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Self-Heating Can 294

nickprecision writes "Ontro has been working for a while, and they are about ready to get to the public market. Quite a nifty little self-heating can... imagine the uses. Read up so you know about it when your friends pull one out on the ski hill."
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Self-Heating Can

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I worked on one of their early sites. The can does seem like a nice thing to have on camping trips and other places where you can't light up a big fire to heat stuff up. The military I believe was interested in.

    • I haven't gone camping in a little bit, but I know things like this have been out for a long time. Maybe they're not the same implementations, as I have mainly just used the self heating meal packages, but I'm sure the idea behind it all is the same. You just have a certain chemical mix that will produce some heat when combined, and the chemicals are seperated until the user does something (the ones I used had you pull a string) and then they are combined. Here, it appears that the user needs to push a button on the bottom of the can to mix the chemicals, and they seem to just be mixing calcium oxide with water - which is definitely an exothermic process. From []:

      Calcium oxide is a basic anhydride, reacting with water to form calcium hydroxide ; during the reaction (slaking) much heat is given off and the solid nearly doubles its volume.

      And these setups were no joke, the meals came out piping hot. Anyways, this technology has been out for several years back since the mid to later 1990s, and this appears to just be another implementation of it - although that's not to say it isn't useful. Carrying a can around with you and being able to push a button to heat its contents up is still neat.

      A few links to some of the self heating meal packages:

      AlpineAire Foods [] - I believe these were the packages I had previously used. It appears as though they have discontinued production of their self heating meals.

      Heater Meals [] appears to have the user apply the water themselves. I've never used these before, but they look to be more of an emergency situation use. Still, self heating meals!
  • by gTsiros ( 205624 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @06:58AM (#3199236)
    "anytime, anywhere"

    and they trademarked it. am i the only one who thinks that this is stupid?
    • Well the good news is that if they ever try to sue anyone for trademark infringement, they'll definately lose the trademark. Ala AOL and their "You've Got Mail".
    • How about some prior art from "Taxi Driver":

      Cab Dispatcher: Can you drive to the Bronx? Manhattan?
      DeNiro: Anytime. Anywhere.

      Cab Dispatcher: Do you work on Jewish holidays?
      DeNiro: Anytime. Anywhere.

      Cab dispatcher: How's your driving record? Clean?
      DeNiro: Clean. Just like my conscience.

      -metric -- you talkin to me?
      • Prior art is for patents. The ambiguousness (sp?) of the trademark is what will get it revoked later should they attempt to take anyone to court over it.
        • For what I know, trademarks are only applicable within the same market - so if their concurrent starts using these 2 words they will have a problem. But if I'd like to sell myself for sex and use those 2 words for marketing - no problem. I can even trademark it. Go look at a trademark reg office's registers - you'll find many doubles, but they simply operate on other markets.
    • and they trademarked it. am i the only one who thinks that this is stupid?


      Sounds a little close to that old Martini [] ad!
    • "Write once, run anywhere"
    • "anytime, anywhere"

      and they trademarked it. am i the only one who thinks that this is stupid?


      You toss in some comment about trademark laws being stupid, and you get the karma. Fscking Ingenius. [Sarcasm off]

      For those not in the know, this trademark only applies to companies in the trade -- this will likely mean canned beverages (more generically, beverages packaged to be consumed away from preparation utilities) and coffee (protecting them from Starbucks using the same saying on their little paper or styrofoam cups.

      Addressing the stupidity of the word choice itself, one must admit that the choice is very consise, and accurately describes the product. "Bad Coffee For Those On The Run But Addicted To Caffeine" will likely not set well with their focus groups. But hey, if you have better words, nobody will stop you from packaging a closed system exothermic reaction with some beverage and slogan of your choice.

      I think the real market would be in endothermic closed system reactions packaged with the beverage of choice.

    • Yea, that is definitely not a "Good Thing" ©

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Self-heating cans were in use by the military during WWII!
  • Already In Europe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dave500 ( 107484 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @07:02AM (#3199248)
    Just a sidenote - in Europe (well - London) Nestle already sell similar cans of self heating coffee. Works quite well - shame about the taste of whats in the can though. I can't remember the reactants - but the oxidser is diluted hyrogen preoxide.
    • Re:Already In Europe (Score:3, Interesting)

      by psychofox ( 92356 )
      The other problem with it is the amount of coffee you actually get. The Nescafe product comes in what looks like a regular 330ml coke can size package. However, it only only holds ~200 ml of coffee. The other ~100ml being taken up by the heating mechanism.

