WO2008150612A1 - Evacuation device - Google Patents

Evacuation device

Info

Publication number
WO2008150612A1
WO2008150612A1 PCT/US2008/062380 US2008062380W WO2008150612A1 WO 2008150612 A1 WO2008150612 A1 WO 2008150612A1 US 2008062380 W US2008062380 W US 2008062380W WO 2008150612 A1 WO2008150612 A1 WO 2008150612A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
nozzle
valve
element
inner
device
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2008/062380
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Carl L. Bergman
Original Assignee
The Glad Products
Priority date (The priority date 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 date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B31/00Packaging articles or materials under special atmospheric or gaseous conditions; Adding propellants to aerosol containers
    • B65B31/04Evacuating, pressurising, or gasifying filled containers or wrappers, or containers or wrappers to be filled, by means of nozzles through which air or other gas, e.g. an inert gas, is withdrawn or supplied

Abstract

An evacuation device for evacuating a food storage container such as a flexible storage bag having one-way valve element. The evacuation device includes an inner nozzle for interfacing with the one-way valve element. Enclosed within the evacuation device is an airflow generating unit that provides a suction force within in the inner nozzle to remove air from the storage container via the valve element. The evacuation device also includes a second nozzle that at least partially surrounds the inner nozzle. The inner nozzle and outer nozzle are at least partially separated to provide a gap therebetween. The evacuation device may redirect at least a portion of the withdrawn air to the gap so that the air discharges toward the storage container.

Description

EVACUATION DEVICE

BACKGROUND

[0001] Various storage systems are known for storing and preserving food items. For example, flexible bags made from pliable plastic material have been used to store food items, either temporarily as in the case of packaging snacks or long term as in the case of freezer storage. Plastic storage bags are utilized in both the commercial packaging and distribution of food items and domestic at-home packaging. Such plastic storage bags typically include a flexible or pliable thermoplastic sidewalls arranged to delineate an interior volume into which food items can be received and an opening for accessing the interior volume. To better contain the stored food items and to help preserve those items, the storage bags are often provided with a closure mechanism or closure arrangement for sealing closed the opening.

BRIEF SUMMARY

[0002] The evacuation device may include a forwardly located inner nozzle with a rim that outlines an inlet opening. The evacuation device may include an airflow generating device located in the housing and communicating with the inlet opening. The airflow generating device draws air through the inlet opening, thereby providing a suction force in the inner nozzle. The nozzle can interface with a one-way valve element on the food storage container so that the suction force can withdraw air from the interior volume via the valve element. The evacuation device may include a second nozzle that at least partially surrounds the first inner nozzle to provide a gap therebetween. The second outer nozzle can extend almost coextensively with the rim of the first inner nozzle such that the gap is forwardly directed. During evacuation, at least a portion of the air which is withdrawn from the container into the first nozzle may be redirected to the gap and thus forwardly out of the evacuation device and towards the storage container.

[0003] In one embodiment, the inner nozzle is designed as a skirt-like structure in which the rim providing the inlet opening is sized larger than the valve element. When the evacuation device is interfaced with the valve element, the rim contacts the sidewall of the container and extends about the valve element. In another embodiment, the first inner nozzle can be tapered so that the rim is sized smaller than the valve element and configured to be received in a corresponding seat formed in the valve element. In both embodiments, the gap formed between the inner and outer nozzles can receive at least a portion of the withdrawn air and direct that air forwardly toward the container.

[0004] One advantage of directing evacuated air forwardly through the gap is that the air is discharged away from the consumer. Another advantage is that, when the embodiment having the skirt-like inner nozzle is used with plastic bags, some of the sidewall material can be drawn partially into the nozzle effectively doming upwards within the nozzle. The dome creates an additional chamber or space inside the interior volume across which air must flow to reach the valve element. This chamber or space causes separation of fluids and juices from exhausting air, thereby preventing contamination of the valve element and the evacuation device. These and other advantages and features of the invention will be apparent from the detailed description and the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0005] Figure 1 is a perspective view of a hand-held evacuation device in relation to a storage bag.

[0006] Figure 2 is a cross-sectional view of the hand-held evacuation device taken along line A-A of Figure 1 showing various internal components including a motor and an airflow generating unit, the evacuation device interfaced with the storage bag. [0007] Figure 3 is an exploded view of the components of airflow generating unit that can be used in the hand-held evacuation device of Figure 2. [0008] Figure 4 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the hand-held evacuation device.

[0009] Figure 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a hand-held evacuation device which includes a tapered inner nozzle and an outer nozzle. [0010] Figure 6 is a partial cross-sectional view of the hand-held evacuation device taken along line B-B of Figure 5 showing the evacuation device interfacing with a storage bag.

[0011] Figure 7 is an elevational cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a hand-held evacuation device.

[0012] Figure 8 is a perspective cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a hand-held evacuation device that includes an airflow generating unit having a cam and a yoke.

[0013] Figure 9 is an elevational cross-sectional view showing the evacuation device of Figure 8 conducting an intake stroke.

[0014] Figure 10 is an elevational cross-sectional view showing the evacuation device of Figure 8 conducting an exhaust stroke.

[0015] Figure 11 is an elevational cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the hand-held evacuation device that includes an airflow generating unit having a crank wheel and a piston.

[0016] Figure 12 is a cutaway perspective view of another embodiment of a handheld evacuation device that includes an airflow generating unit having a rotary vane pumping mechanism.

[0017] Figure 13 is a top perspective view of the rotary vane pumping mechanism.

[0018] Figure 14 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of an evacuation device using a diaphragm and conducting an intake stroke.

[0019] Figure 15 is a cross-sectional view of the evacuation device in Figure 14 and conducting an exhaust stroke.

[0020] Figure 16 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of a one-way valve element for use with flexible bags.

[0021] Figure 17 is a rear perspective view of the one-way valve element of

Figure 16.

[0022] Figure 18 is a cross-sectional view through the one-way valve element, as taken along line 18-18 of Figure 16. [0023] Figure 19 is an exploded view of another embodiment of the one-way valve element for attachment to the flexible bag.

[0024] Figure 20 is an exploded view of another embodiment of the one-way valve element for attachment to the flexible bag.

[0025] Figure 21 is another embodiment of the vacuum storage bag and valve element.

[0026] Figure 22 is another embodiment of the vacuum storage bag and valve element.

[0027] Figure 23 is a perspective view of a flexible bag having a closable open top with interlocking fastener strips and a slider.

[0028] Figure 24 is a cross-sectional view of the interlocking fasteners strips engaging a movable slider for releasably closing the opened top, as taken along line

24-24 of Figure 23.

[0029] Figure 25 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the interlocking fastener strips engaging a movable slider for releasably closing the opened top, as taken along line 25-25 of Figure 23.

