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Engineering the Perfect Coffee Mug

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the wish-it-was-a-perfect-unblemished-cylinder dept.

Technology 145

Nerval's Lobster writes "From the annals of Really Important Science comes word that a research assistant who picked up his B.S. just seven months ago has invented a coffee mug designed to keep java at just the right piping-hot temperature for hours. Logan Maxwell, who got his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in May, created the "Temperfect" mug as part of his senior design project for the College of Engineering. Most insulated mugs have two walls separated by a soft vacuum that insulates the temperature of a liquid inside from the temperature of the air outside. Maxwell's design has a third layer of insulation in a third wall wrapped around the inner basin of the mug. Inside is a chemical insulator that is solid at room temperature but melts into a liquid at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The insulator – which Maxwell won't identify but swears is non-toxic – turns to liquid as it absorbs the extra heat of coffee poured into the mug at temperatures higher than 140 F, cooling it to a drinkable temperature quickly. As the heat of the coffee escapes, the insulating material releases heat through the inner wall of the mug to keep it hot as long as possible; a graph mapping the performance of a prototype shows it could keep a cup of coffee at between 128 F and 145 F for as long as 90 minutes. "Phase-change" coffee-mug insulation was patented during the 1960s, but has never been marketed because they are difficult and expensive to manufacture compared to simpler forms of insulation. While working on the Temperfect design, Maxwell met Belgian-born industrial designer Dean Verhoeven, president of consulting form Ancona Research, Inc., who had been working on a similar design and had already worked out how to manufacture a three-walled insulated mug cost effectively. The two co-founded a company called Joevo to manufacture the mugs." According to the Joevo Kickstarter page, you can get one starting at $40. For that much, I'd like a clever lid like this Contigo has.

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Coffee Joulies in a mug (4, Informative)

stevel (64802) | about 10 months ago | (#45675109)

This is just the same approach as Coffee Joulies [joulies.com] , which is a former Kickstarter project. I have a bunch of these, they work well. No need for a custom mug.

Not ... exactly. (2)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about 10 months ago | (#45675203)

This is just the same approach as Coffee Joulies [joulies.com] , which is a former Kickstarter project. I have a bunch of these, they work well. No need for a custom mug.

Well, it's not quite the same as coffee joulies, for a number of reasons.

First, it's integrated/built in.
Second, well ... you won't lose the integrated joulies.
Third... uh ... different name.

Seriously though, this is just an improvement on the thermos. A fancy improvement, and it might even be more effective ... but it's not breaking new ground.

Re:Not ... exactly. (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 10 months ago | (#45675373)

Seriously though, this is just an improvement on the thermos. A fancy improvement, and it might even be more effective ... but it's not breaking new ground.

Nothing that hits the shelves as a consumer product is ever 'breaking new ground'. Its always standing on the shoulders of what came before; and has already cut its teeth in niche markets that needed and could afford the high early adopter price for research and development for the incremental improvement over what was already out there.

Re:Not ... exactly. (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 10 months ago | (#45676001)

Two layers of insulation? Push, I have three layers!

Fuck it, we're going to five layers (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 10 months ago | (#45676399)

I called it.

Re:Not ... exactly. (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#45675389)

Plus the joulies clunk around in any mug, making a fair bit of noise.
Use them in an open topped mug and they smack you in the teeth as the mug gets emptier.
And they displace beverage, meaning you need a refill sooner.

Re:Not ... exactly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676145)

This guy just took the Joulies idea and made a thesis out of it.
His advisors probably didn't know about Joulies (mabe he didn't either), and so another useless bachelor thesis is completed.
Don't get me wrong, my bachelor thesis was completely useless as well, but at least I didn't pretend it was some great new invention.

Re:Not ... exactly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676251)

Still not sure I see what either offer. My cheapo vacuum insulated coffee bottle will keep coffee hot for 8 hours and warm for 12.

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 months ago | (#45675257)

This is just the same approach as Coffee Joulies [joulies.com] , which is a former Kickstarter project. I have a bunch of these, they work well. No need for a custom mug.

Sometimes the reason for having is in the having, not in the utility. Any geek knows this.

