Research on Alternative Materials to use in Evaporative Cooler (Aashi Kotecha, Columbia University)

Evaporative cooling is a powerful technique that utilizes the natural process of water evaporation to lower temperatures effectively. By harnessing the principle that water absorbs heat during evaporation, this cooling method offers a sustainable and cost-efficient solution. It is especially relevant for farmers, as it enables them to enhance crop shelf life and minimize wastage.

Traditionally, evaporative cooling has relied on the use of aspen pads as the primary wet medium. However, these imported pads can be expensive, posing a challenge for local implementation in Kenya. To address this issue, Aashi Kotecha from Columbia University in corroboration with a team from the department (Prof. Mbuge, Mr. Mwachoni ) has undertaken research to explore alternative, locally sourced materials such as wool. This initiative aims to repurpose wool, which is often discarded or burned, offering a cheaper and more accessible option for evaporative cooling.

To evaluate the effectiveness of wool pads, our team constructed a specialized 1m3 chamber for rigorous testing. By comparing the saturation efficiency of wool pads with the established aspen pads, we seek to determine the viability and performance of this alternative. Additionally, our future plans involve investigating the use of charcoal and brick cooling methods, integrating them with the existing techniques to create hybrid solutions tailored to the specific needs and resources of local farmers.