Image source: Mitticool social media page
Earthen pots are the traditional way to keep water cool. Mansukhbhai Prajapati, a traditional clay craftsman turned innovator and entrepreneur from Gujarat, used the same concept to develop a fridge made out of clay. This fridge, named ‘Mitticool’ can keep fruits and vegetables fresh for a few days.
So what is the best part about the fridge? It runs WITHOUT electricity!
The Mitticool fridge comes as a boon for rural India. Just as in a clay pot, the evaporation of water through the pores of the earthenware causes cooling inside the fridge. Apart from the fridge, Mansukhbhai Prajapati has also invented non-stick earthen tavas, earthen thermos flasks, earthen cups, bowls, etc.
As a traditional clay craftsman with financial constraints, Mansukhbhai started experimenting on designs to make better products from clay. With a loan of INR 30,000, he started his first factory in 1988 where he made earthen plates using a roof tile making hand press, which was modified by him. Though he could sell off his initial produce, the product (earthen pan) was not durable enough and he received complaints about it. Mansukhbhai, being the innovator he is, started experimenting on more mixes and designs, and after a trial of one lakh pieces, the end product was more durable and heat resistant.
The journey was not smooth always. During the Bhuj earthquake, his inventory was damaged and he distributed the few remaining ones among the victims.
A newspaper captioned an earthquake damages photo as ‘Garibi Ka Fridge Tut Gaya’ (Fridge of the Poor got broken). This motivated Mansukhbhai to work harder, after which he invented the ‘Mitticool’ with assistance from GIAN (Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network). In turn, GIAN made arrangements for improvement in design by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
The fridge extends the shelf life of coriander by four days and brinjal, chilly and okra by five to six days, as compared to the ones kept in room temperature. Being affordable and energy-free, Mitticool is the perfect fridge for rural India. His other product, the clay non stick tava, is safer, lasts longer, consumes less cooking gas and preserves the natural taste of food. The National Innovation Foundation-India shared an idea about clay-made thermos with him, and he quickly designed and manufactured thermos in one and two litre capacities.
Apart from being visited by Abdul Kalam, Narendra Modi and the likes, Mitticool has garnered interest from German home appliance maker Bosch and Siemens Hausgeräte. GIAN has helped Mansukhbhai start his e-commerce store where he sells Mitticool and other eco-friendly products such as non stick pans, thermos, cups, filters, all made out of clay. His products are also available on other e-commerce stores and retail chains such as Future Group’s Big Bazaar.
Mansukhbhai is a serial innovator and a real planet saver. He is now working on ‘Minute Mitticools’ which would be able to cool water in two to five minutes.