      Its interesting that they also sell two variants. One can with sugar and one without. Both come with milk.

      I actually think it tastes quite nice!

      • Re:Already In Europe (Score:2, Informative)

        by psychofox ( 92356 )
        A good review is here:
      • So have they made self-heatable beer cans yet? This way, the pubs in London can chill the beer like it was meant to be drunk (heh) and the locals can just heat it up if they swing that way. This is a win-win situation, eh?
        • Better yet, use an endothermic reaction to chill the beer on demand.

          Can any chemists speak to the feasiblity of this? Are there ingredients safe, cheap, and efficient enough for the purpose?

    • Also in Glasgow. I don't get it. They sell them at train stations - never seen them anywhere else - meaning they expect you to buy a self heating tin of tasteless instant gack, instead of walking into one of the many coffee shops in every station and buying a fresh, tasty, coffee for a similar price?

      Naffcafe', no thanks.
  • Do you guys not have this yet in the USA? The Nescafe coffee company have release self heating cans over here.

    Quite heavy, and have some kind of chemical chamber in the middle of the can. You turn it upside down, press a button in the middle, and shake untill the button pops back out. Wait for 3 minutes, and open the can - hey presto, hot coffee. And whilst it doesnt taste *amazing*, its still quite drinkable if you want a hot drink.

    Pretty expensive too though..
    • UKians shouldn't be too smug; this product has been available in Japan (where foul sweet milky coffee is more popular) for donkeys' years
    • The red thermo liquid tastes more like coffee than the coffee does, and keeps you awake for longer. ;-p
      I wonder what the possibilities are for hacking the can though? I quite fancy one with a cooked breakfast in it.

    • I'm not surprised. This is not a flame (nor a self-heating post, for that matter), but what I experienced of coffee in the UK... let's just say I stuck to tea while I was there -- the tea was tasty, thankfully. And I had a capuccino as soon as I landed in France, so I felt better. :)
  • by Cyberdyne ( 104305 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @07:02AM (#3199251) Journal
    Quite neat really: a cup of coffee (two versions: white, and white+sugar), with a little capsule on the bottom. Press the button (filled with red gel), wait a couple of minutes, then drink!

    It looked like a nice idea, but I didn't try it - mainly because of the price: £1.30 IIRC, which is about $2. It seems a bit much IMHO for a normal cup of takeaway coffee, even if it does have a neat self-heating function! Good for camping trips, perhaps, but not in the roadside service station where they were selling it: you can buy normal fresh coffee for the same price and get a seat and newspaper to go with it...

    • Also, they are made by the evil Nestlé corporation, so I won't touch them with a barge pole.
    • It looked like a nice idea, but I didn't try it - mainly because of the price: £1.30 IIRC, which is about $2. It seems a bit much IMHO for a normal cup of takeaway coffee, even if it does have a neat self-heating function!

      Yeah, they sell these in the WH Smith and Kings X station, but for GBP 1.35 you can get a very nice coffee from AMT just across the concourse.

      To get back on topic, self-heating rations have been experimented with by armies for a long time, but have generally been discarded as expensive and very unpopular with soldiers. I cannot see self-heating coffee replacing the vacuum-flask for a very long time.
    • >It seems a bit much IMHO for a normal cup of
      >takeaway coffee, even if it does have a neat
      >self-heating function!

      A "normal cup of takeaway coffee" is fine if you want to drink it right away.

      This seems more intended for folks that want a cup of coffee two hours from now, when they might not be at the local Quick Stop anymore.

  • Just do a search on google for 'self heating can' - I came up with this link with a bit of quick history and chemistry on self-heating coffee sold by Nestle: /w

  • by zerosignal ( 222614 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @07:03AM (#3199253) Homepage Journal
    Here are some people comments: []

  • I don't mean to pick but this hardly seems like news. Cans like these have been on the shelves in London for at least 2 months that I've seen (Nescafe coffee in a can I think). So what happened to the /. bleeding edge?
  • You have been able to buy self heating nescafe coffee at my local service station for a month or so now. The volume of actual coffee in each is quite low but I keep one in the glove compartment for cold morning trafic jams.
  • The military has been using self-heating ration packs for years - first ones I saw were US Army issue, but the UK armed forces use them too. And Nestle has been piloting self-heating cans of coffee in the UK (and probably elsewhere) for at least several months now, so there's already an emerging consumer market.
  • How is this better than the Nescafe "Hot when you want" cans that have been for sale for some months? They're coffee in a can that heats itself before you drink it; they cost about a quid, a quid fifty. I don't know if they were limited-period trials or promotions, but they were certainly for sale towards the end of last year.
  • I hope this thing is extremely reusable, I didn't see much in the way of replacment elements. Oh well...I think some sort of electronic system would be better for these reasons:

    1) You buy 1 unit and no replacment filter or whatever.

