Defcon day 1 – Beer cooling contest

beer cooling

There were two possible categories: cooling a sealed beer and cooling a poured beer. Fastest time to get to 38 degreesF wins, if you kept it under $100. The beer of choice was Tecate at a toasty 90 degreesF surface temp. To kill time while the trials were being conducted the audience answered beer trivia questions and won prizes (thanks for the cherry bomb guys!). Unfortunately I didn’t get to see this competition to it’s completion, but here’s a photo of the Cincinnati Drinking Team’s entry.

Comments

  1. ry says:

    looks like thats fun.. really fun.

  2. steve says:

    that looks like a peltier cooler (for the uninitiated, those use a matrix of thermocouples that collectively exhibit a hot and cold “side” based on their orientation). damned cool lil things. they operate via the seebeck effect, if youre curious. anyway, i tried using these things many years ago as a marine aquarium chiller. Worked fairly well; it just took a while (i.e. hours) to cool a fair sized tank. Unless you get your input wattage correct, theyre nearly worthless, and either way, i bet that beer was luke warm for most of the afternoon.

  3. Ryan says:

    How about dropping the can in a bucket of ice watter? lol

  4. mindstorm says:

    what about using a fire exstinguisher hehe, just drop the beer in a lil trash can and blow the crap out of it till its nice and frosty

  5. mindstorm says:

    what about using a fire exstinguisher hehe, just drop the beer in a lil trash can and blow the crap out of it till its nice and frosty

  6. kolwon says:

    this was on mythbusters a while back, the fastest way they figured out to cool a beer was in a sink full of water and ice, and salt was added to lower the freezing temperature of the water.

  7. strider_mt2k says:

    I tried to develop an RV-Type Heater/AC unit using Peltier Junction tech for a company that makes surveillance vehicles, but the power requirements were, shall we say…prohibitive.

    The things are so neat you can’t help but want to use em’ in stuff, but MAN are they power hungry!

  8. Chad cloman says:

    any information on who won each category and how long it took?

  9. The fastest way I can think of to cool a beer is to keep a box of rubbing-alcohol in the freezer and submerge the cans in the -20C liquid.

  10. Joe says:

    Engineering-wise, you want to do two things:

    1. Maximize heat transfer rate from the can to the cooling medium (minimize thermal resistance).

    2. Minimize the temperature of the cooling medium.

    From this, I would suggest that super-cooled alcohol, salt water, or other liquid would be best, since the constant liquid-state will ensure good heat transfer. Liquid nitrogen probably won’t work well, as it will vaporize easily when in contact with the can, creating a barrier to heat transfer. So you need something as cold as possible that stays liquid over the whole temperature range of interest.

    Seems easy to win :)

  11. scott says:

    Mythbusters recently did an episode on this exact topic. I don’t recall the fastest time, but the fastest method using “generally available stuff” was icewater with salt. It was like 6 minutes to get the beer cooled to recommended temp.

  12. jasonbrewer says:

    The list of contests is here:

    http://www.defcon.org/#contests

    The Beverage Cooling
    Contraption Contest site is here:

    http://deviating.net/bccc/

    The contest rules are a bit more specific than the MythBusters challenge.. There are requirements that the beverage not be “overcooled” and encourages participants to “be mindful of flavor tainting.”

  13. Enterrupt says:

    Can a peltier junction actually chill a beer from 90F down to 38F? That’s a 52 degree delta. AFAIK the best you can hope to get is about 30 degrees of temperature swing with peltiers.

  14. jasonbrewer says:

    enterrupt: the ~30 degree temperature drop you mention is when a peltier would be applied to a constant heat source like a CPU. In this case, there is a limited amount of heat in the can that will be “pumped” out through the peltier.

    a peltier can likely get the can down to the desired temperature under the designated 2 minutes without much trouble. The design in the hackaday photo has the can placed in a copper tube/pipe for maximum surface area, but the pipe does not appear to connected to the trimmed heatsink very well. Some soldering or machining of a custom copper fitting might have helped that design.

  15. SWYlie says:

    I disagree with the advice in #10. In my experience, I have been able to drop freeze things significantly faster in liquid nitrogen (77 Kelvin) than in a dry ice and alcohol bath (195 K) even though the liquid nitrogen does boil and create somewhat of an insulating gas layer. Both techniques freeze things really, really fast, and both techniques would easily overcool a beer. Oh well.

