A new product that uses an old technology to provide low-cost refrigeration solutions during transport is currently being field-tested.
Evaptainers is the latest cool-box incarnation, whose mission is: "to provide affordable refrigeration solutions to address the unique needs and challenges of transporting produce in developing markets."
Unreliable access to electricity, a lack of refrigerated transport and hot climates mean that in developing countries, a lot of food perishes while travelling from producer to consumer. Developed by Quang Truong, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts Fletcher School’s student, Evaptainers uses just water, sun and evaporative cooling to fill in such gaps.
Have you ever come out of a swimming pool and felt a chill? Or have you ever felt cold while wearing a damp t-shirt and catching a breeze? You can thank evaporative cooling - whereby air temperature drops due to water changing from a liquid to a gas or vapour - for that.
By using such a phenomenon, Evaptainers seeks to help small rural farmers increase the amount of their crops that reach the market, which is not just great news for farmers’ income, but also for freshness at the consumer's end.
These new generation cool-boxes can currently keep up to 60 litres of produce cool for 12 hours, using just six litres of water. Priced within the 10-20 USD range, it is expected that through an estimated 25 percent increase in farmer income, farmers will be able pay for them within just a few months.
While they may not be as pretty as their heavier and breakable terracotta ‘zeer pot’ counterparts much in use in Africa and the Middle East, their sturdy-yet-light design does offer a more durable and practical solution to mobile refrigeration.
Evaptainers are currently being field tested in Morocco, with plans for commercialisation by the end of 2015.