Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

FP7

RAPIDCOOL Berichtzusammenfassung

Project ID: 262101
Gefördert unter: FP7-SME
Land: Slovenia

Final Report Summary - RAPIDCOOL (Development of a Rapid Cooling technology for commercial refrigeration applications)


Executive Summary:

Rapidcool’s aim was to develop a novel technology for cooling beverages, efficiently and rapidly. In a break from tradition this would enable small quantities to be chilled on-demand, to reduce the need for large stocked chillers to run continuously and remove the risk that “chilled” drinks can run out.

The major benefit of this approach was to save energy, an increasingly prominent aim and especially important since commercial refrigeration accounts for over 6% of total energy consumption in the services sector. Consequently it was also felt that the technology could yield strong cost benefits. However these aims should not get in the way of consumer needs. Consumers have become accustomed to drinks, chilled to the “right” temperature, and with almost instant availability. So Rapidcool had to be fast and cool repeatedly.

The Rapidcool project overcame some fundamental research and development barriers and ultimately produced a range of demonstrable prototypes boasting major benefits and meets or exceeded its objectives.

Moving forward under the “V-Tex” trademark, the technology has already obtained considerable interest from some world leading, multinational cooperation’s. The Rapidcool project has already demonstrated that “V-Tex”:

• Achieves energy savings of 80-90% compared with open front commercial refrigerators.
• Is able to cool a single can from room temperature to 4 degree in under 50s – beating other known technologies.
• Has already been adapted to simultaneously cool small batches of drinks, thus achieving even faster vend times, and meeting higher demand.
• Is hygienic and may even have the potential to enhance the cleanliness of beverage containers.
• Can operate autonomously with existing controls showing that this is simple and fast to use, controlling the cooling profile and incorporating some key safety features.
• Is currently able to meet a large number of “End User” requirements, and offers even greater potential with some focussed developments during the commercialisation of the system. Within the project the system was presented to a World Leading distributor of beer, and achieved a positive evaluation and an offer to support future development and testing.

Agreements are already in place to set-up future production of the system, and a family of related products has already begun to form targeting domestic use in addition to commercial/ retail use. The developments have already resulted in 2 granted patents with a further 2 pending. These have been filed throughout the world based on the broad global appeal of the technology.

Project Context and Objectives:

Commercial refrigerators and freezers are ubiquitous and are used in diverse environments such as supermarkets, grocery stores, service stations, restaurants, hotels, pubs, and cafés. The most visible types are vending machines and open or closed refrigerated cabinets. Combined commercial refrigerator/freezers are estimated to consume 85TWh of electricity per annum. This is over 6% of total final energy consumption in the services sector.

Worryingly, energy consumption by these units is rising rapidly as more and more equipment is deployed (especially in new Member States). For example, vending machine sales are expected to increase from 126,000 in 2009 to 200,000 in 2020 (in EU27). Although incremental advancements in refrigeration technology have been made these do not nearly offset increasing use. These trends thus pose a significant risk to the EC's overall commitment to reduce energy use by 20% to 2020; improve overall energy security of Europe and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It is therefore not surprising that both individual Member States and the EC are preparing a combination of voluntary and mandatory initiatives to force a step change in the energy consumption and use of commercial refrigerated equipment. Probably the most prominent of these is the far-reaching Energy Using Products (EUP) Directive which will specifically cover commercial refrigeration equipment. Currently, it is expected that this new legislation will come into force in 2014

Compared to chilled or frozen food products, the majority of beverages have a relatively long shelf life and it is therefore not required to keep them at drinking temperature prior to consumption. However, this is currently the norm as it is often necessary to provide a chilled drink immediately upon purchase As a result a wide range and number of beverages are kept chilled for eventual purchase.

Rapidcool aims to cool a drinks container efficiently and rapidly on-demand, thus reducing the need for chillers to run continuously. This could lead to energy savings of up to 95% on a per beverage container basis although in reality it will be a function of usage, storage and cooling technology a sensible target of 60-70% was set. Costs to the retailer will also be decreased and this could be shared with the consumer, thus leading to greater satisfaction. Furthermore the issue of restocking a refrigerator and the customer then buying warm drinks would be avoided.

