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When Coke goes green

Fri, 07/20/2012 - 11:03am
Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor

 You know the ECN editors love a good vending machine (also a good pizza).

 Now we’re thinking green.

 Introducing the A011 —the name isn’t catchy but the idea sure is.

Not only is the A011 vending machine good for the drinks, it’s good for the environment.

 At a time when a lot of companies are looking for ways to make home appliances smarter and more energy efficient, it appears Coke is doing its part. The company, with help from Fuji Electric Retail Systems Co.,  has designed a machine that keeps drinks cool without using power for up to 16 hours a day. The A011 uses electricity mainly at night when it’s cheaper, so it could reduce daytime energy usage by up to 95 percent, according to the company.  Essentially, it shifts the energy usage away from peak times, which is a cheaper and more efficient use of the grid.

Traditional vending machines only cool specific items—based on sales—throughout the day, leaving some drinks languishing in warm compartments, while using all its energy to cool a select number. The A011 cools all the products at night, eliminating (or at least reducing) the need to use energy during the day.

Additionally, engineers have designed better vacuum—insulation materials, so the temperature inside the machine is less affected by outdoor temperature, than it would be in a traditional machine. Plus, since everything starts a cool temperature, it helps to keep the entire machine at a lower level.

The idea came after the 2011 earthquake in Japan, when the government shifted its focus to reducing energy usage. It may not have  huge impact on the grid, but it’s a great example of a massive international company trying to design machines based on the need of a particular country to reduce its own drain on the grid.

The company launched the campaign in early July, starting in Japan’s hottest regions: Saitama Prefecture's Kumagaya City and Gifu Prefecture's Tajimi City.

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