Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the dairy industry suffers from lack of proper refrigeration options. Large dairies cannot export milk to neighboring markets due to international standards requiring milk be cooled within four hours of production. Small farmers may lose 20-50% of milk to spoilage due to lack of cold-chain facilities. There is limited access to electricity for refrigeration units, and kerosene and solar-powered options have proved too expensive and difficult to operate.
Clean Energy Solution
University of Georgia Research Foundation (UGARF) has developed a refrigeration unit powered on biogas - which is extracted from cow manure. The unit regenerates zeolite plates, which retain their capacity to capture water vapor from the evaporative milk chilling process. Partnered with Smallholder Fortunes, UGARF is refining the design of the refrigeration unit, and testing it with farmers in Uganda. UGARF will work with local manufacturers to secure financing and bring production of the units to commercial scale.
This project has numerous social, economic, and environmental benefits. Refrigeration units will benefit dairy farmers by decreasing milk spoilage and increasing production and profits. Captured biogas can be used for lighting and cooking - saving income that would otherwise be spent on kerosene, and replacing the use of wood and charcoal for cooking. Also, by extracting biogas from cow manure, greenhouse gas emissions from fermenting cow manure is mitigated.
The University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. (UGARF) is a nonprofit entity housed within the University of Georgia (UGA) in the United States that enhances UGA’s excellence as a research and higher education institution. Smallholder Fortunes is a small-scale dairy farm located in Wakiso District, Uganda.
As of September 2017, UGARF had deployed 34 EvaKuula units, with 5 additional units to be installed in the coming months. Half of the beneficiaries using the product are women, who have been successful users and provided important word-of-mouth marketing for the technology. User input has been an important piece of the product design process, with input from women ensuring that the product incorporates factors that are female-friendly. UGARF hopes to expand into Rwanda in the future. Next steps include conducting value engineering to lower the manufacturing cost well below the price point for the units. UGARF’s award has been extended to March 2018.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Powering Agriculture, UGARF: http://poweringag.org/innovators/biogas-powered-evaporative-cooling-dairy-industry
- ↑ UGARF: http://research.uga.edu/ugarf