The Refrigeration Project

The Refrigeration Project

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Maker

Building a prototype of an off-the-grid refrigerator in a week is no mean feat – if you know it can help three billion people gain access to refrigeration.

Maker, as part of the European Horizon project OPEN!NEXT, has teamed up with The Washing Machine Project, a UK-based initiative that has developed an off-the-grid washing machine for impoverished areas.

The goal of OPEN!NEXT is to explore how the cooperation between companies and creative networks of different competences in open online forums can work. As part of this collaboration, Maker was approached by The Washing Machine Project to develop the first prototype of an off-the-grid refrigerator to help address the challenge of lack of cooling in impoverished areas.

The aim of the project is to use Open Source collaboration to develop sustainable hardware that can be a viable business model for small and medium-sized companies in the future. Building a prototype in a week was no easy task, but the potential impact of the project is significant, with the possibility of providing access to refrigeration for three billion people.

The Washing Machine Project Team fra UK

We were excited to take on the challenge of facilitating a collaboration via The Refrigeration Project (TRP), which allowed us to explore the potential of Open Source Hardware while working towards an ambitious goal that could positively impact the world. Unlike creating yet another mundane product, this project presented an opportunity to create something that truly mattered.

During the four-month development period, we held regular meetings with the UK-based development team to discuss electronic solutions, user-friendliness, openings, and design. Finally, the collaboration culminated in a week-long sprint where a team of skilled individuals from Maker’s network worked tirelessly to further develop and build the functional prototype of the refrigerator in our Copenhagen facilities.

Each member of the team was assigned a specific task during the five-day sprint. Lisa and Anders worked on the water chamber, Leif and Rasmus handled the electronics, and Erika and Emil produced everything related to wood construction, including the outer casing.

The Refrigeration Project - Prototype team

At Maker, we are incredibly proud of the progress we made on The Refrigeration Project (TRP). From setting the framework and building a skilled and competent team who had not met before, to achieving our ambitious goal of building the first functional prototype in just one week. Throughout the project, we held daily touchpoints with the TRP team in the UK, discussing challenges, experiences, and solutions. However, the most critical aspect of the collaboration was our daily meetings in Copenhagen, where the team was aligned with each other’s progress and continuously supported each other.

We invited the TRP team to Copenhagen to witness the functional prototype of the off-the-grid refrigerator. It was an incredible moment when we turned on the cooling, and the fridge worked! The UK team also presented their successful efforts in empowering women through their washing machine project, which has more than halved the time spent on laundry.

With the fridge, the UK team expects to strengthen the standard of living for those in need by providing refrigeration for both food and medicine, thus extending shelf life and reducing food waste. We are thrilled to be part of such an impactful project and look forward to further collaborations with like-minded teams.

OPENNEXT - Open source hardware development
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