    2) You can keep things continuous warm if near electricty.

    3) Adjustable heat levels.

    This thing lacks that kinda stuff. I guess if you are willing to cash more cash for something like that it's cool. It would be handy for camping, but isn't a camp fire+pot+water the same thing?
    • Uh, it's a chemical reaction that produces the heat... It's not like you can just plug it in to keep it warm.. unless you put a electrical heating element in and that would just hike the price tremendously.

      As for the waste, I hope they're compatible with aluminum recycling to make it a little less littersome.
  • Here in the UK, Nescafe cans already self-heat. Can't say I've ever bought one, I'm not a coffee guy. Here's a description of the method (taken from this review []):

    "1. Turn can upside down and depress button.
    2. Shake from side to side until all the red liquid has disappeared (takes quite a few shakes, this)
    3. Stand upright (the can, not you) and wait for three minutes (during which time you hear a couple of pops and a hushed fizz)
    4. Open can with ring pull and drink your hot coffee!"

    The can mentioned in the story looks easier to use, but these things are on the market.
  • Its hardly new technology is it? Maybe Ontro have just produced a slightly more efficient heating method but UK armed services personnel used a self-heating can that was introduced in 1939 (and used around D-Day). It relied on the burning of cordite to provide the thermal energy to heat a tin of (Heinz?) soup. I think all the recent self-heating mechanisms have relied on the reaction between calcium oxide (also called quick lime) and a water-based solution.
    • Re:Hardly a new idea (Score:3, Informative)

      by RayChuang ( 10181 )
      I think all the recent self-heating mechanisms have relied on the reaction between calcium oxide (also called quick lime) and a water-based solution.

      Actually, the Japanese had such can since the middle 1980's for cans of sake so the sake can be pre-warmed. I've seen them and they do work quite well.
  • Finally outdoor-jock technology is catching up with my desk-potato needs.

    No more long hikes to the coffee pot for me.
  • Website Design (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jaavaaguru ( 261551 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @07:15AM (#3199282) Homepage
    I can see this getting slashdotted fairly quickly if they had more information on the site, since they seem to want to do everything as images. And the site has one paragraph of text and no links when viewed in Lynx. Not very geek-friendly.
  • All those college students won't have to spend money on the microwave. They can just get this for their Ramen consumption. ... ::drool:: Raaaaaaamen. Or just think, they get the technology cheap enough, and they can put it on cans and stuff and have self-cooking ramen and soups to begin with. I can't wait.
  • This is different from the Nestle stuff. They think they can make it cheaper and better. Here's a link to the article. Oh. Wait. Never mind.
  • I hate going for a crap on a cold winters morning and freezing my arse off.
    A self heating can would be really nice - great big thanks to all those boffins!!
  • The one [] made by Heinz and ICI for the military in WWII.

    The one [] made for the military today.

    What are other news today?
  • apart from the long "who made it first discussion" there is the "who actually uses this stuff?".
    I personally live in a country where it is almost impossible to get further than a kilometer away from the next place with fresh coffee (and getting one on a nice terrace with some extra cake and stuff sounds cheaper than this canned brew)
  • Since thses cups are already out everywhere else, why don't they warm the toilet seat for those cold winter days. Or just ignore me :P
  • Mine's right below a size 33" waist. It's also fully recyclable, organically powered, and pinto supercharged! I'd like to see them beat that! Unfortunately, market demand for my self heating can is at an all time low and I am considering making my can GPL. . .
  • And if we weren't already lazy enough, we now have disposable drink heaters to save us having to walk to the nearest microwave.

    Should we turn even more virgin resources into landfill for the sake of such trifleing convenience?

    I think consumers will answer that, and it'll be a resounding YES! :)

  • Disposable cans are bad enough, but with a heating element there's much more waste to be disposed of. And I suspect these would be much harder to recycle - it would have to be dismantled into its component parts.
  • Made Ready to Eat meals have been in the Army for a long time, and they're self-heating. How is this new technology? At best, it's an MRE in can form - but you can already buy MREs from surplus stores if you positively have to have them!
    • MRE=Meal ready to eat. They are self heating, just add water. Not sure what all is in the heat tab that comes with them, but you can rip them open and shove them in a plastic water bottle or soda bottle, add water, wait a few, and BLAM!!! Instant fun for you and your friends. Just hope that "Charlie" isn't out there watching and recording your position.

