IITians Invent Again! This time a Solar Powered Cold Storage at ZERO Cost!

KOLKATA: When it comes to making news, IITians are always in the race. And needless to say that when it is about new inventions, they just steal the show away. This time the news is about young IIT engineers from IIT Kharagpur. They have come up with an affordable solution to the wastage of agricultural produce by developing a unique solar- powered cold storage system that works at almost zero running cost! Ain’t that a surprise!

Established at the STEP (Science and Technology entrepreneurship Park) of IIT Kharagpur by mechanical engineering student Vivek Pandey and his team, this micro cold storage system has been successfully tested in a Karnataka farmland already.

Pandey told the media, “It is a first of its kind product developed anywhere in the world as there are no running costs for the farmer. It works on clean and sustainable technology for all 12 months of the year. We have even applied for 4 patents for technologies used in the product.”

Underneath the banner of Ecofrost Technologies, these young graduates are now ready to move out of the campus and then get on with setting up a manufacturing and assembly unit in Pune next month.

By making use of a uniquely designed thermal storage methodology, which controls compartment cooling in tandem with regular cooling, the micro cold storage helps increase the shelf life of agricultural produce using solar panels of 2.5 KW – 3.5 KW.

The young innovator added, “The power generated is sent directly on to the compressor which can run at various speeds to adjust itself to the demand of the cooling. Instead of batteries, this 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.”

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% of food production due to wastage and contamination.

Pandey said, “We want to provide farm- level solar cold storages in areas that lack access to grid connected electricity. So by increasing the shelf life of agriculture produce, it’ll improve farmers’ source of revenue 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 – 6 lakh.

The IITian said, “We have started getting orders and will start a manufacturing and assembly unit in Pune next month. We’ve a target to manufacture 20, 000 such cold storage units in the next 5 years.” He further added that they are looking to raise around Rs.5 crore from venture capitalists.

Their promising innovation has won the 1st prize of Rs.10 lakh in the national university competition ‘DuPont: The Power of Shunya’.

Besides selling directly to farmers, they’re 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.

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