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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Horticulture

Video on cold storage and this project.


Browse photos of cool rooms in California, India, Honduras and Uganda in the Coolrooms Project album on Flickr.

Coolrooms and Cool Transport for Small-Scale Farmers

Project Dates: January 2010 to September 2011

Target Countries: Honduras, India, and Uganda

Principal Investigators: Michael Reid and James Thompson, University of California, Davis


Project Description

Temperature management is the key tool for reducing temperature losses in the developing world. Very few smallholder farmers have access to cooling or cool storage facilities, and even refrigerated transportation is a rarity. The unreliability of local electricity supplies, the expense of conventional coolers, and the lack of technical expertise for the installation and maintenance all have led to the search for alternative solutions such as evaporative cooling systems. Nevertheless, mechanical refrigeration still represents a simple and efficient solution to cooling produce, and is usually the only practical means for cooling to temperatures near freezing. For resource-limited farmers in the developing world, coolrooms and transportation systems employing mechanical refrigeration are economically and practically infeasible. We are testing an innovative system, the CoolBot(TM), which uses an intelligent thermostat system controlling a standard room air conditioner to create a small-scale cooler out of a well-insulated room. Experiments include testing a range of potential insulating materials that might be used in installing or retrofitting coolrooms, evaluation of the CoolBot/window air conditioner combination, and evaluation of the use of photovoltaic panels to power the system. For short-distance transport to local markets, cool transit can be achieved by placing properly cooled produce in a well insulated truck or cart. Studies on novel insulating materials will also be applicable to such transportation systems.

Project Deliverables

More information about the CoolBot

Store It Cold website

More information about cooling

Publications on cooling fruits and vegetables from the UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center