This led to discussions about the international work led by Professor Toby Peters on the Cold Economy and the technological opportunities brought about by Professor Yulong Ding’s research into phase change materials and cryogenic energy storage, both of which could have applications in Burkina Faso. Phase change materials can store and release large amounts of thermal energy to provide both heating and cooling whereas cryogenic energy storage could take advantage of the vast amount of solar power available in Burkina Faso, storing it for when it is needed, after the sun sets.
The tour then led on to explore the novel zero emission Dearman Engine and its use in transport refrigeration systems. This engine could be used in zero-emission refrigerated trucks that transport harvested produce, keeping the produce cooler for longer, reducing waste and consequently increasing farmer’s income. With Sustainable Energy for All reporting that only 49% of the urban and only 1% of the rural population in Burkina Faso are connected to electricity, Dr Dearn and the minister also discussed what other possible applications the mobile Dearman Engine could offer.
The visit concluded with a meeting to discuss how one of the world’s least electrified countries with a rapidly growing population could develop solutions to their challenges to store energy and develop cold chains, perhaps using some of the innovative knowhow and solutions seen at the BEI. BEI Director, Professor Martin Freer led the meeting to identify future collaborative opportunities between the minister and the university.