Critical cooling equipment for fresh produce designed for developing areas. Increases efficiency and creates sustainable growth and demand

Innovative engineering to redesign a vacuum cooler to cool fresh produce, reduce water waste and recycle water byproduct to irrigation

Photo of Sean Roche
3 2

Written by

I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Inviro Choice Limited

Year founded

2011

Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $250k - $500k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1 - 10

Organization type

  • For-profit

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Headquarters location: City

Liverpool

Location(s) of impact

UK :Kent

Website

www.vacuumcooling.eu

Twitter URL

@seanRocheuk

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Many rural communities in the world that are subject to the detrimental impacts of water scarcity are dependent for their livelihoods on food production from smallholder farming, in which water plays an important part. However, the tragedy for these communities is that in many cases as much as 50% of the food they produce is lost postharvest due to spoilage, so much of this water is wasted unnecessarily. It has been estimated that about 25% of the water used in food production globally is associated with food production

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

My company has developed a postharvest chiller which has integrated solar PV, solar thermal and energy storage to support full off-grid operation, but importantly have also redesigned the chilling process to enable abstraction of the water produced by the cooling cycle. Standard operation of the system results in the removal of up to 5% of the moisture contained in the food produce being cooled (moisture removal beyond this limit is detrimental to the integrity of the product) and by simply capturing this it is possible to effectively recycle a portion of the water used in growing the produce and make it available for other uses. A single small machine with a 20 ton produce capacity could deliver around 20,000 litres of clean water per day .
At the same time the machine reduces post harvest loss due to field heat by 100% there fore reductions ng wasted water invested into the crops.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

We have successfully removed over 50% energy consumption of a standard vacuum cooler.
We have implimented energy saving options onto a number of deasel generator driven vacuum coolers and reduced the consumption by over 50% data taken and verified by a University in the UK.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

100% from earned income to date on a very tight budget

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Not only are we producing water from our machinery, we are also running the whole project off renewable energy and battery storage.
We are also reducing food waste in the rural agriculture industry which will in turn reduce water stress and also the machine will extend the shelf life making the produce more valuable and increase the demand. Profits will increase due to bigger harvest and a growing economy will follow.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Vacuum Cooling (VC) is the most energy efficient method of cooling fresh produce. VC is widley used across the globe for fresh produce growers who supply super markets because of the long shelf life benefits and post harvest loss reducing qualities. Reading a book by Mark Stevenson I realised that the problem in developing rural areas where farming in most cases is the only way of income there is often poor or no electricity grid connection. With a heating climate due to climate change post harvest loss is increasing and a sustainable cold chain was needed more than ever.
I designed a machine run off grid on renewable energy and battery storage. The University of Exeter has verified our energy saving design. Now we could reduce post harvest loss and water wastage invested into the crop.
We also added a water recycling system to the machine.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Social media

3 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Joseph Brenyah

The project is good but requires further polishing to prove the concept. Then build a solid business model with the requisite financial sustainability plan. We will be interested in getting further details about it with a possible collaboration.

View all comments