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Solar Cooking

A solar cookeruses concentrated solar thermal (CST) technology to heat, cook, dry andpasteurize food.

Solar cookers use the following basic principles:

  • Concentrating sunlight: A reflective mirror of polished glass, metal or metallised film concentrates light and heat from the sun on a small cooking area, making the energy more concentrated and increasing its heating power.
  • Converting light to heat: A black or low reflectivity surface on a food container or the inside of a solar cooker improves the effectiveness of turning light into heat. Light absorption converts the sun's visible light into heat, substantially improving the effectiveness of the cooker.
  • Trapping heat: It is important to reduce convection by isolating the air inside the cooker from the air outside the cooker. A plastic bag or tightly sealed glass cover traps the hot air inside. This makes it possible to reach temperatures on cold and windy days similar to those possible on hot days.
  • Greenhouse effect: Glass transmits visible light but blocks infrared thermal radiation from escaping. This amplifies the heat trapping effect.

Outdoor Cooking - Box Type Solar Cooker

A basic box cooker consists of an insulated container with a transparent lid. It can be used effectively with partially overcast skies and will typically reach temperatures of 90–150 °C.

Outdoor Cooking - Dish Type Solar Cooker

Dish type cookers use a reflector of various concentrating geometries (dish, trough, Fresnel mirrors) to focus light on a cooking container. These cookers reach temperatures of 315 °C and above but require direct light to function properly and must be repositioned to track the Sun.

The reflecting material used for fabrication of these cookers is anodized aluminum sheet which has a reflectivity of over 75%. The tracking of the cooker is manual and thus has to be adjusted in 15 to 20 minutes during cooking time. It has a delivering power of about 0.6 KW which can boil 2 to 3 liters of water in half an hour. The temperature achieved at the bottom of the vessel could be around 350 to 400o C which is sufficient for roasting, frying and boiling. The cooker having a thermal efficiency of around 40% can meet the needs of 10 to 15 people and can be used from one hour after sunrise to one hour before sunset on clear days. The cooker can be easily dismantled and assembled by anybody and thus may be nicely packed and transported anywhere in the country. The cooker is user friendly as the place of vessel to be kept for cooking is at a level which is convenient for the people to use. The cooker could be useful for individuals in rural as well as urban areas and also for small establishments like dhabas, tea shops, etc. on road sides.

Cost & Fuel savings

A solar cooker capable of cooking food for 10-12 people may cost around Rs. 8000- 12000/-. It can save up to 10 LPG cylinders/year on full use.

Bigger size cookers may cost approx. Rs. 30,000 which will be suitable to cook food for about 40 people. It would save around 30 LPG cylinders in a year on full use.

Indoor Cooking

W. Schaeffler developed a technology based on parabola design with fixed circular receiver & automatic single axis tracking. The North-South adjustments can be done manually. It is a simple & low cost technology which can be easily fabric ated with locally available materials.

Community Solar Cooker for Indoor Cooking

Large multiple dishes can be used for community cooking. The cooker works better in areas where solar insolation is good during most part of the year. It is possible to cook two meals with the cooker in those areas. Due to high temperature and power at focal point, the cooking rate is significantly higher compared to other solar cookers.

It is possible to cook almost all traditional dishes including making chapatis, purees, dhosa etc. as well as doing `Vaghar'/`Tadka' before adding the vegetables, dal etc. During the period when cooker is not in use for cooking, it can be used for hot water production.

The cooker could be useful to residential schools, institutional kitchens such as industrial and administrative canteens, religious ashrams, hotels, hospitals, police and armed forces kitchens, etc.

Solar Steam Generation Systems

Steam can be generated using the indoor solar cooker consisting of multiple dishes. Community kitchens in Institutions, Hostels, Hospitals, Ashrams, hotels can use the solar cooling saving LPG/Electricity/Diesel etc. It can be also used for laundry & other applications that use heat in form of steam.

Pay back : 4 -5 years System of 100 sq. m. dish area can generate 150 to 200 kg steam/day and save 5,000 liters of diesel per/year.

How solar cooker works

Unique features

  • Food cooked by the Sun
  • Cooked meal is very tasteful and nutritious
  • Environment friendly
  • Reduces the use of conventional fuel like gas, kerosene, electricity and firewood
  • Can be used at home for a family as well as in large kitchen for community cooking
  • Saves money- reduce your cooking fuel cost

Process heat

Solar concentrating technologies like parabolic trough, parabolic dish and flat plate collector can provide process heat for commercial and industrial applications.

Automatic tracking

There is a mechanical clockwork arrangement which rotates the outside primary reflector to track the sun automatically. The cook has to set this reflector in focus only once a day in the morning and thereafter for rest of the time the clockwork keeps on rotating the reflector automatically. Seasonal adjustment : With shifting of two arms provided in the reflector frame it is possible to change the curvature of the parabolic reflector for seasonal adjustment; thus keeping it fully tracked with the sun during all seasons.


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