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February 1, 2013

The Impress doorless fridge

Could this be the future of cool? The doorless fridge, called Impress, is the brainchild of a young New Zealand industrial design student, Ben de la Roche.

The 21-year-old design student from Dunedin, who attends art at Massey’s College of Creative Arts, has designed a refrigeration wall that holds food and drinks out in the open rather than behind closed doors.

The refrigerator does not cool when it is empty and uses less power when fewer items are pressed into it. Unlike conventional refrigerators that use toxic gases like ammonia, the Impress doorless fridge employs thermoacoustic refrigeration using nitrogen, creating substantially less CO2 than a traditional fridge.

Doorless fridge - photo courtesy of Massey University, New Zealand

(Photo courtesy of Massey University, New Zealand).

The doorless fridge is powered by a motor in the back section that acts like a piston to send vibrations that resonate through the inner chamber to create cold air. The other energy saving factor in this design, is the fridge only cools when there is food or drink inserted.

The Impress doorless fridge consists of an assembly of separate elongated cooling units that Ben de la Roche calls “pins.” Each pin presents a hexagonal face to the outside, forming a unique honeycomb surface. When you’re ready to refrigerate an item, you press it against one or more of the hexagons and push back.

The pins that you’re pushing on will retract so your food item will be held in place. Once the item is held in place, the surrounding pins are activated so they begin cooling your item. In Ben de la Roche’s doorless fridge design, the horizontal pins that make up the wall are designed so that they can hold ceramic plates as well as drink cans and bottles.

Ben de la Roche’s Impress doorless fridge was entered in the international Electrolux Design Lab 2012 Award. The design is one of ten shortlisted from more than 1300 entries globally, which went on to impressively take silver (second place) in the prestigious European competition.

The competition challenges undergraduate and graduate industrial design students to “present innovative ideas for household appliances of the future”. As the runner-up, Ben de la Roche received 3000 Euros and a whole lot of cred and attention, no doubt.

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