Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Shot tower icemaker

  [vote for,

It's pretty clear that the subject of icemaking, for beverages, refreshments and/or drinks, is one that occupies many Halfbakers' minds.

The fundamental problem with all ice trays, it seems to me, is that they exist. Their existence, in turn, means that the ice has to be somehow extracted from them, and nobody has yet found an elegant way to do this.

Until now.

The first step is to install, at a convenient spot in your kitchen, a vertical pipe about six inches in diameter. It needs to be, I don't know, no more than a few thousand feet tall. This tube is surrounded by refrigeration coils, bringing the internal temperature to somewhere around -10°C

At the top of the tube is a mechanism, connected to mains water (you may need a pressure booster), which includes a spray nozzle ejecting a constant mist of very fine droplets. If the water is clean enough, these should supercool without freezing.

Also at the top of the pipe is a small gun which, on demand, will spit out a few grains of sugar.

When ice is required, the gun ejects sugar grains, which start to fall through the supercooled water mist. As they fall, they nucleate ice formation, rapidly forming large, roughly spherical hailstones which can be retrieved easily from the access hatch at the bottom of the tower.

As a bonus, grapes or small pets can be dropped down the tower as well, arriving at the bottom encased in a perfect shell of ice.

MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 22 2016

One of the possible cubic ice structures https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Ic
[mitxela, Jan 23 2016]

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       Not that I'm in any way complaining about lack of vertical space in my kitchen, but the same effect may be achievable with a vertical wind turbine of only a few feet high. Bonus if it's made of glass and you can watch the ice crystals grow.
mitxela, Jan 22 2016

       The same effect might be achievable using a pressure/temp drop. You hold a water/air mix at a few atmospheres and dump the pressure as you drop in your nucleation point. If you get the pressure/temp right, you should switch from a high pressure saturated water vapour to a suddenly supersaturated and cold cloud. Insert the nucleation point and you get your ice. Could shave a fair few hundred feet off the tower.
bs0u0155, Jan 22 2016

       How do you stop them smashing at the bottom?   

       How do you get them to be cube-shaped? I don't want ice spheres in my drink.
pocmloc, Jan 22 2016

       //vertical wind turbine//   

       We had considered producing a model for low- ceilinged kitchens. However, early tests were beset by problems. In particular, the supercooled droplets quickly iced up the propellor, which in turn necessitated an anti-icing device on the blades. This device worked well for very short intervals, but then the wires would get wrapped around the prop shaft. So then we tried running the propellor for 10 turns clockwise, then 10 anticlockwise, which in turn meant installing a pitch-reversal mechanism. In the end, we weren't convinced that the machine would be significantly cheaper than buying a taller house.   

       //pressure/temp drop// we tried that exactly once, using a quick-release valve at the bottom of the ice pipe. If we ever find where the pipe landed we'll let you know if it worked.   

       //How do you stop them smashing at the bottom?...I don't want ice spheres in my drink.// A grid of very sharp blades at the bottom of the shaft kills two birds with one stone.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 22 2016

       // A grid of very sharp blades at the bottom of the shaft kills two birds with one stone. //   

       But how do you extract the ice cubes from the grid of blades? It seems like we've come full circle back to he original problem. [+]
scad mientist, Jan 22 2016

       The grid is suspended above a suitable receptacle, so the ice passes straight through and emerges as cuboids.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 23 2016

       Pah. Grid of blades. Then how do you chop your cuboids into perfect cubes?   

       Clearly the solution lies in forming cubic crystals in the first place. Drop the temperature to below -50°C, and you should be able to grow perfectly cubic crystals in the Ic phase (~, §1, see link etc).
mitxela, Jan 23 2016

       I bet the ice cubes stick to the receptacle.
pocmloc, Jan 23 2016

       Lasers. The answer is always lasers.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 23 2016

       Shirley an array of supercooled air jets, each individually gimballed and throttlable - would be the more halfbaked solution?   

       It could basically levitate and grow a spherical ice cube in front of you.
Custardguts, Jan 27 2016

       ^Not to mention being super cool by definition. I think you'd need a 'seed' ice sphere to get the ball rolling, so to speak.
AusCan531, Jan 27 2016


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