Leverkusen, Germany - In Swaziland in southern Africa, one of the world's poorest countries, Palfridge Ltd, a leading Swazi manufacturer of refrigerating appliances, has developed an eco-friendly refrigeration solution.
Palfridge manufactures appliances with very thick-walled insulation made of rigid polyurethane foam based on raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience. "Polyurethane insulation has therefore contributed significantly to reducing the energy consumption of refrigerators from 1950 to 2005 by 65 percent", said Robbie Buchanan, an expert for polyurethane insulation at Bayer MaterialScience in South Africa, in a Bayer statement.
Swaziland's inhabitants live widely dispersed in villages and have to grow their own food. Temperatures are high and food goes off quickly because electricity is not widely available and, consequently, communal refrigerating appliances can only be used to a limited extent. Palfridge's appliances have an insulating layer 10 centimeters thick, which keeps the contents cool for up to five days without electricity - even at external temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius.
Some of the company's products are also equipped with two 90 Watt solar modules, to help power the appliances in hot countries. "Thanks to these and other measures to boost efficiency, our appliances consume substantially less energy than conventional refrigerators," said Roy Singh, technical director at Palfridge, in the BMS statement.
Long-term refrigeration of both food and medicines is essential in Swaziland. More than 25 percent of the population is HIV positive - one of the highest rates anywhere in the world - and therefore dependent on drugs that need to be stored in a cool place, as do drugs to treat malaria.
Palfridge recently became the first company in Africa to switch its entire production to natural refrigerants in the form of hydrocarbons. "This enabled emissions of gases containing fluorine to be reduced by a total of 29,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year. In addition to improving conditions for the people, these measures also make a small contribution to climate protection," explained Singh. The project was financed under the Proklima program of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH (a German agency promoting technical cooperation).