Revolutionary technology for self-chilling cans

Fizzics instantly cold coffee

Self chilling cans developed by the Joseph Company

The Joseph Company has developed a new technology for chill-on-demand cans. These can be used on-the-go without the need to use refrigerated distribution systems. This fulfills a long-felt need for a convenient and cost-effective packaging system to deliver suitably chilled beverages and liquids where refrigeration is not readily available or for on-the-go consumption.

The new Chill-Can technology has been used to launch Fizzics Sparkling Cold Brew Coffee, a carbonated beverage, by leading convenience store chain 7-Eleven in the Los Angeles area in May 2018. The can be purchased and stored at ambient temperatures and chilled on demand just before consumption, thus bringing in a revolutionary level of consumer convenience. The drop in temperature of the packaged product is about 30 degrees Fahrenheit (approximate 18 degrees in Centrigrade). It takes about 75 to 90 seconds to chill and The Joseph Company claims it will stay chilled 30 minutes longer than conventionally refrigerated cans.

The system design is based on a special heat-exchange unit positioned inside the can that can be activated by a ring at the bottom of the can that has to be twisted clockwise. To activate the cooling, the can has to be inverted, placed with its bottom up and the ring at the bottom of the can has to twisted. The twist activates the introduction of a refrigerant based on liquid carbon-DI-oxide into the heat-exchange unit and produces a hissing sound as the refrigerant is vented. The refrigerant cools the product by about 30 degrees within 90 seconds and the product can be consumed thereafter when the hissing stops. The exact cooling time depends on the size of the package and the amount of product contained.

The product in its present iteration has taken 25 years of research and development. The first iteration of the Chill-Can was licensed to Pepsi several years ago but its use was discontinued  since it used a refrigerant (HFC134A) as its main activating agent that raised concerns over its potential to increase global warming. This system was replaced in 2012 by using an ‘Activated Carbon’ activation system that used pulverized and incinerated coconut shells. Even this system posed problems for mass production since it imposed limitations on pressure profiles within the heat-exchange unit and posed questions on adequate supply of the shells; it was also comparatively expensive.

In the latest iteration, the activation was changed from a push-button system to a twist system. The liquid CO2 is sourced from the atmosphere and this makes it extremely sustainable. Since the product does not come into direct contact with the inner part of the heat-exchange unit, there is no pressure created on it during chilling. Potentially, the system can be used to chill any kind of liquid. The system is presently suitable for aluminum and steel cans but research is being conducted to extend its use for other materials like glass and plastics and other container systems. The incorporation of the new system into end-of-line packaging lines needs only a minor modification in standard filling lines and causes only a slight drop in filling speeds. All components of the system are fully recyclable.

The Chill-Can has already won an award from the US Environmental Protection Agency and has been accepted by the Department of Transportation as being safe for transportation and distribution. Even if a container fails in transit, it will simply self-activate without causing any problems.

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VIAS Chidambar
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S. Chidambar is an engineer and management consultant, who is one of the India's best known professionals in the Packaging and Plastics industries. He has been the CEO of four leading Packaging companies and his clients include some of the industry's leading organizations both in India and abroad.He writes extensively on Packaging,Plastics,Printing/Conversion and Communications and has been visiting faculty to IIP and several other mangement institutes for many years.He has pioneered the development of several hi-tech materials and applications.


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