      As a side note, my AC friend here is right, MRE's can be painful...Let's leave it at that.

  • In part of their description [], they state that their product will...
    • "...heat its contents approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit above the starting temperature of the product."
    Let's see... the forcast for Killington, VT (USA) today is for highs of 34F (1C) and lows of 5F (-15C). (There's a popular ski area there for those of you who aren't familiar.)

    Wind chill doesn't apply, so figure ambient (plus a gimme factor for residual temp + insulation) plus 75F, and you're looking at 109F (43C) during the day, and 80F (27C) at night while you're trapped in a tree and the ski patrol's searching for your freezing ass. Not exactly what I'd call 'toasty warm.'

    So, if you're skiing and packing your coffee | soup | chili in a backpack... don't expect the warmest meal. As for less extreme situations... I can nuke my hot chocolate a lot faster in the microwave at work, and I'm not so damn lazy I can't get up from my desk to do it.

    I think this'll sell for a short period just due to the "Hey, cool!" factor, and then die due to expense.

    • I can nuke my hot chocolate a lot faster in the microwave at work, and I'm not so damn lazy I can't get up from my desk to do it.

      And I have my microwave at my desk - so I get the best of both worlds!

      • Ha!

        I don't know if I'd want that. There'd be people wanting to use it all the time, and people using it when I'm not around (and then leaving a mess)...

        I like our Amana [] anyway... It can reduce popcorn to a smoking pile of carbon faster than you can say "It's only a microwave! How powerful can it be?"

        Besides, I don't have a 220v plug at my desk. (And thank God for that! I'd probably glow in the dark if I spent too much time near that thing!)

        • This is at home, I certainly wouldn't want to be such a "high traffic" area at work.

          Besides, I don 't even use the microwave at work - the 25 cent Mountain Dew is all anyone could ever ask for!

  • Maybe I"m getting old, but I remember something called Sterno - Heat in a Can. The Sterno website [] is pretty sparse. Perhaps some other aging geek remembers it.
    • Re:Sterno (Score:3, Informative)

      by BCoates ( 512464 )
      It's still around, I used it this thanksgiving to keep food warm. Little metal cans, probably packed at or near sea level judging by how, when opened at 7,000', the cap flies off and through the air, splattering flammable purple goo... oops.

      I also understand the desperate alcoholic can squeeze it through a filter of some sort to get at the ethanol within... consult your local wino for exact directions.

      Benjamin Coates
  • wastes ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mirko ( 198274 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @07:37AM (#3199342) Journal
    If you are interested this product, then you're most probably willing to wander in some places where you would neither have time to cook...

    So, you're probably trekking.

    The problem is with the container itself as you can't obviously just drop it in a bush and it may be an oversupply in terms of volume, once used.

    Especially if, as they say, you use it for Baby-food : you will need its place to store the pampers... If you at least have some respect for the environment.

    I saw such self-heating doses of food here in Switzerland and they actually took care of this detail by storing these (and their self-heating chemicals) in plastic/metal bag which advantage is to occupy very little space, once empty...
  • Reminds me of the "self-cooking eggs" in the first Ghostbusters movie. Who wants that? It'll become one of those classic gags that just aren't funny, like the whoopie cushion on dad's seat at the dinner table.

    "Ha ha! Look, everyone! Jimmy plugged in the cranberry sauce and it exploded!"

  • According to the site, the inventors came up with their idea when they saw a self heating container for sake. They don't try to take credit for the concept of a self heating container.

    What they do say, however, is that most other self-heating solutions they have seen were either unsafe, cumbersome, expensive, or a combination thereof. They have only been attempting to make an inexpensive and safe version of the self heating can so that it is worthwhile to both consumers and manufacturers alike (as opposed to being a novelty idea with a niche market).

    Unfortunately, they don't give numbers on price or weight, so all you can really find out is that it takes 5 minutes to heat a beverage, it stays warm for 20 minutes, and that a 16oz can will hold 10oz of drink.

    Who cares if something like this is available in the UK for coffee? I think this being done by someone not in the food industry means that it is more likely to become widespread than if the only viable option were to liscense similar technology from a competitor.