[0030] Figure 26 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the interlocking fastener strips engaging a movable slider for releasably closing the opened top, as taken along line 26-26 of Figure 23.

[0031] Figure 27 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the interlocking fastener strips engaging a movable slider for releasably closing the opened top, as taken along line 27-27 of Figure 23.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

[0032] Referring to FIG. 1, a handheld evacuation device 100 can be used to evacuate air from a storage container such as the illustrated thermoplastic bag 102. The bag 102 has first and second flexible plastic sidewalls 104, 106 that overlay and are joined to each other to provide an interior volume 108 accessible through an opening 110. To seal closed the opening 110, the bag 102 can include first and second interlocking fastening strips 112, 114 attached to the respective first and mate the opening. To evacuate the interior volume 108 after the fastening strips have been engaged to close the opening 110, the bag 102 includes a one-way valve element 116 attached to and externally exposed on the first sidewall 104. The valve element 116 communicates with the interior volume 108 such that air from the interior volume can pass through the valve element. However, the valve element 116 closes whenever air tries to flow from the surrounding environment into the interior volume 108.

[0033] The evacuation device 100 itself includes an elongated housing 120 that, in the illustrated embodiment, is generally cylindrical and extends along an axis line 122 between a forward end 124 and a opposite rearward end 126. The housing 120 can be made of molded plastic and has a rearwardly situated main body portion 130 that is sized and shaped to be gripped by the hands of a user. Of course, in other embodiments, the housing can be made of different materials and can have different shapes and orientations. Further, the terms "forward" and "rearward" are for purposes of reference only and are not intended to limit or narrow the scope of the description. As illustrated in FIG. 2, to actually generate the suction force that accomplishes evacuation, there is enclosed in the main body portion 130 a motor 132 operatively engaged to an airflow generating device 140. The motor 132, which can be situated in the main body portion 130 rearwardly of the airflow generating device 140, can be battery operated or can include a power cord pluggable into a wall outlet. The battery can be a disposal battery or a rechargeable battery which uses a battery charger. The battery charger may also be a stand to hold the evacuation device 100. These sources of power can be used with any of the embodiments described herein. The motor 132 may also include a forwardly directed rotating motor shaft 134 that can generally align with the axis line 122 of the evacuation device.

[0034] Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the illustrated embodiment of the airflow generating unit 140 includes a linearly movable piston 142 that can reciprocally slide within a cylinder bore 144 provided by a cylindrical sidewall 146 of a chamber body 147. The cylinder bore 144 is closed off at its forward end by an axial face plate 148. To convert the rotational motion of the motor 132 to the linear motion of the piston 142, a pinion gear 150 is fastened to the motor shaft 134 and engages a circular crown tional axis of the pinion gear 150 is the same as the axis line 122 extending through the motor shaft 134 and housing 120 while the rotational axis 154 of the crown gear 152 is generally normal to axis line 122. Eccentrically mounted to the crown gear 152 is a connecting rod 156 at one end of which is attached the piston 142. Because of the eccentric mounting of the connecting rod 156 to the crown gear 152, rotation of the crown gear results in linear reciprocating motion of the piston 142 along the axis line 122. As can be appreciated, when the piston 142 reciprocally moves within the cylinder bore 144, a pumping force is generated that can be used to withdraw air from the container. As shown in FIG. 3, the components of the airflow generating unit 140 can be contained in a two part protective shell or cover 158 that snap fits together.

[0035] Referring to FIG. 2, when the airflow generating device 140 is assembled within the housing 120, the axial face plate 148 of the chamber body 147 abuts against a forwardly situated intake plate 160 that extends across and caps closed the forward end of the main body portion 130 of the housing. Disposed through both the intake plate 160 and axial face plate 148 is an inlet port 162 which communicates with the cylinder bore 144 provided by the chamber body 147. In the illustrated embodiment, the inlet port 162 may be generally aligned with the axis line 122. To control and manipulate the flow of air through the inlet port 162, a valve plate 164 can be located between the axial face plate 148 and the intake plate 160. The valve plate 164 includes an intake valve 166 that corresponds in location to the inlet port 162 and can selectively open and close the inlet port under influence of the pumping action generated by the motion of the piston 142 within the cylinder bore 144. [0036] As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, to interface the evacuation device 100 with the valve element 116 on the storage bag 102, the forward end 124 of the housing 120 includes a skirt-like inner nozzle 170 that extends axially forward from the intake plate 160 and outlines an open nozzle volume 172. The inner nozzle 170 has a forwardmost rim 174 outlining an inlet opening 176 through which the nozzle volume 172 is accessible. In the illustrated embodiment, the rim 174 forms a generally square outline for the inlet opening 176 and the inner nozzle 170 is formed from four integrally joined sidewalls 178. Moreover, the square inlet opening 176 can be

: 122 and is sized to accommodate the valve element 116. Hence, the inlet opening is located generally opposite and opposed to the intake plate. However, in other embodiments, the rim 174 and inner inlet opening 176 can have other suitable shapes such as circular, oval, rectangle, triangle, other polygons, or other shapes. The sidewalls 178 forming the illustrated nozzle 170 diverge slightly outwards as the inner nozzle extends forward hence enhancing the skirt-like appearance which flares slightly outward along the axis line 122. [0037] In operation, as illustrated in FIG. 2, the nozzle 170 is placed adjacent to the sidewall 104 such that the valve element 116 is received within the inlet opening 176. The nozzle 170 and inlet opening 176 can be appropriately sized to fit about a variety of different sized valve elements. Upon activation of the airflow generating unit 140, the rearward motion of the piston 142 within the cylinder bore 144 provides a suction force drawing air from the nozzle volume 172 into the cylinder bore via the inlet port 162. Once the air pressure within the nozzle volume 172 drops below that of the interior volume 108 of the storage bag 102, the resulting pressure differential causes the one-way valve element 116 to open allowing air from the interior volume to be drawn into the nozzle 170 and onto the airflow generating unit 140. [0038] To exhaust withdrawn air from the cylinder bore 144, there is disposed through the axial face plate 148 of the bore body 147 and through the intake plate 160 one or more exhaust ports 180. The exhaust ports 180 communicate with and extend between the cylinder bore 144 and an exit point proximate to but outside of the inner nozzle 170. In the illustrated embodiment, the exhaust ports 180 are not in communication with the nozzle volume 172 outlined by the inner nozzle 170. To control and manipulate the flow of air through the exhaust ports 180, the valve plate 164 can also include correspondingly located exhaust valves 168 that open and close in response to pressure fluctuations resulting from movement of the piston 142 with respect to the cylinder bore 144.

