The Dulas solar-powered direct-drive vaccine fridge uses phase-change materials to store vaccines more effectively, helping save human lives.
By Jason Deign
Phase-change materials (PCMs) are boldly going into an energy storage realm where even the most modern battery technologies have failed to deliver: saving lives.
Dulas, a Welsh renewable energy technology company, is using PCMs in place of batteries as an essential component of solar-powered direct-drive refrigerators for off-grid vaccine storage in developing countries.
On Monday the company announced a contract to supply 345 of its VC200 fridges to health and aid agencies working in Yemen, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
The company said the deal represented “a significant expansion” of its partnerships with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Institute of Human Virology in Nigeria.
Dulas will be sending 60 fridges to the Institute of Human Virology, 143 to the WHO in Yemen and 142 to UNICEF in Sierra Leone. “There is the potential for further orders in the near future,” said the company. Read more →
Research from TermoFluids and the Tesconsol consortium may result in the breakthrough of phase-change material for thermal energy storage in CSP plants. Photo: KIC InnoEnergy
The case for using phase-change materials (PCMs) for thermal energy storage is being bolstered through research using a modelling technique out this year.
The technique, developed by a team in Catalonia, Spain, has uncovered a PCM tank approach that could theoretically allow up to 74% of stored thermal energy to be returned from storage.
It might also reduce the amount of storage material needed in solar thermal plants by 32% compared to traditional two-tank molten salt systems, CSP Today reports.
The approach, called multi-layered solid PCM (MLSPCM), works by using two PCM layers separated vertically by a layer of filler materials such as cheap, readily available granite or quartzite.
The filler keeps the top and bottom PCM layers close to their optimum discharging and charging temperatures, respectively. Overall, the amount of PCM material needed would be much less than in a PCM-only setup, which should help reduce costs.
And since each PCM layer is kept close to its optimum charge or discharge temperature, the efficiency of the system is increased. Read more →