Solar Heated Packaging

SolFoil

2. Zero Hunger 3. Good Health and Well-Being 6. Clean Water and Sanitation 7. Affordable and Clean Energy 13. Climate Action

Overview

"Our patented invention is to combine a package of any kind with integrated solar-heating coating" (Nina Borger 2020)

SolFoil Oy is a startup company that produces solar products for cooking, heating, and pasteurizing. Their solar heating packages are covered with a special thin layer that heats up when exposed to the sunlight. The packages can be used to heat a liquid, food, or other content.

Authors

Senni Muiniekka

Senni Muiniekka

Tat Lam

Tat Lam

Jean-Philip Cronstedt

Jean-Philip Cronstedt

Karolina Jensen

Karolina Jensen

Ajda Stenovec

Ajda Stenovec

School

Hanken School of Economics

Hanken School of Economics

Professors

Eva Nilsson

Eva Nilsson

Martin Fougere

Martin Fougere

Innovation

SolFoil Oy is a startup company with 3 founders and 3 advisors that produces solar products for cooking, heating, and pasteurizing. During a family trip, Nina Borger who is the Co-founder & CEO of the company, and her family were met with a long queue to the public grilling place.

As an open fire in the forest was forbidden at the time, their warm meal was canceled. This event gave birth to the idea of easy to use and safe heating equipment that uses only solar energy.  

Their solar heating packages are covered with a special thin layer that heats up when exposed to the sunlight. The packages can be used to heat a liquid, food, or other content. Its design is compact, lightweight, and efficient, as the special coating absorbs 50% more heat than black surfaces. Due to the use of sunlight, the packages do not need any other substance to work, therefore there are no harmful side products.  The company is now in the phase where the technology has been patented and the first prototypes have been produced.

"Soon after that, we came up with all the other applications where the same technology can be used" (Nina Borger 2020)

In addition, the innovation can be applied in the healthcare, humanitarian, and peacekeeping fields, as the packages can be used as solar-heated showers or for water heating, for example in refugee camps. SolFoil aims to use the most sustainable and renewable materials available to produce the products. Their mission is to improve the quality of living in any corner of the world, by providing solutions that use clean energy and offer clean water.  

Solar Heated Packaging

Inspiration

The inspiration for the solution came from the everyday experiences of the owner couple of SolFoil. The inspiration behind the solution was at the same time to create something practical out of the most sustainable materials and production technologies as possible to create a solar-powered application that allows to heat or cook where there is just sunlight. The aim was that all the materials need to be heat-resistant and the packages are re-usable when the application allows. And this goal became true as one package can be reused about 100 times. When the development process went further and it became clear that this one solution can have multiple use cases instead of just heating food while camping, the aspect of contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals by the UN also became the central focus of inspiration and driver for SolFoil. "Sustainable development goals by [the] United Nations drive our mission to add value and to make a difference" (Nina Borger 2020)

Overall impact

Although SolFoil’s solutions development process started with a convenient camping experience in mind, this small step of convenience can bring numerous impacts to the society. Since many households in the developing countries do not own the proper resource to heat water and food, getting clean water and proper sanitization are the main issues. Therefore, the product is delighted to bring a positive impact on the world by focusing on the SDGs #2, #3, #6, #7 & #13. 

Integrating an innovative and highly efficient heat-absorption layer to the products, SolFoil becomes the potential solution for multi-purpose heating usage where fire ignition or electricity is not available. Acknowledging the fact that temperature which the solar coating layer can absorb from the sun is higher than the boiling point of water, in the long run, SolFoil can help to change the consumer dynamics in camping or in any other remote setting where SolFoil’s self-heating packages can substitute the conventional modes for heating. By doing that it reduces for instance the threat of toxic gases and carcinogens released to the environment.

Moreover, SolFoil can provide safer and green heating in the wild for the prevention of human-induced wildfires and reduction in CO2 emission in comparison to using conventional heating solutions. The reusable nature of the solar coating layer also helps SolFoil to develop reusable products to reduce the pressure of disposable heating packages and equipment in the landfill. 

Business benefit

There are no other packages now in the markets with an integrated solar-heated coating so SolFoil is the only provider of such an innovative, combined solution that requires no electricity, no toxic chemicals, and no open fire. SolFoil also already holds the patents for the USA and Finland related to their solution and patents are pending in other target markets as well. SolFoil affirms that customer feedback has been highly positive and that the process of creating the solution truly began with the question of how to best meet the customers’ needs. The customers can be anyone who wants to heat something, they can be consumers or professionals and the packages can be pre-packed or packed by the users. Besides being easy for anyone to use, the packages are also designed to be affordable. The packages can be recycled with normal household waste and they don’t contain anything toxic.

The technology is not yet under production, but the first prototypes have been already manufactured and SolFoil has found piloting partners with whom to start testing the products. The different use cases for the solar-heated packages are endless, which can open possibilities for instance in health, food, and crisis management sectors. This makes the technology highly scalable. The new way to think about heating water in big solar-heating coated pouches can even lead to warm water shower solutions in refugee camp circumstances where there is no electricity. SolFoil’s vision is to become by 2025 a game-changer and world leader in solar-heated packaging.

Social and environmental benefit

SolFoil packaging can replace several disposable and short-term usage items that would otherwise harm the environment. As the packaging can heat up whatever is inside up to 125 °C, this has the potential to eliminate the use of gas canisters as well as single-use grills to heat food and water.

However, the use of this packaging has evolved to have the potential to assist in less developed countries and even in humanitarian aid. From being able to pasteurize liquids to provide hot showers and hot meals. As a product that uses pure sunlight as the sole source of energy, the positive societal benefit created from the multifunctionality is the increased quality of life.

The creators of SolFoil themselves outline the potential UN SDGs met by SolFoil including Affordable and Clean Energy, Clean Water Sanitation, Good Health, and Well-being and Zero Hunger. The direct benefit to the environment being the increased use of green energy and decreasing the production and use of single-use goods. The direct benefit to society is an overall increased quality of life even in the direst situations and in off-grid places around the world.

Interview

Nina Borger, CEO & Co-Founder

Photo of interviewee

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SolFoil

SolFoil

Vantaa, Uusimaa, FI

Business Website: http://www.solfoil.com/

Year Founded: 2019

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

SolFoil Oy is a startup company that produces solar products for cooking, heating, and pasteurizing. Their solar heating packages are covered with a special thin layer that heats up when exposed to the sunlight. The packages can be used to heat a liquid, food, or other content.