Field of the Invention
The invention will be used in the flower industry, offering
a technical solution to the lack of moisture suffered by flowers during transportation.
It will help flowers last longer and improve their appearance while they remain
stored in cardboard boxes for transportation to their final destination.
Background of the Invention
One of the major concerns of the flower industry is how
to keep flowers conveniently hydrated after cutting. Flowers are currently placed
in liquid-filled plastic containers and stored in cold rooms, in order to prevent
deterioration and premature ageing. The problem starts when flowers are placed in
cardboard boxes for transportation, because they lose moisture and begin deteriorating.
This causes the blossoms to bow, lose strength, and petals begin to fall.
Flowers are shipped both by land and air. During transportation
from the farm (where they are cut) to the retailer, flowers are stored without direct
moisture. The only way to help them last longer is to keep them in cold rooms or
refrigerated trucks; however, because of necessary transportation logistics, flower
boxes are kept outside cold rooms for variable periods of time. Exposure to changes
in temperature without adequate hydration greatly affects flower quality and growth.
During transportation, boxes temporarily stored at low
temperatures are aerated with cold air in an effort to keep temperature low and
eliminate excess heat accumulated while kept outside cold areas. Although this process
keeps the temperature low, it damages the flowers, as the air circulating inside
cold rooms is dry and dehydrates the flowers.
Flower producers urgently need to find a mechanism to guarantee
improved hydration to flowers after packing in cardboard boxes and during transportation.
State of the Art
In an effort to solve these problems plastic containers
full of fluid (commonly called Proconas) have been built into cardboard boxes. This
solution requires that boxes be transported vertically and handled with extreme
care to avoid leakage. This device increases the cost and weight of the boxes, making
transportation much more expensive.
Another solution is to introduce each stalk into a tiny
test tube containing the necessary fluid to keep the flower hydrated during transportation.
This method is both labour and time-intensive, and because stalks have different
thickness, it is almost impossible to avoid leakage during transportation.
Another mechanism used by flower growers to try to stop
dehydration during transportation is frozen gel bags. However, this method is expensive
The product subject of this invention is made of an absorbent
material that accumulates and retains fluids, preventing leaks inside the boxes.
It works as a wrapping that helps protect the stalks in each bunch, keeping the
flowers hydrated when placed horizontally, and during the whole transportation process.
Flowers therefore reach their final destination in better
shape, with better possibilities of staying fresh longer and looking more attractive
in the flower vases of end consumers.
Description of the Invention
The invention refers to a device made of an absorbent gel-free
product that accumulates and retains fluids without leaking, with an outer waterproof
layer and an inner permeable or semi-permeable layer joined using a hot melt-type
The device is folded to form a protective wrap around the
stalks of the flowers in a bunch; it can be either sealed or left open at the edges.
The bunch is introduced inside this wrapping and held together using rubber bands.
The absorbent material is soaked with fluids to ensure the phenomenon of capillary
through the stalks and to maintain blossoms and leaves adequately hydrated. Stalks
must be in close contact or very close to the moistened material, so that flowers
receiving all necessary hydration from the moment they are packed in the cardboard
box and during the entire transportation process to their final destination.
As to the waterproof material:
The outer waterproof layer of the device can be made of
a plastic material such as polyethylene, polypropylene or a combination of these
or other similar materials. The idea is to have a waterproof layer that will prevent
leaks. This layer can have different colours and printed designs, such as special
occasion reminders, brands or any other identification information. Shape and grammage
(thickness) per square meter may differ according to the number of stalks that will
As to the permeable or semi-permeable material:
The inner layer of the device is made of permeable or semi-permeable
material, such as filter paper or extruded polypropylene, forming a non-woven fabric
that has the property of becoming permeable to fluids when surfacted. This material
can be either totally or partially permeable to fluids and its main function is
to hold the absorbent material in place between the 2 layers. It may have different
colours and its size and thickness may be adjusted as needed.
As to the absorbent material contained between the outer waterproof layer and
the inner permeable or semi-permeable layer:
This material consists of wood cellulose, fabric, cotton,
or any other kind of synthetic material other than gel, gel-free, that accumulates
and retains fluids to nourish and hydrate the flowers. The best material is wood
cellulose, because its chemical composition is fully compatible with the stalks,
as it comes from tree trunks. Wood cellulose is extracted from wood, as due to its
liquid retention and distribution properties, it is widely used to manufacture absorbent
products. It is cheaper than other absorbent materials, and it is a largely developed
industry world-wide. It comes from a natural renewable resource, trees, and the
industry abides by international renovation and reforestation regulations. Wood
cellulose has the same physiological components of flower stalks, consisting of
micro fibbers capable of retaining fluids and distributing nutritious elements.
