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In parts of the world, getting access to fresh food presents significant obstacles. In his travels throughout developing markets, Quang Truong witnessed how the lack of access to refrigeration hurts rural communities. Marketplace visits could be day-long commitments. Small rural farmers lost as much as 45 percent of their crop after harvest to the unrelenting heat. Without a means of efficient refrigeration, time and wasted resources impacted the very livelihood of families who could least afford it.
He also came into contact with traditional food preservation techniques like evaporation cooling. Home grown evaporative cooling units, often using breakable, heavy clay pots, have proved an effective and accessible way to keep produce cool in withering temperatures. The cumbersome nature of these home grown designs, however has significantly limited their adoption. By bringing modern design techniques and fabrication technologies to evaporative cooling, Truong believed he could improve efficiency, and change lives. He founded Evaptainers, with a mandate to design low cost evaporation refrigeration units using 21st century materials that worked within the resource limitations of some of the world's harshest environments.
One of the materials his team uses is 3M™ VHB™ Tape. After early prototypes revealed the typical water quality used in the cooling units contained sediment that eventually built up and obstructed the waterflow, the engineers at Evaptainer rebuilt channels with moisture-resistant 3M VHB Tape 5915 and 5906. The tape's capability to permanently bond polypropylene sheets was actually a secondary benefit to its ability to design a cost-efficient means for water to flow through the unit. Last year was a major turning point for the startup. Early pilot results from Morocco indicated the containers added nearly 70 percent storage life to sensitive fruits like tomatoes, reduced the time families spent in travel, and reduced household expenses by 4 percent. With positive in-field testing, the team was able to begin full scale up.
Big news also came when Evaptainers was named a "Great Energy Challenge" grant recipient by National Geographic. The Challenge seeks to "hasten the growth of promising, global energy solutions as a response to climate change, energy resource constraints and environmental limitations." For Evaptainers, the grant will help continue ongoing field tests and support the development of their next-generation prototype. For rural families and farmers throughout Africa, it means they may be one step closer to improved health, increased income, greater savings, and longer lives.
To learn more about Evaptainers' mission and progress, visit: www.Evaptainers.com