Cooking with Solar Energy

Cooking with the solar energy is very feasible. The key is concentrating or storing the sun's energy. This can be done by using reflective material--foil, glass. Placing a black pot in the focal point will cook the content. Solar cookers
 can cook rice, beans, boil water, bake bread etc. Solar cookers might be limited in cooking pizza, which requires a large amount of heat. The time of year does not matter with solar cookers. As long as the sun is out, one can cook in the middle of winter with a solar cooker, especially with the solar oven.
Dan Rojas, Green Power Science ,
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Solar cooking comes in two form. The first is the concentrator form where light is directed to the object being cook. The second is the oven style which uses the greenhouse effect that absorbs and retains heat.  Based on these two styles of cooking, solar cookers come in various types of shape. There is no one way to design it. Popular shapes are panel forms, parabolic shapes, butterfly(popular in Asia and Africa). 

One can easily create a solar cooker. Purchasing one is not necessary. The simplest cooker just requires foil, cardboard, and glue to create. Discarded satellite dishes can be converted into a solar cooker.

Concentrator Cooker

Cardboard cooker simplest cooker

In concentrating sunlight one can use a parabolic mirror or a fresnel lens. A parabolic mirror can be placed under the item to be cooked and rays concentrated on the item, at the focal point. The larger the parabolic mirror the quicker the cooking. The smaller the parabolic mirror the smaller the pot to be used. 

One can also use a fresnel lens for cooking. Fresnel lens are more powerful than parabolic mirrors. Rays are directed downward on the item to be cook. Fresnel lens cook faster than parabolic mirrors.
Parabolic cooker

Box oven Cooker 

A box type cooker tends to store heat or make use of the greenhouse effect . Light increase the inside heat of the box container. Box cookers are ideal for baking bread, cookies, muffins etc. 

A box cooker usually has a central box area for placing pots. This box area is insulated to retain heat. A glass is typically placed on the top of the central box area to further retain heat. Reflectors on the outside directs sunlight through the glass. The hotter the box cooker get the quicker the cooking takes place. At 325o a box cooker might bake bread in 45 minutes.  At 225o it might take two hours to bake. 

Sanitize Water

A solar cooker made of aluminum foil, cardboard, and simple glue can be used to sanitize water. In tropical countries, dirty water is the cause of a lot of neglected tropical diseases. This is a simple solution for saving lives. The sun is abundant in the tropics, lets use it!!

Best Practices

To cook more effectively with solar certain practices must be observe. Pots should be painted black. Black retains heat. Make sure pots don't reflect light. If inside of the pot is reflective, make sure the top is covered with something black or the cover is not glass, where light can escape. Enamel pots are ideal, as long as it is painted black. Black skillets should be avoided; it requires more sunlight to heat-up because of its density.

Since the sun moves continuosly, to increase cooking time , one can continuosly move the cooker in direct sunlight every half hour. The more direct the sunlight the quicker it takes to cook. 

The rule with reflective material for making a solar cooker is the shiner the material the better. Glass can be used. Reflective tape has been used. The cheapest reflective material to make a cooker is aluminum foil. The best reflective material is solar reflective film. Other reflective materials are space blankets, compact discs, and chrome decal material.

Works Cited

Hankins, Mark and Njeru, Francis(1995). Solar electric systems for Africa: a guide for planning and installing solar electric systems in rural Africa. Commonwealth Secretaria. ISBN 0850924537, 9780850924534

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