Journal of Undergraduate Research


non-electric cooling system, food preservation, Peru


Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Chemical Engineering


Food preservation is an issue in third-world countries around the world where electricity and monetary means are not present to maintain a modern refrigerator. The short shelf life of unrefrigerated food items creates waste, requires time and energy with frequent trips to buy food, and lowers quality of life. Multiple solutions for this problem have been devised which are principally applicable in Asia and Africa. Implementation of these solutions has increased shelf-life of perishable foods and eliminated the need for daily trips to the market for food. A natural consequence has been increased profits, more educational opportunities for women, and a greater variety in diet. However, while solutions have been devised and implemented successfully in other parts of the world, simple cooling systems remain relatively unexplored in South America. The goal is to find a solution that will work well in South American conditions and cultural practices, although the primary focus is to find a specific solution to preserve food on the Uros Islands located on Lake Titicaca, Peru. The Uros Islands are a group of approximately 80 man made reed islands. The amenities on the islands are very basic and limited, including electricity that is inconsistent and weak. The main contact in Peru is Dora Coila Lujana. She lives on one of these islands with her family and runs a restaurant that feeds tourists and other visitors that come to the islands several days each week. Running a restaurant is time-consuming and strenuous. Every other day Dora travels into Puno, a trip that requires at least four hours round trip and additional money for transportation within Puno. There she buys approximately 30 kg (over 70 lb) of fruits and vegetables and 4 chickens to supply the kitchen for that day and the next. Unfortunately, the meat goes bad within a day and many of the fruits and vegetables only last for two or three days. This means that Dora is required to throw away spoiled food if she was unable to use it in the restaurant, and has no other option than to make frequent trips to Puno. Additionally, she pays a premium of 25-40% by buying food during the week instead of on the weekends. Currently Dora does not have an effective means of food preservation. This project will allow Dora to save money by throwing out food less frequently, purchasing food when it is the least expensive, and making less frequent trips to Puno where she pays for transportation. The solution will also save Dora four hours every week. It will be sustainable as the cooling system will be low-cost and made from parts that can be purchased in Puno. The purpose of this project is to create a simple, low-cost non-electric refrigeration system using an innovative cooling system to extend useful shelf life of fish and chicken by 50% by May 2017. Currently the direct application of this project is for a restaurant located in Uros Islands, Peru.