Self-Cooling and Heating of Beverage and Food Containers AFM 99

Self-Cooling and Heating of Beverage and Food Containers AFM 99

Self-cooling and heating of beverage and food containers – AFM 99

Sponsor: DEFRA

Partners: Bulmers Cider, Express Dairies

Total Project Cost: £240, 000

Start date/End date: 01/08/2000 – 31/07/2002

Project Co-ordinator: Professor S.B.Riffat, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD. Tel: 0115 9513158. Fax: 0115 9513159. E-mail:


Development of efficient and "environmentally-friendly" technologies for cooling of drink and food products has large potential benefits. A simple and convenient means for chilling/heating of drinks (alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, coffee, etc.) and heating of pre-cooked food (soup, beans, meat, etc.) during travel and in locations such as, picnic spots, sport arenas, and remote areas, is not currently available but is much desired by consumers. A device which would allow containers of food and drink to be cooled or heated in-situ, with no need for appliances or other materials, is therefore likely to find a large immediate market with good prospects for further market growth.

The aim of this project was to develop novel devices for instant self-cooling and heating of vessels containing beverages or food. The investigation involved:

i) Design and modelling of cooling and heating devices using adsorption heat pipe technology

ii) Construction of prototypes of the cooling and heating devices using "environmentally-friendly" working fluids such as water

iii) Laboratory testing of prototypes and their modifications

iv) Economic and environmental assessment.

A different number of refrigerants (or sorbates), adsorbents, wicking and heat sink materials were tested for their performance on a small scale testing rig. From these distilled water was selected as a sorbate for its better latent heat of evaporation, zeolite 13X as an absorbent for its maximum absorption rate, micro-fibre/micro-pore latex coated cloth as a wick material for its best wicking effect and sodium sulphate hydrated 99% as a heat sink material for its performance to remove heat from the adsorbent.

Then the small scale testing rig was modified to a full scale prototype testing rig. Efforts were made to construct prototypes with as much optimisation as possible with the available resources and facilities. The performance of these prototypes was compared using a theoretical computer model. Prototype designs with multi-tube adsorber and multi tube evaporator gave the best results with a temperature drop 0f 10-14C in 3 to 4 minutes. Tests were also conducted to investigate the effect of can shaking on temperature drop which was found to be significant.