[0039] To direct the exhausted air from the exhaust ports 180 to an axially forward location proximate the sidewall 104 of the flexible bag 102, the evacuation device 100 includes a second, outer nozzle 182 that, in the illustrated embodiment, extends about and surrounds the inner nozzle 170 and is spaced or separated tierebetween. The illustrated outer nozzle 182 has a skirt- like shape including four integral and outward diverging sidewalls 188 that can be complementary to the shape of the inner nozzle 170 but is slightly larger to provide the gap 184. Moreover, the second nozzle 182 can extend forward almost coextensively with the first nozzle 170 and terminates in a second rim 186 located slightly rearward of the first rim 174. When the evacuation device 100 is interfaced with the valve element 116, as illustrated in FIG. 2, the first nozzle 170 contacts the sidewall 104 and the second nozzle 182 is spaced slightly above the sidewall 104. The axial distance 185 between the first rim 174 and the second rim 186 can be in a first range from about 0.5 mm to 14 mm. The distance 185 can be in a second range from about 0.5 mm to 2 mm. In one embodiment, the distance 185 can be about 1 mm. The gap 184 may have a distance 187 in a first range from about 0.5 mm to 14 mm. The distance 187 can be in a second range from about 0.5 mm to 2 mm. In one embodiment, the distance 187 can be about 1 mm.

[0040] Because of the location of their exit points, the exhaust ports 180 communicate with the gap 184 near where the first and second nozzles 170, 182 join the main body portion 130 of the evacuation device 100. As can be appreciated from FIG. 2, when the piston 142 moves axially forward within the cylinder bore 144, the resulting pressure change within the cylinder bore causes the intake valve 166 to close and the exhaust valves 168 to open. The air previously drawn into the airflow generating unit from the storage container is then discharged via the exhaust ports 180 into the gap 184 where it is directed forward between the inner and outer nozzles 170, 182. The discharged air exits the gap 184 past the second rim 186 proximate the storage bag 102. In the embodiments in which the second nozzle 182 is substantially coextensive with the first nozzle 170, it can be appreciated that the gap 184 therefore optimizes the amount and force of discharged air that impinges upon the storage container 102.

[0041] One advantage of directing withdrawn air back toward the storage bag is that the air is discharged away from the user. This may be especially advantageous if the air removed from the interior volume of the storage bag includes any contamination such as liquid residue. Another advantage, as illustrated in FIG. 2, is ird the sidewall 104 assists in causing a portion 190 of the sidewall material to be drawn upwards and partially into the inlet opening 172 of the inner nozzle 170 so as to form a dome shape. The valve element 116 can be located on the apex of a portion of upwardly domed material 190 that is drawn from the first sidewall 104. The valve element 116 is spaced upwards from the plane of the sidewall 104 by the expanded dome 190. In various embodiments, the sidewall 104 can be provided with excess material or with an elastically expanding material in the region of the valve element 116 to facilitate forming of the dome 190. [0042] When the material providing the dome 190 is expanded upwardly from the sidewall 104, it outlines a chamber or space 192 in addition to that of the interior volume and in which separation of fluids and juices from exhausting air can occur. More specifically, the pressure, velocity, and generally vertical direction of the air being drawn or forced through the chamber 192 may interact and may cause the fluids and juices to condense into droplets that can remain in the chamber during evacuation and return under the influence of gravity to the interior volume 108. This is facilitated by the greater density of the fluids as compared to air and due to the resulting condensation droplets' inability to traverse the chamber. Additionally, contacting the evacuating air generally along the inner surfaces of the sidewalls 104, 106 and causing the evacuating air to turn towards the valve element 116 along the inner surface of the excess material making up the dome 190 facilitates separation and condensation of the fluids and juices. The evacuating air actually passing through the valve element 116 may be relatively devoid of entrained fluids and juices in liquid or droplet form, thereby preventing contamination of the valve element and the evacuation device.

[0043] Referring to FIG. 4, there is illustrated another embodiment of a hand-held evacuation device 200 configured to discharge evacuated air in a forward or axial direction back toward the storage container. The hand-held evacuation device 200 includes an elongated housing 220 that extends along an axis line 222 between a forward end 224 and a rearward end 226. The housing 220 can enclose a motor and an airflow generation device for providing suction or an air removal force. Located at the forward end of the evacuation device 200 is an inner nozzle 270 and a that extends about and surrounds the inner nozzle 270. The inner nozzle 270 has a forwardmost rim 274 that outlines an inlet opening 276 which can interface with an appropriately sized valve element. The inlet opening 276 is also in fluid communication with the airflow generating device enclosed within the housing 220. The outer nozzle 282 has a complementary shape to the inner nozzle 270 provided in part by four integral, outwardly diverging sidewalls 288. The outer nozzle 282 terminates in a second square-shaped rim 286 which, to ensure that the inner nozzle 270 can properly interface with the storage container, is located slightly rearward of the first rim 274. In various embodiments, the second rim 286 can terminate rearward of the first rim 274. The distance 285 from the first rim 274 and the second rim 286 can be in a first range from about 0.5 mm to 14 mm. The distance 285 can be in a second range from about 0.5 mm to 2 mm. In one embodiment, the distance 285 can be about 1 mm.

[0044] In the illustrated embodiment, the inner nozzle 270 and the outer nozzle 282 are partially separated from each other wherein the partial separation provides the gap which discharges evacuated air in the forward direction. More specifically, there can be disposed through and between the joined inner and outer nozzles 270, 282 a plurality of channels 284. The channels 284 are elongated and extend generally parallel to the axis line 222. In the illustrated embodiment, twelve channels 284 are provided with three channels located between each corresponding edge of the inner and outer rims 274, 286. Moreover, the channels 284 are in communication with the airflow generating unit and can receive evacuated air that has been drawn through the inlet opening 276 of the inner nozzle 270. Hence, evacuated air is discharged via the channels 284 in a forward direction toward the storage container and can provide the benefits mentioned herein.

