Solar Powered Refrigerator Technology cools Africa and Domestic locations too

A completely stand-alone refrigerator powered by solar energy has been developed  by the High School of engineering and management of the canton of Vaud and the Albert Schweizer ecological Center in Neuchâtel.  

This solar refrigerator is meant for use in sub-Saharan Africa.  The invention, which is the fruit of ten years of applied research, uses a thermal solar collector filled with a porous pellet called zeolite. The zeolite has the capacity to retain (adsorb) or to release (desorb) water, which is at the heart of the cooling process in the refrigerator (according to the thermodynamic principle of evaporation of a fluid).  This makes the apparatus completely autonomous. The solar collector can be installed on a roof, separate from the refrigerator itself, which remains inside the building.

Simple to use, the refrigerator can continue to run for 3 days without any sun, does not contain lead of CFCs and does not emit Carbon Dioxide. It does not have any moving mechanical parts.which reduces the risks of wear and tear. The only necessary maintenance is the cleaning of the solar collector

It is currently rather expensive however.  The price of the Solaref refrigerator is around  $8487 for a 80 litre model and $12731 for a 200 liter unit.  This  includes transport and  installation by a local team.

An alternative range of solar refrigerators has been produced by a realtively new company called 2Idea.  The company, created in 2005, has developed a selection of solar refrigerators known as Freecold, which have some important original characteristics.  It is an autonomous system which can continue to run for 3 to 5 days without sunshine, and is described as being ultra-fast, efficiently using the very first sunlight of the day to start efficiently utilizing the solar power technology to produce the cold temperatures.  The lifetime of the components are over 25 years and the units are designed so that any maintenance necessary is a simple task.  

The Freecold refrigerators currently come in 3 sizes: The largest is the 410 litre model 410L with a useable volume of 370 litres.  Their medium sized solar fridge is the 270L with a useable volume of 230 litres, and the smallest unit is the 150L with a useable volume of 125 litres.

These solar refrigerators have a very diverse range of applications, from use in domestic homes or leisure facilities, open-air restaurants, fairs and camp sites to all genenally isolated locations where it is difficult or impossible to hook up to a mains electricity outlet.

Thanks to Kryzalid for some of the inspiration for this page.

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