IIT Kharagpur students have designed an affordable and a unique solar-powered cold storage system to minimize the wastage of agricultural produce. It works on almost zero running cost.
The product has been developed by Vivek Pandey, a mechanical engineering student, and his team at the Science and Technology entrepreneurship Park (STEP) of IIT Kharagpur. It has been successfully tested.
Pandey said that it is a first-of-its-kind product developed anywhere in the world as there are no running cost for the farmers. Another unique factor of this solar-powered cold storage is that it works on clean and sustainable technology for all 12 months. With their product, power generated is sent directly on to the compressor which can run at various speeds to adjust itself to the cooling demand. Instead of batteries, the system has a thermal storage unit which can store power for more than 36 hours to provide power, in case there is no sun during cloudy or rainy weather.
The team has even applied for four patents for technologies used in the product. It is estimated that every year India loses around 30 per cent of food production due to wastage and contamination.
The young engineers are now ready to move out of their campus and start a manufacturing and assemble unit in Pune next month, under the banner of Ecofrost Technologies. They also informed that they have also started getting orders. They have a target to manufacture 20,000 such cold storage units in the next five years, and are looking to raise around Rs 5 crore from venture capitalists.
Innovators said that they want to provide farm-level solar cold storages in areas that lack access to grid connected electricity. By increasing the shelf life of agriculture produce, it will improve farmers’ livelihood by reducing losses and allowing better price realisation.
Meant for horticulture produce, the micro cold storage system has a capacity of 5 metric tonnes and a price varying between Rs 5 to 6 lakh.
Their promising innovation has won the first prize of Rs 10 lakh in the national university competition ‘DuPont: The Power of Shunya’.