Did I speak, in my previous article, about self-heating technology in general and the beverage cans of Fast Drinks and Hot-Can in particular, in this issue we talk about HeatGenie, whose approach to self-heating is unlike the other self-heating technologies involving mixing quicklime or other chemicals with water. Further we shall have a look at the new development of a self-heating/self-cooling stand-up pouch of ScaldoPack.
HeatGenie is a different story. As said HeatGenie’s approach to self-heating is unlike other self-heating technologies involving mixing quicklime or other chemicals with water.
HeatGenie is a patent-pending solid-fuel technology. The heating element contains aluminium and silica, two benign materials, which in an intimately mixed powdered state can undergo a chemical reaction to give off a large amount of heat.
Aluminium can react with a source of oxygen to release large amounts of energy through oxidation. Silica is the source of oxygen in the HeatGenie units.
The HeatGenie self-heating component integrates into the bottom of a metal packaging. The can supplier is HeatGenie’s packaging partner Crown Holdings (www.crowncork.com), which supplies a 12-oz (355 ml) metal can designed to accept the 1½-oz (42 gr/45 ml) heating-unit that will heat a 10-oz (295 ml) product volume to 145°F (63ºC) in two minutes.
To activate, consumers simply press a button at the bottom of the package. The button is a thermo-mechanical device that when activated generates a localized hot spot on the surface of the fuel that starts the oxidation reaction and creates heat. Once the fuel is spent, the heating process stops.
The amount of heat generated and the rate that heat is released into the food or beverage can be precisely calibrated based on the mix of the fuel in the HeatGenie heater. This is important because the specific properties for a given food or beverage impacts its heating characteristics. For example, coffee heats faster than a soup which has more and varied density.
The company claims that with the solid-fuel system heating times are four to six times faster and the heater itself is eight times more compact than the traditional self-heating systems. As an example, a one ounce HeatGenie heater can be used to heat eight ounces of coffee from room temperature to serving temperature in less than two minutes.
It is no surprise that the company claims full recyclability of the self-heating can.
We reach the point of the most recent development and leave the self-heating beverage can. ScaldoPack introduced last month at the Brau Beviale 2012 in Nuremburg /Germany the self-heating stand-up pouch for beverages.
ScaldoPack Self-Heating/Self-Cooling Pouch
Scaldopack’s innovative self-heating (quicklime) for liquid food and beverages has a flexible twist. Althoug not the first one to try-out a self-heating flexible packaging, ScaldoPack certainly is the first one that comes to market with it. And that at the recent Brau Beviale, probably the most important beverage exhibition in the world.
The product consists out of a “pouch-in-a-pouch-concept”. The inner pouch serves as the reaction chamber while the outer pouch carries the consumable product.
The consumable product can be heated by pressing the reaction chamber. By doing so, the exothermic reaction is activated, adding 35°C in about 5 minutes to a 200ml consumable product.
The company claims that the temperature increase can be adjusted from +5° degrees up to +40° degrees, following customer requirements.
The advantage of a flexible pouch is evident. It only uses 15 gr of packaging material, which makes it an eco-friendly packaging, especially compared to metal can alternatives in the market. Furthermore, and I have argued this before, a flexible packaging is easily stored in a back-pack, overcoat or purse.
As was to be expected the existing manufacturers of self-heating beverage cans expressed their doubts about the viability of a self-heating pouch. In the relevant LinkedIn group the following comments were posted:
MS from the UK • This has been tried before by myself and others. The problem is always that the CaO water reaction can reach temperatures of 300°C which is above the melting point of the packaging. It seems like another pipe dream that is unlikely to reach production.
JS from the USA • I tested and made several hundred different pouch designs with quicklime. The one main issue is; if the consumer […] activates the pouch you get a meltdown just like the old Wolf Gang Puck cans did. This will create a hazard for the consumers. Not good for the Self-Heating industry to have a pouch that can meltdown.
I asked a comment from ScaldoPack and they wrote me the following:
We have solved these and many other concerns by controlling the reaction so the inside temperature of the reaction chamber does not exceed 95°Celcius. Then there is no longer any concern, as you do realize a pouch can’t handle any form of pressure so we couldn’t tolerate steam.
Over 60k self-heating pouches have been made and used by end customers. None of them ever complained about the bad function.
Note: I haven’t been able to test the self-heating pouch, but for me the technology to control the exothermic chemical reaction must be possible, consequently the ScaldoPack self-heating pouch gets the benefit of the doubt. Time will tell us.
ScaldoPack has another interesting development as the company also introduced a self-cooling stand-up pouch. The same activating system is applied, so that pressing the centre of the pouch starts in this case an endothermic reaction. The cooling is obtained by the dissolution of salts in water. It is said to cool down a 200ml consumable product some 13° degrees Celsius, in about 3 minutes.
This is a very interesting development, as the road to self-cooling/self-chilling has been much more bumpy that the self-heating one. The self-cooling trail is literally littered with technological failures. There are thousands and thousands of patents about self-cooling containers and still we haven’t seen any reliable one in the market.
In the last issue about self-heating/self-cooling we will talk in depth about the self-cooling technology and its developments and have a look into the future of the self-heating/self-cooling technology.
-to be continued-