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Sneha Jha | Economic Times CIO
February 01, 2017, 11:55 IST
Khanderao Nimbhorkar, a 45-year-old dairy farmer from Ahmednagar district’s Hattalkhindi village, is brimming with confidence and excitement. His dairy farming activities now fetch him a tidy sum of Rs 20,000 per month. Coming this far would not have been possible for Nimbhorkar without the help of Pune-based refrigeration solution provider Promethean Power systems. Co-founded by Boston-based entrepreneurs Sorin Grama and Sam White, the company has come up with a socially-relevant invention to strengthen the weakest link in the chain of dairy farming: milk collection.
As the largest milk producer and consumer in the world, India has earned the sobriquet of the oyster of the global dairy industry. It accounts for 18 percent of global milk production in the world. Rural India churns out 102 million gallons of milk every year, generating employment for over 75 million dairy farmers.
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by Promethean Power Systems
Anjuli Bhargava | Business Standard
January 30, 2017
In life, it’s easier to fail than to succeed. Romania-born Sorin Grama and US-born Sam White learnt this the hard way in India. The two are co-founders of Promethean Power Systems, a company they set up in India some years earlier, moved base to Delhi for a while to sell their idea and, after having tasted many failures, seem to finally be on the way to achieving a degree of success. In 2007, the duo first came to India to try and sell a technology developed by some of their fellow MIT students.
PUNE: City-based refrigeration solution provider, Promethean Power Systems, said that it now will foray into the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The company, founded in the US in 2007, launched a manufacturing and testing facility in India in 2013. Since then, Promethean said it has sold over 500 milk chilling units to its dairy partners in India – most of them in villages.
“Data collected over the last three years shows that at nearly every site, Promethean’s milk chillers have helped deliver benefits on three fronts: reduction in milk spoilage, improvement in milk quality, and elimination of diesel for power back-up,” the company said in a statement.
Promethean now also plans to take its chillers, which are entirely made in India, to other countries in South Asia as well as new markets in east Africa.
“Anticipating an increase in new orders, Promethean has ramped up local manufacturing in Pune to double its current capacity, which now stands at 300 units per year,” the company said in a statement.
Promethean Power Systems has developed a milk chiller that operates on a thermal energy battery and can function even in remote Indian villages receiving intermittent electricity supply. Founded by US-based Sorin Grama and Sam White in 2007, Promethean Power has installed over 200 milk chilling systems throughout rural India. About 20 farmers can use one chiller. These are farmers who were unable to supply milk to dairies earlier because they couldn’t refrigerate the milk without reliable electricity.
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By Jason Margolis | PRI
August 23, 2016
Sorin Grama had a great idea. Like, a really terrific idea. It was so good, MIT awarded him one of its most prestigious entrepreneurship prizes: second place in the university’s annual 100K Entrepreneurship Competition.
Grama’s team built a machine using old car parts that can heat water without electricity. Think of the possibilities in rural parts of the developing world: Medical clinics could sterilize devices, people could clean clothes with warm water, or they could just take a hot shower, all without being connected to a grid. Revolutionary, right?
Grama took the invention to India expecting a huge response. Instead, he got: “Yeah, OK, that’s fine. But it doesn’t solve our problem.”
He had miscalculated. Rural Indians didn’t want to talk about hot water; they wanted to talk about cold milk.
“We were a classic case of a technology looking for a problem to solve,” Grama says.
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By Jeff Engel | Xconomy
July 11th, 2016
Xconomy Boston — When Promethean Power Systems’ founders wrote the original business plan for their cleantech startup at MIT, they intended to sell their products in India first. But none of them had ever set foot on Indian soil.
After winning $10,000 as the runner-up in the MIT $100K pitch competition in 2007, co-founders Sorin Grama and Sam White decided it was time to visit their target market, Grama says.
“The reality was a lot different than what we had put in our business plan,” Grama (pictured above, left) says. “So different, in fact, that nobody wanted this contraption we were building”—a system that would harness the sun’s energy to produce hot water and electricity. “We realized we were just another classic case of a solution looking for a problem to solve.”
They found a problem by chance, Grama says, during a meeting in India with the managing director of a dairy business. He described the difficulty in efficiently collecting milk from farmers in small villages, and keeping it fresh.
By Tim Binkert & Clinton Parks
May 10, 2016
Founding any new business is extremely difficult and more hard work than most people can imagine. Founding a new technology-based business is arguably tougher than that, and founding a tech hardware (rather than software) venture even tougher than that. But perhaps the toughest of all is developing and scaling a technology-based hardware venture in remote areas with scarce resources for the benefit people living in extreme poverty.
