Evaporative Refridgerator

Ancient tech done nouveau :

Jan 11 2009

Amazing Solar-Powered Fridge Invented by British Student in a Potting Shed Helps Poverty-Stricken Africans

By Chris Brooke

It's the kind of simple yet brilliant invention that would have the tycoons of Dragons' Den salivating with excitement.

Not only is the fridge solar powered, it can also be built from household materials  -  making it ideal for the Third World.

Emily Cummins, 21, came up with the idea while working on a school project in her grandfather's potting shed. The fridge is now improving the lives of thousands of poverty-stricken Africans.
Enlarge   Emily Cummins

Emily Cummins holds the portable eco-fridge. It can keep perishable goods, such as milk or meat, cool for days at a temperature of around 6C

And Miss Cummins hopes to patent a more sophisticated portable model for use in transporting medical supplies around hot countries.

From the age of four, when she was given a hammer as a gift, Miss Cummins has spent much of her spare time making things out of ordinary materials.

She has won awards for a toothpaste squeezer for arthritis sufferers and for a water-carrying device, again for Third World use.
Emily Cummins

Her 'sustainable' fridge works through evaporation and can be used to keep perishable goods such as milk and meat cool for days.

Without using any power, temperatures stay at around 6c.

The fridge comprises two cylinders  -  one inside the other. The inner cylinder is made from metal but the outer cylinder can be made from anything to hand, including wood and plastic.

Miss Cummins, from Keighley, West Yorkshire, said: 'A fridge is something that people can't seem to live without.

'I wanted to keep it really simple and so I set about researching how we cooled things years ago. The simplest method of cooling something could be seen when you look at how we cool biologically  -  through sweating or evaporation.

'That idea led me to the design and the fridge was born.'

After her A-levels she spent five months of her gap year in Africa, perfecting and demonstrating her product. In Namibia she became known as 'The Fridge Lady'. Miss Cummins returned to the UK to start a business management course at Leeds University.

She had been refused a place on an engineering course because, to her dismay, she didn't have the correct qualifications.

Last year she met the Queen at Buckingham Palace after being invited to a prestigious women in business event.

Image -- Ross Parry Agency via Daily Mail

Woman on Top

January 2008

Emily Cummins

By Gianna Englert

Emily Cummins, inventor of the solar powered refrigerator

Twenty-year old Emily Cummins has been called a sustainable designer, a serial ethical inventor, and a “teenprenuer.� Whatever her label, one thing about Emily is indisputable: she is already a woman on top. After graduating high school, she spent a year in Africa developing a solar powered refrigerator for use in third world countries where electricity is in short supply. Her invention earned her numerous accolades from the engineering community and media alike. A true innovator, though, Emily has no intention of stopping there. She continues to adopt an inventive approach to problem-solving and encourages other young people to think and create.

When Emily was four years old, she received a hammer so she could work side-by-side with her grandfather in his work shed. She enjoyed observing her grandfather as he crafted toys and jewelry boxes out of simple materials. As she got older, though, Emily became captivated by the notion that she too could create objects using just scrap materials and her grandfather’s tools. This early interest in design translated into a serious drive to solve problems through innovation.

She created her first noteworthy design at age fifteen for a major school project. After noticing that her arthritic grandfather had difficulty squeezing a tube of toothpaste, Emily created a toothpaste dispenser that allows the user to push on a lever rather than squeeze a small tube.

By the time she graduated from secondary school, Emily had become interested in inventing products for developing countries. She planned to enter a university immediately after graduation but decided instead to conduct her research in a real world scenario. She ventured to Africa to volunteer at a Namibian school and develop her design for a solar powered refrigerator. Emily wanted to take refrigerator technology “back to the basics� so it could be used in the third world where electricity is scarce. Using an aluminum cylindrical container and sheep wool to hold water, she created a refrigerator that would cool its contents through an evaporation process. The refrigerator needs no electricity, relying instead on solar energy. Emily’s refrigerator is ideal for transporting medicines and even storing food and water.

