabling liquid disposed on either side of the cap to enter the outlet 236. Thus, the cap ensures the continual flow of liquid out of the outlet 236, even in situations where the second bladder 220 is highly pressurized and there is only a small amount of fluid in the first bladder 225.
  • In some embodiments, the fluid system includes a filter 299. The filter 299 may be used, for example, to purify drinking water from a water source which may be encountered in outdoor activities. A variety of filters are known to one of ordinary skill in the art, such as from Katadyn Products Inc. (Birkenweg 4 8304 Wallisellen Switzerland; Katadyn.com) and Lifesaver Systems (Old Bakery, 7 Tuddenham Avenue, Ipswich, IP4 2HE, United Kingdom; lifesaversystems.com).
  • While the forgoing examples are illustrative of the principles of the present invention in one or more particular applications, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications in form, usage and details of implementation can be made without the exercise of inventive faculty, and without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the claims set forth below.
  • The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.

Claims (14)

  1. 1. A fluid delivery system comprising:
    a) a first bladder comprising a first perimeter, an inner wall surface and an outer wall surface, the first bladder also comprising one or more orifices through which a liquid may pass in and out of the first bladder;
    b) a second bladder operably connected to the first bladder such that the first bladder and second bladder work together to form a pressurized fluid reservoir, the second bladder comprising a second perimeter, an inner wall surface and an outer wall surface;
    c) one or more first-bladder-access orifices through which a liquid may pass in and out of the first bladder, and at least one port through which the second bladder can be inflated with a pressurized gas;
    d) a perimeter seam along a portion of the perimeter of the second bladder.
  2. 2. The system of claim 1, wherein the first outer wall surface of the first bladder and the second inner wall surface of the second bladder are in fluid communication.
  3. 3. The system of claim 1, wherein the perimeter seam along a portion of the perimeter of the second bladder includes a portion of the first perimeter of the first bladder.
  4. 4. The system of claim 3, further comprising one or more structure seams that adjoin the first and second bladders spaced from the perimeter of the second bladder.
  5. 5. The system of claim 1, further comprising a first tube in fluid communication with the first bladder and an outlet.
  6. 6. The system of claim 1, further comprising a filter operably connected with the first bladder.
  7. 7. The system of claim 1, further comprising a compressed gas source operably connected to the second bladder and a valve operable to control inflation of the second bladder.
  8. 8. The system of claim 7, wherein the compressed gas source contains argon.
  9. 9. The system of claim 1, further comprising a pressurized gas source operably connected to the second bladder and configured to inflate the second bladder when the pressurized gas source is operated.
  10. 10. The system of claim 9, wherein the pressurized gas source is configured to compress air into the second bladder.
  11. 11. The system of claim 4, further comprising two chambers in fluid communication with one another in the first bladder, wherein the two chambers are separated by a single structure seam.
  12. 12. The system of claim 11, wherein the single structure seam is located in approximately the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir which extends in a direction of a length of the pressurized fluid reservoir.
  13. 13. The system of claim 4, further comprising a plurality of chambers in fluid communication with one another in the first bladder, wherein the plurality of chambers are separated by a plurality of structure seam elements.
  14. 14. The system of claim 13, wherein the plurality of seam elements are in a leaf-shaped configuration located approximately in the center of the pressurized fluid reservoir.
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Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ALDER, ROBERT NATHAN;THOLL, CORY;SORENSEN, NICK;AND OTHERS;SIGNING DATES FROM 20101109 TO 20101210;REEL/FRAME:025559/0579