Thermal Power Storage Saves Indian Dairy Farmers From an Unpredictable Grid

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.

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Thermal Energy Storage in India

Increased orders from Indian dairies validate commercial necessity for refrigeration purposes

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

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 or connect with Promethean Power Systems on Twitter.

Media Contact
Name: Sam White
Company: Promethean Power Systems
Phone: +1 (617) 512 8811

Keeps Milk Cold When the Power Cuts Out

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.

As Doc North explains in the video, milk can be chilled to maintain its quality without electricity, by using simple principles of heat exchange.
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How technology can prevent food waste

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.

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