Mr.Murugan, a microbiologist, hailing from the potter’s community, pursuing his Ph.D, has designed a small refrigerator using terracotta that needs only water to keep its content fresh.
‘In my childhood, drinking water was cooled by terracotta pots. Refrigerators were unheard of in our poor homes. So I thought of applying this traditional method to make a fridge out of clay that requires no power or coolant,’ said Murugan of Alwarkurichi village in Thirunelveli District.
Dr.A.J.A.Ranjit Singh, a leading biotechnologist who guided Mr.Murugan in his research project, said the project has been named Zero Energy Cool. Chamber (ZECC) as it did not consume any energy and would not add to global warming.
The ZECC is a combination of two terracotta vessels. ‘We make the vessels with fresh clay or mud taken from river bed. or paddy fields.A microbe is added to the clay for quickening the fermentation process before it is burnt.The gap between the two vessels is filled with either wet sand or water, explained Dr.Singh, head of the department of advanced zoology and biotechnology,
The water or wet sand in the gap get cooled and this cooling is transferred to the inner vessel which in turn preserves the food products.The inspiration for this low cost fridge came from excavations near Alwarkurichi during which urns and earthern pots were unearthed.
‘They could be more than 500 years-old but yet the grains were as fresh as ever,’ said Dr.Singh.
The ‘people’s refrigerator’ could also rejuvenate the traditional pottery industry which used to flourish in Thirunelveli and Knyakumari Districts.
To give the ZECC an ultra stylish look its inventors have approached the