Submitted to: Patent Application
Publication Type: Patent application
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/20/2004
Publication Date: 7/27/2004
Citation: US Patent 6,766,612 Interpretive Summary: This invention provides practical and economical apparatus and method to create and maintain vacuum conditions on boxed commodities for pest control and/or hypobaric storage. Fumigation under vacuum is more effective in controlling insects than fumigation at normal atmosphere. Hypobaric storage may also extend shelf life of fresh agricultural commodities. This invention relies on a rigid shell formed with rigid panels or sheets over a stack of boxes. An impermeable envelope covers and seals the stack of boxes with the shell. Vacuum conditions are created by drawing vacuum through inlet(s) on the envelope. The inward pressure created by vacuum is distributed to the metrics of box walls and thereby integrity of the stack and individual boxes is maintained.
Technical Abstract: This invention is directed to a practical and economical apparatus and method to create vacuum (hypobaric) conditions for pest control and/or storage of agricultural commodities contained in cartons or boxes. A stack of cartons containing commodities is covered with rigid or semi-rigid panels or sheets that are strong enough to resist bending under vacuum. The shell formed by the panels or sheets is then covered within an impermeable envelope, made from plastic or other materials that can be sealed from the atmosphere. The envelope has one or more inlets for fumigants or gases to enter or to be evacuated. Vacuum conditions are created and maintained in the envelope. The inward pressure of vacuum on the carton surface is distributed to the supporting matrix of carton walls, thereby maintaining the integrity of both the carton stack as well as the individual cartons under vacuum conditions. Fumigants may be introduced under vacuum conditions for pest control. Commodities may be stored under vacuum conditions to extend shelf life.