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US20110127273A1 - Temperature-stabilized storage systems including storage structures configured for interchangeable storage of modular units - Google Patents

Temperature-stabilized storage systems including storage structures configured for interchangeable storage of modular units Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110127273A1
US20110127273A1 US12927982 US92798210A US20110127273A1 US 20110127273 A1 US20110127273 A1 US 20110127273A1 US 12927982 US12927982 US 12927982 US 92798210 A US92798210 A US 92798210A US 20110127273 A1 US20110127273 A1 US 20110127273A1
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US
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
storage
material
stored
substantially
container
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US12927982
Inventor
Geoffrey F. Deane
Lawrence Morgan Fowler
William Gates
Jenny Ezu Hu
Roderick A. Hyde
Edward K.Y. Jung
Jordin T. Kare
Nathan P. Myhrvold
Nathan Pegram
Nels R. Peterson
Clarence T. Tegreene
Charles Whitmer
Lowell L. Wood, JR.
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Tokitae LLC
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Tokitae LLC
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Publication date

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D81/00Containers, packaging elements, or packages, for contents presenting particular transport or storage problems, or adapted to be used for non-packaging purposes after removal of contents
    • B65D81/38Containers, packaging elements, or packages, for contents presenting particular transport or storage problems, or adapted to be used for non-packaging purposes after removal of contents with thermal insulation
    • B65D81/3802Containers, packaging elements, or packages, for contents presenting particular transport or storage problems, or adapted to be used for non-packaging purposes after removal of contents with thermal insulation rigid container in the form of a barrel or vat
    • B65D81/3806Containers, packaging elements, or packages, for contents presenting particular transport or storage problems, or adapted to be used for non-packaging purposes after removal of contents with thermal insulation rigid container in the form of a barrel or vat formed with double walls, i.e. hollow
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61JCONTAINERS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR MEDICAL OR PHARMACEUTICAL PURPOSES; DEVICES OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR BRINGING PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS INTO PARTICULAR PHYSICAL OR ADMINISTERING FORMS; DEVICES FOR ADMINISTERING FOOD OR MEDICINES ORALLY; BABY COMFORTERS; DEVICES FOR RECEIVING SPITTLE
    • A61J1/00Containers specially adapted for medical or pharmaceutical purposes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61JCONTAINERS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR MEDICAL OR PHARMACEUTICAL PURPOSES; DEVICES OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR BRINGING PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS INTO PARTICULAR PHYSICAL OR ADMINISTERING FORMS; DEVICES FOR ADMINISTERING FOOD OR MEDICINES ORALLY; BABY COMFORTERS; DEVICES FOR RECEIVING SPITTLE
    • A61J2200/00General characteristics or adaptations
    • A61J2200/40Heating or cooling means; Combinations thereof
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F28HEAT EXCHANGE IN GENERAL
    • F28DHEAT-EXCHANGE APPARATUS, NOT PROVIDED FOR IN ANOTHER SUBCLASS, IN WHICH THE HEAT-EXCHANGE MEDIA DO NOT COME INTO DIRECT CONTACT
    • F28D20/00Heat storage plants or apparatus in general; Regenerative heat-exchange apparatus not covered by groups F28D17/00 or F28D19/00
    • F28D20/02Heat storage plants or apparatus in general; Regenerative heat-exchange apparatus not covered by groups F28D17/00 or F28D19/00 using latent heat

Abstract

Temperature-stabilized storage systems are described herein. Substantially thermally sealed storage containers include an outer assembly, including one or more sections of ultra efficient insulation material substantially defining at least one thermally sealed storage region, wherein the outer assembly and the one or more sections of ultra efficient insulation material substantially define a single access aperture to the at least one thermally sealed storage region; and an inner assembly within the at least one thermally sealed storage region, including a storage structure configured for receiving and storing at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module. Systems including at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container and an information system are also described.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    The present application is related to and claims the benefit of the earliest available effective filing date(s) from the following listed application(s) (the “Related Applications”) (e.g., claims earliest available priority dates for other than provisional patent applications or claims benefits under 35 USC §119(e) for provisional patent applications, for any and all parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, etc. applications of the Related Application(s)). All subject matter of the Related Applications and of any and all parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, etc. applications of the Related Applications, including any priority claims, is incorporated herein by reference to the extent such subject matter is not inconsistent herewith.
  • RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0002]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/001,757, entitled TEMPERATURE-STABILIZED STORAGE CONTAINERS, naming Roderick A. Hyde; Edward K. Y. Jung; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Clarence T. Tegreene; William H. Gates, III; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood, Jr. as inventors, filed Dec. 11, 2007, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0003]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/006,088, entitled TEMPERATURE-STABILIZED
  • [0004]
    STORAGE CONTAINERS WITH DIRECTED ACCESS, naming Roderick A. Hyde; Edward K. Y. Jung; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Clarence T. Tegreene; William H. Gates, III; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood, Jr. as inventors, filed Dec. 27, 2007, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0005]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/006,089, entitled TEMPERATURE-STABILIZED STORAGE SYSTEMS, naming Roderick A. Hyde; Edward K. Y. Jung; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Clarence T. Tegreene; William H. Gates, III; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood, Jr. as inventors, filed Dec. 27, 2007, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0006]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/008,695, entitled TEMPERATURE-STABILIZED STORAGE CONTAINERS FOR MEDICINALS, naming Roderick A. Hyde; Edward K. Y. Jung; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Clarence T. Tegreene; William H. Gates, III; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood, Jr. as inventors, filed Jan. 10, 2008, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0007]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/012,490, entitled METHODS OF MANUFACTURING TEMPERATURE-STABILIZED STORAGE CONTAINERS, naming Roderick A. Hyde; Edward K. Y. Jung; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Clarence T. Tegreene; William H. Gates, III; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood, Jr. as inventors, filed Jan. 31, 2008, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0008]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/077,322, entitled TEMPERATURE-STABILIZED MEDICINAL STORAGE SYSTEMS, naming Roderick A. Hyde; Edward K. Y. Jung; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Clarence T. Tegreene; William Gates; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood, Jr. as inventors, filed Mar. 17, 2008, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0009]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/152,465, entitled STORAGE CONTAINER INCLUDING MULTI-LAYER INSULATION COMPOSITE MATERIAL HAVING BANDGAP MATERIAL AND RELATED METHODS, naming Jeffrey A. Bowers; Roderick A. Hyde; Muriel Y. Ishikawa; Edward K. Y. Jung; Jordin T. Kare; Eric C. Leuthardt; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Thomas J. Nugent Jr.; Clarence T. Tegreene; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood Jr. as inventors, filed May 13, 2008, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0010]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/152,467, entitled MULTI-LAYER INSULATION COMPOSITE MATERIAL INCLUDING BANDGAP MATERIAL, STORAGE CONTAINER USING SAME, AND RELATED METHODS, naming Jeffrey A. Bowers; Roderick A. Hyde; Muriel Y. Ishikawa; Edward K. Y. Jung; Jordin T. Kare; Eric C. Leuthardt; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Thomas J. Nugent Jr.; Clarence T. Tegreene; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood Jr. as inventors, filed May 13, 2008, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of-the filing date.
  • [0011]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/220,439, entitled MULTI-LAYER INSULATION COMPOSITE MATERIAL HAVING AT LEAST ONE THERMALLY-REFLECTIVE LAYER WITH THROUGH OPENINGS, STORAGE CONTAINER USING SAME, AND RELATED METHODS, naming Roderick A. Hyde; Muriel Y. Ishikawa; Jordin T. Kare; and Lowell L. Wood, Jr. as inventors, filed Jul. 23, 2008, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0012]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/658,579, entitled TEMPERATURE-STABILIZED STORAGE SYSTEMS, naming Geoffrey F. Deane; Lawrence Morgan Fowler; William Gates; Zihong Guo; Roderick A. Hyde; Edward K. Y. Jung; Jordin T. Kare; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Nathan Pegram; Nels R. Peterson; Clarence T. Tegreene; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood, Jr. as inventors, filed Feb. 8, 2010, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0013]
    For purposes of the USPTO extra-statutory requirements, the present application constitutes a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. TO BE ASSIGNED, entitled TEMPERATURE-STABILIZED STORAGE SYSTEMS WITH FLEXIBLE CONNECTORS, naming Fong-Li Chou; Geoffrey F. Deane; William Gates; Zihong Guo; Roderick A. Hyde; Edward K. Y. Jung; Nathan P. Myhrvold; Nels R. Peterson; Clarence T. Tegreene; Charles Whitmer; and Lowell L. Wood, Jr. as inventors, filed Nov. 29, 2010, which is currently co-pending, or is an application of which a currently co-pending application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date.
  • [0014]
    The United States Patent Office (USPTO) has published a notice to the effect that the USPTO's computer programs require that patent applicants reference both a serial number and indicate whether an application is a continuation, continuation-in-part, or divisional of a parent application. Stephen G. Kunin, Benefit of Prior-Filed Application, USPTO Official Gazette Mar. 18, 2003. The present Applicant Entity (hereinafter “Applicant”) has provided above a specific reference to the application(s) from which priority is being claimed as recited by statute. Applicant understands that the statute is unambiguous in its specific reference language and does not require either a serial number or any characterization, such as “continuation” or “continuation-in-part,” for claiming priority to U.S. patent applications. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Applicant understands that the USPTO's computer programs have certain data entry requirements, and hence Applicant has provided designation(s) of a relationship between the present application and its parent application(s) as set forth above, but expressly points out that such designation(s) are not to be construed in any way as any type of commentary and/or admission as to whether or not the present application contains any new matter in addition to the matter of its parent application(s).
  • SUMMARY
  • [0015]
    Substantially thermally sealed storage containers are described herein. In some embodiments, a substantially thermally sealed storage container includes an outer assembly, including one or more sections of ultra efficient insulation material substantially defining at least one thermally sealed storage region, wherein the outer assembly and the one or more sections of ultra efficient insulation material substantially define a single access aperture to the at least one thermally sealed storage region; and an inner assembly within the at least one thermally sealed storage region, including a storage structure configured for receiving and storing at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module.
  • [0016]
    In some embodiments, a substantially thermally sealed storage container includes an outer assembly, including an outer wall substantially defining a substantially thermally sealed storage container, the outer wall substantially defining a single outer wall aperture; an inner wall substantially defining a substantially thermally sealed storage region, the inner wall substantially defining a single inner wall aperture; the inner wall and the outer wall separated by a distance and substantially defining a gap; at least one section of ultra efficient insulation material disposed within the gap; a connector forming a conduit connecting the single outer wall aperture with the single inner wall aperture; and a single access aperture to the substantially thermally sealed storage region, wherein the single access aperture is defined by an end of the conduit; and an inner assembly within the substantially thermally sealed storage region, including a storage structure configured for receiving and storing at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module.
  • [0017]
    In some embodiments, a system includes: at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container; and an information system, wherein the information system includes at least one sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container, and at least one electronic system including a controller.
  • [0018]
    In some embodiments, a system includes: a plurality of substantially thermally sealed storage containers, wherein each of the substantially thermally sealed storage containers includes; a unique identifier, and an information system, wherein the information system includes at least one sensor network operably attached to the substantially thermally sealed storage container, and at least one electronic controller.
  • [0019]
    In some embodiments, a system includes: a computer server; and a plurality of substantially thermally sealed storage containers, wherein each of the substantially thermally sealed storage containers includes a unique identifier, and an information system configured to communicate with the computer server, wherein the information system includes at least one sensor network operably attached to the substantially thermally sealed storage container, and at least one electronic system including a controller.
  • [0020]
    The foregoing summary is illustrative only and is not intended to be in any way limiting. In addition to the illustrative aspects, embodiments, and features described above, further aspects, embodiments, and features will become apparent by reference to the drawings and the following detailed description.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • [0021]
    FIG. 1 depicts a substantially thermally sealed storage container in cross-section.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 2 illustrates aspects of a substantially thermally sealed storage container.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 3 shows aspects of a substantially thermally sealed storage container in cross-section.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 4 depicts aspects of a storage structure and interchangeable modular units for use within a substantially thermally sealed storage container.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 5 illustrates, in cross-section, aspects of a storage structure and interchangeable modular units for use within a substantially thermally sealed storage container.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 6 shows aspects of heat sink modules.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 7 depicts an embodiment of a stored material module.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 8 illustrates aspects of a stored material module, such as shown in FIG. 7.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 9 shows aspects of a stored material module.
  • [0030]
    FIG. 10 depicts aspects of a storage unit.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 11 illustrates aspects of storage units in a stored material module.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 12 shows further aspects of storage units in a stored material module as illustrated in FIG. 11.
  • [0033]
    FIG. 13 depicts further aspects of a stored material module as shown in FIG. 12.
  • [0034]
    FIG. 14 illustrates aspects of a stored material module as shown in FIG. 12.
  • [0035]
    FIG. 15 shows further aspects of a stored material module as shown in FIG. 14.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 16 depicts an embodiment of a stored material module.
  • [0037]
    FIG. 17 illustrates, in cross-section, the stored material module as depicted in FIG. 16.
  • [0038]
    FIG. 18 shows, in cross-section, an additional view of the stored material module as depicted in FIG. 16.
  • [0039]
    FIG. 19 depicts aspects of the stored material module as depicted in FIG. 16.
