The cold chain: 60 keys to understanding

Between 6.6 and 9.8: that is how many times per person per day that the fridge is opened in 95% of households. A practical and anecdotal piece of information that also holds scientific interest, as these waves of hot air entering the fridge have an impact on energy consumption and cold production technologies.

Published by Éditions Quae, La Chaîne du Froid provides 60 clear and entertaining answers to scientific, technical and practical questions surrounding the daily use of cold production. The book is divided into 4 sections, with Irstea scientists guiding readers through the depths of the industry, using diagrams and illustrations as well as text to decipher the logistics of the cold chain and explain the physical phenomena that help create different levels of cold.

  1. Cold, a misunderstood aspect of daily life
  2. My friend the fridge
  3. Industrial cold
  4. Progress and innovations in food refrigeration

Supported by specific examples, historical anecdotes and illustrations, the book tells us, for example, that to heat 1kg of water by 1°C requires 4.18kJ while also providing an introduction to Charles Tellier, the father of cold!

Chosen excerpts:

Question 40: Why are fruit and vegetables fogged?

"Dehydration through transpiration following harvest is the main cause of loss of mass in produce and of changes to their appearance. (…) By cooling the air that comes into contact with produce, fogging keeps the fruit and vegetables at a lower temperature than the surrounding air, keeping their appearance fresher for longer."

Question 53: "How can hot be made from cold?"

"The sun is a free and almost infinite source of energy. One of its lesser known applications is the creation of cold using solar energy. This is known as 'solar cooling' or 'solar air-conditioning.' This application is particularly interesting as it can be used to create cold when it is most needed, when the sun is up and it is hot."


Read freely: epub, pdf or paper format on the Quae website

The coordinators

Evelyne Derens-Bertheau, the book’s scientific coordinator, is an engineer specializing in the agri-food cold chain in the Refrigeration Process Engineering research unit at the Irstea Antony Center. She is part of several working groups on the theme as well as national and European projects. Anthony Delahaye, Laurence Fournaison, Denis Leducq, Fatou-Toutie Ndoye and Véronique Osswald are researchers at the Refrigeration Process Engineering research unit at the Irstea Antony Center.

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