23-Year-Old's Solar-Powered Fridge Earns Prestigious Award

23-year-old Emily Cummins started her career as an inventor as a young girl tinkering in her grandfather's shed. Now, thanks to a solar-powered fridge that's already in use across Africa, Nobel winners are handing her awards.

Cummins was selected as a Oslo Business for Peace Honouree in Norway last week, a prestigious award established last year for ethical businesspeople which is overseen by a panel of Nobel prize winners. Not many people have talked to a Nobel prize winner, much less been bestowed with an award by one. Next month, in Japan, the Junior Chamber International will name her one of the 10 Outstanding Young Persons of the World for this year. And it's all because of a clever idea she had for a refrigerator.

Cummins had the idea for the refrigerator last year when she was a student at Leeds University. A metal cylinder is placed inside a larger cylinder made of wood or cardboard. The space in-between the two is filled with a material that can be soaked in water, like soil or cloth, and as the sun heats that material and the water evaporates, it pulls the heat off the inner cylinder. Perishables can be kept at a cool 6C with no power needed whatsoever. It's already being used in Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

"Hopefully these awards will inspire other young people to think about how they can contribute to our global community in a positive way," said Cummins. I have a feeling we'll be hearing about her own contributions again in the future. [DailyMail]

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    The idea isnt new, this sort of technique has been used for many years in the hippie communes, where a heshen cloth soaked in water is placed over a cube frame that when placed in the sun evaporates the water and creates a cooling effect.

    Considering we ALL need to before aware of our carbon footprint, is there any reason why this couldn't be adapted for use cooling homes or providing tiered refrigeration?

      Consider the amount of water which would be required to cool an entire home. It would also be incredibly expensive, and use a lot of power to keep an entire house wet.

      Aside from that, how do you think air conditioners work? Normal refrigerators and air conditioners use evapouration techniques to cool air.

    This is neither innovative nor new. Such refrigerators have been used since ancient times (in the form of pots within each other lined with soaked sand, ie exactly what she has done), and all she has done has put perforations in the outside one and made the inside metal. I really don't see how revamping an old idea by changing the material makes her a sensation.

    Holy crap that is amazing! I would like one when I go camping.

    I hate to rain on peoples parades but I'm pretty sure there were fridges using this same principle
    around in my grand fathers and great grandfathers day.
    I also remember doing something identical as a science experiment in high school.
    A number of home cooling systems are based on the same principle and have been around for decades.
    So how does this qualify as an invention?

    On the down side they don't work very well in areas of high humidity...

    So this is a wonderful/unique invention because this person and reporters have never heard of a Coolgardie Safe?


      This device is thousands of years old, called a Pot-in-pot refrigerator, or a Zeer. The middle kingdom egyptians (2055BC) had them.

    Wow that's cool (no pun intended). I can't imagine keeping my milk at 6C, but it'd probably last longer than it would in the hot sun.

      I very much doubt you keep your milk much cooler, the average fridge temperature is between 3 and 6 degrees

    Koolgardie safe?

    You mean she didn't invent evaporative cooling? No sh$t you jerks.

    It's her design that's novel, not the base physics.

    Maybe all these people who were ingenious enough to use this method of refrigeration could have helped the lives of those in developing countries. Or we could just bash this one girl for taking an idea and applying it.

    Kudos... but this was invented by a Nigerian dude nearly 10 years ago


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