Modeling of Heat and Mass Transfer of Evaporative Cooling Devices for Improved Vegetable Storage in Low-Income Rural Communities

Project Title: Modeling of Heat and Mass Transfer of Evaporative Cooling Devices for Improved Vegetable Storage in Low-Income Rural Communities

Term UROP is offered: Fall 2020

Compensation: Paid ($13.50/hr) or credit

Location: Remote and/or on-campus (Cambridge)

Supervisor/Contact: Eric Verploegen

Project Description

We are looking for a student to continue the development of a heat and mass transfer model of low-cost evaporative cooling devices for improving vegetable storage in Africa and India. When affordable and effective post-harvest storage solutions are not available or affordable, people living in off-grid rural communities will often experience vegetable spoilage, loss of income, lack of access to nutritious foods, and large amounts of time spent purchasing vegetables. More on MIT D-Lab Evaporative Cooling for Vegetable Preservation research.

Evaporative cooling devices have the potential to provide a low-cost, locally available, and effective solution for improving vegetable shelf life. The goal of the model is to identify how specific design variations impact the performance of the evaporative cooling devices and enable organizations that produce and promote these technologies to optimize designs for maximum performance and minimum cost. This project will build on past work from our research group and the student filling this position will collaborate with other undergraduate students, graduate students, and D-Lab staff. The combined heat and mass transfer model will be refined and validated with experimental data that has been previously collected in Mali, Kenya, and at MIT.

The work can be done entirely remotely, but there is also the opportunity to work with MIT D-Lab researchers to conduct experiments on campus to investigate new design ideas based on insights gained from the modeling. The project will have potential follow-on travel opportunities in Uganda, Kenya, or India to test viable prototypes in the field, as well as to continue on the project for multiple semesters.

Evaporative cooling diagram and two models.



Applicants should have an interest in practical solutions to global poverty challenges. A background in thermodynamics and heat transfer, and experience using either Matlab or computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is required. Experience with heat transfer modeling is preferred. Students that have taken 2.051,10.302 or a comparable course will have the relevant background.


This is a paid UROP opportunity at $13.50/hour with an expectation that the student will spend between 80-140 hours on the project over the course of the semester.

Apply by September 18, 2020

Interested candidates should email Eric Verploegen with a brief explanation of why they are interested in this project and describe any relevant previous experience.

Link to opportunity on the MIT UROP site