Using a €903,000 ($1.2m) European Commission grant, the UK firm has pushed its concept – that works for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in cans or PET bottles – to the commercial production stage, and promises it will significantly cut retailers’ energy costs.
Founder Kelvin Hall has signed formal agreements with two EU-based global, multi-billion euro turnover companies active in beverage distribution and production of white goods.
Consumer trials were due to begin in a supermarket in the Netherlands at the end of October, and work is underway on related products that target domestic use as well as commercial/retail applications.
"The Dutch supermarket trials haven't yet started but trials in Slovenia are due to commence shortly. We anticipate availability of the product within the second half of 2014 but have not yet confirmed any pricing, and we do not currently have any exclusivity arrangement [with the EU distributor] in place," Enviro-Cool media relations manager, Kelly Al Shaer, told BeverageDaily.com.
Hall noted greenhouse gas emissions savings as the result of energy savings and said Enviro-Cool will continue to develop the product for commercial and domestic use.
Considerable North American interest
Citing considerable interest from Asia’s and North America’s largest white goods manufacturers, he said he wanted to make European manufacturers and distributors more aware of Rapidcool.
Appliances could be used at home (for instance, as a built-in kitchen appliance, see left) in the office, bars, and restaurants, on commercial transport, to cool 150ml to 750ml drinks in cans or bottles.
Rapidcool chills small quantities of drinks ‘on demand’ – with the instore device (picture above) using a six-can buffer to cut waiting times to 10 seconds – removing the need for heavily stocked chillers to run continuously to supply cool drinks during store opening hours.
Previous technology faced the pitfall of the outer layers of liquid freezing before the inner liquid was cooled, resulting in ‘slushing’ according to Enviro-Cool.
‘Rankine Vortex’ does not disrupt CO2 bubbles
Agitating the drink overcomes this problem, but causes unacceptable fizzing in carbonates, so the firm’s patented V-Tex technology uses pulsed rotation to rotate the drink and create a ‘Rankine Vortex’ that does not disrupt carbon dioxide bubbles.
Another patent covers a process whereby the beverage is rotated around twin axes – that interrupt the vortex without stopping rotation – to further improve cooling rates.
Although it works as a standalone unit the cooling chamber can be integrated into existing self-serve chillers, which Enviro-Cool claims is a “real innovation and could potentially replace most, if not all, open cabient style drinks fridges used around the world”.
The plan is that retailers would store drinks at an ambient temperature then rapidly chilled at the point of sale, saving a considerable amount given that EU-wide commercial refrigerators/freezers are estimated to consumer 85TW/h of electricity – enough to power 20m+ households.
*Ice Cold in Alex (1958) is a classic British movie that sees Captain Anson (John Mills) stranded in the North African desert dreaming of an ice-cold lager in Alexandria. The Carlsberg he drinks at the end of the movie hits the spot, and in bottle or can form could have been chilled in 45 seconds or less using Rapidcool, according to the device's inventor.