A Bend-based company called SolarX Works was not satisfied with traditional uses of solar energy, so they started thinking outside the box.
The company has developed a solar generated refrigeration system primarily aimed at preventing agricultural produce spoilage called X-Cold. But it has other potential uses.
“Every hour that produce isn’t brought down to storage temperature, you lose quality of that good,” said SolarX Works co-founder Donald McGraw. “In California, which is a multi-billion dollar strawberry industry, each year $300 million worth of strawberries are lost due to poor storage or not getting down to storage temperatures in time.”
The X-Cold runs like a normal air conditioning unit. It has a smart temperature control panel. It brings warm outside air from the back of the device and blows out cool air on the other side.
It’s not just constrained to agricultural purposes either. McGraw says it could be used as a more cost-effective air conditioner for housing, grocery stores and other businesses. It can also be used for disaster relief.
“When we look at all the fires we’ve had as well as recent hurricanes, the unit could be dropped into an area that might have lost power and be available to use for refrigeration of goods like medicines, food, or even people,” McGraw said.
The X-Cold can run on battery power or generators if the sun is not shining. It is still in its prototype stage and is not ready for market.
McGraw says their goal is to get more funding and sell the first finished models by sometime next year.