23 is quite an age for an inventor to receive recognition from a panel of Nobel Prizewinners, but that’s just what’s happened to Emily Cummins.

Thanks to her idea for a solar-powered fridge, Emily is one of 10 “outstanding young people” selected as an international Oslo Business for Peace Honouree by a panel of previous Nobel winners in Norway.

A Leeds university graduate, Emily designed the fridge while still at school and it’s now in use across Africa. The design consists of two concentric cylinders lined with an absorbent material such as soil or cloth,

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When soaked with water, the heat of the sun on the outer cylinder causes the water to evaporate, which, thanks to the laws of thermodynamics, lowers the temperature of the inner cylinder. It’s reckoned that the fridge will keep its contents at a steady 6 degrees Celsius and only requires regular water refills — and sunshine, of course — to operate. The idea is far from new, of course, but Emily’s simple design is elegant take on it and allows food to be keep dry and cool with dirty water.

The solar fridge isn’t Emily’s only invention and, thanks to engineering skills she attributes to her grandfather’s intervention at an early age (he gave her a hammer when she was four), she has also designed a simple transportation system to move water cross-country (no, not an Aquaroll…).

“I have been recognised as an engineer from the awards I have won, yet on paper I am not an engineer,” said Emily. “’Recognition for my work is a great honour. I’m passionate about encouraging young people to reach their creative potential, especially in the field of sustainable design.”

[via The Daily Mail]