Fr-ease is a zero-carbon ice-maker using solar thermal energy instead of electricity. A closed unit absorbs the sun’s heat during the day. The unit is connected to an ice-box containing water, and the internal evaporation process then produces solid ice from this water overnight. The process is based on adsorption and desorption of methanol into activated carbon. The elements are contained in a closed-system within the unit, with no moving parts or maintenance. There are no photo-voltaic panels, and no electrical current involved. Due to the simplicity of the system it can be easily installed and requires minimal maintenance.
A 13 kg unit can make 5 kg of ice in less than 8 hours, depending on the sunlight and heat captured. A smallholder farmer or fisherman can use this ice to cold-pack produce or meat and fish, and transport it cooled to market. This opens the potential to transform the ability of small producers to get their products to market with reduced spoilage, and increased revenue. This, in effect, solves the early stages or ‘first-mile’ of the cold chain in a way that can integrate easily with existing modes of transport and without complex or fragile infrastructure.