SolarChill prototypes - the vaccine cooler and the refrigerator.
was born through separate discussions between Greenpeace,the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World
HealthOrganization. The big challenge: providing affordable
andenvironmentally safe refrigeration for the maintenance of
vaccines andmedicines, and the preservation of food, in parts of
the world thathave no electricity or have unreliable supplies of
electricity. At themoment refrigerators in developing countries
usually use kerosene,propane and to far lesser extent, solar power.
Vital medicine ismost often stored in unreliable kerosene
Kerosene and vaccines
Kerosene refrigerators consume about 1 litre of kerosene daily.
Notonly do they emit unpleasant fumes, theyoccasionally catch fire,
they need to be regularly fuelled up, andthey are often not
reliable for maintaining the required vaccinetemperature.
Of course they are also environmentally harmful as the burning
ofkerosene contributes to global warming. There are approximately
100,000kerosene refrigerators in use today around the world for
coolingvaccines, which means they produce approximately between 73
and 91million kilograms of CO2 each year!
What about solar power?
Solar Vaccine Coolers are already in use in parts of the world
thatlack electricity, and they have proven to be more reliable than
However, there are only approximately 6,000 solar vaccine
coolersaround the world today. Two big problems: they rely on
batteries, whichare expensive and toxic to make and dispose of, and
they cost more than kerosene coolers.
The cost of a solar cooler today is in the US$3500 to US$4500
range. Incomparison, the cost of the SolarChill package, cooler and
solar panelscombined, is projected to come in around US$1500.
The birth of SolarChill
Coincidentally, at about the same time as we were talking with
UNEP andWHO, the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) began the
development ofa new solar refrigerator that bypassed the use of
batteries. We decidedto join forces.
We provided the funds for the development of the first
SolarChillprototypes. These were exhibited at the World Summit on
SustainableDevelopment in 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
What's so special about these refrigerators?
SolarChill refrigerators don't need batteries or a connection to
theelectrical grid - they store power in three 60W voltaic panels.
They dohowever have an AC/DC converter, which provides flexibility
to usewind, hydropower, bio-gas or grid energy (and even a
carbattery!) when there is not enough sun. The coolers are also
energy efficient because theyhave excellent insulation. They don't
contribute to globalwarming thanks to the special hydrocarbon
system made by our friends atDTI and their partners.
Even maintaining a constant temperature, important where
medicine isconcerned, doesn't need an electronic controller - it is
managedthrough natural convection methods.
A single SolarChill unit can serve a population of 50,000 people
forpreserving vaccines, and will be 50 - 60 percent cheaper than
currentsolar refrigerator models.
Can I buy one for my new kitchen?
Not yet ... a second generation of prototypes of the SolarChill
VaccineCooler went into field testing at the beginning of 2004 in
Senegal,Indonesia and Cuba. 10 prototypes of the chest freezer
vaccine coolerare being tested under a variety of climatic
conditions, including atthe DTI laboratory in Denmark.
Plans call for similar field testing of the upright freezer
SolarChill Food Refrigerator in 2005.
After that, the technology will be made freely available
tomanufacturers around the world, so we hope that after that
SolarChillwill be available in both developing countries and your
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