Mansukhbhai Raghavbhai Prajapati, a Gujarat-based potter, makes this fridge that uses no electricity!
When the killer earthquake hit Gujarat in the winter chill of 2001, Mansukhbhai Raghavbhai Prajapati, a potter in the nondescript town of Wankaner, was among those who were left to pick the ruins.
His warehouse that stored pots and pans besides other articles of clay had been crushed to the ground, with hardly anything left to sell in the ensuing summer. As the world media poured into the state to report the plight of the victims, Mansukhbhai’s story of survival appeared in the form of a photograph in a Gujarati newspaper with him sitting next to the broken clay pots with the caption reading, ‘The fridge of the poor breaks into pieces.’ The photo-caption gave birth to the idea of a clay fridge that would be affordable to the poor.
After the idea struck, 38-year-old Mansukhbhai set about working on different prototypes of the fridge for almost three years. The result was a refrigerator that was not only low cost, but also worked without electricity. In fact, Mansukhbhai is a serial innovator. In 1995, after passing out of the 10th grade, he started working in a roof tiles manufacturing unit. Being a potter by profession, he observed that if roof tiles can be manufactured in large quantities using a hand press, then why not earthen pans, which were till then being manufactured manually by potters. In 1998, he finally developed his first innovation – a motorized hand press machine that increased the capacity of potters from 100 to 700 earthen pans in a day. Among the other innovations made by Mansukhbhai, the most popular have been the non-stick earthen pans and the clay water filter, which have also won national awards. Currently, he in working on a pressure cooker made of clay that he hopes to bring to market within a month.
Called the Mitti Cool Refrigerator, Mansukhbhai’s clay fridge has a capacity of 50 L. The innovative fridge cools water naturally while keeping food such as vegetables, fruits, and liquids fresh for several days. The innovator claims, “You can cool 20 L of water, 5 kg of fruits or vegetables, and 5 L of liquids such as milk at a given time.”
The most amazing part about this innovation is that it does not use any electricity to cool – a feature that imparts several advantages to this fridge. It is low on maintenance. Says the innovator, “For the poor, the cost of the fridge is not the only consideration, additional maintenance costs such as electricity is also a big concern. My fridge takes care of these problems as well.” It helps save a considerable amount of energy. Moreover, with electricity still being a luxury in many Indian villages, this fridge can be used in rural areas as well. “In fact,” says Mansukhbhai jokingly, “my fridge is attracting more customers from urban areas than rural areas.”
|Innovator Mansukhbhai Raghavbhai Prajapati|
Innovation Mitti Cool Refrigerator
Description A fridge made of clay that does not require any electricity to run; keeps food fresh by evaporation
Advantages Does not require electricity, hence no recurring costs. Can be used to store fruits and vegetables for 5 to 6 days and milk for 3 days. Does not require any maintenance. Can store up to 20 L of water, 5 kg of fruits and vegetable, and 5 L of milk or any liquid.
Price Rs. 2,000
On being asked about the durability and strength of the fridge, he says, “I have sold many fridges in the market, but haven’t received any complaints so far. But if you ask me I would say that the fridge will last for five years, because over the years, the cooling decreases.” Baking the clay used for manufacturing the fridge at 1200 ºC makes it very strong. Hence, no special care needs to be taken. However, he adds, the fridge gives better cooling if placed near a fan.
How does the fridge work?
The refrigerator works on the principle of evaporation. It has two large tanks, one at the top and and the other at the bottom with a capacity to store approximately 20 L of water. The fridge also has a cabinet to store food items. The water tanks cool the sides of the fridge in the same manner as clay pots used to cool water during summers. The water from the upper chamber drips down to the sides, taking the heat from the inside thus leaving the chambers cool. This helps to preserve the food for days. “The refrigerator is a natural cooler. Unlike the fridges used normally in homes, the water that is stored in the clay tanks is cooled naturally. This has several health benefits as well. This also helps preserve food items like fruits and vegetables, which can be stored up to six days, and liquids like milk up to three days.” The fridge gives a higher cooling effect in a dry climate compared to a humid one.
What is its price?
Mansukhbhai has applied for a design patent on his innovation with the help of the National Innovation Foundation. The fridge is priced at an affordable Rs 2,000. Till date, Mansukhbhai has sold 700 such clay fridges. He says, “I sell my products throughout India by participating in various fairs and exhibitions. In fact, I have even sold my fridge abroad as well through the NIF.”
As with most innovators, Mansukhbhai constantly tries various methods to improve his fridge. He says, “In my latest model, I have fitted two small fans inside. These fans help in the cooling process. Again to save on power, I have attached these fans to solar panels that provide energy to run these fans. The NIF has also helped me a lot for improving the model.” When asked about his future plans, he says: “I dream to make a big house that will use no electricity.”
|Earthen water filter |
Non-stick clay pan
Hand press for making earthen pans
written by surabhi, May 20, 2010
written by Mansukhbhai Prajapati, April 01, 2010
written by bhawna mittal, January 11, 2010
|< Prev||Next >|