Institutional solar cooking involves cooking for groups with an single integrated solar cooking system, rather than simply using many smaller solar cookers. It may be designed for communal village use, a restaurant or bakery, or large scale production facilities preparing many thousands of meals per day. The cooking equipment employs basic solar cooking principles, and takes advantage of economy of scale.
Solar cooking with steam heat
Some of the most familiar examples of institutional cooking have used Scheffler reflector technology to heat water to create steam for cooking. Installations at religous shrines, such as those at Tirupati and Shirdi in India, illustrate the prodigious cooking capability of this approach. The system at the Shirdi shrine uses seventy-three parabolic reflectors mounted on the kitchen rooftop, and prepares food for 20,000 devotees daily. It is in use over 300 days per year. The remaining days it uses the back-up wood fired boiler, which had been their sole source for cooking until January 2011.
Another example of concentrating parabolic reflector techinology is used at the Auroville Solar Kitchen, a collective kitchen for the Auroville community, an "experimental" township in the Viluppuram district, in Tamil Nadu, India. It serves lunch daily in its dining hall, and sends lunches out to schools and to individuals as well. It derives its name from the large Auroville Solar Bowlon its roof, which provides the steam for cooking on all the sunny days of the year. Back-up steam, if needed, is provided by a diesel fired boiler.
Solar cooking directly with sunlight
Institutional, or community systems, can also use large Parabolic solar reflectors to focus sunlight directly onto a cooking chamber, often with an integral grilling surface used with the Scheffler Community Kitchen.A smaller scale example of a parabolic community solar cooker is the Community Solar Cooker 3 SQ MT designed by Ajay Chandak.
A solar box cooker approach, scaled for community use, has been created by Sun Ovens International, and is called the Villager Sun Oven. Villager Sun Ovens are currently in use in fifty-five countries around the world. The primary use is for large scale feeding or for bakeries. The oven is capable of reaching temperatures in excess of 260°C (500°F).
There is an optional 150 piece Sun-Bakery package, enabling the creation of a self-sustaining micro-enterprise to turn out fresh baked goods, while creating jobs and eliminating the cost of fuel. Some schools use a Villager oven to cook lunches and then bake bread in the afternoon. The bread is sold to help generate income.
Recent news and developments
- September 2008: Energy and exergy efficiency comparison of community-size and domestic-size paraboloidal solar cooker performance - S.C. Kaushik and M.K. Guptasible
Audio and video
Articles about institutional cookers