Low-cost Efficient Rural Cold Storage in Uganda

SVRG carried out this project jointly with our partner in Uganda, social enterprise EcoLife Foods, based in Matugga, north of Kampala. This project was funded by the Efficiency for Access Coalition.

Together with our partners in Uganda, Ecolife Foods, we have worked to develop and test improvements to a low-cost, local-technology-driven cold storage solution. The initial solution reached the finals of the CLASP/Global LEAP Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge 2018. The improvements tested were related to the cooling technology, the locally-sourced insulation and construction techniques, pre-cooling phase, and in order to improve productivity gains of local users, innovative uses of the waste heat generated by the hub (eg for drying produce and to provide hot water) and of the excess solar PV generated.

EcoLife’s mk1 cold store
  1. In particular, we examined how the current PET bottle wall insulation material EcoLife used could be improved upon, by testing the manufacturing feasibility and thermal performance of insulation material from locally-available wastes (rPET, paper, card, agricultural residues and agricultural products such as coir and banana fibre). We used a hammer mill to produce the insulation, and used appropriate additives to prevent insect attack, to fireproof the insulation and as binders if necessary.
  2. We tested the thermal performance and cost of stabilised earth blocks as an alternative to concrete/clay bricks.
  3. We researched how internal partitioning could be used within the cold storage facility to produce zones of different temperatures, for optimally preserving different products.
  4. We researched the design of a passive pre-cooling chamber that will reduce the energy and thermal demand on the cold store itself.
  5. We researched optimum productive uses of the waste heat of the system (hot water, crop drying for value addition) and of the excess PV.
  6. Finally, we assembled the optimum recommendations of each stage into a test system, and gathered user feedback and impact data.

The main achievements of this project were as follows.

  • Successful build of a coldstore structure from a locally available material with excellent thermal characteristics with low environmental impact.
  • Successful installation of a low-cost renewable energy system to power the coldstore.
  • Successful identification of a low-cost, highly thermally efficient and easy-to-handle insulation material for coldstore walls and roof.
  • Affordable, replicable adaptation of existing cooling technologies meaning that the coldstore could reach temperatures below 10 degrees.
  • Additional coldstore improvements including partitioning and additional thermal mass to allow the coldstore to cool as low as 2 degrees.

Find out more about this project here!

Scroll to Top