Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a device for sealing a
package, use of the device for indicating which product the package holds, and a
method for sterilisation, filling and sealing of the package.
What is referred to as aseptic filling of food packages
with foods, such as dairy products, juices etc, is complicated due to great cleanliness
requirements for both package material and filling equipment. Normally, a relative
risk in the range of one to ten thousand is acceptable, which means that of ten
thousand packages that are being filled, at most one package is allowed to be contaminated
by, for example, microorganisms.
A known package type and principle for aseptic filling
is represented by the system Tetra Brik Aseptic® which is sold by
Tetra Pak. In this system, a package material is sterilised by being exposed to
H2O2 and hot air. This is done when the package material has
been formed to a tube and is ready for filling. Before the sterilising phase, extensive
washing with, for instance, acid and lye must be performed.
However, the beverage market seeks to attain health, convenience
and innovation. In the dairy sector new types of products are introduced all the
time. Therefore differentiation of products including packages is most important
for a product to survive on the market. As a result aseptic plastic bottles, above
all PET bottles, are in increasing demand. PET bottles are gas-tight and easy to
open and close and thus satisfy current consumer requirements for health and convenience.
If the opening of the bottle is kept constant, the shape and volume of the bottle
can easily be varied, which allows differentiation.
Aseptic bottling machines are very bulky, complicated and
expensive due to the high sanitary requirements that are placed on the package material.
The bottles and caps must be rinsed, disinfected and sterilised. Due to the complexity,
the machine is installed in separate clean rooms. The operator can either move around
in this clean room or merely by means of flexible gloves use his arms to touch the
necessary functions in the clean room or in the machine. If a stoppage occurs in
an aseptic bottling machine and lasts for quite a while, resterilisation must be
performed. Every unnecessary stoppage or any other interruption causes an increased
risk of contamination and increased production costs and should thus be prevented
as far as possible.
discloses a method and a device for sterilising a bottle before filling
the bottle with a product. In the described device, UV radiation is used to transform
oxygen to ozone at the filling station. The ozone flows into the bottle and thus
sterilises it. The bottle is then immediately filled with a desired product and
sealed. An excimer lamp is used as UV radiation source.
The device disclosed in
has the advantage that it need not be installed in a sterile clean room.
Instead the clean room is reduced to comprise only the interior of the bottle which
is sterilised with ozone immediately before filling, so that the bottle is not allowed
to be contaminated between sterilisation and filling. A drawback of this device
and method is, however, that the ozone can react with the product when the ozone
is extracted from the product. Thus the quality of the product may be deteriorated,
which for instance may result in the product getting an unpleasant taste. Also remaining
ozone residues in the bottle after filling can react with the product and result
themselves in a certain unpleasant taste. After a while the ozone residues decompose
into oxygen. If the product contains, for instance, fatty acids that turn rancid
by oxygen, such ozone residues are devastating to the shelf-life of the product.
After filling a package with a product, the package is
to be sealed. Since also sealing is a technically complicated process, the filled
package is usually conveyed to a separate sealing machine which puts a threaded
screw stopper or a cap on the package if it is a bottle and applies a lid by bending
or shrinking if the package is a can. Also in these cases it is difficult to provide
sterile environmental conditions at a reasonable cost. Sealing must be sterile and
the filled package should not be allowed to be contaminated between filling and
discloses a method for aseptic filling of a bottle, or a can, in which
a separate mechanical seal is used to fill and seal the bottle, in addition to a
manual seal that is intended to be handled by the consumer. The mechanical seal
is easy to apply to the bottle and thus is said to reduce the risk of contamination
and the technical complexity in sealing.
In some of the variants described, the mechanical seal
can be incorporated in an extra opening in the wall of the bottle, in addition to
the ordinary opening that is used by the consumer. The mechanical seal and the extra
opening are only intended for sterilisation and filling of the bottle, and thus
add to additional production costs and an increased risk of contamination of the
product unless the final seal of the extra opening is one hundred percent tight.
Moreover the bottle is aesthetically affected by the extra opening and the seal.
