About this idea
Climate change is a problem, food waste is a problem, the decreasing economic prospects of local family farms is a problem, and the inequality of the supply of produce into urban food deserts is a problem. This system uses C02 captured from tailpipe and smokestacks to reduce the carbon footprint of the refrigerated cold chain and supply produce to areas that lack access to refrigeration. Through repeated iteration and measurement, lots of effort lugging heavy coolers and CO2 tanks around and even the accidental carbonation of produce items, we've found a way to use -109.3 degree dry ice to pre-cool produce and maintain temperatures for weeks to months without the CryoLite cooler being plugged in. This system is key to linking our local family farms to urban food deserts to provide produce at affordable prices that would otherwise go un-harvested or be sold for processing.
The CryoLite Cooler has the potential to help reduce the 4-10% of global CO2 emissions resulting from food waste going to landfills, while avoiding the use of diesel fuel or fossil fuel burning electricity to supply power to refrigeration systems. The CO2 used to carbonate our soda and beer is derived from methane gas used for fertilizer refining. This industrial by-product is cheap to produce, but difficult to transport and store, requiring trucking with pressurized tanks. Deriving CO2 from carbon capture at local landfills, power generators and through tailpipe emission scrubbers is much more practical, and able to integrate into a low-carbon economy, but a demand for this supply chain needs to be developed and the transportation of pressurized CO2 made practical. Enter the CryoLite cooler from CryoCellar. This logistics platform can be used to move captured CO2 and produce from these rural generators to urban CO2 utilization markets for concrete production, plastics and fuels manufacturing and geologic or oceanic long-term storage, while moving food to fresh produce limited urban areas that lack access to refrigerated storage, where up to 70% of consumers don't eat the fresh produce recommended for a healthy diet.
What I'll do with $5,000
If chosen for funding among the many great projects, I will use the $5,000 to work with WestPack, a Muskegon-based cardboard packaging manufacturer to improve upon and build CryoCube sustainable produce shippers. These shippers will have a hollow space between two unwaxed cardboard boxes for dry ice injection with a filling station. These CryoCube shippers will enable the build-measure-learn customer validation model with local family farms, institutional and restaurant food waste generators and donated food delivery organizations, enabling each to reduce labor, energy use and food waste associated with operating traditional refrigeration systems. The input gained from this important field research will allow us to apply for a fall-2022 USDA Small Business Innovation Research Phase 1 research project conducted at Muskegon Innovation Hub and West Michigan Food Processing Association FARM incubator. The need for a CryoCube shipper for fresh produce waste collection and transportation without the use of refrigerated storage or trucking was determined through a 6-month Feasibility study with growers using the first prototype of the CryoLite cooler. Using cardboard instead of rotomolded cooler shells is cheaper and faster to produce, easier to transport between farms and end-users and also replaces unrecyclable waxed-cardboard produce shippers. Additionally, the filling system used for the CryoCube boxes can also have a secondary function, carbonating produce items to make fizzy fruit, and we have a food packaging engineer and food product developer working on the development of a fruit carbonator for local family farms and produce retail locations.