McCall Research Group Illinois

Resilient Renewable Refrigeration

Solar Collector
An early solar adsorption refrigerator.

Refrigeration (including space cooling) is the single largest end use of electricity in the U.S. residential sector, and refrigerators and freezers alone consume nearly as much electricity as lighting, and more than space heating. Refrigeration is perhaps the most "necessary" of modern conveniences, as it permits long-term storage of both food and certain medicines.

Relatively few refrigeration applications are powered by renewable energy, and even those are not particularly resilient to power outages and systems failures, as they rely on complex and expensive battery systems and inverters, not to mention the electronics and compressors within the refrigeration units.

We are working to develop a new approach to refrigeration that would combine the use of a solar thermal adsorption cycle with thermal energy storage. Ideally, such a system would be easy to construct, have few if any moving parts, and represent a resilient form of refrigeration that does not depend on fossil fuels or any complex infrastructure.

Such a system would be extremely helpful in situations where an electrical grid is either not present or not reliable, and would also have very low maintenance requirements.

Additional information about the project will be posted here as it develops.