BTech Students from ASE, Coimbatore Win Awards for their Innovation Product- Vegetable Chiller for Rural Farmers

The innovator Vishnu Padmanaban and his team member M. Ramesh Nachiappan, final-year students of BTech (Mechanical Engineering) of 2010-2014 batch at the Coimbatore campus received awards for their innovative product, “Cost Effective Vegetable Chiller for Rural Small Farmers.”

The innovative product conceptualised by the team was adjudged to receive the 2nd prize in the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference 2013.  The project was shortlisted among the top six by the IEEE Asia Pacific Humanitarian Technology Committee to qualify for a project grant of $1000 and has also won the first runner up at the Student Innovation Challenge Award sponsored by 3M.   Dr. Elangovan M., Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering, Coimbatore Campus, guided the students.

The vegetable chiller is a cost cum energy efficient, sustainable and environment friendly device to store unsold/excess vegetables produced by rural farmers.  This is a welcome innovation at a time when India is reporting heavy food losses from lack of storage. The innovation is targeted towards the working class of ‘rural small farmers’ who constitute the majority of India's farming population. The chiller can help farmers in storing their valuable horticultural produce in a device which consumes minimal power, so that they can preserve their farm produce and sell it when market prices rise.  The chiller can operate in rural areas with interrupted grid power supply, is low maintenance and CFC free. 

The Chiller consists of three units- Evaporative Cooler, Sub Cooler and a Food Storage Cabin. It uses Phase Change Material (PCM), which acts as an effective medium of passive cooling system, absorbing heat until it reaches its melting point and then changing its phase from solid to liquid. The device consumes power only for charging the liquid PCM, that is, converting it back into solid state, which can be done during the night time (off-peak) within 1-2 hours. Thus, such food chillers can efficiently operate in regions of interrupted grid power supply as well.

The IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (IEEE GHTC), organized by IEEE Headquarters, USA, is the world’s largest technical professional society with over 400,000 members in over 160 countries. IEEE GHTC focuses on advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. This cross-disciplinary annual conference provides the perfect venue for those interested in humanitarian projects to join their peers in Seattle. The conference attracts a global audience of educators, engineers, scientist, practitioners, philanthropists, corporations, foundations, NGO’s and others interested in applying technology to develop effective solutions for the challenges facing the world’s underserved populations.

The 2013 conference held from October 20-23, 2013, in Silicon Valley– San Jose, California USA, invited innovative humanitarian projects and ideas across the globe to compete for an international award that recognizes the student’s novel innovation through Student Poster Contest 2013. Over 100 project ideas were received across the globe and were screened intensively by an International committee of experts, technologists and business leaders. The innovative product conceptualised by Amrita team qualified among the top 5 posters across all the entries and was presented to the elite panel of judges at the IEEE GHTC 2013 in San Jose, California and won the 2nd prize. Amrita University covered the travel expenses for Vishnu to present his idea at San Jose, California USA. 

The  innovation product was also honored with 3M awards at the decennial celebrations of the Bangalore Chapter of The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on August 9, 2014. From a pool of over 100 student projects from colleges and institutes across India, 10 of the most innovative ideas were shortlisted based on themes of Sustainability, Infrastructure and Healthcare- the 3 key focus areas for 3M in India. The top 3 innovative projects were awarded at the Tenth CII India Innovation Summit event of which the team from Amrita has won the first runner up of the Student Innovation Challenge Award. The theme for 2014’s landmark edition of the summit was ‘Innovation for Inclusive Growth’- acknowledging the need for innovative thinking to improve the lives of people across the socio-economic strata. 3M is the trusted promoter of this award was the most logical choice, given its global reputation for innovation.

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