When it comes to cooling drinks, everybody’s got a trick. Some are outright silly — I once had a friend tell me that a beer will cool faster if placed in the fridge upside down — but work quite well. Try wrapping your drinks in a damp paper towel before cooling, next time you’re absolutely itching for a cold drink. And if the urgency is simply too great, one particularly quick method involves unloading a fire extinguisher into a cooler full of drinks — though the cost effectiveness of this option is questionable.Quickly cooling drinks on the cheap has been an elusive goal for countless years; the microwave offered expedited heating, so how far away are we be from a similar acceleration of cooling? It’s turned out to be much more difficult to remove energy from an object than to add it, however, and a reverse microwave was been quite some time in coming.A prototype vending machine.It may be here now, though: Rapidcool is a collaboration between European industry and academic partners, and claims to be able to bring a drink from room temperature to the all-important 4 degrees Celsius in just 45 seconds. It can supposedly take multiple cans or even wine bottles, and uses dramatically less energy than its competitors.The actual cooling technology is known as V-Tex, and uses an interesting combination of innovations. The super-cooling of the can’s exterior is efficient but not a new idea — but by agitation of the can they avoid the flash-freezing on the outside that leads to slushy drinks. As V-Tex points out on its website, such slushing is “unacceptable to consumers.”However, it’s equally unacceptable to get blasted in the face by a stream of carbonated beverage. By agitating the can, the technology ought to send the can into a countdown to explosion, but it makes use of a physical phenomenon known as the Rankine vortex. By creating a Rankine vortex, the company claims they can shake carbonated drinks quite violently without ill effect.There are countless possible applications for the technology, with the ultimate goal being a consumer solution in household kitchens. For now, however, it seems the technology will see its first wide-scale roll-out in the form of vending machines. Cooling drinks as they are purchased could dramatically reduce both their costs and vending machine power use.