US firm Tempra Technology and Crown Cork & Seal say they are close to perfecting the world’s first commercially viable self-refrigerating beverage can.

Florida-based self-heating and self-chilling product specialist Tempra says the IC [Instant Cool] can, which will initially be produced by Crown Cork & Seal, employs water evaporation to cool its contents “by a minimum of 30 deg F [16.7 deg C] in three minutes”.

The beverage is surrounded by a layer of “watery gel”, while the base incorporates a water-absorbing desiccant in a vacuum and a heat-absorbing chamber. When the user twists the can base a seal between the sections is broken, and the vacuum draws the gel and heat from the beverage into the insulated heat-sink.

The patented vacuum-power system has taken Tempra and CCS four years to perfect. Tempra says the can is “100% safe and environmentally-friendly, easy to operate, store and transport. It uses no carbon dioxide, CFC, HFC or other compressed gases and is totally non-toxic.”

Once cooled, drinks will reportedly stay cool for up to 90 minutes. The cans have been tested by two British brewers, with more testing, this time also with premium products such as alcopops, due this summer.

Tempra md Barney Guarino says he expects more expensive beers and cocktails to be the first products to benefit. He adds: “Initially the cans might cost a similar sum to those sold in vending machines but, as volumes pick up, so the price will fall. Last year around 200bn beverage cans were sold annually. Imagine the possibilities if we could capture even 1% of this.”