Birmingham, UK: Scientists from the University of Birmingham have launched a major research project to investigate how ‘clean cold’ could help to achieve almost all of the United Nations’ global sustainable development goals.
The 17 ‘Global Goals’ commit the international community to put the world to rights by 2030 – abolishing poverty and hunger; providing good healthcare and education; raising people’s quality of life; and cleaning up the environment, whilst promoting economic growth.
Professor Toby Peters and colleagues at the Birmingham Energy Institute aim to work with partners in countries where demand for ‘clean cold’ is soaring, such as India and China. They will develop strategies using novel low-carbon and zero-emission technologies and new policy approaches.
And the roadmaps they produce could provide a global template to help meet the UN targets, as demand for cooling booms in fast growing economies – largely driven by urbanisation and emergence of an Asian Pacific middle class – predicted to rise to 3 billion by 2030 – with lifestyles built on cooling.
The report points out that it will be vital that any new cold chain infrastructure should be clean. Diesel-powered transport refrigeration units, for example, emit not only high levels of CO2 but also huge amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
Clean cooling technologies, which can support environmentally sustainable cold chains, are being developed by entrepreneurial UK start-ups. These include Dearman’s zero-emission transport refrigeration system, solar-driven cooling for pack-houses, and even small transportable ammonia-water absorption refrigeration which can be used to transport medicine.
Professor Toby Peters said: “Cooling is a huge problem faced by India, China and other fast-growing economies. It is all too often overlooked, but without it, supplies of food, medicine and even data break down; life in many parts of the world would be scarcely tolerable without air conditioning.
Professor Martin Freer, director of the Birmingham Energy Institute, added: “It is clear that we need a joined-up approach to tackle the global challenge of ‘clean cold’. It is, therefore, essential to develop a roadmap to deliver a cold chain that benefits both people and environment.”