Picture this on a hot summer afternoon: you're waiting impatiently for your drink and ice cream to get to the perfect chilled consistency, but every tick of the clock is paining you. Could there be a solution to make this process quicker and more efficient? According to a patent by the company ColdSnap, with patent number US20230249957A1, there just might be. Their proposed invention is a machine that takes in food and drink packets, chills them rapidly, and delivers a tasty, cold treat in the blink of an eye.
What's the trick behind it? The ColdSnap machine is based on an innovative approach to cooling technology that strikes a perfect balance—cooling items as quickly as possible, all the while ensuring the cooling system doesn't take any damage. All too often, cooling systems combat the challenges of keeping their cooling elements in proper working conditions while also making sure the overall size and power intake of the system remains practical and feasible.
To mitigate this, the proposed machine increases the amount of coolant or refrigerant to absorb greater amounts of heat quickly, chilling the items faster than usual. However, to ensure the system does not suffer any damage, the invention ensures that the used coolant returns to the system as gas, not as a mixture of gas and liquid, as the latter could be harmful to the compressor of the machine.
To maximize efficiency, ColdSnap has proposed the use of a mixing paddle to move in an opposite direction to the refrigerant. This aids in transferring the heat more rapidly and reduces the overall cooling time. Furthermore, to maintain an evenly creamy texture in ice creams, the machine focuses on keeping the size of ice crystals small. This is achieved by increasing the speed of the mixing paddle that starts slow and as the ice cream begins to freeze, the speed is ramped up, breaking down the ice crystals.
To ensure exceptional ice crystal consistency, the machine even has a cooling tweak that feels counterintuitive. It melts ice forming on the inner side of the cooling container, a process assisted by the increased speed of the mixing paddle. While this increases the total freeze time, it results in smaller ice crystals and thus smoother ice cream.
The ColdSnap machine is also set to capitalize on efficiency in material usage, increased temperature control, and possible linkage with a network to track the use of items and facilitate replacement. Its most salient feature, however, could be its potential to serve as a stepping stone towards “clean-label” ice creams, devoid of non-natural ingredients like emulsifiers or stabilizers. Because the machine works on ice creams stored at room temperature, it could potentially facilitate ice cream manufacture that includes just milk, cream, sugar, and powdered milk.
Even though the patent application shows promise, it's important to note that a patent application doesn’t guarantee that we'll see this invention hit the market anytime soon. The examination process ahead for ColdSnap could throw up unexpected obstacles. Until then, the world waits, envisioning a future where waiting for a chilled treat on a hot day could be a thing of the past.