  • [0040]
    FIG. 20 illustrates aspects of the stored material module as depicted in FIG. 16.
  • [0041]
    FIG. 21 shows, in cross-section, aspects of the stored material module as depicted in FIG. 20.
  • [0042]
    FIG. 22 depicts aspects of a substantially thermally sealed storage container and an associated information system.
  • [0043]
    FIG. 23 illustrates a plurality of substantially thermally sealed storage containers and an associated information system.
  • [0044]
    FIG. 24 shows a plurality of substantially thermally sealed storage containers and an associated information system.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0045]
    In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof. In the drawings, similar symbols typically identify similar components, unless context dictates otherwise. The illustrative embodiments described in the detailed description, drawings, and claims are not meant to be limiting. Other embodiments may be utilized, and other changes may be made, without departing from the spirit or scope of the subject matter presented here.
  • [0046]
    The use of the same symbols in different drawings typically indicates similar or identical items.
  • [0047]
    With reference now to FIG. 1, shown is an example of a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 that may serve as a context for introducing one or more processes and/or devices described herein. FIG. 1 depicts a vertically upright, substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 including an outer wall 105, an inner wall 110 and a connector 115. Although FIG. 1 depicts the container 100 as including a flexible connector 115, in some embodiments a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include a non-flexible connector, or a fixed connector. For the purposes of illustration in FIG. 1, the Container 100 is depicted in cross-section to view interior aspects. A substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 includes at least one substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 with extremely low heat conductance and extremely low heat radiation transfer between the outside environment of the container and the area internal to the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage region 130. A substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 is configured for extremely low heat conductance and extremely low heat radiation transfer between the outside environment of the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 and the inside of a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130. For example, in some embodiments the heat leak between a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 and the exterior of the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 is less than 1 Watt (W) when the exterior of the container is at a temperature of approximately 40 degrees Centigrade (C.) and the substantially thermally sealed storage region is maintained at a temperature between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. For example; in some embodiments the heat leak between a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 and the exterior of the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 is less than 700 mW when the exterior of the container is at a temperature of approximately 40 degrees Centigrade (C.) and the substantially thermally sealed storage region is maintained at a temperature between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. For example, in some embodiments the heat leak between a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 and the exterior of the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 is less than 600 mW when the exterior of the container is at a temperature of approximately 40 degrees Centigrade (C.) and the substantially thermally sealed storage region is maintained at a temperature between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. For example, in some embodiments the heat leak between a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 and the exterior of the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 is approximately 500 mW when the exterior of the container is at a temperature of approximately 40 degrees Centigrade (C.) and the substantially thermally sealed storage region is maintained at a temperature between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C.
  • [0048]
    A substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be configured for transport and storage of material in a predetermined temperature range within a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 for a period of time without active cooling activity or an active cooling unit. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 in an environment with an external temperature of approximately 40 degrees C. may be configured for transport and storage of material in a temperature range between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. within a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 for up to three months. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 in an environment with an external temperature of approximately 40 degrees C. may be configured for transport and storage of material in a temperature range between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. within a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 for up to two months. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 in an environment with an external temperature of approximately 40 degrees C. may be configured for transport and storage of material in a temperature range between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. within a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 for up to one month. Specific thermal properties and storage capabilities of a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may vary depending on the embodiment. For example, the materials used in fabrication of the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100, the design of the container 100, the required temperature range within the storage region 130, and the expected external temperature for use of the container 100. A substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 as described herein includes a storage structure configured for receiving and storing at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module. The choice of number and type of both the heat sink module(s) and the stored material module(s) will determine the specific thermal properties and storage capabilities of a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 for a particular time of use. For example, if a longer storage time in a temperature range between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. is desired, relatively more heat sink module(s) may be included in the storage structure and relatively fewer stored material module(s) may be included. For example, if a shorter storage time in a temperature range between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. is desired, relatively fewer heat sink module(s) may be included in the storage structure and relatively more stored material module(s) may be included.
  • [0049]
    The substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be of a portable size and shape, for example a size and shape within expected portability estimates for an individual person. The substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be configured for both transport and storage of material. The substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be configured of a size and shape for carrying, lifting or movement by an individual person. For example, in some embodiments the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 has a mass that is less than approximately 50 kilograms (kg), or less than approximately 30 kg. For example, in some embodiments a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 has a length and width that are less than approximately 1 meter (m). For example, implementations of a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include dimensions on the order of 45 centimeters (cm) in diameter and 70 cm in height. For example, in some embodiments a substantially thermally sealed storage container includes external handles, hooks, fixtures or other projections to assist in mobility of the container. For example, in some embodiments a substantially thermally sealed storage container includes external straps, bands, harnesses, or ropes to assist in transport of the container. In some embodiments, a substantially thermally sealed storage container includes external fixtures configured to secure the container to a surface, for example flanges, brackets, struts or clamps. The substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 illustrated in FIG. 1 is roughly configured as an oblong shape, however multiple shapes are possible depending on the embodiment. For example, a rectangular shape, or an irregular shape, may be utilized in some embodiments, depending on the intended use of the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100. For example, a substantially round or ball-like shape of a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be utilized in some embodiments.
  • [0050]
    A substantially thermally sealed storage container as described herein includes zero active cooling units during routine use. No active cooling units are depicted in FIG. 1, for example. The term “active cooling unit,” as used herein, includes conductive and radiative cooling mechanisms that require electricity from an external source to operate. For example, active cooling units may include one or more of: actively powered fans, actively pumped refrigerant systems, thermoelectric systems, active heat pump systems, active vapor-compression refrigeration systems and active heat exchanger systems. The external energy required to operate such mechanisms may originate, for example, from municipal electrical power supplies or electric batteries.
  • [0051]
    As depicted in FIG. 1, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 includes an outer assembly, including an outer wall 105. The outer wall 105 substantially defines the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100, and the outer wall 105 substantially defines a single outer wall aperture. As illustrated in FIG. 1, the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 includes an inner wall 110. The inner wall 110 substantially defines a single inner wall aperture. As illustrated in FIG. 1, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 includes a gap 120 between the inner wall 110 and the outer wall 105. The inner wall 110 and the outer wall 105 are separated by a distance and substantially define a gap 120. At least one section of ultra efficient insulation material is included in the gap 120. The container 100 includes a connector 115 forming a conduit 125 connecting the single outer wall 105 aperture with the single inner wall 110 aperture. Although the connector 115 illustrated in FIG. 1 is a flexible connector, in some embodiments the connector 115 may be not be a flexible connector. The container 100 includes a single access aperture to the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130, wherein the single access aperture is formed by an end of the conduit 125. In some embodiments, the container 100 includes an outer assembly, including one or more sections of ultra efficient insulation material substantially defining at least one thermally sealed storage region, wherein the outer assembly and the one or more sections of ultra efficient insulation material substantially define a single access aperture to the at least one thermally sealed storage region. As will be illustrated in the following Figures, the container 100 includes an inner assembly within the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130, including a storage structure configured for receiving and storing at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module.
  • [0052]
    As illustrated in FIG. 1, the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be configured so that the aperture in the outer wall 105 is located at the top of the container during use of the container. The substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be configured so that an aperture in the outer wall 105 is at the top edge of the outer wall 105 during routine storage or use of the container. The substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be configured so that an aperture in the exterior of the container connecting to the conduit 125 is at the top edge of the container 100 during storage of the container 100. The substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be configured so that an aperture in the outer wall 105 is at an opposing face of the container 100 relative to a base or bottom support structure of the container 100. Embodiments wherein the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 is configured so that an aperture in the outer wall 105 is at the top edge of the outer wall 105 during routine storage or use of the container may be configured for minimal passive transfer of thermal energy from the region exterior to the container. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 configured so that an aperture in the outer wall 105 is at an opposing face of the container 100 as a base or bottom support structure of the container 100 may also be configured so that thermal energy radiating from a floor or surface under the container 100 does not directly radiate into the aperture in the outer wall 105.
  • [0053]
    In some embodiments, the inner wall 110 substantially defines a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 within the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100. Although the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 depicted in FIG. 1 includes a single substantially thermally sealed storage region 130, in some embodiments a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include a plurality of substantially thermally sealed storage regions. In some embodiments, there may be a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 including a plurality of storage regions (e.g. 130) within the container. The plurality of storage regions may be, for example; of comparable size and shape or they may be of differing sizes and shapes as appropriate to the embodiment. Different storage regions may include, for example, various removable inserts, at least one layer including at least one metal on the interior surface of a storage region, or at least one layer of nontoxic material on the interior surface, in any combination or grouping. Although the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 depicted in FIG. 1 is approximately cylindrical in shape, a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 may be of a size and shape appropriate for a specific embodiment. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 may be oblong, round, rectangular, square or of irregular shape. A substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 may vary in total volume, depending on the embodiment and the total dimensions of the container 100. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 configured for portability by an individual person may include a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 with a total volume less than 30 liters (L), for example a volume of 25 L or 20 L. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 configured for transport on a vehicle may include a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 with a total volume more than 30 L, for example 35 L or 40 L. A substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 may include additional structure as appropriate for a specific embodiment. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage region may include stabilizing structures, insulation, packing material, or other additional components configured for ease of use or stable storage of material.
  • [0054]
    In some embodiments, a substantially thermally sealed container 100 includes at least one layer of nontoxic material on an interior surface of one or more substantially thermally sealed storage region 130. Nontoxic material may include, for example, material that does not produce residue that may be toxic to the contents of the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage region 130, or material that does not produce residue that may be toxic to the future users of contents of the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage region 130. Nontoxic material may include material that maintains the chemical structure of the contents of the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage region 130, for example nontoxic material may include chemically inert or non-reactive materials. Nontoxic material may include material that has been developed for use in, for example, medical, pharmaceutical or food storage applications. Nontoxic material may include material that may be cleaned or sterilized, for example material that may be irradiated, autoclaved, or disinfected. Nontoxic material may include material that contains one or more antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, or antipathogen agents. For example, nontoxic material may include aldehydes, hypochlorites, oxidizing agents, phenolics, quaternary ammonium compounds, or silver. Nontoxic material may include material that is structurally stable in the presence of one or more cleaning or sterilizing compounds or radiation, such as plastic that retains its structural integrity after irradiation, or metal that does not oxidize in the presence of one or more cleaning or sterilizing compounds. Nontoxic material may include material that consists of multiple layers, with layers removable for cleaning or sterilization, such as for reuse of the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage region. Nontoxic material may include, for example, material including metals, fabrics, papers or plastics.
  • [0055]
    In some embodiments, a substantially thermally sealed container 100 includes at least one layer including at least one metal on an interior surface of at least one thermally sealed storage region 130. For example, the at least one metal may include gold, aluminum, copper, or silver. The at least one metal may include at least one metal composite or alloy, for example steel, stainless steel, metal matrix composites, gold alloy, aluminum alloy, copper alloy, or silver alloy. In some embodiments, the at least one metal includes metal foil, such as titanium foil, aluminum foil, silver foil, or gold foil. A metal foil may be a component of a composite, such as, for example, in association with polyester film, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polyester film. The at least one layer including at least one metal on the interior surface of at least one storage region 130 may include at least one metal that may be sterilizable or disinfected. For example, the at least one metal may be sterilizable or disinfected using plasmons. For example, the at least one metal may be sterilizable or disinfected using autoclaving, thermal means, or chemical means. Depending on the embodiment, the at least one layer including at least one metal on the interior surface of at least one storage region may include at least one metal that has specific heat transfer properties, such as a thermal radiative properties.
  • [0056]
    In some embodiments, the container 100 may be configured for storage of one or more medicinal units within a storage region 130. For example, some medicinal units are optimally stored within approximately 0 degrees Centigrade and approximately 10 degrees Centigrade. For example, some medicinal units are optimally stored within approximately 2 degrees Centigrade and approximately 8 degrees Centigrade. See: Chan and Kristensen, “Opportunities and Challenges of Developing Thermostable Vaccines,” Expert Rev. Vaccines, 8(5), pages 547-557 (2009); Matthias et al., “Freezing Temperatures in the Vaccine Cold Chain: A Systematic Literature Review,” Vaccine 25, pages 3980-3986 (2007); Wirkas et al., “A Vaccines Cold Chain Freezing Study in PNG Highlights Technology Needs for Hot Climate Countries,” Vaccine 25, pages 691-697 (2007); the WHO publication titled “Preventing Freeze Damage to Vaccines,” publication no. WHO/IVB/07.09 (2007); and the WHO publication titled “Temperature Sensitivity of Vaccines,” publication no. WHO/IVB/06.10 (2006), which are all herein incorporated by reference. The term “medicinal”, as used herein, includes a drug, composition, formulation, material or compound intended for medicinal or therapeutic use. For example, a medicinal may include drugs, vaccines, therapeutics, vitamins, pharmaceuticals, remedies, homeopathic agents, naturopathic agents, or treatment modalities in any form, combination or configuration. For example, a medicinal may include vaccines, such as: a vaccine packaged as an oral dosage compound, vaccine within a prefilled syringe, a container or vial containing vaccine, vaccine within a unijet device, or vaccine within an externally deliverable unit (e.g. a vaccine patch for transdermal applications). For example, a medicinal may include treatment modalities, such as: antibody therapies, small-molecule compounds, anti-inflammatory agents, therapeutic drugs, vitamins, or pharmaceuticals in any form, combination or configuration. A medicinal may be in the form of a liquid, gel, solid, semi-solid, vapor, or gas. In some embodiments, a medicinal may be a composite. For example, a medicinal may include a bandage infused with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, coagulants, neurotrophic agents, angiogenic agents, vitamins or pharmaceutical agents.
