Coca Cola uses the sun to cool drinks


June 9, 2014

The Bio Cooler in sun-baked Aipir, Colombia

The Bio Cooler in sun-baked Aipir, Colombia

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In the town of Aipir, Colombia, the temperature can often get as high as 45ºC (113ºF), yet few of the residents have a reliable source of electricity. So, pulling an ice-cold beverage out of the fridge isn't really an option. Coca Cola and the Leo Burnett Colombia advertising agency therefore devised a "Bio Cooler" for the town – it reportedly chills cans of Coke, without using electricity.

The cooler was developed in collaboration with the International Physics Centre in Bogota, and is described solely in a short video released by Leo Burnett. It reportedly works by two methods ...

First, a compartment in the top of the cooler contains plants and soil, while the cans of Coke sit in a chamber below. When the plants are watered and much of that water subsequently evaporates, it has a cooling effect on the chamber.

Second, a mirror in the cooler focuses heat from the sun, which is somehow used to convert an unnamed gas to a liquid state, creating a cooling effect as that liquid is circulated around the Coke chamber. This could conceivably be something like a thermal-powered version of the CryoEnergy System, in which energy is stored by converting ambient-temperature gaseous air into cold liquid air.

Whatever's going on, you can see the Coca Cola Bio Cooler in use, in the video below.

Source: Leo Burnett Colombia (Vimeo) via Fast Company

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Who is to say exactly what will be stored in these devices once they are in place?


It's funny how this is what the last episode of Cosmos (ep. 12) said was the technology demonstrated at the World's Fair in what, 1935?


Does anyone else think that a better use for this technology is to truly help poor people with keeping fresh food cool rather than a sugary water concoction that will rot their beautiful teeth?

Calvin Hona

You have to admire their sales pitch, but evaporative coolers (water wicking up a sacking exterior) and kerosene burner powered fridges (alternative heat, not electricity) have been around and keeping foodstuffs cool or cold for decades. Try a Google or Wikipedia search on Australian outback fridges for many examples.

The Skud

Coca Cola won't be happy until every person on the planet has access to their sugary concoction that has far worse effects than tooth rotting. If it were invented now, it would likely be banned. Shame on you Coke!


I second Calvin Hona

Who needs essentials for life in a hard world when you have Coca Cola..

Brazen AND culturally insensitive.


I think that is cool, pun intended.

If it can keep cans of Coca Cola cool, it could possibly be able to keep food cold too. Perhaps have food in can shaped containers that are stored in it like the cans of beverage?

While it is true that sugary beverages are made by Coca Cola (and a whole bunch of other companies), they also make Dasani, bottled water and other non-carbonated beverages.


Surprised it doesn't have coke logos plastered all over it. So it rolls in to town and quenches the thirst of a bunch of folks with sugary drinks at a not-so-cold 10 degrees Celsius. Everybody is happy and content with the world. Aaah.

...for about 15 minutes.


It is very common to use refrigerators which operate by the absorption process, instead of the compression process in all areas where there is no electricity. Typically, the heat produced is absorbed by the binary ammonia / water is usually supplied by burning kerosene. However, if it were discovered a nontoxic binary, internal combustion vehicles could have air conditioning systems, whose energy for the process was captured from the discharge manifold.


I can't believe their solution to cooling was to use water. Something places like this do not have enough of already. Of course they are probably the same folks who pour water on houses in the Arizona desert to cool them. It works, but consumes an already limited resource.

An absorption cooler, like propane R/V coolers, could to the same thing using focused sunlight as the heat source. The tech was developed in 1935. The only new twist is using evacuated solar tubes for the input heat source.


If you do not like CoKe, don't buy their products. As for me, it is the nectar of the Gods (right behind coffee) leave 'em alone. As for the cooler, good for them. Any advantage is an advantage. I'm quite sure it will be used for nearly everything except it's intended use. (I have neighbors who fill their heating ducts with possessions in the warm times, as if they were burying them in a hole.)

Propane powered fridges have been around a long time, so using a new heat source is a good idea, building off a proven product. Not a lot that can go wrong with it, simple to operate, as for the water, is is not likely to be potable water (drinking) anyways, and will lower the starting temp. ( though it would make sense to recycle it with a solar powered pump. Places like California, use %90 recycled/ filtered water in all commercial car-washes. It is not hard to do.)


I suggest everyone look up Icy Ball how to do it simply, cheaply.


Nothing wrong with sugar, as long as it's unrefined. I learned this 58 years ago. Unrefined flour, rice, and anything you can eat is not just healthier, but healthy as opposed to unhealthy.

