Solar powered HC vending machines - Coca-Cola follows up on its commitment

By Sabine Lobnig, Mar 22, 2010, 12:52 2 minute reading

In 2009, shortly before the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, the Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners had announced to phase out all F-gases from coolers and vending machines within the next five years. In this line, Coca-Cola Japan sets the next step to sustainable growth for the beverage giant.

Japan is the country of vending machines. With an astonishing 5,405,300 vending machines, Japan has the highest concentration in the world, arriving at one vending machine per 23 people. Considering this number, the potential of direct emissions reductions if all of the vending machines were to be switched to natural refrigerants, is immense.

The “e-40” HC vending machine

Out of the 5.4 million vending machines, estimated 2.4 sell drinks and of those approximately 980,000 belong to Coca-Cola Japan. The company and its 12 bottling partners recognising the importance of sustainable growth, teamed up with Fuji Electric to develop a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-free vending machine running on the natural refrigerant hydrocarbon instead, which has a low global warming potential (GWP) of only 2-4 (in comparison: the average HFC refrigerant has a GWP of above 1,400).

  The eco friendly, energy efficient and HFC-free vending machine called “e-40” was already introduced in 2008 and achieves 40% power savings in comparison to conventional vending machines. It is equipped with a non hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) heat pump system, which contributes to improving the efficiency of cooling and heating. The “e-40” lights up with LED lights instead of fluorescent light, resulting in reduced power consumption, and features vacuum insulation materials to reduce heat leaks. Finally the user has the option of making the payment in the form of electronic payment or electronic money known in Japan as “Osaifu-Keitai“(the wallet-cell-phone). Coca-Cola Japan was planning to replace all of its vending machines with HFC-free vending machines by 2020.  

New version: the “ecoru/Solar”

But innovation does not stop there. Coca-Cola Japan has come up with a new and improved model: the “ecoru/Solar”. This new vending machine is equipped with a solar panel mounted on its top, which provides for night-time lighting at zero energy consumption. Like the “e-40”, it uses LED lighting for the product display and the same heat pump design with hydrocarbons as refrigerant as well as cutting edge vacuum insulation panels. In 2010 alone, Coca-Cola Japan intends to install 1,500 “ecoru/Solar” vending machines across the country.

Features of the “ecoru/Solar”:
  • solar panels
  • zero power consuming night-time lighting through stored solar power (tight time is calculated to be 12h; batteries are recharged in 3.3h, which corresponds to the “average daily potential power generation time” according to weather data)
  • motion sensors and LED lighting for product display to save energy (vending machines use illumination lighting in standby mode and fully lit when in use)
  • same energy-saving performance as the “e-40”
  • dramatic energy savings through the use of HFC-free heat pump function and cutting edge vacuum insulation panels


By Sabine Lobnig

Mar 22, 2010, 12:52

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