Fall 2014 Solar Cookers

Solar Concentrator Research Project Fall 2014

New website:

New Solar Concentrator Website Fall 2014

Pete: Thanks for making this transition well. Please clean up the website a little as you organize what you have to say. Have you followed up some of the corporate “conspiracy” stories introduced by SCI? I look forward to hearing what you learn from the contacts you’ve made. Present website grade: 8/10


Name Email Phone # Major Year
Will Pedrotti willpedrotti@gmail.com 925-303-3593 Chemistry 4th
Justin Connolly jjconnol@calpoly.edu 707-291-2660 IT/ supply chain 3rd
Catlin Khamashta cskhamas@calpoly.edu 408-202-8084 Design 3rd
Garret Powell gpismo1@gmail.com 760-567-1258 Ag Business 4th
John Sekerak jsekerak@calpoly.edu 530-263-7181 ME 5th

Theories as to WHY people don’t use solar cookers.

1. Cannot afford the cost of the technology.

High start up costs (around $100 USD for parabolic concentrator). For people who live on less than $5 per day, this is not a realistic investment when other methods of cooking are more affordable.

2. What foods are being cooked? Can they be cooked with solar?
-In Nicaragua: Rice & Beans are main staples plus a variety of local fruits and veggies. Mango, papaya, banana, yuca, avocado, jacote, and maize are all common.

3. Not enough sunlight?

4. Inconvenience? Do they cook inside/outside? When does cooking occur?
-For rural farmers, breakfast is eaten before dawn and dinner is after the sun goes down.

1. Will it scale?
2. Will it reach the people?
3. Is it socially acceptable?
4. Will it hurt the environment?
5. Who will manufacture it?
6. Is it pretty?
7. Does it meet every need?
8. Is it desirable?
9. Is there a business model?
10. Is it affordable?

Emailing NGO’s and Solar Cooking:

JOHN: Emailed Grupo Fenix and got a response from Susan Kinne regarding her group ‘Adelante con el Sol’ Adelante con el Sol – Nicaragua Women’s Cooperative
For their group, solar cooking works in a very specialized setting to empower the women of this community. Looking at how this group functions could provide some insight into how communities and families could utilize solar cookers.
Additionally, we are researching WHEN people eat, as a statistical approximation, to see if the sun is out during these times.

JUSTIN: Emailed the Global Hope Network, an arm of Solar Cookers International, about what projects are currently being implemented and how the team can get involved in these projects.


25 most promising countries for Solar Cooking
Countries with the most S.C. potential

Manual for Spreading Solar Cooking
Really cool manual that gives us a better idea of how to approach project

CATLIN: Amazing article on solar cookers The Impact of Solar Cookers on South Africa

“The introduction of the technology was born out of a need as perceived by project personnel rather than a demand expressed by local villagers”

People have been trying since the 1970s to help Africa in its efforts to bring in solar cooking. They proved to be too difficult to manufacture locally due to their complexity and companies refused to sell them because they were not traditional. For those able to get over these hurdles, the solar cookers has been very beneficial.
As we had previously hoped to bring in “communal solar cooking stations” a group has tried these as well. But they seemed to fail. A cultural issue is that the common food of a particular culture may not be able to be cooked properly on a solar cooker and requires different heating methods; therefore, it is only helpful a partial amount of the time. Future recommendations include: having a wider availability in stores and selling it as an “additional cooking option” with other appliances as a promotional item to get people used to having them around.
– year-long field test when one of the large solar cookers was placed with Mrs Sebola, a tavern/shebeen owner in Huhudi (Palmer Development Group)

WILL: I found this website that has been bringing solar cookers to impoverished countries since 2005, I contacted the man in charge of the organization, or at least the homie whose name was on the “Contact Us” page and he responded. I asked him if we could skype with him and ask him questions regarding the challenges in implementing the technology and he seemed very enthusiastic about the idea. on 10/3 we need to decide when we can all meet, or at least 3 of us, so we can talk with him. The link to the website is listed below.

GARRET: Found a paper from Caltech on implementation of solar cookers. Caltech Solar Paper
Also found a paper relating to Grupo Fenix in Nicaragua and their implementations: 2086-3450-1-PB.pdf
I’ve reached out to a Program Assistant at SCI and got a response, still waiting to hear back more. However, the main issue from her perspective is simply awareness and education.


Name Email Phone # Major Year
Will Pedrotti willpedrotti@gmail.com 925-303-3593 Chemistry 4th
Justin Connolly jjconnol@calpoly.edu 707-291-2660 IT/ supply chain 3rd
Catlin Khamashta cskhamas@calpoly.edu 408-202-8084 Design 3rd
Garret Powell gpismo1@gmail.com 760-567-1258 Ag Business 4th
John Sekerak jsekerak@calpoly.edu 530-263-7181 ME 5th

Presentation 1: Wednesday October 8th:
John – Math & Background (1st)
Justin – Trying to create something usable/fabrication details (4th)
Will – 1 application: water purification, compare effectiveness with other currant tech (eg: filter pumps) (3rd)
Catlin – How to apply it in countries, community kitchens, water purification, gapminder (2nd)
Garret – Organizations currently using solar cooking, countries where the technology applies, companies that could be interested (5th)

Initial Goal ideas:
1. Using thermal solar cookers to distill water for drinking in developing regions.
A. Study parts of the world with limited drinking water and lots of sun
B. Design a cheap and effective distillations coil system.

How long will it take to boil off 1 liter of H2O?

Model of a single ray of sun reflecting off of the concentrator
The 3 seasonal dishes: Summer, Equinox, and Winter allignments for the dish


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– An estimated 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation (more than 35% of the world’s population)

Prototype Criteria:
1.Works with solar concentrators or with traditional heat sources (stoves).
2. Does not require modification for solar concentrator. Simply another use of existing technology
3. Cheap as possible (Under $5.00 USD)
4. Durable (Dropped from 5 Ft. without breaking).

Screenshot_2014-10-01-15-36-06 (1).jpg

(Current Results – Sunniest Places and Countries on Earth)

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-Hundreds of manufacturers/vendors across the world.
-However, distribution is a problem. In the areas that need it most, they’re all distributed via local NGO’s.
-The cost to distribute them to the areas that need solar cooking most is high.

Solar cookers apply for use all around the world.
Countries that need our model most would be Ethiopia, Mozambique, Haiti, Uganda, among many others.
Some of the top companies in solar cooking are: Solar Freedom International, SolarCircle, Solar Connect Association, and Solar Cookers International.

Resource Links: