Evaporative cooling devices have promise for helping small-scale farmers, market vendors, and families to store and preserve vegetables.
Practical and affordable storage technologies have the potential to prevent food loss, strengthen the perishable food supply chain, and create opportunities for additional income generation. Evaporative cooling devices are simple and inexpensive ways to keep vegetables fresh without the use of electricity. These devices function according to a basic principle called “evaporative cooling,” where the evaporation of water from a surface removes heat, creating a cooling effect.
Evaporative cooling can improve vegetable storage shelf life by providing a stable storage environment with low temperature and high humidity, which reduces the rate of respiration and water loss and spoilage in most vegetables. The improved storage environment can have positive impacts including reduced post-harvest losses, less time spent traveling to the market, monetary savings, and improved nutrition.
D-Lab's approach and work
D-Lab has identified the following five key areas where increased efforts can increase the effective production, dissemination, and usage of evaporative cooling technologies: performance and design research, suitability scoping, developing scalable dissemination strategies, user behavior and impact research, and developing a community of practice.
Our current projects include:
- A clay pot cooler training program in Mali
- Dissemination of brick evaporative cooling chambers in Uganda and India
- Using a shipping container as the foundation for a forced-air evaporative cooling chamber
Resources and Reports
Eric Verploegen, MIT D-Lab Research Engineer