Every year, India generates agricultural produce worth $ 55 billion out of which only $39 billion makes it to the market. The remainder is lost due to inadequate refrigeration facilities. At the root of this problem is the insufficient and erratic electric grid supply whose impact is being felt across all sectors of the economy.
The absence of reliable power at the farm-level limits the extent to which conventional cold-rooms and chillers can be used. Thus, an off-grid solution is the way forward if a chiller is to be installed at the farm-level.
Innovation and application:
To help reduce agricultural wastage, Promethean Spenta Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has developed a hybrid solar and grid-powered chiller that can be placed directly at the farm-level to be used for chilling as well as pre-chilling of the fruits and vegetables immediately after they are harvested. This is integral in preserving the quality of the produce when it is transported from the farm to the market. The reduction in the volumes that are wasted and the increase in the shelf-life serve as a win-win scenario for the customer as well as the producer.
At the heart of it, powering the chiller during off-grid hours is a thermal storage battery that gets charged using solar as well as sporadically available grid power. The thermal energy battery uses simple materials and clever engineering to store large amounts of thermal energy in the form of ice. This stored energy is released when the ice melts to cool the produce.
The chiller can be used to chill a wide variety of products at different temperatures in multiple compartments owing to a smart controller that actively senses and controls the real-time conditions inside the chamber at all times. In addition to this, to reduce the service time in the event of a breakdown, a Remote Control Module has been provided with each chiller, giving technicians the ability to monitor and diagnose the chiller from their phone using a simple SMS communication protocol.
Owing to the scalable model of this technology, it can be used by farmers and food producers around the world.