The new design of the solar cooking system allows sustainable cooking

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A new design for a solar cooking system could help rural communities prepare food more sustainably, according to a new study. The materials used in this system are readily available to people in places where options are limited outside of burning wood or coal.

1. Cooking box 2. Datalogger and solar tracking 3. Parabolic collector/reflector 4. Stepper motor 5. Solar panel connected to battery. Image credit: Clement A. Komolafe.

Nigerian engineers have designed an improved solar cooking system that can replace cooking over fires of wood, charcoal or other materials. Many people still cook over such fires in many parts of the world, harming the environment and the health of the local community. This new approach combines two traditional solar cooker designs to create a healthier, cleaner alternative.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers of energy research.

Cooking by burning firewood and other non-environmental and non-ecological fuels is still prevalent in most developing countries, especially among people living in rural areas and some urban cities.

Dr. Clement A. Komolafe, Study Lead Author, Landmark University

Dr. Komolafe adds: “In order to discourage the use of dangerous fuels for cooking, we thought of combining the types of solar boxes and dishes to produce a new solar cooking system using locally sourced materials..”

A combination of two designs

For traditional solar cookers, there are two main arrangements. The first is a box (mostly glass or transparent material) that retains heat from the sun’s rays. The second is a parabolic or spherical structure that reflects and concentrates sunlight to increase heat intensity.

To capture even more heat, the latest cooker combines both approaches. Initial tests revealed that the cooker had a maximum heating power (wattage) of 58.2W, which was enough to boil water and cook plantain and rice. This performance is comparable to current trends in solar cooking technology.

The latest cooker includes features that make it easy for one person to use and assemble. Also, no special training would be required to operate the device.

Locally sourced parts and materials

To build the device, the researchers used readily available materials like iron, sheet aluminum, plywood, steel pipes and reflective glass. They also compared two easily accessible heat storage materials: black coated gravel (granite) and used engine oil. The electronics needed to measure temperature and humidity for research was provided by a tracking device.

Next steps include design changes to further reduce the rate of heat loss through the cookbox wall for better efficiency. For rapid redistribution of this new device design in rural communities, we invite interested individuals, businesses and parastatals to sponsor or partner with the project..

Dr. Clement A. Komolafe, Study Lead Author, Landmark University

Journal reference:

Komolafe, CA and Okonkwo, CE (2022) Design, fabrication and thermal evaluation of an integrated solar cooking system with a tracking device and sensible heat storage materials. Frontiers of energy research. doi.org/10.3389/fenrg.2022.821098.

Source: https://www.frontiersin.org/

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