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15 August, 2014 - 09:16 By Tony Quested

Solar cooling lifesaver developed in UK


New solar cooling technology from a Peterborough UK startup could protect life-saving vaccines and boost food production in developing countries of Africa and Asia that are chiefly off-grid.

Solar-Polar Limited has the technology in stealth while patent protection is copper-bottomed but technical director Michael Reid, a value engineering specialist, gave a flavour of it to Business Weekly.

Solar-Polar has developed a solar cooling module that will bring solar refrigeration and solar air conditioning to both the developing and the developed world.

Reid said: “Much of the earth’s population is having difficulty feeding itself, much less controlling carbon emissions.  Solar-Polar is addressing this situation by introducing a new, low cost, zero-carbon technology that can bring refrigerated vaccines to 1.6 billion people who have no mains electricity, keeping medicines and vaccines at the correct temperature to ensure that they can be used safely and effectively.

“Currently, 50 per cent of India’s food production rots before it reaches the table. Our new technology could reduce this amount significantly by introducing an economical, electricity-free, cold storage solution.

“Electricity suppliers in most hot countries are groaning under the relentlessly increasing demand for air-conditioning. We can alleviate much of this. 

“Additionally, women in some parts of Africa and Asia must walk five hours each day to collect 20kg water, wasting 40 billion working hours. In areas of high humidity, Solar-Polar units could be used to condense water from the atmosphere, creating a clean source of drinking water within the villages.

“Apart from the obvious benefits of enabling a cooling system that requires no electrical input to be used in the developing world, there is also the exciting possibilities of solar air-conditioning distribution in the developed world.”

Closer to home, another application for a sister technology has earned Solar-Polar a £20k award  in the first round of applications to Peterborough’s cutting edge Brainwave Innovation Challenge Fund. The cash will help Solar-Polar launch a new solar terrace heater technology.

The solar terrace heater is designed to replace regular gas and electric heaters found outside pubs and restaurants. The technology stores solar energy during the daytime and converts it into heat energy, producing zero emissions.

The company plans to use the grant to help develop full-size demonstrator units in order to present to potential buyers and take to mass-market.

Brainwave is an online platform where entrepreneurs, experts and businesses can put forward their solutions to city-scale challenges. The challenge fund is part of Peterborough DNA – a programme designed to shape a smarter, more sustainable city.

The objective is to help businesses turn ideas into commercially viable products and services and embed an innovation economy within the city. It is also hoped that local businesses will develop smart solutions to solve some of Peterborough’s challenges.

Three applicants were awarded £5,000: Heatlight, which is developing a low energy lighting system that uses heat from radiators to produce light; Peterborough Re-Use, which is reutilising coffee sacks that would have otherwise gone to the city’s landfill; and iDream, for a platform supporting skills development in schools for children interested in the music-entertainment industry. Greenspace Oases was awarded £1,000 to develop a network of green spaces in urban areas across the city.

Steve Bowyer, acting chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough said: “The Challenge Fund is a great way to get people thinking about how to make our city better equipped for the future.

“It gives businesses the opportunity to bring their ideas to fruition by funding effective projects that encourage partnerships within the local community, whilst further supporting our economy.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Michael Reid, technical director at Solar-Polar Limited

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