SolarChill combines several “breakthrough” features. Further details of the SolarChill technology are described in the SolarChill Resources section.
No batteries: The unique feature of SolarChill is that the energy of the sun is stored in ice instead of in batteries. An ice compartment keeps the cabinet at desired temperatures during the night. The key to the technology is the use of a direct current (DC) compressor instead of the standard alternating current (AC) compressor used in normal refrigerators, or in other solar coolers.
Thus, the sun’s energy is captured by the solar panels and converted to direct current electricity. The DC current starts up the compressor which then runs the refrigeration cycle. Ice is produced in an ice storage compartment. The cool air is then circulated by convection and by a fan into the cabinet and maintained at the desired temperature by a thermostat.
Environmentally friendly: SolarChill incorporates environmentally friendly Greenfreeze refrigeration technology. Greenfreeze was developed and made freely available to the world by Greenpeace in the early 1990s. Greenfreeze utilizes hydrocarbons for the insulation foam and the refrigerant cycle, and thus bypasses the reliance on ozone layer depleting and potent global warming fluorocarbon s, such as HCFCs and HFCs.. This is the first ever application in the world of a direct current hydrocarbon compressor.
Versatility: A converter enables SolarChill to be powered by multiple sources of energy. In addition to plugging into the electrical grid, SolarChill can also run on independent sources of power, such as solar, wind, biomass and diesel generation.
Affordability: The projected cost of SolarChill vaccine coolers and refrigerators, together with solar panels, will be in the range of $1500-$2000 (units produced in Western Europe). This is 40 to 50% lower than existing solar vaccine coolers on the market today. SolarChill is able to reduce the cost of production by using commercially mass produced freezer cabinets, instead of having the cabinets custom made. It is expected that the lifetime maintenance costs with SolarChill will also be considerably less than that of comparable solar vaccine coolers.
Obviously the initial capital lay out for SolarChill refrigerators will be greater than the cost of kerosene refrigerators. However, the difference in purchase price can be recovered during operation of the units. The price of kerosene fluctuates significantly from one region to the next and can cost up to $1 per litre. Depending on the price of kerosene (which increase with the fluctuations in the price of oil), and the efficiency of the kerosene refrigerator, the cost differential can be recovered within 5 to 8 years. After the cost recovery SolarChill will provide inexpensive cooling.
The initial cost of SolarChill may also decline with the economy of scale, and with variations in manufacturing costs in different parts of the world.