Title of Invention

UNIT FOR STERILIZING WEB-FED MATERIAL ON A MACHINE FOR PACKAGING POURABLE FOOD PRODUCTS

Abstract A unit for sterilizing a web (2) of packaging material on a machine (1) for packaging pourable food products, the unit having a bath (7) containing a sterilizing agent, in which the web (2) is fed continuously; a process chamber (8) connected to an outlet (12) of the bath (7), and which houses wringing rollers (18) interacting with the web (2), and a nozzle (22) for directing a stream of air on to the web (2) and removing residual sterilizing agent from the web; an aseptic chamber (25) communicating with the process chamber (8) via an opening (27) for passage of the web (2), and in which the web (2) is folded and sealed longitudinally to form a tube (29) which is filled continuously with the product for packaging; and an air processing circuit (24) for controlling process conditions, and having a conduit (56) for feeding a first stream of sterile air into the aseptic chamber (25), a conduit (54) for feeding a second stream of sterile air to the nozzle (22) and housing a heater (69) for controlling the temperature of the air supplied to the nozzle (22), and a distributor for regulating the two streams of air.
Full Text UNIT FOR STERILIZING WEB-FED MATERIAL ON A MACHINE FOR PACKAGING POURABLE FOOD PRODUCTS
TECHNICAL FIELD
The present invention relates to a unit for sterilizing web-fed material on a machine for packaging pourable food products.
BACKGROUND ART
Machines for packaging pourable food products - such as fruit juice, wine, tomato sauce, pasteurized or long-storage (UHT) milk, etc. - are known, on which packages are formed from a continuous tube of packaging material defined by a longitudinally sealed web.
The packaging material has a multilayer structure comprising a layer of paper material covered on both sides with layers of heat-seal material, e.g. polyethylene. And, in the case of aseptic packages for long-storage products, e.g. UHT milk, the packaging material comprises a layer of barrier material defined, for example, by aluminiuim foil, and which is superimposed on a layer of heat-seal plastic material, and is in turn covered with another layer of heat-seal plastic material
CONFIRMATION COPY

eventually defining the inner face of the package and therefore contacting the food product.
To produce aseptic packages, the web of packaging material is unwound off a reel and fed through a
5 sterilizing unit, in which it is sterilized, for example, by immersion in a bath of liquid sterilizing agent, such as a concentrated hydrogen peroxide and water solution.
More specifically, the sterilizing unit comprises a bath filled, in use, with the sterilizing agent, into
) which the web is fed continuously. The bath conveniently conqprises two vertical parallel branches connected at the bottom to define a TJ-shaped path long enough to ensure the packaging material is treated for a sufficient length of time. For effective treatment in a relatively short time, and therefore to reduce the size of the sterilizing chamber, the sterilizing agent must be maintained at a high temperature, e.g. around 70°C.
The sterilizing unit also comprises a process chamber located over the bath, and in which the web of packaging material is dried; and an aseptic chamber, in which the web is folded and sealed longitudinally to fonn a tube, which is then filled continuously with the product for packaging.
More specifically, in the process chamber, the web is processed to remove any residual sterilizing agent, the acceptable amount of which in the packaged product is governed by strict standards (the maximum permissible amount being in the region of a few fractions of a part

per million).
Such processing normally comprises mechanical removal of any drops on the material, followed by air drying. 5 The drops may be removed, for example, by feeding the material through a pair of wringing rollers conveniently located close to the process chamber inlet, and downstream from which the material is still covered with a film of sterilizing agent, but has no macroscopic I drops.
Drying may be performed by directing jets of sterile air on to the material.
Before leaving the aseptic chamber, the web is folded into a cylinder and sealed longitudinally to form, in known manner, a continuous, longitudinally sealed, vertical tube. In other words, the tiibe of packaging material forms an extension of the aseptic chamber, and is filled continuously with the pourable food product and then fed to a forming and (transverse) sealing unit for forming the individual packages, and on which the tube is gripped and sealed transversely between pairs of jaws to form aseptic pillow packs.
The pillow packs are separated by cutting the seals between the packs, and are then fed to a final folding station where they are folded mechanically into the finished shape.
Packaging machines of the above type are used widely and satisfactorily in a wide range of food industries for

