Cross-section schematic of the forced-air evaporative cooling chamber. This design is based on retrofitting a used standard 20’ or 40’ shipping container in order to reduce construction costs, allow for the chamber to be mobile, and improve ease of construction and replicability. Image credit: Eric Verploegen
The MIT D-Lab research team with members of a farming cooperative in Karurumo, Kenya. Image credit: Benson Mania
MIT and University of Nairobi students interviewing members of a farming cooperative in Karurumo, Kenya. Image credit: Eric Verploegen
MIT and University of Nairobi students with members of a farming cooperative in Masii, Kenya. Image credit: Eric Verploegen
The experimental storage area inside the shipping container with the door slid open to allow the removal and placement of crates (black). Each crate contains eighty 8-ounce water bottles. The door to the right of the crates is mounted on an overhead track. Image credit: Eric Verploegen
Can we commercialize a cold storage chamber using evaporative cooling that is lower cost than the currently available technologies? Can we reduce post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables for farmers in rural off-grid communities?
- Conduct prototype testing and computer modeling to continue to improve the forced-air evaporative cooling chamber performance and design.
- Collaborate with existing cold storage providers and NGOs to pilot the technology with smallholder farmers in India and Kenya.
- Identify key markets and approaches for scaling the commercialization of forced-air evaporative cooling chambers.
In many countries across the world, a significant portion of the food produced (30-50%) is lost before it reaches the table. Forced-air evaporative cooling chambers have the potential to provide an effective, low-cost solution for postharvest fruit and vegetable storage in low-income regions with hot and dry climates. This innovative design, based on retrofitting shipping containers, will provide a lower-cost alternative to refrigerated cold rooms and a better-performing alternative to charcoal evaporative cooling chambers and non-climate-controlled environments. Access to improved fruit and vegetable storage will reduce food loss, enable farmers to sell their produce at a higher price at different times of day, and improve access to nutritious food in the community. This Solutions grant will support the deployment and testing of the storage chambers with rural farmers in Kenya and India in collaboration with two Kenyan social enterprises and an NGO in Gujarat, India.
- Technology & Commercialization
- Transforming Food Systems
- Equity & Access
- Solutions Grant