Emerson resident to present Tellus lecture with UGA engineering professor
by Marie Nesmith
May 15, 2014 | 1523 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In their presentation, “Cool Solutions: New Approaches to Solve Refrigeration Problems Worldwide,” University of Georgia Professor William Kisaalita and UGA student Ryan Brush will discuss their prototype cooler, which chills milk for consumption without electricity. Starting at 7 p.m., the lecture will be held at Tellus Science Museum on Friday.

“I have worked in Dr. William Kisaalita’s lab since April of 2013,” said Brush, an Emerson resident, who will graduate from UGA in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering. “In that time I have worked mostly with our zeolite adsorption cooling device, but also have spent time running experiments with a solar powered refrigeration system. The project was undertaken in order to address the need of cattle farmers in Uganda.

“Due to no access to an electrical grid or refrigeration systems, up to 50 percent of the milk that small scale Ugandan cattle farmers collected is thrown away because of spoilage. Additionally, 80 percent of the milk in Uganda is produced by these same farmers. Our project aims to provide relief to these farmers; however, the scope of this project is far broader. Many people all over the world lack access to refrigeration and our apparatus could help them as well.”

While Brush has been unable to accompany Kisaalita and his team of engineering students on research visits to Uganda, he saw firsthand “the need for scientific innovation through social entrepreneurship” when he participated in a mission trip to Haiti in March 2013. He believes the refrigeration projects developed in Kisaalita’s lab have the ability to impact the lives of people residing in impoverished communities across the world.

Kisaalita’s project recently was awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development in partnership with the Duke Energy Corporation, Swedish government, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the German government.

“We currently have a functional zeolite cooler that can hold 16 liters of milk; however, a larger cooler was desired by the farmers,” Brush said. “Our current research deals with a 70-liter model. Right now we are in the proof-of-concept phase of our experiments and are looking at ways to optimize the cooling process.

“The apparatus functions through the process of evaporative cooling. Evaporative cooling is actually experienced by us regularly. It is the same phenomenon as when you get out of water on a windy day and feel chilled. As the water evaporates off of your skin, it absorbs heat and lowers your temperature. Our device increases the amount of evaporative cooling taking place to reach temperatures similar to those attained by a conventional refrigerator. The refrigerator uses zeolite, a commonly found and naturally occurring, compound to drive the cooling process. The zeolite must be regenerated by boiling off water, which it adsorbed through the cooling process. This boiling process is powered by biogas, which can be collected from animal and food wastes. Looking at the entire process, we are creating a cheap refrigeration system, which features a full cycle of wastes and products.”

Opened in January 2009, Tellus — an expansion of the former Weinman Mineral Museum — became a Smithsonian affiliate during its debut year. Encompassing 120,000 square feet at 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville, the museum is comprised of four main galleries — The Weinman Mineral Gallery, The Fossil Gallery, Science in Motion and The Collins Family My Big Backyard hands-on science gallery — a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory. The museum welcomed its millionth visitor March 27.

“I think the [lecture’s] appeal [will be] a local student being involved in this research and this experiment that has worldwide impact, because if this thing works in Africa, it could work in South America, and it could work in India and it could work in Indonesia,” Tellus Executive Director Jose Santamaria said.

The upcoming lecture will be included in regular admission to Tellus for non-members and free for museum members. For more information about the museum and its events and programs, call 770-606-5700 or visit www.tellusmuseum.org.