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Using the sun’s light to cool

The increasing demand for renewable energy is driven by both cost constraints and environmental concerns. As such, more and more industries are evaluating the use of alternative forms of energy to enhance competitiveness and protect our environment.
Using the sun’s light to cool
The ‘Mediterranean food and agro industry applications of solar cooling technologies’ (Medisco) project set out to evaluate cooling and refrigeration concepts based on solar energy for use in the southern part of the Mediterranean basin, namely Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

The investigators chose industrially available small-scale systems as a starting point, given their flexibility both in terms of modularity and in terms of broad application to small and large capacity demand. They then evaluated the Mediterranean food industry and available refrigeration alternatives with particular emphasis on energy savings.

The researchers created a mathematical model of the proposed refrigeration systems together with a user-friendly interface enabling simulation and system parameter optimisation to be used by planners and technical professionals in decision making.

They then developed a monitoring protocol and installed the systems together with the monitoring equipment at experimental plants. Continuous evaluation of system performance enabled optimisation of parameters, including time required for the chiller to reach operation temperature, solar collector efficiency, chiller performance and electricity consumption. The acquired information was used to create a database to enhance model performance and thus facilitate better decision making on the part of industry users.

Finally, the investigators examined the potential for commercialisation of the concept using the simulation tools to analyse performance in a variety of climates and under varying loads and operating conditions.

Thus, the Medisco project produced two innovative high-performance solar cooling and refrigeration concepts combining energy and cost savings of immediate concern and potential application to the Mediterranean food and agricultural industry. Commercialisation of the results should enhance competitiveness while protecting the environment.

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