Designing a Low Cost Solar Oven for Rural Native American Communities

EPA Grant Number: SU835335
Title: Designing a Low Cost Solar Oven for Rural Native American Communities
Investigators: Chapa, Joe , Carron, Alice
Current Investigators: Abaraji, Casmir , Begay, Katherine , Boyd, Annessa , Carron, Alice , Chapa, Joe , Coan, Geraldine , Jones, Gibson , Large, Menell , Large, Shardick , Loius, Hondo , Manning, Ryan , Nizhoni, Nelson , Sam, Tamara
Institution: Navajo Technical College
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Cook Stoves , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The overarching goal of this project is to design safe, convenient, and effective energy saving solar ovens utilizing affordable materials that are accessible to rural populations residing on and around Native American Indian reservations. The poverty rate for American Indians is the highest among the country’s five racial and ethnic groups, with 31% of American Indians living in poverty compared to 13% of all Americans. According to the Navajo Nation Department of Economic Development, of the 68,744 housing units located on the reservation, there are 31.9% homes without plumbing, 18,000 Navajo homes without electricity, and only 13,447 have complete kitchen facilities. For these impoverished indigenous Americans, solar ovens represent an affordable means of cooking and sterilization. Therefore, we propose to utilize clean technology to design a cost-efficient, user-friendly solar cooking device that harnesses renewable energy sources, dramatically reduces the use of natural resources, cuts emissions and wastes, and provides a means for Native Americans that are living without kitchen facilities to cook food.


Navajo Technical College (NTC) believes that every student has the innate ability and intelligence to learn and acquire technical skills. NTC offers innovative, interdisciplinary coursework that incorporates field-based and work-based experiences into the curriculum in order to improve student’s understanding of basic principles. Funding will enable NTC to engage Navajo students and faculty in hands-on, experiential learning as they design and develop a safe, inexpensive, energy-efficient solar cooker that can be used by the approximately 18,000 underserved households that are living on the Navajo Nation reservation without kitchen facilities in their homes. Funding will support the design and development of a multi-functional low cost solar oven that can be easily constructed and used by community members to perform a number of functions including cooking, water sterilization, and food preservation. Phase II funding will support design optimization, fabrication, and deployment of solar ovens utilizing localized, clean, low cost materials that are developed during Phase I.

Expected Results:

Phase I funding will enable NTC to develop the prototypes which can then be successfully further developed under Phase II. We anticipate that Phase II finding will support design optimization of Phase I ovens, including fabrication, and deployment of perfected solar ovens that utilize localized, clean, low cost materials. Ovens will be delivered to local community members at Chapter Houses which are our centrally located community centers that best serve our remote reservation areas.

Supplemental Keywords:

Native American

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report