ICL off grid vacuum cooler partner with UoE


Vacuum Cooler – Off Grid

A new off grid vacuum cooler designed by ICL is moving from strength to strength. After a successful collaboration with The University of Exeter Inviro Choice Limited will begin to build the worlds first pilot machine. ICL believe their new design could possibly be the most energy efficient on the planet.

Postharvest food loss reduction is a significant challenge for farmers and growers in the developing economies of the world, where spoilage of produce can lead to as much as 50% of harvested food not reaching the marketplace. This is not only a tragedy for the producers themselves, who suffer from reduced income and lost business opportunities as a result, but also an environmental and resources issue in terms of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and wasted agricultural inputs of energy, water and land.

Many developing economies are located in tropical and sub-tropical regions where the production of perishable produce, such as fruits and vegetables, represents a substantial proportion of food production.

Cooling such produce to an optimum temperature immediately upon harvest is crucial in ensuring that food entering the supply chain has the best chance of maintaining shelf life for as long as possible. This is particularly important where ambient temperatures are high. For example, a one hour delay in removing field heat from produce harvested at about 35°C can lead to a one day reduction in shelf life. Technology for postharvest cooling is available but typically relies on grid electricity or diesel gen-set supplied power to operate. In a world where 1.2 billion, mostly rural based, people have no access to reliable grid supplied electricity the provision of alternative off-grid solutions is essential. This is particularly important in the case of developing economies, where diesel gen-sets are an unsustainable solution due to high costs, unreliable fuel sourcing and fuel price volatility, as well as their potential environmental impact through greenhouse gas and other emissions.

20 pallet vacuum cooler

20 pallet vacuum cooler

This talk will present the details and outcomes of a successful research and development initiative undertaken by Liverpool based SME Inviro Choice Ltd, in collaboration with the Renewable Energy Group at Exeter University’s Cornwall Campus, to provide a viable alternative off-grid solution. In this regard, the company has for many years manufactured vacuum coolers for heat removal from produce at point of harvest, but these units have been powered from the grid or diesel gen-sets. However, they have worked with Exeter University to develop an off-grid, solar powered, more energy efficient machine with onboard energy storage to help producers in developing countries access this vital technology. A solar PV as well as solar thermal company were also involved in the initiative.

Sean and Zaid will provide an overview of the background to the work and details of the technical challenges encountered along with the solutions developed. Sean will also provide some insight into the commercial and humanitarian plans that the company has for the future deployment of the developed machines.

This event is in association with the IMechE’s Food and Drink Engineering Committee and the IMechE Energy, Environment and Sustainability Group.

This event will be held in the lecture theatre A in the Daphne Du Maurier Building. There will be an opportunity to network before the event with tea, coffee and biscuits, the event will then be followed by mulled wine and mince pies.


Sean Roche, Managing Director, Inviro Choice Ltd Zaid Bani Hani, Renewable Energy Student, Exeter University.


University of Exeter
Penryn Campus
Daphne Du Maurier Building
Lecture Theatre A
TR10 9FE
United Kingdom




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