Freezing foods has become a modern convenience, but also requires significant expenditures in carbon and energy. Bilbao-Sainz, a mechanical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues discovered a new alternative—isochoric freezing—that may not have the same impacts as with traditional freezing. The idea could cut global energy consumption by 6.5 billion kilowatt-hours per year. Furthermore, carbon emissions would be reduced by 4.59 billion kilograms, equivalent to the amount of one million cars on the road. Isochoric freezing involves storing foods in a sealed container made of hard metal or plastic. Then it is filled with a liquid and placed in a freezer. Only about 10% of the water volume is frozen and the pressure within the chamber keeps ice from continually expanding. The new method protects foods like berries and tomatoes from ice crystallization. “Energy savings come from not having to freeze foods completely solid, which uses a huge amount of energy,” says Bilbao-Sainz. The researchers hope to scale the model up to industrial level.

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