Upon returning to the UK after her year in Africa, Emily secured funding so that her product could be refined and even manufactured on a large scale. In addition to gaining material support, she earned a string of engineering and technology awards for her solar powered refrigerator. She was named the Technology Woman of the Future at the Women of the Future Awards in 2006. The Young Engineers for Britain called Emily’s refrigerator “The Project with the Most Benefit to the Community.� She also won the British Female Innovator of the Year Award in 2007.

Emily enrolled at the University of Leeds to pursue a degree in management, but she contends that engineering, technology, and sustainability projects still factor into her academic and extracurricular work. Additionally, she is designing a second generation solar powered refrigerator. Although her initial design operated well, Emily hopes to design a model which can cool to lower temperatures. She also visits Africa to teach people there how to produce her first model.

Finally, she serves as an ambassador for the Make Your Mark campaign to help young people make their ideas happen. The campaign offers a range of resources for fostering creativity in teenagers and young adults. As an ambassador, Emily delivers lectures to schools and community groups about sustainability and the environment. By identifying the problems, she believes she can encourage young people to discover imaginative solutions.

In 2007, The Independent named Emily one of "the next big things"? Of course, the young inventor has already established herself as "something big"? Her solar powered refrigerator serves a useful and necessary purpose in the third world. Furthermore, her own efforts motivate young people to exercise their creativity. Through her work as a Meet Your Mark ambassador and an innovator, Emily may be inspiring "women on top" for the future

Emily Cummins -- Sustainable Inventor

At the age of four my grandad gave me a hammer.

From then on, whenever I used to visit I’d spend hours with him in his hut at the bottom of the garden.

I’d watch as he’d take scraps of materials and turn them in to toys for me and my cousins.

As I got older I'd get involved, learning how to use tools and learning about the different properties of materials.

I loved the fact that we could make something out of seemingly random bits.

I used to make trucks, jewellery boxes and rounders sets which kept us busy for ages. I loved the freedom.

At such a young age I was able to be creative which is something I will never lose...

Whilst attending the National Design Sustainability Award’s, Ed Gillespie (Creative Director of Futerra) was one of the guest speakers, he spoke about Sustainable Development and I was inspired.

I was shocked at how big a problem global warming has become, partially due to the rate at which fossil fuels are being burnt. It was clear to me that everyday appliances cannot be used ‘everyday’ for much longer.

After extensive research I found that the refrigerator was the main appliance that people could not or did not want to live without, therefore I decided to design and make a prototype of a sustainable refrigerator.

I performed various scientific tests to find the most suitable sustainable materials to use, taking into account; efficient function, the amount of energy used to produce the materials, availability and cost.

The fridge I produced at school is a full working model; its size would be perfect for transporting medicines but my design could also be manufactured on a larger scale, as the theory would still work.

I manufactured the fridge in a cylindrical shape as there are fewer areas where bacteria can build up. The storage area is lifted from an inner cylinder meaning less cold air is lost as cold air sinks.

After completing my design and discovering how simple it was to cool, I thought about other uses for it, such as for use in Africa. I used contacts from my previous water carrier project to research further and research further, considering ease of manufacturing and material choices.

After my A levels I took my fridge to Africa where I spent nearly 5 months. During this time I tested my refrigerator. I am now in the process of creating a second generation refrigerator; meaning that it will be even more energy efficient and cool to constant temperatures lower than 6şc!

Between the outer cylinder and the inner cylinder is an open compartment where any medium capable of holding water can be placed.  The medium would usually be sand, wool or soil and is packed into the gap and then water is added.

When the fridge is placed in a warm environment, the sun’s energy causes the water to evaporate from the medium. As the water/medium mix is held against the inner cylinder, heat is removed in the form of energy. Due to heat transfer the inner cylinder becomes cooler. The reduced temperature and completely dry environment of the inner chamber makes it perfect for the storage of perishables as it will allow items to be kept fresh for longer.

