Project launched on World Refrigeration Day will bring together academics and researchers from the UK and India to rethink how multiple cooling needs are met in rural communities
Community ‘cooling hubs’ that would address a range of needs, such as protecting food supplies, students and medicines from high temperatures, are to be trialled in India as part of a collaboration with clean cold academics.
The University of Birmingham is using an ongoing partnership with the National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD) and local authorities in rural parts of India to integrate a cold chain with broader social and welfare needs to look at more sustainable models that can be expanded elsewhere.
Potential applications could include combining needs for a cool community hall space to serve as a classroom or crèche, while also safeguarding vaccines and supporting some food manufacture.
Proposals to create the hubs that can offer shared cooling capacity for social and economic benefit were unveiled on world Cooling Day on June 26 as part of a series of events to look at the unique challenges facing rural communities in hotter countries.
The proposals reflect research into a ‘clean cold’ concept to create disruptive models of cooling system design that consider financial and policy factors. This is viewed by researchers as being increasingly important ahead of a surge in global cooling demand linked to climate change.
Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) in India will also help with the research on how to integrate multiple demands for cooling services, while also ensuring sufficient funding is possible.
Professor Pawanexh Kohli, chief executive of the NCCD, said the hub focus reflected how rural communities share common resources and work spaces.
Professor Kohli said, “Community cooling hubs are a logical corollary in modern day context; not only to bring organisation to the post-production logistics chain, but also to service other welfare needs and add to their traditional economic activities.”
The introduction of a Model Contract Farming and Services Act by authorities in India was seen as reflecting a more communal approach to deliver a range of services around the food chain.
Professor Kohli added, “Community cooling hubs take forward refrigeration from the immediate realm of cooling machines, into the dimension of collaborative technologies and models to drive a weightier wellbeing. NCCD is enthused to see domain experts coming together for such strategic development.”
Toby Peters, professor in clean cold economy at the University of Birmingham, said that an estimated 40 per cent of food in India because of a lack of cold chain post-harvest.
Professor Peters added that cold chains could pay a vital role in extending crop life and addressing malnutrition and broader poverty issues.
He said, “We’re proposing a radical approach to cooling provision, where cold chains meet the wider community’s cooling needs in a clean, affordable and sustainable way. By aggregating demand to optimise system efficient energy and resource management and bundle multiple revenues streams, we can create a cohesive approach focused on the full range of society’s needs.”
“Cooling hubs could support farmers, whilst ensuring that communities have continuing access to life-saving medicines and properly cooled health facilities and community services.”
The announcement of the project follows the launch earlier this year of a world bank technical support programme focused on improving the viability of more holistic approaches to sustainable cooling that will include looking at both technological and government policy barriers. The focus will be supported with US$3m in funding from the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme.