The University of Coimbra is developing refrigerators and boxes for electricity-free areas – Technology

In a note sent to Lusa, the University of California reports that this suite of efficient, low-cost prototypes of refrigeration, powered by solar energy, through photovoltaic panels, has been developed over the past two years, within the scope of the Energy Efficiency Shutdown – Grid Refrigerator Project for Electrification African countryside.

The project is led by researchers from the UC Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR) and funded by the Efficiency for Access Coalition (UK Aid, UK government) and the IKEA Foundation, after being selected in an international competitive competition.

According to UC, the team is also developing a smart controller, which monitors and controls the temperatures inside the equipment, as well as “the variable speed of the compressor and the energy flows consumed by the system and generated by the solar panels, in order that the indoor temperature be stable, so that it consumes as little as possible.” possible energy.

The project intends to implement the results in sub-Saharan Africa, where “in this part of the African continent about 600 million people do not have access to electricity, which directly affects the quality of life of these people”.

Evandro García, the project’s principal investigator and doctoral student, confirmed under the full supervision of Professor Aníbal Terrassa de Almeida.

In his opinion, this project will have “very significant economic, social and environmental impacts, especially in developing countries, where food waste is high, incomes are low, and health services do not adequately cover it.” And living conditions are quite precarious.”

“In areas without electricity, efficient, low-cost refrigeration systems allow for significant improvements in household living conditions, for example, access to vaccines and food in larger quantities and in better preservation conditions,” he added.

For Evandro Garcia, the use of photovoltaic panels is the best way to generate electricity, since the developing regions are largely located in the tropics, with an abundance of solar radiation.

The use of solar energy in refrigerators that were adapted to these areas allowed the team to incorporate units to collect energy in the form of system cooling. These units have been designed and manufactured using 3D printing systems and act as thermal batteries.”

Thus, during the day, the prototype uses the energy generated from the solar photovoltaic system to “cool its interior and collect the coolness in the above units”.

He explained, “During the night, the temperature is maintained due to the exit of the cold accumulated in the units, and the cycle is resumed daily.

Although the prototypes are designed for implementation in developing countries, they are also ‘adaptable to industrialized countries’.

“Refrigerators with cold storage units can be used in cities, during the hours when the electricity grid is more expensive, and start cooling those fed by releasing the coolness accumulated in said storage units, which provides significant savings for families, but also makes it possible to improve Energy planning in the power grid”, concludes the researcher.

The results obtained in this project allowed the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) to award a Ph.D. scholarship so that Evandro Garcia, a native of Brazil, could “carry forward with research and prototype development.”

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