More than 1.6 billion people live without electricity, with no way to refrigerate their food. That challenge inspired industrial design junior Zac Green to design a product with the potential to help people around the world.
"My design for the Vapor cooling canister is based on the pot-in-pot cooling system used in Northern Africa," says Green, who developed the design for a class assignment in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts. "I saw the pot-in-pot system years ago on the Internet and thought there had to be a better way.
"The assignment required the use of extruded aluminum to create something that solved a real-life problem. Green's design earned him the Sustainability Award in the 2011 International Aluminum Extrusion Student Design Competition.
In Green's design, the Vapor consists of an extruded aluminum canister inside a burlap bag. Food is placed inside the canister, which is sealed shut, and sand is poured inside the bag to fill the space between the canister and the burlap. Water is poured into the sand until completely soaked. In hot weather, as the water begins to evaporate the sand cools, simultaneously cooling the canister and its contents.
Green says the assignment illustrates the true value of industrial design. "It's not always about designing the next big thing. It's about taking things apart and putting them back together — doing it in a way that makes them better, helps people, and increases the usage value of that item."
With an artist mother and a physics teacher father, it's not surprising Green grew up with natural artistic ability and a love of science. When it came time for college, he first opted for pre-med at a small, private college. He was three years into his undergraduate degree when he discovered the world of industrial design and knew he had found his calling. He enrolled at Purdue the next semester.
"I love the blend of science and art," he says. "There is so much math and science that can be applied to art. Nature is one of the best examples of this."
In fall 2011, Green worked on two design projects for Delta Faucets and the International Housewares Association annual design competition. This summer, he will complete a required industrial design internship in anticipation of his 2013 graduation.