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The Wine Suitcase Project was proposed by Dr. Becker to address the problem of a lack of safe and secure transportation of wine during worldwide travel. Currently, there are some solutions, like wine bottle diapers (a special bag to put a wine bottle in and catch the liquid if the bottle breaks) and an expensive wine suitcase, but a protective, insulated and cost-effective wine travel suitcase would be of great help to the wine community. This past year, our team has worked to design and produce said suitcase.

The major objectives of this design are that the suitcase has to keep the bottles below the critical temperature of 70°F and safe from breaking during travel and baggage handling. Specifically, the suitcase should be able to pass the International Safe Transit Association’s (ISTA) Test Procedure 2A for Packaged-Products 150 pounds or less and keep the wine below a temperature of 70 °F for up to 36 hours [1]. The bottles should be placed in the bag at a maximum of 65 °F initially. In order for the user to know if his/her wine has been above the 70 °F mark, the design should also include a notification system or temperature tracker. Finally, the suitcase should hold up to 12 bottles of 750 mL wine and come in at a total cost of less than $350 to be competitive against current suitcase designs. The suitcase also needs to be able to hold at least one case of wine (12 bottles) of various sizes.

According to these objectives and requirements, a wine suitcase was designed and fabricated using a hard-shell suitcase, foam, insulation and a temperature sensor. Specifically, the hard-shell suitcase and the foam padding satisfied the safety requirement for the bottles and for the temperature stability requirement, the insulation was added as a layer between the foam and suitcase shell. Additionally, in order to communicate to the user what the temperature of the wine is inside the suitcase, the team added a handheld sensor device with Bluetooth capabilities.

After fabrication, 7 tests were performed to evaluate the success of the design against the requirements: bottle physical protection test, bottle quantity test, bottle thermal protection test, weight of suitcase test, size of suitcase test, ThermoplusTM temperature sensor test and a heat transfer simulation test. The team was unable to perform the thermal protection test due to the displacement from San Antonio from COVID-19. Each of the other 6 tests were performed and resulted in a success and satisfied their appropriate requirement. The heat transfer simulation test was added after the displacement from COVID-19 to offset the inability to perform the thermal test in person. The thermal simulation test was run to focus on the most critical 15-minute time-frame of the travel journey where the suitcase may be held in direct sunlight. At all other times, the suitcase will be in the cargo hold or inside the air-conditioned airport. While the simulation is not the same as an in-person test, we can still use it as a good measure of the thermal protection capabilities of our design and were satisfied with the passing results. Overall, once the temperature sensor has been installed, we assert that the Wine Suitcase that was fabricated before displacement will be a fully functioning device that can safely transport wine due to the successes of our testing.