Imagine you have just finished a triathlon, or have come down the mountain from a hike, and want a cold drink. Enter Rapidcool, an EU-funded industry-academia project that has come up with a system to cool drink cans and bottles from room temperature to 4°C in 45 seconds or less, using less energy.
Enviro-Cool (UK) Limited devised Rapidcool, and according to its makers, this new cooling technology is 80pc more efficient than existing coolers.
It received a €903,000 grant in European Union funding to help progress the concept to commercial production. Together with partners, the company has created cooling devices for both domestic and commercial use.
The outcome, according the consortia, is a "technology that achieves energy-efficiency and ultra-fast cooling times".
Technology transfer across Europe
The Rapidcool consortium involves partners spanning Europe. It’s being led by the Slovenian vending machine designer Vending Marketing DOO.
The four other industrial and academic partners are:
- Enviro-Cool (UK), which specialises in cooling technology and is the developer of the V-Tex concept.
- Spanish company Dymtec, which provides maintenance solutions for industrial refrigeration.
- Dutch academic partner Re/gent. This is an R&D centre whose focus is on refrigeration.
- The Intelligent Systems Research Institute, which is based in the UK.
In terms of its clean-tech goals, Rapidcool wants to help retailers reduce the energy requirements for cooling drinks at the point of sale.
The goal is twofold: to save retailers’ money and ultimately help reduce energy consumption and carbon footprinting when cooling drinks.
The aim was to come up with a device that would be low-cost, with rapid cooling technology, so pre-packed beverages stored at an ambient temperature can be rapidly chilled.
According to the Rapidcool’s market research carried out across Europe, combined commercial refrigerator/freezers are estimated to consume 85TWh of electricity per annum. Translated, this would reportedly be the equivalent to the energy required to power more than 20m households.
Domestic cooling device, developed by Rapidcool
Energy efficiency and EU research
The makers of Rapidcool say it can cool drink cans and bottles from room temperature to 4°C in 45 seconds or less.
Based on market research on cooling and fridges, analysis carried out in the EU claims the new device can achieve energy savings of more than 80pc compared with some standard open-front drinks chillers and a 54pc saving compared with glass-door coolers.
The figures are based on cooling 200 x 500ml cans per day.
The potential saving on electricity costs equates to €832 per fridge per year, compared with open-front drinks chillers and €219 versus glass-door coolers. This is assuming an electricity price of €0.20/kWh).
Where it’s at …
Kelvin Hall, founder of Enviro-Cool (UK) Limited, said the development grant from the EU enabled Rapidcool to develop the new cooling device as a replacement to what he termed "existing expensive, high energy-use equipment".
He was referring to multi-deck open refrigerators and beverage merchandisers.
Enviro-Cool, he said, wants to play its part in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by developing what he described as being a "game-changing" green technology.
"We have received considerable interest from Asia and North America and now want to make European manufacturers and distribution channels aware of this new technology," said Hall.
Horizon 2020 kicks off in 2014
Michael Jennings, European Commission spokesperson for research, innovation and science, said the commission feels this is a product that will save businesses money, do something for the environment and create jobs.
"The commission has pledged to invest even more EU funding in projects that can really make a difference in people’s lives," he said.
As for the EU funding, in 2014 the EU will launch the new, seven-year research and innovation-funding programme called Horizon 2020. This will replace the FP7 programme that will be phased out at the end of 2013.