If Apple sold an insulated iMug people would queue up for it. You know this to be true.

they'd also be suing samsung for patent infringement with their damnable galaxy adro-mug

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (2)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45675553)

Can I get mine with a peltier cooler and USB^H^H^HLightning port?

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 10 months ago | (#45676579)

You're already getting phase change. How greedy are you?

I'll take mine with some of these pallets generating too much heat at Fukushima.
Not hot enough for industrial power production? Ship it here, I would save some gas.

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (1)

mrclisdue (1321513) | about 10 months ago | (#45675857)

They'd also patent rounded and bevelled coffee mugs.

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (2, Informative)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 10 months ago | (#45675423)

It's actually not. All the Joulies do is act like a thermal mass that takes "excess" heat from the coffee to heat them up (cooling the coffee) and then just make the cooldown process slower due to the extra heat capacity provided by the Joulies.

As noted in the summary and on the Kickstarter page, these mugs use a phase change material to absorb the extra heat and basically play it back as the coffee would otherwise cool.

Another very common phase change material is ice and the behavior is very similar but in reverse. Ice absorbs heat to melt but does so at a fairly constant temperature (and also dilutes the drink). The drink holds temperature at "around" 32 degrees until the ice melts and then it warms up.

The mugs use the excess heat to melt the phase change material and then as the coffee/tea cools, the phase change material gives up that heat as it re-solidifies.

Joulies at room temperature will cool drinks already at perfect temperature even though you might not want them to. The phase change material simply won't melt or won't melt much. While you will still lose some heat to it, presumably the thermal mass is much lower than that of the Joulies. Or hopefully it is. If so, then the phase change material will really only substantially cool drinks above the melting temperature while not cooling drinks below that temperature (with the caveats above).

Not the same approach at all.

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (5, Interesting)

jcochran (309950) | about 10 months ago | (#45675505)

Sorry, but it's EXACTLY the same approach. As others have mentioned, this mug works like coffee joulies does. And interestingly enough, the paraffin wax that coffee joulies uses melts at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. I would be extremely surprised if Logan Maxwell wasn't also using paraffin. It's cheap, readily available, and non-toxic. The only thing different is the extra layer of insulation around the cup.

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (1)

inicom (81356) | about 10 months ago | (#45676185)

Came to say this - the description sounds exactly like they are using a layer of wax.

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676353)

the description doesn't say what the material or liquid is? I am sure he will get called out for stealing something someone else invented, thats pretty much how billion dollar companies get away with stealing there money, he'll probably become a CEO in the future!!

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45677129)

the description doesn't say what the material or liquid is?

No, it doesn't.

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (1)

stevel (64802) | about 10 months ago | (#45675891)

Yep - as jcochran says,it's just a repackaging in a dedicated mug. The Joulies web site says:

"Their polished stainless steel shells are full of a very special phase change material (an ingredient in food) that melts at 140F. When you put them in your coffee this PCM begins melting, absorbing a LOT of heat in the process and cooling your coffee down much faster than normal.

"Where does all that heat go? It’s stored right inside your Coffee Joulies. When your coffee reaches 140F (the perfect drinking temperature) the molten PCM begins solidifying again, releasing all that energy back into your coffee to keep it at a comfortable and delicious drinking temperature. The more heat you feed your Joulies, the longer they’ll keep your coffee warm."

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675911)

How the bloody hell did you get modded up so high? It's EXACTLY the same. From the Joulies page itself (emphasis mine):

"How do they do that? Their polished stainless steel shells are full of a very special phase change material (an ingredient in food) that melts at 140F. When you put them in your coffee this PCM begins melting, absorbing a LOT of heat in the process and cooling your coffee down much faster than normal."

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676083)

It's pretty much the same. Both are absorbing heat from the drink, then releasing it back as the drink cools.

Where they differ is that one uses a chemical phase change. This is better for two reasons: One is that phase changes tend to hold a lot of energy. Two, the material undergoing a phase change stays at the same temperature until all of the enthalpy of fusion has been absorbed or released.

Re:Coffee Joulies in a mug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676457)

Where they differ is that one uses a chemical phase change.

No, where they don't differ is that one uses a physical* phase change. The other one also uses a physical phase change. In fact, they almost certainly both use the same phase-change material, specifically paraffin wax.

