How to: Design a lobster hotel

Exposed: The inner workings of Canada's best (and most fun) new technologies.

How stuff works : The inner workings of Canada's best (and most fun) new technologies.

Computer graphics | Wireless | Sub-zero pints | Lobster hotel | Track email | Raft uphill | Universal remote

As one of the world's leading seafood companies, Nova Scotia's Clearwater exports close to eight million pounds of the Homarus americanus lobster species annually. But in order to keep that many cannibalistic crustaceans fresh — and intact — year-round, the company had to come up with a creative storage solution.

Enter the $15-million Dryland Pound Storage System in Arichat, N.S. Invented by Clearwater scientists in the early 1980s, the system simulates the dark, solitary and winter-like conditions of the crustaceans' natural habitat. This prevents the lobsters from molting (which compromises quality and taste, leaving their shells soft and their meat considerably “shrunken.”) The system also ensures lobsters don't indulge in their nasty habit of eating one other, while remaining “fully-meated” for up to eight months. Using it, the 29-year-old company is able to store and ship high-quality lobsters around the world on a year-round basis.

The export market for the Homarus americanus represents an estimated $1.4 billion annually — a good thing, considering exports make up 95% of Clearwater's business, with the majority of its sales going to the U.S., Europe and Asia. “We are about the only people that can provide a top-quality product, and with the Dryland Pound System we were able to go overseas and market the product into Japan and Europe,” says Tony Jabbour, general manager of Clearwater's lobster division.

This unique storage system — jokingly referred to as the “lobster hotel” by some Clearwater employees — has become so popular, the company even started selling its patented trays to local competitors who had tried to copy the design with knock-off versions. Hey, it may not be five-star accommodation — but it's definitely private and checkout time is flexible.