coke bio cooler

The Coca-Cola Bio cooler from Leo Burnett Colombia on Vimeo

It’s beginning to get oppressively hot, over 30°C. I’ve escaped to parents’ place because theirs is more open, with an occasional breeze and I don’t want to blast the air-con all day at my flat.

Some places in the world get very, very hot. And at some of these places, there is no electricity. No air-conditioning, no fans, no fridges.

So Coca-Cola just invented a cooling device that doesn’t need electricity. Developed by advertising agency Leo Burnett in collaboration with the International Physics Center, it uses natural technology: plants grow at the top of the container, when watered excessively the water trickles down the soil and because of the high temperature, evaporates and mixes with other materials into an unnamed gas. Mirrors inside the contained space condense the gas back to liquid, triggering a cooling effect (remember the first law of thermodynamics).

The device is placed the village of Aipir in Columbia, where temperatures reach 45°C, there is no electricity and villagers have to trek 12 hours to get ice. They press a button and hey presto! chilled coke cans.

Cynics would of course say the village probably need to have ways to cool their staples like meat, vegetables or milk, moreso than a gimmicky (albeit colourful) box that dispenses a high sugar unhealthy drink. The technology hopefully can be used on more practical purposes but as adweek observed,

this is about bringing people a modest luxury that’s normally out of reach

Very often we forget this, that things we take for granted in the first world have a different meaning to people who are less privileged. Lots of debate about how unhealthy coke and other soft drinks are, but for these Columbian villagers, it’s something that brings a smile to their faces.