* Do you even know what chemical means? C + O2 CO2 is a chemical change. Solid to liquid is a physical change.

Different trick - same result (0)

dbIII (701233) | about 10 months ago | (#45676757)

Unless you've got incredibly hot coffee under pressure not really the same thing as this phase change material :)
It's just adding "thermal mass", like the old trick of putting a lot of stuff in a furnace to keep the temperature more stable.
So it's a different trick, but it looks like both tricks get the job done in a lot of cases. You'll see a very slow decline in temperature with the lumps of stainless steel and a steady temperature then a sharp decline with the phase change material. So long as you drink the stuff in the right time window both are going to work, and with the lumps of stainless steel you can increase the time window by putting another one or two in.
Of course that would be obvious to somebody that has used them but I'm writing this for anyone else that wants to read it.

Re:Different trick - same result (1)

stevel (64802) | about 10 months ago | (#45676771)

If by "lumps of stainless steel" you mean Joulies, you missed that the Joulies have phase-change-material inside - probably the same stuff as this mug. This is why I said it was the same trick.

OK then - same trick (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 10 months ago | (#45676775)

I should have read more about these things since they appear to be wax filled lumps of stainless steel instead of just stainless steel.

Meh I want better (0)

mrmeval (662166) | about 10 months ago | (#45676877)

These tests must be performed where relevant on both the mug, the lid and the mug with the lid.

It must not loose more than 20 percent of the initial energy of the contained liquid for 1 hour.

It has to survive a
dishwasher
washing machine
dryer

It must survive a 60 gravity impact on every facet on
concrete
steel
tungsten
tungsten carbide

It must to survive the effects of a solid tungsten carbide cutting tool for 10 seconds.

It has to survive all of this at -40, -20, 0 , 25 and 150 Celsius.

At nominal room temperature it has to survive and be cleanable
muratic acid for 12 hours
1 oz gasoline until evaporated
1 oz grain alcohol until evaporated
1 oz acetone until evaporated.
An impact from a .50 BMG bullet fired from at minimum a 20" barrel at 300 yards.

It has to look cool.

I'll wait for the MSDS/Patent Filing (2)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45675141)

The insulator – which Maxwell won't identify but swears is non-toxic

I think this is a case where it most certainly needs to be disclosed in an MSDS and/or patent filing (though more likely in the MSDS, as the patent filing is allowed to be vague).

Re:I'll wait for the MSDS/Patent Filing (1)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about 10 months ago | (#45675169)

The insulator – which Maxwell won't identify but swears is non-toxic

I think this is a case where it most certainly needs to be disclosed in an MSDS and/or patent filing (though more likely in the MSDS, as the patent filing is allowed to be vague).

MSDS sheets aren't required for consumer products in most places in Canada. They're a workplace 'thing'.

Nevermind the fact you can get an exemption for 'trade secrets'.

Re:I'll wait for the MSDS/Patent Filing (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 months ago | (#45675233)

The insulator – which Maxwell won't identify but swears is non-toxic

I think this is a case where it most certainly needs to be disclosed in an MSDS and/or patent filing (though more likely in the MSDS, as the patent filing is allowed to be vague).

I dunno. I have a Sigg insulated drink bottle, which holds 1L and if I pour hot green tea into it, it will still be hot the next day. Larges contributing factor in coffee cooling in a cup has to be surface area at the top. Evaporation takes energy with it, so minimize exposure at the top and your coffee will stay hot longer.

Rather like those dang travel mugs where I can't drink the hot coffee for about an hour after I bought it >:(

Re:I'll wait for the MSDS/Patent Filing (2)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45675301)

I've never seen a Sigg bottle--do they also use a chemical insulator which changes phases and could potentially mix with the beverage? A bit of research on my part suggested that what DavidClarkeHR said is likely to also be true in the US, as consumer products are exempted from requiring MSDS's unless it's part of an employees function to handle some chemical. Amusingly, the FDA also states that any product emitting "any type of radiation" is under their purview. I wonder if they've ever heard of black-body radiation. (I know, now I'm just being ridiculous.)

