Although it sounds like a contradiction scientist from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems are using solar energy to keep perishable foodstuffs such as milk, wine and fruit fresh. Using the power of the sun for refrigeration is proving to be an original energy concept. We could well see an ecostatement like this printed on food packaging in the years ahead.
In the MEDISCO project ( MEDiterranean food and agro Industry applications of Solar COoling technologies) scientists in Tunisia and Morocco are demonstrating that this is feasible. They have installed concentrating collectors which direct the sunlight onto an absorber by means of a reflector. This makes it possible to convert the solar radiation into hot water with a temperature of 200 degrees. This extreme water temperature is nescessary in order to drive the absorption refrigeration machine for the high external temperatures that prevail there. They do not use electricity to provide the refrigeration, they use heat.
‘Our method is ideal for countries which have many days of sunshine and in remote areas where there are no conventional means of refrigeration owing to a lack of water and non-existent or unreliable energy sources’ said Dr. Tomas Nunez, scientist at the ISE. ‘It is environmentally friendly and reduces the use of expensive electricity for conventional refrigerators to a minimum.’