A further variant of the mechanical seal as shown in
is inserted in the ordinary opening before filling, after which a manual
seal, such as a screw stopper or a cap, is put on top of the mechanical seal. In
this case the mechanical seal is still left in the opening of the bottle when the
bottle reaches the consumer, and must thus be removed by the consumer or be provided
with hooks or the like so as to accompany the manual seal when this is removed from
In one more variant disclosed in
, the mechanical seal consists of a tubular part of the manual seal, said
tubular part being pressed together and thus closed after filling of the bottle.
This variant of a mechanical seal thus projects from the manual seal in a manner
which, inter alia, deteriorates the stackability of the bottle.
Summary of the Invention
An object of the present invention is to provide an improved
method for sterilisation of a package.
Another object of the invention is to provide an alternative
device for sealing a package, said device allowing improved sterilisation of the
To achieve these and other objects, a device for sealing
a package is provided, as defined in claim 1, a method for sterilisation, filling
and sealing of a package, as defined in claim 10, and use of a device according
to claim 1, as defined in claim 22. Preferred embodiments of the present invention
are defined in the dependent claims.
More specifically, according to one aspect of the present
invention a device for sealing a package comprises a peripheral part adapted to
be mechanically connected to the package round an opening in the package, said peripheral
part comprising a passage for internal sterilisation of the package and filling
of the package with a product after connecting the peripheral part to the package.
The inventive device further comprises a separate upper part for permanent gas-tight
sealing of the passage, said upper part being adapted to fit tightly against and
form a unit with the peripheral part.
By "unit" is here meant something that constitutes a single
physical object and that is not intended to be divided into two or more separate
objects or parts. Preferably the surface of the peripheral part evenly passes into
the surface of the upper part, thus preventing sharp edges or joints between these
With a device according to the present invention, improved
sterilisation of a package can be provided by said peripheral part having a passage
that allows internal sterilisation of the package and filling of the package with
a product after connecting the peripheral part to the package. Thus, simultaneous
sterilisation of both the interior of the package and the interior of the peripheral
part of the sealing device can be performed using, for example, ozone, after which
the package is filled and given a final seal in the form of said separate upper
part. The risk of contamination and the technical complexity in the final sealing
can thus be reduced by the separate upper part being designed to be applied in a
simple way by, for instance, being pressed together with the peripheral part which
is already positioned on the package.
Since the peripheral part is mechanically connected to
the package, this seal can be used by the consumer to open and reclose the package.
The inventive device also solves the above problems with
the different variants of a mechanical seal as disclosed in
First, no extra opening is required to fill the package
since the passage in the peripheral part of the inventive device is used for this
purpose. Instead of the mechanical seal according to
, a temporary seal can be used, which can be made still simpler as part
of the sterilising and/or filling machine or in the form of, for example, a foil
matching the peripheral part of the device.
Second, no separate mechanical seal is left in the opening
of the package that must be removed by the consumer. If a foil is used for temporary
sealing, this may, however, be left together with peripheral part of the device
just under said upper part without being a nuisance to the consumer.
Third, problems with reduced stackability and deteriorated
appearance of the finished package as a whole can be avoided by the present invention
since the final seal is established by said upper part that forms a unit with the
peripheral part. The upper part and the peripheral part can together form, for instance,
the shape of a conventional screw stopper for a bottle where the peripheral part
comprises the threads of the screw stopper.
In one embodiment of the present invention, said upper
part is coloured and/or shaped to facilitate recognition of said product among other
products in similar packages. The market today requires different colours of seals,
such as screw stops, caps etc, in order to allow differentiation of packaged products.
Seals in different colours result in a large amount of manual handling, which in
turn has a negative sanitary effect. In this embodiment of the invention, differentiation
in terms of colour and shape can be provided by only the upper part of the sealing
device being changed. The manual handling can be reduced, inter alia, by the complexity
in the final sealing being reduced. Instead of final sealing taking place by, for
example, a conventional screw stopper being put on the package using a turning device
and other mechanically complicated equipment in a clean room environment, in which
case the complicated equipment is difficult to keep sterile and operating troubles
easily may arise, the final sealing according to this embodiment can take place
by the upper part of the device being easily pressed together with the peripheral
part which is already fixed to the package. Upper parts, which advantageously are
symmetrically formed, can easily be fed in tubes to the "pressing-together device",
which need not be very complicated and thus is more reliable and easier to keep
sterile. The peripheral part, which for instance may constitute "the threaded part"
of an ordinary screw stopper, can be screwed onto the package outside the clean
room area by means of equipment that does not have to satisfy the same sterility
In one embodiment of the invention, the package is a bottle.
