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

EPA Grant Number: SU832465
Title: Design and Development of a Low Cost, Multifunction, Regionally Appropriate Solar Oven for Mass Production in Developing Countries in Latin America
Investigators: Carrano, Andres , Thorn, Brian
Current Investigators: Carrano, Andres , Ballard, S. , Canavan, Daniel , Johnson, Emily , Minuto, Paula , Stewart, Joel , Thorn, Brian
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: II
Project Period: January 1, 2005 through October 31, 2006
Project Amount: $74,647
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2005) 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. For these sectors, solar ovens might represent their only affordable means of cooking and water pasteurization. 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 leading to a wider dissemination. Phase I in this project provided with the proof-of-concept development. It concluded with a low cost regionally appropriate design for mass production in developing countries, but the awareness objective was achieved only at the team level. The fact remains that very few people know about solar ovens and even fewer can afford to have one. Phase II proposes a thorough investigation of the mechanisms and barriers during dissemination at a wider scale with the design developed in Phase I. It would also look into optimizing the design produced by phase I for enhanced performance and minimal cost. The follow up Phase II proposes efforts in two tracks: (1) Deployment and Dissemination and (2) Design Optimization. The anticipated results from track (1) above include statistics on usage (i.e. utilization of the technology, rate of adoption, etc), end-of-life practices as well as a general understanding of the cultural barriers impeding wider adoption. The anticipated results from track (2) above include engineering analyses (thermodynamics, materials, etc) leading to a design with improved functionality at a reduced cost. Some of the design aspects to be optimized include: wall thickness, insulation gap, insulation material and packing density, thickness of collector plate, among others. The widespread adoption of such ovens can help reduce fuelwood consumption, deforestation, soil erosion, as well as the health problems associated with exposure to unsafe water and smoke. 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. This P3 concepts will be disseminated at the university via a involvement of a team of multidisciplinary engineering students, graduate seminars, and poster sessions within the college. The materials developed in this project will also be incorporated in the two existing courses on sustainable design.

Publications and Presentations:

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

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Engineering, Solar Energy, Global Climate, Human Health, Developing Countries, Mass Production, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, waste reduction, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, sustainable development, waste minimization, environmental sustainability, conservation, solar oven, design optimization, energy efficiency, energy technology, engineering, solar energy, alternative energy source, resource recovery, renewable resource, renewable energy

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract
Phase 1 Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2005
  • Final Report

  • P3 Phase I:

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