producing aseptic packages from web-fed packaging material. Performance of the sterilizing unit, in particular, ensures ample conformance with standards governing sterility of the packages and the amount of residual sterilizing agent.
A need for further improvement, however, is felt within the industry itself, particularly as regards temperature control of the air used to dry the packaging material web in the sterilizing unit.
Tests have shown, in fact, that, besides drying the web, localized hot-air treatment at the outlet of the sterilizing agent bath synergically improves the effectiveness of the sterilizing agent.
In known machines, the pressure and temperature conditions in the process and aseptic chambers are normally controlled by a closed air processing circuit, which draws air from the process chamber and feeds it back into the aseptic chamber, the temperature of which is controlled by a sensor. The airstream directed on to the packaging material may be generated by "air knives" supplied with air from the sterile chamber, e.g. by means of a recirculating conduit, as described in EP-A-1 050 467.
Since, in this solution, the temperature of the air supplied by the air knives cannot be regulated independently, a process parameter balance designed to simultaneously optimize drying and sterilising efficiency ("killing rate") is extremely difficult to achieve.

in an alternative known solution, drying is performed in a low drying channel, through which the material is fed from the process chamber into the aseptic chamber. In this case, too, however, there is no independent adjustment of the air temperature inside the drying chsinnel.
Another problem connected with poor temperature control of the air fed into the aseptic chamber is the risk, in certain operating conditions, of overheating the packaging material, thus resulting in "blistering" between the layers.
DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION
It is an object of the present invention to provide a unit for sterilizing packaging material, designed to eliminate the aforementioned drawbacks typically associated with known units.
According to the present invention, there is provided a sterilising tinit for sterilizing a web of packaging material on a machine for packaging pourable food products, the sterilizing unit comprising:
a bath containing a sterilising agent, in which said web is fed continuously;
an aseptic environment comprising a process chamber connected to an outlet of said bath and housing drying means for removing residual sterilizing agent from said web; and an aseptic chamber convmuni eating with said process chamber via an opening for the passage of said web, and in which said web is folded and sealed

longitudinally to form a tube which is filled continuously with the product for packaging,-
said drying means comprising at least one nozzle for directing a stream of sterile air on to said web; and
aui air processing circuit for controlling the process conditions in said aseptic environment, and comprising suction means for drawing air from said process chamber; and air processing means comprising first heating means, and first supply means for feeding sterile air into said aseptic chamber;
characterized by comprising second supply means for supplying sterile air from said air processing means to said nozzle; and second heating meems associated with said second supply means and for controlling the temperature of the air supplied to said nozzle.
The temperature of the air fed into the aseptic chamber and the air emitted by the nozzle to dry the web can therefore be controlled effectively and independently in any operating condition to achieve optimum drying and sterilization with no risk of damaging the packaging material by exposing it to excessively hot air.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, valve means are provided to connect the first supply means and second supply means adjustably to the air processing means, so that the sterile air fed into the aseptic environment can be distributed differently between the aseptic chamber and the nozzle, depending on the operating stage of the machine, to operate in optimum

pressure conditions at all times.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
A preferred, non-liniiting embodiment of the present invention will be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
Figure l shows a diagram of a machine for packaging pourable food products and featuring a sterilizing \init in accordance with the invention;
Figures 2 and 3 show schematic partial sections of the sterilizing unit according to the invention in two different operating conditions;
Figure 4 shows a view in perspective of a distributor for controlling airflow to the sterilizing unit;
Figure 5 shows a view in perspective, with parts removed for clarity, of the Figure 4 distributor;
Figures 6^ 7, 8, 9 and 10 show various positions of the distributor in different operating conditions of the machine.
BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
Number 1 in Figure 1 indicates as a whole a machine for packaging pourable food products, and for continuously producing aseptic packages of a pourable food product from a web-fed packaging material 2 (hereinafter referred to simply as "web 2").
Machine 1 comprises a sterilizing unit 3 for sterilizing web 2, and to which web 2 is "fed off a reel (not shown) along a path Pi.