[0045] In other embodiments, it will be appreciated that the outer nozzle, rather than being formed as a second larger outer nozzle that completely surrounds and accommodates the inner nozzle, can instead be formed as a structure that partially surrounds the inner nozzle. For example, referring back to Figure 1, the outer nozzle can extend over only one of the four walls that make up the inner nozzle. Furthermore, in embodiments in which the inner nozzle is circular, the outer nozzle sd surface protruding from a side of the inner nozzle along a fixed angular segment with respect to the axis line. As can be appreciated, the gap can be provided between the curved outer nozzle and the circular inner nozzle. [0046] Now referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, there is illustrated another embodiment of a hand-held evacuation device 300 having inner and outer nozzles and that is configured to discharge air in the forward direction. The evacuation device 300 includes an elongated housing 320 that extends along an axis line 322 between a forward end 324 and a rearward end 326. Enclosed within the housing 320 for providing the suction force may be a motor and, as shown in the partial cross- sectional view of FIG. 6, an airflow generating device 340. Located at the forward end 324 of the evacuation device 300 and projecting in the axially forward direction are an inner nozzle 370 and a surrounding outer nozzle 382. The illustrated inner nozzle 370 is generally aligned about the axis line 322 and tapers inwardly as it extends forward from the main body portion of the housing 320. The inner nozzle 370 terminates at a forward rim 374 which is circular in shape and is smaller in diameter than the base of the inner nozzle. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6, when the evacuation device 300 is interfaced with a storage bag 302 having a oneway valve element 316 attached thereto, the forward rim 374 can be received or accommodated within an appropriately sized valve seat formed in the valve element. An inlet port 362 may be disposed axially along the tapered inner nozzle 370 and communicating with the airflow generation device 340.

[0047] The outer nozzle 382 surrounds and is separated from the inner nozzle 370 to provide the gap 384 therebetween. However, in the illustrated embodiment, the outer nozzle 382 has a generally skirt- like shape and consists of four outerwardly diverging sidewalls 388 that form a second square-shaped rim 386. The outer nozzle 382 may extend substantially coextensively with the inner nozzle 370 such that the outer rim 386 and the inner rim 374 are located substantially equally forward of the housing 320. The axially equal locations of the outer and inner rims cause the outer rim to contact the storage bag side almost simultaneous that the inner rim engages a valve element. The exhaust ports 380 from the airflow generation unit 340 communicate with the gap 384 so that discharged exhaust air is directed forwardly of harged air can impinge on the sidewall 304 of the storage bag 302 and can be released by, for example, passing under the outer rim 386 or through a hole disposed into the outer nozzle 382. The evacuation device 300 may include an intake valve 366 and may include an exhaust valve 368. In another embodiment, the exhaust ports 380 may not communicate with the gap 384 and no air is directed to the gap 384.

[0048] Referring to FIG. 7, there is illustrated in cross-section another embodiment of an evacuation device 400 configured to direct discharged air in a forward direction. The evacuation device 400 includes an elongated housing 420 that extends along an axis line 422 between a forward end 424 and an opposing rearward end 426. To provide a suction force, there is enclosed within the housing 422 a motor 432 and an airflow generating unit 440. Located at the forward end 424 of the housing 420 and extending in the axially forward direction are an inner nozzle 470 and a corresponding outer nozzle 482. In this embodiment, the inner nozzle 470 may be aligned about the axis line 422 and may include one or more outwardly diverging sidewalls 478 that terminate at a first inner rim 474. The inner rim 474 may have a circular or polygonal shape depending upon the number and shape of sidewalls making up the inner nozzle 470. Thus, the inner rim can be circular, oval, square, rectangle, triangle, other polygons, or other shapes. The interior of the inner nozzle 470 may communicate with the airflow generating unit 440 via an inlet port 462 disposed through an intake plate 460 located at the rear of the nozzle. [0049] The outer nozzle 482 is separate from and surrounds the inner nozzle 470 to provide a gap 484 therebetween. As illustrated, the outer nozzle can have a skirt- like shape that extends along and is generally aligned with the axis line 422. The skirt-like inner nozzle 482 terminates in a generally square-shaped outer rim 486. The outer rim may have other shapes, such as, circular, oval, square, rectangle, triangle, other polygons or other shapes. In this embodiment, the outer nozzle 482 extends further forward than the inner nozzle 470 such that the outer rim 486 is located axially forward of the inner rim 474. The different axial locations of the outer and inner rims can help to facilitate doming of the flexible sidewall 404 of the storage bag 400 upwards into the nozzles. The rim 486 of the outer nozzle 482 can act as a lower ewall 404 domes upwardly to contact the rim 474 of the inner nozzle 470. The axial distance 485 between the first rim 474 and the second rim 486 can be in a first range from about 0.5 mm to 14 mm. The distance 485 can be in a second range from about 0.5 mm to 2 mm. In one embodiment, the distance 485 can be about 1 mm. The gap 484 may have a distance 487 in a first range from about 0.5 mm to 14 mm. The distance 487 can be in a second range from about 0.5 mm to 2 mm. In one embodiment, the distance 487 can be about 1 mm.

[0050] To direct withdrawn air in an axially forward direction, one or more apertures 488 can be disposed through the inner nozzle 470 generally proximate to where the inner nozzle joins the port plate 460. The apertures 488 thereby establish communication between the interior of the inner nozzle 470 and the gap 484 formed between the inner and outer nozzles. During evacuation of the storage bag, a portion of the air withdrawn from the interior volume by the suction force is diverted though the apertures 488 into the gap 484 wherein the air is discharged in the axially forward direction. Thus, in this embodiment, the redirected air never enters or is processed through the airflow generating device 440. In another embodiment, the inner nozzle 470 may not include apertures 488 and no air is directed to the gap 484. [0051] The inner and outer nozzles described herein can be used in any suitable combination. Moreover, the nozzle designs described herein can be employed in an evacuation device having any suitable design including any of various types of airflow generating units. For example, referring to FIG. 8, there is illustrated an embodiment of a handheld evacuation device 500 for evacuating air in which the airflow generating unit 510 functions by converting rotational motion to linear motion. The evacuation device 500 may include an elongated housing 502 adapted to be gripped by the hands of a user. Enclosed in the housing 502 at the rearward end is an electrically operated motor 520 with a rotating shaft 522 that extends along an axis line 524. Mounted to the motor shaft 522, which may be concentric with the axis line 524, is a cylindrical cam 530. Disposed into and extending in a wave pattern circumferentially about the cylindrical sidewall 532 of the cam 530 is a channel 534. [0052] The evacuation device 500 may include a yoke 540 having one or more follower elements 542 that can be received in the channel 534 of the cam 530. To

! in the channel 534, the yoke 540 may have a U- shaped configuration including a forward directed common joint 544 from which extends rearward directed, bifurcated first and second arms 546, 548 to which the follower elements 542 are connected. When the device is assembled, the common joint 544 may align with the axis line 524 and the first and second arms 546, 548 extend along opposite halves of the cylindrical cam 530 to position the follower elements 542 in the channel 534.

[0053] Forward of the cam 530, the common joint 544 of the yoke 540 may be attached to a reciprocal element 550, such as a piston, that is slidably received in a cylindrical bore or chamber 562 provided by a rigid chamber body 560. The chamber 562 can communicate with any of the nozzle configurations described herein via an inlet aperture 564 disposed through the chamber body 560. To facilitate evacuation of air via the reciprocal element and chamber, a valve plate 570 including an inlet valve 572 is provided at the forward face of the chamber body 560 such that the inlet valve aligns with the inlet aperture 564.

