Ever wondered how slum-dwellers live through the summer when the mercury all but touches 50 degrees? In the kind of weather that the Indian subcontinent has, the poor are worse off, what with their having no access to a proper house, electricity and the resources to buy cooling mechanisms.
Grey Dhaka, the Bangladeshi wing of US advertising agency Grey, collaborated with Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd to make sweltering summers a little more bearable for people in rural areas. Large parts of Bangladesh are flood-prone, and hence people construct makeshift houses with tin sheets rather than mud. These get overheated in the summer and become intolerable to live in.
An employee from Grey, Ashish Paul, realised that the simple principle of air cooling as it expanded, could be utilised to bring down the temperatures in these dwellings. The result of this was the Eco Cooler: a surprisingly simple, inexpensive and ecofriendly way to make electricity-free air-conditioning available to rural houses.
Sheets of cardboard large enough to cover a window were taken and holes were punched in them. These holes were made just large enough to screw plastic bottles neck-first in them.
The bottles, mostly the disposable kind in which packaged beverages are sold, were cut off midway. The entire assembly looks like this:
How does this work?
The air drawn into the bottles from the outside undergoes compression at the bottleneck, and then expands as it leaves the bottle. The process leads to a decrease in the air temperature, thus providing cool air to the interior of the huts.
Check out the detailed video here:
Does it really help?
The innovation was first implemented in an area called Daulatdia which is the largest settlement of sex workers in Bangladesh. Around 28,000 people live here. The folks behind this innovation claimed that the cooling effect could be observed immediately and the temperature inside the houses dropped by a remarkable 5 degrees on fitting the Eco Cooler. Now that’s something!
The best part about this innovation is that it involves very little investment and can be assembled by anyone. Plastic bottles form the most sizeable chunk of waste the world over, and are obviously non-biodegradable and toxic in the long run. The twin problems of plastic waste and overutilisation of power are thus tackled by this innovation.
It remains to be seen how effective this mechanism is on a larger scale, and in different weather conditions. But it is surely a commendable step towards making sustainable green solutions affordable to the masses.
Know of any such efforts in India? Share with us in the Comments below!
All images sourced from hefty.
Title image: grey