Page last updated at 17:13 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 18:13 UK

Prize for electricity-free fridge

Emily Cummins in Namibia
Emily's gap-year trip to Namibia meant she could improve her prototype fridge

A 22-year-old Leeds student has been named one of the Women of the Year after inventing a "sustainable" fridge.

Emily Cummins is in the final year of her Business Management degree at the University of Leeds.

Her prototype fridge, which does not need electricity, was designed for use in the developing world and was refined during a visit to Namibia.

It works by harnessing energy from the sun to cool medicines and other small items using evaporation.

Ms Cummins, an inventor since the age of 15, said: "My time in Namibia made me wonder how often we miss the simplest solutions to problems."

'Exceptional and selfless'

Crediting her grandfather with setting her on the road to becoming an inventor, she said that it was sometimes easy to overcomplicate the invention process.

"We assume that the answer will require us to develop new and better technologies.

"Perhaps we should keep an eye on the past as well as the future, and combine the best of both."

The Barclays Women of the Year awards are given annually to "exceptional and selfless women who, with determination and vision, have made an impact on the lives of many".

Previous winners have included child protection campaigner Sara Payne, and singer Tina Turner.

Ms Cummins now plans to develop a commercial version of her sustainable fridge.

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