Solar Refrigerator Wins Design Competition

Alan Katz, Lindsay Kredo, Jessica Theis, Andy ColemanParabolic Trough
Design Team + Refrigerator – Parabolic Trough Solar Collector


Life Saving Vaccine Refrigerator Wins Design Competition

East Lansing, MI – Engineering students at Michigan State University teamed up with The Appropriate Technology Collaborative to create a simple, inexpensive solar powered refrigerator. The refrigerator is designed to be built and used in very remote parts of the world where half of all vaccines spoil before they can be used. The student team of Andy Coleman, Alan Katz, Lindsay Kredo and Jessica Theis created the life saving technology, from first sketch to final prototype in just one semester.

Vaccines must be kept cold to maintain their potency. Vaccinations in rural areas depend on time limited technologies such as ice, dry ice, and cold storage boxes. As a result, 50% of rural vaccines are wasted through spoilage due to lack of cooling. Public health suffers as a quarter of all children born every year–34 million infants–are not protected against diseases for which there are inexpensive vaccines and an estimated 2.1 million people around the world die every year of diseases preventable by common vaccines. (WHO 2005)

The goal of this joint design project was to design and fabricate an inexpensive appropriate technology freezing chamber that can be made primarily from locally available resources in rural Africa and Asia. The purpose of this design is to produce ice so that vaccines can be maintained at the proper temperature of between 2ºC and 8ºC. This design should not rely on grid connected power. All possible technologies were considered, however simpler technologies have the advantage in ease of construction and for maintenance.

The Appropriate Technology Collaborative + MSU team won first place for the Edison Award which is judged to be the single most outstanding project. Executive Director John Barrie noted “We are very pleased to have had this chance to work with such a bright and energetic group of students, but the real winners are the children who will now get vaccines.”

The Appropriate Technology Collaborative (ATC) is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose purpose is “To design, develop, demonstrate and distribute appropriate technological solutions for meeting the basic human needs of low income people in the developing world. ATC works in collaboration with our clients to create technologies that are culturally sensitive, environmentally responsible and locally repairable in order to improve the quality of life, enhance safety, and reduce adverse impacts on their environment.”


Photo Credit – Parabolic Trough – MIT Technology Review


MSU Design Day Brochure

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John Barrie

Executive Director

The Appropriate Technology Collaborative
321 South Main Street, Suite 202
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Contact John Barrie

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4 Responses to “Solar Refrigerator Wins Design Competition”
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  1. […] lot of great student projects, including a solar powered vaccine refrigeration system sponsored by ATC.  There were also some other great appropriate technology projects created my the Engineering […]

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