A team from the University of Calgary won first place in the Student Challenge during the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge with a project dubbed WindChill, which is a refrigerator that requires no electricity.
The aim of the project is to solve the problem of food spoiling issues in parts of the world that have poor access to electricity. The refrigerator uses a cooling mechanism that is similar to the way mammals and insects regulate their temperature, in fact the project was inspired by various mammals like elephants and kangaroos, as well as insects like termites and bees.
The system works in roughly three steps: the first step involves the drawing in of ambient air and injecting it into a pipe, then the air travels into the evaporation chamber where the pipe is immersed in a fluid. Next, the fluid from around the pipe cools the air inside of it. The air then continues onto the final stage, entering the refrigeration chamber, this is where it’ll do its job of keeping the food cool.
The University of Calgary team flew to Austin, Texas to pitch their innovation to a panel of judges and to present their idea to the SXSW Eco, all while facing competition from teams from around the world.
The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, pioneered by Janine Benyus, was created in an effort to bring viable biomimicry solutions to market.
Winners of the Student Challenge:
First ($5,000) – WindChill – University of Calgary
Second ($3,000) – PoliSnak – University of California, USA
Third ($1,500) – CLEAR System – Wageningen University, Netherlands