A new report from FSG, Hardware Pioneers: Harnessing the Impact Potential of Technology Entrepreneurs, funded by The Lemelson Foundation, investigates the obstacles specific to these hardware pioneers–people working on toilets, lighting, clean water and other innovations that if brought to scale could have major impact on the health, lifespan, and productivity of the world’s poor.
Somerville, Mass. and Colombo, Sri Lanka – May 2, 2016 – Promethean Power Systems and Fonterra, the dairy co-operative behind Anchor milk brand, have partnered to introduce a new rapid milk chilling technology that will drastically improve the quality of Sri Lankan milk.
In just a matter of seconds, Promethean Power Systems’ rapid chillers chill the milk that the farmers deliver to their local collection centers. The technology – the first of its kind – uses an innovative thermal energy storage device to overcome limited and sometimes unreliable electricity supply in rural areas.
The milk chiller is being piloted at Fonterra’s milk collection center in Doluwa, with plans to roll out the technology across Fonterra’s milk collection network across Sri Lanka.
Mr. Saman Perera, Fonterra’s Dairy Development Programme Manager, said: “Fonterra is committed to working with Sri Lankan dairy farmers to improve milk quality and increase local supply; however, Sri Lanka’s hot climate and low milk density means that getting milk quickly to the right temperature can be a challenge.”
“An important part of our efforts to improve milk quality is using refrigeration systems that can chill milk in a cost-effective and safe way closer to the rural dairy farmers who supply it. This helps to reduce milk waste in the supply chain, and creates more value for our farmers,” said Mr. Perera.
Promethean Power Systems manufactures a range of milk chillers which are quickly being adopted in other countries, such as India, because of their ability to chill the milk rapidly to four degrees Celsius using limited grid power. Promethean’s innovation is centered on a thermal battery designed specifically for refrigeration applications in rural areas. “The thermal battery serves a dual purpose: it provides backup for the unreliable grid and it releases thermal energy to rapidly chill the milk and preserve its quality”, said Mr. Sorin Grama, Promethean’s co-founder and principal inventor of the technology.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, conducted a search for global technologies suitable for village-level cooling in the dairy sector. It found that Promethean Power
Systems’ milk chilling technology could provide a viable solution. This research led to the Fonterra-Promethean partnership to install the first rapid milk chiller of its kind in Sri Lanka.
“Introducing cooling systems at the village level can both improve the quality of milk and increase the quantity of available milk,” said Amena Arif, IFC’s Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives. “This partnership will improve the livelihoods of thousands of dairy farmers, and increase the availability of fresh milk in Sri Lanka.”
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RASHMI PRATAP | The Hindu BusinessLine
April 8, 2016
The country annually wastes about 40 per cent of its fruit and vegetable produce, valued at $8 billion. A handful of start-ups want to plug this loss with innovative cold-storage solutions
Each day, farmers deposit about 800 litres of milk at Heritage Dairy’s collection centre in Meerkhanpet village, near Hyderabad. Promethean Power System’s cold storage machine cools the milk in three minutes flat. In case of a power cut, the thermal battery gets into action, working without break to ensure the milk reaches the processing centre fresh and safe.
Miles away in Pune, Marc Cremer and his workers at GreenTokri farms pack fresh lettuce leaves every morning for distribution to customers across the city. Cremer has invested in a cold storage machine, where lettuce from his farm goes directly after harvesting and is instantly cooled to 3°C before being packed into thermocol boxes with Cryo-Gel. So the salads arrive farm-fresh at the retail outlets at 3pm. The cold storage at GreenTokri greatly reduces wastage, an evil that plagues most of India’s farming sector.
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Anmar Frangoul | Special to CNBC.com
As the global population increases, the issue of food waste is becoming increasingly pressing.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 30 to 40 percent of the world’s food production does not even make it to market, with roughly 1.3 billion tons of food – valued at more than $1 trillion – either wasted or lost.
In some parts of the world, the consequences of such wastage can be stark. A 2014 report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers states a lack of proper storage results in the loss of “up to 50 percent of fruit and vegetables” in Sub-Saharan Africa and India, while 25 percent of milk produced during Tanzania’s wet season is also wasted.
An MIT start-up has developed technology that is dramatically improving the way milk can be stored in Indian communities where access to electricity is difficult and reliable refrigeration is limited.
“Most Indian villages have grid power, they have electricity,” Sorin Grama, co-founder and CTO of Promethean Power Systems, told CNBC in a phone interview. “They’re not completely off grid, they just don’t have power 24 hours a day, they don’t have it when they need it,” he added.
