Intermittent electricity supply and the high cost of the refrigerator makes it difficult to preserve food in less developed areas. The lost amount of food has a huge impact on the supply of vegetables, fruit, milk and preservation of cooked food. Generally, we tend to focus more on the supply side while ignoring the loss. If we are able to plug the losses this will be equal to increased productivity and will help us in achieving zero hunger. Here we are proposing two levels of solution which can be used in the rural area and will help increase access to food.
Individual household level: We had worked on making a solid-state food preservation device which runs on DC source and uses a small amount of power. It is based on thermoelectric cooling effect and can cool up to 10 Degree Celsius but can't freeze water. Such temperature is enough for preserving food if making ice is not a concern. This device can easily run using with existing solar panels and modifications that we are working to incorporate Phase Change Materials to maintain the low temperature for a long time even when the power is not there. Since it is based on thermoelectric cooling effect there will be no compressors or any moving part except a small fan to circulate air. Due to the absence of a compressor, it will be almost zero maintenance and will not contain harmful coolants. The price will be a fraction of current refrigerators.
Community Level: For community level, we propose to make small cold storage systems in a rectangular cargo container which will run on more efficient vapour compression refrigeration cycle with the help of solar power and there will be ice battery connected with it which will store the excess cooling in the form of ice and will run when the solar power is not available. The community-owned cold storage system can keep food, vegetable, fruit and other perishable items at a lower temperature thus increasing shelf life. Every person will be allowed to store his produce at a nominal fee which can be used for maintenance of the cold storage facility.
If the product can be stored at the point of production for a long time which is generally the weakest link in the food supply chain then the access to food as well as more benefit will go to rural people.
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