Design and Development of a Low Cost, Multifunction, Regionally Appropriate Solar Oven for Developing Countries in Latin America

EPA Grant Number: SU831889
Title: Design and Development of a Low Cost, Multifunction, Regionally Appropriate Solar Oven for Developing Countries in Latin America
Investigators: Carrano, Andres , Thorn, Brian
Current Investigators: Carrano, Andres , Allam, Otman El , Bates, Josh , Fulton, Emma , Plaz, Carlos , Privorotskaya, Natasha , Steiner, Jonathan , Thorn, Brian , Wood, Christopher
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 15, 2004 through May 31, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


In the average Latin American country, 45% of the population is below the poverty line and 36% live in rural settings (CIA World Factbook). For these sectors, solar ovens might represent their only affordable means of cooking and sterilization. Significant research efforts in the area have developed a thorough understanding of the physics and thermodynamics of these devices as well as produced several designs with high temperatures and heat efficiency as their main design criteria. However, there is a need for design efforts with localized mass production in mind. The objective of this study is to design and develop a series of effective multifunctional solar ovens that can be mass produced at low cost using the capital, labor and materials that are typically available in Latin American nations. A multidisciplinary senior design team will conduct the study within the context of RIT's Multidisciplinary Design sequence. The student design team will: 1) review the available literature on multiple use solar ovens; 2) review the constraints imposed by resource availability in Latin American countries; 3) develop a series of oven design concepts to meet the needs of the targeted populations; 4) select a set of design concepts to develop further as prototypes based on appropriate criteria (effectiveness, efficiency, unit manufacturing costs, manufacturability, etc); and 5) determine which prototype oven designs are most appropriate for the targeted user population based on appropriate criteria. This work is expected to lead into a fully specified, low cost solar oven that can be readily used to perform a number of functions (cooking, water sterilization, food preservation, waste sterilization, etc.). The oven will be easily fabricated in high volumes from locally available commodity materials using local labor and low tech equipment and materials. The widespread adoption of such ovens can also reduce fuelwood consumption in these nations, alleviating the deforestation and soil erosion that arise from the overharvesting of this resource. Finally, by designing such ovens to be made from locally available materials using local labor and capital, a positive economic impact is made in the community. Another outcome from this project includes increased student awareness of impact of product design on societal and environmental issues.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

engineering, solar energy, global climate, human health, developing countries, mass production,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, waste reduction, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, sustainable development, waste minimization, environmental sustainability, conservation, solar oven, energy efficiency, energy technology, engineering, solar energy, alternative energy source, resource recovery, renewable resource, renewable energy

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract
Phase 2 Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Design and Development of a Low Cost, Multifunction, Regionally Appropriate Solar Oven for Mass Production in Developing Countries in Latin America  | Final Report