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Kenyan students manufacture charcoal refrigerator

Among the items on display during this year’s Youth Empowerment Conference held at the Machakos People’s Park on February 19 was a locally assembled refrigerator.

The brains behind the innovation are Joel Kimeu, 25 and Angie Mwende, 20, both students at the Vyulya Vocational Training Center, located at Masii town Mwala Sub-County in Machakos.

To put the idea into reality, the two budding engineers were assisted by the staff of the institution alongside a host of other things.

The small refrigerator is designed just like a contemporary one apart from the fact that this one is constructed using iron sheets, wood, and wire mesh and runs on charcoal as opposed to electricity or solar.

It is designed just like an ordinary refrigerator with both the inside and outside of the apparatus fitted with panelled sheets with a narrow lining in between for the charcoal and a wire mesh.

Pieces of wood are then used to hammer the entire covering into place meaning the equipment can always be disassembled if need be.

The upper side of the fridge is stuffed with a layer of charcoal and is fitted with a lid which one can always remove to add water to keep the temperature low.

Add water to keep the temperature low

However, according to the two youthful innovators, the amount of water is proportionate to how cold one wishes her foodstuffs to remain.

It takes a maximum of three working days to make a single unit.

“The water amount varies according to how cold you need your food to be. On average one can use at least 6 to 7 litres of cold water in order to attain the desired temperature. But again this will depend on what one intends to preserve,” she continued.

The charcoal can be removed by turning the fridge upside down for maintenance purposes after it has absorbed much water.

Usually, maintenance can be done after every month when a fresh supply of charcoal can be added. One who acquires this locally made equipment can either use it for keeping fresh fruits, vegetables, water, meat or even cooked food for use at a later date.

So far the institution has already managed to sell four of the units to the public each retailing at Sh15,000.

The natural way of preserving their food.

“This product is suitable for areas with no electricity connection and also to those intending to go the natural way of preserving their food. The product is not only effective in performance but also cheap to maintain,” added Kimeu.

He is now calling on young people to invest in their God-given talents not only to attain their goals in life but also to provide solutions to the challenges that face the world today.

Kimeu says the success of the project is not only an idea worth celebrating but it is a rallying call to young Kenyans to take up the challenge by doing something that can change the world around them.

The duo said the motivation behind the innovation, they said it was to help the rural dwellers acquire cheap equipment that can help them in preserving their foodstuff and drinking water owing to the hot climatic conditions of the area.

Similarly, according to Mwende, there was a feeling that since the area was not connected to electricity, and an improvised refrigerator that uses locally available materials would be the ideal solution to the residents of the Sub-county, majority of whom are low-income earners, eking out a living through subsistence farming.

“We felt the need to come up with an alternative way of preserving food in our homes in a more affordable method without necessarily having to depend on modern refrigeration appliances which are out of reach for many rural families. Moreover, our object was to ensure our product runs on a locally available fuel which is not only readily accessible but quite affordable to many rural folks,” explained Mwende, during the interview.