I'm just worried about this miracle material that he refuses to disclose that might potentially wind up mixed with my coffee. The first person with an allergy to it is going to make headlines.

Re:I'll wait for the MSDS/Patent Filing (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#45675443)

If the material is separated from the beverage by the cup's inner wall, its not an FDA issue.
It may be a CPSC issue if the inner cup was would bee thin enough to puncture easily (such as if you stir your hot chocolate), but there would seem to be no reason for a dangerously thin wall.

Re:I'll wait for the MSDS/Patent Filing (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45675475)

I wasn't saying it was an FDA issue, I was saying it was amusing and I stumbled across it in the course of looking for information.

Re:I'll wait for the MSDS/Patent Filing (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 10 months ago | (#45675273)

IT'S PEOPLE! Temperfect mugs are made out of people!!

.

Re:I'll wait for the MSDS/Patent Filing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676811)

Most likely the secret insulator is Wax. It melts at 63 celsius (~140 fahrenheit) and is non toxic.

Intersting historical note :Pouring molten wax was also used as a cure for polio, apparently polio virus dies at 63 degrees, while most humans can survive molten wax without burns.

Re:I'll wait for the MSDS/Patent Filing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676971)

Citation? I tried to find a source for that claim and came up empty. Wiki flatly says, "There is no cure for polio."

I have a near perfect one... (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 months ago | (#45675163)

It holds 800ml.

If you need insulation, you are drinking it too slow.

perhaps the ability to add an iv-drip

Re:I have a near perfect one... (3, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | about 10 months ago | (#45675277)

Personally, the "cools it quickly to a drinkable temp" was the biggest attraction for me. I have to put a single ice cube in my mug when I use the coffee machine here at work, or else I have to wait twenty minutes so I don't scald myself.

Re:I have a near perfect one... (2)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#45675461)

That would be a work place risk, probably already covered by OSHA.
If you want to get everyone pissed off, just file an OSHA complaint. They will descend on your workplace and find fault with everything from the floor tile to the overhead lights.

Re:I have a near perfect one... (1)

dj245 (732906) | about 10 months ago | (#45676297)

That would be a work place risk, probably already covered by OSHA. If you want to get everyone pissed off, just file an OSHA complaint. They will descend on your workplace and find fault with everything from the floor tile to the overhead lights.

Depends on the locality. I filed one against a summer employer for clearly unsafe activities. Common practice was to get in a clogged hopper with the conveyor underneath still running. The site supervisor advocated the practice. An extremely serious and obvious safety hazard. OSHA looked the other way.

The company went bankrupt 2 months later.

Re: I have a near perfect one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676289)

Whiskey stones?

Re:I have a near perfect one... (1)

dontbemad (2683011) | about 10 months ago | (#45676743)

This is the reason I drink my coffee with milk. Cuts the acidity just right, and also cools it to the perfect temperature.

Another solution (for those that frequent coffee shops) is actually specifying beverage temperatures. When I go to starbucks, for example, I order my lattes at 140 degrees. Its a bit cooler than the normal, scalding temperature, and just right for drinking right away.

Wrong shape (2)

dohzer (867770) | about 10 months ago | (#45675167)

It's too tall and thin; it will tip over easily (not that it matters if it has a spill-proof lid, but still...).

No wonder the world hates us. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675187)

A $40 coffee mug. Come here and let me slap you.

I don't need my coffee kept hot for hours. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675193)

I just need it hot enough until I finish drinking it.

And having coffee sit around at 140 degree will eventually make it taste like shit.

It's a cool design and invention, but it's one that should be applied somewhere else.

disadvantage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675211)

> (...) As the heat of the coffee escapes, the insulating material releases heat through the inner wall of the mug to keep it hot as long as possible (...)

This also means that, early in the morning, the insulating layer will stay cold as long as possible and cool down your coffee. Thermodynamics is a bitch :(

Captcha: "delirium"... how adequate

Re:disadvantage... (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about 10 months ago | (#45675299)

Wait, what does the time of day have to do with thermodynamics? If the coffee and insulating material are both heated to the same temperature then there is no way it would cool things down *more* quickly than if there were no insulation at all. Especially if you rinse the mug out with some hot water first to add some heat to the system before putting the coffee in. There is no disadvantage to this system...

