Solar Ice Maker

Tried hunting through the 'ables, and also hunted for it elsewhere. Has anyone done an Instructable on making a Solar Ice Maker? And if not, will anyone do it? I've got some ideas for trying to use it as part of a home cooling unit, but I don't know how to make it yet. Thus, modifying it seems kind of out of the question. Thanks for any help in advance.

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KarelK89 months ago

Nice thread. Researching this stuff now cause I live on an island without drinking water and my guests keep asking me for cold beers! http://www.islandhoppinginthephilippines.com/palawan/patoyo-kitesurfing-eco-resort/ So far have found I can add a 1700W wind turbine for $400 to my solar system (through the regulator, because not sure if the 100W solar panel will suffice) to connect with a $600 12V -13C freezer I found on ebay. But would be nice to find a more organic and cheaper solution. One German guy passing through put a thick black cotton sock over the beer and wet it with fresh water. Said it reduced it by about 10C sitting in the hot sun evaporating.

DavidN712 years ago

You can buy 12vdc compressor based refrigerator/freezers that run directly from solar panels. They are quite expensive, but common in the medical and forensic fields where preserving specimans or medicine is worth the up front cost. The cheapest 40 quart 12v fridge/freezer is about $500.


rantonio32 years ago

You may want to check this out http://www.slideshare.net/zacoss/solar-ice-maker

sansenoi4 years ago
High tech just for ice? Forget the ammonia and zeolite and methanol and activated carbon and solar panels and stirling engines and solar reflectors and.........etc, if you can afford it or understand it. Face it, the only time most people will get around to making one of these is when it is necessary and that means that exotic materials or time spent making parts means you don't have ice.

If you want to make just enough ice to put in an icebox to keep food cool, you need to make it in block form rather then small chunks, it thaws slower that way.

All the above being said, if you hook a rotary vacuum pump to a bicycle that hooks to a strong walled vessel mostly full of water(less air to pump before it starts to boil) you can pedal at a leisurly pace for 30 minutes to an hour and get about a gallon of Ice to sit in your ice box. More water to freeze= more pedaling, higher water temp=more pedaling, small moving volume pump=more pedaling.

Hook pump to a decent water wheel on a good grade stream or a good sized windmill (enough to overcome torque) and voila. All this with no exotic solutions. make multiple vaccu-tainers with water and swap out when one ices up.

You only have to have a strong/expensive enough vacuum to make the water boil, once it starts boiling the pressure can, if you want, stay the same in the chamber due to vapor expansion leveling out the vacuum. A pump rated just enough to reach that point vacuum with a large moving volume will work but if you want to do it quickly you want a vacuum pump that can remove the expanded water vapor much faster than it is created to get faster boils/higher vacuums and thus less pedal, water wheel or windmill ice generation time.

Make your water ice cooling chamber easily disconnectable from the pump and place it directly in the icebox. That is unless you want ice cubes, lol.
Tawnas sansenoi3 years ago
Apperently you know the subject quite well. I am puzzled why my zeolite is not adsorbing any vapor. The water boilled at 28 in hg. i shut the vacuum pump at 29.9 in hg after i closed the valve seperating the pump frm the system. then i opened the valve between water and zeolite granules. the pump gauge dropped down to 24 in hg and stayed there overnight. The water level did not go down in 12 hours indicatig no adsorption took place. i then baked the zeolte for 3 hours at 425 F and repeated the process. The water stayed where it was and the zeolite stayed dry. Any idea what mistake i could be doing? I also ran my 5 cfm vacuum pump wihle keeping zeolite sepated. In 5 hours of pump time my 16 oz water got down to 42 F. The vacuum gague indicateed the system has zero leaks. Appretiate help
At first It seems a bit far to make ice within a vacuum. But apparantly if the videos are real on you tube. you can. Using the zeolite, ammonia for whatever is passive so they require per se no moving parts. doing the boiling method requires a bit of energy. Correct me If I am wrong.
Dear Sansenoi,

Do you have any more detailed plans you can share of the one you built or someone who has built a similar one? We have a children's home in the jungles of Belize and would like to see if we could build one. Thank you for your help.
Sorry for the delay in response. I have been away for a long while. Although you probably have already found your answeres and moved on, I will leave some more info in case you haven't.

