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Last updated: 28 July 2014
The University of Arizona Solar Stove came about under the direction of Dr. Peiwen (Perry) Li at the University of Arizona, USA. He was the head of a design team that received a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency for its development. Their approach uses a Fresnel lens to collect and focus the light.
The system has a two-axis solar tracking mechanism with very low power need (using batteries or a small solar panel). The large Fresnel lens was chosen to pursue several advantageous features: (1) large Fresnel lens are popular optical items nowadays for large TV screens which are commercially available at low cost, (2) the sunlight focus point and the stovetop in this design are behind the lens and therefore the sunlight will not be blocked by the person who cooks using the stovetop, (3) the heat conduction in the stove can be properly designed to separate the sunlight focus point from the person who uses the stovetop, (4) a sunlight shield/shelter may be attached to the stove to keep the stove-user from being burned by the sunlight, (5) you have the feeling of using a normal stove for cooking except it uses solar energy.
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Peiwen (Perry) Li, Ph.D.
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
The University of Arizona, Tucson, USA