07 Apr The Refrigeration Project
The Refrigeration Project
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.
As part of the large European Horizon project OPEN!NEXT, Maker has established a collaboration with UK-based The Washing Machine Project.
OPEN!NEXT is a European project in which 19 partners spread over nine European countries participate. The purpose of the project is to explore how the cooperation between companies and creative networks of different competences in open online forums can work. This means that the companies make all their files publicly available and ask questions to existing networks to get contributions to idea development, production methods and testing.
The goal of the project is to further work with how Open Source Hardware can be a viable business model in the future for small and medium-sized companies.
Maker was contacted by the team behind The Washing Machine Project, which has developed an off-the-grid washing machine for use in the world’s poorest areas. During the work with the washing machine, the team behind The Washing Machine Project has identified an equally big challenge in relation to the lack of cooling. They therefore contacted Maker to hear about the possibility of developing and making the first prototype of a refrigerator through the use of Open Source collaboration.
We took up the challenge of facilitating a collaboration via The Refrigeration Project (TRP), as it was an ambitious task where we could explore the potential of Open Source Hardware. The collaboration culminated in a week, where we developed and built a functional prototype of the refrigerator in Maker’s facilities.
We accepted the challenge, as here we had a common ambition to create a product that will directly contribute to a positive development in the world. The world has seen enough white teacups, so here we have really got hold of a project that can create an effect.
Over a four-month long development period, we held regular meetings with the development team from the UK and discussed electronic solutions, openings, user-friendliness and design. It all culminated, when a team of competent people from Maker’s network worked hard to further develop and build the prototype here in Copenhagen.
Over a five-day sprint, the tasks were delegated: Lisa and Anders worked on the water chamber, Leif and Rasmus worked on the electronics and Erika and Emil worked with everything that had to be produced in wood, from construction to the outer casing.
We had daily touch points with TRP in the UK. Here we went over the thoughts and experiences the team in Copenhagen had gained during the day, what challenges they faced and how they wanted to solve them. The team in Copenhagen also held daily meetings where we discussed the day’s work. These meetings quickly proved to be the most important for the collaboration. At the meetings, the team was aligned in relation to where the other team members were in the process. With great respect for each other’s work, the team worked hard to finish their own areas of responsibility, but also to always be ready to support each other and prepare the assembly of the refrigerator.
At Maker, we are really proud of how the project has progressed. We have set the framework for the project and had an ambitious goal of building the first functional prototype in just one week. We have arranged a team of skilled and competent people who did not know each other beforehand, and have seen how they actually managed to build a functional prototype with us.
When the last screw was screwed in on Friday, we turned on the cooling and the fridge worked! We had invited the team from the UK, who gave a presentation on how with the washing machine they have managed to, among other things, empower women because the time spent on laundry has been more than halved – freeing up time for a lot of other things.
With the fridge, the UK team expects to be able to help strengthen the standard of living for these people, as both food and medicine will be able to be kept refrigerated so that shelf life is extended and food waste is reduced.