There is not anything more detailed as far as construction plans than hooking up a vacuum pump to a well sealed container. Some things I need to clarify though is:

1. you need to understand that if the water is vaporizing, you need to start out with more water than you will need. Water from a stream or well is fine if you are using a sealed chamber to hold the block from leaking untreated water and also, water with high minerals such as salt will take longer to freeze.

2. If you pull a proper vacuum fast enough, you'll just end up pumping out all of your water in vapor form before the remaining turn to ice again, remember to insulate cooling chamber with a sleeve while doing this to help.

 3. IF you want to make a zeolite and water fridge before you actually need zeolite in an emergency, zeolite can be had from pet sores in two purities with different prices. Look for bulk containers of pure zeolite based Ammonia remover for aquariums about 9$ for 6 pounds (enough to make a normal colemanish size ice box unit, just cut small U-cut in top of chest lower half to slide the ice end of unit into and close the lid over) or single ingredient zeolite based non-clumping cat litter that is in newer types of litter. I found mine at Home Depot, about 25$ for 25 or 50 pounds if I remember.

 4. A zeolite ice maker is much like what I described in my original post. You just have two containers, one for zeolite and one for water with a vacuum rated valve on a pipe in between that has a hookup for a vacuum pump. Reduce the pressure to that of the sublimation of water at around 45-60 deg. F and remove vacuum. Some water will be drawn into the zeolite taking the heak and the water left behind will be cooled or frozen. Stick the cold end in the icebox. When thawed, heat the zeolite end( (above/below water end, depending on your desing. Design may need two connecting tubes w/ valves having 1 tube running to the bottom of the water end resevoir so when you heat the zeolite/water mix on bottom, the water distllls out without running back down into zeolite)) to around 180-240 deg. F for at least 2 hours to recharge. Having vacuum/pressure guage attached comes inhandy, if no leaks it will let you know(after cooling) if it got all of the water out of the zeolite.

Remember to tun all valves after recharging off until you want to use the unit. Slow leaks will ruin the unit after you may not have access to a vac pump to fix.

Make sure you put a mesh or other sort of trap to prevent migration of zeolite to water end. Capped pipes drilled with small holes, surrounded by zeolite, sunk into the zeolite container end and attached to the valve pipe works.

Experimentation for your unique setup is needed for best results.

I have no plans or designs to outright share. Only advice and material sourcing on zeolite.

P.S.- don't unerestimate the reliability of a small gas powered "einstein cycle" closed loop ammonia fridge as used in modern day RV's. You can get these pretty cheap from old scrap yards or by removing old campers people just want to get rid of or scrap. (no, I'm not talking about the big fridges in luxury RV's, I mean the minifridge type like Elmer Fudd would have in his Rabbit hunting teardrop camper)

With some modifications you can make one of these run from a not so large fresnel lense or solar array during the day, store excess heat in heat sink for night or run on just about any small heat source if you're careful.

As for me, I went with a temporary emergency water/zeolite setup made prior to any need. If it would fail for some reason I could always just use the vacuum pump used to initially prime it but daily use would wear it out quick over a long term situation.

I also learned to use natural dehydration and Lactic acid / acetic acid preservation techniques that require not having to buy vinegar or starter cultures beforehand or the need of a pressure cooker/canner ( (now just relegated for distilling water and "other" liquids)) to sterilize anything since the good bacteria keeps bad in check.Cabbage Kimchi is really good, especially made with fish or shrimp but you could also use trout, Deer meat or even grub worms if you really wanted to! Except for storage of non-replenishable long-term freezable,s I really don't worry about any daily and long term need for refrigeration anymore.
Edit note.. # 2. above should start out, " If you don't pull a proper vacuum..."
your thinking is really great.any ways you had done a good job.i really appriciate you.
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