IITians created solar-powered cold storage with no running cost:
Young IIT engineers have come up with an affordable solution to the wastage of agricultural produce by developing a unique solar-powered cold storage system which works at almost zero running cost. The solar-powered cold storage system is developed at the Science and Technology entrepreneurship Park (STEP) of IIT-Kharagpur. The system is developed by the mechanical engineering student, Vivek Pandey and his team. The micro cold storage system has been successfully tested in a Karnataka farmland.
Under the banner of Ecofrost Technologies, the young graduates are now ready to move out of the campus and start a manufacturing and assembly unit in Pune next month. Using a uniquely designed thermal storage methodology that controls compartment cooling in tandem with regular cooling, micro cold storage helps in increasing the shelf life of agricultural produce using solar panels of 2.5 KW - 3.5 KW. The power generated is sent directly on to the compressor which can run at various speeds to adjust itself as per the cooling demand. Instead of batteries, the system has a thermal storage unit which can store power for more than 36 hours supply it back to the system, in case there is no sun during cloudy or rainy weather.
Existing solar-powered units run on batteries which need to be replaced after 2-3 years making the running cost very high for farmers. It is estimated that every year India loses around 30 per cent of food production due to wastage and contamination. Besides selling directly to farmers, they are also trying to create village-level entrepreneurs who will act as nodal points for cold storage in mandis where any farmer can store his produce at a fixed cost.
This promising innovation has won the first prize of Rs 10 lakh in the national university competition 'DuPont: The Power of Shunya'.