How to

12 June 2017

Start-up Company Evaptainers Brings Non-electrical Refrigeration to Rural Areas

In many undeveloped rural regions around the world, access to utilities such as electricity can be scarce if not altogether non-existent. In fact, it is estimated that a whopping 1.4 billion people lack access to electricity of any kind, most commonly in countries throughout Southeast Asia, China, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

One thing the aforementioned locations have in common is a relatively high average ambient temperature. Coupled with the lack of access to electricity detailed above, this creates a massive problem when it comes to the preservation of food and other perishables. Traditional refrigerators as we know them don’t work so well without being plugged in, and so the need for a non-electrical alternative is apparent.

This is the mission start-up company Evaptainers have taken upon themselves. The company specialises in the design and manufacture of portable, cost-effective refrigeration systems which rely on water rather than electricity to function. Their creation is essentially a modern take on the age-old evaporative cooling refrigerating device known as a ‘zeer pot’, or pot-in-pot refrigerator.

Spencer Taylor, who co-founded the company alongside his colleagues Quang Truong and Jeremy Fryer-Biggs, explains how the device works, drawing a comparison between its functionality and our own sweating response: “As we sweat, water molecules draw heat out of our bodies to go through a phase-change, and evaporate. As that happens we cool down. This machine has water in a tank, and permeable membranes that deliver water to evaporative walls.”

To operate the Evaptainer refrigerator, users simply pour water into the port located atop the device. To make things even simpler and safer in remote locations, this water doesn’t even have to be clean enough to be considered safe for drinking, or ‘potable’, as it never comes into contact with the refrigerator’s contents. When not in use the Evaptainer can be folded away for easy transportation, further improving its functionality.

Speaking recently to TechCrunch, co-founder Quang Truong offered some insight into how the idea for the company came about, and why they consider their mission to be so important. Truong said, “With a variety of agriculture projects you’ll see people spending millions to try to build a cold storage warehouse in places were graft, corruption and other issues make it hard to even get something built. But then there’s this issue of what to do if you don’t have a reliable electric system, or grid in the first place. The short answer is to do something that doesn’t require electricity.”

His colleague and fellow co-founder Spencer Taylor also added, “We’d like to do something where the higher margins in the U.S. support our ability to put this technology in the hands of people who wouldn’t be able to pay for poor rural consumers and food producers in emerging markets.”

Not only do Evaptainers have a great product, they also seem to have a genuine desire to make a difference to impoverished areas around the world. Having already raised nearly half a million dollars in grant funding to enable them to get started, the company’s prospects for the future look promising.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.