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Thermal Battery

July 29, 2014

A new type of battery can keep food cool.



Vinoth Chandar Flickr 4386685356_b264f45c25_o

A woman milks a cow in India. (Vinoth Chandar/Flickr)

Cooling milk, saving lives. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Millions of gallons of milk are wasted each year in India, because small farms there can’t keep the milk cool. Electricity is sporadic and milk spoils in just five hours. Electrical engineer Sorin Grama realized the solution to their problem was what he calls a thermal battery: a device that could be chilled, and then discharge cooling evenly without electricity for hours.


We wanted a very constant discharge of temperature, constant temperature, for as long as possible, and once that temperature starts to rise, meaning the battery’s discharging, that means you need to recharge it.


Grama says they now have 60 systems installed in India, and are also turning their attention to other markets—including small farmers who need to keep produce fresh and even a system for a micro-brewery in Boston. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.