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Reader Greg Kiluva, gkiluva@unicef.org, cold chain specialist in the UNICEF Supply Division, comments on absorption refrigerators. By way of background, there are four energy sources for vaccine refrigerators: solar (quite expensive), compression refrigerators running from mains power, those running from bottled gas, and kerosene (paraffin) absorption refrigerators. Last time I checked, those African countries relying on paraffin absorption refrigerators had 10 percent lower coverage than those relying on other power sources, such as bottled gas.
From Kiluva:
'The current trend is to avoid use of the absorption refrigerators in the very near future. There are the inherent disadvantages of these systems .i.e. the low efficiency, carbon emissions, difficulty in temperature control, adulterated fuels and lack of sufficient and regular supplies of gas. Coincidentally, these are systems in use traditionally in areas which are hard to reach, sparsely populated and in most cases with abundant irradiation. We now have the direct drive/battery-less systems of which 1 already listed under the PQS and 4-5 (20- 60 lts storage capacity)are undergoing performance tests in WHO pre-qualified laboratories at present. They have no batteries and charge regulators which constitute the weakest and inherent recurrent costs for the conventional solar refrigerators.
'Greg Kiluva'

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