The use of long or short wood cellulose fibbers, either
natural or industrially processed, as liquidation retention material has the advantage
that it is a similar chemical compound compatible with flower stalks, causing no
negative reactions, and on the other hand it releases the liquid needed by the flowers
through capillary. The absorption capacity of wood cellulose depends on the type
of tree it comes from and on the type of fibber. The invention can use any type
of wood cellulose in any of its forms, including laminated, defibbered and/or partially
The system does not use any type of gel, as gel is a material
composed of polyacrylamides or polyacrylates with chemical and physical characteristics
that enable it to absorb and retain fluids up to 350 times its own dry weight. When
not conveniently saturated with fluids, gel starts to absorb all the fluids of the
elements around it. Inside flower boxes, instead of keeping them moist and fresh,
it absorbs all the fluids from the stalks. In case of over saturation of its nucleus
to ensure adequate hydration of the flowers, the gel gains a lot of weight because
the over saturation is much higher than what wood cellulose requires, making boxes
very heavy, and consequently increasing freight costs.
It is important to mention that the absorbent material
may take any shape, rectangular, square, round, trapezoidal, etc. so that it can
be conveniently distributed within the absorption area.
As to adherence of the external layer, the absorbent material and the internal
Hot Melt adhesives are applied to both layers and compressed
with a roller. These adhesives are used in high-speed processes because they dry
instantly, fixing the absorbent material between both layers. Pressure and heat
can be also used on the edges of the absorbent material, melting both layers and
As to the fluid.
The fluid used to impregnate the pad may contain water
only, or any water-soluble fluid capable of acting both as nutrient and conditioner
to improve flower quality and slow down its growth. It can also have a small part
of disinfectants and/or germ-killing products and/or biocides, or any other product
that may contribute to make flowers last longer and improve their appearance.
The amount of fluid to be placed in the pad depends on
the absorbent material used, and is proportional to the volume of flowers to hydrate
using this system and the estimated duration of the transportation to final destination.
As to the attachment system
To hold the absorbent pad wrapped around the stalks, an
attachment device must be used, for example rubber bands, adhesive tapes, strings,
or any other material to guarantee that the stalks remain in permanent contact with
the absorbent material from the moment the flowers are packed in cardboard boxes
and during the transportation to their final destination.
As to the sealing system
The absorbent pad can be folded to protect the stalks.
When the edges of the pad are sealed, a pouch is formed and the stalks are placed
inside. The pad can be sealed using ultrasound, mechanical pressure, heat, adhesive
materials, etc., forming a pouch with one or several openings sufficiently big to
insert the stalks and the liquid desired to hydrate the flowers. You can also leave
the lower sides of the pouch open, so that hydration of the container is made by
immersion of the lower part. This facilitates the introduction of liquid in the
As to the shape of the bag
Although different geometrical figures of different sizes,
such as triangles, squares, circles, etc., may be required, it is easier to manufacture
the bag in a rectangular shape. The shape of the bag will depend on the number and
length of the stalks that will be wrapped. Once the absorbent pad has been conveniently
moistened and sealed with rubber bands, or any other method, the bag will take the
shape of the stalks, making direct and proper contact with them, avoiding leaks
and evaporation of the fluids contained in the absorbent pad, increasing the time
of hydration, allowing the stalks to be in permanent contact with the moistened
pad and holding them securely inside the pouch.
Advantages of the invention
Beneficiaries of this invention:
- • Flowers are conveniently hydrated, well-nourished and in good shape
while they remain packed in cardboard boxes and during the whole transportation
- • Flowers last longer.
- • Combined with the storage of the boxes in cold rooms, this device helps
keep the flowers in good shape, delaying development. They have a fresh, good looking
appearance when they reach their final destination.
- • Reduce manual labour required to cut the end of the stalks to rehydrate
the flowers, a task accomplished by intermediaries, who receive the flowers in their
way to final destination, by the same token avoiding the cost of destruction of
the cardboard boxes.
- • Retailers can minimise waste and make better business.
- • Flowers can be exported to marketplaces further away.
- • Flowers have longer life, so they can be kept in cold rooms for longer
periods. They can be sold near special occasions when the prices of the flowers
increase, such as Saint Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas, etc.
Invention Testing and Proof of Effectiveness
- • Flower producers who will be able to minimise waste and increase profits
by prolonging flower life and healthy appearance.
- • Flower retailers who will be able to sell flowers inside the invented
wrapping protection device, to help customers prevent dehydration until the flowers
are placed in water.
- • End consumers, satisfied by the longer lasting life and better appearance
of the flowers.
- • Intermediate distributors and retailers reduce flower waste and lower
manual labour required to cut the edge of the stalks to rehydrate the flowers.
To prove the effectiveness of the invention, we tested
it on different varieties of roses grown by Velvet Flowers, located at km 34 on
the road to El Quinche, Province of Pichincha, Ecuador. Two scenarios were used
to compare the experiments:
Best-case Scenario: Roses that had been completely and continuously hydrated
in direct contact with fluid for the maximum estimated storage and transportation
Worst-case Scenario: Roses without hydration, which is the most common method
used nowadays to pack and transport the flowers in cardboard boxes.
