Coca-Cola's A011 vending machine keeps drinks cool without using (much) power

So maybe that self-chilling soda didn't pan out, but Coca-Cola is working on another method for keeping its beverages cool without using power. In partnership with Fuji Electric Retail Systems, the company has developed the A011 vending machine, which is capable of keeping drinks frosty for up to 16 hours a day without using energy. The A011 works by shifting the cooling process from mid-day, when energy use is higher, to nighttime, when there is a higher power capacity. Even after the machine stops powering the chilling, the unit's temperature only rises slightly, thanks to vacuum insulation and an airtight design. Great in theory, right? Well Coca-Cola Japan will put the product to the test this summer with a two-month pilot program in two of Japan's toastiest areas, Tajimi City in Gifu Prefecture and Kumagaya City in Saitama Prefecture. If things go well, the company will tweak the A011 to extend the amount of time it can go without power. Room-temperature soda is the worst, so here's hoping it works.

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TOKYO, June 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Coca-Cola (Japan) Co., Ltd., together with Fuji Electric Retail Systems Co., Ltd. announced on June 27 they have succeeded in developing the "A011" peak-shift vending machine. This vending machine, developed as part of the "Apollo" ultra-energy-saving vending machine development project, can operate without using power for cooling for up to 16 hours per day. The A011 vending machine will be field-tested beginning on July 2.

The successfully developed A011 peak-shift vending machine "shifts" use of power for cooling from the usual "peak" midday times to the nighttime, when there is relative surplus power capacity.

In conventional vending machines, the temperature in the machine would rise slowly if cooling was stopped for long periods of time since only a portion of the products stored inside of it were cooled in response to sales in order to limit electricity consumed. However, in the peak-shift vending machine, "A011", all products stored in it are cooled during the nighttime when there is relatively more power available. By bringing about cooling effects to all products stored in it even after cooling functions have stopped, the rise in temperature in the storage unit is limited even after cooling has been stopped for a long period of time. In addition, by using more vacuum insulation materials, insulation has improved and the machine is not affected as much by outside temperature. In addition, we made efforts to make it difficult for cold air to escape by making the doors more air-tight. With these efforts, we are able to respond to government requests to save energy and to provide cold products.

In preparation for full-fledged market launch, the A011 peak-shift vending machine will be field-tested for two months, starting from July 2, in Saitama Prefecture's Kumagaya City and Gifu Prefecture's Tajimi City, the hottest regions in Japan. After verifying the new model's performance, Coca-Cola will work to maximize their peak-shift functionality, extending the amount of time they can go without using power for cooling during time slots when power is generally in short supply.

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Coca-Cola Japan has led the industry in announcing and implementing specific round-robin cooling suspension measures in its vending machines. In winter 2011, the geographical scope of these power saving efforts was expanded. Coca-Cola Japan has announced that in summer 2012, round-robin cooling suspension will be used in all areas except Okinawa Prefecture, cutting power usage by 15%. These initiatives will start from July 2.

All newly purchased can and PET vending machines have been HFC-free since 2011, and LED lighting is being used in all vending machines since 2012. As a company that exists in harmony with society, Coca-Cola Japan is always at the forefront of identifying and responding to society's needs.

(*) The maximum number of products that can be stored were cooled for eight hours at night in a 32C test environment, and these products were able to be provided at below 5C without using electricity for cooling after this. Daytime energy use reduced by 95%.