Machine 1 also comprises a unit 4, located upstream from sterilizing unit 3, for applying closable opening devices 5 to web 2, and which is conveniently defined by a known station for injection molding plastic material, and through which web 2 is fed in steps. On leaving unit 4, the web comprises a succession of equally spaced opening devices 5 (shown schematically in Figure 1 on only a portion of web 2) projecting from one face of web 2 - in the example shown, the bottom face.
Sterilizing unit 3 comprises a transition chamber 6, into which web 2 is first fed; a sterilizing bath 7 containing a liquid sterilizing agent, e.g. a solution of 30!r hydrogen peroxide (HjOa) and water, through which web 2 is fed; and a process chamber 8, in which web 2 is dried as explained in detail later on.
Bath 7 is substantially defined by a U-shaped conduit, which is filled, in use, with sterilizing agent to a predetermined level, and which in turn is defined by two vertical, respectively inlet and outlet, branches 9, 10 having respective top openings 11, 12, which respectively define the web 2 inlet and outlet of bath 7, and communicate respectively with transition chamber 6 and process chamber 8. The two branches are connected at the bottom by a bottom portion 13 of bath 7, in which is housed a horizontal transmission roller 14.
Inside bath 7, web 2 therefore travels along a U-shaped path P2, the length of which is defined to ensure the packaging material is kept long enough in the

sterilizing agent.
Bath 7 is connected to a known peroxide control circuit 15 (not described in detail) , and is maintained, in use, at a controlled temperature, e.g. of about 70°C.
Process chamber 8 (Figures 2 and 3) is located over transition chamber 6, is separated from transition chamber 6 by partitions 16, and houses drying means indicated as a whole by 17 and for removing residual sterilizing agent from web 2.
Drying means 17 (Figures 2 and 3) comprise two parallel, horizontal, idle wringing rollers 18 - at least one of which is covered with a relatively soft material -located close to the inlet of process chamber 8, on opposite sides of web 2, and which cooperate with and exert pressure on respective opposite faces of web 2 to wring any drops of sterilizing agent out and back into bath 7.
Wringing rollers 18 conveniently comprise respective small-diameter intermediate portions (not shown) corresponding with the longitudinal intermediate portion of web 2, as illustrated in EP-A- 1050468, to permit the passage of opening devices 5 without interfering with the rollers.
Downstream from wringing rollers 18, web 2 is deflected along a horizontal path P3 by a transmission roller 19.
Drying means 17 also comprise a known so-called "air knife" 21 (shown schematically), which is defined by a

nozzle 22 for directing an air jet on to the top face of web 2 eventually defining, in use, the inner surface of each package, and by two plates 23 for directing the jet substantially parallel to, but in the opposite direction to the traveling direction of, web 2.
Nozzle 22 forms part of an air processing circuit 24 described in detail later on.
Sterilizing unit 3 also comprises a vertical aseptic chamber or tower 25 having a top portion 26 commiuiieating with process chamber 8 through an opening 27 for the passage of web 2, and an elongated bottom portion 28, in which web 2 is folded longitudinally into a cylinder and sealed longitudinally to foinn a continuous tube 29 of packaging material with a vertical axis A. Aseptic chamber 25 and process chamber 8 together therefore define an aseptic environment 30.
Top portion 26 houses a number of transmission and guide rollers 31, 32, 33 for guiding web 2 from horizontal path P3 to a vertical path P4 parallel to axis A of tube 29. More specifically, roller 31 is powered and located immediately downstream from opening 27; roller 32 is idle, and defines a tensioner; and roller 33 is also idle, and provides for drawing and deflecting web 2 downwards.
Tube 29, foiimed downstream from roller 33 in known manner not described, is filled continuously with the product by a fill conduit 34, and is fed out downwards through a bottom opening 35 in aseptic chamber 25, thus

substantially forming an extension of the aseptic chamber.
Machine 1 comprises a known forming and transverse sealing unit 36 (not shown in detail), in which the tube 29 of packaging material is gripped and sealed transversely by pairs of jaws 37 to form aseptic pillow packs 38, which are eventually cut and folded in known manner to form the individual packages.
Air processing circuit 24 comprises a suction conduit 40 communicating with transition chairiber 6; and a known processing unit 41 (not shown in detail) having an inlet connected to conduit 40, and an outlet conduit 42. Processing unit 41 conveniently comprises, in known manner, a compressor 43; purifying means 44 for removing residual sterilizing agent; heating means 45 for heating and sterilising the air; and injection means 46 for spraying the sterilizing agent into outlet conduit 42.
Outlet conduit 42 is connected to an inlet of a three-way valve 47 having an outlet connected to a drain 48, and an outlet connected by a conduit 49 to a distributor 50 for controlling sterile airflow to aseptic environment 30.
More specifically, distributor 50 has an inlet 51 connected to conduit 49; and two outlets 52, 53 connected respectively to nozzle 22 of air knife 21 by a conduit 54, and to one or more air inlets 55 in the bottom portion of aseptic chamber 25 by a conduit 56. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, distributor 50 has

