Solar-Thermal Adsorption Refrigerator (STAR)

EPA Grant Number: SU835998
Title: Solar-Thermal Adsorption Refrigerator (STAR)
Investigators: Choi, Jun-Ki
Institution: University of Dayton
EPA Project Officer: Sergeant, Anne
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Energy


The objectives of this project are to (1) model, design, and test a Solar-Thermal Adsorption Refrigerator (STAR) which uses activated carbon-ethanol as the working pair and can generate evaporative temperatures between 2 °C and 8 °C; (2) evaluate the performance of this STAR; and (3) create a quantifiable sustainability factor which accounts for both the lifetime environmental impact as well as the performance of a refrigerator. While this technology can be beneficial worldwide, the end user of this STAR are people in rural, impoverished areas where electricity is unreliable, solar radiation is abundant, and ethanol and activated carbon can be locally produced.


The STAR that is of particular interest uses activated carbon and ethanol for its adsorption pair. By operating on solar thermal energy, an adsorption bed can replace a compressor in a refrigeration cycle and thus, eliminate the need for electrical power. Additionally, using ethanol as the refrigerant compared to fluorine-based refrigerants can reduce the greenhouse gases that are produced and thus, reduce the effects of global warming. While adsorption refrigeration has been around since the 1920s, there is no record of designing and building a STAR using activated carbon and ethanol as the adsorption pair.

Expected Results:

A small, prototype of an activated carbon-ethanol STAR will be designed, built, and tested. This result will be evaluated by testing the refrigerator to see that it can maintain the necessary pressures to generate evaporative temperatures between 2 °C and 8 °C for multiple days at a time. Furthermore, a sustainability factor will be created that can accurately compare the performance and holistic design of this STAR to a conventional refrigerator.

Supplemental Keywords:

green chemistry, life cycle analysis, holistic design, emission control, refrigeration

P3 Phase II:

STAR: Solar Thermal Absorptive Refrigeration