Each year young innovators from across the globe will be gathered to search for the champion who will receive the coveted James Dyson Award (JDA). This year two students from the Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology have earned the title of National Winner at the 2020 James Dyson Award; The award celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of inventors and design engineers. The 2020's National Champion for Malaysia is the unbelievable Kuno, which is a sustainable cooler fridge that needs ZERO electricity to run. Yes! ZERO!
The problem That Kuno Strives To Solve
It is saddening to note that many developing countries are still lacking in basic access to electricity. While access to electricity has been growing amongst the global population in the last three decades, an estimated 1.2 billion, or 16% of the world’s population still live without a fridge. As a result, these communities face basic challenges such as refrigeration, which is known to be the most effective method of food preservation today.
Kuno-The Zero-Energy Cooler Fridge
In a bid to address this problem, the winner of this year’s Malaysia National James Dyson Award Winner decided to engineer a cooler fridge that runs on zero electrical power. Yes. In other words, no electricity is needed for the fridge to function. For the uninitiated, KUNO is the brainchild of Kuan Weiking and Theodore Garvindeo Seah from the Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology, is a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to conventional refrigeration.
Kuno has been designed by the two of them to prolong the shelf life of consumables and perishables in hot and dry climates. Interestingly the team drew inspiration from Labu Sayong, a traditional water pitcher moulded from earth clay that can keep water cool naturally and effectively. So that makes perfect sense right now.
How Kuno Works
With the traditional application of clay, and techniques of double-wall potting, sand fills up the passage in-between both walls, then water will be poured to soak the sand. With the air of the porous outer clay wall and evaporative cooling principle, the evaporation of the water will then draw the heat from the inner chamber by releasing it through the natural quality of the porous clay. This natural phenomenon will bring down the temperature and cools the food that’s stored in the inner core for an extended time. Moreover, the edible plant will be soil planted by just routinely watering the plant, water will flow through the passage for the evaporative cooling process to take place.
Future Plans For Kuno
Over 300 years old of cottage industry are stagnant without fresh innovation for them to make. To stimulate the cottage industry, the success of Kuno that can be produced in a smaller scale and made by hands will bring them a chance to revitalize their income and generate job opportunities, sustaining a livelihood. Next planning is in allocating a fund into further material research, prototyping with various sizes, testing under different weather conditions and regions, collaboration with local pottery makers in creating small scale production for market testing and then to be delivered to suitable regions to fully kickstart the use of Kuno.
Kuan Weiking, inventor of KUNO, said:
“As a product designer, it is important that we look to design solutions that tackle societal challenges or problems - solutions that are both practical and widely accessible. We are grateful to have been given this opportunity to showcase our invention and share our mission to make a positive impact to the environment and local communities.”
As National Winners, the team will be awarded RM10,000. KUNO is now competing internationally to be shortlisted in the top 20, and is now also in the running for the titles of International Winner or International Runner-up. Certainly such annual competition is what the world needs and I am glad that Dyson is actively advocating innovation and creation to help better humankind. Certainly Kuno will be much-needed in places whereby access to electricity is scarce.