Re:disadvantage... (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 10 months ago | (#45675343)

Well, that is part of the appeal. It’s supposed to rapidly cool your coffee down to 140 degrees – the perfect tempura to drink it at – and hold it at that temperature.

Re:disadvantage... (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45675393)

cool down your coffee.

Isn't that the selling point? To use the inner insulator to remove some of the excess heat, bringing it down to a perfect temperature? And once they're in thermal equilibrium, using further outer layers of insulation to maintain the two inner layers roughly in equilibrium?

Re:disadvantage... (3, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about 10 months ago | (#45675875)

As others have pointed you - you missed the point.

It cools to 140, and then holds near 140 for as long as possible, because 140 is the optimal coffee temperature -- or so sayeth the coffee gods.

That said, I spent a lot of time explaining to people with the "new aluminum beer bottles" that "gets cold faster!" also means "gets warm faster" for all the same reasons.

espresso? (1)

lisabeeren (657508) | about 10 months ago | (#45675219)

sounds ideal for /american style/ coffee; which has been criticised for being less than perfect. espresso anyone?

Re:espresso? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675243)

I'll bet dollars to donuts you are a HUGE oneophile.

American coffee ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675287)

... is like making love in a canoe ...

Re:American coffee ... (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45675325)

Wet, rough, and wobbling all over? Oh god it burns...

Re:espresso? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675309)

coffee vs espresso is, frankly, a matter of taste. they're completely different drinks. that said, the cafe americano is an anachronistic abomination.

and by 'american style', i'll assume you mean 'good'. american coffee culture has, by now, matched and surpassed the european in terms of quality, diversity, and most of all, snobbery, whether you want espresso or drip/french-pressed.

Re:espresso? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 10 months ago | (#45676631)

Having travelled through North America, this 'summer', it is possible to get decent coffee made from an Italian espresso machine. Just look for independent local cafeterias staffed by hipsters with beards. :) Pour overs have become a post-espresso fad.

The secret is to 'have here'. Coffee-to-go is another story - if the store wraps your latte's disposal container in a cardboard sleeve to prevent hand scoldage then they're doing it wrong - 'experts' have remarked that flavour and nutrients in the milk are destroyed by heating it to such a high temperature.

as for 'anachronistic abomination' of the americano, I guess it depends on the cup size. A 'long black' is a common beverage in Australia, while I was served 'Allonge' in Montreal. Each in a standard coffee cup - not a jumbo container where the flavour is diluted by copious amounts of hot water.

Tim Hortons and Starbucks, on the other hand, is what most people experience as bad American coffee. Bland muddy water, where a piping hot caffeine-laden 500ml+ take-out trumps flavour.

Re:espresso? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 10 months ago | (#45675339)

Anyone can criticize anything, big deal.

And this isn't ideal for "American style" anything. It's ideal for keeping a certain quantity of hot liquid hot. Feel free to fill it with a latte, cocoa, tea, apple cider, mulled wine, or your own urine if you feel so inclined.

Re:espresso? (2)

chromas (1085949) | about 10 months ago | (#45676459)

Urine coming out at over 140 degrees may be a health concern.

Sunk cost (5, Funny)

istartedi (132515) | about 10 months ago | (#45675265)

It'll never sell to me. There are sunk costs involved. I have too much engineering invested in non-linear coffee consumption as cheap mugs and paper cups lose heat. Slowly at first, with much intake of the aroma. Then cautious sips, then normal sips, then fairly heavy consumption somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3rd of the way down. It ain't broke. I'm not fixing it. It works anywhere. No need to buy an expensive mug, take it with me everywhere, wash it, and worry about losing it.

Re:Sunk cost (4, Informative)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45675377)

A sunk cost [wikipedia.org] is something you walk away from. That's why it's sunk. It shouldn't influence your future behavior. Continuing to throw money at it is known as "throwing good money after bad".

In economics and business decision-making, a sunk cost is a retrospective (past) cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. Sunk costs are sometimes contrasted with prospective costs, which are future costs that may be incurred or changed if an action is taken.

