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Scientists see the light...and make ice from it

RESEARCHERS from San Jose university have created an ice maker that needs no electricity to run but relies only on the sun's rays to make ice.
The solar ice maker works by using a refrigerant liquid that evaporates when exposed to the sun. This coolant vapor travels through pipes that come into contact with an absorbent material, which cools when the sun goes down.

Once the absorbent hits 104°F, the refrigerant turns back into a liquid and its temperature then rapidly drops to below freezing, due to pressure differences. When water is put next to the evaporator’s exterior, ice is created.

A typical icemaker uses electricity to run a compressor to do this work, but the scientist's solar icemaker uses only solar energy.

The research team's prototype ice maker can produce one stone of ice a day.

A university spokeman said 'The design uses no electricity whatsoever, and could be of use in non-industrialized areas without access to central power.

A prototype is under construction at SJSU designed to produce up to 14 lbs of ice per day. This effort will be a first step into understanding the optimization and manufacturing issues involved'.

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