US 3818208 A
An electrical element for use in a beverage container comprises an enclosed energy source activated in response to a temperature differential in a gas chamber, the energy source actuating an amusement device such as a flashing light or the like. The housing for the energy source and amusement device can be, for example, a translucent plastic "ice cube.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Kahl 1 June 18, 1974 ELECTRICAL ELEMENT IN A BEVERAGE 2,765,481 7/1958 Manhart et a1. 240/10.6 x CONTAINER 2,971,081 2/1961 Shimizu .1 240/10.68 3,129,413 4/1964 Watson 340/244 X Inventor: Peter Kahl, 10 Maple South 3,255,441 6/1966 Goodwin et a1. 340/229 x Hamilton, Mass. 01982 3,500,687 3/1970 Smith 73/295  Flled: Sept' 1972 Primary ExaminerRichard M. Sheen  App]. No.: 289,300 Assistant Examiner-Michael L. Gellner Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Pears0n & Pearson  U.S. Cl 240/6.4 G, 240/10 R, 340/227,
340/235, 340/283  ABSTRACT  Int. Cl. F21v 33/00 An electrical l m n f r use n a v r ge container  Field of Search 340/235, 227 R, 228 R comprises an enclosed energy source activated in re- 340/229, 283; 240/ 10 R, 10.6 R, 6.4 G; 73/295 sponse to a temperature differential in a gas chamber, the energy source actuating an amusement device  Refe ences Cit d such as a flashing light or the 1ike. The housing for the UNITED STATES PATENTS energy source and amusement device can be, for ex- 2,352,425 9/1944 Tickell 340/229 ample a translucent plague we Cube 2,663,866 12/1953 Simpson ZOO/51.12 X 8 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures \'i-';'i i 'l J 3 *1. 3 I :iQ 56 2 50 .5a e 60 x ELECTRICAL ELEMENT IN A BEVERAGE CONTAINER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION A number of novelty devices have been suggested for use with drinking cups or the like. Some of these devices require an energy source for actuation of the novelty device. This energy source is usually a fixed battery, say of the flashlight type, which is incorporated into the structure of the drinking cup itself. Such devices are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,532,l8l to Moore, 2,663,866 to Simpson and 3,374,344 to Rudolph et al. Practical considerations require the batteries to be restricted to placement at the bottom of the drinking vessels and, consequently, the lights which are connected thereto are also practically placed at the bottom of the vessel.
Another class of products, similarly constructed, are those wherein a floating signal light is water-actuated by the dissolution of a circuit breaker device (U.S. Pat. No. 2,765,481 to Manhart et al.) or by water pressure forcing water into a structure to close a circuit (U.S. Pat. No. 2,971,081 to Shimizur). Both of these latter two patents relate to closing, by water, of a circuit comprising a conventional dry cell energy source, i.e, batteries of the type generally utilized in the aforementioned drinking-cup novelty devices.
It has remained a problem to provide a novelty device which is free from the structured limitations associated with the aforementioned prior art.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of the invention to provide a novel device comprising a liquid-activated energy source.
Another object of the invention is to provide a novel device as described above, having substantially complete circuitry, except for an energy-source-activating liquid.
Still another object of the invention is to provide a device for activation by an initial thermal difference between the device and its environment.
A further object of the invention is to provide a novel device, comprising a liquid-activated energy source, which is suitable for use as a novelty in potable drinks and which may be used without physical connection to the structure of the container in which the drink is contained.
Another object of the invention is to provide such a novelty having a reasonable size, i.e., a size not out of keeping with the kind of thing normally found in drinks, such as ice cubes, olives and the like, and to provide an energy-source and sensible device within the novelty that has a lifetime which is appropriately related to the time normally required to consume a beverage.
Other objects of the invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art on reading the instant application.
The above objects have been substantially achieved by construction of a device comprising a housing, a sensible means in the housing, an energy source in the housing, and thermally activated circuitry. The housing itself can be of any desired shape, e.g. an ice cube or an olive. By sensible means is meant something that can be seen or heard either directly, as with a light, or a sound producing device, or indirectly, as with a motion-imparting means such as a fan or the like. The
most advantageous sensible means is believed to be a flasher light. A flasher light consumes a relatively small amount of energy per unit time and, therefore, has a relatively long amusement life within the device.
The thermal-activation is advantageously achieved by providing a relatively large air space in the housing, the air space communicating through apertures to the exterior thereof. When the device is dropped into a cold drink, the air space is caused to contract in volume and thereby cause a pressure drop within the housing. The pressure drop will pull a small quantity of liquid into the aperture. This liquid is then utilized to activate I an energy source interposed along the path of the apertures between the relatively large air space and the exterior of the housing.
Alternately, the thermal activation can be carried out in a sealed system and the circuitry can be closed, thermostatically. However, this latter method has the drawback of either requiring a pre-energized battery, or a battery that is energized by liquid motivated to move into the battery from a reservoir, say on pressure being exerted on the reservoir by a source of heat-expansible gas source maintained within the device.
In the embodiments of the invention, using conduits between the exterior of the device and a gas compartment within the device, the conduits are advantageously sized so that there is no substantial escape of gas from the device. This enables the density of the device to more closely approximate that of an ice cube. Moreover, considering excessive liquid being carried into the device proper avoids excessive dilution of electrolyte required to operate the energy source.
The energy source is conveniently a battery system such as a silver chloride-magnesium system which can be actuated by the liquid being drawn between two approved battery plates. A porous separator is normally interposed between the plates, and liquid being drawn into the device is drawn into this porous apparatus.
