Solar Refrigerators and Other Stories

For developing countries without the means to store life-saving vaccines, solar refrigerators may be the answer.

solar refrigerators - line of five vaccine bottles

Medical professionals in developing countries could use solar refrigerators to store heat sensitive vaccines, if the refrigerators can be produced economically.

Photo by Fotolia/Tomislav

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"Solar refrigerators" may help fight disease in third world countries if prototypes now being developed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration prove to be economically feasible. According to the World Health Organization, more than five million youngsters in underdeveloped nations die each year of childhood illnesses (measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, etc.) that can be prevented with immunizing vaccines. The medicines, however, are sensitive to heat and must be refrigerated. Conventional coolers (including kerosene-driven units) are impractical for such purposes in many regions, so researchers are hoping that photovoltaic-powered units can be utilized to solve the problem.

Sun and Wind in Brief

  • Scenes for the movie Jaws 3D were shot in a 110-foot-diameter tank containing 1.6 million gallons of water warmed by the country's largest solar water-heating system.
  • The sun's energy was tapped for a distinctly different purpose during last fall's "Fiesta Days" in Santa Barbara, California, where solar-powered blenders were used to mix margaritas.
  • Appropriately enough, Europe's first wind farm will be built in the Netherlands, as a part of that country's progressive national wind-energy program.