Tech start-up develops greener alternative to N2O gas canisters

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Alternative to N2O gas canisters developed by tech start-up Triple Line Technology

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A Cambridge-based tech start-up has developed a device that can be used to charge siphons with just air or nitrogen.

Triple Line Technology’s patented TLT-Foamer technology has been devised as a greener alternative to traditional cream chargers,​ which contain N20, a potent greenhouse gas. 

The countertop device exploits a ‘novel bubble break-up mechanism’ by passing a mixture of compressed air or nitrogen through a foamable liquid through a series of alternating shear fields.

According to inventors and Triple Line Technology co-founders Mark Nicmanis and Michelle Gothard, the end result is comparable to that from foam siphons powered by N20. 

The device charges a siphon in around 30 seconds can be powered by either an air compressor or large cylinders of nitrogen gas.

Both air and nitrogen gas are food safe and do not contribute to the greenhouse effect. Nicmanis says that nitrogen creates a more stable foam than air and doesn't carry the risk of oxidising ingredients when siphons are charged before being left for extended periods.  

By contrast, the gas in each 8g canister of N2O has a carbon footprint equivalent to 2.4kg of CO2 – roughly the same as the emissions from driving an SUV for 10 miles. 

Nicmanis says the technology - which is expected to go into commercial production soon - will ultimately be cheaper than buying N2O canisters. 

“Removal of the N2O propellant would be hugely beneficial to achieving net-zero targets,” he says. “However, simply swapping N2O for another propellant gas for food and drink products is not that simple. Toxicity, flammability, cost and poor product outcomes limit or prohibit the use of many propellant gases widely used in non-food aerosol applications.”

On top of its environmental drawbacks and cost implications, N20 is a problematic substance for kitchens and bars because of its psychoactive effects when misused. 

Last year, a ‘ban’ came into effect as nitrous oxide - AKA laughing gas - become an ‘illegal’ class C substance.

While there were concerns from the catering industry that the Government would seek to restrict the supply of the substance - which has applications in a number of culinary processes including making espumas (foams) and cocktails - or require end users to hold a license.

But following a consultation the Home Office appears to have opted for the soft-touch approach favoured by both the supply side and the catering industry itself.

As such, it is understood that the ‘banning’ of nitrous oxide will carry no administrative or cost burden for either suppliers or end users and the substance will remain straightforward to procure. 

“Licences will not be required to carry nitrous oxide, but individual users will need to demonstrate they are lawfully in possession of nitrous oxide and not intending to consume it for psychoactive effects,” the Home Office statement on the matter reads.

The maximum sentence for production, supply importation or exportation of the drug for unlawful purposes has now doubled, from seven to 14 years’ imprisonment.

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