Last updated: March 16, 2011
George Löf, deceased, created two of the first active system solar-heated homes in America. He was a former director of the Industrial Research Institute at the University of Denver, Colorado, and an early pioneer of solar-powered techonolgy, including solar cooking. A voluble apostle for all things sun-powered, he conducted his first experiments with solar-power homes during World War II. Born in 1913 in Aspen, Colorado, USA, when it was still a mining town, Mr. Löf was the son of a country doctor who had emigrated from Sweden. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Denver and earned a doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
While Mr. Löf focused primarily on home heating, he sought to develop other applications for his research, including, most notably, a solar cooker. Crafted during the 1950's from metallized plastic sheeting, and shaped like an umbrella, his solar cooker's precise parabolic form focused the sun's rays, creating enough heat to broil a steak. Mr. Löf joked that it would cook in the sunshine, and act as an umbrella in the rain. But the Umbroiler, as he dubbed it, was a commercial failure for the times. He worked on other solar cookers that were distributed in developing countries by Unesco. He also patented a system for using solar heat to distill freshwater from seawater.