If you look around online, there's a lot of tips and tricks for cooling drinks quickly. Sticking it in the fridge or freezer is one method, another is doing the same with a wet paper towel wrapped round the drink, but the most often touted as the best, is to dunk your drink in a bowl of salty ice water. Forget all that though, as a British company called Enviro-Cool has made a new machine, capable of cooling drinks from room temperature, to five degrees Celsius, in 45 seconds flat.
The system is known as a V-Tex rapid cooler and it does so by spinning up the liquid, rotating it around its container, while applying a very cold source to the exterior. This avoids any of the liquid freezing and ensures that it is uniformly cooled, as opposed to just the parts touching the exterior as often happens with more traditional methods – at least it does if you get impatient.
However it's not as simple as just shaking the hell out of something while applying a cold source, as drinks behave differently whether they're carbonated or not and depending on what sort of container they're in.
“The key to it is the way we mix the liquid. If you try and cool a drink very quickly then the outside's going to freeze before the inside is cool,” said inventor of the V-Tex, Kelvin Hall, while speaking with Wired. “So you have to mix it in order to do that, but because a lot of drinks are carbonated, if you mix them when you open them they fizz.”
To counter this problem, his team went about constructing an algorithm, that is able to adjust the rotation of the liquid and the cooliing, based on the drink and the type of material used for its container. Users of the machine will be required to put in information about their drink before letting the V-Tex get to work.
But this isn't all just about cooling your beer down because you forgot to put it in the fridge when you bought that four-pack, because it's not in the home that we use a lot of refrigeration, but in commercial properties. Think about the number of petrol stations, supermarkets and service stations that have open faced coolers just pumping cold air out into thin air, all day every day. Those drinks don't need to be stored at a cold temperature, so why not introduce a machine like this next to a shelf? When people buy their drinks, they can cool them off then and there, without the need for all that added refrigeration.
This was Hall's original inspiration for V-Tex, who believes his device could be a big energy saver. “Everyone's talking about the importance of reducing carbon emissions and lowering energy use, so we've got an opportunity to do something about it,” he said.
The commercial version is much bigger, but with a few tweaks would be able to reduce drink cooling time to as little as ten seconds.
In order to push adoption, Hall is set to present the technology to its developmental funders, the European Council, which he hopes will help introduce a refrigeration scrapping scheme that would subsidise companies that scrap their chiller cabinets and replace them with a V-Tex cooler.
Unfortunately, we're still a fair way off having something like this in our home. Even though a prototype exists, interest still needs to be gauged and manufacturers sorted. As it stands, the estimated time for public availability of the machine will be sometime in the second half of 2014. No pricing information has been revealed either.
KitGuru Says: I really want one of these in my house. The manual input seems very 20th century though. Couldn't we just get a QR code reader to do that for us?