Beer Chilling In The Name Of Science

We’ve all been there. The day is done and it’s time for a cold one but you neglected to put more beer in the fridge after imbibing the last bottle the night before. You could chuck it in the freezer and revisit your attempt at refreshment in an hour. But if you need a malty beverage right now there’s no faster route than a beer chiller.

This particular beer chilling device is [Michael’s] entry in DEFCON 19’s Beer Chilling Contraption Contest. It can take a pint of beer from 90 degrees down to 45 degrees in just four seconds. Of course there’s a fair amount of setup time before you’re ready to use it. The device is a pipe within a pipe. The inner pipe houses the beer and the pipe surrounding it provides a containment area for a chilling liquid. [Michael] chose to use liquid carbon dioxide as a coolant because of it’s boiling temperature when under pressure. That is to say, the hottest part of the CO2 liquid is around the walls of the center pipe. By carefully dialing in the pressure of that outer chamber, the CO2 will boil away into gas as it cools the beer, making room for more liquid CO2 to contact the pipe and continue the cooling process.

19 thoughts on “Beer Chilling In The Name Of Science

  1. Pipe within a pipe…. inception?!

    What would be cool is a keg with an insulator layer, filled with liquid C02, then a coiled pipe for the beer. That way you don’t need a ladder… and it’s a recognizable device (keg). Your travel length could be shorter with a mild grade to provide the same cooling.

    1. An addendum to my previous post:
      I did RTFA and realize they used similar to what I posted in previous entries. — my thought was a flow-through device where you don’t need to hold chilled beverage, You simply crack a warm one, pour it and let it flow into your cup below.

  2. I saw this thing. It was terrifying and awesome.

    That upper tube (the shorter one) is cast iron and black (or at least it was at DefCon). The white color is frost. Its packed with Dry Ice and the cap put on to build pressure.

    1. I think you may have mistaken what each part does because of how it looked in person. From the diagrams on the website, it seems that the inner most tube is metal and goes all the way through, while the outer (PVC) tube is for liquid CO2, then the secondary (smaller) chamber is for dry ice to reach a higher pressure where it melts to liquid CO2.

  3. If you have to go the fridge route, it doesn’t take an hour. Just put it in some ice, and rotate it. Five minutes maybe. I lost a $5 bet to a bar tender on this because I didn’t believe it. It went from room temp to just about ice cold in just about five minutes.

    Never bet a bartender ANYthing.

    (as near as I can tell, the rotating it, gets the (currently) warm part of the beer in contact with the ice sooner than just leaving it there, you know, moving the warm beer in and out of contact.

  4. It’s a couple orders of magnitude less effective than this, but I’m still madly in love with asciimation’s jet engine beer cooler. He sticks the LPG tank feeding a jet engine in a bucket of water along with some beers. The engine uses so much fuel so quickly that the tank cools down, chilling the beer.

  5. Rotation in ice melts a cavity that mates perfectly with the can-bottle thus transfering heat well.
    My hack is to place a 3 inch 110 volt power supply fan into the ice coated vintage refer for a quick chill, about 10 min. No good in the frost free jobs, unless full of cold items with a lot of water content. Fan is right up to bottle.

  6. take a bucket, put a gallon of water in it, and 1/2 cup of salt, add 1 gallon worth of ice, stir like hell for a minute or so, put beers in, add more ice (and about a 1/4 cup more salt)

    leave em in there, stirring the whole thing occasionally for all of 2 minutes, your beers will be pretty friggin cold :)

  7. Why would I have a beer near boiling point? And what good would a 45 degree beer be? Is fahreneit so much better than the Si conventions that we still can’t get rid of it? Also, the fact that there is a diagonal pipe and speak of pi/2 and pi/4 degrees doesn’t really ease the comprehension!

    1. I’ve had reasonable success with it. Ice + Water = better thermal conduction with the beer bottle. Salt (and plenty of it) helps get it much colder — just like with an old fashioned ice cream churn.

  8. @ spork
    The outer pipe is definately metal, possibly aluminum. On the build page there are some pictures of it not covered in frost. You wouldn’t be able to use PVC for this since the critical point for CO2 at ~87*F(31*C, 304K) is ~1100psi(7.8MPa). Normal Sch40 of any diameter would be unable to hold those pressures.

    The USA uses imperial/customary units and will continue to do so for the forseable future. Just get used to using the context of the conversation to tip you off. As you said no one would want to drink a 45*C beer. You’ll note I added SI units in my response just for you.

    P.S.: Celsius is just as arbitrary as Farhrenheit.

    1. That’s where your hung up. Anders Celsius decided to use water as the basis for his temperature scale, and Danny Fahrenheit decided to use Mrs. Fahrenheits’ arm-pit as the basis of his scale(originally 100 moved around later for wahtever reason to 98.6) and the first Baron Kelvin decided to use the theoretical cease of (thermal) motion as his zero, a mathematical and emperical 0. Every other scale is by definition relative to something, and therefor arbitrary. I could invent a scale today based on melting point of taffy.

      You(non-specific) will encounter silly units in the real world best be versed in them. Just look up the FFF system for a truly useless(in every day life) set of units.

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