Scientists developed a new camel-inspired material to keep fresh food or medicine cool in high temperatures without the need for electricity.
The new technology, developed by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a two-layered passive cooling system, which is claimed to keep things cool for up to five times longer than conventional solutions.
The solution mimics the way camels manage to control their body temperature with their fur – tests showed that under the same climate conditions, a shaved camel loses 50% more moisture than an unshaved animal.
The team behind the development used aerogel to provide one layer of isulation and used hydrogel for a bottom layer.
Aerogel is made of silica, which is mainly beach sand and is therefore affordable and abundant.
The hydrogel in the bottom layer is a substance which consists mostly of water and is contained in a sponge-like matrix from which the water can easily evaporate.
That is covered with an upper layer of aerogel, playing the part of camel fur by keeping out the external heat while allowing the vapour to pass through.
The scientists say that one startup is already working to bring the technology to the market – it plans to use the technology to make thermally-insulated windows.