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Dayton Engineer

STAR Team Proves a Winner!

By Karen Updyke

The Solar-Thermal Adsorptive Refrigerator (STAR) team, a collaborative effort at the University of Dayton, won three of the five awards presented at the USA Science and Engineering Festival this year in Washington, D.C.

The judges at the Festival loved the STAR team's innovative refrigerator and their use of local materials and labor to produce a vital service in Bihar, India. By using solar-thermal energy, STAR can provide refrigeration for medications and vaccines that are currently lost because of lack of electricity in this rural area. 

At the April 15-17, 2016, event, the STAR team was honored with the following awards:

  • American Society of Civil Engineers - Sustainable Development Award
  • Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Society - Sustainable Energy Award
  • organicARCHITECT - Vitruvius Award (one of 3 teams receiving this award)

According to Dr. Amy Ciric, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering and STAR faculty co-adviser, "In 2014, Christopher Denzinger and Gretchen Berkemeier, University of Dayton ETHOS and Renewable and Clean Energy graduate students, brought the project to the University from Bihar, India, and pursued it as part of their graduate studies."

Berkemeier wrote the grant for funding through the EPA's People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program. The STAR project involved designing and testing a refrigerator that would operate on solar-thermal energy and would benefit rural areas, such as Bihar, India, where electricity is unreliable. Pairing activated carbon and ethanol, readily available materials, in an adsorption-based process and using solar-thermal energy, the STAR team generated evaporative temperatures between 2-8 degrees Celsius. This sustainable refrigeration technology will help people in areas where solar radiation is abundant. 

The team members who developed the prototype for the Washington, D.C. event are Amnah Altaher, Claudia Labrador Rached , Jack Schlueter, Katie Willard, Oliver Winter, Matthew Worsham, and their faculty advisers are Dr. Jun-Ki Choi and Dr. Amy Ciric. This summer, Katie and Claudia will travel to Bihar, India, to work with the ETHOS program and their Indian partner, Solar Alternatives and Associated Programs (SAAP).  

The collaborative efforts of the University of Dayton ETHOS, Renewable and Clean Energy, and Chemical Engineering faculty and students will continue through hands-on knowledge sharing, enrichment and dissemination.

We congratulate the STAR team on their success!

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