Besides the Mitticool, Gujarat villager Mansukhbhai has developed a range of products in terracotta — such as pressure cooker (with a whistle), non-stick pans, a 0.9-micron water filter etc
The Mitticool achieves something that no modern, high-tech and supposedly energy-efficient refrigerator does — it works without electricity! And this rustic wizardry is just one of the many exciting innovations of Mansukhbhai Prajapati.
A traditional potter from the small village of Wankaner in Gujarat, this unassuming innovator was in the city to receive the 2011 Villgro Grassroots Innovator Award at IIT-Madras. For someone who failed in his Class X examination, Mansukhbhai now holds a patent for Mitticool, besides several national awards. While the Forbes magazine listed him the ‘Most Powerful Rural Entrepreneur’ in 2010, the likes of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and techno-giants such as Bosch and Siemens Hausgeräte have shown interest in Mitticool, and he has received orders for his products from 41 countries around the world, so far.
Not just the Mitticool, Mansukhbhai has developed a range of products in terracotta — such as pressure cooker (with a whistle), non-stick pans that can be used over a normal LPG flame, a 0.9-micron water filter, etc. It took many years of experimentation and labour to arrive at each of his extraordinary products.
It all began when Mansukhbhai decided to make a non-stick pan for his wife, as he couldn’t afford the ones in the market. “After a while, I quit my job as a terracotta tile-maker, took a loan of Rs. 30,000 and set up a small factory to shape terracotta gadgets. “At one point, it looked as if we would have to sell our house to keep the factory going,” Mansukhbhai shares. That was when IIM-Ahmedabad professor and vice-chairman of National Innovation Foundation, Anil K. Gupta stepped in with monetary help. Mansukhbai repaid the loan with interest eventually, and now is working to develop the ‘Mitticool House’ — a house that would keep itself cool without consuming energy!
All from the earth
The Mitticool keeps things cool because of the nature of the mitti (clay) it is made with. The structure is double layered, and water poured into the chamber just beneath the top of the Mitticool trickles down between its double layered walls, taking heat from the inside and evaporates, leaving the storage chambers cool. Cool water can be drawn out through a tap provided near the top, and used as drinking water, if drinking water is poured.
“I wouldn’t advise people to store milk in it, considering our city’s climate, but it can keep vegetables and fruits fresh for up to a week,” says Nadeera Harris, who stocks Mitticool refrigerators at her outlet Desi Basics.
Mitticool’s chief charm remains its electricity independence. Well, looks like terracotta technology is an idea whose time has come. Again!
(Mail Mansukhbai offers to deliver Mitticool and other terracotta gadgets to those who place orders and pay by cheque. Mansukhbhai can be reached at email@example.com or call and 0-28282-21156. Desi Basics on can be reached at 044-2491-1182)
MORE ON MITTICOOL
A refrigerator that doesn’t consume electricity
Keeps vegetables and fruits fresh for a week
Retains nutritive value of the vegetables
Serves as a water cooler too