    Whether this is breaking news deserving to be on the front page is another story...
  • yeah I also seen em (Score:2, Interesting)

    by schlam ( 314778 )
    I paid like £1.50 for a cup of 50 pence coffee .. and the milk in it was vile. Anyway it is producced by nescafe [] and here is a google cashed link [] for how thier's works. I assume that the original was pulled off the original web site.

  • by joebp ( 528430 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @07:43AM (#3199352) Homepage
    The huge flaw in their design is that it contains Calcium Oxide. AKA Lime. AKA Quicklime. AKA a substance used in manufacturing steel and paper, in glassmaking, in waste treatment, in insecticides, and as an industrial alkali.

    Not something I'd like near my coffee, thanks!

    When mixed with water it turns into Slaked Lime and heat. So the waste problem goes from recycling cans to recycling cans full of Slaked Lime! Oh well, perhaps the sewage and effluent treatment industry would buy it off the recyclers?

    • by plastik55 ( 218435 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @08:44AM (#3199485) Homepage
      The huge flaw in their design is that it contains Calcium Oxide. AKA Lime. AKA Quicklime. AKA a substance used in manufacturing steel and paper, in glassmaking, in waste treatment, in insecticides, and as an industrial alkali

      Oh no! It's a chemical with various uses! It must be bad for you!

      You forgot to mention that it's a substance that has been integral to American cuisine for just about ever.

      Corn is steeped in lime, AKA quicklime, AKA Calcium Oxide, to form hominy (if you're in the South,) or posole (if you're in the Southwest.) It It is dried and ground to make masa, which is used to make corn tortillas (ordinary cornmeal won't work), and tamales. Treatment of corn with lime or other alkali unlocks essential nutrients such as niacin which our bodies cannot obtain from untreated corn.

      Sheesh. Next I'll be hearing people panic about the pollution of the oceans with Sodium Chloride and Dihydrogen Monoxide.

      • When I was on an internship near Silicon Valley a few years ago, I showed a co-worker a "Ban DiHydrogen-MonOxide" website, thinking that he'd get a good laugh from the satire. He was trying to remember what DHMO was! :) He didn't believe me when I told him that it was H2O - water. He just kept saying, "I heard about this stuff in chemistry." The topper, he had a degree in Industrial Engineering. (Basically a fancy way of saying usability/prettiness engineer before the Web took over.)

        BTW, I like your self-reply. I hope it doesn't get modded down.
      • Little kid sees magic self heating cup

        Little kid gets curious

        Little kid cuts up the bottom of the cup to see what's inside

        Little kid rubs eyes....

        Little kid goes blind
    • When mixed with water it turns into Slaked Lime and heat. So the waste problem goes from recycling cans to recycling cans full of Slaked Lime!

      But probably not enough slaked lime to make up a useful quantity of lime morter.
    • You don't want to eat CaO or slaked lime straight (way too alkaline), but diluted traces won't hurt you or anything else.

      On exposure to air, quicklime and slaked lime absorb carbon dioxide and turn into calcium carbonate. AKA limestone. You spread it on your garden. Also, mortar for bricklaying is slaked lime + sand + (maybe) portland cement. I once spent a whole summer with my hands covered with mortar. Carrying those heavy, rough concrete blocks around hurt my skin, but the lime didn't.
  • Since the reaction of water and CaO is what creates heat here, how can it work when the puck of water is solid ice?

    Doesn't seem like a reliable way to enjoy a hot beverage on the slopes.
  • by TZA14a ( 9984 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @08:05AM (#3199397) Homepage
    Am I the only one who thinks that making things heat is kinda useless for drinks? Cold coffee caffeinates as well as warm coffee does, but warm soda/beer is a major nuisance.

    So, wake me up when there's a self cooling can of Jolt Cola available....

    • There was a "Self-cooling can" scam ...

      From Business 2.0 ...

      Lee Gahr, COO of a Nevada firm, allegedly claimed on Websites and in bogus unsolicited faxes that his company had invented an "environmentally friendly" self-cooling beverage can. Excited investors ran up the company's stock while Gahr allegedly sold it off, pocketing $277,136. Turns out Gahr's Arctic Can contained freon, a banned substance. The SEC's case is pending.

  • I'm sure this will be great for coffee, tea, soups, and such. But what about beer? I think the better way to carry beer has been a longer quest.

