Upscale Zeer for Urban Kitchens Is a Cool Idea

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There is all kinds of free cold air outside the house, but we have a fridge running, expensively moving heat from inside the box to the kitchen. Meanwhile we have an electric humidifier under the piano, trying to get a little moisture into the air. It is so silly, we are all paying for electricity to have appliances fight against each other.

That is why Oliver Poyntz's Zeer, an upscale urban version of Mohammed Bah Abba's pot-in-pot cooler (reinvented by the talented Emily Cummins) is such a cool idea.

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It is in theCore 77 Greener Gadgets competition. Oliver describes it:

In Nigeria a simple device called a Zeer is used to store and cool food. It is incredibly simple yet effective method of refrigeration. A Zeer is made by placing one earthenware pot into another slightly larger earthenware pot. A layer of sand is placed in between the pots to which water is added. Then a damp cloth is placed on top of the pots. The water is drawn through the outer earthenware pot by capillary action. Evaporation of the water from the outside pot causes the temperature of the inside pot to naturally cool down.
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A prototype was built to test if this simple method could be adapted for use in the modern kitchen. The results were positive establishing a temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius was attainable. Although this temperature is not suitable for storing foods such as meat and fish further research showed that it is perfect for a variety of fruit, vegetables and some other foods that are normally and incorrectly stored in a fridge or a cupboard. The project was then able to develop around consumer interaction, the overall aesthetic and the manufacturing restrictions of earthenware ceramic to create a new product solution that hopes to drastically reduce energy consumption required for storing food.

This makes tremendous sense. So much of the contents of peoples' fridges can be classed as "compost and condiments", both of which could last a long time in something like this. It might not work as well in summer when the humidity is high, but perhaps a small computer case fan might increase the evaporation without a lot of energy use.