  16. Enterrupt says:

    I’ve got a 170W peltier with which i have experimented. Using temperature probes in ambient air and on the cold side, i always showed about the same relative temperature drop.

    i.e, using 75 degree ambient air to cool the heat sink, the cold side reached 59 degrees. Then i put the hot side near my AC vent (56 degree air) and measured 40 degrees on the cold. Even though it’s not a ‘hot’ item like a cpu, the air still acts as a constant heat source and the delta stays the same.

  17. poppy says:

    At work we use CO2 when temperature testing electronics. CO2 tank is hooked up to a temperature regulated valve. The gas cools a chamber with a 1sqft aluminum plate. It’s extremely noisy but it’ll take a device from hot summer temps to -20C in 30 seconds or so with precise temp control. Never tried it with beer, guess I know what I’m doing monday now.

  18. okysP-Panda says:

    Actually steve, Peltiers work on the “Peltier effect.” The seebeck effect is the inverse of the peltier effect (a differential in temperature between sides of a thermocouple will generate electricity). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peltier-Seebeck_effect

  19. Ed Tapanes says:

    Another thing you’d want to keep in mind for cooling the can-o-beer is agitation (limited of course) of the beer inside the can. Otherwise all you’re doing is cooling the liquid in contact with the metal surface of the can, which in turn, will cool (to a lesser degree {ironic pun intended}) the liquid in contact with it, etc., etc.
    Perhaps a peltier type cooler which would slowly roll the can to allow the warmer liquid to rise up, thus bringing the warmer innermost liquid to come in contact with the ‘supercooled’ can surface?

    I’d really like to see the winning entry. I followed the links above but saw no mention of the winning configuration.

    Cheers,
    Ed T.

  20. Ed Tapanes says:

    Also, are all peltier-type coolers flat and rigid? Is there such a thing as a peltier blanket? I think that would work much better than the heatsink approach, no?

  21. Scott says:

    “1. Maximize heat transfer rate from the can to the cooling medium (minimize thermal resistance).

    2. Minimize the temperature of the cooling medium.

    From this, I would suggest that super-cooled alcohol, salt water, or other liquid would be best, since the constant liquid-state will ensure good heat transfer. Liquid nitrogen probably won’t work well, as it will vaporize easily when in contact with the can, creating a barrier to heat transfer. So you need something as cold as possible that stays liquid over the whole temperature range of interest.”

    doesnt ice get as cold as anything else put into the same freezer? it may turn solid at a different temperature, but it still gets just as cold, and water has a higher heat capacity then most other mediums, and therefore better then alcohol? provided the excess space is filled with liquid water that is ~1-2degC, it shouldnt make any difference weather alcohol or water is used

  22. Chris(the cool one) says:

    if you saw the mythbusters on beer cooling, the fastest way WAS infact with a co2 fire extinguisher.

  23. alex says:

    TEC work best when under pressure, we have always bolted it down between a cold plate and a heatsink. If you can adequately cool the hot side of the TEC (usually a water cooling setup) you can get frost on the cold plate in < a minute.

  24. zack says:

    Just drop the dam thing in liquid hydrogen. Alcohol cant freeze rigt?

  25. my2Cents says:

    I have one many beers and money off this trick.
    1. Take a hot can of beer.
    2. Set it long ways in ice.
    3. Start rolling the can with your fingers.
    The faster you roll the can the faster it gets cold.
    It takes about 90 secs to cool a hot can of beer to get cold. Not for sure if it ever gets down to 38 though. Never got that technical with it.

  26. Ian m says:

    Pish – you Americans. Learn to drink decent warm British ale! Much tastier.

  27. jermaine says:

    hej im busy with a project of school, and i need to cool a “coolbox” with 6cans of beer and i have problems with cooling it i already got it cooled from 26 degrees to 16 degrees and it isnt going lower. i tried everthing adjust the current, voltage, good cirulation of the heat at the hot side(blowing cool air to it and lose it outside the box) and cirulation on the cold side mayby you guys know something…..need help

  28. David says:

    take a look at the “tin-chilla” on firebox.com, it uses ice and rotates the can at a slightly off-centre angle so all the liquid inside makes contact with the cold wall of the can, very effective!

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