  • [0057]
    In some embodiments, the container 100 may be configured for storage of one or more food units within a storage region 130. For example, a container 100 may be configured to maintain a temperature in the range of −4 degrees C. and −10 degrees C. during storage, and may include a storage structure configured for storage of one or more food products, such as ice cream bars, individually packed frozen meals, frozen meat products, frozen fruit products or frozen vegetable products. In some embodiments, the container 100 may be configured for storage of one or more beverage units within a storage region 130. For example, a container 100 may be configured to maintain a temperature in the range of 2 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. during storage, and may include an storage structure configured for storage of one or more beverage products, such as wine, beer, fruit juices, or soft drinks.
  • [0058]
    In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 includes a gap 120 between the inner wall 110 and the outer wall 105. As shown in FIG. 1, the inner wall 110 and the outer wall 105 are separated by a distance and substantially define a gap 120. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, there are no irregularities or additions within the gap 120 to thermally join or create a thermal connection between the inner wall 110 and the outer wall 105 across the gap 120 when the container is upright, or in the position configured for normal use of the container 100. When the container 100 is in an upright position, as illustrated in FIG. 1, the inner wall 110 and the outer wall 105 do not directly come into contact with each other. Further, when the container 100 is in an upright position, there are no additions, junctions, flanges, or other fixtures within the gap that would function as a thermal connection across the gap 120 between the inner wall 110 and the outer wall 105.
  • [0059]
    As illustrated in FIG. 1, the connector 115 supports the entire mass of the inner wall and any contents of the storage region 130. In some embodiments, additional supporting units may be included in the gap 120 to provide additional support to the inner wall 110 in addition to that provided by the connector 115. For example, there may be one or more thermally non-conductive strands attached to the surface of the outer wall 105 facing the gap 120, wherein the thermally non-conductive strands are configured to extend around the surface of the inner wall 110 facing the gap 120 and provide additional support or movement restraint on the inner wall 110 and, by extension, the contents of the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130. In some embodiments, the central regions of the plurality of strands wrap around the inner wall 110 at diverse angles, with the corresponding ends of each of the plurality of strands fixed to the surface of the outer wall 105 facing the gap 120 at multiple locations. One or more thermally non-conductive strands may be, for example, fabricated from fiberglass strands or ropes. One or more thermally non-conductive strands may be, for example, fabricated from strands of a para-aramid synthetic fiber, such as Kevlar™. A plurality of thermally non-conductive strands may be attached to the surface of the outer wall 105 facing the gap 120 at both ends, with the center of the strands wrapped around the surface of the inner wall 110 facing the gap 120. For example, a plurality of strands fabricated from stainless steel ropes may be attached to the surface of the outer wall 105 facing the gap 120 at both ends, with the center of the strands wrapped around the surface of the inner wall 110 facing the gap 120.
  • [0060]
    In some embodiments, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include one or more sections of an ultra efficient insulation material. In some embodiments, there is at least one section of ultra efficient insulation material within a gap 120. The term “ultra efficient insulation material,” as used herein, may include one or more type of insulation material with extremely low heat conductance and extremely low heat radiation transfer between the surfaces of the insulation material. The ultra efficient insulation material may include, for example, one or more layers of thermally reflective film, high vacuum, aerogel, low thermal conductivity bead-like units, disordered layered crystals, low density solids, or low density foam. In some embodiments, the ultra efficient insulation material includes one or more low density solids such as aerogels, such as those described in, for example: Fricke and Emmerling, Aerogels—preparation, properties, applications, Structure and Bonding 77: 37-87 (1992); and Pekala, Organic aerogels from the polycondensation of resorcinol with formaldehyde, Journal of Materials Science 24: 3221-3227 (1989), which are each herein incorporated by reference. As used herein, “low density” may include materials with density from about 0.01 g/cm3 to about 0.10 g/cm3, and materials with density from about 0.005 g/cm3 to about 0.05 g/cm3. In some embodiments, the ultra efficient insulation material includes one or more layers of disordered layered crystals, such as those described in, for example: Chiritescu et al., Ultralow thermal conductivity in disordered, layered WSe2 crystals, Science 315: 351-353 (2007), which is herein incorporated by reference. In some embodiments, the ultra efficient insulation material includes at least two layers of thermal reflective film surrounded, for example, by at least one of high vacuum, low thermal conductivity spacer units, low thermal conductivity bead like units, or low density foam. In some embodiments, the ultra efficient insulation material may include at least two layers of thermal reflective material and at least one spacer unit between the layers of thermal reflective material. For example, the ultra-efficient insulation material may include at least one multiple layer insulating composite such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,485,805 to Smith et al., titled “Multilayer insulation composite,” which is herein incorporated by reference. For example, the ultra-efficient insulation material may include at least one metallic sheet insulation system, such as that described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,915,283 to Reed et al., titled “Metallic sheet insulation system,” which is herein incorporated by reference. For example, the ultra-efficient insulation material may include at least one thermal insulation system, such as that described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,967,051 to Augustynowicz et al., titled “Thermal insulation systems,” which is herein incorporated by reference. For example, the ultra-efficient insulation material may include at least one rigid multilayer material for thermal insulation, such as that described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,001,656 to Maignan et al., titled “Rigid multilayer material for thermal insulation,” which is herein incorporated by reference. For example, the ultra-efficient insulation material may include multilayer insulation material, or “MLI.” For example, an ultra efficient insulation material may include multilayer insulation material such as that used in space program launch vehicles, including by NASA. See, e.g., Daryabeigi, Thermal analysis and design optimization of multilayer insulation for reentry aerodynamic heating, Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets 39: 509-514 (2002), which is herein incorporated by reference. For example, the ultra efficient insulation material may include space with a partial gaseous pressure lower than atmospheric pressure external to the container 100. In some embodiments, the ultra efficient insulation material may substantially cover the inner wall 110 surface facing the gap 120. In some embodiments, the ultra efficient insulation material may substantially cover the outer wall 105 surface facing the gap 120.
  • [0061]
    In some embodiments, there is at least one layer of multilayer insulation material within the gap 120, wherein the at least one layer of multilayer insulation material substantially surrounds the inner wall 110. In some embodiments, there are a plurality of layers of multilayer insulation material within the gap 120, therein the layers may not be homogeneous. In some embodiments there may be one or more additional layers within or in addition to the ultra efficient insulation material, such as, for example, an outer structural layer or an inner structural layer. An inner or an outer structural layer may be made of any material appropriate to the embodiment, for example an inner or an outer structural layer may include: plastic, metal, alloy, composite, or glass. In some embodiments, there may be one or more layers of high vacuum between layers of thermal reflective film. In some embodiments, the gap 120 includes a substantially evacuated gaseous pressure relative to the atmospheric pressure external to the container 100. A substantially evacuated gaseous pressure relative to the atmospheric pressure external to the container 100 may include substantially evacuated gaseous pressure surrounding a plurality of layers of Mil, for example between and around the layers. A substantially evacuated gaseous pressure relative to the atmospheric pressure external to the container 100 may include substantially evacuated gaseous pressure in one or more sections of a gap. For example, in some embodiments the gap 120 includes substantially evacuated space having a pressure less than or equal to 1×10−2 torr. For example, in some embodiments the gap 120 includes substantially evacuated space having a pressure less than or equal to 5×10−4 torr. For example, in some embodiments the gap 120 includes substantially evacuated space having a pressure less than or equal to 1×10−2 torr in the gap 120. For example, in some embodiments the gap 120 includes substantially evacuated space having a pressure less than or equal to 5×10−4 torr in the gap 120. In some embodiments, the gap 120 includes substantially evacuated space having a pressure less than 1×10−2 torr, for example, less than 5×10−3 torr, less than 5×10−4 torr, less than 5×10−5 torr, 5×10−6 torr or 5×10−7 torr. For example, in some embodiments the gap 120 includes a plurality of layers of multilayer insulation material and substantially evacuated space having a pressure less than or equal to 1×10−2 torr. For example, in some embodiments the gap 120 includes a plurality of layers of multilayer insulation material and substantially evacuated space having a pressure less than or equal to 5×10−4 torr.
  • [0062]
    Depending on the embodiment, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be fabricated from a variety of materials. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be fabricated from metals, fiberglass or plastics of suitable characteristics for a given embodiment. For example, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include materials of a suitable strength, hardness, durability, cost, availability, thermal conduction characteristics, gas-emitting properties, or other considerations appropriate for a given embodiment. In some embodiments, the outer wall 105 is fabricated from stainless steel. In some embodiments, the outer wall 105 is fabricated from aluminum. In some embodiments, the inner wall 110 is fabricated from stainless steel. In some embodiments, the inner wall 110 is fabricated from aluminum. In some embodiments, the connector 115 is fabricated from stainless steel. In some embodiments, the connector 115 is fabricated from aluminum. In some embodiments, the connector 115 is fabricated from fiberglass. In some embodiments, portions or parts of a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may be fabricated from composite or layered materials. For example, an outer wall 105 may be substantially fabricated from stainless steel, with an external covering of plastic. For example, an inner wall 110 may substantially be fabricated from stainless steel, with a coating within the substantially sealed storage region 130 of plastic, rubber, foam or other material suitable to provide support and insulation to material stored within the substantially sealed storage region 130.
  • [0063]
    FIG. 2 illustrates additional aspects of some embodiments of a substantially thermally sealed container 100. For purposes of illustration, FIG. 2 depicts an inner wall 110 in conjunction with a connector 115. Although a flexible connector is illustrated, a connector 115 may be non-flexible in some embodiments. The connector 115 may be configured to form an extended thermal pathway between the exterior of the container 100 and a storage region within the inner wall 110. The interior of the connector 115 substantially defines a conduit 125 between the exterior of the container 100 and a storage region within the inner wall 110. The interior of the connector 115 substantially defines a conduit 125 in communication with a single access aperture to at least one thermally sealed storage region within the inner wall 110.
  • [0064]
    FIG. 3 depicts aspects of some embodiments of a substantially thermally sealed container 100. FIG. 3 depicts in cross-section an inner wall 110 in conjunction with a connector 115, similar to that illustrated in FIG. 2 as an exterior view. Although a flexible connector is illustrated, a connector 115 may be non-flexible in some embodiments. The interior of the connector 115 substantially defines a conduit 125 between the exterior of the container and the interior of a storage region 130. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the interior of the storage region 130 includes a storage structure 300. The storage structure 300 is fixed to the interior surface of the inner wall 110. The storage structure 300 illustrated in FIG. 3 includes a plurality of apertures 320, 310 of an equivalent size and shape. Some of these apertures 320, 310 are completely depicted and some are only partially depicted in the cross-section illustration of FIG. 3. The storage structure 300 includes a planar structure 300 including a plurality of apertures 320, 310, wherein the planar structure 300 is located adjacent to a wall of the thermally sealed storage region 130 opposite to the single access aperture and substantially parallel with the diameter of the single access aperture. The plurality of apertures 320, 310 included in the planar structure 300 include substantially circular apertures. The plurality of apertures 320, 310 included in the planar structure 300 include a plurality of apertures 320 located around the circumference of the planar structure 300, and a single aperture 310 located in the center of the planar structure 300.
  • [0065]
    Although a substantially planar storage structure 300 is depicted in FIG. 3, in some embodiments a storage structure may include brackets, hooks, springs, flanges, or other configurations as appropriate for reversible storage of the heat sink modules and stored material modules of that embodiment. For example, a storage structure may include brackets and/or hooks. For example, a storage structure may include brackets with openings configured for heat sink modules and stored material modules to slide into the structure. For example, a storage structure may include hanging cylinders and/or a carousel-like structure with openings configured for heat sink modules and stored material modules to slide into the structure. Some embodiments include a storage structure with aspects configured to assist in the insertion, positioning and removal of heat sink modules and/or stored material modules, such as slide structures and/or positioning guide structures. Some embodiments include an external insertion and removal device, such as a hook, loop or bracket on an elongated pole configured to assist in the insertion, positioning and removal of heat sink modules and/or stored material modules.
  • [0066]
    In some embodiments, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 includes one or more storage structures 300 within an interior of at least one thermally sealed storage region 130. A storage structure 300 is configured for receiving and storing of at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module. A storage structure 300 is configured for interchangeable storage of at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module. For example, a storage structure may include racks, shelves, containers, thermal insulation, shock insulation, or other structures configured for storage of material within the storage region 130. In some embodiments, a storage structure includes at least one bracket configured for the reversible attachment of at least one heat sink module or at least one stored material module. In some embodiments, a storage structure includes at least one rack configured for the reversible attachment of at least one heat sink module or at least one stored material module. In some embodiments, a storage structure includes at least one clamp configured for the reversible attachment of at least one heat sink module or at least one stored material module. In some embodiments, a storage structure includes at least one fastener configured for the reversible attachment of at least one heat sink module or at least one stored material module. In some embodiments, a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 includes one or more removable inserts within an interior of at least one thermally sealed storage region 130. The removable inserts may be made of any material appropriate for the embodiment, including nontoxic materials, metal, alloy, composite, or plastic. The one or more removable inserts may include inserts that may be reused or reconditioned. The one or more removable inserts may include inserts that may be cleaned, sterilized, or disinfected as appropriate to the embodiment. In some embodiments, a storage structure includes at least one bracket configured for the reversible attachment of at least one heat sink module or at least one stored material module. In some embodiments, a storage structure is configured for interchangeable storage of a plurality of modules, wherein the modules include at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module.
