Transporting and displaying cold food is an incredibly wasteful and inefficient process. Current display refrigerators, like those that display meats or cheeses in supermarkets, create cold air that is quickly lost to the open environment. The volume that is cooled is inevitably greater than the volume. Alp, by Ethan Frier, is a transportation and refrigeration concept for the supermarket of 2021. It consists of standardized, reusable boxes in which food items are packed, shipped and displayed.
The boxes are constructed of highly thermally conductive nanomaterials. They cool food via contact with a refrigerated "wall" that is permanently installed in the supermarket for display purposes, or in the wheeled containers used for transport. This system replaces the cardboard boxes typically used to ship food, the refrigerated infrastructure used to transport cold food (refrigerated trucks, large industrial holding refrigerators) and replaces the refrigerated shelving systems used to display cold food for sale. Alp is completely modular and scalable, and can be configured to replace almost any type of refrigerator, from mini fridge to industrial size. Alp challenges us to critically think about how we refrigerate and transport our food.
For additional documentation, visit the project page.
Want to design your own speculative nanotech? Check out the Call for Products in the second edition of the NANO Supermarket.