Rob Matheson | MIT News Office
September 7, 2015
India is the world’s leading milk producer, with many of its people relying on milk as a primary source of income. Indian dairies buy milk from local farmers at village collection centers, and then sell the milk or use it to make dairy products.
But with rural India’s limited electric grid, often available for only several hours daily, keeping milk fresh — it must be refrigerated within a few hours of milking — becomes very difficult. Many dairies use expensive diesel generators for refrigeration, or risk high percentages of spoiled product: Of the roughly 130 million tons of milk produced by India each year, millions of tons go to waste or reach the market as low-quality dairy products that pose safety threats. All this also reduces the income of Indian farmers
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by Mike Stone | Greentech Media
July 13, 2015
India is the world’s No. 1 milk producer. Unfortunately, rural India is not well served by the electrical grid — creating problems for milk producers who need to keep their product cool.
In much of India, milk is brought by farmers to small, village-based collection centers. If the milk spoils before being collected from the center by the dairy, the farmer won’t get paid. What’s more, if a farmer misses that day’s pickup from the dairy, the product is unlikely to remain fresh without reliable refrigeration.
The milk industry needs reliable refrigeration, but that’s not easy with a highly unpredictable electrical grid.
The collection centers have a choice: risk spoiled product or invest in a diesel generator for when the grid fails. The second option is not only bad news for the environment — it also considerably inflates the operating cost of refrigeration.
Promethean Power Systems has come up with a solution to the problem. The company is manufacturing milk-chilling units connected to a patent-pending thermal battery that uses a phase-change material to store 28 kilowatt-hours of energy in the form of ice.
Somerville, Mass. and Pune, India – July 6, 2015 – Millions of small farmers combine to help India produce more milk than any country on the planet, yet much of that spoils before ever reaching market. To mitigate the risk of wasted milk and food safety concerns, Promethean Power Systems, a manufacturer of thermal energy storage systems for refrigeration applications, has installed more than 2.5 MWh of distributed thermal energy storage in rural India with its latest village-level chilling system.
Many rural areas live with an electrical grid that is not available 24 hours a day, making milk refrigeration a rarity. In these conditions, refrigeration equipment requires a backup diesel generator, doubling the capital cost and tripling the operating cost. Due to the lack of proper refrigeration, a majority of India’s milk spoils or finds its way into consumer products at such low quality that it becomes a food safety threat.
Promethean Power Systems solved this problem by developing an inexpensive and reliable thermal battery for providing grid backup. Promethean Power Systems’ thermal battery stores thermal energy in the few hours when the grid is available and releases the energy when needed to provide cooling power.
“We recently received a new, large order from one of India’s largest dairies that happens to be an existing customer. Repeat orders are important to us because it proves that our systems meet our customer’s needs and demonstrates market adoption,” said Sorin Grama, Promethean Power Systems’ co-founder and principal inventor of Promethean’s thermal battery. “We continue to receive new orders from additional dairies which is always encouraging, demonstrating the impact we’re making throughout the country.”
Promethean Power Systems manufactures a complete line of rural milk refrigeration systems based around its patent-pending thermal battery. The thermal battery was developed with funds from the National Science Foundation, The Lemelson Foundation and a number of individual and institutional investors. The Indian dairy industry is the first commercial application of the technology.
To learn more about Promethean Power Systems, please visit www.promethean-power.com.
About Promethean Power Systems Promethean Power Systems is a privately-held technology company that develops and manufactures complete refrigeration systems for agricultural cold-chain in developing countries. The company is headquartered in Somerville, MA at Greentown Labs, the country’s largest cleantech incubator, and manufactures the technology in Pune, India. For more information visit www.promethean-power.com or connect with Promethean Power Systems on Twitter.
Name: Sam White
Company: Promethean Power Systems
Phone: +1 (617) 512 8811
In rural Indian dairy villages, access to electricity is intermittent. Most people have to boil milk before they drink it, and dairy farmers face the perpetual risk of losing large batches of their product. Now Promethean Power’s new thermal battery tech offers a fascinating solution.
Up to 40% of food produced in the developing world is wasted before it reaches the market, according to figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). With the number of middle-class consumers predicted to rise to three billion by 2030, and the majority of that growth in developing countries, tackling this problem is no small feat – particularly as rising affluence in urban areas is likely to trigger a higher demand for richer diets and more complex food supply chains.
Lack of access to cold chain technology and reliable energy sources are the major reasons for crops perishing after harvest, research by Nottingham University shows (pdf). The cost of delivering energy to remote, rural regions means that, even when storage facilities are built, they may nevertheless stand empty. Poor transport infrastructure causes further losses, and a lack of education on post-harvest practices often results in poor quality control and food being damaged during handling.