  • [0067]
    In some embodiments the substantially thermally sealed storage container may include one or more heat sink units thermally connected to one or more storage region 130. In some embodiments, the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include no heat sink units. In some embodiments, the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include heat sink units within the interior of the container 100, such as within a storage region 130. Heat sink units may be modular and configured to be removable and interchangeable. In some embodiments, heat sink units are configured to be interchangeable with stored material modules. Heat sink modules may be fabricated from a variety of materials, depending on the embodiment. Materials for inclusion in a heat sink module may be selected based on properties such as thermal conductivity, durability over time, stability of the material when subjected to particular temperatures, stability of the material when subjected to repeated cycles of freezing and thawing, cost, weight, density, and availability. In some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from metals. For example, in some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from stainless steel. For example, in some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from aluminum. In some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from plastics. For example, in some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from polyethylene. For example, in some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from polypropylene.
  • [0068]
    The term “heat sink unit,” as used herein, includes one or more units that absorb thermal energy. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,390,734 to Voorhes et al., titled “Heat Sink,” U.S. Pat. No. 4,057,101 to Ruka et al., titled “Heat Sink,” U.S. Pat. No. 4,003,426 to Best et al., titled “Heat or Thermal Energy Storage Structure,” and U.S. Pat. No. 4,976,308 to Faghri titled “Thermal Energy Storage Heat Exchanger,” which are each incorporated herein by reference. Heat sink units may include, for example: units containing frozen water or other types of ice; units including frozen material that is generally gaseous at ambient temperature and pressure, such as frozen carbon dioxide (CO2); units including liquid material that is generally gaseous at ambient temperature and pressure, such as liquid nitrogen; units including artificial gels or composites with heat sink properties; units including phase change materials; and units including refrigerants. See, for example: U.S. Pat. No. 5,261,241 to Kitahara et al., titled “Refrigerant,” U.S. Pat. No. 4,810,403 to Bivens et al., titled “Halocarbon Blends for Refrigerant Use,” U.S. Pat. No. 4,428,854 to Enjo et al., titled “Absorption Refrigerant Compositions for Use in Absorption Refrigeration Systems,” and U.S. Pat. No. 4,482,465 to Gray, titled “Hydrocarbon-Halocarbon Refrigerant Blends,” which are each herein incorporated by reference.
  • [0069]
    In some embodiments, the substantially thermally sealed storage container may include one or more stored material modules. In some embodiments, the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include no stored material modules. In some embodiments, the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include stored material modules within the interior of the container 100, such as within a storage region 130. Stored material units may be modular and configured to be removable and interchangeable. As used herein, “stored material modules” refers to modular units configured for storage of materials within a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100. Stored material modules are configured to be removable and interchangeable. Stored material modules may include a plurality of storage units. For example, a stored material module may include a plurality of cups, drawers, inserts, indentations, cavities, or chambers, each of which may be a storage unit configured for storage of material. In some embodiments, stored material modules are configured to be interchangeable with heat sink units. Stored material modules may be configured to be fixed in place within a storage region 130 with a storage structure 300. Stored material modules may be fabricated from a variety of materials, depending on the embodiment. Materials for inclusion in a stored material module may be selected based on properties such as thermal conductivity, durability over time, stability of the material when subjected to particular temperatures, stability, strength, cost, weight, density, and availability. In some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from metals. For example, in some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from stainless steel. For example, in some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from aluminum. In some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from plastics. For example, in some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from polyethylene. For example, in some embodiments, heat sink modules are fabricated from polypropylene.
  • [0070]
    FIG. 4 illustrates aspects of a storage structure 300 and a plurality of modules 400, including heat sink modules 410 and stored material modules 420. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the storage structure 300 is configured for receiving and storing a plurality of modules 400, wherein the modules include at least one heat sink module 410 and at least one stored material module 420. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the storage structure 300 is configured for interchangeable storage of a plurality of modules 400, wherein the modules include at least one heat sink module 410 and at least one stored material module 420. The storage structure 300, as illustrated in FIG. 3, includes a planar structure including a plurality of circular apertures 320, 310 (see FIG. 3). The plurality of modules 400 illustrated in FIG. 4 are configured to reversibly mate with the surfaces of the circular apertures 320, 310. The plurality of modules 400 are configured to be interchangeable at different locations within the storage structure 300. The storage structure 300 includes circular apertures 320, 310 of substantially equivalent size and spacing so as to facilitate the modular format of the plurality of modules 400. Although the container 100 is not depicted in FIG. 4, the storage structure 300 and the plurality of modules 400 are configured for inclusion within a storage region 130 of a container 100.
  • [0071]
    A stored material module 420, as illustrated in FIG. 4, includes a plurality of storage units 430. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4, the storage units 430 are arranged in a columnar structure within the stored material module 420. Each storage module 420 includes a plurality of storage units positioned in a columnar array. In some embodiments, the plurality of storage units 430 may be of a substantially equivalent size and shape, as depicted in FIG. 4. In some embodiments, the plurality of storage units 430 may be positioned in a columnar array and wherein the storage units 430 are of a substantially equivalent horizontal dimension and wherein the storage units 430 include storage units 430 of at least two distinct vertical dimensions. Storage units 430 with fixed horizontal dimensions may be stacked in a linear array. However, storage units 430 with fixed width or diameter need not have the same height. In some embodiments, storage units 430 of varying heights may be desirable for storage of materials of varying sizes or heights. For example, in embodiments configured for storage of medicinal vials, such as vaccine vials, storage units 430 of varying heights may be configured for storage of different size vials. A storage unit 430 may be configured, for example, for storage of standard-size 2 cc vaccine vials, or standard-size 3 cc vaccine vials. A stored material module 420 may also include a cap 440. The cap 440 may be configured to enclose the adjacent storage unit 430. The cap may be removable and replicable. A central stabilizer 450 may be attached to a stored material module 420. A central stabilizer 450 may be attached to a cap 440 reversibly, for example with a threaded screw on the central stabilizer 450 configured to mate with a threaded aperture on the surface of the cap 440.
  • [0072]
    Stored material modules 420 and associated stored material units 430 may be fabricated from a variety of materials, depending on the embodiment. For example, the stored material modules 420 and stored material units 430 may be fabricated from a low thermal mass plastic, or a rigid foam material. In some embodiments the stored material modules 420 and stored material units 430 may be fabricated from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic. In some embodiments the stored material modules 420 may include metal components.
  • [0073]
    In some embodiments, a storage structure 300 and a plurality of modules 400, including heat sink modules 410 and stored material modules 420 may be configured for interchangeable storage of heat sink modules 410 and stored material modules 420. The choice of the type and number of heat sink modules 410 and stored material modules 420 may vary for any particular use of the container 100. For example, in an embodiment where the stored material modules 420 are required to be stored for a longer period of time in a predetermined temperature range, relatively fewer stored material modules 420 and relatively more heat sink modules 410 may be included. For example, in an embodiment such as depicted in FIG. 4, a total of nine heat sink modules may be included in the outer ring of the storage structure 300 and a single stored material module 420 may be included in the center of the ring. An embodiment such as depicted in FIG. 4 may, for example, be configured to store a single stored material module 420 and a total of nine heat sink modules 410 including water ice for at least three months at a temperature between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C. An embodiment such as depicted in FIG. 4 may, for example, be configured to store two stored material modules 420 and a total of eight heat sink modules 410 including water ice for at least two months at a temperature between 0 degrees C. and 10 degrees C.
  • [0074]
    Other configurations and relative numbers of stored material modules 420 and heat sink modules 410 may be utilized, depending on the particular container 100 and desired storage time in a particular temperature range. Other configurations and ratios of stored material modules 420 and heat sink modules 410 may be included in a particular container 100 depending on the desired storage time in a particular temperature range. Other configurations and ratios of stored material modules 420 and heat sink modules 410 may be included in a particular container 100 depending on the number of access events during the desired storage time in a particular temperature range. A heat sink module 410 including a particular volume of heat sink material at a particular temperature may be estimated to have a particular amount of energy storage, such as in joules of energy. Assuming a constant heat leak in the container 100, an incremental value of energy, e.g. joules, per time of storage may be calculated. Assuming a constant access energy loss to a storage region in a container, an incremental value of energy, e.g. joules, per access to a storage region may be calculated. For a particular use, heat sink module(s) 410 with corresponding values of energy storage, e.g. joules, may be included as calculated per time of storage. For a particular use, heat sink module(s) 410 with corresponding values of energy storage, e.g. joules, may be included as calculated per access to the storage region (e.g. removal and/or insertion of stored material).
  • [0075]
    FIG. 5 illustrates aspects of a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 including stored material modules 410, 420. FIG. 5 depicts an inner wall 110 and an attached connector 115 in cross-section. In the interests of illustrating the inner components of the container 100, an outer wall 105 and other external aspects are not depicted in FIG. 5. The storage region 130 within the inner wall 110 contains multiple storage modules 410, 420. FIG. 5 illustrates two heat sink modules 410 in cross-section. As is evident in the cross-section view, each of the two heat sink modules 410 includes two heat sink units, an upper and a lower heat sink unit relative to the orientation of FIG. 5. Each of the heat sink units includes a cap 460. The cap 460 may be configured to be removable, for example with screw-type threading configured to mate with an edge of the heat sink unit. In some embodiments, a heat sink unit or module may not include a cap 460. In some embodiments, the cap 460 may include a flange, handle, knob or shaft configured to enable the insertion and removal of the heat sink module from the container 100. A heat sink module may be cylindrical. A heat sink module 410 may contain water, water ice, and/or air. A heat sink module 410 may contain a heat sink material that may be recharged, such as water (i.e. by re-cooling or re-freezing). A heat sink module 410 may contain a heat sink material that may be replaced (i.e. by opening a cap 460).
  • [0076]
    FIG. 5 depicts a stored material module 420 in cross-section in the center of the storage region 130. The stored material module 420 includes a series of stored material units 430 arranged in a columnar array. Each of the stored material units 430 includes a plurality of apertures 510 in the bottom of the stored material unit 430. Such apertures may be configured to improve thermal circulation around stored material within the stored material unit 430. Such apertures may be configured to improve air flow around stored material within the stored material unit 430.
  • [0077]
    At the top of the stored material module 420 illustrated in cross-section, FIG. 5 depicts an attachment region 500 configured for reversible attachment of a central stabilizer unit 450 to the stored material module 420. For example, the attachment region 500 may include a threaded region configured to reversibly mate with a threaded region on a central stabilizer unit 450. The central stabilizer unit 450 may be configured from a material with low thermal conductivity, such as a low thermal mass plastic, or a Tigid foam material. The central stabilizer unit 450 may be configured to substantially fill the conduit 125 in the connector 115. The central stabilizer unit 450 may be configured to provide lateral stabilization and/or support to the attached the stored material module 420.
  • [0078]
    FIG. 6 illustrates aspects of two heat sink modules 410 (A and B), from an external view. The two heat sink modules 410 are depicted with an external view. The two heat sink modules 410 are substantially cylindrical in shape and include caps 460 configured for reversible opening of the heat sink modules 410. For example, the heat sink modules 410 may be opened for recharging or replacement of heat sink material within the heat sink modules 410. In some embodiments, the heat sink modules 410 may be sealed closed (e.g. with a welding joint) and not configured for reversible opening. The heat sink modules 410 may include two or more heat sink units (e.g. top and bottom relative to FIG. 5). Heat sink units may be attached with a module joint 610, for example an adhesive attachment, a weld attachment, or a screw-type reversible attachment.
  • [0079]
    Some embodiments include a plurality of heat sink modules 410 of a substantially cylindrical shape as depicted in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6. The materials used in the fabrication of the heat sink units may depend, for example, on the thermal properties of the heat sink material stored in the heat sink modules 410. The materials used in the fabrication of the heat sink modules 410 may depend, for example, on cost, weight, availability, and durability. The heat sink modules 410 may be fabricated from stainless steel of an appropriate type and thickness to the embodiment. The heat sink modules 410 may include water stored internally as a heat sink material. For example, substantially cylindrical heat sink modules 410 may be fabricated from stainless steel and approximately 90% filled with water. The heat sink modules 410 may then be placed horizontally and frozen in an environment set to approximately −20 degrees C. (for example, a standard freezer). After a sufficient time for the water within the heat sink modules 410 to freeze, the heat sink modules may be removed and placed at approximately 20 degrees C. (for example, an average room temperature) until some of the water turns to ice. See, for example, “Preventing Freeze Damage to Vaccines,” WHO publication WHO/IVB/07.09, which is herein incorporated by reference. Once the heat sink modules 410 contain both ice and liquid water, they are ready for use in a storage region 130 within a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 with an approximate temperature range between 0 degrees C. to 10 degrees C.
