A UK company which received a £750,000 EU grant to develop a “game changing” refrigeration concept for chilling beverages believes its technology can make a serious dent in sales of commercial multi-decks and merchandising refrigeration.
London-based Enviro-Cool (UK) Limited says its innovate RapidCool device will transform the way that retailers and food outlets store beverages as it can cool drink cans and bottles from room temperature to 4°C in less than 45 seconds.
The company said its tests revealed energy savings of more than 80% versus some standard open-front drinks chillers and a 54% saving compared with glass door coolers, based on cooling two hundred 500ml cans per day.
Kelvin Hall founder of Enviro-Cool (UK) Limited, said the funding it had obtained from the EU had helped it progress the concept to commercial production and achieve the sort of cooling times that many large multi-national companies have been trying for years to achieve.
“The development grant from the EU has enabled us to develop Rapidcool as a replacement to the existing expensive, high energy use equipment, such as multi deck open refrigerators and beverage merchandisers,” he said.
Hall said the company had created a “game-changing” technology by reducing the energy requirements for cooling drinks at the point of sale and enabling pre-packed beverages to be stored at ambient temperature and then rapidly chilled.
He revealed that a promising sales pipeline was already starting to build. “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,” he said.
Rapidcool focuses on the problem of chilling small quantities on demand, taking away the need for heavily stocked chillers to run continuously in order to supply ‘cooled’ drinks during opening hours.
To cool the beverage in the fastest way possible without the outer layers of liquid freezing before the inner liquid is cooled, the liquid needs to be efficiently mixed. The key to Rapidcool’s patented V-Tex technology is the way the drink is agitated without causing it to fizz when opened.
Although designed to work as a stand-alone unit, the cooling chamber can also be integrated into existing self-serve chillers. This, says the company, could potentially replace most, if not all, open-cabinet-style drinks fridges used around the world.
Michael Jennings, European Commission spokesman for research, innovation and science said: “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.”
Enviro-Cool said that across Europe, combined commercial refrigerator/freezers are estimated to consume 85TWh of electricity per annum, equivalent to the energy required to power 20 million households.
The potential saving on electricity costs equates to £700 per fridge per year compared with open front drinks chillers and £184 versus glass door coolers based on an electricity price of 17p/kWh.
Enviro-Cool is part of the Rapidcool consortium, which is led by vending machine designer Vending Marketing from Slovenia and also includes Dymtec from Spain, Re/gent from the Netherlands and the UK Intelligent Systems Research Institute.
The project partners have already entered formal agreements with two “global, multi-billion euro companies” in the fields of beverage distribution and the production of white goods.
Rapidcool engineers have recently created a robotic arm to add to the commercial unit so the taking and delivery of the can are fully automatic. Consumer trials are planned to start in a supermarket in the Netherlands at the end of October.
A family of related products are also way which could potentially be used in the workplace, bars, restaurants and hotels to cool a variety of beverages from 150ml canned drinks to 750ml wine bottles.