A team of Canadian Students designed a WindChill Food Preservation Unit to keep food cold without electricity

Approximately one out of every four calories grown to feed people is not ultimately consumed by humans. Food is lost and wasted to a varying extent across the globe, across all stages of the food value chain, and across all types of food which results in overall global food availability is lower than it would be otherwise, negatively affecting food security and requiring the planet’s agriculture system to produce additional food to compensate for the food that is not ultimately consumed by people.  

Preventing or reducing food spoilage involves both keeping track of the food in your home as well as storing it properly. Once you know how to reduce food spoilage, you can reduce the amount of food that is wasted each year. You need to store foods at the proper temperature.  

Canadian students have the solution for this food spoilage during transportation. Taking a cue from kangaroos, elephants, bees and even termites, a team of students got the idea of Windchill, as they wanted to help in reducing the food from spoiling in areas where electricity is unavailable.   


Image credit: Biomimicry Global Design Challenge  

Their other main priorities included the need for it to be less expensive than a normal refrigerator and the need for the device to be incorporated in regions of poverty.   

Canadian students took home 1st prize at the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge this month in Austin, Texas. High school and university students from all over the world took part in the student category and presented their ideas at SXSW Eco.  


Jorge Zapote and Michelle Zhou, two of the students behind WindChill  (Image source: CBC)  

How does it work?  

Windchill is a food preservation unit; an intake structure draws in warm air and will inject it into a pipe. The second step of the process takes the air into an evaporation chamber, where the pipe is immersed in a fluid. The fluid, which is evaporating, cools the air inside the pipe, and the third step is piping the cool air into the chamber where food is stored.  

It is a tool for not only keeping food at low temperatures, but also for changing the lives of the people that use it, those who make it and changing the future of the food transportation system through an exciting proposal for ambitious implementation and development.   

The design borrows the burrowing and the fanning techniques employed by some animals, siphoning in air (think elephants ears) that is then cooled by tubes which partially run underground (think digging termites). This helps provide cheap, cold air for food refrigeration. The goal was to build something that could be used in remote locations where electricity, and money, can be scarce.   

“Anywhere from a quarter to half of the world’s food goes to waste every year, and in rural populations — about 70 percent of the people in rural Africa don’t have access to electricity,” said team member Jorge Zapote. “So this at the moment uses a tiny bit of electricity from a solar panel, but the end design is to use zero electricity. So this could really help people in those areas.”  

The team is now looking forward to creating a prototype for the next round of competition and trying to reach their temperature goal. “The 4.5 degree Celsius goal is the temperature that we need for the food to stop spoiling,” said Zhou. (Source: CBC)


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