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SolarX Works - The ColdBox

Inexpensive solar powered, temperature controlled containers designed to improve post-harvest yield via localization of storage.

Photo of Blake
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

We know it takes more than just a vision… it’s about execution! How do we improve the supply chain? How do we help ensure that the farmer in Bangladesh is able to get his produce to market before it spoils? How can we help a community in Nigeria keep and store food?

Meeting the challenge of a sustainable Cold Chain and helping to improve post-harvest yield through applied solar technologies just makes sense. We believe temperature controlled solutions when combined with renewable technology and a little innovation can provide a key to meeting the world’s demand for a safe, consistent, available food supply. And this seems like a big deal!

Imagine a simple container, a quick-to-assemble solar array with manual "tracking" systems, an easy to maintain chiller and basic controls integrated together to provide a temperature controlled space. It could be an interesting solution, right?

The keys to success?
+ A simple design,
+ Easy to assemble,
+ Easy to maintain,
+ Easy to secure.
+ Easy to transport.

We have tested a full scale proof of concept. A solar array, connected to a commercial chiller, a few batteries and an invertor. The cool thing (no pun intended) ... IT WORKED (down to -17 degrees Fahrenheit). We are now working on the second generation design and introducing some less-expensive solutions. But... we are self-funding and self-engineering our way through the process. As an aside, we have designs to support agencies like FEMA or the Red Cross.

WHO BENEFITS?

Local farmers, villages, families and communities in emerging regions will clearly benefit from our solution. Many potential "customers" for off-grid photovoltaic (PV) solutions are not in developed nations. Technologies such as the SolarX Works ColdBox have an enormous potential in the developing world when one considers that 25% of the earth's population does not have access to electricity and closer to 50% does not have access to *reliable* sources of energy.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

Our initial intent (after various discussions with the international committee of the Global Cold Chain Alliance) was to focus on three specific areas: Bangladesh, Nigeria and South Africa.

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for one year or less.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

Currently headquartered in Moses Lake, WA and Portland, OR - SolarX Works is a small business comprised of a team from widely diverse backgrounds with significant international experience in global supply chain, solar value chain, renewable energy, cold storage / the cold chain, and warehousing.

Food production is arguably the largest and most important commercial activity undertaken by mankind. However it is coming under increasing pressure from population growth, climate change, and growing demands from consumers and regulators.

Solutions are varied and there is no one “silver bullet” idea. Opportunities for improvement present themselves in many ways – from the continuous dissemination of supply chain and “cold chain” industry best practice ideas, to innovative contributions from the scientific, processing, engineering and investment communities. Our SolarX Works ColdBox is but one necessary piece of a complex puzzle which when applied to the equation could help us solve these challenging problems. 

The core of our solution is the SolarX Works ColdBox, a container not too dissimilar conceptually from your average shipping container. Truth be told, we have even executed a retrofit of an existing shipping container with our integrated set of solutions.

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers recently stated “as the world’s population moves toward 9.5 Billion … meeting future demand for food… will present significant challenges!” Almost 50% of post-harvest perishable foods are lost due to poor infrastructure. The estimated increase in food demand over the next thirty years is 70%. We believe that the global community’s issues are our issues and that we can help be a part of the solution!


6 comments

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Photo of Kait Vinson
Team

I think this idea really has legs.  I would love to see this succeed and hear about how people are utilizing it to prevent food loss and keep their community healthy. 
Speaking from personal experience abroad this is much much needed! 

Photo of Don
Team

I love the idea!  The cold chain is an integral part of food preservation in developed economies and this dynamic solution fits the mold for emerging markets, where there is a lack of traditional infrastructure.  People need to eat and keeping things frozen is one of the best ways to make sure minimal product is lost!

Photo of Chris
Team

This is a fascinating idea-- easy to imagine these containers forming a networked oasis where food is needed most.   Throw in the idea of autonomous drones doing replenishment to re-stock these containers with essentials-- it's a solar/IoT/drone solution that can change people's lives.   Very cool indeed!

Photo of Toby Lucich
Team

I love the modular nature of the SolarX solution, and the idea that you could drop ship this solution nearly anywhere, regardless of existing infrastructure. Using solar technology to achieve these kinds of temperature management results are incredible, and what a boon for emerging countries.

Your point on "execution" is critical - the best ideas are only meaningful when we can bring these to fruition.

Photo of Blake
Team

Shane - Thank you for the notion.  I took a look at that idea and, as you say, it would be good to connect with Arno. We have had some good results with the design and are currently driving the costs down to make it more viable.

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Intriguing idea Blake! There is another like-minded idea in this challenge that's also developing solar-powered storage solutions: Post-harvest storage without the use of cooling  It'd be great to reach out to Arno and share some insights:)