  • [0080]
    FIG. 7 depicts aspects of some embodiments of a stored material module 420 shown in an external side view. A stored material module 420 may be configured to reversibly mate with an aperture in a storage structure (see e.g. FIGS. 3, 4 and 5). The stored material module 420 includes a plurality of stored material units 430. Each of the stored material units 430 is configured in a cup-like shape. Each of the stored material units 430 may include a plurality of apertures 510 in the bottom of the cup-like unit. The stored material units 430 are arrayed in a columnar stack, with most of the stored material units 430 resting on top of a lower stored material unit 430. At the bottom of the column of stored material units 430, the lowest stored material unit 430 sits on top of a base structure 740. At the top of the column of stored material units 430, the highest stored material unit 430 is covered with a cap 440. The cap 440 includes an attachment region 500. The stored material module 420 includes a stabilizer unit 720. The stabilizer unit 720 is configured in a rod-like shape. Each of the stored material units 430 is configured to reversibly attach to the stabilizer unit 720. For example, in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 7 each of the stored material units 430 is configured for the stabilizer unit 720 to thread vertically through them in a columnar array. Although not illustrated in FIG. 7, in some embodiments a stored material module 420 includes a flange, knob, handle or shaft configured to enable removal and insertion of the stored material module 420 into a storage region 130. Although not illustrated in FIG. 7, in some embodiments a stored material module 420 includes an indentation along at least one vertical side, the indentation configured for insertion and support of wires as part of an information system. Although not illustrated in FIG. 7, in some embodiments a stored material module 420 includes an indentation along at least one vertical side, the indentation configured for insertion and support of wires as part of a sensor system.
  • [0081]
    Although each of the stored material units 430 depicted in FIG. 7 are of a similar vertical dimension, or height, in some embodiments the stored material units 430 may be of a variety of vertical dimensions, or heights. Each of the stored material units 430 may include a gap 730 in at least one face, wherein the gap 730 is configured to allow thermal circulation through the stored material units 430. Each of the stored material units 430 may include a gap 730 in at least one face, wherein the gap 730 is configured to allow air flow through the stored material units 430. Each of the stored material units 430 may include a gap 730 in at least one face, wherein the gap 730 is configured to allow visual identification of stored material within the stored material units 430. Each of the stored material units 430 may include at least one tab structure 700 on an upper edge of the cup-like structure. Each of the stored material units 430 may include at least one indentation 710, wherein the indentation 710 is configured to reversibly mate with a tab structure 700 on an adjacent stored material unit 430. For example, a series of tab structures 700 and corresponding indentations 710 may assist in stabilization of a columnar array of stored material units 430 in a stored material module 420. A series of tab structures 700 and corresponding indentations 710 may be configured to minimize potential displacement of the stored material units 430 in a stored material module 420. A series of tab structures 700 and corresponding indentations 710 may be configured to increase stability of stored material units 430 in a stored material module 420 during addition or removal of stored material to one or more stored material units 430.
  • [0082]
    FIG. 8 illustrates a stored material module 420 as illustrated in FIG. 7, shown in an external vertical side view. The stored material module 420 includes a base unit 740. The stored material module 420 includes a cap 440. The cap 440 includes an attachment region 500. The stored material module 420 includes a plurality of stored material units 430 stacked in a columnar array. Each of the stored material units 420 includes a gap 730, which may be shaped and oriented to provide visual and/or thermal access to the interior of each stored material unit 420. Each of the stored material units 420 includes at least two tab structures 700. Each of the stored material units 420 includes at least two indentations 710 configured to reversibly mate with a tab structure 700 on an adjacent stored material unit 430.
  • [0083]
    FIG. 9 depicts a stored material module 420 such as illustrated in FIG. 8, with a central stabilizer unit 450 attached to the attachment region 500 on the cap 440. The cap 440 is located on the top stored material unit 430 in the stored material module 420. The stored material modules 420 include gaps 730. The stored material module 420 includes a base structure 740 at the bottom of the lowest stored material unit 430.
  • [0084]
    FIG. 10 illustrates aspects of a stored material unit 430 such as may be included in a stored material module 420 and as depicted in FIGS. 4-9. The stored material unit 430 is a substantially cup-like structure, with a bottom and curved sides. The stored material unit 430 is a substantially cylindrical structure, with sides and a bottom face, but open at the upper face. The structure of the stored material unit 430 forms a storage region 1010. As illustrated, the stored material unit 430 includes a plurality of apertures 510 in the bottom face. The stored material unit 430 includes four tabs 700 as well as corresponding indentations 710. The stored material unit 430 includes two gaps 730. The stored material unit 430 includes two stabilizer unit attachment regions 1000. Each of the stabilizer unit attachment regions 1000 is configured for a stabilizer unit (e.g. illustrated as 720 in FIG. 7) to reversibly attach to the stored material unit 430. As illustrated in FIG. 10, in some embodiments a stabilizer unit threads through apertures in a section of a stored material unit 430, although other configurations are possible depending on the embodiment. As illustrated in FIG. 10, in some embodiments a stored material unit 430 includes two stabilizer unit attachment regions 1000, wherein the stabilizer unit attachment regions 1000 are located distal from each other around the edge of the stored material unit 430.
  • [0085]
    FIG. 11 depicts aspects of two stored material units 430 and two stabilizer units 720. The illustration in FIG. 11 may be envisioned as the lowest two stored material units 430 in a columnar array in a stored material module 420, such as depicted in FIGS. 4-9. The lower stored material unit 430 is attached to a base 740 at its lower face. As illustrated in FIG. 11, the stored material units 430 are configured to slide up and down relative to each other on the axis formed by the two stabilizer units 720. When the stored material units 430 are adjacent to each other, their respective tab structures 700 and indentations 710 are configured to reversibly mate. Sliding of stored material units 430 relative to stabilizer units 720 such as illustrated in FIG. 11 may be utilized in addition or removal of stored material from the storage region 1010 within the stored material units 430. For example, a series of stored material units 430 in a columnar array in a stored material module 420 may be moved relative to the axis formed by stabilizer units 720 to access stored material within the stored material units 430. Each of the stored material units 430 may be relatively moved up and down to access material stored within each of the stored material units 430.
  • [0086]
    FIG. 12 depicts further aspects of two stored material units 430 and two stabilizer units 720. The illustration in FIG. 12 may be envisioned as the lowest two stored material units 430 in a columnar array in a stored material module 420, similar to the illustration of FIG. 11. The lower stored material unit 430 is attached to a base 740 at its lower face. As illustrated in FIG. 12, the stored material units 430 are configured to slide up and down relative to each other on the axis formed by the two stabilizer units 720 attached in the stabilizer unit attachment region 1010 of each stored material unit 430. When the stored material units 430 are adjacent to each other, their respective tab structures 700 and indentations 710 are configured to reversibly mate. FIG. 12 depicts the stored material units 430 in a position apart from each other. The lower stored material unit 430 is empty, and its apertures 510 are visible. The upper stored material unit 430 illustrated in FIG. 12 includes stored material 1200. For example, the upper stored material unit 430 includes a group of medicinal vials as stored material 1200. An end flange 1210 at the terminal end of a stabilizer unit 720 is positioned to secure the end of the stabilizer unit 720 relative to the lower face of the stored material unit 430.
  • [0087]
    FIG. 13 depicts two stored material units 430 and two stabilizer units 720 such as that illustrated in FIG. 12. The lower stored material unit 430 is attached to a base 740 at its lower face. In FIG. 13, the two stored material units 430 are positioned adjacent to each other. As the stored material units 430 are adjacent to each other, their respective tab structures 700 and indentations 710 reversibly mate. An aperture 510 in the bottom of the lower stored material unit 430 is visible through a gap 730. Stored material 1200 is within the upper stored material unit 430. FIG. 13 also depicts that the stabilizer units 720 are configured to form an axis for the vertical movement of the stored material units 430. In some embodiments, a stabilizer attachment region 1010 within each of the stored material units 430 is configured to form an aperture for a stabilizer unit 720 to reversibly attach to the stored material unit 430. An end flange 1210 at the terminal end of a stabilizer unit 720 is positioned to stop the lowest stored material unit 430 from sliding off the terminal end of the stabilizer unit 720. In some embodiments, a locking unit is attached to the stabilizer unit 720 and the stabilizer attachment region 1010 in the locking zone 1300 of the lowest stored material unit 430. For example, a clamp, brace, cover or rod cover around the stabilizer unit 720 in the locking zone 1300 of the lowest stored material unit 430 would prevent movement of the stabilizer unit 720 relative to the lowest stored material unit 430 and, consequently, prevent movement of the entire column of stored material units 430 in a stored material module 420. Some embodiments include at least one stored material module 420 including at least one locking unit. A locking unit may include a positioning element that prevents the vertical movement of the lowest stored material unit 430 relative to a stabilizer unit 720. In some embodiments, a locking unit includes a flexible flange of a width approximately equal to the length of the locking zone 1300 of the lowest stored material unit 430. A locking unit including a flexible flange may be positioned so that the flexible flange wraps around the outside of the stabilizer unit 720 in the locking zone 1300 and thereby prevents vertical movement of the lowest stored material unit 430 relative to the stabilizer unit 720.
  • [0088]
    FIG. 14 depicts further aspects of the relative movement of two stored material units 430 relative to a stabilizer unit 720. A lower stored material unit 430 is attached to a base 740 at its lower face. When the stored material units 430 are adjacent to each other, their respective tab structures 700 and indentations 710 are configured to reversibly mate. The lower stored material unit 430 is limited in its relative movement to the stabilizer unit 720 by a end flange 1210. The end flange 1210 is of a size and shape to prevent the relative movement to the stabilizer unit 720 beyond the edge of an aperture in the lower stored material unit 430.
  • [0089]
    FIG. 15 illustrates two stored material units 430 and a stabilizer unit 720 such as those depicted in FIG. 14. The lower stored material unit 430 is attached to a base 740 at its lower face. In FIG. 15, the two stored material units 430 are positioned adjacent to each other. Although for the purposes of illustration only two stored material units 430 are shown, in some embodiments there would be additional stored material units 430. Another stored material unit 430 may, for example, be positioned at the top of the ones illustrated in FIG. 15, and may include indentations positioned to reversibly mate with the tabs 700 on the top edge of the top stored material unit 430 illustrated. FIG. 15 also illustrates that the end flange 1210 has a limited range of mobility in the locking region 1300, as roughly defined by the lower edge of the aperture in the lower stored material unit 430 and the base 740. A locking unit that prevents the end flange 1210 from movement within the locking region 1300 would keep the stored material units 430 in an adjacent position, as illustrated in FIG. 15.
  • [0090]
    FIG. 16 illustrates another embodiment of a stored material module 420. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 16, a stored material module 420 includes a plurality of stored material units 430 positioned in a columnar array. Each of the stored material units 430 include at least one gap 730. Each of the stored material units include a tab structure 700 and an indentation 710, where each of the tab structures 700 are configured to reversibly mate with an indentation 710 on an adjacent stored material unit 430. The top stored material unit 430 in the column is covered by a cap 440. The stored material module 420 includes a single stabilizer unit 720. The cap includes a single stabilizer unit 720 positioning structure 1600.
  • [0091]
    FIG. 17 illustrates a cross section view of a stored material module 420 such as that depicted in FIG. 16. As shown in FIG. 17, the stored material module 420 includes a plurality of stored material units 430. Each of the stored material units 430 includes a gap 730. Each of the stored material units includes an internal storage region 1010. A single stabilizer unit 720 is positioned along the edge of the column of stored material units 430. A cap 440 is at the top of the column of stored material units 430. The cap includes a single stabilizer unit 720 positioning structure 1600 surrounding the distal end of the stabilizer unit 720.
  • [0092]
    FIG. 18 illustrates an additional cross section view of a stored material module 420 such as that depicted in FIGS. 16 and 17. A stored material module 420 includes a plurality of stored material units 430. Each of the stored material units 430 includes a tab structure 700 which reversibly mates with an indentation 710 on an adjacent stored material unit 430. Each of the stored material units includes an internal storage region 1010. A single stabilizer unit 720 is positioned along the edge of the column of stored material units 430. A cap 440 is at the top of the column of stored material units 430.
  • [0093]
    FIG. 19 depicts an external view of a stored material module 420 such as that depicted in FIG. 18. A stored material module 420 includes a plurality of stored material units 430. Each of the stored material units 430 includes a tab structure 700 which reversibly mates with an indentation 710 on an adjacent stored material unit 430. Each of the stored material units includes an internal storage region 1010. A single stabilizer unit 720 is positioned along the edge of the column of stored material units 430. A cap 440 is at the top of the column of stored material units 430. The cap includes a single stabilizer unit 720 positioning structure 1600 surrounding the distal end of the stabilizer unit 720.
  • [0094]
    FIG. 20 illustrates the horizontal rotation of a stored material unit 430 in a stored material module 420 relative to a vertical axis formed by the stabilizer unit 720. As illustrated in FIG. 20, the bottom stored material unit 430 in the stored material module 420 is in a displaced position, although any of the stored material units 430 in the stored material module 420 may be displaced from the column. As depicted in FIG. 20, a stored material unit in a columnar array may rotate relative to an axis formed by the stabilizer unit 720 and provide access to a storage region 1010 within a stored material unit. In some embodiments, a locking unit, such as an outer sheath for all or part of the stored material module 420, may prevent rotation of some or all of the stored material units 430 in the stored material module 420. A locking unit configured for use with this type of stored material module 420 may be, for example, a cylindrical structure configured to be positioned adjacent to the outer surface of the stored material module 420. A locking unit may include, for example, a thin film, a foam material, and/or a solid plastic disk configured to block displacement of one or more stored material units 430 in the columnar array of the stored material module 420.
