Lates news:

On Thursday 19th May 2011, Stephan Augustin will receive the BMW Foundation Young Leaders Award during the 10th Munich Economic Summit for his initiatve of the Terracooler. The Award ceremony will be held in the historical rooms of the Residenz of Munich. See German press release.

- Winner Project of the
BMW Foundation Young Leaders Awards 2010

New pilot projects:

As a result of the BMW Foundation Young Leaders Forum in Cape Town in April 2011, two pilot projects have been initiated in Ulundi/ South Africa and in Ghana.
Results will be posted here on this website.

During the BMW Foundation Young Leaders Forum in Cape Town, South Africa in March 2011I had the chance to introduce my project to Mr. Buthelezi. His comment was:

"The Terracooler is a wonderful invention, it is amazing!"
Prince Buthelezi, president of the Inkatha Freedom Party and Stephan Augustin, inventor of the Terracooler in Cape Town, 31st May 2011.

Context and motivation:
Food cooling & world wide hunger

World wide there are more than one billion people who suffer from hunger for different reasons. One problem often is the missing cooling and preservation of food and crops. Most of these people belong to 1/5 of the world population who live Off Grid, which means that there is no electric energy supply available. And thy belong to the poorest in the world who have only a few Dollars per day to survive.
Here it is a mandatory necessity to provide free of charge innovation, which can locally be produced and distributed with existing and cheap materials.

Dharavi / Mumbai


On the other side in modern industrialized countries especially in urban areas there is hardly no room left in housing where to store food appropriate; larders or cellar rooms disappeared.
Instead of that big and energy wasting refrigerators took over the place in the kitchen.
But here we now store lots of food which does not require such hard cooling like potatoes, vegetable, salad, fruit, eggs, ham, marmelade and many more. For many of these the extreme cooling is negaive concerning the flavour and consistency. Consequently much smaller refrigerators would be enough to preserve the remaining food like milk products, fish, meat or similar.
At the moment a trend can be observed especially at eco activists in the US to get rid of their fridges and switch to buy only for daily need. But also this food needs preservation and protection against heat, dirt, sun light, animals and insects.
At the same time it is to observe that a new growing middle class in the emerging markets follows the old model and buys big refrigerators by ignoring and neglecting their culture and heritage in this feeld of an appropriate food preservation.

This is the motivation for my project to develop an ecological cooling device which is universally applicable, in industrial as well as in developing countries.
The "Terracooler" is a double-wall bell-shape terracotta cover using water for natural cooling and preservation of all kinds of daily food. Temperature inside can be cooled down up to 25-40% compared to outside air temperature and extend shelf-life of produce up to ten times longer than without cooling. It has been released online as "donationware," a product innovation available free of charge.

Click on picture to enlarge or download PDF
Latest update
May 15 th, 2011
Copyright Stephan Augustin, Germany

Watch movie here on Youtube or download it as WMV or Quicktime

- protects food against sun light, heat, dirt and animals or insects
- 100 % ecological materials
- Shelf-life of produce can be extended up to 10 times longer than without cooling
- ergonomic and intuitve handling, water funnel tube is also the handle / knob to carry and lift it
- scalable size to different requirements
- just use water and even salty sea water for cooling
- replicatable and worldwide well known technology of manufacturing
- food is easy accessible
- the bell shape covers are stackable for efficient storage and transport
- free of charge to use based on the idea of donation ware
- new jobs can be created with local production
- reduction of electric energy consumption
- can be used to cool in areas without electric infrastructure

More related links to cool with terracotta

1. or download interesting manual
2. Stylish watercooler from Doshi Levien
3. Royal VKB water carafe
4. Pot-in-Pot refrigerator at Rolex Awards
5. The Ecooler by bey + boaz kahn x .

The storage and cooling of water in terracotta pots is an old technology know for centuries. The water seeps through the porose terracotta and evaporates at the outer surface. The evaporative heat loss cools down the inner space with the water.

Watercooler in Mumbai

Mohammed Bah Abbas, a teacher from Nigeria, used this effect and developed a simple product to cool food about ten years ago. The Pot-in-Pot refrigerator. He put a small terracotta pot into a big one, filled the gap in between with fine sand and watered the sand. As a result the inner pot gets cold and can be used to store crops up to ten times longer than they would last under normal conditions. Millions of these pot-in-pot refrigerators have been built since then all over the world free of charge. Dispite this genius invetion the daily usage is difficult. The both pots with the sand are heavy and bulky, transport needs a lot of space and insects can access the food. And food at the bottom is inaccessible and can be squeezed.

Design and production

The basic idea for the design and use comes from the cloche, a silver cover to keep food warm. With the principle of evaporative heat loss I am using the same shape with its protective and intuitive appearance and use it to protect food against destructive heat.

Cloche to keep food warm

In case of the Terracooler I am using the knob on the top by adding a second function. It is a funnel tube to fill in the water and afterwards it can be used as a handle to carry and lift it.

Knob on top with double function

The height of water level can easily be measured by dipping with a finger into the funnel. The Terracooler is ready to use when you see or feel the water.

