Location: Spring, Texas
When talking about ways to “feed the world,” most conversations revolve around the goal of ramping up food production. However, increasing production is an incomplete solution unless another problem is addressed: what happens to food after it is grown and harvested? Enormous amounts of food are wasted after harvest, with global food losses estimated at 25-50% of production. This waste is not just from picky toddlers refusing to finish their vegetables, but occurs all along the supply chain. Curbing food waste can go just as far towards stopping hunger as growing more food can, without exhausting already overtaxed soil.
One of the most cost-effective ways to reduce food spoilage, and thus waste, is by using cold storage. A 10°C decrease in storage temperature doubles the shelf life of most produce, as well as preventing microbial growth and water loss. Unfortunately, most developing countries lack the energy infrastructure to power refrigeration as food goes to market. One solution, however, has the potential to be deployed in any country, regardless of infrastructure, by coupling a hyper-efficient means of transport with solar-powered refrigeration. This solution, developed by the Project Solar Division of GreenRigCo, is called the Solar Electric Tricycle Fridge/Freezer Application, or SETFA. The SETFA is a motorized electric tricycle with a trailer that acts as a combination fridge/freezer, all powered by solar panels. It holds up to 150 kilograms of food and can travel up to 80 kilometers on battery power. Having both a fridge and a freezer allows the SETFA to transport a variety of foods, from dairy to produce, at the cost of a mere 10 cents a day to use. This translates into a 97% decrease in operation costs for food transporters while producing no carbon emissions. Most importantly, the SETFA has the potential to reduce supply-chain spoilage by more than 50%, all by providing developing countries with the means to keep food cold and fresh.
GreenRigCo deployed the original version of the SETFA, designed specifically for use by ice cream vendors, in South Asia and throughout Africa. The updated model, which is designed for more generalized food transport, will be sold to NGOs and social programs, which will then distribute them as they see fit. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s recent announcement of their SAVE FOOD Initiative to address post-harvest losses will likely add to the SETFA’s use as well, as GreenRigCo’s project and ones like it will be at the forefront of the UN initiative. It’s time to recognize that we can grow all the food we want in any way we want, but that will not help anyone if the food fails to reach hungry mouths. It’s time to stop the waste.
Environmental Impact: Reduced food waste and avoided use of fossil fuels, including avoided emission of GHGs and harmful substances
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