  • [0095]
    FIG. 21 depicts a cross-section view of the horizontal rotation of a stored material unit 430 in a stored material module 420 relative to an axis formed by the stabilizer unit 720, such as shown in FIG. 20. As shown in FIG. 21, the bottom stored material unit in a columnar array may rotate relative to an axis formed by the stabilizer unit 720 and provide access to a storage region 1010 within the bottom stored material unit. Although not illustrated in FIGS. 20 and 21, an embodiment such as that illustrated may be configured to allow some or all of the stored material units 430 in the stored material module 420 to rotate relative to an axis formed by the stabilizer unit 720.
  • [0096]
    In some embodiments, one or more substantially thermally sealed storage containers may be included as part of a larger system. For example, the system may be configured to store data relating to each of the individual substantially thermally sealed storage containers included in the system. For example, the system may be configured to transmit data regarding one or more substantially thermally sealed storage containers included in the system to a device operated by a system user. For example, the system may be configured to transmit an alert message regarding one or more substantially thermally sealed storage containers included in the system to a device operated by a system user. For example, the system may be configured to receive queries transmitted by a system user from a device, process information regarding the queries, and transmit a response to the device. Other aspects of the systems will be evident from the text and the accompanying figures.
  • [0097]
    FIG. 22 illustrates aspects of a system 2200 including a substantially thermally sealed container 100. FIG. 22 depicts a system 2200 that includes a substantially thermally sealed container 100 and an information system. The information system includes at least one sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 and at least one electronic system 2250 including a controller 2295. The controller 2295 may be a proportional—integral—derivative controller (PID controller). The controller 2295 may be a microcontroller. The controller 2295 may be a memory controller.
  • [0098]
    As illustrated in FIG. 22, the sensor network includes one or more sensors 2210, 2212, 2214. The one or more sensors may be located on an exterior surface 2210 of an outer wall 105 of the container 100 or within an interior region 2212, 2214 of the container 100, for example within a substantially thermally sealed storage region 130. The sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include at least one sensor 2210 attached to an external surface of the container. For example, the sensor network may include at least one temperature sensor attached to an external surface of the container. In some embodiments, a system 2200 may include multiple sensors 2210, 2212, 2214, located in multiple positions relative to a substantially thermally sealed storage container 100. For example, FIG. 22 depicts a sensor 2210 located on an external surface of the container 100. For example, FIG. 22 depicts a sensor 2212 located within the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 at a site proximal to an aperture in the inner wall 110. For example, FIG. 22 depicts a sensor 2214 located within the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 at a site distal to an aperture-in the inner wall 110. In some embodiments, the one or more sensors includes at least one temperature sensor. In some embodiments, at least one sensor may include a temperature sensor, such as, for example, chemical sensors, thermometers, bimetallic strips, or thermocouples. In some embodiments, the one or more sensors includes at least one sensor of a gaseous pressure within one or more of the at least one storage region, sensor of a mass within one or more of the at least one storage region, sensor of a stored volume within one or more of the at least one storage region, sensor of a temperature within one or more of the at least one storage region, or sensor of an identity of an item within one or more of the at least one storage region. A sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed container may include one or more sensors such as a physical sensor component such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,453,749 to Petrovic et al., titled “Physical sensor component,” which is herein incorporated by reference. A sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed container may include one or more sensors such as a pressure sensor such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,900,554 to Baba et al., titled “Pressure sensor,” which is herein incorporated by reference. A sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed container may include one or more sensors such as a vertically integrated sensor structure such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,600,071 to Sooriakumar et al., titled “Vertically integrated sensor structure and method,” which is herein incorporated by reference. A sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed container may include one or more sensors such as a system for determining a quantity of liquid or fluid within a container, such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,138,559 to Kuehl et al., titled “System and method for measuring liquid mass quantity,” U.S. Pat. No. 6.050,598 to Upton, titled “Apparatus for and method of monitoring the mass quantity and density of a fluid in a closed container, and a vehicular air bag system incorporating such apparatus,” and U.S. Pat. No. 5,245,869 to Clarke et al., titled “High accuracy mass sensor for monitoring fluid quantity in storage tanks,” which are each herein incorporated by reference. A sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed container may include one or more sensors of radio frequency identification (“RFID”) tags to identify material within the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage region. RFID tags are well known in the art, for example in U.S. Pat. No. 5,444,223 to Blama, titled “Radio frequency identification tag and method,” which is herein incorporated by reference.
  • [0099]
    The sensor network may also include at least one antenna 2243. For example, the sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include at least one antenna 2243 attached to an external surface of the container. The antenna 2243 may be configured to send and receive signals from a source within the container, for example in relation to RFID tags located within the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130. The antenna 2243 may be configured to send and receive signals 2230, 2235 from a source external to the container, for example aspects of an electronic system 2250 located externally to the container 100.
  • [0100]
    The sensor network may include at least one indicator 2240. The sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 may include at least one indicator 2240 attached to an external surface of the container. For example, the sensor network may include at least one indicator 2240 that provides an auditory indicator, such as an auditory transmitter configured to produce a beep, tone, voice signal or alarm. For example, the sensor network may include at least one light-emitting diode (LED) and associated circuitry as well as a temperature sensor located within the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130, configured so that the LED lights up if the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 reaches a preset temperature. A preset temperature may be a range, such as a useful temperature range or a non-desirable temperature range. A preset temperature may be an individual temperature, such as a LED indicator 2240 with associated circuitry configured to illuminate if a temperature sensor 2212, 2214 located within a storage region 130 reaches a temperature value such as 10 degrees C., 15 degrees C., or 20 degrees C. For example, the sensor network may include at least one light-emitting diode (LED) and associated circuitry as well as a pressure sensor located within the gap 120, configured so that the LED lights up if the gap reaches a preset gaseous pressure. For example, the sensor network may include at least one indicator 2240 including at least one display, such as a digital display unit and associated circuitry configured to display one or more preset messages in response data transmitted from another component of the system 100. An indicator 2240 may be configured for visual presentation to a user 2280 of the system from a location adjacent to the container.
  • [0101]
    The sensor network may include at least one RFID transceiver 2255. For example, the sensor network may include at least one RFID transceiver 2255 configured to transmit information regarding RFID tags associated with material stored within the container, for example a descriptor of material stored within the container. For example, the sensor network may include at least one RFID transceiver 2255 configured to transmit information regarding RFID tags associated with material stored within the container, for example material passing in and out of the container. For example, the sensor network may include at least one RFID transceiver 2255 configured to transmit information regarding the quantity and type of RFID tags associated with material stored within the container.
  • [0102]
    The sensor network may include at least one global positioning device 2245. For example, the sensor network may include at least one global positioning system (GPS) device. For example, the sensor network may include at least one Compass navigation system device. For example, the sensor network may include at least one Galileo positioning system device. For example, the sensor network may include at least one Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) device. For example, the sensor network may include at least one global positioning device configured to operate in conjunction with a proprietary global positioning system.
  • [0103]
    The sensor network may include at least one position detector 2270. For example, the sensor network may include at least one position detector including an accelerometer configured to detect the proper acceleration of the container 100. For example, the sensor network may include at least one position detector including a tilt sensor configured to detect the orientation of the container 100. For example, the sensor network may include at least one position detector including an inclinometer configured to detect the vertical orientation of the container 100.
  • [0104]
    The sensor network operably attached to the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container 100 is operably connected to at least one electronic system 2250 including a controller 2295. The sensor network and the at least one electronic system 2250 may be operably connected to allow data from the sensor network to be transmitted to the at least one electronic system 2250. For example, data relating to temperature readings may be transmitted from the sensor network to the at least one electronic system 2250. The sensor network and the at least one electronic system 2250 may be operably connected to allow data and/or instructions from the at least one electronic system 2250 to be transmitted to the sensor network. For example, data corresponding to an instruction to illuminate the indicator may be transmitted from the at least one electronic system 2250 to the sensor network. For example, data corresponding to an instruction to transmit a response to a query may be transmitted from the at least one electronic system 2250 to the sensor network. The sensor network may be operably connected via a wire 2220, 2225 system to the electronic system 2250. The system 2200 may include a computer bus 2205 configured to transfer data between the sensor network and the electronic system 2250. The sensor network may be operably connected to the electronic system 2250 via a wireless connection, for example a wireless system including antennas 2243, 2249 configured to transmit and receive signals 2230, 2235 between the sensor network and the electronic system 2250.
  • [0105]
    The system 2200 may include at least one power source 2260. An electrical power source may originate, for example, from municipal electrical power supplies, electric batteries, or an electrical generator device. A power source 2260 may include an electrical connector configured to connect with a municipal electrical power supply. A power source 2260 may include a battery pack. A power source 2260 may include an electrical generator, for example a gas-powered generator or a solar-powered generator. As illustrated in FIG. 22, a power source 2260 may be connected via a wire connection 2262 to the electronic system 2250. In some embodiments, the sensor network may also be operably connected to a power source 2260. For example, power source 2260 such as a battery pack may be operably connected to a sensor 2210 and operably attached to an external surface of the container 100. For example, power source 2260 such as a battery pack may be operably connected to an indicator 2240 and operably attached to an external surface of the container 100.
  • [0106]
    The electronic system 2250 may be operably connected to a computing device 2287, such as via a wire connection 2227 or a wireless connection. The computing device 2287 may include a display 2287, such as a monitor, screen, or video display device. The computing device 2287 may include a user interface, such as a keyboard, keypad, touch screen or computer mouse. Although the computing device 2287 depicted in FIG. 22 is a desktop system, in come embodiments it may include a computing device 2287 configured for mobility, for example a PDA, tablet-type device, laptop, or mobile phone. A system user 2282 may use the computing device 2287 to obtain information regarding the system 2200, query the system 2200, or set predetermined parameters regarding the system 2200.
  • [0107]
    The electronic system 2250 includes a controller 2295. The electronic system 2250 may include a power distribution unit 2265. The power distribution unit 2265 may be configured, for example, to conserve the energy use by the system over time. The power distribution unit 2265 may be configured, for example, to minimize total energy within the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130 within the container 100, for example by minimizing power distribution to one or more sensors 2212, 2214 located within the substantially thermally sealed storage region 130. The power distribution unit 2265 may include a battery capacity monitor. The power distribution unit 2265 may include a power distribution switch. The power distribution unit 2265 may include charging circuitry. The power distribution unit 2265 may be operably connected to a power source 2260. For example, the power distribution unit 2265 may be configured to monitor electricity flowing between the power source 2260 and other components within the electronic system 2295. A wire connection 2262 may operably connect a power distribution unit 2265 to a power source 2260.
  • [0108]
    Depending on the embodiment, the electronic system 2250 may include additional components. For example, the electronic system 2250 may include at least one indicator 2275, such as a LED indicator or a display indicator. For example, the electronic system 2250 may include at least one indicator 2275 that provides an auditory indicator, such as an auditory transmitter configured to produce a beep, tone, voice signal or alarm. For example, the electronic system 2250 may include at least one antenna 2249. An antenna 2249 may be configured to send and/or receive signals 2230, 2235 from the sensor network. An antenna 2249 may be configured to send and/or receive signals from an external network, such as a cellular network, or as part of an ad-hoc system as described further below. The electronic system 2250 may include one or more global positioning devices 2247. A global positioning device 2247 included in the electronic system 2250 may include the same type as a global positioning device 2245 included in the sensor network. The electronic system 2250 may include one or more data storage units 2259, such as computer DRAM, hard disk drives, or optical disk drives. The electronic system 2250 may include circuitry 2292, such as circuitry 2292 configured to process data from the sensor network. The electronic system 2250 may include logic systems. The electronic system 2250 may include other components 2264 as suitable for a particular embodiment.
  • [0109]
    The electronic system 2250 may include one or more external network connection device 2257. An external network connection device 2257 may include a cellular phone network transceiver unit. An external network connection device 2257 may include a WiFi™ network transceiver unit. An external network connection device 2257 may include an Ethernet network transceiver unit. An external network connection device 2257 may be configured to transmit with Short Message Service (SMS) protocols. An external network connection device 2257 may be configured to transmit to a general packet radio service (GPRS). An external network connection device 2257 may be configured to transmit to an ad-hoc network system. An external network connection device 2257 may be configured to transmit to an ad-hoc network system such as a peer to peer communication network, a self-realizing mesh network, or a ZigBee™ network.
