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Case student to brew up solution to keep beer kegs cool

A Case Western Reserve University graduate student has brewed up an idea that may give beer drinkers cause to celebrate.

Image: Keeping a keg coldAdam Hunnell, a first-year student in Case's Physics Entrepreneurship Program has conceived the Keg Wrap, a portable method for keeping beer kegs cold indefinitely.

He has received a $20,000 grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) to build a prototype.

Hunnell's idea is to design a wrap, made of nylon or a similar material, using thermoelectrics. The wrap will be cold enough to keep a keg at between 32 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be powered by a conventional electrical outlet or an automobile's cigarette lighter.

A native of Washington, Pa.., Hunnell conceived of the idea with some friends one evening while a sophomore at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He didn't pursue it at the time, he says, because of a lack of funds. That changed when he came to Case and learned of grants available through NCIIA.

"It's always easier to move forward with an idea with $20,000," he says.

The potential market for the product, Hunnell says, is beer wholesalers and beer distributors. There are approximately 2,500 wholesalers in the United States. Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania between them have 3,200 wholesalers and distributors.

Cyrus Taylor, Armington professor of physics and director of the Physics Entrepreneurship Program, said "If this turns into the kind of market Adam has identified, it will be enormously exciting.

"We often think of inventions as having world-changing potential. But if you can use this kind of technology for a consumer product that makes people's lives better, that's fantastic," Taylor said.

The main challenge to building a successful wrap, Hunnell says, is selecting the proper thermoelectric devices from the many types manufactured. He plans to begin design work on a prototype in the next several weeks.

Founded in 2000, the Physics Entrepreneurship Program is a partnership between the Department of Physics in Case's College of Arts and Sciences and the Weatherhead School of Management. It is designed to provide graduate students in scientific disciplines with the business entrepreneurial skills they will need to start a company.

 

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