[0054] Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, in operation, the motor shaft 522 extending from the motor 524 rotates the cam 530 thus moving the channel 534 about in a circle. As the channel 534 rotates, the follower elements 542 and the connected yoke 540 are reciprocally driven forward and backward along the axis line 524. The reciprocal driving of the yoke 540 results in reciprocal motion of the reciprocal element 550 within the chamber 562. When the reciprocal element 550 is moved rearward, as illustrated in FIG. 9, the inlet valve 572 opens drawing air into the chamber 562. When the reciprocal element 550 is moved forward, as illustrated in FIG. 10, the inlet valve 572 closes and the drawn air can be expelled from the chamber 560. [0055] Referring to FIG. 11, there is illustrated another embodiment of a handheld evacuation device 600 in which the airflow generating unit 630 translates rotational motion to reciprocal motion. Specifically, the evacuation device 600 includes an elongated housing 602 which may be adapted to be gripped by the hand of a user. The forward end of the housing can be configured with any of the nozzle configurations described herein. Enclosed within the housing 602 is an electrical motor 620 with a rotatable shaft 622 extending along a first axis line 624. To activate

L 626 can be provided on the housing 602 and wired to the motor. The motor 620 and shaft 622 drive the airflow generating unit 630 to provide a suction force for withdrawing air from a container such as a storage bag. [0056] More specifically, the illustrated airflow generating unit 630 can include a wheel 632 that is mounted onto the motor shaft 622. The airflow generating unit 630 may also include a piston 634 slidably receivable in a chamber 636 delineated by a chamber body 638. The piston 634 may be movable within the chamber 636 along a second axis line 640 which can be generally normal to the first axis line 624. To enable reciprocal motion of the piston 634 with respect to the chamber 636 along the second axis line 640, the piston may be eccentrically connected to the wheel 632. In one embodiment, the piston 634 may be connected to the wheel 632 at a position radially outward from the center of the wheel which is aligned with the first axis line 624. Thus, as the motor shaft 622 rotates, the eccentric connection causes the piston 634 to reciprocate within the chamber 636.

[0057] For enabling the reciprocal motion of the piston 634 to provide a pumping action for drawing air from a storage container, the chamber housing 638 can include an inlet valve 642 and an exhaust valve 644. The inlet valve 642 is arranged between the chamber 636 for controlling access of air from a storage container to the chamber. When the piston 634 is withdrawn with respect to the chamber body 638, the inlet valve 642 opens and air is drawn into the chamber. When the piston 634 is moved inward with respect to the chamber housing 638, the exhaust valve 644 opens while the inlet valve 642 simultaneously closes and air is expelled from the chamber 636. The exhaust air may be directed toward the front of the device to be used with any of the nozzle configurations described herein. A conduit 648 may be used to direct the exhaust air.

[0058] Illustrated in FIG. 12 is another embodiment of a hand-held evacuation device 700 having a rotary vane pumping mechanism 730 as part of the airflow generating unit. The evacuation device 700 includes an elongated housing 702 that can be made of a rigid thermoplastic and can be adapted to be gripped by the hands of a user. The nozzle which can be positioned at the front end of the housing can be any of the nozzles described herein. Enclosed within the housing may be an electric

722 that may extend along a first axis line 724. To

75 provide the suction force using the rotational motion of the motor 720, the rotary vane pumping unit 730 may convert the rotational motion to a sweeping action that functions to draw air from a storage container.

[0059] Referring to FIG. 13, the rotary vane pumping unit 730 may include a hollow, cylindrical stator 740 that provides an internal chamber 742. A rotatable, cylindrical rotor 744 may be concentrically mounted to the motor shaft. The rotational axis line 724 of rotor 744, which may correspond to the axis line of the motor shaft, may be offset within the stator 740 such that one segment of the rotor is adjacent and in sliding contact with the inner wall of the stator. The offset rotor 744 and stator 740 thereby provide a crescent-shaped void 748.

[0060] The rotary vane pumping mechanism may also include a plurality of displaceable vanes 750 that are arranged to sweep through the crescent- shaped void 748. To accommodate and drive the vanes 750, the rotor 794 may include a plurality of radially arranged slots 752, the width of each slot generally corresponding to the width of a vane 750. Accordingly, each vane can be slidingly accommodated in a slot 752. Additionally, arranged in each slot 752 are one or more springs 754 that urge the vanes 750 radially outward of the slots so that the tips of the vanes contact a portion of the inner wall of the stator 740. To enable air to move in and out of the rotary vane pumping mechanism, an inlet aperture 756 and an exhaust aperture 758, each located at different angular positions, can communicate with the crescent void 748. [0061] In operation, the rotor 744 rotates clockwise with respect to the stator 740 so that the vanes 750 sweep through the crescent void 748 from the inlet aperture 756 to the exhaust aperture 758. As will be appreciated from FIG. 13, the sweeping motion of the vanes 750 initially creates an expanding volume in the region of the inlet aperture 756 that draws air into the crescent void 748. Subsequently, the continued sweeping motion of the vanes 750 in the region of the exhaust aperture 758 creates a collapsing volume that causes air to discharge from the crescent void 748. This ongoing action thereby continuously moves air from the inlet aperture to the exhaust aperture thus providing the suction force. One potential advantage of rotary vane pumping mechanisms is that they typically are less susceptible to abrupt pressure with other pumping mechanisms. [0062] Referring to FIGS. 14 and 15, there is illustrated another embodiment of a handheld evacuation device 800 for removing latent air from a storage bag. The evacuation device 800 is similar to the evacuation device shown in FIG. 11 except that the device 800 uses an air flow generating unit 830 which includes a diaphragm pump. The diaphragm pump may include a diaphragm 835. The diaphragm 835 may be attached to the piston 834 and the chamber 836. The diaphragm 835 maintains an airtight seal between the piston and the chamber. In addition, the diaphragm is flexible and may include folds which allow the diaphragm to move with the piston without rupturing the diaphragm. Referring to FIG. 14, the device is conducting the intake stroke. The piston 834 is in an upward position and the inlet valve 842 is open. Referring to FIG. 15, the device is conducting the exhaust stroke. The piston 834 is in a downward position and the exhaust valve 844 is open. The diaphragm may be used with any of the embodiments discussed herein as appropriate.