  • [0110]
    FIG. 23 illustrates aspects of a system including a plurality of substantially thermally sealed containers 100A, 100B, 100C wherein each of the substantially thermally sealed containers 100A, 100B, 100C is associated with a unique identifier 2100, 2105, 2110 as part of a specific system 2200A, 2200B, 2200C. The unique identifier 2100, 2105, 2110 associated with a particular container 100A, 100B, 100C may include, for example, a specific code or identification number, a RFID tag, or a word (e.g. a name). The unique identifier 2100, 2105, 2110 associated with a particular container 100A, 100B, 100C may include, for example, a descriptor of the individual container 100A, 100B, 100C and associated system 2200A, 2200B, 2200C. Each of the systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C includes at least one sensor network operably attached to the substantially thermally sealed storage container 100A, 100B, 100C, and at least one electronic system 2250 including a controller 2295. For example, as depicted in FIG. 23, container 100A is part of the system 2200A, which includes an electronic system 2250 and a sensor network as well as a unique identifier 2300 associated with the specific container 100A. Similarly, container 100B is part of the system 2200B, which includes an electronic system 2250 and a sensor network as well as a unique identifier 2305 associated with the specific container 100B. As an additional example, container 100C is part of the system 2200C, which includes an electronic system 2250 and a sensor network as well as a unique identifier 2310 associated with the specific container 100C.
  • [0111]
    Each of the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C includes an electronic system 2250 including a controller 2295. The electronic systems 2250 may be configured as described in relation to the electronic system 2250 illustrated in FIG. 22. Each electronic system 2250 may include, for example, a power distribution unit 2265. Each electronic system 2250 may include, for example, an indicator 2275. Each electronic system 2250 may include additional components, such as those described herein, relevant to a specific embodiment. Although the electronic systems 2250 included in the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C are depicted in FIG. 23 as substantially similar, a group of individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may have different components and configurations, including different components in the electronic systems. 2250, depending on the embodiment.
  • [0112]
    Each of the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may include components such as described in relation to the system illustrated in FIG. 22. For example, the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may include a global positioning unit 2247. For example, the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may include an external network communication unit 2257. For example, the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may include a display 2242. For example, the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may include one or more sensors 2210, which may be located externally to the specific container 100A, 100B, 100C or within a region of the specific container 100A, 100B, 100C. For example, the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may include circuitry 2292. For example, the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may include a user interface device 2285, such as a keyboard, touchpad, keypad, mouse, auditory signal processor, or other user interface device. For example, the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may include other components 2264 as desirable for a specific embodiment. For example, the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may include a power source 2260. Although the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C depicted in FIG. 23 are substantially similar in the illustration, a group of individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may have different components and configurations depending on the embodiment.
  • [0113]
    Each of the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C is configured to send and receive data from an external network 2315. For example, each of the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may transmit wireless signals 2320 and receive wireless signals 2317 from an external network communication system 2315. For example, each of the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may transmit data and receive data from an external network communication system through a wired connection. An external network communication system 2315 may include a cellular phone network. An external network communication system 2315 may include a WiFi™ network. An external network communication system 2315 may include an Ethernet network. An external network communication system 2315 may include an ad-hoc network, such as a peer to peer communication network, a self-realizing mesh network, or a ZigBee™ network. The external network communication system 2315 may be configured to send and receive data from a device 2325 operated by a system user 2330. For example, a system user 2330 may operate a cellular phone device 2325 which sends and receives signals 2322, 2327 to the external network communication system 2315.
  • [0114]
    As illustrated in FIG. 23, the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C are configured to communicate with one or more devices 2325 through an external network communication system 2315. For example, in some embodiments the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C are configured to communicate with a cell phone device 2325 operated by a remote user 2330. The remote user 2330 may transmit a signal to query an individual system (e.g. 2200A or 2200B or 2200C) regarding its status, such as the status of the associated individual container (e.g. 100A or 100B or 100C) by sending a text message to a particular phone number associated with an individual system. The remote user 2330 may transmit a signal to query an individual system requesting specific data. A query may request, for example, the current location of a specific container (e.g. 100A, 100B or 100C) by GPS or other global positioning network. A query may request, for example, the current the status of a specific container (e.g. the type and number of RFID tags associated with material stored in a specific container, or a temperature reading of a specific container). A query may request, for example, information regarding the group of individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C, for example the number of individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C available, or in a geographical location, or containing stored material associated with a specific type of RFID tag. As a specific example, a user 2330 of the system can query an individual container 100A, 100B or 100C specifically by using a phone number unique to that individual container 100A, 100B or 100C. In this aspect, a user 2330 at a location distant from the actual container 100A, 100B or 100C may obtain information regarding the system in the absence of a centralized server.
  • [0115]
    In some embodiments the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C are configured to automatically send data to one or more devices 2325 through an external network communication system 2315. For example, one or more individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may be configured to transmit periodic “status updates” with data regarding their individual locations and data from their associated sensor networks. For example, one or more individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may be configured to send a preset message to one or more devices 2325 through an external network communication system 2315 in response to a particular event, such as a temperature sensor registering a temperature outside of a preset range or if a tilt sensor registers that the individual container 100A, 100B or 100C is being stored at an improper angle. In some embodiments, one or more containers 100A, 100B, 100C includes an access mechanism that records the time of any access to the storage region in the container, and information regarding access may be automatically transmitted to one or more devices 2325 through an external network communication system 2315.
  • [0116]
    FIG. 24 depicts aspects of a system including a plurality of substantially thermally sealed containers 100A, 100B, 100C associated with individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C. As illustrated in FIG. 24, each of the individual substantially thermally sealed containers 100A, 100B, 100C has a unique identifier specific to that container 2300, 2305, 2310. Other aspects of the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C are as described. Individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C may not be identical, and may be customized to their individual particular embodiments. As illustrated in FIG. 23, each of the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C is configured to send and receive signals 2317, 2320 from an external network communication system 2315. An individual user 2330 may operate a device 2325 to query the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C and receive data from the individual systems 2200A, 2200B, 2200C. For example, an individual user 2330 may operate a device 2325 configured to send and receive signals 2322, 2327 with an external network communication system 2315.
  • [0117]
    As illustrated in FIG. 24, an external network communication system 2315 may be configured to send signals 2400 to and receive signals 2405 from a network 2435. The network 2435 may include a central server 2445. A central server 2445 may be configured to maintain current and/or historical status on a plurality of individual systems (e.g. 2200A, 2200B, 2200C) and associated individual containers (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C). The network 2435 may include a short message service (SMS) bridge to a central server, for example TextMarks. The network 2435 may include data storage components 2460. The network 2435 may include a bridge, such as a network bridge or a protocol bridge. A bridge 2440 may, for example, be a short message service (SMS) to internet bridge. The network 2435 may include a web server 2255. For example, network 2435 may include a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) server, a data presentation interface, or a smart phone (i.e. iPhone™) application configured to transfer data from the external network communication system 2315 to a web-based format. The network 2435 may include other components 2465 as appropriate to a specific embodiment.
  • [0118]
    A system user 2485 may operate a remote computing device 2480 to request data regarding a specific individual container (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C) or individual system (e.g. 2200A, 2200B, 2200C) though the network 2435. A remote computing device 2480 may be connected to the network 2435 with a wire 2490 or a wireless connection. A remote computing device 2480 may include one or more display devices 2470. A remote computing device 2480 may include one or more user interface devices 2475, such as a keyboard or a computer mouse. For example, data regarding a specific individual container (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C) may be automatically transmitted to a remote computing device 2480 by the network 2435 periodically, or in response to a specific event. For example, data regarding the location, temperature, duration of time in use, and expected duration of use of a specific individual container (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C) may be automatically transmitted to a remote computing device 2480. For example, data regarding the location of a specific individual container (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C) may be automatically transmitted to a remote computing device 2480 when the specific individual container (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C) is moved to or from a preset location.
  • [0119]
    In an embodiment such as that depicted in FIG. 24, an individual user 2485 does not need to describe a specific individual container (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C) or individual system (e.g. 2200A, 2200B, 2200C) in order to obtain information regarding the system as a whole. The central server 2445 can maintain data regarding current and historical status on a large collection of individual containers. Data regarding a specific individual container (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C) or individual system (e.g. 2200A, 2200B, 2200C) generally, such as by location, will provide the central server 2445 with the correct information to look up the unique identifier (e.g. 2300, 2305, 2310) for a specific individual container (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C) and associated data. This system can also be configured to present the most recent information regarding a specific individual container (e.g. 100A, 100B, 100C) when a container is outside the network range or it has lost functionality of the electronic system.
  • [0120]
    Although a user 2282, 2280, 2330, 2485 of the systems described herein is depicted as an individual figure, in some embodiments a user 2282, 2280, 2330, 2485 may be a plurality of people. For example, a user 2282, 2280, 2330, 2485 may be a group, such as a medical team, a group of suppliers, a government agency, or a non-governmental organization (NGO). Although user 2282, 2280, 2330, 2485 is shown/described herein as a single illustrated figure, those skilled in the art will appreciate that user 2282, 2280, 2330, 2485 may be representative of a human user, a robotic user (e.g., computational entity), and/or substantially any combination thereof (e.g., a user may be assisted by one or more robotic agents) unless context dictates otherwise. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that, in general, the same may be said of “sender” and/or other entity-oriented terms as such terms are used herein unless context dictates otherwise.
  • [0121]
    All of the above U.S. patents, U.S. patent application publications, U.S. patent applications, foreign patents, foreign patent applications and non-patent publications referred to in this specification and/or listed in any Application Data Sheet, are incorporated herein by reference, to the extent not inconsistent herewith.
  • [0122]
    One skilled in the art will recognize that the herein described components (e.g., operations), devices, objects, and the discussion accompanying them are used as examples for the sake of conceptual clarity and that various configuration modifications are contemplated. Consequently, as used herein, the specific exemplars set forth and the accompanying discussion are intended to be representative of their more general classes. In general, use of any specific exemplar is intended to be representative of its class, and the non-inclusion of specific components (e.g., operations), devices, and objects should not be taken limiting.
  • [0123]
    In a general sense, those skilled in the art will recognize that the various aspects described herein which can be implemented, individually and/or collectively, by a wide range of hardware, software, firmware, and/or any combination thereof can be viewed as being composed of various types of “electrical circuitry.” Consequently, as used herein “electrical circuitry” includes, but is not limited to, electrical circuitry having at least one discrete electrical circuit, electrical circuitry having at least one integrated circuit, electrical circuitry having at least one application specific integrated circuit, electrical circuitry forming a general purpose computing device configured by a computer program (e.g., a general purpose computer configured by a computer program which at least partially carries out processes and/or devices described herein, or a microprocessor configured by a computer program which at least partially carries out processes and/or devices described herein), electrical circuitry forming a memory device (e.g., forms of memory (e.g., random access, flash, read only, etc.)), and/or electrical circuitry forming a communications device (e.g., a modem, communications switch, optical-electrical equipment, etc.). Those having skill in the art will recognize that the subject matter described herein may be implemented in an analog or digital fashion or some combination thereof.
  • [0124]
    Those skilled in the art will recognize that at least a portion of the devices and/or processes described herein can be integrated into an image processing system. Those having skill in the art will recognize that a typical image processing system generally includes one or more of a system unit housing, a video display device, memory such as volatile or non-volatile memory, processors such as microprocessors or digital signal processors, computational entities such as operating systems, drivers, applications programs, one or more interaction devices (e.g., a touch pad, a touch screen, an antenna, etc.), control systems including feedback loops and control motors (e.g., feedback for sensing lens position and/or velocity; control motors for moving/distorting lenses to give desired focuses). An image processing system may be implemented utilizing suitable commercially available components, such as those typically found in digital still systems and/or digital motion systems.
  • [0125]
    Those skilled in the art will recognize that at least a portion of the devices and/or processes described herein can be integrated into a data processing system. Those having skill in the art will recognize that a data processing system generally includes one or more of a system unit housing, a video display device, memory such as volatile or non-volatile memory, processors such as microprocessors or digital signal processors, computational entities such as operating systems, drivers, graphical user interfaces, and applications programs, one or more interaction devices (e.g., a touch pad, a touch screen, an antenna, etc.), and/or control systems including feedback loops and control motors (e.g., feedback for sensing position and/or velocity; control motors for moving and/or adjusting components and/or quantities). A data processing system may be implemented utilizing suitable commercially available components, such as those typically found in data computing/communication and/or network computing/communication systems.
  • [0126]
    With respect to the use of substantially any plural and/or singular terms herein, those having skill in the art can translate from the plural to the singular and/or from the singular to the plural as is appropriate to the context and/or application. The various singular/plural permutations are not expressly set forth herein for sake of clarity.