two shutters 57, 58, which can be operated independently as shown in detail in Figures 4 and 5.
Distributor 50 (Figure 4) comprises a s\ibstantially spherical casing 60 having a cylindrical inner cavity 61 1 of axis B; outlets 52, 53 (only one shown in Figures 4 and 5) are defined by respective diametrically opposite holes formed in casing 60 and having a common axis c perpendicular to axis B; and inlet 51 is defined by a further hole formed in casing 60 and having an axis D perpendicular to axes B and C (Figure 5) .
Shutters 57, 58 comprise respective cylindrical sealing walls 64 of axis B, which slide substantially hermetically with respect to the inner wall of cavity 61, and are of such an area as to close respective outlets 52, 53. Shutters 57, 58 are connected rigidly to respective drive shafts 62, 63 of axis B, which project axially from opposite sides of casing 60, and are controlled by respective linear servoactuators 65, 66 via respective transmission levers 67. The sealing wall 64 of shutter 57 has a through hole 68 permitting air leakage even in the closed position, as explained in detail later on.
According to the present invention, conduit 54 houses an electric heater 69 for controlling the 25 temperature of the air fed to nozzle 22.
Transition chamber 6 (Figures 2 and 3) communicates with the outside environment through an orifice 70 having a hinged cover 71, which is normally closed by gravity.

but which opens inwards under low pressure and is therefore open during operation of machine 1. Orifice 70 defines, for circuit 24, a zero pressure reference point with respect to the outside environment, and provides for restoring any air lost through leakage.
Process chamber 8 can communicate with transition chamber 6 through an orifice 74 adjustable by means of a shutter 75.
Shutter 75 is movable - e.g. rotates integrally with a pin 16 controlled by an actuator 77 - between an open position (Figure 2) in which process chamber 8 communicates directly with transition chamber 6, and a closed position (Figure 3) in which the two chambers are isolated. The open position is conveniently adjustable, e.g. by manually adjusting a mechanical limit stop 78 of shutter 75, even during operation of the machine.
The pressure in aseptic chamber 25 is detected by a sensor PSl with a reading display 79.
In the event web 2 is fitted with opening devices 5, opening 27 between process chamber 8 and aseptic chamber 25 must be high enough, on the underside of web 2 from which opening devices 5 project, to permit passage of the opening devices. To prevent opening 27, the height of which is conditioned as stated above, from substantially ecpializing the pressures in aseptic chamber 25 and process chamber 8, opening 27 is not symmetrical with respect to the plane of web 2, but is of minimum height upwards, and is defined downwards by a partition 80 bent

90** towards roller 31 so as to get close to the roller and so define an airflow barrier and, therefore, a concentrated fall in pressure.
A conduit 81 for sterilizing fill conduit 34 is branch-connected to conduit 49? and fill conduit 34 is selectively connectable to conduit 81 and to a food product supply conduit 83 by means of an aseptic three-way valve 82 suitable for food applications, such as a vapor-barrier valve.
A programmable control unit 84 of machine 1 controls the process parameters of sterilizing unit 3 on the basis of predetermined reference values at each operating stage of the machine, and, in particular, controls valves 47 and 82, distributor 50, heating means 45 and injection means 46 of air processing unit 41, peroxide control circuit 15, heater 69, and actuator 77.
The process parameters, which may be different variables at different operating stages, are defined, for example, by the temperature of the air from unit 41, as detected by a first sensor TSl; the temperature in top portion 26 of aseptic chamber 25, as detected by a second sensor TS2; and the air temperature in conduit 54, upstream from nozzle 22, as detected by a third sensor TS3.
Sterilizing unit 3 operates as follows:
When machine 1 is started, a hot sterilizing step commences, in which compressor 43 and heating means 45 of the processing unit are activated to superheat and

