Solar Cooking
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Last edited: 4 May 2024      
PEP1
In 2016, USA NGO Solar Cookers International and the International Solar Energy Society began the process of creating a solar cooker testing program called the Performance Evaluation Process (PEP) under the direction of Dr. Alan Bigelow. The project involves establishing a uniform method of testing, and then providing information for interested parties to build their own testing station.

Events[]

Featured international events[]

SE for ALL forum logo 2024, 10-3-23
  • Rescheduled to early 2025 (Bridgetown, Barbados): Sustainable Energy for All Global Forum - Building on Prime Minister Mottley’s Bridgetown Initiative for the reform of development finance, the Forum will address the challenge of how we can mobilize sufficient finance on the right terms to meet global goals, especially for the most underserved communities, countries and regions – such as Small Island Developing States. The event wil be co-hosted by Sustainable Energy for All and the Government of Barbados, led by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. More information...

Requests for proposal[]

  • Decentralized Renewable Energy Solutions utilizing Solar and Bio-Energy - Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments of ScienceDirect, is requesting guest-author submissions. The special issue, VSI: DRES is devoted to publishing research articles reporting the innovative designs and design interventions in solar thermal and bio-energy for decentralized energy systems (DES). It includes i) new and novel designs of prototype or commercial devices and technologies, their development, modeling and simulations and experimental validation; ii) innovations for processes, techniques, utilization, and applications; iii) novel use of materials for improving efficiency, performance, techno-economic feasibility, and sustainability and iv) research findings addressing the socio-economic, health and safety impacts, and life cycle assessments leading to proposing novel devices for DES. The Deadline for submission is 31 July 2024. More submittal information...
CONSOLFOOD 2025 logo, 4-28-24
  • The deadline for receipt of abstracts is 15th December 2024 - Advances in Solar Thermal Food Processing (CONSOLFOOD2025) is being planned for the 5th, 6th and 7th of May, 2025 in Marseille, France. The gathering expects to attract, once again, top experts from all over the world to present and discuss topics related to advances in solar food processing and solar cooking. An exhibition of solar cookers will be available for viewing during the conference at the nearby the solar restaurant Le Présage. The solar restaurant, along with the demonstration cookers, will produce a solar lunch. The whole conference program will be delivered in hybrid format, so those who register, but are not present at Marseille, will be able to participate online. Your abstracts should be sent via email to Celestino Ruivo at cruivo@ualg.pt in .doc, .docx, or pdf format. You should limit your abstract to 400 words, and follow these guidelines. All abstracts will be reviewed and assessed by members of the scientific committee. The organizing committee will inform each author whether their submitted abstract has been accepted. The committee encourages all authors to write an optional full length paper for inclusion in our conference proceedings. Successful authors should pre-record their presentations, using Powerpoint, or similar software. They will be invited to submit either a) a short presentation, of about 7 minutes duration, or b) a longer presentation, of about 25 minutes to cruivo@ualg.pt by 30th March 2025. The expected conference fee is 200 euros before 1st April 2025. Interested people facing financial difficulties should contact the organizing committee.
See also: Global Calendar of Events and past events in USA

News[]

Student cooker challenge, 10-19-23

Engineering students at the University of Arizona test their solar cooker, Photo credit: EL INDIE

  • October 2023: Engineering students try their hand at solar cooking - Around 650 first-year engineering students came together to test the solar ovens they had spent the past month making in their beginning engineering classes. University instructor, Megan Bedinger, said careful planning and calculation went into building their ovens to keep them within the required guidelines and be creative. All of the teams were to try to bake the same biscuit mix. Projected achievable cooking temperatures may have been a bit optimistic, and some biscuit creations did better than others. Read more about the Solar Oven Throw Down. Another option is to listen to Byron Hempel, a professor of practice in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department at UA discuss previous years of the challenge. Byron can be contacted at byronhempel@arizona.edu
  • June 2023: The U.S. Senate introduces the Clean Cooking Support Act - Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) have introduced the bipartisan bill. Its intention is to improve global health and reduce climate-harming emissions, by helping people in low- and middle-income countries gain access to cleaner-burning fuels and stoves for cooking. “Our bill aims to address a serious global public health and environmental issue where leadership by the United States can make a real difference. It would directly benefit some of the world’s poorest people, including the women and girls who are disproportionately affected, and reduce harmful pollution that affects us all,” said Senator Susan Collins. Solar Cookers International welcomes the news and is listed as a supporter among a notable field of other environmental advocates.
EPA comp. logo.10-6-22
  • October 2022: - EPA's 20th Annual People, Prosperity and the Planet National (USA) Student Design Competition (RFA): - The U.S. Environmental Agency is seeking applications from teams of U.S. college students proposing to research, develop, and design solutions to real-world challenges that respond to the needs of people across the U.S, including those in small, rural, tribal, and underserved communities. P3 highlights the use of scientific principles in creating innovative technology-based projects that achieve the mutual goals of improved quality of life, economic prosperity and environmental protection. Using a team approach, P3 empowers undergraduate/graduate college students to transform classroom learning through hands-on experience to create tangible solutions to environmental issues in their communities. The EPA is looking for research in the areas of: Clean and Healthy Air, Clean and Safe Water, Safeguard and Revitalize Communities, and Ensure Safety of Chemicals. Applications need to be submitted by February 1, 2023, and may incorporate climate change and environmental justice as appropriate. Application information... There will also be a free informational webinar about the program on October 25, 2022 at 2pm EDT. Webinar registration...
Free solar cookers, Bush beer, 8-24-22

