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Elgon Fresh Solutions
Elgon Fresh Solutions is a Ugandan start-up that aims to reduce food waste. By innovating the supply chain they want to reduce post-harvest losses that are currently estimated at 40 %. The Humasol team gives technical assistance by coming up with prototypes for a zero energy cooling chamber at the farmer’s side and a new concept of transportation where the damaging of tomatoes is avoided.
Let’s talk about ZECCs baby!
Elgon came up with this innovating design of a low-tech cooling system. It’s called a zero energy cooling chamber, or ZECC for the friends. Without any energy (surprise surprise), it can keep the tomatoes cool around 20 °C, just the way they like it. It works by evaporative cooling: water is supplied in a sand layer between an inner and outer wall and when this water evaporates it cools the surrounding air, just as you feel cold when you come wet out of the shower. It’s a wonderful idea that can keep the tomatoes cool without any expensive components!
As engineering students, we ofcourse were very excited to start from this design and optimise it as much as possible. We came up with three different models that will be tested in Uganda. The first model is based on the standard ZECC. However, we made a few modifications that should improve the reliability of the ZECC, like an automatic irrigation system and an improved cover. The other models are either partly or completely underground to exploit the ground’s insulating and cooling properties. Underground, the temperature is much more constant and just like in a cave, it doesn’t reach the very high ambient temperatures that are damaging for the tomatoes.
We’re looking forward to building these models together with the Ugandan team. Their performance will be assessed with temperature loggers. With this data, the boss of all ZECCs can be designed, that even makes a fridge feel warm!
Elgon Fresh Solutions is supported by Einstein Rising, located in Kampala. The ZECCs are placed in smaller villages close to the capital.