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Solar Cooking and Solar Cookers

There are many types of designs of solar cookers. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Some of us at EnergyTeachers.org help students and teachers pursue solar cookers as classroom learning tools, home learning tools, and science fair projects. At our lab in Cambridge we have several commercial and homemade cookers, including all of those described below, to demonstrate and test, as well as measuring devices and methods for students to try.

*Global Sun Oven

A well insulated oven with a glass door, a sealed chamber, black interior, insulated walls, and a concentrating reflector performs excellently whenever the sun is shining. Its 50-200 watts can cook a meal for two in one to two hours. It can bake, simmer, and steam. Students can build an oven with boxes or one just like this commercial model.

You can learn more about the Global Sun Oven at their web site, sunoven.com (link below).

*Three Sides of a Box Solar Cooker

There is a very adaptable design for a reflector that anyone can make out of household materials. This reflector works well enough to cook certain foods at any time of year, as long as the sun is not blocked by haze or too-frequent clouds.

In 2005, Professor Sajed Kamal introduced us to this simple design for cooking and pasteurizing using the sun, a design widely adopted throughout the world.

We have been showing the design to teachers and students since, and have been studying variations in usage to work in cold climates.

EnergyTeachers.org published an introduction to the cooker online and in the printed newsletter. Photos and instructions can be found there, see link below.

*Parabolic cookers

EnergyTeachers.org has a few different parabolic cookers, which use paraboloid-shaped reflectors to concentrate sunlight onto a small area. A pan in the area of concentration may get as hot as on any gas stove. These powerful cookers are good for hotter recipes, like deep frying.

*Double-wall glass cookers

Many different shape tubes of double-walled glass, some with little air between, or "vacuum," help insulate food from radiating heat to the environment. This technology allows lower-power solar cookers to eventually reach high temperatures. Often the inside layer of glass is dark-colored so that it absorbs the sunlight and conducts it inward to the food/liquid.

Any solar cooker is useful for pursuing many studies:

*Heating and cooling curves, as is done in earth science courses. Scientists can leave data-logging thermometers inside the pot with the food/water, or even a water pasteurization indicator, which tells whether the contents ever reached the pasteurization temperature.

*Selective materials, such as glass, which reflect, absorb, and transmit differently depending on the frequencies of the incident light. Students learn how these materials can be used to trap energy.

*Raytracing, to show how large a reflector should be in relation to a pot, and where a pot should be placed in the reflector.

EnergyTeachers.org encourages educators to come together for solar barbecues in local parks everywhere.

EnergyTeachers.org offers workshops for educators on solar cookers. In the workshops, educators learn about the various designs of cookers, materials, infrared thermography, insolation, and recipes. Contact us to host a workshop in your area.

*More references

You can learn most all there is to know about solar cooking from a highly reputable and notable organization on this subject, Solar Cookers International. See links below.

Related Links

Related Topics in our Links section

Related Static Documents

(old system)
Winter 2006-2007 Printed Newsletter

File: 2007-02ETONews.pdf

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