  • People walking around in supermarkets pressing the button, laughing maniacally, then walking off to find another can.
  • Since 1939 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mop ( 30370 ) on Thursday March 21, 2002 @08:34AM (#3199459)
    The concept of a self-heating container is not new. Armed services personnel used a self-heating can introduced in 1939 that relied on the burning of cordite to provide the thermal energy.
    • Ontro's claim is that their heater is safer and cheaper than the various existing methods. It certainly isn't hard to be safer and cheaper than cordite!

      Another post claimed that the Ontro process is to mix water with quicklime (CaO). IIRC, mixing pure quicklime with just the right amount of water releases enough heat to reach boiling temperatures. Don't do it in an open container, but in a sealed container at the bottom of the can, it ought to be quite safe. And there are few environmental issues; concentrated fresh slaked lime (what CaO + H2O forms) is alkaline enough to burn the skin, but in air it soon turns to CaC03, which you spread on your garden. It ought to be good for a landfill to have slaked lime slowly leaking out of the cans.
  • Someone please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but toilet seat technologies have given us cans that are warmed already.

    Although the technology, as deployed, is still rather uncommon, I believe self-heated cans have been around for nearly as long as I have. I was sitting on the can just the other day wishing I had one of those. Sometimes nothing will prepare you for that shock of the morning.

    In any case, I think it's a silly thing to bring up on /. -- have you no shame?
  • by RudeDude ( 672 )
    The company Uniloy [], who did the plastic molds etc for Ontro have this press release [] about the creation of the can. The PDF was released Dec of 2000. I'm still trying to find a full equation for how much heat is created by the Calcium Oxide (Lime) and Water reaction for given volumes. I'm just intrigued that they get a fast enough reaction from the lime and water... maybe they added some carbon dioxide to further drive the reaction? This would produce mortar (CaCO3) and water.
  • If not for moral concerns I might actualy buy one. Seems they have decided to abuse the US Patent system to gain market advantage instead of building a superior product:

    "Patent Protection []
    Ontro has 71 approved Utility Patent claims for the product in the United States, and other patents are pending. In addition, the Company has filed for patent protection in 47 foreign countries, with over 30 approved to date...

    Ontro's patent protection should aid its long-term success. Ontro believes competing companies will be challenged to manufacture competing designs at lower manufacturing costs."
  • but not as cool as the widget [], from Guinness. The self-foaming can!
  • All I have to do is eat lot of beans. Presto! Self heating can!
  • ...but it never fails to amaze me how industry continues to come up with new ways to increase packaging and reduce product. Now I comepletely understand the utility of this product, although selling it in direct proximal competition with regular coffee stores seems stupid.

    However, I have to wonder about the increased waste involved when about half of the net weight is packaging and heating chemicals. I assume the reaction involved would be environmentally benign, but it still seems to add to the waste.

    It's kind of like an ad I saw the other day for "Gogurt" or one of those silly products, that from the look of it, seems to be about 4 ounces of product in a long thin container (maximizing surface area). You can walk through a grocery store and notice that many boxes of dry foods are often half empty ("This product is cold by weight, but marketed by perceived volume"), or the fact that cleaning products have been grotesquely over-diluted (a trend which, fortunately seems to be reversing).

    Anyhow, as a niche product for those situations when a hot drink would otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain, it does seem like a good idea. But the idea of something like this becoming common seems to be a bad idea.
  • Self-heating sake in a can was introduced in 1985 by Toyo Jozo as "Kanban Musume". Asahi Chemical developed the technology. Won a 1986 Nikkei Award for Creative Excellence.

    Ontro is using the same water/limestone chemistry used with by Toyo Jozo, and a similar inner cone can physical arrangement. But Ontro has a self-contained trigger mechanism. Toyo Jozo required that the user remove a plastic end cap from the bottom of the can, pull out a pin, put the end cap back on, and turn the can over.

    The heating system uses up about half the can volume, so there's a big weight and bulk penalty. That's the main reason this hasn't caught on before. It works well for sake, because the usual serving size is small. For coffee and tea, it will require either selling people on small servings or using large cans.

  • &gt Ontro has been working for a while, and they are about ready to get to the public market. Quite a nifty little self-heating can

    I misinterpreted the intro.
    I'm thinking to myself, Big deal.
    Who needs a heated toilet seat?
  • In Japan, literally for years and years, they have been using self-heating cans to heat machine-dended sake in the winter. Way to redesign the wheel guys!
  • That's what I want. A self-cooling beer can. That would be much more convenient than a jet engine!

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"