Emily Cummins, a 23-year old girl from the UK, has been named an Oslo Business for Peace Honouree for inventing a solar powered refrigerator – basically a device that uses water evaporation to extract heat (just like your skin gets colder when your sweat evaporates off).
We’ve written about this kind of approach before, mentioning the pot-in-pot refrigerator, invented by Mohammed Bah Abba, who won a $100,000 prize at Rolex Awards 2008.
Cummins re-invented the refrigerator in her grandfather’s shed, when she was in high-school. The 6°C temperature that it’s preserving helps people in various African countries like Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe keep their food for longer without using any electricity or atmosphere-harmful gas.
Basically, the device is made from two concentric cylinders, with some space between them. The inner one is made of metal, to be thermally-conductive, and the outer one can be pot available, including earth pots and plastics. Between them it’s sandwiched sand, which the users impregnate with the water that is to evaporate when placed in the sun.
“Recognition for my work in Norway and Japan is a great honour. I’m passionate about encouraging young people to reach their creative potential, especially in the field of sustainable design,” she said. “Hopefully these awards will inspire other young people to think about how they can contribute to our global community in a positive way.”
Although she didn’t actually invent the evaporative cooling, the prize Emily received is about promoting young innovators and about awarding engineering talents (she has the soul of an engineer since she was four, although she isn’t one on paper).
“I do talks in school now and tell people to follow their dreams. I was never very good academically at school yet I know what I loved and always stuck to that,” Emily told the Daily Mail. “It’s such a shame that qualifications can stifle dreams. You have to think about what you love and pursue it anyway.”