[0063] One embodiment of a one way valve element is shown in FIGS. 16, 17, and 18. The one-way valve element 900 can include a rigid valve body 910 that cooperates with a movable disk 912 to open and close the valve element. The valve body 910 includes a circular flange portion 914 extending between parallel first and second flange faces 920, 922. Concentric to the flange portion 914 and projecting from the second flange face 922 is a circular boss portion 918 which terminates in a planar boss face 924 that is parallel to the first and second flange faces. The circular boss portion 918 is smaller in diameter than the flange portion 914 so that the outermost annular rim of the second flange face 922 remains exposed. The valve body 910 can be made from any suitable material such as a moldable thermoplastic material like nylon, HDPE, high impact polystyrene (HIPS), polycarbonates (PC), and the like.

[0064] Disposed concentrically into the valve body 910 is a counter-bore 928. The counter-bore 928 extends from the first flange face 920 part way towards the boss face 924. The counter-bore 928 defines a cylindrical bore wall 930. Because it extends only part way toward the boss face 924, the counter-bore 928 forms within the valve body 910 a preferably planar valve seat 932. To establish fluid body 910, there is disposed through the valve seat 932 at least one aperture 934. In fact, in the illustrated embodiment, a plurality of apertures 934 are arranged concentrically and spaced inwardly from the cylindrical bore wall 930.

[0065] To cooperatively accommodate the movable disk 912, the disk is inserted into the counter-bore 928. Accordingly, the disk 912 is preferably smaller in diameter than the counter-bore 928 and has a thickness as measured between a first disk face 940 and a second disk face 942 that is substantially less than the length of the counter- bore 928 between the first flange face 920 and the valve seat 932. To retain the disk 912 within the counter-bore 930, there is formed proximate to the first flange face 920 a plurality of radially inward extending fingers 944. The disk 912 can be made from any suitable material such, as for example, a resilient elastomer. [0066] Referring to FIG. 18, when the disk 912 within the counter-bore 930 is moved adjacent to the fingers 944, the valve element 900 is in its open configuration allowing air to communicate between the first flange face 920 and the boss face 924. However, when the disk 912 is adjacent the valve seat 932 thereby covering the apertures 934, the valve element 900 is in its closed configuration. To assist in sealing the disk 912 over the apertures 934, a sealing liquid can be applied to the valve seat 932. Furthermore, a foam or other resilient member may be placed in the counter-bore 928 to provide a tight fit of the disk 912 and the valve seat 932 in the closed position.

[0067] To attach the valve element 900 to the first sidewall, referring to FIG. 17, an adhesive can be applied to the exposed annular rim portion of the second flange face 922. The valve element 900 can then be placed adjacent the exterior surface of the first sidewall with the boss portion 918 being received through the hole disposed into the sidewall and thereby pass into the internal volume. Of course, in other embodiments, adhesive can be placed on other portions of the valve element, such as the first flange face, prior to attachment to the sidewall.

[0068] In other embodiments, the one-way valve element can have a different construction. As illustrated in FIG. 19, a flexible one-way valve element 1010 can include a flexible, circular base layer 1012 that cooperates with a correspondingly r 1014 to open and close the valve element. The top and bottom layers can be made from any suitable material such as, for example, a flexible thermoplastic film. Disposed through the center of the base layer 1012 is an aperture 1016, thus providing the base layer with an annular shape. The top layer 1014 is placed over and adhered to the base layer 1012 by two parallel strips of adhesive 1018 that extend along either side of the aperture 1016, thereby covering the aperture with the top layer and forming a channel. The base layer 1012 is then adhered by a ring of adhesive 1020 to the flexible bag 1000 so as to cover the hole 1008 disposed through the first sidewall 1002.

[0069] When the sidewalls 1002, 1004 of the bag 1000 are compressed together, such as by using an evacuation device, air from the internal volume 1006 will pass through the hole 1008 and the aperture 1016 thereby partially displacing the top layer 1014 from the base layer 1012. The air can then pass along the channel formed between the adhesive strips 1018 and escape to the environment. After the evacuation of air from the internal volume, the resilient top layer 1014 will return to its prior configuration covering and sealing the aperture 1016. The valve element 1010 may also contain a viscous material such as an oil, grease, or lubricant between the two layers in order to prevent air from reentering the bag. In an embodiment, base layer 1012 may also be a rigid sheet material.

[0070] Illustrated in FIG. 20 is another embodiment of the valve element 1110 that can be attached to the flexible plastic bag 1100. The valve element 1110 is a rectangular piece of flexible thermoplastic film that includes a first end 1112 and a second end 1114. The valve element 1110 is attached to the first sidewall 1102 so as to cover and seal a hole 1108 disposed through the first sidewall. The valve element 1110 can be attached to the sidewall 1102 by patches of adhesive 1118 placed on either side of the hole 1108 so as to correspond to the first and second ends 1112, 1114. When the sidewalls 1102, 1104 of the flexible bag 1100 are collapsed together, air from the internal volume 1106 displaces the flexible valve element 1110 so as to unseal the hole 1108. After evacuation of air from the internal volume 1106, the valve element 1120 will again cover and seal the hole 1108.

[0071] Figure 21 is another embodiment of a low profile valve element 1230. The ts a truncated circle shape. The valve element 1230 can include a base layer 1242 and a corresponding top layer 1244. Other than the shape, the valve element 1230 is constructed similar to the valve element in Figure 19 and operates in a similar manner as the valve element in Figure 19. The base layer 1242 can include a straight top portion 1245, a straight bottom portion 1247, a curved side portion 1249 and a curved side portion 1251. In this embodiment, the top layer 1244 corresponds in size and shape to the base layer 1242.

[0072] Figure 22 is another embodiment of a low profile valve element 1330. The illustrated valve element 1330 has a truncated circle shape. The valve element 1330 can include a single layer 1344. Other than the shape, the valve element 1330 is constructed similar to the valve element in Figure 20 and operates in a similar manner as the valve element in Figure 20. The layer 1344 can include a straight top portion 1345, a straight bottom portion 1347, a curved side portion 1349 and a curved side portion 1351.

[0073] The flexible bag can be provided with fastening strips activated by a slider. For example, referring to FIG. 23, there is illustrated a flexible bag 1400 having overlapping first and second sidewalls that are joined along parallel first and second side edges 1410, 1412, and a perpendicular closed bottom edge 1414 to define an internal volume 1406. To access the internal volume 1406, the portions of the first and second sidewalls 1402, 1404 that are opposite the closed bottom edge 1414 remain unjoined to form an open top edge 516. To releasably close the open top edge 1416, the flexible bag 1400 includes a first fastening strip 1430 and a second fastening strip 1431 that engage a movable slider 1432.

