Chances are, this has happened to you at least once ... you come inside on a hot day, open the fridge, and discover that you haven't set aside any juice/beer/pop to chill. Even if you were to put some in the freezer, it would still be at least 10 or 15 minutes before it was good and cold. "Why isn't there something like a microwave cooler?" you find yourself wondering. Well, there soon could be, in the form of the V-Tex – although it will incorporate vortexes instead of microwaves.
The technology is being developed by a consortium of companies, via the European Union-funded RapidCool project.
Prototype V-Tex machines are already capable of cooling a bottled or canned beverage from room temperature down to 4ºC (39ºF) in 45 seconds or less. They do so by immersing the drink container within chilled water, then spinning it to create what's known as a Rankine vortex within the bottle – this allows the beverage to chill quickly, without turning to slush and without fizzing over when opened.
That process alone still doesn't mix the tepid and chilled parts of the drink very effectively, however, as centrifugal force keeps the coldest liquid up against the sides of the bottle. In order to mix things up better, it's necessary to repeatedly build up a vortex, collapse it, and then build another. This is done by alternately spinning the bottle on one of two axes.
Plans call for both large commercial-use V-Tex machines and smaller home models to be manufactured. While they may sound like an indulgence, they're actually designed to save energy. In a store, for instance, drinks could be kept at room temperature, with consumers just V-Texing individual bottles that they wished to consume right away. According to RapidCool, "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)."
RapidCool has reportedly "entered formal agreements with two global, multi-billion euro companies in the fields of beverage distribution," and plans to begin consumer trails of the technology in the Netherlands. If you just can't wait to get your hands on a home V-Tex, though, you can check out the Spin Chill – which attaches to the end of a power drill.
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