In another embodiment, the package is a can. However, the package could be any type
of package, for instance also a cardboard box or a bag.
In one embodiment, the peripheral part may comprise a cylindrical
part for surrounding an outer partial surface of said package round said opening.
The cylindrical part may be, for example, the "side part" of a stopper or cap.
In another embodiment, said peripheral part comprises threads.
A typical example of such a peripheral part is the threaded side part of a screw
stopper. In yet another embodiment, the peripheral part comprises a snap means,
i.e. a means by which the peripheral part can be fixed round the opening in the
package by "snapping" or hooking into the package.
In another embodiment, said peripheral part comprises an
upper side for said package, in which upper side a passage is formed for internal
sterilisation and filling of the package. Such an upper side can typically be the
"lid" for an aluminium can for example.
In one embodiment of the invention, said peripheral part
is form-fit so as to fit tightly against a closing means for temporary partial closing
of said passage during said internal sterilisation of the package. By this form-fit
to an external closing means, pollutants coming from the outside can as far as possible
be prevented from penetrating into the package during the sterilising phase. The
temporary closing means covers the passage "partially" in the sense that there should
still be one or more openings, for instance, for sterilising gas to enter or leave.
Such a temporary closing means can also be used during the filling phase.
In a special embodiment, said peripheral part comprises
a penetratable foil arranged over said passage. The penetratable foil can be very
easy to manufacture and apply and functions as the above-mentioned temporary closing
means by covering the passage of the peripheral part. When, for example, sterilising
gas is to be supplied to the package, a supply tube can be inserted through the
penetratable foil, the passage otherwise still being essentially completely covered
by the foil.
In one embodiment of the invention, said upper part is
made of the same base material as said peripheral part, so that, for example, welding
together of the different parts is facilitated.
According to another aspect of the present invention a
method for sterilisation, filling and sealing of a package comprises the steps of
connecting a peripheral part of a sealing device to the package round an opening
in the package, sterilising said package internally through a passage in said peripheral
part, filling the package with a product through the passage, and sealing the package
in a gas-tight manner by sealing the passage permanently by means of a separate
upper part for said sealing device.
The inventive method makes it possible to reduce the "clean
room" to comprise only the compartment or volume of the package, which gives great
advantages, such as saving in costs and reduced complexity compared with conventional
systems where the entire sterilising and filling machine is installed in a clean
room environment, or has such an environment. The sterilising and filling machine
can thus also be made smaller in terms of volume.
A further advantage of the inventive method is that the
peripheral part of the sealing device, which peripheral part may consist of, for
instance, the threaded side part of a screw stopper, can be sterilised by the present
invention simultaneously with the interior of the package. This makes the entire
sealing process easier - for instance the sanitary requirements in connection with
transport and sealing are reduced. In this way the production costs can be further
reduced by the inventive method.
According to one embodiment of the invention, said step
of sterilising said package further comprises the steps of introducing a sterilising
gas into the package through said passage, and extracting the sterilising gas by
introducing a heavier extraction gas through the passage. This embodiment solves
the problem mentioned by way of introduction, i.e. that the sterilising gas, for
instance in the form of ozone, can react with the product if the ozone is extracted
from the product. Instead the sterilising gas is extracted by means of another heavier
gas, which preferably is inert and thus does not react with the product. A heavier
gas can also, both before and after filling of the package with the product, stay
in the package and act as a lid preventing pollutants from entering.
It will be appreciated that this method of sterilising
a package, that is to say by means of a sterilising gas and an extraction gas, is
not restricted to sterilisation of packages which are sealed by a sealing device
comprising a peripheral part and an upper part, but could also be used for sterilisation
of any package. The above advantages of using the extraction gas could thus be used
independently of the present invention. A method for sterilisation, filling and
sealing of a package could comprise the steps of introducing a sterilising gas into
the package, extracting the sterilising gas by introducing a heavier extraction
gas into the package, filling the package with a product, and sealing the package
in a gas-tight manner.
