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Keepin’ It Cool: 2012 NASA Commercial Innovation of the Year

15 Jun 2012, 16:31 UTC
Keepin’ It Cool:       2012 NASA Commercial Innovation of the Year
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Each year, NASA celebrates one invention out of the many “spinoff” technologies that the agency inspires as the NASA Commercial Innovation of the Year. This past spring, the prestigious title was bestowed on a solar refrigeration solution designed to support life on the moon, but has huge application here on Earth. With approximately 2 billion of Earth’s inhabitants without electricity, the technology developed at Johnson Space Center boasts not only commercial potential, but the opportunity to significantly impact the lives of those in remote areas.
The solution
The solar refrigeration technology, which has resulted in three patents, was originally intended to cool habitats in space. However, co-developers Michael Ewert and David Bergeron, who worked on the NASA Advanced Thermal Team acknowledged the need for a comparable solar refrigerator that could operate in conjunction with the simple solar lighting systems already in place on Earth. Working together they modified the lunar “solar photovoltaic heat pump” device to produce a refrigerator with a vapor compression, battery-free cooling system that converts electricity from solar photovoltaic panels into thermal energy that is stored internally using low-cost phase-change materials. Now licensed to SunDanzer Refrigeration Inc, the proven system eliminates reliance on an electric grid, requires ...

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