Developers of a solar-powered portable cold-storage system are looking to move their manufacturing plant to Southern Nevada and the entrepreneur who took it from idea to reality showed it off Thursday in Las Vegas.
Al Hollingsworth, CEO of Aldelano Corp., a California-based food packaging company that specializes in refrigerated supply chain operations, answered questions and showed his Aldelano Solar ColdBox, to a group from the Las Vegas Urban Chamber of Commerce.
Hollingsworth is in the early stages of finding a location in the valley to build a manufacturing plant, relocating from the company's 100,000-square-foot facility in Jackson, Tenn.
He said he's also gauging interest in the product from foreign aid groups to determine how big the plant would be. Hollingsworth said the factory could potentially provide 500 jobs.
The ColdBox comes in four versions, two that are 40-by-9.5 feet, one that is 20-by-8 feet and a "backpack" version that is 5.8-by-7.5 feet. They're powered by a solar array with a variable number of panels based on how much power output is desired. Excess power is routed to batteries for storage and to outlets to power other products.
Aldelano also manufactures two products that are optional to the ColdBox system, a solar water producer and a solar ice maker. The Aldelano Solar WaterMaker extracts moisture from humidity in the air and purifies it for drinking while the Solar IceMaker can convert water that is produced into 120 pounds of ice a day.
The water system can produce 50 gallons of water a day in ideal conditions of 80 degrees and 80 percent humidity.
Engineers with the company joked that they are trying to "break physics" to get the water maker to perform better in dry climates.
Hollingsworth said the primary markets for the ColdBox and the water producer are remote villages off the grid in underdeveloped countries. Because of their portability, the products also would be ideal in communities struck by disasters.
Hollingsworth and his team have traveled the world and met with relief agencies to explain how their products work and how they would be beneficial in places where clean water is a luxury and food products spoil before being consumed. He said experts estimate that one-third of world's food supply goes to waste and that at least 40 percent of the loss occurs post-harvest, costing developing nations $310 billion a year.
Hollingsworth said he's dedicating his efforts to changing lives worldwide with the products. If they were sold on the open market, a ColdBox unit would run for between $90,000 and $115,000 and the water producer, $58,000 to $75,000.
About 60 people, many of them representing the Urban Chamber, attended the two-hour demonstration, which included a tour of the ColdBox in a parking lot south of the Switch Innevation Center. The unit was operating off the grid, but high winds required workers to remove the solar panels and run the unit on battery power.
Representatives of the local government economic development offices, the Desert Research Institute and the Governor's Office of Economic Development attended the event.
Hollingsworth said having the resources of the Desert Research Institute and the support of the Urban Chamber and economic development leaders have made it appealing to relocate to Southern Nevada.
"Today is a milestone in our journey to connect the Urban Chamber of Commerce to the global economy," said Ken Evans, president of the chamber.