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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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  1. pakistan (kashmir) ….I am from India (kashmir).
    pottery is ancient and., I know this technique. but his idea (as invention) is a plain brilliance ., we people use to have water pots and sand under the pot with water added to it occassionally that preserves . But dual pot is really a invention, don’t compare with your fridge using freon and fluorine, right. It works simpler and can be used for simple storage for veggies and not for ICE or too long preservation.

    Let it be Abba invented it and people forgot simple systems and forgot everything in their past., so what Abba did is invention and re-invention. No doubt about it.

  2. There’s no need to argue about who discovered that when water is drying steals heat. Our bodies use to sweat in hot days just to use that phenomenon. A typical spanish application of this principle es the “botijo”. A very ancient sort of pot in an almost spheric shape made of porous ceramic. A handle and two holes in its upper part: the bigger of them so that you can fill it from a fountain. The recipient is kept in the shadow, continuosly sweating and cools the water inside even during the hottest days. It’s perfect for collective use because you drink from the smaller hole by handling the botijo as high as your arms can, pouring the water directly in your mouth. The refreshing sensation is fantastic. Nowadays we use to have fridges connected to the 12V connector of the car. It’s not the same.

  3. I totaly rejecting that this invention is made by Mohammad Bah Abba. I am from Pakistan (Kashmir). I had listen in my childhood from my grand mother in early 1990’s, that they were used to with this technique to preserve their cook food and fresh meat for many days before refrigerator invention.


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