UK-based Enviro-Cool Limited has developed the V-Tex, a new “microwave cooler” based on Rankine vortices instead of microwaves to chill multiple items in record time. This will save lots of electrical energy especially in grocery stores in the future.
Prototype machines are already able to cool down a beverage whether in bottle or can to 39ºF from room temperature in 45 seconds or less. The drink container is immersed in chilled water and spun to create a Rankine vortex in the bottle.
The Enviro-Cool website describes how it works. “The team found that by rotating the beverage at a certain speed to create a Rankine vortex the carbonated liquid could be mixed without disruption to the bubbles of carbon dioxide. The team also discovered that by simply rotating the beverage the vortex behaved like a solid, with the outer liquid cooling faster than the inner liquid. Tests showed that cooling rates could be improved by collapsing the vortex and then recreating it; this was achieved by a stop start rotational sequence … Further tests revealed that it was possible to interrupt the vortex without stopping the rotation. This was achieved by rotating the beverage around twin axes.” The contents do not become slush nor do they fizz out when opened.
Homeowners will no longer have to throw drinks in the freezer to chill them faster when they have run out of cold ones. A “cool idea” would be to have a version that could plug into vehicles like the old baby bottle warmers but no mention was made of plans for this.
The commercial model in stores will allow customers to remove a warm beverage from off the shelf, place it in the cooling machine and have a cold drink almost immediately. Stores will not have to maintain constantly so many chilled drinks on hand. According to the Rapidcool consortium, “Results show energy savings of over 80 percent compared with some standard open front drinks chillers and a 54 percent saving compared with glass door coolers (figures based on cooling 200 x 500-ml cans per day).” Some more fossil fuels can remain unused.
The consortium of companies from the U.K., Spain, Slovenia, and the Netherlands developing the technology under the Rapidcool project were funded by the European Union with a €932,000 grant to get a commercial product. Watch the video about the project. Consumer trials began in a Dutch supermarket in October 2013.
In the United States for home use on one beverage at a time, you can get the electric Cooper Cooler from Amazon for less than $70, a Kickstarter Spin Chill which works on a power drill, or keep a tub of antifreeze in the freezer for quick chilling but be careful to clean off all antifreeze.