In doing so the key objectives were:

1. To understand the fluid flow regime and effect on cooling rates, to enable prediction and control of heat transfer.
2. To design a rapid cooling chamber that can operate with metal cans, PET bottles and glass bottles in the range of 250-650ml. This should achieve a cooling rate of 15°C per minute for aluminium cans; 8°C for plastic bottles and 5°C of glass bottles
3. Development of technique to infer mean temperature of drink to within accuracy of 1°C and development of cooling control system that modulates coolant flow and velocity of the container to achieve the ideal drinking temperature. To achieve a final temperature which can be set over the range of 3 to 6 degrees as a function of drink volume, container type and initial temperature.
4. Specification, design and achievement of acceptable coolant pull-down rate, high COP at required temperature differential whilst maintaining low cost aspect. Time between system switch-on and first available beverage at drinking temperature not exceeding 15 minutes
5. Develop a multi-can system to facilitate faster dispensing of cans for higher demand. Capable of operating in a staged sequence thus reducing waiting time.
6. Also to demonstrate that the technology is scalable without incurring problems e.g. multiple cooling chambers would increase cost and bulk of equipment and multiple vortices may cause interference between cans. Different mechanics Capable of cooling four cans simultaneously with no more than 33% increase in cooling time per can, guaranteeing shorter waiting times under high demand.
7. Develop intrinsic hygiene features affecting the core design of the system, to ensure that the design lends itself towards easy maintenance of water quality. Also to outline advanced features which may be used to enhance hygiene in the future development for market readiness.
8. Validate of energy usage of prototype. To achieve an overall energy saving equivalent to >60-80% of vending machine energy consumption (for refrigeration)

Worryingly, energy consumption by these units is rising rapidly as more and more equipment is deployed (especially in new Member States). For example, vending machine sales are expected to increase from 126,000 in 2009 to 200,000 in 2020 (in EU27). Although incremental advancements in refrigeration technology have been made these do not nearly offset increasing use. These trends thus pose a significant risk to the EC's overall commitment to reduce energy use by 20% to 2020; improve overall energy security of Europe and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It is therefore not surprising that both individual Member States and the EC are preparing a combination of voluntary and mandatory initiatives to force a step change in the energy consumption and use of commercial refrigerated equipment. Probably the most prominent of these is the far-reaching Energy Using Products (EUP) Directive which will specifically cover commercial refrigeration equipment. Currently, it is expected that this new legislation will come into force in 2014

Project Results:

The Rapidcool project has already demonstrated that “V-Tex”:

Results in energy savings of 80-90% compared with open front commercial refrigerators –These savings are substantially higher compared to the target of 60 to 70%. The additional energy savings became possible, since water of 0°C was selected as a coolant. Due to this relatively high coolant temperature and the optimal thermal, heat transfer properties of water, the efficiency of the cooling system increases substantially, thereby reducing its energy consumption. The energy consumption was measured under, controlled, laboratory conditions for three different prototypes. These prototypes also proved that very fast cooling rates became feasible.

Fast Cooling Rates:

Rapidcool “V-tex” is capable of cooling a single can from room temperature to 4 degree in under 50s, beating other known technologies

Utilising water as a cooling medium, the project was able to cool consistent and Rapidly. The optimum results vary depending on the type of product and container used. However for a typical 330ml can of soft drink the Rapidcool prototype consistently cooled in under 50s. The concept of achieving this is based on the generation and disruption of a vortex through spinning the beverage at high speeds. However the ultimate attainment of such a fast cooling rate was based on careful optimisation; the development resulted in a number of inventive steps which have now been patented. In short the developments resulted in an optimised process which combines, water submersion, spinning at optimised speeds, supplementary motions and cycle interruption.

Multi-Can - Simultaneously cooling of small batches to achieve even faster vend times, and satisfy higher demand:

An earlier prototype demonstrated the potential to cool cans rapidly and was able to make a significant improvement on the original target specification. However as the research evolved, so too did the understanding of consumer expectations. In order to meet the demands for faster vending times the consortium proposed to evolve the technology to operate with multiple cans simultaneously. This introduced a number of complicating factors affecting almost every aspect of the system: mechanical and control complexity, different fluid dynamics, dimensions, thermal response and requirements of the cooling system... The project was able to develop and demonstrate that the Rapidcool “V-tex” technology could be adapted for multi-can use. It showed that effective waiting times could be reduced significantly, for example a 4 can system could chill all 4 cans in under 60s. Moreover it showed that the energy savings for such a system could be even higher, achieving 80-90% saving vs. open front chillers. A prototype beverage handling system was developed; whilst this will benefit from future improvements it was able to demonstrate how a multi-can system could operate, and remain simple for the consumer to use.

