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Refrigeration by photovoltaic energy to be employed in isolated communities

Grant number: 07/08434-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2008
Effective date (End): July 31, 2009
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agricultural Engineering
Principal Investigator:Roberto Zilles
Grantee:Carlos Eduardo Driemeier
Home Institution: Instituto de Eletrotécnica e Energia (IEE). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Providing basic energy services for Brazilian isolated communities is a great challenge because its geographic isolation imposes significant logistic costs for fuel supply in addition to the unviable extension of conventional electricity grids. Among the communities' energetic needs, we highlight refrigeration for conservation of food and, in particular, fish produced by them. In remote regions photovoltaic solar energy is an attractive alternative that uses a universally accessible resource - the sunlight - and turns the communities energetically independent. Nevertheless, solar energy is intermittent, which is usually addressed by energy accumulation in electrochemical batteries, whose maintenance and periodic replacement are the main operation costs of photovoltaic systems. For refrigeration, however, it is possible to use thermal inertia (making ice, for instance) to minimize, or eliminate, the need for electrochemical accumulation. Here it is proposed to project, to build, and to characterize a photovoltaic-powered refrigeration system adapted to Brazilian isolated communities' reality. System optimization will use the inherent thermal inertia of refrigeration systems in order to face the solar source intermittency. In this work it will be taken into account not only the technical aspects of photovoltaic modules integration with refrigeration equipment, but also the economic and social aspects of the target communities. In addition, the proposed system will have a maximum of national components in order to ease its maintenance in remote locations.