Design of Portable Solar Cooler

Project Overview

The global increasing demand for refrigeration, led to production of more electricity and consequently more use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which is the main contributing factor in the depletion of ozone layer. In present the air-cooling methods used are refrigerant cooling (used in domestic refrigerator), evaporative coolers, air conditioning, fans and dehumidifiers. But running all these products need a source called electricity. This electricity is produced by burning of fossil fuels which is ultimately responsible for global warming. Now a days the need to feel relaxed and comfortable in hot and humid conditions has become one of few needs and for this purpose utilization of systems like air conditioning and refrigeration has increased rapidly. Thermoelectric refrigeration is a new alternative because it can use waste electricity for cooling. Therefore, thermoelectric refrigeration is greatly needed in future. The objective of this study is to design and develop a working thermoelectric refrigerator that utilizes the Peltier effect to refrigerate and maintain a selected temperature up to 10°C using minimum power which can be obtained from solar energy. The requirements are to cool this volume to temperature within a time period of 2 hours and provide retention of at least next half an hour. In this project we have fabricated a thermoelectric system using electrical power supply and calculated the power requirement to calculate the size of the solar panel. The project has various applications like, food preservation, military or aerospace, medical and pharmaceutical equipment. Also, there are many rural places in the world that have no electrical grid or longer power cut durations. These systems are suitable for these areas because of its independency on electricity. Such places usually suffer from shortage in medication and/or food. The shortage in medication usually comes from the lack of cold storage space.

Project Objectives

The portable solar cooler challenges to approach the following objectives:
  • Improve the instrumentation and data acquisition (newer and more thermocouples, installed fan anemometers, installed more RH sensors).
  • Design and build a direct and an indirect evaporative cooler. Test and compare the results from the two coolers
  • To apply the thermodynamics concept to design of cooling system.
  • To use Peltier effect for cooling purpose.
  • To apply heat transfer concept to design cooler enclosure and select appropriate material for insulation
  • To design solar power cells to power thermoelectric materials