Is hygienic and may even have the potential to enhance the cleanliness of beverage containers:

Intrinsic hygiene features were developed and through working with a major drinks distributor the consortium were also able to establish that Rapidcool was hygienic and safe. Some further advanced features were proposed which expand on the hygiene of the system so that it not only inhibits contamination, but may actually enable the system to clean cans i.e. they are cleaner after using the machine than they were to begin with.

Can operate autonomously with existing controls showing that this is simple and fast to use, controlling the cooling profile and incorporating some key safety features:

Two separate control systems were developed. Initially the development of a control regime led to the development of a control algorithm which would “intelligently” implement the optimum cooling regime based on a number of parameters such as temperature, materials, volumes etc... As a result of this work a patent was filled based on the controlled cooling process. The first control system was based on a single can system, and a further “multi-can “control system was developed with additional features. For example this would not only operate automatically during normal, consumer use, but would enter into an alternative operating state during low periods of demand.

Is currently able to meet a large number of “End User” requirements, and offers even greater potential:

Within the project the system was presented to a World Leading, global distributor of beer, and achieved a positive evaluation and an offer to support future development and testing. . This was based not only on the performance results obtained but on observation of the anticipated operation of the commercial system from a user perspective. A detailed specification was provided for a system, and even using the project proof of principal prototypes over 70% of the requirements could be met. Importantly, scope limitations, technical and safety restrictions prevented some other tests from being conducted using this stage prototype, otherwise it is thought this could be even higher.

A number of recommendations, and additional requirements were outlined which will help to further improve the system performance during future developments.

Refrigeration and cooling system:

This is novel, efficient, easy to maintain, safe, hygienic and cost effective to produce. The system is capable of coping with the loads of the system, and can be easily adapted to suit different capacity machines. This has not only been demonstrated within the project, but further development outside of the project has already begun to produce a more compact system for domestic use.

Potential Impact:

Through achieving its major objectives the Rapidcool project meets a number of socio-economic needs:

Energy savings of over 80% compared with typical refrigeration systems could lead to significant savings if widely adopted. These will not only benefit the wider community, but offer distinct advantages to users who face increasing targets for energy reduction. In addition the energy reduction can provide cost savings for retailers and consumers alike. This was one of the primary justifications for the project, and based on both the technical progress and the dissemination work within the project, some major industrial partners/ customers have been already been attracted based on this appeal.

The exploitation partners have established close working relationships with some global (multi-billion Euro) beverage suppliers. A formal relationship has been formed with one company which itself has demanding energy reduction targets, exceeding regulatory requirements imposed by the EC. They are very interested in adopting the Rapidcool technology as one of their steps to achieving these. The strategy is for these beverage distributors to procure the large numbers of the commercial system and to provide these to select retail outlets. This could see very effective market penetration, and the widespread adoption would lead to significant energy savings. This approach is a major focus of the exploitation strategy and should lead to broad dissemination to the general public

Additional steps have been outlined and some are in motion to further development towards a market ready system. The journey towards “family of V-Tex” products is already underway having used the successes of the project as justification for further investment outside of the project. This has started with the development of a domestic unit which is well underway and the concept is also to develop an “in fridge” system. These should hit the market sooner than the finished commercial system and importantly will deliver benefits direct to the general public. The marketing material and growing supply chain should help to increase market awareness of the “V-Tex” technology and it is anticipated that revenue from sales of the domestic units will help to fund further development and improvements of the system.

Strategic partnerships have successfully been formed with a number of leading white goods manufacturers who will lead on the development and set up for manufacture of the system during the next stages of development. They have the knowledge experience and importantly the capacity to meet the anticipated demand for such a product which could become common place in a number of environments. It is anticipated that set-up and manufacture of the system could generate additional jobs in addition to revenue.

List of Websites:

www.rapidcool.eu
www.vortex-technology.co.uk
Enviro-Cool (UK) Limited
3rd Floor
207 Regent Street
London
W1B 3HH

Tel. +44 (0)20 7411 9050
Fax. +44 (0)20 7411 9051
Email. info@v-tex-technology.co.uk

http://www.enviro-cool.co.uk/

Verwandte Informationen

Ergebnis in Kürze

Reported by

VENDING MARKETING TRGOVINA, STORITVE, MARKETING D.O.O.
Slovenia
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