In 2001 when the earthquake struck Gujarat, Mansukhlal Prajapati lost everything. Like other villagers of Ramkrishnagar, Mansukhlal, a potter was without a roof over his head. It could have been the end of the world for him but as it is said good ideas come when in trouble, the potter came up with a novel thought that could relieve the poor from scorching heat.
He decided to make a refrigerator from terracotta clay. “Refrigerator has become one of the basic requirements of life, but its initial high costs prevent poor and lower middle-class people from buying it. For all those who dream of owning a refrigerator, I am giving them eco-friendly refrigerator as an option,” says Mansukhlal, who recently displayed this refrigerator at the Innovation Exhibition, Rashtrapati Bhavan.
A good alternative for the rural people who cannot afford the conventional refrigerator, the potter explains its functioning, “The upper portion of the refrigerator can store about 10 litres of the water, while the lower cabinet has separate spaces for storing fruits, vegetables and milk. Through the bottom layer of the upper chamber, small droplets of water continuously percolate below, which keeps the inside moist. Water evaporates through side walls reducing the inside temperature, thereby providing the desired cooling effect,” says Mansukhlal.
“It gives a higher cooling effect in dry as compared to humid climate. If required, some water can be filled in the lowest section to increase the overall cooling effect. The minimum temperature attained by this fridge is 20 to 10 degrees less than the temperature outside it,” he adds.
Interestingly, the fridge does not require electricity or any artificial energy. It also stores drinking water. Fruits, vegetable and milk can be stored fresh without deteriorating the quality for five to seven days. Besides being eco-friendly, it does not require maintenance and the small size enhances portability.
Mansukhlal has also made a smart cooker from clay. Unlike a conventional cooker, there is no handle and you have to pull out the screw on the top of the lid. Before you use the cooker, fill it with water or buttermilk for two days. It gives the pan a better strength. Do not straight away put the cooker on the stove, allow it to dry for a while,” he says.
He also talks about the magic pan which has a food grade coating instead of a non-stick chemical coating. “It saves up to 25 per cent gas, gives natural taste and every kind of bread like roti, paratha, naan, pizza, dosa, wrap can be cooked with minimum oil making the food healthy,” says Mansukhlal.
Colourful water filters are also being manufactured by him. “These filter germs and bacteria of 0.9 micron size in water. Along with the clean and hygienic water, you get cold water which is because of the natural clay. Paintings and designs can be customised,” says Mansukhlal. With all these products, Mansukhlal, today, is the proud owner of property worth crores in Gujarat.