The CoolBot maintains the cold chain for postharvest handling of perishable commodities. It is a device that attaches to inexpensive, standard, mass-produced, window or “split-type” air conditioners, enabling it to cool a room down to 1 degree Celsius.
CoolBot uses multiple sensors and a programmed micro-controller to convert a standard window air conditioner unit to a walk-in refrigerator cooler unit. It directs the air conditioner's compressor to operate at any desired temperature without freezing up. The interface linking the CoolBot controller to the air conditioner allows for 2-minute installations without any training, cutting, soldering or even taping.
Temperature control is an important factor in reducing postharvest losses. In many developing countries, the rate of postharvest loss for fruits and vegetables exceeds 30%. Cool storage can greatly reduce these losses, increasing income for farmers, wholesalers and distributors.
Despite the critical need to maintain a cold chain in postharvest handling of perishable commodities, the high cost of conventional cold rooms is out of reach for many smallholder farmers. As a result, the farmers are forced to sell their product immediately after harvest. This exposes already vulnerable growers to exploitation by middlemen who take advantage of their inability to store the harvested product until prices rise.
CoolBot was developed in 2006 by Ron Khosla, a farmer in need of a cooler. With conventional coolers costing at least $3,000, they were out of the question. Being a DIY kind of guy Ron started tinkering around with a standard window air conditioner. After further development and engineering, Khosla came up with a micro-controller with an intelligent algorithm which knows when to cycle the compressor off and on.
Currently, there are over 27,000 CoolBots in over 50 countries being used for vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy products and more.
Publicly available: Yes
Countries where available: Worldwide
Price range: Over 200 USD
Offered or can be licensed for local manufacture: No
Dimensions: 6.5 x 3.5 x 1.5 in
Weight: 9 oz.