How to build an ammonia based solar chiller? Answered


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It's getting hot. I'd like to know how to convert that heat into cold. I've read about ammonia based chiller units that work better as it gets hotter outside.

Adam Gosser at TED Talks demonstrates one.

Anyone here built one? Care to share what you learned?



5 years ago

You could use a Crosley
Icyball. In fact you can make a fridge with them. Google Larry Hall's
do it yourself Icyball. One system is reusable forever and can reach
-10's F. Its based on a closed system Ammonia exchange. Way deeper
cold exchange, and you can use solar evacuated collector tubes to heat
the water immersion for the heat area. The cold will last far into the
next day without further recharge from heat. Einstein even put his name
on an ammonia refridgerator design. They were used for 20-30 years by
farms and outlying areas for refridgeration mostly due to lack of
powerlines, and the original ones, still work today. Now those used
fire, but with those solar evacuated collector tubes, you can get water
over 220 in minutes or steam if you use different tube systems. They
make ovens out of the tubes that cook over 400f just in air temp.. so..
you can see it wouldnt be hard to set up such a system. With your wood
stove, or whatever. Personally the less energy input system is to me
the tubes, and some parabolic trough reflectors. So then you can use
simultaneous heat, cooling, and if you sandwich some Seebeck High Temp
TEG's in between, you can make electricity as well. They have TEGs that
rate 600F and put out over 30 watts with the deeper cold as well, and..
they dont go bad either. See where Im going?

Glenn Burrow

7 years ago

I want to build the same thing. I am still attempting to determine how I want to do it. But if you are concerned about refrigerant safety, look into a salt water sprayer cooler. It is a hybrid between an absorption chiller and an evaporative cooler. It just uses salt water and a heat source capable of boiling water. If you are clever enough to do it, you can even avoid using pumps by using steam pressure instead. And if you are intent on not using electricity or fuel, you can use a solar collector as your heat source. And fyi bikerbob2005: if you use a sterling engine as a compressor for your chiller, you are simply using the temperature difference you just created with the chiller, to cool the chiller. It would be in a constant cycle against itself. With the chiller making a temp change and the sterling engine eliminating it. It would only work if you set the sterling engine as a separate bit, not linked thermally to the chiller. Best of luck.


7 years ago

a long list of stuff that is safe to use
first is to determined what temperature the "hot " side is and what the "cold" side is,then that tells you what Refrigerant you will need. a Sterling engine can compress the Refrigerant .boss just ask me to see if i could build this so I have a new project.I will update this as it goes and make an instructable if successful.side note...i did study this about 35 years ago in school,Refrigerant cycles.just how well I learned it has yet to be seen.


10 years ago

It sounds hazardous, and labour-intensive. Commercial chillers for e.g. camping & RVs can run on gas as a heat source, same thermodynamic principle, but a continuous loop.
Not my favorite source of information, but this:



Answer 10 years ago

Hazardous? Yes. Labor intensive? Maybe. I'm of the mind that someone familiar with high pressure systems might have some workarounds/safety mechanisms to mitigate against harm. Thanks for the link.


Answer 10 years ago

They might, but it's usually being familiar with pressurised systems and toxic flammable gases that mitigate against harm...