According to another embodiment of the invention, the method
further comprises the step of letting said sterilising gas act for a predetermined
time in said package, thus ensuring effective sterilisation of the interior of the
package. The predetermined time is preferably between one and ten seconds for a
package volume up to 10 litres.
In another embodiment, the method further comprises the
step of giving said sterilising gas an overpressure in said package relative to
the ambient gas pressure. In this manner, pollutants from the environment can be
prevented still more effectively from penetrating into the package while at the
same time the sterilising gas is made to penetrate deeper into the package material,
and for instance also penetrate deeper between the threads of the peripheral part
when this is in the form of a screw stopper.
In one embodiment, said sterilising gas contains ozone.
In a further embodiment it contains hydrogen peroxide.
According to another embodiment of the invention, the method
further comprises the step of giving said extraction gas an overpressure in said
package relative to the ambient gas pressure. Just as mentioned above regarding
the sterilising gas, also the extraction gas can in this way still more effectively
prevent pollutants from the environment from penetrating into the package.
Said extraction gas contains in one embodiment nitrogen
gas, a relatively heavy gas which also is comparatively inert.
In one embodiment of the invention, the method further
comprises the step of closing said passage temporarily and partially during said
step of internally sterilising said package. This too prevents pollutants from penetrating
into the package.
In a further embodiment, the method also comprises the
step of sterilising said upper part separately before said step of sealing the package
in a gas-tight manner. As a result, the final seal can by means of the upper part
be made sterile and at the same time simple.
The step of sterilising the upper part separately comprises
according to one embodiment sterilisation of the upper part by means of ozone and/or
hydrogen peroxide, both gases being effective for this purpose.
Another aspect of the present invention relates to use
of a device according to claim 1 for indicating which product a package holds, wherein
said upper part is given a colour and/or shape that allows said indication. As mentioned
above, the market requires different colours of seals in order to facilitate differentiation
of packaged products. This use of the invention makes it possible to provide differentiation
in terms of both colour and shape in a simple way.
Brief Description of the Drawings
Currently preferred embodiments of the invention will now
be described in more detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which
Description of Preferred Embodiments
- Fig. 1 is a schematic perspective view of a device shown in cross-section for
sealing a package according to an embodiment of the present invention, said device
comprising a peripheral part and a separate upper part;
- Figs 2-10 illustrate schematically a method according to an embodiment of the
present invention for sterilisation, filling and sealing of a package, in which
the device according to Fig. 1 is used;
- Figs 11-15 schematically show a method according to another embodiment of the
present invention for sterilisation, filling and sealing of a package;
- Figs 16-18 schematically show a method according to yet another embodiment of
the present invention for sterilisation, filling and sealing of a package;
- Fig. 19 is a schematic perspective view of a device shown in cross-section for
sealing of a package according to another embodiment of the invention, said device
comprising a peripheral part and a separate upper part;
- Fig. 20 is a schematic perspective view of the device in Fig. 19 arranged on
a bottle shown in cross-section; and
- Fig. 21 is a schematic perspective view of a device for sealing a package according
to yet another embodiment of the invention arranged on a package in the form of
Fig. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a device for sealing
a package according to the present invention. The device comprises a peripheral
part 10 to be mechanically connected to the package round an opening in the package.
The mechanical interconnection is provided in this embodiment by means of threads
of the peripheral part which are adapted to run in threads of the package. The device
further comprises a separate upper part 11 which is designed to match the peripheral
part 10. The peripheral part 10 has a passage 12 which by means of the upper part
11 is sealed in a gas-tight manner when this, for instance by being pressed into
the passage 12, is joined to the peripheral part 10. The "gas seal" can possibly
be improved, for example, by gluing in, or welding of, the joint between the peripheral
part 10 and the upper part 11.
