Students from the University of Calgary have developed a new way of approaching food preservation, potentially reducing waste and enhancing food systems in areas where electricity access is poor or non-existent. The development of the team’s food perseveration unit, WindChill. was inspired by the temperature regulation approaches found in the natural world. The project was recently selected as first place winner of the 2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge.

The process starts with an intake structure, which passively draws in warm air and injects it into a pipe, which is located underground (which is slightly cooler than above ground). The pipe runs through to an evaporation chamber, a part of the unit that is immersed in fluid. The inside air is cooled by the evaporating fluid, which is then passed into the refrigeration section where the food is stored and kept cool.

The WindChill Food Preservation Unit’s design is based on a combination of natural processes seen in coral, termites, kangaroos, bees, elephants and meerkats.

Designed with rural and impoverished areas where electricity access is limited in mind, the unit has been created to be cost effective and is significantly cheaper than modern refrigeration methods.

WindChill is a design innovation that has the potential to help improve rural food systems and reduce waste. It has yet to be tested at scale, but a working prototype was made as part of the biomimicry challenge.

Source: WindChill – A Food Preservation Unit

Lead image licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: BiERLOS

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