Engineers Without Borders USA has announced grant awards for seven proposals in its Chill Challenge, an initiative launched in September 2019 to develop affordable refrigeration technologies for off-grid households in the developing world.
“The development of off-grid refrigeration has enormous potential for improving the lives of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet,” says Engineers Without Borders.
“Refrigeration means less food waste, more opportunities for farmers and improved nutrition for households.
“Furthermore, as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, refrigeration is critical for delivering vaccines and other healthcare services to remote off-grid communities.”
The following teams will be awarded grants ranging from US$30,000–$50,000 to develop their innovative concepts
- Purdue University, Ray W. Herrick Laboratories, West Lafayette, Indiana – Cold Storage Battery for Domestic Refrigeration
This project will evaluate the use of heat from clay or brick cook stoves to drive an intermittent sorption “cold storage battery,” which requires no electricity to operate.
- New Leaf Dynamic Technologies, New Delhi, India – Ice-Maker Powered by Farm Waste
The company will use its “GreenChill” adsorption technology to build a 1,000kg/day ice-maker powered by biomass in the form of husk, straw, wood, or biogas. Solar PV will provide electricity to power auxiliary equipment.
- Arup, London, UK – Arup’s Passive Cooling Box
Arup’s Advanced Digital Engineering team will test a passive refrigeration system that uses, as a cold source, passive cooling materials that emit heat as infrared radiation through the “atmospheric transmission window” into space. Phase-change materials will provide cold storage.
- Xergy, Inc., Harrington, Delaware – Off-the-Grid Refrigerator Utilising Solid-State Refrigerants
Xergy will build an adsorption refrigerator using hydrogen and metal hydride as the working pair. Hot water provided by solar thermal collectors will drive the process.
- Solar Cooling Engineering, Hohenheim, Germany – Solar Ice Maker Using Key Components and Engineering
This team will use solar-powered SelfChill cooling units for its ice-maker to produce 100-120kg ice per day. The concept is fully scalable, and will allow a local assembly and the integration of locally available materials. The ice-maker can be powered without electrical batteries.
- Purdue University, Ray W. Herrick Laboratories, West Lafayette, Indiana – Combined Heating and Cooling for Agricultural Applications
This project will examine the potential for a simultaneous heating and cooling vapour compression system in which evaporator capacity is used to create ice and condenser heat to dry crops. The system will be powered entirely from solar.
- Imperial College London, Clean Energy Processes (CEP) Laboratory, South Kensington, UK – Affordable Decentralised Off-Grid Ice-making
The CEP team in collaboration with Solar Polar will design and demonstrate a solar-driven diffusion absorption refrigeration (DAR) ice-maker based on new working-fluid pairs and innovative designs aimed at increasing system performance, affordability and lifetime.
Engineers Without Borders says the outcomes and lessons learned from this competition can inspire greater participation and innovation that will ultimately provide communities with expanded access to affordable refrigeration technology that is compatible with off-grid energy sources.
For more information about the projects above, click here.