Solar Powered Fridge / Freezer
We in pace9 uses the existing technology to design and build solar fridges.
Before we proceed further, let’s talk about International Space Station solar fridge and Emily Cummins fridge – you see, solar fridges have been around us for the past decade
Solar energy, often known as photovoltaics, is everywhere these days. Many of us especially areas were main grid continue to fail use it to power our homes. Solar panels sit top of buildings, homes and tents and power our electronic gadgets and the International Space Station (ISS). These technologies use photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight into electricity. When sunlight strikes a PV cell, it heats the cell up. Heating the cell causes electrons to knock loose, and these electrons are converted into a stream of electricity, or current.
The most common solar-powered refrigerators on the market today, uses this PV technology to power an otherwise mostly traditional refrigeration setup.
But one of the most recent developments uses “solar power” in a much more basic way.
We’ll take a look at both of these solar-powered refrigerators and find out why they are so unique. We’ll start with the SunDanzer, which is based on technology developed to provide air conditioning and refrigeration on the International Space Station
While developing solar-powered refrigeration systems for the International Space Station (ISS), a couple of NASA scientists decided the technology would do well in the Earth-bound world, too. Scientific-study outposts, eco-resorts, remote hunting cabins, street vendor food carts and areas of the developing world with no access to electricity could all benefit from solar-powered refrigeration. Not only food but also many medications and vaccines need a cool environment to remain viable. It’s a fairly essential technology.
Those NASA photovoltaics engineers created SunDanzer, a line of solar-powered refrigerators and freezers.
The SunDanzer refrigerator works a lot like a traditional one, which basically we have adapted using a vapor-compression system for cooling. Basically, a refrigerant gas like ammonia is compressed (placed under pressure), causing it to get hot; as it cools back down, it condenses into a liquid. When this liquid travels to a lower-pressure area, it expands and vaporizes. This vaporization absorbs heat, rapidly cooling the coils of the refrigerator.
This is how conventional refrigerator works. The difference between our main grid refrigerator and a solar-powered SunDanzer is that instead of running all the moving parts of the compression-expansion system by plugging into the main, you plug into a solar-panel setup. The system simply uses photovoltaic cells instead of the main electricity generated by coal or nuclear power.
To supply enough power to maintain that temperature, the unit’s solar panel needs about five hours of sunlight a day. But it can store excess solar-generated power so it’ll stay cold for a week without sunlight. And there’s the option of supplemental battery power so food will still stay cold in a pinch. Most solar-powered cooling systems come with this type of backup.
One solar-powered refrigerator model that does not have such a high-tech backup is the so-called “eco-fridge” developed by a 21-year-old student in Britain. That model has no moving parts at all.
When most of us think of “solar power,” we think of panels of photovoltaic cells. A refrigerator introduced in 2009 by British student Emily Cummins used a far more literal version of solar power.
Cummins’ refrigerator uses no photovoltaics, no electricity, no chemical refrigerant and no moving parts to produce a cooling effect. Instead, it uses an evaporative-cooling system based entirely on the sun’s heat and some water. It’s an ideal setup for African countries.
The fridge is brilliantly simple. It’s made of two cylinders, one inside the other. The outer cylinder can be made of almost anything on hand — cardboard, wood or plastic, typically, with holes in it to allow the greatest possible sun access. The inner cylinder is metal. The space in between the inner and outer cylinders is filled with materials like wool or sand.
The evaporative-cooling system works like this: You place food or medicine inside the inner metal cylinder and close it up. You then pour fresh water into the area between the cylinders, saturating the organic material, and place the whole setup in the sun. As the sun warms the outer cylinder and heats up the wet organic material, the water evaporates. Just like in a traditional fridge, evaporation removes heat (that’s why we sweat — when the sweat evaporates, we cool down). The organic material is touching the inner cylinder, so this heat transfer pulls heat from the inner cylinder holding the food or drink. The result is a very cold inner chamber.
This process is repeated as the water evaporates fully, so water is continually replenished and the cooling continues.
This system has no battery backup, so it relies on a good supply of sunlight which makes hot countries ideal candidates for this solar-powered setup.
There’s always the potential setback of any solar-powered necessity: Sunlight is seldom guaranteed.
In more high-tech PV refrigerators, backups in the form of batteries or generators are common in order to avoid system failure. The low-tech eco-fridge relies entirely on nature to keep things cold.
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