Performance and Design Research

Attaching a sensor to a pot-in-pot evaporative cooler in Bamako, Mali.
Attaching a sensor to a pot-in-pot evaporative cooler in Bamako, Mali.
Research on the most practical and effective evaporative cooling device designs

MIT D-Lab conducts research to improve the performance and usability of evaporative cooling devices. Our past work in this area includes research studies conducted in partnership with the World Vegetable Center: “Evaporative Cooling Technologies for Improved Vegetable Storage in Mali” and Agribusiness Associates: "Evaporative Cooling for Improved Vegetable and Fruit Storage in Rwanda and Burkina Faso"

These studies demonstrated that designs simpler than the common pot-in-pot configuration can still provide significant benefits for improving vegetable storage and that determining the design constraints for effective product performance at various scales (household, individual farmer, and commercial scales) will allow for the identification of the most practical, cost effective, and easily disseminated designs.


Evaporative cooling diagram.

Peter Rinker, Movement e.V.

Two men watering a pot-in-pot cooler.

Ousman Sanogo explaining the use of a clay pot cooler in Mopti, Mali

D-Lab's current work on evaporative cooler performance and design 

In partnership with Sensen, D-Lab uses data logging sensors remotely monitor the performance of evaporative cooling devices in the laboratory and the field. Additionally, we are developing a heat and mass transfer model that will be validated with laboratory and field testing data, to allow for design variations to be rapidly explored. By identifying the key design constraints that limit the performance of evaporative cooling devices we will be able to help guide practitioners to develop evaporative cooling devices that are both practical and effective.

Our current projects in this area includes design research on clay pot coolers in Mali and room-sized evaporative cooling chambers for farming cooperatives in Kenya.

We are seeking additional partnerships with organizations interested in studying the performance of evaporative cooling devices in the context where they work.

D-Lab's areas of work on evaporative cooling for vegetable preservation 


Eric Verploegen, MIT D-Lab Research Engineer