Tiruchirapalli

NIT-Tiruchi keen to commercialise prototype of solar-assisted cold storage system

A file photograph of the view of NIT, Tiruchi

A file photograph of the view of NIT, Tiruchi   | Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

The prototype system consists of two cold rooms and a chiller unit and has the capacity to store 200 kg of vegetables and fruits

Having readied a prototype of a solar-assisted cold storage system by teaming up with the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT), Thanjavur, to reduce post-harvest losses, the National Institute of Technology Tiruchi (NIT-T) has set its sight on developing a mobile multi-commodity cold storage system by adopting the same technology.

The uniqueness of the project, carried out with funding of Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, is utilisation of Low Melting Temperature Phase Change Material (PCM) for storage and circulation in the cold storage rooms instead of direct evaporation of refrigerant. The excess cold energy can be stored in the PCM and utilised later.

This is an energy saving and cost-effective system when compared to the battery energy storage, according to a multi-disciplinary core team behind the project consisting of faculty members of IIFPT and NIT-T.

The team consists of faculty members from the Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Instrumentation and Control Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments.

The prototype solar-assisted cold storage (PSCS) system consisting of two cold rooms and a chiller unit kept in between the cold rooms has a capacity to store 200 kg vegetables and fruits. The shelf life of fruits and vegetables can be increased by maintaining the temperature and humidity of the fruits and vegetables on the recommended range of standards.

“We will start commercialising the prototype,” NIT-T Director Mini Shaji Thomas said, adding that the mobile version of the PSCS will be developed in a cost-effective way after factoring in suggestions from the farming community.

The developed product will subsequently be manufactured on a mass scale at the Siemens Centre of Excellence in the campus which is equipped with a 3-D Printer and other advanced paraphernalia, she said on Tuesday, while presiding over a Workshop on ‘Recent Trends in Cold Storage System’ attended by scientists, technocrats from industries, wholesale vegetable vendors, retailer, farmers, faculties and research scholars.

The workshop, inaugurated by G. Ajeethan, Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Banana Producer Company Ltd. Tiruchi, was also addressed by G. Karikalan, Managing Director, Nachalur Farmers Producere Company Ltd., and progressive farmers.

Reducing post-harvest losses that was now in the range of ₹15,000 crore per annum in the country was the need of the hour, Mr. Ajeethan said in his address. He advocated the development of mobile solar units in a cost-effective way for the transportation of horticultural produce from farms to distant markets where the returns are more.

Mr. Karikalan said the facilities at the NIT-T would be relied upon by the farming community for manufacture of customised farm equipment.

In consonance with its tagline ‘locally relevant, globally competitive’, NIT-T had handed over a prototype of a truck-mounted vacuum cleaner to the Tiruchi City Corporation earlier this year for hassle-free removal of garbage from roadsides. This product, developed at a cost of ₹80,000 by a multi-disciplinary team of students with mentoring support of an alumnus based in San Francisco, USA, will also be commercialised and produced on a mass scale for less than ₹50,000 per unit, Prof. Mini Shaji Thomas said.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 2:21:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/nit-tiruchi-keen-to-commercialise-prototype-of-solar-assisted-cold-storage-system/article30338304.ece

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