Evaptainers are electricity-free mobile refrigeration units which run at low-cost. Utilizing the phenomenon of evaporative cooling, rather than more energy-intensive vapor compression refrigeration, they are ideal for use in off-grid rural areas with low relative humidity.
Evaporative cooling has been employed successfully for centuries in products like the Zeer Pot. Proven to be effective for agricultural use, these products have been known to triple or quadruple the shelf-life of most produce. The company has taken these inventions and upgraded them for modern and commercial use. Using state-of-the art materials and improved design, they have created more effective, more durable, easier to use, mass-producible units. The units reach the same thermal efficiency as the Zeer Pot and have extended storage times of fresh food from days to weeks in pilot program tests.
The Evaptainer has a wide range of applicability and potential markets given the current post-harvest food spoilage levels in developing markets.
In developing countries, refrigeration can be both expensive and inaccessible. Lack of refrigeration is one of the main causes of the high spoilage rates for food before it even reaches the consumer. The UN estimates post-harvest losses as high as 45% for fruits and vegetables, with a total loss of 4 billion USD in Africa annually. Given that extending reliable electrification (and therefore traditional refrigeration methods) to everyone in these developing markets is cost-prohibitive, a revolutionary refrigeration solution is needed that does not rely on traditional compression technology which need electricity.
Specifically, the need for alternative refrigeration solutions in Morocco is illustrated by the current condition of Morocco's cold-chain infrastructure. Total refrigeration capacity in the country is 227,000 tons with only 27,000 tons dedicated to crops. In the context of production capacity, Morocco produces 6,200,000 metric tons of produce per year. Due to the lack of cold storage capacity, Morocco experiences an estimated 30-35% loss of fruit and vegetable crops. This loss impacts the country on all levels of society. It depletes the income of the 75% rural poor who depend on agriculture. Furthermore it impacts the quality of horticultural exports which are the second-largest export segment in the Moroccan economy, making up 15% of the national product.
The company is currently conducting field tests of the product with rural consumers who rely on expensive transportation for thrice-weekly trips to the market to purchase food, which has to be replaced due to food spoilage. With the use of an Evaptainer they are realizing savings of over 5% of their monthly income as they now travel to the market once a week and are able to regain lost productivity.
The ultimate aim is to sell Evaptainer units in bulk to institutional buyers such as government development projects, NGOs, agricultural cooperatives and refugee camps, as well as rural, low-income consumers in Morocco.
The devices will be sold at a souk stall: The strategy is to rent out space for a souk stall in each of the communities to which the units are to be sold. Since souks only meet once per week, a sales associate would travel to 4 different souks each week within a small regional coverage zone. They would conduct all advertisements and sales from the souk stall.
Any customer interested in the product would be able to buy on the spot or reserve a unit to be bought at the same souk the following week. In order to minimize shipping costs, sales associates could travel around with a demonstration unit and however many units were ordered the previous week.
When the model is ready to scale, the company can hire additional sales reps and operate in more souks. Eventually, regional managers based at HQ will be brought on to help with finding and training new sales reps while remotely managing existing ones. As this model takes off, they would begin to reach out to institutional purchasers, while also exploring the market potential of the product in a place like the U.S.
Production costs have been set at 15 USD with a sales price of 30 USD.
- High-density expanded polystyrene frame
- Aluminum sheets
- Specialized synthetic cloth with highly wicking properties.
- Donut-shaped water tank
Contact: Spencer Taylor
Used in: Morocco
Food & Agriculture