UK: Dearman’s liquid nitrogen refrigeration technology is to be used in a project to reduce the waste from fruit and vegetable harvests in South Africa.
Food waste in South Africa is estimated to be worth £4.7bn annually, half of which occurs in the fruit and vegetable sector. Low farmer income makes access to cooling technology difficult.
Dearman’s 24-month project, backed by grant funds from the Department for International Development, seeks to develop a mobile pre-cooling system, using the company’s groundbreaking liquid nitrogen engine. Pre-cooling rapidly reduces the temperature of produce immediately after harvest, to ensure minimal post-harvest food loss.
The technology has already been trialled with the Dearman engine in transport refrigeration. Seen as an alternative to traditional diesel units, it harnesses liquid nitrogen to deliver zero-emission power and cooling.
In South Africa, Dearman will develop a mobile, off-grid, zero-emissions system that allows small farmers to access affordable pre-cooling. The company is working with local partners cold chain operator Transfrig and food producer Harvest Fresh, a family-owned business based in the Gauteng province.
The fruit and vegetables pre-cooling market is estimated to be worth £730m across Africa. Dearman’s project seeks to deliver a successful technology demonstration, including a six-month field trial, and set out a viable route for wider commercial deployment of the pre-cooling system.
The company estimates that deploying just 250 Dearman pre-coolers in South Africa would be enough to process the 350,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetable wasted during post-harvest handling and storage.
Additional impacts would include saving 328 million m³ of water and 29,000 hectares of land also currently wasted, as well as boosting farmer incomes by 12%.
“The zero-emission system we are developing can offer a real alternative to polluting, expensive diesel systems and help to reduce post-harvest food loss,” commented Dr Daniel Fennell, Dearman’s head of new applications.