Cooking without open flames, Photo credit: Busch

Ken Armijo preparing to solar-roast his chiles using heliostats, 8-8-22

Ken Armijo preparing to solar-roast his chiles using heliostats, Photo credit: Randy Montoya

  • August 2022: Roasting New Mexican chiles - On 21 October 2021, Kenneith Armijo, an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA was at the top of a 200-foot-tall tower at the lab’s Solar Thermal Test Facility. In his possession was a sack of 22 pounds of New Mexican chiles. His mission: to roast them using only the power of the sun. Each year, the state produces more than 150 million pounds of chiles, the majority of which are harvested and roasted in steel drums from the end of August through October. But chile roasters across New Mexico burn enough propane yearly to release 7,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By setting up a traditional steel-drum tumbling roaster at the top of the facility tower and focusing dozens of heliostats, or mirror-like devices, on it, he was able to maintain consistent roasting temperatures of around 482 °C (900 °F). The 22 pounds of chiles he roasted that day saved 2.68 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions compared to a similar batch roasted with propane. Read more at Gastro Obscura...
Hubbard Lib

Public library in Hubbard, Ohio receives grant for solar cooker lending. Photo credit: Solar Education Project

  • January 2021: Grant for solar cooking lending at library - The Hubbard Public Library in Ohio has received a grant from Constellation Energy Resources, LLC to implement a solar cooker lending program. Specifically, the funding was used to purchase an All American Sun Oven and selected accessories. “Constellation’s Community Champions program is designed to support causes that are important to the community, especially those causes for which the project, organization, or initiative focuses on education, environment, or youth,”
Luther Krueger photo, 10-20-20 copy

Luther Krueger on his podcast tour 2020

  • October 2020: Luther Krueger is establishing himself as one of the foremost solar cooking enthusiasts in North America. He has created a solar cooker museum, with many of the cookers preparing meals in his Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA backyard. The goal is to have one of every solar cooker ever produced. He also recently completed a tour of the western United States to visit with a number of other enthusiasts and solar cooking professionals to record dialogue for his solar cooking podcast. On his trip Luther acquired a Villager Sun Oven, which he towed back home to Minnesota. Solar Today published a profile of Luther in their Fall 2020 publication Cookin' in the Sun.
See older news...

History[]

Some of the many solar cooking non-governmental organizations based in the US are Solar Cookers International (SCI), Rotary International, the Solar Oven Society, and Solar Household Energy, Inc.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

No precise numbers are available, but estimates suggest that perhaps as many as 10,000 Americans use solar cookers regularly. The electrical utility of the Sacramento, CA area, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), has been a dedicated supporter of solar energy usage. SMUD serves an area of more than a million people. Under earlier leadership, it pioneered the development of cleaner electricity generation, including building the first solar-powered generating station in the United States. It has offered rebates for replacing old appliances with energy-efficient equipment, and it cooperated in planting trees to lower the cost of air conditioning to consumers, as examples. For purposes of this report, it is important to note the dedicated support of SMUD for solar cooking education, including outreach to schools and community organizations. They have placed solar cookers with Scout troops, offered workshops in 65 schools of the area, and made available plans to build cookers to customers throughout their service area. In 1991, SMUD even produced a solar cooking cookbook. Reducing the use of electricity is in everyone's interest; this interesting example of a public utility's contribution to solar cooking as one contribution to solving the problem was noteworthy.

George Loff
George Lof Unbroiler

The "Umbroiler" parabolic solar cooker designed by George Lof, in use with his daughter, Linnea, in 1955.

The late George Lof, a former director of the Industrial Research Institute at the University of Denver, Colorado, was an early pioneer of solar-powered technology, including solar cooking. In the fifties, he experimented with a parabolic solar cooker design that he dubbed the "Umbroiler" because of its umbrella-like structure. He marketed the design, but it was a commercial failure for the times.