Roses were hydrated with three different kinds of fluids:
- • Water only
- • Water containing RVB Crysal
- • Water containing professional Crysal
Both additives (Crysal) are products manufactured by firms
that also manufacture nutritional solutions, disinfectants, and/or germ-killing
products, commonly used by flower producers to improve the conditions of fresh cut
flowers and make them last longer.
Stalks were placed inside the invention and were tied up
in position using rubber bands both at the upper and lower edges.
Bunches of 25 roses each, were weighted before and after
being placed in the fluid containing device, and then stored in cardboard boxes
inside a cold room at 2° C.
On the 4th, 8th and 12th
day of storage, bunches were weighted again both with and without the device. The
results proved that the flowers that had not been hydrated (worst-case scenario)
lost 6% to 8% of their original weight after 12 days. Roses that were hydrated and
kept inside a glass fluid container (best-case scenario) gained 10% to 12% of their
original weight. Flowers that were stored with the invention (fluid retainer) gained
1.5% to 3.5% of their original weight. The difference in weight depends on the fluids
used. In consequence, the absorbent pads that retain fluids lost weight, as they
gave away fluids both to the flowers and to the environment.
It is important to mention that in the best-case scenario
flowers start to grow and mature immediately. With the invented device flowers last
much longer, because their weight increases only 15% to 35% (1.5% of 8%) of total
weight gain in the best-case scenario. This causes the flowers to last much longer
in the vases of final customers. The best-case scenario accelerates the undesired
and inconvenient process of growth and maturity of the flowers. Accordingly, the
best option is using the invented device because it ensures that flowers live and
can be enjoyed for longer periods.
It is also important to mention that, with the use of the
invented device, producers, retailers and final consumers will be able to hydrate
flowers using any fluid that they consider appropriate to feed them, as well as
to prolong the process of growth and maturation.
Brief Description of Drawings
Preferred Mode to Manufacture the Device of the Invention
Figure 1: Table with information on the weight that bunches of flowers gained
or lost a) when are kept in direct contact with fluids inside a container, b) without
fluids, and c) stored inside cardboard boxes using the invention (fluid retainer)
hydrated with three different fluids: water only, water containing RVB Crysal and
water containing professional Crysal.
Figure 2: Schematic and perspective view drawings of gel-free device (1),
formed by an outer layer (2), an inner layer (3) and the fluid absorbent pad where
fluids are stored and retained (4). The joint seal (5) of the outer and inner layers
is also shown.
Figure 3: Schematic and perspective view drawings of invented gel-free device
(1), formed by an outer layer (2), an inner layer (3) and the fluid absorbent pad
where fluids are stored and retained (4), sealed on its edges (6) to form a pouch
where stalks and fluids will be placed. W and L lengths shown on drawing may vary
according to length of stalks and number of flowers in a bunch.
Figure 4: Perspective view example of bunch of flowers (7) with stalks wrapped
with invented device (1). Pouch and stalks make direct contact with conveniently
hydrated absorbent pad. Rubber bands (8) that tie stalks and device to keep them
in position for proper flower hydration are also shown.
A machine that manufactures 200 to 400 units per minute
has been used to manufacture the absorbent pad.
The steps of the preferred manufacturing process should
- • An absorbent pad made of defibbered wood cellulose, covered with an
outer waterproof polyethylene layer of a density of 20 g/m2, and an inner layer
made of a permeable non-woven fabric of a density of 15 g/m2. Both layers joined
by hot melt adhesive applied at high temperatures (120° C). With this kind
of adhesive, the absorbent pad remains in position.
- • Using compression rolls, the three materials are sealed together and
then folded in the middle to form a protection pouch. Both edges are then sealed
using a hot melt adhesive.
- • Once folded, the device will have an outer polyethylene layer, an inner
layer of permeable non-woven fabric, the lower edge is sealed leaving only an opening
on the upper edge, to introduce the stalks and the fluids. This process will help
keep moisture in the absorbent pad avoiding leaks. Adhesive tapes can be applied
on both edges using silicone
- • The end product can come in individual units or in rolls containing
100 to 1500 units. Pre-cut lines are placed between units making it easy to separate
them. Rolls are easier to use by flower growers. Easily packed, carried and stored,
rolls are more convenient and cheaper.
- • As stated in the summary of the invention, the size of the product,
its geometrical shape, colour, the way it is folded, its lateral seal, the absorbent
material used, are parameters regulated by the manufacturing machine or during the
process of selection of raw material.
- • Natural wood cellulose of a density of 700 g/m2 was used to manufacture
the absorbent pad. It was defibbered using a high speed hammer mill which separates
cellulose fibbers, forming the absorbent zone.