'Reverse microwave' gadget chills drinks in 45 seconds

Drinking warm white wine at a picnic could become a thing of the past, thanks to the invention of a 'reverse microwave' gadget that can chill a drink to a perfect 4°C in a maximum of 45 seconds.

Developed with the help of EU funds by the Rapidcool consortium, the aim is to save energy by doing away with the need for storing cool drinks at the point of sale.

Indeed, the group says it can make energy savings of over 80 percent compared with some standard open front drinks chillers, and 54 percent compared with glass door coolers.

"This is a product that will save businesses money, do something for the environment and create jobs," says Michael Jennings, European Commission spokesman for research, innovation and science.

While there have been attempts to develop similar products in the past, the stumbling-block has always been the need to shake the liquid up to achieve even cooling - which then causes the drink to fizz when it's opened. But Rapidcool says it's got round this problem by rotating the beverage at exactly the right speed to create what's known as a Rankine vortex, allowing the carbonated drink to be mixed without disrupting the bubbles.

"We have received considerable interest from Asia and North America and now want to make European manufacturers and distribution channels aware of this new technology," says Kelvin Hall, founder of British consortium member Enviro-Cool.

The consortium has signed deals with two global, multi-billion-euro companies - one in the drinks distribution business and the other in white goods production - to develop the chiller. Consumer trials are due to start in a supermarket in the Netherlands at the end of October.

The consortium says it's also working on a range of related products for domestic use, cooling a variety of drinks from 150ml canned drinks to 750ml wine bottles.