CORDIS - EU research results

Demonstration and optimisation of a highly innovative beverage cooling system that will deliver up to 90% energy savings

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - V-Tex Multi (Demonstration and optimisation of a highly innovative beverage cooling system that will deliver up to90% energy savings)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2017-08-31

Commercial refrigeration uses a massive 85TWh/yr and until recently was exempt from EcoDesign regs; this changed in July 16, given targets to save 58TW/h in this sector. Beverage cooling uses 21.2TWh/yr costing €4.2 billion. V-Tex Multi aims to reduce this and revolutionise how beverages are sold.

V-Tex Multi is ground-breaking, enabling huge savings (>90%) and a unique experience to boost sales and environmental awareness. 10% market penetration would reduce energy consumption by 1TW/h, saving €200m per year and 500,000t of CO2.

There are >8 million chillers in the EU; open front variants are favoured as they encourage impulse purchases, the trade-off is much higher energy consumption, typically >€5,300/yr (26,000kWh/yr). These could be phased out due to emerging legislation and more demanding specifications.

V-Tex Multi has the potential to replace most coolers; instead of perpetually chilling drinks, it will cool per demand. User savings of €4,800/yr are feasible (24,000kWh).

The main objectives were:
1. Optimise & miniaturise V-Tex for use with a buffer store.
2. Scale up the V-Tex prototype to an efficient modular, automated drinks storage & dispensing system
3. Fabrication of 2 full scale pilot prototypes with testing for deployment in a real-life environment e.g. service station
4. Lab tests, pilots and demos. Create marketing & dissemination material to drive end-users and consumers towards V-Tex Multi
5. Productionise the design; for further optimization for serial production, to enable rapid up-scaling and standardization
6. Establish a European supply chain
The project developed two ground breaking systems, designed to: maintain easy access to drinks, cope with peak sales by incorporating a new buffer store and give an extremely fast dispensing system (around 15s). Performance testing showed energy savings of >90% vs. open front chillers and 74% vs. a bank of glass door chillers. Demo activities proved that the system is easy to use in a retail space in 3 simple steps:
1. Scan: select an ambient drink & scan.
2. Insert: places into V-Tex Multi.
3. Take: The system transports a pre-chilled drink to the user with minimal wait time. Simultaneously, the system chills the ambient drink using the V-Tex rapid chiller and restocks the iCool store.

The project progressed all objectives:

1. Optimisation of V-Tex – The two proprietary technologies which underpin this ground-breaking approach were refined:
a) V-Tex - Extensive testing & improvement led to an optimsised unit with performance exceeding that set by existing V-Tex products. This is a major achievement and makes the pilot cooling system the fastest known solution.
b) iCool - Integration & testing of the iCool buffer store was carried out to feat. a unique PCM, air flow system and a refrigerant control valve arrangement. The result was a highly efficient store which maintained the beverage temperature using very low energy levels.

3. Fabricate 2 prototypes – two systems were built; a substantial amount of engineering and refinement was undertaken to ensure the system achieved >90% energy reduction.

4. Testing, pilots, demonstration, marketing & dissemination - Rigorous design, subsystem development & optimisation led to the creation of a fully operable demonstrator which underwent performance and energy testing. Private, targeted demos were conducted, initially in controlled environments. Several videos and other marketing materials were produced and finally, a trial took place in a service station. The team generated substantial interest from consumers, retail giants and world renowned beverage producers. Dissemination also took place at events e.g. the PFAN conference Vienna which linked investors & influencers, with “green tech” opportunities. The feedback has been exceptional, resulting in a new JV, connections into investor groups and a potential manufacturing partnership in EU.

5. Productionise design – Most aspects of the system are at a high technology & manufacturing readiness levels, incl all key technologies: V-Tex cooler, iCool system, PCM store, air flow system, all enclosures, and the user interfaces. Consultations were held with manufacturers of professional coolers to implement as many standard solutions as possible. The modular design simplifies scalability and manufacturing. Several improvements were made to improve maintenance and to meet C/E requirements. Further optimisation of the handling system will be carried out during the next phase to improve the system speed. The team have already engaged some 3rd parties with substantial expertise in this field and shall begin by trailing some standard tech solutions.

6. Establish a European supply chain for the V-Tex Multi system - Selection of the correct manufacturing partners will be vital to the success and global supply of V-Tex Multi, as result this received significant focus.
Enviro-Cool have engaged with two manufacturing partners in Europe, both expressed a strong interest in being a lead development and manufacturing partner and is highly capable of developing unique handling solutions.
"Combining V-Tex and iCool provides the world’s most efficient, fastest system for cooling drinks. This uses one small compressor and novel features such as an ice bank which can be cooled off peak. There are no other systems like V-Tex and none can offer the energy saving potential.

A market penetration of around 10% could reduce EU energy consumption by approximately 1TW/h, saving €200 million in energy cost per year and displacing 500,000 tonnes of CO2.

These reductions mean savings for retailers - annual use for a typical installation is expected to be 1,900 kWh vs. 26,700 kWh for an open front chiller, this equates to an estimated energy cost saving of €39,680 over it's lifetime. This is greater than the cost of a V-Tex Multi system making replacement viable. The rate of return from energy savings alone is <5 years; for a new installation, the price premium for V-Tex should be recoverable in <1 year.

The demand for commercial refrigeration is growing, with a total market for drinks chillers in the order of €3 billion/yr; the expected global impact in terms of jobs and economic activity is significant.

Commercial refrigeration lacks innovation and is full of ""me too"" products. V-Tex multi is cutting edge with the following USPs:
- Energy Savings - V-Tex multi saves >90% of the energy consumed by open front fridges and almost 75% compared to a typical installation of glass door fridges.
- Open front – maintains the ability to touch the drinks; easy access encourages impulse sales.
- Cold Drinks Everytime - Ensuring all products are at the required temperature is a hallmark of V-Tex, the design ensures cold drinks can always be delivered to users with minimal delay.
- Easier restocking - no issues with burying cold products behind warm products, and no issues with running out of cold stock.
- Hi-Tech - V-Tex Multi was also perceived as “novel” or “high tech”. This was one of the most attractive features according to users.
- Hi-Visibility - The system & user interface have been designed for ease of use, and offers potential for consumer interaction & dynamic advertising.
- Payment - the option to integrate a payment system could eliminate the need to pay at the till and speed up buying.
- Designated Products - use of barcode can be used to ensure that only authorised products are used."
V-Tex Multi system render - normal capacity with ambient store in front of buffer
V-Tex Multi Concept Render - large capacity system with separate ambient store & cold buffer
V-Tex Multi - Pilot Installation in Service Station
V-Tex Multi - User Reaction