Yet Coke continues to offer only refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, which are worse. The same with ice cream manufacturers.

Any unrefined food is less expensive to produce, but since it was not the original process, it will be the norm until mass education forces a change.

I was addicted to ice cream but gave in up 40 years ago because I could not find non-pasteurized, non-homogized, naturally sweetened, thanks to the dairy industry who bought laws (lobbied) and ignorant bureaucrats who think it's moral to force their idea of "safe" down our throats.

Don Duncan

Correct @Don Duncan, they even raided a "natural foods store" recently and destroyed all the meat, eggs, and milk products, because they were selling what the customers wanted. (raw foods). These people knew what they were buying, and preferred it, to processed foods. They were even willing to drive long distances to get it. Just another example of a new expected norm, the "Nanny State."


RE: The Soft drink cooling machine that cools the soft drinks using solar heat and water explained. Beware: 1. Soft drinks have so many harmful additives (its not the caffeine) that damage your liver and gall bladder which build up over time causing digestive problems after about 30 years of it . 2. 10 deg C is 50 Deg F... not the coldest drink in the world. 3. They are probably using the "Cascade" of two different but effective cooling methods (Cascade or Series meaning to use one system to get the temp down some, then the other different system to get it down even further; some Cascade systems use the same exact system for each level of the temp reduction) : A: Water Evaporative Cooling with the plants also providing shade as well), this cooler area then is used to B. cool what is probably ammonia in a separate system (probably ammonia ore equivalent gas) so that the ammonia turns back to liquid at which time its routed to an Evaporator inside the cold box (where the soft drinks are stored) where it may be combined with Hydrogen gas which causes rapid re-evaporation cooling (taking the heat from the area around it which causes more cooling down to their 10 deg C), after that the H and Ammonia gas mixture is mixed with water which causes the ammonia to form a solution with water which in turn releases the H gas back to the evaporator, then the water ammonia solution is routed back to the Hot Area reservoir (where the solar mirror directs heat from the sun) which heats the water and Ammonia solution so that the Ammonia boils off first (being a lower boiling point than water ), causing the ammonia (now gaseous) to proceed back to the condensor of system B; giving some of its heat to the evaporator of system A. Thus the CASCADE (or series) system is compete with simple evaporation of water supplied by the user doing part of the cooling, and the famous RV method doing the rest (RV's use propane or gas or sometimes kerosene to do the heating that the solar mirror does in the above article "probably") . The beautiful part about the RV cooling system is that it has NO MOVING PARTS and thus has less to go wrong (usually rust, corrosion, and bad cooler box seals , go bad and cause problems. So really an RV Fridge "could" probably be modified to run on strictly solar only if the mirror were big enough (if the sun is not shining you are out of luck, but you can always turn on the back up propane right?) In fact with a propane/gas type RV refrigerator you can even pull off part of the heat from the condensor (usually vented to outdoors) thru a heat exchanger to partially heat your RV... if you wanted to go to that much trouble). JSD


Also remember that a normal fridge goes down to about 44 deg F which is about 6 deg cooler than their 50 Deg F (=10degC) , but really that's not bad for a no moving parts (except the person who has to pour water into the top where the plants are every 2 or 3 hours as it evaporates?; yeah the person is the moving part, LOL )


Free AC and Refrigeration: ? A crude form of Refrigeration can be done by using a 50 gal drum , cut it in 2 lengthwise; mount using metal straps to bolt them together facing opposite of each other (like an anemometer but with only 2 vane/pods), then using that wind power source, use a pulley to run an air piston that pushes air thru pipes buried in the earth at least 10 feet down (use many small pipes in the ground to max out exchanging cold earth to pipes cooling the pipes that way for free really, then route the air back to a cold box (fridge) insulated where you may want to have again many even smaller pipes to exchange the cooler pipe air to the cold box, ; then route the now warmer air back thru the piston air mover to keep the cycled air in a closed system . Its free cheap, requiring only mostly your labor and lots of cpvc pipes or other cheap piping material. You might even use a car heater for the "evaporator" in the cold box (the air is slightly pressurized by the piston air mover) so it will expand slightly giving more cooling in the process. By extending this process with more or bigger windmill/anemometer power and more piping both in and out of earth, the cold box could be extended to include the whole house or part of it anyway.... hey, when you are off-grid, it usually takes a cocktail of methods to make things work out. P.S. why does USA worry so much about fresh water when it falls from the sky free, but we are not smart enough to catch it ?

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