sterilize the air drawn in along conduit 40, and to preheat aseptic chamber 25,
For this purpose, distributor 50 is set to the Figure 6 position, in which outlet 52 is substantially closed by shutter 57, except for leakage through hole 68, and outlet 53 is partially open, so that substantially all the air from conduit 49 is fed into aseptic chamber 25.
Valve 82 isolates fill conduit 34 from food product supply conduit 83, and connects it to conduit 81.
At the hot sterilizing step, valve 47 is controlled by unit 84 on the basis of the air temperature in the top portion of aseptic chamber 25, as detected by sensor TS2, to achieve a superheating temperature of, say, 280*»C, in conduit 42.
More specifically, at the start-up transient stage, valve 47 feeds hot air into conduit 49 until the temperature in aseptic chamber 25 reaches a predetermined preheat temperature, e.g. 40oC; at which point, valve 47 switches to discharge the hot air to the outside. From this point on, valve 47 operates intermittently, alternately injecting and discharging air to keep aseptic chamber 25 at roughly the predetermined preheat temperature.
At the same time, the temperature in conduit 42 rises gradually, until, in response to a signal from sensor TSl indicating the predetermined superheating temperature {280°C) has been reached in conduit 42,

control unit 84 switches to the next step to chemically sterilize aseptic environment 30 and fill conduit 34.
For this purpose, injection means 46 are activated; valve 47 remains in position connecting conduit 49 to conduit 42; valve 82 remains in position connecting fill conduit 34 to air processing unit 41; and distributor 50 remains in the Figure 6 position.
A stream of superheated air and peroxide vapor is thus created, and which is fed partly to fill conduit 34 and partly to aseptic chamber 25 via distributor 50 .and inlets 55. A small percentage of the streaim is fed through hole 68 to conduit 54, and by this to nozzle 22.
The stream flows through opening 27 from aseptic chamber 25 to process chamber 8; and, since orifice 74 is closed by shutter 75 (Figure 3) and bath 7 is empty, the stream flows along the whole length of bath 7 up to transition chamber 6, where it is drawn along conduit 40 and recirculated back to processing unit 41. Inevitable losses along the processing circuit produce a slight fall in pressure in transition chamber 6, and are therefore compensated by ambient air through orifice 70.
Opening 27 is sized to maintain a pressure of about 20-30 mmHjO in the aseptic chamber, and a pressure of 10-20 inmHaO in process chamber 8, with a pressure drop of about 10 mmHjO through opening 27.
The above, overpressure values ,with respect to the environment are sufficient to prevent entry of external agents, but low enough to prevent substantial leakage of

sterilizing-agent-contaminated air from contaminating the workplace. The pressure drop through opening 27 ensures continuous one-way flow from aseptic chamber 25 to process chamber 8.
After a predetermined time lapse, during which the fill conduit is isolated, the chemical sterilizing step is followed by a drying step.
During the drying step, fill conduit 34 is first superheated by switching distributor 50 to the Figure 7 position, i.e. in which shutter 58 partly closes inlet 51. This increases superheated airflow along fill conduit 34, where the high temperature, which accelerates peroxide disassociation, and the dynamic effect combine synergically to thoroughly sterilize, and remove the peroxide from, fill conduit 34.
Following superheating of fill conduit 34, which lasts, say, two minutes, distributor 50 is restored to the Figure 8 position, and drying of aseptic chamber 25 continues, e.g. for a total of 15 minutes, by feeding air into aseptic chamber 25 mainly through inlets 55.
During the drying step, the temperature reference parameters are modified to maintain a maximum temperature, as defined by sensor TSl, of, for example, less than 200°C, and a temperature of roughly 95"C in aseptic chamber 25. The first of the above conditions ensures air is fed through inlets 55 into aseptic chamber 25 at a safe temperature of roughly 140-150*'C.
This completes the set-up cycle, and is followed by

