German firm, Covestro to build solar powered micro cold storage rooms in Telangana over the next 2 years. Covertro uses polyurethanes, which does not let the heat enter in storages and increases the shelf life of the stored crops. It also makes proprietary ‘phase changing material’ (PCM) that act like batteries, absorbing heat first (say, from solar energy during daytime) and then providing cooling when required (during nights). Using these materials, the company has developed a ‘ micro cold room’ solution for farmers.
While cold chains have been talked about for long, the advent of technology to make small-sized, solar-powered cold rooms that can be located at farms has triggered a take-off. Covestro has come up with a solution for micro cold rooms, small enough to be located right at the farms, and can custom-built to store small quantities of produce, say, 5 tonnes.
Covestro doesn’t make the cold rooms, but provides the key material and technology to entrepreneurs, who make them and sell (or lease) them to farmers. One such enterprise is a Pune-based company called Ecozen, which was started by a group of IIT-Kharaghpur alumni to provide solar-powered irrigation solutions, and has now moved into micro cold rooms. Powered by solar panels, these micro cold rooms do not depend on a grid power. In the nights, the phase-changing material provides cooling.