Tucson Entrepreneur’s Battery-free, Solar-powered Refrigerator is Recognized as NASA’s 2011 Commercial Invention of the Year
NASA space research has helped drive some of the most important and just plain cool technological innovations of our time, from computers and satellite imaging to freeze-dried food and so-called memory foam.
Thanks to the efforts of a Tucson entrepreneur and former NASA engineer, you can add another one to the list: battery-free, solar-powered refrigeration.
David Bergeron spent several years as a NASA contractor in Houston as the head of the space agency’s Advanced Technology Refrigeration Project, working on high-efficiency refrigeration units that could be used in future space missions.
NASA filed for a patent on the battery-free technology in 1999 with Bergeron as co-inventor, and he founded a company to commercialize that and related technologies.
NASA didn’t send the technology into space, but Bergeron forged ahead, even after coming to Tucson to work for NASA contractor Paragon Space Development in 2004.
Bergeron’s company, SunDanzer Refrigeration Inc. (www.sundanzer.com), developed a line of high-efficiency, battery-powered and battery-free refrigerators.
Such refrigerators are a critical tool for agencies like the World Health Organization in underdeveloped nations, allowing vaccines and medicines to be stored in remote clinics in hot climates.
But batteries have their drawbacks.
“They’ll put four or five hundred units out there in Kenya somewhere, and they come back a year later and they’re not working because the battery died. It’s not handled well and the temperatures are hot,” Bergeron said.
“They wanted to know if it was possible to do something battery-free.”
via Startup Tucson – David Wichner Arizona Daily Star
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