In traditional microeconomic theory, only prospective (future) costs are relevant to an investment decision. Traditional economics proposes that economic actors should not let sunk costs influence their decisions. Doing so would not be rationally assessing a decision exclusively on its own merits.

Sunk costs should not affect the rational decision-maker's best choice. However, until a decision-maker irreversibly commits resources, the prospective cost is an avoidable future cost and is properly included in any decision-making processes.

Evidence from behavioral economics suggests this theory fails to predict real-world behavior. Sunk costs do, in fact, influence actors' decisions because humans are prone to loss aversion and framing effects.

Re:Sunk cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676085)

Thank you for that last paragraph containing "...behavioral economics suggests this theory fails to predict real-world behavior".

At a personal level this is known as Buyer's Remorse. At a Corporate Organizational level, this can be seen in the phrase "Failure is Not an Option".

Re:Sunk cost (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676317)

Um, at a personal level it's known as "doubling down" on an investment in money or time because you don't want to lose that investment (even though you already have). It's highly irrational, although as a rule of thumb (which is how we tend to operate) probably not that bad--otherwise we may be prone to giving up on endeavors too soon.

Buyer's remorse is just that, being remorseful. It doesn't have the effect of causing you to continue to make irrational economic decisions.

"Failure is not an option"... okay, maybe, sorta, if you squint really hard.

"Throwing good money after bad" really does sum it up well, although it doesn't help you if you don't fundamentally understand the concept.

Re:Sunk cost (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 10 months ago | (#45676859)

Economic theory be damned. I'm going all-in on ignoring their product.

The Insulator is Spam (5, Funny)

Hillgiant (916436) | about 10 months ago | (#45675315)

The unnamed insulator is Spam. Not sure if that makes it toxic or non-toxic, though.

Re:The Insulator is Spam (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 10 months ago | (#45675331)

Damn. I was hoping it was cheese.

Not practical (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675357)

Unless the "phase change" material is quite massive, making the mug heavy, there is no way that a thin layer can literally cool a piping hot drink enough to be useful, let alone act as a temperature maintainer. A well built thermal mug can also keep a hot liquid between 128 and 140F for 90 minutes. This smacks of a bit of a con. Well done, con.

Re:Not practical (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45675415)

The phase change material comes into equilibrium with the inner material, reducing the heat of the inner material (coffee) by moving some of it to the insulator. The two inner layers (coffe + phase change) are maintained in equilibrium by the outer insulating layer which appears to be traditional. Now, as for effectiveness, I'll let someone else spend the $40.

Re:Not practical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45677137)

When going through a phase transition, usually a much large amount of energy is absorbed or released than a change of temperature of a couple degrees. For example, with paraffin wax, it takes the same amount of energy to melt one gram as it does to change the temperature of solid wax by about hundred degrees C. If you have a material with the right phase change point, you need a lot less physical mass to get the same effective thermal mass.

Mystery Material Is Probably Gallium (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675369)

My money is on Gallium:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallium

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aolRO9eteSk

It melts at 30C and is actually non toxic. Maybe he alloys something with it to bump the melting point up a little, though, basic thermo tells me an alloy will melt at a lower temp.

Anyway, there are variations on this that aren't so nicely non-toxic due to components like: tin, bismuth, antimony and lead.

http://scitoys.com/scitoys/scitoys/thermo/thermo4.html

Re:Mystery Material Is Probably Gallium (4, Informative)

thatseattleguy (897282) | about 10 months ago | (#45675593)

All good, except; gallium is hella expensive. And very very dense, therefore very heavy.
My money is on good old-fashioned paraffin wax, which (at least in the bulk candle variety that I bought in my hippie candle-making days) melts at exactly 140F.
Cheap and food-grade (it coats many candy items) and pretty light.

Re:Mystery Material Is Probably Gallium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675747)

Very dense isn't necessarily a problem, the question is how much mass is required to absorb a given amount of heat, i.e. higher enthalpy of fusion wins. In fact, for two materials with the same enthalpy of fusion, the denser material is better, because the same mass needs less volume, therefore you can fit more coffee in (or shrink the cup's external dimensions, or cram in more insulation).

But yeah, of course it's paraffin.

