Modernizing a cooling technique used for thousands of years to help small farmers to keep their harvest fresh and limit food waste... A great idea from the start-up Evaptainers.
The story of the US start-up Evaptainers begins in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where a professor challenged his students to find a solution that would help improve the lives of one billion people. What answer did Quang Truong, one of the three co-founders of Evaptainers, come up with? A portable fridge that doesn’t need electricity.
A few years ago we talked about "desert fridges", a refrigeration system that keeps food cool using evaporation and not electricity.
Based on a (very) old process, the system was revived in the 1990s by a Nigerian teacher, Mohammed Bah Abba, who designed the so-called "pot-in-pot" fridge (consisting of two terracotta pots, one inside the other, with the space between filled with wet sand) to help Sudanese families keep their food fresh for longer.
The Evaptainers system is based on the same principle but has been updated. It combines a proven and simple cooling technique with modern materials and design. Its effectiveness has been demonstrated, especially for agricultural uses: it will keep produce fresh for three or four times longer than in the open air. The goal is to end up with a low cost more efficient, lighter (and therefore portable) system that is suitable for large-scale production.
Meeting a development need
This type of solution meets a major need for producers in developing countries where access to electricity is limited: keeping perishable foods, such as fruit and vegetables or dairy products, fresh before they are sold.
According to the FAO, the lack of equipment for storing and preserving food in these regions means that food losses and food waste occur early in the food value chain (in particular following harvest. The waste results in significant lost income for small producers and higher prices for consumers.
Thanks to its portable fridge, Evaptainers intends to help farmers to keep their harvest fresh and reduce food waste! The fridge is in its final development phase (code name: EV-8) and has already been tested in Morocco where it was a great success.