the production step.
During production (Figure 2) , bath 7 is full of sterilizing solution, and web 2 is fed through the bath, is dried in process chamber 8, and is sealed longitudinally into a tube in aseptic chamber 25. At the same time, valve 82 is switched to feed the food product along fill conduit 34.
In the above operating condition, shutter 58 of distributor 50 is positioned (Figure 9) to partly close outlet 53 connected to inlets 55, and outlet 52 is fully opened so as to feed a substantial portion, e.g. 40%, of the stream to nozzle 22, and the rest, e.g. 60%, to aseptic chamber 25. Since the sterilizing agent prevents air from circulating through bath 7, shutter 75 is now opened, so that process chamber 8 communicates directly with suction conduit 40 of air processing circuit 24.
In this way, and by varying flow distribution to aseptic chamber 25 and process chamber 8, and by correct sizing of opening 27 and the flow section of orifice 74 with.shutter 75 in the open position, the aseptic chamber and process chamber 8 can be maintained substantially at the optimum pressure conditions referred to above, i.e. 10-2 0 mmHjO in the process chamber, and roughly 20-30 mmHjO in the aseptic chamber, with a pressure drop of roughly 10 mmHjO through opening 27.
During production, the air temperature at the outlet of unit 41 is roughly 120°C, and heater 69 is controlled, on the basis of feedback from sensor TS3, to supply

nozzle 22 with air at roughly 180 "C, thus enabling accurate temperature control of the airstream used to dry web 2, and therefore optimum drying ajid sterilization of the web.
Sensor TS2 in the aseptic chamber only provides, in this case, for minimum-temperature control, and activates an alaiTO in the event the temperature in aseptic chairiber 25 falls below a minimum safety threshold of, say, 70«C. Similarly, the pressure in aseptic chamber 25 during production is detected by sensor PSl, which activates an emergency stop in the event the pressure in aseptic chamber 25 falls below a minimum safety threshold.
If the pressure in aseptic chamber 25, while remaining within an acceptable range, tends to fall, during production, towards the minimum safety value, e.g. due to poor sealing, this can be corrected during production by manually adjusting limit stop 78 to adjust, and in particular reduce, the flow section of orifice 74.
During short production stoppages for any routine servicing of machine 1, web 2 is stopped and bath 7 emptied.
In this condition, shutter 58 of distributor 50 is set to maintain outlet 53 partially open, and shutter 57 is set to substantially close outlet 52 (figure 10) except for hole 68, so that flow is substantially supplied entirely to aseptic chamber 25, and a minimum portion of about a few percent, e.g. 3%, to air knife 21.
As described above relative to the preliminary

chemical sterilizing and drying steps, flow travels through opening 27 from aseptic chamber 25 to process chamber 8; and, since orifice 74 is closed by shutter 75, and bath 7 is empty, travels along the whole length of bath 7 up to transition chamber 6, where it is drawn along conduit 40 and recirculated back to processing unit 41.
The new flow distribution, now almost entirely supplied to aseptic chamber 25, combined with the opening of orifice 74 and appropriate sizing of orifice 74 and opening 27, provides for still maintaining optimtim pressure values in aseptic chamber 25 and process chamber 8.
By virtue of its high thermal inertia, aseptic chamber 25 acts, at this stage, as a cooler to cool the air flowing through it and through opening 27 into process chamber 8 and bath 7. This "ventilation" of the bath cools web 2 and reduces so-called "edge wicking" -impregnation of the edges of web 2 with sterilizing agent - when bath 7 is next filled to start up the machine. Edge wicking, which occurs at the edges of web 2 where the paper layer is exposed, can be substantially reduced by reducing the temperature of bath 7 and web 2 by ventilation as described above, and by loading the sterilizing agent at an appropriately high temperature when the machine is started up.
Clearly, changes may be made to machine 1, and in particular to sterilizing unit 3, without, however.

departing from the scope of the accompanying Claims.
In particular, distributor 50 may be replaced with a
different type, or by a pair of conventional throttle
valves.


1. A sterilizing unit for sterilizing a web of packaging material on a machine for packaging pourable food products, the sterilizing unit comprising: a bath containing a sterilizing agent, in which said web is fed continuously; an aseptic environment comprising a process chamber connected to an outlet of said bath and housing drying means for removing residual sterilizing agent from said web; and an aseptic chamber communicating with said process chamber via an opening for the passage of said web, and in which said web is folded and sealed longitudinally to form a tube which is filled continuously with the product for packaging; said drying means comprising at least one nozzle for directing a stream of sterile air on to said web; and an air processing circuit for controlling the process conditions in said aseptic environment, and comprising suction means for drawing air from said process chamber; and air processing means comprising first heating means, and first supply means for feeding sterile air into said aseptic chamber; comprising second supply means for supplying sterile air from said air processing means to said nozzle; and second heating means associated with said second supply means and for controlling the temperature of the air supplied to said nozzle.
2. A unit as claimed in claim 1, comprising first valve means for adjustably connecting said first supply means and said second supply means to said air processing means.
3. A unit as claimed in claim 2, wherein said first valve means comprise a distributor having an inlet connected to said air processing means, first and second outlets connected to said first supply means and said second supply means respectively, and a first and a second shutter for regulating flow from said inlet to each of said outlets.
4. A unit as claimed in claim 3, wherein said distributor comprises a casing having a cylindrical cavity in turn having an axis; said inlet and said outlets being

