Affordable, Sustainable Solar Energy Heater For The Developing World

EPA Grant Number: SU834331
Title: Affordable, Sustainable Solar Energy Heater For The Developing World
Investigators: Bland, Larry , Kim, Young-Gurl
Current Investigators: Bland, Larry , Cordova, Moises , Kim, Young-Gurl , Sesler, Katie , Whittaker, Susanna
Institution: John Brown University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2009 through August 14, 2010
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The proposed research project question is: “What is an optimum, low-cost, and sustainable system for basic home water heating in underdeveloped areas of the planet?” In the United States, the availability of hot water is taken for granted. A knob is turned and hot water appears. Many people in developing countries are not as fortunate. When hot water is needed in some areas of the planet, it must be heated in a pot over a charcoal fire, a wood fire, or a gas flame. This process to prepare hot water through small batches is time consuming, energy inefficient, and often unaffordable. Therefore the proposed project research goal is to develop a system for heating water that helps people in developing countries save time, money, and energy, while providing adequate amounts of hot water for all of their household needs.


This research project has two objectives: 1) evaluate low-cost, easily maintainable, and sustainable coatings for a parabolic reflector that would be efficient and appropriate for developing locations; and 2) develop a simple, innovative, low cost method of tracking the daily movement of the sun that is usable in all latitudes and all seasons.


Use materials that are locally available in most underdevelop regions, cost affordable and maintainable. Test various materials to find an optimum solution based on materials, efficiency of operation and sustainability.

Expected Results:

Along with creating hot water for various household needs, it is expected that the water can reach a temperature sufficient to destroy pathogenic bacteria and provide a secondary benefit of a system that works both as a heater and a water pasteurizer.

Supplemental Keywords:

solar heating, solar energy source, energy conservation, carbon footprint reduction,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report