New Delhi, Oct 23: Abundant sunlight in developing countries will now enable manufacturers to make refrigerators that do not produce ozone depleting gases by their operation.
The new refrigeration technique, called SolarChill, would be used in making vaccine coolers for remote areas without or with very negligible supply of electricity.
This will give a much needed boost to public health programmes, due to lack of cooling, vaccines supplied to such areas often become unfit to be administered to patients.
The machines would operate on solar energy, using environmentally-safe refrigerants, bypassing the use of lead batteries and can also be plugged into the electricity grid.
The technology is publicly-owned and will soon be freely available for any company in the world interested in producing the units.
Once it receives the WHO approval, partners will work with interested refrigerator manufacturers, Ministries of Health and Environment and other foundations in order to commercialise it and send it across the globe.
The innovative refrigeration technology developed by an alliance of seven international organisations, NGOs and the private sector has won the prestigious 2006 Cooling Industry Awards in the category "Environmental Pioneer" for refrigeration.
The partners in the 'SolarChill Vaccine Cooler&Refrigerator Project' are the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Greenpeace International, United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), GTZ Proklima, Programmes for Appropriate Technologies in Health (PATH) and the Danish Technological Institute.
Organised annually by RAC magazine in the United Kingdom, the Cooling Industry Awards recognise developments of new technology and approaches that protect the environment.
The SolarChill Project was one of 12 winners, alongside some of the world's biggest retailers, major end-users, and refrigeration professionals.
Mr Rajendra Shende, Head of UNEP's OzonAction Branch, which is one of the prime movers of the SolarChill project, said he firmly believes that it is not necessary to return to the 'caves' to protect the environment as some may think.
''We can use modern technology with innovative techniques that are environment-friendly, pro-poor, health-focussed and pro-development at the same time,'' he added.
He said successful public health programmes rely on supply of high-quality vaccines that need continuous cooling to remain effective.
Many regions in the world with non-existent, inadequate or intermittent electricity supply cannot provide the required constant refrigeration, known as the 'cold chain', resulting in millions of dollars of spoiled vaccines each year or in a total absence of vaccination programs, he said adding, SolarChill will help remedy this.
SolarChill project is a multi-partner, public-private initiative contributes to the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, specifically reducing child mortality, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership.
Mr Shinde was recently here to take part in the World Ozone day programmes.