Re:Mystery Material Is Probably Gallium (0)

thatseattleguy (897282) | about 10 months ago | (#45676339)

Dense doesn't matter for the physics of the heat, of course. But it makes the cup more expensive to ship and to heavy to use. That's my point about gallium.

Re:Mystery Material Is Probably Gallium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675597)

I bet bees wax

Re:Mystery Material Is Probably Gallium (2)

jcochran (309950) | about 10 months ago | (#45675655)

Sorry, but a melting point of 30C is entirely too low. That's about 85F and that is the temperature that the cup of coffee would be soon brought down to until all of the gallium melted. The 140F ( 60C) temperature mentioned points towards paraffin wax which is commonly used as a phase change material for maintaining temperatures http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraffin_wax#Properties [wikipedia.org]

30C too low (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676147)

If it melts at 30C then it also freezes there - too low a temp to keep the coffee hot when it gives up its latent heat

Re:Mystery Material Is Probably Gallium (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 10 months ago | (#45676829)

It's listed as a material that is in food so I'd say not.
Heavily salted bacon grease? Coconut oil/Copha? Any ideas for something that's going to last and melts at 60C?

As for basic thermo - look for a binary phase diagram for an alloy between two metals of different melting points. There will be some compositions where the melting point is higher than that of the one with the lower melting points. Tin-Lead is a good one to look for, you'll notice that with a lot of tin the melting point is higher than that of Lead.

Writing comprehension fail (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 10 months ago | (#45675379)

90 minutes is not "hours." It's not even plural; it's less than 2 hours.

Re:Writing comprehension fail (3, Informative)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 10 months ago | (#45675621)

Any quantity over one is plural, including 1.5 hours. For that matter, while fractions between zero and one are generally written in the singular form (1/2 hour), the equivalent decimal forms are typically plural (0.5 hours). Zero is always plural. Really, the only quantity guaranteed to use the singular form is exactly one.

That said, you're correct that the quantity-free "hours" would generally imply at least two hours, regardless of the fact that 90 minutes converted to hours would be written with a plural. That's because it doesn't include potential fractions of an hour, only whole numbers.

Re:Writing comprehension fail (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675907)

Very well done, professor. Take the next couple of weeks off for Christmas. Happy Holidays.

90 Minutes??? (1)

jddeluxe (965655) | about 10 months ago | (#45675403)

Who needs that? Doesn't everyone on this site tend to slam the caffeine down as quickly as possible?

Re:90 Minutes??? (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45675513)

Nope. I find that a slow drip works better than a big rush and crash.

Re:90 Minutes??? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 10 months ago | (#45675885)

I'm home brewing caffeine patches. DMSO and Mountain Dew.

It's no fun if you don't disclose the materials (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675581)

People, come on. It's no fun if you don't disclose the materials. Just as a guess, I'd reckon they're using Polycaprolactone. It's a non-toxic thermoplastic, reasonably cheap and melts at around 60C (i.e. 140F). The heat of fusion seems to be around 140 kJ/kg, which is reasonable.
It's easily obtainable for hobbyists and actually quite fun to play around with, as it melts in water and can then be shaped by hand. Or, for that respect, put into your coffee to maintain a certain temperature.

Beeswax? (2)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 10 months ago | (#45675627)

My guess is the mystery insulator material is beeswax. At least, the temperatures are about right, it's non-toxic, and doesn't oxidize AFAIK.

The Lid is a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675707)

I bet in all the research done, a lid would have made a big difference. My problem here is where in this graph do we see the loss of fluid?
If i wanna let a cup of coffee sit out, that's fine, but i'm drinking it = less surface area to interact with the insulation and cup itself.

Re:The Lid is a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675737)

It's a cup of coffee, If you need a lid to extend the 90 minutes full you're doing it wrong.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675715)

I remember hearing about this as a senior project at New Mexico Tech- I think for some Materials Engineer students- probably wouldn't be able to get it patented.

Melting point 140 degrees F (~60 degrees C). (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675725)

... is a chemical insulator that is solid at room temperature but melts into a liquid at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The insulator – which Maxwell won't identify but swears is non-toxic...

Colud be polycaprolactone but that would be expensive...