The upper part 11 matches the peripheral part 10 in such
a manner that both parts together form a "unit", in this case in the form of a conventional
screw stopper for a bottle. This "unit" can also form a "snap-on cap", that is to
say a cap which, when pressed onto the opening of the package, hooks or "snaps"
onto the opening, a lid, a top etc. Examples of packages for which the inventive
sealing device can be used are bottles, such as PET bottles or glass bottles, cans
such as aluminium cans, cardboard boxes, bags etc.
By means of the passage 12, the package can be sterilised
while at the same time the peripheral part 10 is joined to the package round the
opening of the package. How this is done will be described in more detail below.
Figs 2-10 illustrate step by step a method for sterilisation,
filling and sealing of a package according to one embodiment of the invention. The
method uses the inventive sealing device, in this case the embodiment of the device
as shown in Fig. 1.
Fig. 2 shows in a first step a peripheral part 10 screwed
onto a package in the form of a bottle 13. The passage 12 of the peripheral part
10 coincides with the ordinary opening of the bottle 13 so that sterilisation of
the interior of the bottle and filling of the bottle with a product can be performed
through the passage/opening after fixing the peripheral part 10 to the bottle. The
final sealing then occurs by means of the upper part 11, which can be fastened simply
by pressure being applied instead of by a more complicated screwing process. This
is advantageous since it is difficult to satisfy the sanitary requirements after
filling if the final sealing is complicated.
Fig. 3 shows in a second step how a temporary closing means,
here in the form of a lid 14 which is form-fit and fits tightly against the peripheral
part 10 and has a groove 14a, has been fixed over the upper circular edge of the
peripheral part 10. This closing means, which preferably is made of a flexible material,
is used for partial closing of the passage 12 during the subsequent internal sterilisation
and filling of the package.
Fig. 4 shows in a third step how a tube 15 for sterilisation
has been pressed down through the groove 14a of the lid 14. A sterilising gas, here
in the form of ozone (O3), is injected through an inner tube 15a of the
tube 15 into the bottle 13, while at the same time the air that was present in the
bottle from the beginning is pressed out through an outer tube 15b of the tube 15.
In this way, effective sterilisation of the interior of the entire bottle is performed.
Instead of, or in combination with, ozone, hydrogen peroxide H2O2
or some other suitable gas or gas composition can be used for sterilisation.
Fig. 5 shows how the tube 15 has been removed to allow
the sterilising gas to act in the bottle 13 for a while. The flexible groove 14a
in the lid 14 then fits relatively tightly so that further pollutants do not enter
into the bottle during sterilisation. The time in which the sterilising gas is allowed
to act is preferably predetermined to be between one and ten seconds for a bottle
volume up to 10 litres, or more preferably between eight and ten seconds. The time
is dependent on the volume of the bottle/package - the greater the volume, the longer
the time of action.
By the peripheral part 10 of the seal already being connected
to the bottle 13 before the internal sterilisation of the bottle, simultaneous sterilisation
of part of inside of the peripheral part is performed. In this embodiment, the peripheral
part 10 comprises the "thread part" of a cap. The sterilising gas can penetrate
between the threads of the bottle 13 and the peripheral part 10 from the inside
of the bottle in the opening thereof, down to the point where the threads fit perfectly
gas-tight against each other.
The sterilising gas is preferably given a certain overpressure
relative to the ambient gas pressure/atmospheric pressure, so that further pollutants
from the environment are prevented from penetrating into the bottle 13 during sterilisation.
The overpressure also makes it possible for the sterilising gas to penetrate with
greater force into the mechanical interconnection, here the threads, between the
peripheral part 10 and the bottle 13, thereby ensuring the sterility of the inside
of the seal towards the bottle.
Fig. 6 shows how another, or the same, tube 15 has again
been pressed down through the groove 14a, this time to introduce a heavier extraction
gas into the bottle 13 through the inner tube 15a for extracting the sterilising
gas from the bottle through the outer tube 15b. The extraction gas is a relatively
heavy gas which is at least heavier than the sterilising gas and preferably also
heavier than the ambient air. The extraction gas is advantageously also inert, that
is to say not reactive so that any residues of the extraction gas do not react with
the product so as to deteriorate the same. The extraction gas contains preferably
nitrogen gas (N2), but some other gas or gas composition, such as carbon
dioxide (CO2), can also be used to extract the sterilising gas.