defined by respective holes formed in said casing, having axes perpendicular to said axis of said cavity, and communicating with said cavity.
5. A unit as claimed in claim 4, wherein said shutters have respective cylindrical sealing surfaces coaxial with said cavity, and which slide hermetically with respect to an inner surface of said cavity.
6. A unit as claimed in claim 5, wherein said shutters rotate about said axis of said cavity.
7. A unit as claimed in claim 6, wherein said shutters are controlled by respective actuators.
8. A unit as claimed in claim 3, wherein one of said shutters comprises a hole permitting residual flow to said second supply means, even when said second outlet is closed.
9. A unit as claimed in claim 2, comprising a transition chamber communicating with an inlet of the bath and with said suction means; and second valve means interposed between said process chamber and said transition chamber, and movable between an open position in which said process chamber communicates directly with said transition chamber, and a closed position in which said process chamber communicates with said transition chamber via said bath.
10. A unit as claimed in claim 9, wherein said transition chamber communicates with the outside environment through a normally-closed orifice which opens under low pressure.
11. A unit as claimed in claim 1, comprising a barrier for producing a localize pressure drop between said aseptic chamber and said process chamber; said barrier defining said opening, through which said web is fed, between said process chamber and said aseptic chamber.

12. A unit as claimed in claim 1, for processing a web of packaging material fitted with opening devices projecting from one face of said web; wherein said opening is asymmetrical with respect to the traveling plane of said web, and is higher on the side facing the face of said web from which said opening devices project.
13. A unit as claimed in claim 12, comprising a roller for guiding said web and housed in said aseptic chamber, immediately downstream from said opening; said barrier comprising a partition defining said opening and shaped to get close to said roller.

Documents:

1733-CHENP-2004 AMENDED PAGES OF SPECIFICATION 17-06-2011.pdf

1733-CHENP-2004 AMENDED CLAIMS 17-06-2011.pdf

1733-CHENP-2004 OTHER PATENT DOCUMENT 17-06-2011.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 power of attorney 17-06-2011.pdf

1733-CHENP-2004 EXAMINATION REPORT REPLY RECEIVED 17-06-2011.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 form-13.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 form-18.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 form-3 17-06-2011.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 form-3.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 form-5.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 pct.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 power of attorney.pdf

1733-CHENP-2004 CORRESPONDENCE OTHERS 20-08-2010.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 drawings.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 form-1.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 claims.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 correspondence po.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 correspondence others.pdf

1733-chenp-2004 description(complete).pdf

1733-chenp-2004 form-2.pdf


Patent Number 248193
Indian Patent Application Number 1733/CHENP/2004
PG Journal Number 26/2011
Publication Date 01-Jul-2011
Grant Date 27-Jun-2011
Date of Filing 05-Aug-2004
Name of Patentee Tetra Laval Holdings & Finance SA
Applicant Address 70, AVENUE GENERAL-GUISAN CH-1009 PULLY SWTZERLAND.
Inventors:
# Inventor's Name Inventor's Address
1 SORENSEN KARSTEN FREILIGRATHSTRASSE 3, 64347 GRIESHEIM
2 ELIAS DETLEF VIA S. ANTONIO 8/A, I-40143 FORMIGINE.
3 FERRARINI FILIPPO VIA RONDELLI 7, I-41100 MODENA.
4 VELLANI FABIO VIA DALLA CHIESA 85, I-41100 MODENA.
5 RICCI ERMANNO VIA CIMABUE 12, I-41043 FORMIGINE.
6 ANDERSON JAN VALLOS SMEDJA S-271 00 YSTAD SWEDEN.
PCT International Classification Number B65B55/10
PCT International Application Number PCT/EP03/01238
PCT International Filing date 2003-02-07
PCT Conventions:
# PCT Application Number Date of Convention Priority Country
1 02425064.9 2002-02-08 EUROPEAN UNION