[0074] As shown in Fig. 24, the fastening strips may be U-channel fastening strips as described in U.S. Patent 4,829,641, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. U-channel fastening strips include a first fastening strip 1430 with a first closure element 1436 and a second fastening strip 1431 with a second closure element 1434. The first closure element 1436 engages the second closure element 1434. The first fastening strip 1430 may include a flange 1463 disposed at the upper end of the first fastening strip 1430 and a rib 1467 disposed at the lower end of the first fastening strip 1430. The first fastening strip 1430 may include a flange portion 1469. rip 1431 may include a flange 1453 disposed at the upper end of the second fastening strip 1431 and a rib 1457 disposed at the lower end of the second fastening strip 1431. The second fastening strip 1431 may include a flange portion 1459. The sidewalls 1402, 1404 of the plastic bag 1400 may be attached to the fastening strips 1430, 1431 by conventional manufacturing techniques. [0075] The second closure element 1434 includes a base portion 1438 having a pair of spaced-apart parallelly disposed webs 1440, 1441, extending from the base portion 1438. The base and the webs form a U-channel closure element. The webs 1440, include hook closure portions 1442, 1444 extending from the webs 1440, 1441 respectively, and facing towards each other. The hook closure portions 1442, 1444 include guide surfaces 1446, 1447 which serve to guide the hook closure portions 1442, 1444 for occluding with the hook closure portions 1452, 1454 of the first closure element 1436.

[0076] The first closure element 1436 includes a base portion 1448 including a pair of spaced-apart, parallelly disposed webs 1450, 1451 extending from the base portion 1448. The base and the webs form a U-channel closure element. The webs 1450, 1451 include hook closure portions 1452, 1454 extending from the webs 1450,

1451 respectively and facing away from each other. The hook closure portions 1452, 1454 include guide surfaces 1445, 1455, which generally serve to guide the hook closure portions 1452, 1454 for occlusion with the hook closure portions 1442, 1444 of the second closure element 1434. The guide surfaces 1445, 1455 may also have a rounded crown surface.

[0077] The slider 1432 includes a top portion 1472. The top portion provides a separator 1443 having a first end and a second end wherein the first end may be wider than the second end. In addition, the separator 1443 may be triangular in shape. When the slider is moved in the occlusion direction, the separator 1443 deoccludes the fastening strips 1430, 1431 as shown in Fig. 24. Referring to Fig. 24, the closure elements 1434, 1436 are deoccluded and specifically, the upper hook portions 1442,

1452 and the lower hook portions 1444, 1454 are deoccluded.

[0078] The interlocking fastening strips may comprise "arrowhead-type" or "rib and groove" fastening strips as shown in Fig. 25 and as described in U.S. Patent iy reference in its entirety. The rib element 1505 interlocks with the groove element 1507. The rib element 1505 is of generally arrow- shape in transverse cross section including a head 1510 comprising interlock shoulder hook portions 1511 and 1512 generally convergently related to provide a cam ridge 1513 generally aligned with a stem flange 1514 by which the head is connected in spaced relation with respect to the supporting flange portion 1508. (U.S. Patent 3,806,998, Col. 2, lines 16-23). At their surfaces nearest the connecting stem flange 1514, the shoulder portions 1511 and 1512 define reentrant angles therewith providing interlock hooks engageable with interlock hook flanges 1515 and 1517 respectively of the groove element 1507. (U.S. Patent 3,806,998, Col. 2, lines 23-28). Said hook flanges generally converge toward one another and are spread open to receive the head 1510 therebetween when said head is pressed into said groove element 1507 until the head is fully received in a groove 1518 of said groove element 1507 generally complementary to the head and within which the head is interlocked by interengagement of the head shoulder hook portions 1511 and 1512 and the groove hook flanges 1515 and 1517. (U.S. Patent 3,806,998, Col. 2, lines 28-36). Through this arrangement, as indicated, the head and groove elements 1505 and 1507 are adapted to be interlockingly engaged by being pressed together and to be separated when forcably pulled apart, as by means of a generally U-shaped slider 1519. (U.S. Patent 3,806,998, Col. 2, lines 36-41).

[0079] The slider 1519 includes a flat back plate 1520 adapted to run along free edges 1521 on the upper ends of the sections of the flange portions 1508 and 1509 as shown in the drawing. (U.S. Patent 3,806,998, Col. 2, lines 41-46). Integrally formed with the back plate 1520 and extending in the same direction (downwardly as shown) therefrom are respective coextensive sidewalls 1522 with an intermediate spreader finger 1523 extending in the same direction as the sidewalls at one end of the slider. (U.S. Patent 3,806,998, Col. 2, lines 46-51). The sidewalls 1522 are in the form of panels which are laterally divergent from a narrower end of the slider. (U.S. Patent 3,806,998, Col. 2, lines 51-55). The slider walls 1522 are each provided with an inwardly projecting shoulder structure 1524 flange adapted to engage respective shoulder ribs 1525 and 1527 on respectively outer sides of the lower section of the flange portions 1508 and 1509. (U.S. Patent 3,806,998, Col. 2, line 66 to Col. 3, line 3).

[0080] Additionally, the interlocking fastening strips may comprise "profile" fastening strips, as shown in Fig. 26 and described in U.S. Patent 5,664,299 herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. As shown in FIG. 26, the first profile 1616 has at least an uppermost closure element 1616α and a bottommost closure element 16166. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 3, lines 25-27). The closure elements 1616a and 16166 project laterally from the inner surface of strip 1614. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 3, lines 27-28). Likewise, the second profile 1617 has at least an uppermost closure element 1617α and a bottommost closure element 16176. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 3, lines 28-30). The closure elements 1617a and 16176 project laterally from the inner surface of strip 1615. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 3, lines 30- 32). When the bag is closed, the closure elements of profile 1616 interlock with the corresponding closure elements of profile 1617. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 3, lines 32-34). As shown in FIG. 26, closure elements 1616α, 16166, 1617α and 16176 have hooks on the ends of the closure elements, so that the profiles remain interlocked when the bag is closed, thereby forming a seal. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 3, lines 34-37).

