• The project sees Cranfield University contribute to the research on the reduction of food loss across the global supply chain

  • Seven per cent of the world’s emissions come from cooling – needed for food and vaccine cold-chains - with demand set to grow further as global temperatures increase.

The COP26 President, the Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP, this week visited a pioneering research centre in Africa, which aims to reduce food loss and waste using sustainable cooling without driving up energy demands.

The visit from Mr Sharma coincided with his attendance at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda.

The Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-chain (ACES) is a first of its kind dedicated to generating ideas and technology to support sustainable cooling without exacerbating climate change

Cranfield University is part of a consortium of UK Universities (University of Birmingham, London South Bank University, and Heriot Watt University) that alongside the Governments of the UK and Rwanda, the University of Rwanda, and the UN, have designed and led on the ACES centre.

Cranfield University’s Dr Natalia Falagán, Lecturer in Food Science and Technology and co-designer of ACES, focuses on reducing physiological and nutritional food loss. Natalia brings to the centre her research expertise on postharvest management.

Dr Falagán said: “Food systems are facing challenges and disruptions that jeopardise global food security, especially in developing economies. ACES is bringing together expertise across the energy, food and water nexus to build capacity in the country and tackle key challenges related to food production and consumption.”

Globally, 536 million tonnes, or 12 per cent of total food production, are lost due to lack of cold-chain. That is enough to feed around 1 billion people. In Rwanda, food loss equates to 21 per cent of its total land use. Food chains and cooling have a huge impact on the environment. Figures show that currently seven per cent of the world’s emissions come from cooling – needed for food and vaccine cold-chains - with demand set to grow further as global temperatures increase.

Mr Sharma said at the event: “Cooling and refrigeration are the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, especially in developing countries. But this challenge gives us the opportunity to develop innovative, energy efficient technologies of the future.

“Spearheaded by UK experts and £16 million of DEFRA funding, ACES is dedicated to developing innovative cooling technologies and providing training to apply those technologies.”

Alongside the UK commitment, the Government of Rwanda is providing the five-hectare campus and cash for renovating existing buildings, backed by industry support to develop new bespoke facilities on-site.

Project co-leader and ACES Co-Director, Professor Toby Peters from the University of Birmingham, said: “By 2050, global food demand is set to grow by between 59 per cent and 98 per cent. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 50 per cent of fruits and vegetables are lost mainly due to improper cold chain management.

“Given the economic, environmental and social impact, food saved and the food system is as important as food produced.”

The campus will include a state-of-the-art refrigeration training centre, a technology demo hall and innovation centre, and quality control labs.

For more information please visit https://coolingafrica.org/