Patna, India

    Making its home in north-eastern India in the state of Bihar, Patna has been an ETHOS location since 2011. This summer, the ETHOS team continued a partnership with Solar Alternatives and Associated Programmes (SAAP). SAAP is a nonprofit organization run by the Jesuits that fosters the protection of the environment and empowerment of the downtrodden. This NGO conducts research, development, fabrication and installation of a variety of solar devices, including solar water heaters, solar steam cooking systems, and solar photovoltaic panels. They are experts at manufacturing Scheffler Reflectors for solar thermal applications.


    The lack of a reliable and continuous power supply creates multiple challenges to hospitals in India, especially when attempting to keep vaccines at their correct storage temperature. As a result, there are thousands of vaccines thrown away every year, leading to a significant financial and public health hardship. This refrigerator is intended to be used in rural clinics in Bihar and elsewhere in India where the electricity supply, either from the grid or from solar photovoltaics, is limited. It is designed as a grid-independent, reliable device suitable for the local conditions and climate.

    The device operates on the carbon-ethanol adsorption cycle, a unique pairing for an adsorption cycle refrigerator. Relative to working pairs like methanol-carbon or water-silica, there is very little research on carbon-ethanol, therefore the refrigerator possessed by SAAP currently serves as a purely experimental prototype. By effectively sealing the system this summer, we were able to perform cooling experiments with the device, a first for the UD/SAAP partnership. The primary challenge moving forward with this technology appears to be developing a strategy for reducing the internal pressure to a level that produces an acceptable cooling temperature.


    “Patna was an unbelievable experience that I will never forget. I learned to live a simpler life where relationships and small things are extremely valuable. The challenging project and the cultural difference we encountered made the experience one that changed my life for the better.”

    - Jose Panameno, 2014 ETHOS participant, India

    “You'll go on an ETHOS immersion expecting to be changed, but it won't happen in the way that you expect. The best way to describe it, I think, is that it changes your perspective. It's not just a matter of understanding - it changes how you think. "Solidarity" is a good word, but eventually you feel something more significant even than that. You feel like a neighbor.”

    - Matthew Worsham, 2014 ETHOS participant, India