[0081] The straddling slider 1610 comprises an inverted U-shaped member having a top 1620 for moving along the top edges of the strips 1614 and 1615. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 4, lines 1-3). The slider 1610 has sidewalls 1621 and 1622 depending from the top 1620. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 4, lines 3-4). A separating leg 1623 depends from the top 1620 between the sidewalls 1621 and 1622 and is located between the uppermost closure elements 1616α and 1617α of profiles 1616 and 1617. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 4, lines 26-30). The fastening assembly includes ridges 1625 on the outer surfaces of the fastening strips 1614 and 1615, and shoulders 16216 and 16226 on the sidewalls of the slider. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 4, lines 62-65). The shoulders act as means for maintaining the slider in straddling relation with the fastening strips by grasping the lower surfaces of the ridges 1625. (U.S. Patent 5,664,299, Col. 5, lines 4-7). [0082] Also, the interlocking fastening strips may be "rolling action" fastening strips as shown in Fig. 31 and described in U.S. Patent 5,007,143 herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. The strips 1714 and 1715 include profiled tracks 1718 and 1719 extending along the length thereof parallel to the rib and groove elements 1716 and 1717 and the rib and groove elements 1716, 1717 have complimentary cross- sectional shapes such that they are closed by pressing the bottom of the elements together first and then rolling the elements to a closed position toward the top thereof. (U.S. Patent 5,007,143, Col. 4, line 62 to Col. 5, line 1). The rib element 1716 is hook shaped and projects from the inner face of strip 1714. (U.S. Patent 5,007,143, Col. 5, lines 1-3). The groove element 1717 includes a lower hook-shaped projection 1717α and a relatively straight projection \l\lb which extend from the inner face of strip 1715. (U.S. Patent 5,007,143, Col. 5, lines 3-6). The profiled tracks 1718 and 1719 are inclined inwardly toward each other from their respective strips 1714 and 1715. (U.S. Patent 5,007,143, Col. 5, lines 6-8).

[0083] All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents, cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.

[0084] The use of the terms "a" and "an" and "the" and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms "comprising," "having," "including," and "containing" are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning "including, but not limited to,") unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., "such as")

ely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

[0085] Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventor(s) for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventor(s) expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventor(s) intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. An evacuation device for evacuating a storage container, the evacuation device comprising: a housing including a first inner nozzle, the inner nozzle having an inner rim providing an inlet opening; and a second outer nozzle at least partially surrounding the inner nozzle to provide a gap therebetween; a motor located inside the housing; and an airflow generating unit located inside the housing and operatively engaged to the motor, the airflow generating unit communicating with the inner nozzle via an intake port and communicating with the gap via an exhaust port.
2. The evacuation device of claim 1, wherein the housing includes a forward end and an oppositely situated rearward end, the inner nozzle and outer nozzle extending in a forward direction, the outer nozzle extending almost coextensively with the inner nozzle.
3. The evacuation device of claim 1, wherein the outer nozzle extends to an outer rim, the outer rim being about 0.5 mm to 14 mm rearward of the inner rim.
4. The evacuation device of claim 1, wherein the outer nozzle extends completely about the inner nozzle.
5. The evacuation device of claim 1, wherein the gap completely separates the inner nozzle and the outer nozzle.
6. The evacuation device of claim 1, wherein the gap partially separates the inner nozzle and the outer nozzle.
7. The evacuation device of claim 1, wherein the inner nozzle and the outer nozzle have complementary skirt-like shapes.
8. The evacuation device of claim 2, wherein the inner nozzle tapers to the inner rim.
9. The evacuation device of claim 1 , wherein the housing includes an intake plate exposed in the inner nozzle generally opposite and rearward of the inlet opening, the inlet port being disposed through the intake plate.
10. An evacuation device for evacuating a storage container, the evacuation device comprising: a housing including an inner nozzle having a inner rim outlining an inlet opening, an outer nozzle extending about the inner nozzle, the inner and outer nozzles providing a gap therebetween, the inner nozzle including at least one aperture disposed therein establishing fluid communication between the inlet opening and the gap; and an airflow generating unit located inside the housing, the airflow generating unit communicating with the inlet opening via the inner nozzle.
11. A method of evacuating a storage bag including a flexible sidewall providing an interior volume, the storage bag further including a one-way valve element attached to the sidewall and communicating with the interior volume, the method comprising:
(i) providing an evacuation device including a housing, an inner nozzle having a rim outlining an inlet opening; and an outer nozzle at least partially surrounding the inner nozzle and spaced therefrom to provide a gap;
(ii) interfacing the inner nozzle with the one-way valve element;
(iii) drawing air from the interior volume into the inner nozzle via the valve element; and
(iv) directing at least a portion of the drawn air to the gap.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the evacuation unit further includes an air flow generating unit having an inlet port and an exhaust port, the inlet port in fluid communication with the inlet opening and the exhaust port in fluid communication with the gap.
13. The method of claim 12, further comprising the step of activating the air flow generating unit to accomplish the step of drawing air.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the storage bag includes a region of increased elasticity, the one-way valve element attached to the region.
15. The method of claim 14, further comprising:
(v) expanding the elastic region from an elastically recovered position to an elastically expanded position to define a chamber; and (vi) separating fluids from air in the chamber.
16. An evacuation device for evacuating a storage container, the evacuation device comprising: a housing including an inner nozzle having a inner rim outlining an inlet opening, an outer nozzle extending about the inner nozzle, the inner and outer nozzles providing a gap therebetween, and an airflow generating unit located inside the housing, the airflow generating unit communicating with the inlet opening via the inner nozzle.
17. A flexible storage bag comprising: a first sidewall of thermoplastic material; a second sidewall of thermoplastic material overlying and joined to the first sidewall to provide a interior volume; an elongated valve element attached to the first sidewall over an aperture disposed through the first sidewall, the elongated valve element having opposing first and second ends with curved edges.
18. The storage bag of claim 17, wherein the elongated valve element is a two-ply valve element including a base layer having an aperture disposed therethrough and a correspondingly shaped top layer attached to the base layer at the first and second ends, and further including an unattached middle portion normally covering the aperture.
19. The storage bag of claim 18, wherein the elongated valve element is a truncated circle.
20. The storage bag of claim 19, wherein the elongated valve element includes a first straight edge and a parallel second straight edge extending between the first and second ends.
21. The storage bag of claim 20, wherein the width of the valve element between the first and second straight edges is less than the length of the valve element between the first and second curved edges.
22. The storage bag of claim 21, wherein the unattached middle portion provides an expandable and collapsible channel.
23. The storage bag of claim 18, wherein the elongated valve element is obround.
24. The storage bag of claim 18, wherein the elongated valve element is parabolic.
25. The storage bag of claim 18, wherein the elongated valve element is comprised of thermoplastic material.
PCT/US2008/062380 2007-05-29 2008-05-02 Evacuation device WO2008150612A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

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US60/940,527 2007-05-29

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Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20050039421A1 (en) * 2004-10-19 2005-02-24 Cheung George F. Portable vacuum device
US20050286808A1 (en) * 2004-06-29 2005-12-29 Zimmerman Dean A Flexible storage bag
US20060048483A1 (en) * 2004-07-23 2006-03-09 Tilman Paul A Storage system having a disposable vacuum bag

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20050286808A1 (en) * 2004-06-29 2005-12-29 Zimmerman Dean A Flexible storage bag
US20060048483A1 (en) * 2004-07-23 2006-03-09 Tilman Paul A Storage system having a disposable vacuum bag
US20050039421A1 (en) * 2004-10-19 2005-02-24 Cheung George F. Portable vacuum device

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