Probably paraffin wax with a melting point of 60 degrees C.

140 Fahrenheit? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675849)

What is wrong with Yankees?
Can you not drink cofee that is hot?
140 F is just 60 Celsius. A baby would complain that is barely warm.

Re:140 Fahrenheit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676917)

What is wrong with you?
Are you stupid, or just an idiot?
Nobody cares about your conversion, you are a fool.
60 degrees is piping hot, piping hot is hot enough, we know that, why do you knot know that?
Foolish idiot!

why not this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45675873)

http://french.alibaba.com/product-gs/coffee-warmer-electronic-tea-warmer-usb-cup-coffee-warmer-for-laptop-783107725.html
Sry it s the first one i found, and much less than 40$

Or even cooler, merge both!

Very Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676109)

However I spy a problem. If the drink isn't hot enough to begin with then the initial setup conditions aren't met. I say this mainly because my current brews are coming out a little tepid. Such a cup would not correct this.

You may say this is nitpicking, but they are charging a premium price. The customer is entitled to nitpick at those prices.

Pfft... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676119)

What a piker.

Just line your coffee mug with plutonium. That'll keep it warm.

Cool... or hot? (2)

koan (80826) | about 10 months ago | (#45676467)

I just set my ceramic mug on top of my Apple Airport, that seems to keep it warm.

No one taking coffee seriously should buy this... (2)

PineGreen (446635) | about 10 months ago | (#45676515)

This is precisely one thing that irks me about living in the US. People get the coffee culture completely wrong, they even say things like "let's grab a coffee". In civilized countries, you never *walk* around with a coffee. You sit down, spend 10 focused minutes on an espresso and maybe conversation and then go on doing things with both hands. Walking around holding some significant fraction of gallon of coffee is just pointless - you get gorilla arm, you never enjoy coffee and you never enjoy a real break.

Re:No one taking coffee seriously should buy this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45676627)

"Coffee culture"? "Gorilla arm"? Are you for fucking real? It's just a drink. Not everybody turns it into a ritual.

Re:No one taking coffee seriously should buy this. (2)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45676741)

A slightly more subtle than glaringly obvious example of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

Re:No one taking coffee seriously should buy this. (1)

dontbemad (2683011) | about 10 months ago | (#45676773)

While I enjoy the same things you stated, I don't really see how you "can't take coffee seriously" if you ever do these things. As a working individual, there are times when I simply don't have the time to sit down and chat for a while. But I sure as hell would love to be able to have a hot cup of coffee as I walk to a meeting or something.

Re:No one taking coffee seriously should buy this. (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about 10 months ago | (#45676919)

I think you clearly validated their hyperbole regarding U.S. work culture. As someone who is also pressured by work to a degree of questionable ethical limits, I'm a bit disappoint to see another person standing up for the work place culture that is demonstrably wrong (not entirely about the coffee thing, but with regards to hustle and bustle).

Re:No one taking coffee seriously should buy this. (1)

dontbemad (2683011) | about 10 months ago | (#45677135)

there are times when I simply don't have the time to sit down and chat for a while

I really don't understand how one could interpret that to mean that I *never* have time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. Or whatever beverage I like. There are plenty of times at work where I'll take 10-20 minutes and enjoy a cup of green tea while just relaxing. But occasionally, I may have a meeting that I have to go, immediately following an hour or two of trying to work through some bugs in code. In that three hour block, I would like some coffee, but there aren't any breaks possible.

Maybe you guys never really go to cafes or coffee shops, but in my home town, there are around 6 starbucks at various locations, and they are almost always full to the brim of people sitting, relaxing, and enjoying a hot drink. And that's usually the same picture I see at most starbucks and coffee shops in general.

It is definitely easy to cherry pick the occasions when working individuals unfortunately don't have time to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee, but then again, I find that cherry picking is usually the basis for most arguments i read...

Filthy Casuals (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about 10 months ago | (#45676891)

No cup of coffee should need to sit around more than 30 minutes. If you're doing hours of reading or socializing, you should be having more than one cup, sized appropriately to your preferences and tolerance.

Hell, part of the social ritual is the host refilling the beverage, a demonstration of their ability to provide an abundance to a guest.
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