Playing it cool: Kansas company hopes its air filtration product can put COVID-19 on ice

Frosty Tech’s primary business is making no-waste cooling gel packs, but it’s collaborating on a promising device that could kill airborne viruses.

Today’s headlines:

🚧 CONSTRUCTION: Purdue University researchers are working on intelligent concrete technology that could boost the sustainability and resilience of infrastructure and construction projects by letting roadways and bridges more accurately convey where they need repairs, and possibly repair themselves with self-healing concrete. (Purdue University)

📑 STUDY: University of Wisconsin-Madison material science engineers contributed to a study of radiation’s effect on advanced polycrystalline ceramics, such as those used in silicon solar panels or superconductors, discovering characteristics that could help manufacturers improve ceramic material strength and integrity. (UW-Madison)

An Overland Park, Kansas-based company that provides environmentally-friendly cooling solutions such as gel packs is working on an air filtration device that eventually could prove beneficial in mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus. More on Frosty Tech after today’s tech headlines…

Now more on Frosty Tech, which is collaborating on an air filtration device that kills airborne viruses. So far, no companies have been able to accurately claim their products kill the novel coronavirus, but initial testing rounds for the Frosty Tech product show promise, said Tony Bergida, director of marketing and communications. Testing is ongoing, and the company is holding off on releasing additional details until a manufacturing deal is signed and Frosty Tech can say with 100% certainty that the product eliminates the coronavirus.

The technology: Frosty Tech was founded in 2010 for developing environmentally-friendly, quick-cooling solutions. Its Enviro Ice gel packs can be cut open at the end of use and the contents can be poured down a drain, then the outer sheath can be recycled. The nitrogen-based contents also can be used as a plant fertilizer. The gel packs commonly are used for meal service deliveries and medical shipments.

The impact: Most cooling gel packs get disposed in landfills, and many contain toxic ingredients. Frosty Tech’s gel packs reduce waste and the contents can be reused or disposed safely. “When consumers use Enviro Ice they have the option of taking care of their plants… We see this as not only being a neutral effect on the environment, but something that is net positive,” Bergida said. Many cooling solutions also take a while to reach optimal temperatures, don’t last long, or provide inconsistent cooling, but Frosty Tech’s no-waste solutions can keep medical shipments such as vaccines at a consistent temperature for up to 72 hours.

Major challenge: “Everyone wants to be green until they see how much it costs,” Bergida said. The Enviro Ice product was too cost prohibitive in its first iteration, so the Frosty Tech team had to redesign the product “to get the cost down and still make it green.”

The backstory: Bergida’s brother, John Bergida, founded the company after winning a school competition for a self-cooling can, which he patented. He comes from a line of innovators: their grandfather reportedly invented the car lock and bobby pin. Bergida wanted to start a company that used engineering and cooling innovations to make the world a better place.

What’s next: In addition to the air filtration system, Frosty Tech has numerous other projects in the works including an evaporative cooling system for developing countries. A long-term project is investigating instant cooling salts for refrigeration that would reduce electricity use by 50-70%, hopefully leading to a zero-electricity option down the road. The business is collaborating with a partner in the UK on a completely compostable gel pack that could be tossed into a garden to act as fertilizer, instead of recycling the exterior sheath; progress on that project has slowed because of the pandemic. “We have much bigger projects lined up down the road that could change the face of the future of cooling,” Bergida said. “We’re hopeful and excited about what the future could hold in terms of cost-effective, greener solutions… the supply chain has a lot of room for improvement there.”

I want to hear about other companies that are using technology to help the environment. If you work for one or know of one, let me know so I can feature it in a future newsletter. Email or connect on Twitter @centereddottech.

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