Will cryogenic cooling become the next "hot" concept in molding polyethylene terephthalate containers? Plastic Solutions Molding (Plano TX) and a handful of partnering firms are betting the answer is yes. PSM's chief executive officer Kurt Ruppman says his firm has applied for a patent on a method of stretch/blow molding monolayer PET preforms into heated molds then quickly chilling them with a mist of super-cold liquid nitrogen dispensed from the stretch rod. The resulting crystallinity in the PET bottle makes it capable of withstanding unusually high fill temperatures and enhances its gas barrier properties as well claims Ruppman. One of PSM's primary targets is the hot-fill beverage market currently served by PET bottles that undergo conventional heat-setting i.e. heated molds and either cool air or CO2 that is blown into the bottle. PSM believes its bottle because it can be filled at 195°F to 200°F instead of 185°F can deliver longer shelf life without added cost. For now no applications of PSM's technology are on the market. Ordinarily Packaging World wouldn't cover this topic until a package was commercialized. But PSM presentations at Bev-Pak Americas '96 and '97 sponsored by Directions 21 Inc. (Sarasota FL) sparked considerable interest. Here's a glimpse at what had conference attendees so intrigued. Part of their reaction it should be observed was skepticism. "That technology has been around for twenty years" grumbled one plastics technology consultant who objects to "the notion that it's new or something that can be patented or licensed." Says another: "It's arguable how inventive he's been or whether the work is patentable. The patent office will make a determination on that."