If the sterilising gas contains ozone, the extracted ozone
can advantageously be decomposed by a catalyst (not shown).
By the extraction gas being a relatively heavy gas, it
also acts as a temporary seal both before and after filling of the bottle 13 with
the product by staying in the bottle as a lid and in this way preventing more or
less contaminated air from penetrating into the bottle.
It is preferably ensured that the extraction gas, just
like the sterilising gas, has a certain overpressure relative to the ambient gas
pressure/atmospheric pressure, so that, from the moment of introducing the extraction
gas into the bottle 13, gas is continuously let out of the bottle, whereby it is
made still more difficult for ambient pollutants to penetrate into the bottle. After
filling the bottle 13 with the product, a certain amount of extraction gas will
still stay in the opening of the bottle as a lid over the product, which thus also
in the final sealing with the upper part 11 can to some extent prevent contamination.
Figs 7 and 8 illustrate the next step of this embodiment
of the method, in which the temporary closing means in the form of the lid 14 is
removed from the peripheral part 10 and the bottle 13 by the tube 15 being pulled
upwards, while at the same time the inner tube 15a is moved upwards in the outer
tube 15b so that a ball forms in the lower part of the tube 15. This ball is such
as not to force its way through the groove 14a when the tube 15 is pulled upwards,
and instead presses the lid 14 upwards and away from the peripheral part 10. After
removal of the lid 14, the extraction gas stays in the bottle 13 as a temporary
seal as described above to prevent pollutants from penetrating into the bottle.
Fig. 9 shows the next step of the method, in which filling
of the bottle 13 with the product through the passage 12 occurs. A filling pipe
16 is moved down through the passage 12, through which filling pipe the product
is made to flow. Most of the extraction gas is pressed out by the product through
the gap between the peripheral part 10 and the filling pipe 16, but some extraction
gas stays in the bottle as an insulating cover over the product in the bottle.
Filling preferably occurs in a clean room environment.
The present invention allows use of filling machines that are available on the market.
A simpler sterilising machine which operates according to the inventive method and
which thus does not need to comprise a clean room environment, can be assembled
to the existing filling machine so that the packages immediately after sterilisation
enter the clean room environment of the filling machine to be filled.
Fig. 10 shows the last step of the method, in which the
bottle 13 is sealed in a gas-tight manner by the passage 12 being permanently sealed
by means of the separate upper part 11 of the sealing device. The upper part 11
is joined to the peripheral part 10 in a simple manner by being pressed down over
and/or into the passage 12. The sealing can possibly be improved by gluing or welding
of the joint between the upper part 11 and the peripheral part 10.
Before the upper part 11 is pressed onto the peripheral
part 10 for final sealing of the bottle 13, the upper part is sterilised separately,
for instance by means of ozone, hydrogen peroxide, a mixture of these or other gases,
plus optionally hot air.
The final sealing of the bottle 13, by applying the upper
part 11, preferably also occurs in the clean room environment of the filling machine
in order to minimise the risk of contamination. In the cases where it possibly appears
difficult to modify, or integrate, a machine for sealing in the filling machine,
a separate machine for the final sealing can, however, be arranged in direct connection
to the filling machine.
Figs 11-15 illustrate more briefly the corresponding steps
of another embodiment of a method for sterilisation, filling and sealing of a package.
In this embodiment of the method, a slightly different form of sealing device according
to the invention is used.
As shown in Fig. 11, the peripheral part 20 of the sealing
device has a circular groove 20a for receiving a temporary closing means in the
form of a foil 24, either before or after applying the peripheral part 20 to the
package, here the bottle 23.
In Fig. 12, the foil 24 is shown to be arranged in the
groove 20a, where the foil acts as a temporary closure during sterilisation and
filling to prevent ambient pollutants from penetrating into the bottle 23.
Fig. 13 shows how tubes 25a and 25b have been inserted
through the foil 24 to supply and extract gases during sterilisation. Like in the
previously described embodiment, a sterilising gas, such as ozone, can be supplied
in a first step to the bottle 23 through the tube 25a, thereby pressing air out
through the tube 25b, and in a second step an extraction gas, such as nitrogen gas,
can be supplied through the tube 25a, whereby the sterilising gas is pressed out
through the tube 25b.
