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The Cold Chain advocates need to show their mettle

The cooling industry can make a significant difference to people in the developing world

This month it won’t have escaped your notice that we are all about the cold chain.

Not only do we have a bumper crop of material from the recent IIR Cold Chain Conference (and yet more in our digital edition) but alongside it there is a fascinating report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (p20 RAC August).

Reading the full IMechE report – as you can online here – it will leave you in no doubt what an opportunity there is for the cooling industry to make a difference to the day-to-day welfare of people in the developing world.

By focusing on advanced cooling technology that is appropriate to regions where there is sparse electricity, hot and dry conditions and little capital for investment, this industry can help increase the storage time for perishable foods and reduce the high degree of wastage in developing countries.

There is no silver bullet – it is likely to mean developing a cold chain where there is little or nothing there already, and then there is the additional requirement of significant capital investment and the will of the regional governments and/or aid agencies to secure it.

There are certainly grounds for optimism and there is a lot of intriguing technology in development.

The IIR Conference was full of talk of phase-change materials and advanced cooling methods, while the IMechE report concluded that use of cryogenic refrigeration units using liquid nitrogen could solve cooling/energy issues.

Of course, an improved cold chain wouldn’t just benefit the developing world, it could be applied very usefully to a developed-economy retail infrastructure such as the UK’s – a nation of consumers that throws away 2m tonnes of food a year.

The key is getting the technology out of the laboratories and into the commercial world.

The collaboration didn’t get off to a very good start, judging by the fact that the IMechE published its report a mere
week after the IIR conference, yet apparently didn’t have any communication or collaboration with
the IOR or organisers.

But what we have to do now is work together – the IMechE’s suggestion of drawing up a cold chain technology routemap seems a good place to start.

On the subject of technology, can I invite you to check out our Cooling Awards shortlist on p12-13 RAC August?

In the context of F-Gas phasedowns, we have no choice but to accelerate the pace of change away from high-GWP gases. The Awards shortlist once again shows that this industry is more than up for the challenge. Come and see who wins on 24 September.

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