Kerr-Cole Sustainable Living Center

Considerable activity can also be found in the state of Arizona, probably the sunniest of the U.S. fifty states. The most important solar cooking fact about Arizona is that the late Barbara Kerr, the foremost expert on solar cooking in the U.S., lived in a small community in this state. She created and lived in the Kerr-Cole Sustainable Living Center, which demonstrates a wide range of ways to live lightly, rather than destructively, on the earth. Barbara is the author of several books (The full text of one is here) and articles on solar cooking, the creator and marketer (with her colleague, Sherry Cole) of a cardboard box cooker, the refiner of the CooKit as the first inexpensive but efficient solar cooker, and a never-ending source of information to those who seek her knowledge on the internet. A visit to Taylor, Arizona, is a trip to an important piece of solar cooking history.

Individuals

Solar devices are also manufactured in this area. Early pioneers, the late Bob Larson and his wife Heather Larson, produced cookbooks and plans for solar dryers until their untimely deaths. Jay Campbell, a New Mexican engineer, has invented a range of cooking devices that won prizes for ingenuity and efficiency, though he is not a manufacturer but rather an idea person. One firm, Zone Works, makes and sells parabolics out of Albuquerque, NM.

Solar Oven Society

Unlikely as it may sound, the state of Minnesota has also made contributions to the development of solar cooking. Mike and Martha Port, founders of the Solar Oven Society, have worked in a variety of Central American and Caribbean nations on various projects. Recently, they completed research and development of a new cooker, manufactured from recycled soda bottles; the device will help to fill the gap between the very inexpensive (but not so long lasting) CooKit and the more expensive box or parabolic cookers. With the assistance of a small business development grant from the State of Minnesota, charitable contributions from a range of churches and organizations, and the dedicated volunteer labor of the Ports over many years, they have recently been able to begin the sale and marketing, both in the U.S. and abroad, of the Sport. A collectivity of Minnesota churches made possible the shipment of 400 unassembled cookers to Afghanistan for sale at a subsidized price to people whose need for cooking energy is great.

Nevada Solar Cookers Association

The Nevada Solar Cookers Association was formed to share recipes, ideas, and stories and to spread the news about solar cooking in their area. Solar Cooker Review, March 2003.

Solar Cookers International

The Sacramento, California NGO Solar Cookers International, the sponsor of this Wiki, has worked since 1989 to promote solar cooking around the world.

Archived articles

Climate and culture[]

Resources[]

Possible funding[]

See Raising funds through grants and donations.

Facebook groups[]

Solar cooking blogs[]

Solar cooking clubs[]

Project evaluations[]

Main article: Project evaluations

Reports[]

Articles in the media[]

Audio and video[]

  • May 2024:
Greg_Lynch-_Big_on_Solar_Cooking_in_the_Big_Sky_Country-2

Greg Lynch- Big on Solar Cooking in the Big Sky Country-2

Greg Lynch is a seasoned solar cooking user and educator in the USA. His popular interview with Luther Krueger also explores a number of retained-heat methods he has tried.

  • April 2023:
5th_Annual_Mount_Vernon_Environment_Expo_2023-2

5th Annual Mount Vernon Environment Expo 2023-2

Earth Day community gathering in Mount Vernon, Virginia, USA. Solar cooking represented. Video credit: Fairfax County Government

  • November 2021:
Jamie_O'Shea_&_Bjorn_Quenemoen-_Solar_Popped-Bjorn_Qorn_(will_Roasted_Qoffee_be_next?)-2

Jamie O'Shea & Bjorn Quenemoen- Solar Popped-Bjorn Qorn (will Roasted Qoffee be next?)-2

Video credit: Luther Krueger

  • January 2011:
Fun_in_the_sun_Solar_cooking_(04_24_09)

Fun in the sun Solar cooking (04 24 09)

Ben Brown of Charlotte, Michigan, USA, demonstrates solar cooking at the Charlotte Community Library, 2009.

  • July 2010:
Navajo_Students_Native_Sun_Fresnel_Solar_Cooker.mov

Navajo Students Native Sun Fresnel Solar Cooker.mov

Science teacher Paul McCarl inspired his students at Whitehorse High School in Montezuma Creek, Utah to build and enter a Fresnel solar cooker in the Spirit of Innovation Award contest. The students' Native Sun Solar cooker which can make traditional fry bread was a finalist in the competition.

  • July 2009:
Solar_Potluck

Solar Potluck

Solar Cookout sponsored by Sustainable NE Seattle, Washington, USA, 2010.

Contacts[]

The entities listed below are either based in USA, or have established solar cooking projects there:

SCI Associates[]

NGOs[]

Manufacturers and vendors[]

Individuals[]

Government agencies[]

Educational institutions[]