PSC 392 Electric Cooking Pot

Elly Halladay, Ahn Le, Kate Bilse, Grace Gius

We are interested in working off of our collaborator, Robert Van Buskirk’s, of Kuyere, initial prototype for a cook pot heated with diodes. We want further understand the diodes and come up with a cleaner and more feasible prototype of our own. We are in the process of researching diodes, electrical currents, and better ways of improving insulation.


Kuyere / Target Community: Their project is dedicated to the idea of affordably and sustainably providing solar electricity to the poorest rural households in Africa over the next 10-20 years. They consist of a small group of family and friends, along with a group of implementors and partners in Malawi. The principal organizers are Dr. Robert Van Buskirk and Dr. Bereket Lebassi Habtezion who met and began collaborating on technology and African development in the newly independent country of Eritrea, East Africa in the mid 1990’s. The goal of their work is to have a large, positive impact on our world and measure our impact in therms of how it can improve lives of the most disadvantaged.

Robert Van Buskirk’s initial prototype:
Our Collaborator, Robert Van Buskirk, of Kuyere, has built an initial prototype for a cook pot heated with diodes.
“Here is a somewhat over-designed, 5 to 10 amp, 30 volt, voltage regulating pot. I have three offtakes runming through three paralled 3am diodes. One is for 5V power (5.5, more precisely). Then I have an offtake for direct load (13V when unloaded), and an offtake for 12V battery charging (14.5V).

I think the heating element runs at about 200W at 30V (with no off-takes of course).I plan to now close it up and insulate it.”

Van Buskirk’s Correspondance

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 8.50.50 AM.png


Some locals making the prototype in one of the workshops!

Our goals for this quarter is to begin by replicating his model to gain a better understanding of how the cookpot works. From there we are going to experiment with different materials and ways to insulate and control the heat. We hope to finish the quarter with a second, working prototype that can hopefully heat up quickly and is safe to operate without getting too hot.

Problem Statement: The current prototype contains diodes that can very easily overheat and break. We aim to solve this problem by creating a prototype that aims to prevent diode breakage and redistribute otherwise lost energy back into heating the pot.

Decision Matrix:

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 3.59.10 PM.png

Week Three Update:
Today we finalized our plans for the first prototype we plan on making during lab this week. We are going to test the diodes and configuration using JB Weld, copper wire, solder, and MgO on a small, cheap bowl. We plan on utilizing a maximum of five diodes to see if the our plan will be feasible on a larger bowl. Our prototype aims to reduce heat emission to prevent diodes from breaking and / or redistribute otherwise lost energy back into heating the pot.



Week Four Update:
This week in shop we worked on gluing the diodes onto the bowl to prepare for our first test run next week. We mainly focused on the mix of the JB Weld and the Magnesium Oxide and experimented with different quantities of each to find the perfect mix. Afterwards, we glued the diodes and copper wire onto the bowl and tested to make sure that the system was not short circuiting in any area. We look forward to seeing how much heat we can run through the system next week!