FLEXIBLE CONTAINER WITH STOPPER VALVE
The present invention relates to liquid storage container design, more particularly to the design of porta- 5 ble flexible containers with stoppers which are resealable after pouring of contents therefrom.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
There are known portable liquid container designs 10 which are adapted for military applications under field conditions. Well-known examples are the canteen and the portable jerrycan, which can be worn as part of a body harness and carried by a user in addition to other equipment. Where large amounts of liquid are to be 15 carried or the other equipment is heavy, the weight of the liquid container itself together with the volume it occupies may be a significant factor which reduces the user's freedom of movement. Even when fully emptied of their contents, such conventional containers remain 20 cumbersome if only because of their shape which does not collapse.
In addition to the weight problem, and important part of the container's usefulness is the ability to easily discharge its contents in a resealable fashion. Thus, the 25 design of the container's stopper or cap becomes important. Under field conditions, there is a concern for hygienic use of drinking supplies, and repeated removal of a canteen cap, for example, may allow dirt to enter or to interfere with the proper closing of the screw-on cap. 30 There is also the possibility that the cap may become separated from the container during frequent use. Refilling the container is of overall importance in the design of the container stopper since a maximum opening allows this operation to be completed in the shortest 35 amount of time.
Therefore, it would be desirable to provide a portable container for liquid storage which is lightweight, uses a resealable stopper and is collapsible to conserve volume once emptied. 40
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, it is a principal object of the invention to overcome the above-mentioned disadvantages and provide a lightweight portable container for liquid stor- 45 age which is collapsible in use and is easily resealable once the container contents have been partially or fully emptied.
According to the invention, there is provided a flexible container for liquid storage, the container compris- 50 ing:
a collapsible bag element enclosed within an outer bag and integrally formed with a substantially circular neck defining an opening for liquid flow therethrough, the interior of the neck having a recessed annular lip 55 formed at the top end thereof; and
valve apparatus for controllably determining the flow rate of stored liquid through the neck, the valve apparatus comprising a substantially cylindrical outer cap and an inner valve plug retained in a centrally located open- 60 ing thereof, the inner valve plug being shaped to form at least one surface flow channel adjacent thereto, the outer cap adapted for engaging the exterior of the neck in respective shut-off and flow positions wherein the inner valve plug is respectively seated on and spaced 65 apart from the recessed annular lip for blocking and enabling liquid flow through the neck opening, enabled liquid flow continuing through the at least one adjacent
surface flow channel for discharge through the central opening in the outer cap.
In a preferred embodiment, the flexible bag element is a multi-layered sealed plastic laminate bag which may or may not be metallized. An exterior-thread plastic neck defining the liquid filling spout is heat sealed into an opening in the bag. The entire arrangement is enclosed within an outer durable cloth bag such as that used for construction of backpack camping equipment.
The controllable liquid flow rate is provided in accordance with the invention by a specially designed stopper valve which operates in shut-off ans flow positions depending on the degree of engagement with the neck. For this purpose, the stopper valve has a matched interior thread for engaging the neck. The top end of the stopper valve has a tubular pouring spout within which an inner valve plug is retained centrally so as to face the bottom end of the stopper valve. The inner valve plug is shaped with partitions forming flow channels adjacent to its surface.
When the stopper valve thread engages the neck in the shut-off position, the inner valve plug is seated on the recessed lip of the neck, blocking the flow of stored liquid through the tubular pouring spout. When the stopper valve is rotated open such that its interior thread engages the neck in a flow position, the inner valve plug is retracted from the lip and permits stored liquid to flow around it through the adjacent surface flow channels and then out through the tubular pouring spout. The flow rate in dependent upon the amount of rotation which determines the size of the opening between the inner valve plug and the recessed lip.
A feature of the invention is the provision of straps for securing the outer backpack bag enclosing the flexible container to the user's body.
Another feature of the invention is the provision of constriction belts for adjusting the shape of the flexible bag so as to force the stored fluid to move upwards towards the neck as the bag contents are emptied.
Still another feature of the invention is the provision of the outer backpack bag with a fabric partition for creating multiple compartments for storage of personal effects and use of the outer backpack bag as a regular backpack once the flexible bag has been emptied.
Additional features of the invention will become apparent from the drawings and the description contained hereinbelow.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
For a better understanding of the invention with regard to the embodiments thereof, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a flexible container constructed and operative in accordance"with the principles of the present invention;
FIGS, la-b are respective sectional elevations of the stopper valve shown in the shut-off and flow positions on the neck of the flexible bag depicted in the embodiment of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 illustrates the layout of a protective outer flap for covering the stopper valve of the flexible container;
FIG. 4 is a sectional elevation of the outer cap of the stopper valve of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is a sectional elevation of the neck of the flexible bag shown in FIG. 2; and
FIGS. 6a-b show respective top and side views of the inner valve plug operative with the stopper valve of FIG. 2.