In such a system, the electrochemical action of the battery will result in the evolution of a minute quantity of hydrogen gas. This gas is harmless in the small quantities in which it can be produced and has no effect on the drink being consumed. Other electrochemical products, e.g. magnesium chloride and silver are also totally harmless, even if, as is unlikely, they escape into the drink being consumed.
It will be understood that, while one advantageous aspect of the invention is the fact that the device is useful without attachment to the drinking container, the device may also be attached thereto when, for some reason, the attachment is desirable.
ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION In this application and accompanying drawings, there is shown and described a preferred embodiment of the invention and suggested various alternatives and modifications thereof, but it is to be understood that these are not intended to be exhaustive and that other changes and modifications can be made within the scope of the invention. These suggestions herein are se lected and included for purposes of illustration in order that others skilled in the art will more fully understand the invention and the principles thereof and will be able to modify it and embody it in a variety of forms, each as may be best suited in the condition of a particular case.
FIG. 1 illustrates a beverage container with a simulated ice cube constructed according to the process of the invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged side elevation, in half section, of a simulated ice cube device of the invention; and
FIG. 3 illustrates a thermally-actuated device of the invention constructed according to the invention, but which is integral with a liquid container.
Referring to FIG. 1, it is seen that a container comprises a liquid 12 that is cooled by ice cubes 14. A simulated ice cube 15, formed of transparent plastic material, has been placed in container 10, cooled by the liquid 12 and now emits light as indicated by rays 18.
FIG. 2 illustrates the device 15, constructed according to the invention and simulating an ice cube. Housing 20 is formed of translucent plastic 22. Inside housing 20 is air space 24 which communicates through a conduit 26 to the environment 28. Light bulb 30 is held within housing 20 by support means 32 and socket 34. Beneath support means 32 is a battery compartment 33 containing an energy-generating source 35, for generating a current of about one-fourth of an ampere. Source 35 may be formed by an anode 36 of magnesium and a cathode 38 of silver chloride separated by a porous battery separator 40. However, any suitable battery system, other than AgCl-Mg, may be used, which uses water as the electrolyte. The battery is inactive when dry but will energize a commercially available flasher bulb intermittently for about forty minutes.
When environment 28 cools the air in air space 24, there is a contraction of the air and a consequent reduction of pressure in air space 24 to sub-atmospheric pressure. As a pressure equilibrium tends to be reestablished, liquid of environment 28 is pulled into orifice 42, through conduit 26 and into battery compartment 33, which compartment forms part of the conduit between air space 24 and environment 28.
When liquid allows formation of electrolytic contact between anode 36 and cathode 38 through separator 40, a voltage is set up across light bulb 30.
The translucent plastic 22 of housing 20 may have a surface pattern of preselected opaque and light conducting areas for decoration.
Light bulb 30 is a flasher-type bulb and therefore requires relatively little current per unit time.
FIG. 3 illustrates another embodiment of the invention, whereby a container 50 is integral with a device of the invention. In this embodiment of the invention, a plug 52 is utilized to isolate a gas chamber 54. Chamber 54 comprises air that, when cooled, brings polar liquid into conduit 56 and into a porous battery separator 58 placed therein. Anode 60 and cathode 62 concentric in shape, form a battery means which is activated by the movement of polar liquid thereinto.
Another embodiment of the invention would be one utilizing a gas pressure operated switch to close a circuit incorporating abattery means and a light source. Such an embodiment would have a particular utility in sensing the temperature of the liquid in which it is placed and only flashing above or below a given preselected temperature level, say 160F or some other comfort point for a hot drink.
It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efficiently attained and, since certain changes may be made in carrying out the above method without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
1. Apparatus comprising a housing, a sensible device within said housing, a potential means for producing electrical power within said housing, electrical circuitry within said housing and incorporating said potential means and said sensible device, and differential gas pressure means for thermal activation of said circuitry when said apparatus is subjected to a temperature change in a liquid environment, thereby causing the operation of said sensible device;
said differential gas pressure means comprising means for thermally creating a suction within said housing; and
a conduit communicating between said suctioncreating means and said potential means and the liquid environment, said conduit forming a path for liquid to be sucked into said apparatus.
2. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein:
said conduit comprises a portion in which is situated a porous battery electrode separator means.
3. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein:
said sensible means is a flasher light and wherein said housing is formed of a translucent material.
4. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein:
said housing includes a relatively large air space and forms means to conduct heat from said air space to contract said pressurizing gas, thereby creating suction and causing the contact of said liquid and said circuitry.
5. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein:
said difierential gas pressure means includes a relatively large air compartment and a potential means compartment within said housing communicating through a conduit and apertures to the exterior thereof, air pressure therein dropping at reduced temperature to pull liquid into said apertures and into said potential means compartment.
6. A process for operating a sensible device isolated within a liquid comprising the steps of:
providing said device with a gas-filled compartment in thermal communication with the environment; providing a liquid-actuatable energy-source within said device; and
causing liquid to be moved to said energy source by thermally changing the pressure of said gas.
7. An electrically actuated, illuminated object, immersible in a beverage container, said object comprismg:
a housing, freely movable within, and unconnected to, said beverage container, said housing including a low cost flasher-type light bulb, a silver chloridemagnesium plate battery, circuit means electrically connecting said battery to said bulb, and differential gas pressure means including an orifice connecting said battery to the exterior of said housing;
contraction 0 air in said chamber.
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