Clever New Refrigerator Keeps Food Cold Sans Electricity

 WindChill Unit Refrigeration System: No electricity neededWindChill Unit Refrigeration System: No electricity needed


For the roughly 1.3 billion people around the globe who are currently living without electricity, a traditional refrigerator is not an option. This problem gives rise to inventors everywhere searching for an alternative to meet those needs. And it’s not just people living without the conveniences so many of us take for granted that are searching for refrigerators that run sans electricity. Since the survivalist trend has taken off, plenty of folks are interested in cold food-storage systems for when the apocalypse hits.

New Refrigerators

A team of students from the University of Calgary in Canada has developed a refrigeration unit for storing perishables without the need for a power source. The new unit is said to be inexpensive and portable, so it could be perfect for campers as well. Called the WindChill Food Preservation Unit, the simple new cooling device connects an air tube to an evaporation chamber, which then hooks up to a sealed refrigeration unit that closely resembles a beverage cooler.

Evaporative Coolers

The design works by drawing outside air in through a funnel, which is then fed into a pipe that users bury beneath the earth's surface. At this stage the air is already beginning to cool down before it begins its journey into an adjacent copper pipe submerged in water located in the evaporation chamber. This is assisted by the use of a small solar-powered fan. The evaporating water surrounding the pipe then chills the air within before being fed back out underground prior to entering the refrigeration chamber where food is stored.

Innovative Technology

The end result is an innovative evaporative cooling system that can be used basically anywhere. The developers say their inspiration was derived from a variety of sources in nature that they approached in steps. Coral and termites inspired the first step; kangaroos, bees and elephants colored their thinking for the second step; and lastly leaves, meerkats and burrowing animals were drawn on for the third step. The principle behind the third step is the same reason basements and root cellars stay so cool.

Award Winning Designs

It’s little surprise the group took first place for their invention during the recent Biomimicry Global Design Challenge in the student category that requires entrants to develop ecofriendly solutions for helping support a healthy planet. According to the contest website, “The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge is an annual team competition that focuses on addressing critical sustainability issues with nature-inspired solutions.”

Improvements in Technology

During an interview, Michelle Zhou, one of the students from the University of Calgary, was quoted as saying, “We thought it would be good to decrease the amount of food waste in the world, and we came up with this design because it’s easy to build and the materials are relatively cheap.” The team’s next goal is to improve on the prototype in order to achieve a consistent temperature in the refrigeration chamber to a steady 4.5 degrees Celsius, the level that’s needed to keep food from spoiling and thus alleviate waste.