Fig. 14 shows a filling pipe 26 inserted in the opening
of the bottle 23 through the foil 24. A product is supplied through the filling
pipe 26 and presses out most of the extraction gas through gaps between the outside
of the filling pipe 26 and the foil 24.
Fig. 15 shows how an upper part 21 after filling has been
pressed against the peripheral part 20 so that the two parts together form a tight
fitting cap, which is intended to be screwed and unscrewed by a consumer. The penetrated
foil 24 can be left in the cap, just under the upper part 21, without being a nuisance
to the consumer.
Figs 16-18 illustrate still more briefly the corresponding
steps according to yet another embodiment of a method for sterilisation, filling
and sealing of a package. In this embodiment of the method, use is made of a temporary
closing means 34 which is part of a sterilising head of a sterilising machine and
which comprises tubes 35a and 35b for supply and extraction of sterilising gas etc.
Fig. 16 illustrates a bottle 33 on which a peripheral part
30 of a sealing device according to an embodiment of the invention is arranged.
The peripheral part 30 has a frustoconical upper edge for receiving the temporary
closing means 34 and subsequent fitting to an upper part (not shown, but can have
a shape corresponding to the shape of the closing means 34).
Fig. 17 illustrates the sterilising head with the temporary
closing means 34 and the tubes 35a and 35b for supply of a sterilising gas and,
after a while, an extraction gas, and extraction of air and subsequently the sterilising
Fig. 18 illustrates a filling pipe 36 inserted in the opening
of the bottle 33 for filling the bottle with a product, after which the bottle is
finally sealed by the upper part (not shown) being pressed onto the peripheral part
The method of extracting the sterilising gas by a heavier
extraction gas, in order to remove, for instance, residues of the reactive sterilising
gas and obtain a protective "gas cover", can advantageously also be used in sterilisation
of a package although the inventive sealing device is not used. A method for sterilisation,
filling and sealing of a package may comprise the steps of introducing a sterilising
gas into the package, extracting the sterilising gas by introducing a heavier extraction
gas into the package, filling the package with a product, and sealing the package
in a gas-tight manner. Preferably, the extraction gas is inert. It may contain nitrogen
gas, carbon dioxide or some other gas or gas composition, while the sterilising
gas may contain ozone, hydrogen peroxide or some other suitable gas or gas composition.
The sterilising gas is preferably allowed to act for a predetermined time in the
package, which time can be, for example, between one and ten seconds for a package
volume up to ten litres. It is preferably ensured that both the sterilising gas
and the extraction gas have an overpressure in the package relative to the ambient
gas pressure. The opening of the package can advantageously be closed temporarily
during sterilisation and filling.
Fig. 19 shows another embodiment of a device for sealing
a package according to the present invention. In this device, the peripheral part
40 has the same design as the peripheral part 10 in Fig. 1 while the upper part
41 has a rounded shape that surrounds the peripheral part 40. This is an example
of how the upper part of the device can be given a different shape, for instance,
in order to differentiate a product on the market from other products. By providing
packages for different products with different upper parts, which can differ not
only in shape but also in colour, differentiation in terms of shape and colour can
be provided by the sealing device although the peripheral part has one and the same
appearance for all the different products.
Fig. 20 shows the device in Fig. 19, comprising the peripheral
part 40 and the upper part 41, arranged on a bottle 43.
In the above-described examples, the package, for which
the inventive sealing device is intended to be used, is of the type PET bottle,
but the device, and also the inventive method, is also applicable to other types
of packages such as plastic bottles of a different type, glass bottles, cans, cardboard
boxes, bags etc.
Fig. 21 shows an example of the appearance of an inventive
sealing device for a can, such as an aluminium can. In this embodiment, the device
comprises a peripheral part 50 with a passage 52, which peripheral part surrounds
the upper edge of a cylindrical can 53 and forms a lid for the can 53. An upper
part 51 is used to provide a gas-tight final sealing of the passage 52 of the peripheral
It will be appreciated that modifications of the above-described
devices and methods can be made by those skilled in the art, without departing from
the spirit and scope of the invention.