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Eco-friendly solar-powered refrigerators for Swaziland


Efficient insulation of appliances with polyurethane raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience

Leverkusen/Manzini, August 2010 – Swaziland in southern Africa is one of the world’s poorest countries. Its 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 Ltd., a leading manufacturer of refrigerating appliances in southern Africa based in Swaziland, has developed an eco-friendly refrigeration solution. The company manufactures appliances with very thick-walled insulation made of rigid polyurethane foam based on raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience. Thanks to its outstanding insulating properties, rigid polyurethane foam is used in most refrigerating appliances worldwide. “Polyurethane insulation has therefore contributed significantly to reducing the energy consumption of refrigerators from 1950 to 2005 by 65 percent”, says Robbie Buchanan, an expert for polyurethane insulation at Bayer MaterialScience in South Africa.

The Palfridge 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 product lines are also equipped with two 90 Watt solar modules, which are a great help in powering refrigeration appliances in hot countries. “Thanks to these and other measures to boost efficiency, our appliances consume substantially less energy than conventional refrigerators,” reveals Mr. Roy Singh, Technical Director at Palfridge.

Long-term refrigeration of both food and medicines is essential to many people’s survival 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.

Only recently, Palfridge was 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,” continues Roy Singh. The project was financed under the Proklima program of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH.

About Bayer MaterialScience:
With 2009 sales of EUR 7.5 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and sports and leisure industries. Bayer MaterialScience has 30 production sites around the globe and employed approximately 14,300 people at the end of 2009. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.

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