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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T015535/1
Title: Solar Powered Horticulture Cold Chains (Sol-Tech)
Principal Investigator: Tassou, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Government of Haryana Netune Atlantic Phase Change Material Products Limited
Tanzania Horticulture Assciation
Department: Institute of Energy Futures
Organisation: Brunel University London
Scheme: UKRI
Starts: 01 October 2019 Ends: 31 March 2021 Value (£): 779,377
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy - Conventional Energy Efficiency
Energy Storage Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
14 Aug 2019 GCRF GRTA Panel19 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Globally food chains experience substantial losses which for horticulture products can be as high as 70% of production. This represents 8 percent of global Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and substantial loss of resources such as water and energy. Food losses and waste result from to many reasons, which include inadequate infrastructure and lack or unreliable energy supply, lack of skills and access to markets. A key contributor to food loss in developing countries and in particular Africa and India is the very limited availability of cold food chains for the preservation and temperature controlled distribution of fresh produce to markets.

The Sol-Tech project aims to make a contribution to addressing the food waste challenge and key Sustainable Development Challenges and Goals, including halving food waste by 2030, providing access to energy for all and alleviation of poverty and malnutrition. This will be achieved by building on previous and current research to develop to commercialisation stage an innovative but affordable solar powered modular fresh food cold storage and first mile distribution system for application in areas with no or limited and unreliable access to the electricity grid. Sol-Tech will involve collaboration between academic and industry partners from the UK, Africa and India to ensure that the technology development and commercialisation is informed by developing country needs and local political, socioeconomic and market conditions.

The innovation potential and impact of the technology are substantial. Major innovations include: i) significant, up to 40% reduction of the thermal load of food transport refrigeration insulated boxes; ii) the use of solar energy to power on-board refrigeration systems and hybrid electrical and thermal energy storage to eliminate fossil fuel demand for precooling, storage and distribution of fresh produce; iii) adaptable on-board microclimate control and communication system to minimise transpiration losses, increase shelf life and maximise product quality at point of delivery.

The project will also investigate and develop appropriate business models and commercialisation strategies tailored to specific local markets to ensure successful product commercialisation and maximum impact.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.brunel.ac.uk