User-friendly Solar Ovens for Outdoor and Indoor Use

EPA Grant Number: SU833914
Title: User-friendly Solar Ovens for Outdoor and Indoor Use
Investigators: Li, Peiwen
Institution: University of Arizona
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2008 through August 14, 2009
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The goal of this project is to develop safer and user-friendly solar ovens for indoor and outdoor cooking. Use sunlight for cooking has long been envisioned as an energy saving and clean technology that can greatly benefit people. Currently, solar ovens and solar cooking devices mostly use parabolic dish or trough reflectors to concentrate sunlight. It is often unsafe or unpleasant for people to access a cooker which stands at a focus point in front of a reflector. They can easily expose themselves to the concentrated sunlight accidentally. Blockage of sunlight by people moving around the concentrator is also disadvantageous for the receiver to get the maximum amount of sunlight. Therefore making a solar cooking device to be highly safe and user-friendly, and even capable of indoor use is the objective of this research.


Instead of reflective solar concentrators, large Fresnel lenses are to be used to concentrate solar light. Fresnel lenses manufactured using the state-of-the-art technology and material are thin, light weight, and cost effective. For outdoor cooking, the focused sunlight is casted on a heat dissipation metal block, which receives and conducts solar heat to a hot surface. The concentrated sunlight is effectively protected from exposure to people who operate and cook. Optical fiber cable is to be developed to transfer the concentrated sunlight into a house and provides heat to indoor cooking device. Strong sunlight will be well harnessed in such a process, and safety is assured. A capstone senior design team by six students from mechanical engineering and optical engineering will be formed to carry out the research, design, and prototype fabrication in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arizona.

Expected Results:

Prototype solar ovens will be built, which includes an effective solar tracking control system, a Fresnel lens and optical system, and a metal block serving for heat conduction and hot surface. The power level of the solar oven for outdoor cooking or barbeque is projected to be around 1000 W. For indoor solar oven, the power level largely depends on the effective solar light transferring technique to be developed in the project. The targeted power level is around 500W.

Supplemental Keywords:

Solar energy, User-friendly solar oven, Sustainable development, Clean technology, Innovative technology, Heat transfer, Thermal protection, Optical system, Multi-Disciplinary,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report