A Charcoal Cooler is a storage chamber constructed from locally available materials and is used to store perishable commodities under cool temperatures.
The Charcoal Cooler is a storage chamber that is used to keep perishable commodities without the need of electricity. The chamber works on the principle of evaporative cooling. The device is made of open timber frame with the sides filled with charcoal, which is continually kept moist. As warm, dry air passes through the moist charcoal, it draws energy from its surroundings which produces a considerable cooling effect.
Warm regions of the world, especially the rural areas where households are not connected to electricity.
Open source technology, can be locally fabricated
The cost varies with the size of the chamber. For example, a 2 x 1.5 x 1.5 meters chamber would cost 126.45 USD (13,000 KES) Converted July 2019
Farmers and traders in rural areas of the world with hot climates and with no electricity connection.
The Charcoal cooler can be constructed from locally available materials such as timber, wire mesh, charcoal, dry grass or papyrus reeds. It should be put under a shade but with free flowing wind.
This video developed by Farm Concern International shows the construction of a Charcoal Cooler step by step
Different unit sizes of the Charcoal Cooler can be constructed by local artisans with materials which can be obtained locally.
The holding volume, measured in liters
Length of time it takes to cool products, measured in hours
Time the products remain cold, measured in hours
Is there a way to control temperature?
Maximum internal temperature, measured in degrees Celsius
The materials used in construction
Does the product prevent insects from entering the chamber?
What is the medium for cooling?
A Charcoal Cooler storage is designed to function on the principle of evaporative cooling. The device is constructed from open timber frame which is filled with charcoal on the sides. Water from an overhead tank is used to spray the charcoal maintaining it wet. As warm, dry air flows through this wet medium, water is evaporated into the air, giving a cooling effect. The higher the rate of flow of the dry wind, the lower the temperatures are achieved.
There is no technical support and users are expected to maintain the device on their own.
Timber, charcoal and wire mesh which can be purchased locally
In hot and dry climate ( 30°C and less than 30% humidity), the temperature in the storage chamber will be 10°C lower than the average ambient temperature and relative humidity treater than 75%.
A study conducted by the University of Nairobi, Kenya showed that the Charcoal Cooler is capable of extending shelf life of camel milk for at least one day during the marketing period. During the study period, the cooler consistently maintained an average temperature drop of 10.5±0.4°C below the ambient temperature.
There are no known safety hazards related to this product.
The device requires reliable source of water to operate efficiently.
El-Refaie, M. F. and Kaseb, S., 2009, Speculation in the feasibility of evaporative cooling. Building and Environment, 44: 826–838
Gunhan, T., Demir, V. and Yagcioglu, A. K., 2007, Evaluation of the suitability of some local materials as cooling pads. Biosystems Engineering, 96 (3): 369–377.
Tilahun, S. W., 2010, Feasibility and economic evaluation of low-cost evaporative cooling system in fruit and vegetables storage. African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, 10 (8): 2984- 2997.
Performance measurement should include internal vs external temperature, internal vs external % relative humidity, number of days to spoilage of stored produce, frequency and amount of water used.
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