Stackable for efficient storage and transport

Measurement of water level

By touching the wet surface you immediately get a real time feedback about the inner space temperature. It feels cold and it is.

Direct feedback of coldness

The Terracoller can be manufactured in different shapes and sizes. If wanted it can be decorated with ornaments in the wet clay or partially painted.

Example of different shapes

Beside industrial technologies for mass production it still can be manufactured in large quantities with traditional potter`s wheels.

Potter in Dharavi / Mumbai


To maintain good porosity for the cooling effect the baking oven should be below 1000 degree Celsius depending on the consistancy of the clay.
If the Terracooler, depending on the consistancy of the clay, gets too much heat (above 1000 degree Celsius) the clay structure melts and becomes impermeable and the cooling effect will never start.
It should be porose like a flower pot.
Temperature inside can be cooled down up to 25-40% compared to outside air temperature.

Positive cooling can be achieved in shadowy and breezy places with high air temperature and low air humidity. To maintain long life of the Terracooler it is best to use pure collected rain water.

Negative: high air humidity and/or if there is no ventilation the evaporrative cooling effect is reduced even if it is hot air. Putting the Terracooller into direct sun light the solar radiation heat on the surface is higher than the cooling effect and temperature will rising inside. Using water with losts of chalk or salts it causes chalky deposit by water evaporation and blocks the pores of the clay much faster.

Click on picture to enlarge or download PDF


Mission Statement

I as a designer, in my professional and personal live, I take into consideration a greater common good, driven by Mahatma Ghandi words „Be the Change you want to see in the world“

1. I support "Social Entrepreneurship“ which means to solve social and ecological problems in an economic and efficient manner. The economy and the environment are the same thing. If something is un-environmental it is un-economical. This is a rule of nature we have to accept by finding that both sides complement each another and contribute to an even stronger business. While our traditional business and economy creates winners (businessmen) and loosers (people & environment), a zero sum game, a new global sustainable and social business modell will be a plus sum game where my advantage as an entreprenneur will also be an advantage for all others in the system.
And social business, which of course ensures a return of invest and an appropriate income, has irresistible charm:
The reward can be nothing less than a deep and honest feeling of happiness on both sides, the entreprenneur and the people who benefit on the social and ecological improvements in daily life.

2. As an important extention to the Universal Declaration of human rights I support the "Universal Declaration of human responsibilities" proposted to the United Nations in 1997 by the Interactioncouncil under direction of the former chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Mr. Helmut Schmidt.
As an Industrial Designer I take responsibility every day. Therefore I understand and support the necessity to formulate a universal understanding what "responsibilities" mean in a global accepted and ethic manner.
Here two articles which matters most to me in combination with the „Terracooler“
Article 7

...All people have a responsibility to protect the air, water and soil of the earth for the sake of present inhabitants and future generations.
Article 9
All people, given the necessary tools, have a responsibility to make serious efforts to overcome poverty, malnutrition, ignorance, and inequality.  They should promote sustainable development all over the world in order to assure dignity, freedom, security and justice for all people.

. A fundamental design innovation must address the UN Millennium Goals
In case of the „Terracooler“ following goals are addressed:
Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Intellectual property & copyright

All rights belong to Stephan Augustin, Munich
There are NO patent pending and trademark restrictions.

Use of know how & distribution

The distribution concept behind the „Terracooler“ is to be offered as Donationware similar to computer software in the Internet.
In my case the product is not a programm software but a physical product innovation which will be spread by the Internet and offers all information and manuals how to produce the product with cheap and locally available materials.

Donationware is a licensing model that supplies a fully operational innovative design to the user or professional manufacturers and pleads for an optional donation be paid to the designer.
The amount of the donation may be left to the discretion of the user or professional manufacturer, based on individual perceptions of this product innovation value to compensate my costs for development, improvement and communication.
Since donationware normally comes fully operational and payment is optional, it is a type of freeware. In my case the concept and invention is fully functional and field tested.
If private persons intend to produce and use the „Terracooler“ they are asked to contact and inform me just to know where it is used and should, only if possible, follow the rules of Donationware.

If professional companies intend to produce and distribute the „Terracooler“ they are asked to contact and inform me about the fact and should donate a certain amount as a moralty obligation.

Feedback about positive and negative experience is highly appreciated and welcome, as well as ideas for improvement!

About the Designer

Besides giving lectures and workshops at universities, Stephan Augustin is focusing on his projects in proprietary development like e.g. the Watercone, a solar powered cheap device to generate potable water out of sea water. Beside many other international awards he received the national "Energy Globe World Award for Sustainability” in 2008 at the European Parliament in Brussels and the “Kyoto World Water Grand Prize” during the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul in March 2009. Stephan Augustin was a finalist nominee in the “Social Entrepreneurship” category at the “World Technology Award 2009” in New York.
The Watercone has been selected to be part of the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of German History in Bonn.

Phone: +49-172-8516504
Impressum & Datenschutz

Stephan Augustin

The Terracooler has been awarded and recognized


Nominated for INDEX Award 2011

See the entry here

The Centre national des arts plastiques in Paris selected the Terracooler for it`s permanent collection in July 2011.

Winner of the BMW Foundation Young Leaders Awards 2010