Chill Challenge

The Chill Challenge

Engineers Without Borders – USA (EWB-USA) is launching the Affordable Off-Grid Refrigeration Challenge this month.

Refrigeration is acknowledged as a key in social and economic development. But up to two billion people worldwide do not have access to reliable refrigeration.

EWB-USA notes that refrigeration is a particular challenge because some people acquire electricity through “mini-grids” or “solar home systems”, and those distributed power systems require a large investment and lots of power to provide refrigeration.

EWB-USA is trying to close the affordability gap by running the Affordable Off-Grid Refrigeration Challenge, which has been funded by a generous grant from the Open Philanthropy Project.

The objective of the challenge is to develop refrigerators and icemakers that are significantly more affordable for off-grid communities than currently available units. EWB-USA intends to award grants of US$25,000–$50,000 to up to 10 teams to develop proof of concept prototypes. The competition will be open to all interested parties, and open to all refrigeration technologies.

Specific design targets call for:

  1. Development of a 150–250L refrigerator that can chill 20L of water a day from 35°C to 3°C, and costs less than $12 per month to own and operate, or;
  2. Development of an icemaker that can produce 100–1,000kg of ice per day at a cost of $0.03/kg or less.

Both units must achieve these targets while operating on off-grid energy sources, and be otherwise suitable for use in remote developing communities.

The challenge will officially launch this month, and interested parties will be asked to submit proposals outlining their approach to the problem.

The initiative is intended to be the first phase of bringing an affordable, off-grid solution to developing countries. If viable prototypes are demonstrated, EWB-USA hopes to secure additional funding to support further development and marketing activities. 

If you are interested in participating, more information is available here or you can register your interest here.

Feature image courtesy of Engineers Without Borders USA.

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