  • [0127]
    While particular aspects of the present subject matter described herein have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that, based upon the teachings herein, changes and modifications may be made without departing from the subject matter described herein and its broader aspects and, therefore, the appended claims are to encompass within their scope all such changes and modifications as are within the true spirit and scope of the subject matter described herein. It will be understood by those within the art that, in general, terms used herein, and especially in the appended claims (e.g., bodies of the appended claims) are generally intended as “open” terms (e.g., the term “including” should be interpreted as “including but not limited to,” the term “having” should be interpreted as “having at least,” the term “includes” should be interpreted as “includes but is not limited to,” etc.). It will be further understood by those within the art that if a specific number of an introduced claim recitation is intended, such an intent will be explicitly recited in the claim, and in the absence of such recitation no such intent is present. For example, as an aid to understanding, the following appended claims may contain usage of the introductory phrases “at least one” and “one or more” to introduce claim recitations. However, the use of such phrases should not be construed to imply that the introduction of a claim recitation by the indefinite articles “a” or “an” limits any particular claim containing such introduced claim recitation to claims containing only one such recitation, even when the same claim includes the introductory phrases “one or more” or “at least one” and indefinite articles such as “a” or “an” (e.g., “a” and/or “an” should typically be interpreted to mean “at least one” or “one or more”); the same holds true for the use of definite articles used to introduce claim recitations. In addition, even if a specific number of an introduced claim recitation is explicitly recited, those skilled in the art will recognize that such recitation should typically be interpreted to mean at least the recited number (e.g., the bare recitation of “two recitations,” without other modifiers, typically means at least two recitations, or two or more recitations). Furthermore, in those instances where a convention analogous to “at least one of A, B, and C, etc.” is used, in general such a construction is intended in the sense one having skill in the art would understand the convention (e.g., “ a system having at least one of A, B, and C” would include but not be limited to systems that have A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, and/or A, B, and C together, etc.). In those instances where a convention analogous to “at least one of A, B, or C, etc.” is used, in general such a construction is intended in the sense one having skill in the art would understand the convention (e.g., “ a system having at least one of A, B, or C” would include but not be limited to systems that have A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, and/or A, B, and C together, etc.). It will be further understood by those within the art that typically a disjunctive word and/or phrase presenting two or more alternative terms, whether in the description, claims, or drawings, should be understood to contemplate the possibilities of including one of the terms, either of the terms, or both terms unless context dictates otherwise. For example, the phrase “A or B” will be typically understood to include the possibilities of “A” or “B” or “A and B.”
  • [0128]
    The herein described subject matter sometimes illustrates different components contained within, or connected with, different other components. It is to be understood that such depicted architectures are merely exemplary, and that in fact many other architectures may be implemented which achieve the same functionality. In a conceptual sense, any arrangement of components to achieve the same functionality is effectively “associated” such that the desired functionality is achieved. Hence, any two components herein combined to achieve a particular functionality can be seen as “associated with” each other such that the desired functionality is achieved, irrespective of architectures or intermedial components. Likewise, any two components so associated can also be viewed as being “operably connected”, or “operably coupled,” to each other to achieve the desired functionality, and. any two components capable of being so associated can also be viewed as being “operably couplable,” to each other to achieve the desired functionality. Specific examples of operably couplable include but are not limited to physically mateable and/or physically interacting components.
  • [0129]
    While various aspects and embodiments have been disclosed herein, other aspects and embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The various aspects and embodiments disclosed herein are for purposes of illustration and are not intended to be limiting, with the true scope and spirit being indicated by the following claims.

Claims (78)

  1. 1. A substantially thermally sealed storage container, comprising:
    an outer assembly, including
    one or more sections of ultra efficient insulation material substantially defining at least one thermally sealed storage region,
    wherein the outer assembly and the one or more sections of ultra efficient insulation material substantially define a single access aperture to the at least one thermally sealed storage region; and
    an inner assembly within the at least one thermally sealed storage region, including
    a storage structure configured for receiving and storing at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module.
  2. 2. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, wherein the one or more sections of ultra efficient insulation material comprise:
    a plurality of layers of multilayer insulation; and
    substantially evacuated space surrounding the plurality of layers of multilayer insulation, wherein the substantially evacuated space has a pressure less than or equal to 5×10−4 torr.
  3. 3. (canceled)
  4. 4. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, wherein the at least one thermally sealed storage region is configured to be maintained at a temperature substantially between approximately 2 degrees Centigrade and approximately 8 degrees Centigrade.
  5. 5. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, wherein the storage structure includes a plurality of apertures of an equivalent size and shape.
  6. 6. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, wherein the storage structure comprises:
    a planar structure including a plurality of apertures, wherein the planar structure is located adjacent to a wall of one or more of the at least one thermally sealed storage region opposite to the single access aperture and substantially parallel with a diameter of the single access aperture.
  7. 7.-8. (canceled)
  8. 9. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, wherein the storage structure comprises:
    at least one bracket configured for the reversible attachment of the at least one heat sink module or the at least one stored material module.
  9. 10. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, wherein the storage structure is configured for interchangeable storage of a plurality of modules, wherein the modules include the at least one heat sink module and the at least one stored material module.
  10. 11. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, comprising:
    at least one heat sink module including a cylindrical outer shell, wherein the cylindrical outer shell is substantially fabricated from stainless steel; and
    water ice.
  11. 12. (canceled)
  12. 13. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, comprising:
    the at least one storage module including a plurality of storage units.
  13. 14.-15. (canceled)
  14. 16. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 13, wherein the plurality of storage units are of a substantially equivalent horizontal dimension and where the plurality of storage units include storage units of at least two distinct vertical dimensions.
  15. 17. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, comprising:
    the at least one stored material module including a plurality of storage units, wherein each of the plurality of storage units include at least one indentation, and at least one tab positioned for reversibly mating to an indentation on an adjacent storage unit.
  16. 18. (canceled)
  17. 19. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, comprising:
    the at least one stored material module including a single stabilizer unit and a plurality of storage units, wherein each of the storage units is configured to rotate around an axis defined by the stabilizer unit.
  18. 20.-22. (canceled)
  19. 23. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, comprising:
    the at least one stored material module including at least one locking unit.
  20. 24.-26. (canceled)
  21. 27. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, further comprising:
    at least one positioning element within the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage region, the at least one positioning element configured to position at least one module relative to the storage structure.
  22. 28. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, further comprising:
    at least one sensor.
  23. 29. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, further comprising:
    at least one indicator.
  24. 30. (canceled)
  25. 31. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, further comprising:
    at least one display unit.
  26. 32. (canceled)
  27. 33. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 1, further comprising:
    an information system.
  28. 34. A substantially thermally sealed storage container, comprising:
    an outer assembly, including
    an outer wall substantially defining a substantially thermally sealed storage container, the outer wall substantially defining a single outer wall aperture;
    an inner wall substantially defining a substantially thermally sealed storage region, the inner wall substantially defining a single inner wall aperture;
    the inner wall and the outer wall separated by a distance and substantially defining a gap;
    at least one section of ultra efficient insulation material disposed within the gap;
    a connector forming a conduit connecting the single outer wall aperture with the single inner wall aperture; and
    a single access aperture to the substantially thermally sealed storage region, wherein the single access aperture is defined by an end of the conduit; and
    an inner assembly within the substantially thermally sealed storage region, including
    a storage structure configured for receiving and storing at least one heat sink module and at least one stored material module.
  29. 35. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, wherein the outer wall and the inner wall comprise:
    stainless steel.
  30. 36. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, wherein the outer wall and the inner wall comprise:
    aluminum.
  31. 37.-39. (canceled)
  32. 40. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, wherein the at least one section of ultra efficient insulation material comprises:
    at least one layer of multilayer insulation; and
    substantially evacuated space of a pressure less than or equal to 5×10−4 torr.
  33. 41. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, wherein the connector is a flexible connector.
  34. 42. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, wherein the connector comprises:
    stainless steel.
  35. 43.-44. (canceled)
  36. 45. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, wherein the storage structure comprises:
    a planar structure including a plurality of apertures, wherein the planar structure is located adjacent to a wall of the substantially thermally sealed storage region opposite to the single access aperture and substantially parallel with a diameter of the single access aperture.
  37. 46.-47. (canceled)
  38. 48. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, wherein the storage structure is configured for interchangeable storage of a plurality of modules, wherein the modules may be either heat sink modules or stored material modules.
  39. 49. (canceled)
  40. 50. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, comprising:
    the at least one heat sink module including a cylindrical outer shell, wherein the cylindrical outer shell is substantially fabricated from stainless steel; and
    water ice.
  41. 51. (canceled)
  42. 52. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, comprising:
    at least one storage module including a plurality of storage units.
  43. 53.-54. (canceled)
  44. 55. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 52, wherein the plurality of storage units are of a substantially equivalent horizontal dimension and wherein the plurality of storage units include storage units of at least two distinct vertical dimensions.
  45. 56. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, comprising:
    the at least one stored material module including a plurality of storage units, wherein each of the plurality of storage units include at least one indentation, and at least one tab positioned for reversibly mating to an indentation on an adjacent storage unit.
  46. 57. (canceled)
  47. 58. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, comprising:
    the at least one stored material module including a single stabilizer unit and a plurality of storage units, wherein each of the storage units is configured to rotate around an axis defined by the stabilizer unit.
  48. 59.-61. (canceled)
  49. 62. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, comprising:
    the at least one stored material module including at least one locking unit.
  50. 63. (canceled)
  51. 64. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, further comprising:
    at least one sensor.
  52. 65. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, further comprising:
    at least one indicator.
  53. 66. (canceled)
  54. 67. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, further comprising:
    at least one display unit.
  55. 68. (canceled)
  56. 69. The substantially thermally sealed storage container of claim 34, further comprising:
    an information system.
  57. 70. A system, comprising:
    at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container; and
    an information system, wherein the information system includes
    at least one sensor network operably connected to the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container, and
    at least one electronic controller.
  58. 71. (canceled)
  59. 72. The system of claim 70, wherein the information system comprises:
    at least one unique identifier specific to the at least one individual substantially thermally sealed storage container.
  60. 73. (canceled)
  61. 74. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one sensor network comprises:
    at least one communication bus.
  62. 75. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one sensor network comprises:
    at least one radio-frequency identification (RFID) receiver.
  63. 76. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one sensor network comprises:
    at least one radio-frequency identification (RFID) antenna.
  64. 77. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one sensor network comprises:
    at least one radio-frequency identification (RFID) transceiver.
  65. 78.-79. (canceled)
  66. 80. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one sensor network comprises:
    at least two temperature sensors located at distinct locations within a storage region of the at least one substantially thermally sealed storage container.
  67. 81.-82. (canceled)
  68. 83. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one sensor network comprises:
    at least one position detector.
  69. 84.-85. (canceled)
  70. 86. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one information system comprises:
    at least one global positioning device.
  71. 87. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one information system comprises:
    at least one external network communication unit.
  72. 88.-93. (canceled)
  73. 94. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one information system comprises:
    at least one display unit.
  74. 95. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one information system comprises:
    at least one user interface device.
  75. 96. The system of claim 70, wherein the at least one information system comprises:
    at least one power distribution unit.
  76. 97.-99. (canceled)
  77. 100. A system, comprising:
    a plurality of substantially thermally sealed storage containers, wherein each of the substantially thermally sealed storage containers includes;
    a unique identifier, and
    an information system, wherein the information system includes
    at least one sensor network operably attached to the substantially thermally sealed storage container, and
    at least one electronic system including a controller.
  78. 101. (canceled)
US12927982 2007-12-11 2010-11-29 Temperature-stabilized storage systems including storage structures configured for interchangeable storage of modular units Abandoned US20110127273A1 (en)

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US12001757 US20090145912A1 (en) 2007-12-11 2007-12-11 Temperature-stabilized storage containers
US12006088 US8215518B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2007-12-27 Temperature-stabilized storage containers with directed access
US12006089 US9174791B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2007-12-27 Temperature-stabilized storage systems
US12008695 US8377030B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2008-01-10 Temperature-stabilized storage containers for medicinals
US12012490 US8069680B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2008-01-31 Methods of manufacturing temperature-stabilized storage containers
US12077322 US8215835B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2008-03-17 Temperature-stabilized medicinal storage systems
US12152465 US8485387B2 (en) 2008-05-13 2008-05-13 Storage container including multi-layer insulation composite material having bandgap material
US12152467 US8211516B2 (en) 2008-05-13 2008-05-13 Multi-layer insulation composite material including bandgap material, storage container using same, and related methods
US12220439 US8603598B2 (en) 2008-07-23 2008-07-23 Multi-layer insulation composite material having at least one thermally-reflective layer with through openings, storage container using the same, and related methods
US12658579 US9205969B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2010-02-08 Temperature-stabilized storage systems
US12927981 US9139351B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2010-11-29 Temperature-stabilized storage systems with flexible connectors
US12927982 US20110127273A1 (en) 2007-12-11 2010-11-29 Temperature-stabilized storage systems including storage structures configured for interchangeable storage of modular units

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US12927981 US9139351B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2010-11-29 Temperature-stabilized storage systems with flexible connectors
US12927982 US20110127273A1 (en) 2007-12-11 2010-11-29 Temperature-stabilized storage systems including storage structures configured for interchangeable storage of modular units
CN 201510611202 CN105287200A (en) 2010-02-08 2011-02-08 Temperature-stabilized storage system
EP20110740155 EP2534434A4 (en) 2010-02-08 2011-02-08 Temperature-stabilized storage systems
PCT/US2011/000234 WO2011097040A1 (en) 2010-02-08 2011-02-08 Temperature-stabilized storage systems
CN 201180016103 CN102869932B (en) 2010-02-08 2011-02-08 Temperature-stabilized storage system
US13135126 US8887944B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2011-06-23 Temperature-stabilized storage systems configured for storage and stabilization of modular units
US13200555 US20120085070A1 (en) 2007-12-11 2011-09-23 Establishment and maintenance of low gas pressure within interior spaces of temperature-stabilized storage systems
CN 201180056904 CN103282717B (en) 2010-11-29 2011-11-28 Temperature-stabilized storage system
EP20110844442 EP2646739A4 (en) 2010-11-29 2011-11-28 Temperature-stabilized storage systems
PCT/US2011/001939 WO2012074549A1 (en) 2010-11-29 2011-11-28 Temperature-stabilized storage systems
US13853245 US9140476B2 (en) 2007-12-11 2013-03-29 Temperature-controlled storage systems

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