Off-grid Refrigeration

The Design Challenge

During transportation, produce is not stored in a cool dry place causing it to go bad and therefore it is wasted. This is a major problem in Nairobi so I decided to design a low cost “Charcoal Cool Box” that can be used by almost all families not having to worry about the cost. The non-electric cool box is also portable therefore allowing easy use anywhere, for example, if a family decides to camp meaning there would be no access to electricity, the charcoal cool box would be the product to use.

Summary of Research

  • In hot climates where electricity is unavailable, refrigeration of food is a developmental need. In Sudan, for example, tomatoes will only last 2 days in the hot sun.
  • Preservation of crops through refrigeration can help with hunger and starvation in the developing world by keeping foods fresh longer. 
  • In areas with no electricity, refrigeration is particularly challenging and has lead to the design of a variety of heat-driven refrigeration devices, including evaporative coolers. 
  • While these devices are not typically capable of maintaining temperatures of 2-3 degrees Celsius, they can be significantly cooler than ambient temperature, and even moderate drops can significantly extend the shelf life of produce. 
  • For example, when housed using a similar evaporative cooling device, the life of tomatoes can be extended from 2 to 20 days. 
  • Evaporative cooling has an added benefit of increasing the air moisture content, preventing food from drying out and further extending shelf life.

My Project Description: Non-Electric Refrigeration

  • My idea is to use charcoal to build my product. A charcoal refrigerator is a type of cooling device, it keeps things like produce fresh and avoids them from spoiling. A charcoal cooler uses the principle of evaporative cooling to maintain a cool interior temperature for refrigeration and food preservation.
My final product would look something like this but I would try to make it a lot cleaner so, therefore, there is no dirt from the charcoal inside the cool box.
This was a rough sketch I made of what I wanted my product to look like, I have made it a similar size to average cool boxes

Process Journal

Designing Off-Grid Refrigeration Solutions

Link to design journal