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Electronic Control System for Evaporative Cooling Chambers for Improved Vegetable Storage in Low-Income Rural Communities adsa




EC: Edgerton Center

Faculty Supervisor:

Eric Verploegen

Faculty email:


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Project Description

We are looking for a student to develop an electronic control system to optimize the performance of room-sized evaporative cooling chambers designed for improving the shelf life of fruits and vegetables in Africa and India. When affordable and effective post-harvest storage solutions are not available or affordable, people living in off-grid rural communities will often experience spoilage of fruits and vegetables, loss of income, lack of access to nutritious foods, and large amounts of time spent to purchase and sell produce. Evaporative cooling devices have the potential to provide a low-cost, locally available, and effective solution for improving fruit and vegetable shelf life. D-Lab researchers are working with the University of Nairobi to improve the design of room-sized evaporative cooling chambers (4m x 4m x 2m) capable of storing several tons of fruits and vegetables. In addition to exploring new materials and geometries for these chambers, an automated control system will be required to regulate the supply of water and air flow. The UROP student for this position will be responsible for creating an automated control system for a lab-scale evaporative cooling chambers (1m x 1m x 1m) at MIT. This control system will measure the temperature and humidity of the ambient conditions and inside the chamber, along with sensors to monitor the moisture of materials designed to facilitate the evaporation of water. Based on these measurements, the control system will need to control a water pump and fans to regulate air flow within the chamber. The student will work with a team of students, research staff and faculty at D-Lab. There will be the opportunity to travel to Kenya in the summer to work with researchers from the University of Nairobi and implement the control system on evaporative cooling chambers to store mangoes in Kenya. This is a multi-year project and working on the project for multiple semesters is encouraged. Interested candidates should email ericv@mit.edu with a brief explanation of why they are interested in this project and describe any relevant previous experience. Students will have the option to travel to Kenya in the summer of 2020 and IAP 2021 to implement the evaporative cooling technologies in rural communities based on the research results from this UROP. Relevant URL: • Project page: https://jwafs.mit.edu/projects/2019/evaporative-cooling-technologies-fruit-and-vegetable- preservation-kenya • Read about one student’s experience working on this project last summer: https://d-lab.mit.edu/news- blog/blog/community-engagement-and-evaporative-cooling-technologies-east-africa • D-Lab’s Evaporative Cooling Research group page: https://d-lab.mit.edu/research/evaporative-cooling- vegetable-preservation


Applicants should have an interest in practical solutions to global poverty challenges. Experience using programing devices such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi is required, and experience with MATLAB is preferred.