01. 8.09

Solar Fridge Invented (Again) by UK Student
by Lloyd Alter

Congratulations to Emily Cummins for building a portable evaporator fridge out of household parts in her grandpa's potting shed. The Daily Mail claims that she has "invented an Amazing Solar Powered Fridge," which would be a terrific thing if it was a) solar powered and b) she invented it.

Congratulations to Emily Cummins for building a portable evaporator fridge out of household parts in her grandpa's potting shed. The Daily Mail claims that she has "invented an Amazing Solar Powered Fridge," which would be a terrific thing if it was a) solar powered and b) she invented it.

The Daily Mail's illustration describes it as having a "gap between the inner and outer layer that is filled with sand, wool or soil, that can be soaked with water." they continue and say that "the sun's rays heat this wet material and the water evaporates off."

Right. Putting it in the sun increases evaporation, cooling the interior? I suspect not, but evaporative cooling can be used to make an effective and cheap cooling system for Africa, like Mohammed Bah Abba did ten years ago.

( )

Warren described it earlier:

"[Take] two pots, one inside another. Fill the space between the two with moist sand, and you have a most ingenious fridge. (That’s very modern if you live in one of the 90% of villages that don’t have electricity.) The water in the sand naturally migrates towards the outer pot, where it evaporates causing a temperature drop around the inner pot."

It was one of Time Magazine's inventions of the year in 2001 and won a Rolex award. It is made locally and sells for forty cents.

Warren also points us to the Darfur’s Women’s Association for Earthenware Manufacturing  ( ), where:

"In Al Fashir, the capital of North Darfur, ITDGPractical Action and the Women’s Association for Earthenware Manufacturing have been experimenting with a traditional storage container called a zeer, invented by a teacher called Mohammed Bah Abba.

"A lidded earthenware pot is fitted inside a larger pot with an insulating layer of sand in between. This sand layer can be kept cool by adding water regularly, thus providing a refrigerated storage space at minimal cost.

"The results of these trials were amazing. Carrots, tomatoes and okra could now be kept in good condition for nearly twenty days, whereas previously they would have been unsaleable after two or three."

While evaporative cooling has been around for millenia, according to Rolex:

"The city of Qena in Upper Egypt is renowned for its porous-clay cooling vessels – a tradition spanning more than three millennia. In Burkina Faso, the Jula people’s traditional jars are sometimes soaked in water before goods are stored in them, so that they stay cool by evaporation. This single-pot design is similar to the pot-in-pot, but less efficient."

The double wall system is a dramatic improvement. In most of the versions we have seen, the porosity of the clay is an important component; Emily has made her version of a non-porous metal. Perhaps there is something about it that I am missing, that lets it work better in the sun than in the shade.

But every swamp cooler and fridge I ever heard of right back to the Australian Coolgardie Safe worked better in the shade and relied on moving air to increase evaporation rather than sitting in the sun.

Food Cooling System

Inventor : Mohammed Bah Abba

In rural northern Nigeria, there are no refrigerators. Most people don't even have electricity. So perishable food must be eaten immediately, or it will go to waste. Mohammed Bah Abba, a local teacher, has developed an ingenious solution: the Pot-in-Pot Preservation Cooling System. A small earthenware pot is placed inside a larger one, and the space between the two is filled with moist sand. The inner pot is filled with fruit, vegetables or soft drinks; a wet cloth covers the whole thing. As water in the sand evaporates through the surface of the outer pot, it carries heat, drawing it away from the inner core. Eggplants stay fresh for 27 days, instead of the usual three. Tomatoes and peppers last for up to three weeks. A recipient of the Rolex Award for Enterprise, Abba, 37, who hails from a family of potmakers, is using his $75,000 award to make the invention available throughout Nigeria. He has already sold 12,000.

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