Pot in Pot Refrigerator: Keeps Things Cool with no Electricity


Do you know this man? I didn’t either. It’s not news anymore, but I was surprised when I read what Mohammed Bah Abba accomplished to do. He invented a food preserving system (aka “refrigerator”) for the people in Nigeria. Until his invention they had to sell their crops immediately and have their children hawking all day for food instead of going to school.

The operating principle of this refrigerator is quite simple, and I’ll explain it to you in a few pictures. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll understand it, hit your head because you never thought of doing this, and maybe it’ll be useful to you sometime when you’re on a deserted island or in a camping trip and you need things to stay cooler than the exterior.

The principle is the one presented above: a smaller earth pot is inserted into a larger one, then wet sand is poured in the empty space between the two. The food is put into the smaller pot, and covered with a wet cloth. Through evaporation, heat is taken from the smaller pot outside. It’s a principle known for hundreds of years, but it had to be needed badly in order to be put in action.

For this invention, Mohammed got a Rolex Award and a $100,000 prize. By being able to preserve food for a longer time (eggplants last 27 days instead of 3, African spinach can be kept 12 days instead of 1, etc), the people of Nigeria and other 3rd world countries can now send their girls to school, instead of putting them to quickly market the crops before they rot. Village primary schools already report a bigger number of girl attending classes in Nigeria.

The impact of the “Pot-in-Pot” is likely to expand further, because it has generated interest worldwide. Abba has been invited to conduct pottery workshops from Brazil to India.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?

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