Last updated: April 1, 2015
The Solar Cooker Project Team at Cornell University team designs, builds, and tests solar cookers or ovens. Our mission is to improve and optimize solar oven designs in order to provide the third world with a cheap, sustainable, easy alternative to wood fired cooking. We are partnered with Grupo Fenix, an organization at the Universidad Nacional de Ingeneria in Managua, Nicaragua, and Las Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa, a women's collective in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua. Grupo Fenix works in rural areas to develop, implement and publicize renewable, sustainable solutions to energy needs in rural Nicaragua. Las Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa has worked with Grupo Fenix building and using solar cookers and dryers and has recently opened a solar restaurant, in which the food is prepared with solar cookers and other alternative energy cooking methods, including use of electricity from photovoltaic solar arrays and gas from bio-digested manure. Sabana Grande is in a region suffering from deforestation. The use of solar ovens reduce the need for women to spend hours of their day gathering cooking fuels and helps reduce the health risks from fires used for cooking and the smoke from open fires in the cooking areas, frequently within the house. The Solar Cooker Team works to evolve the cooker design in use in Nicaragua and increase the use of Solar Ovens. The team has visited Las Mujeres... and Grupo Fenix in Sabana Grande.
Recent news and developments
- Spring 2013: During Spring Break of 2013, 8 students and team members traveled to Sabana Grande. The team included Meg Hilbert, Emma LeJeune, Joanna Cherches, Hayley Kantor, Kevin Keene, Chris Perrotti, Angel Martinez and Tim Bond from Cornell and Ginger Ortega from UAM in Nicaragua. We arrived in Managua at midday on Sunday March 17th, were met by Lyndsey Chapman of Grupo Fenix, bused to Sabana Grande and met our families. Each person of our team stayed with the family of a different member of las Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa. Our technical exchange began Monday morning. We described our several projects in progress during the last year and Las Mujeres described their projects. We decided to build a portable oven of a new style developed by a carpenter (and the women) who volunteered with the Solar Women for several months, a new solar water distiller with a different heating plate design and a bicycle powered electricity generator which would not require modifying the bike. Members of the Las Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa, Jovenes Pedaleando Hacia El Futuro our team split into three groups to work on the projects.
- Spring 2012: Xochitl Cruz, Jocie Kluger, Emma Lejeune, Meghan Hilbert, Alex Huang and Tim Bond (Tim writing) of the CEE3090 Solar Cooker Project visited with our collaborators at Las Mujeres... and Grupo Fenix this spring in Sabana Grande during spring break (March 16 through 25). Lee Fritz and Jenna Morse of Calm Dog Productions documented the projects on film. We left Ithaca on Friday night driving to JFK to catch a 6am flight to San Jose, Costa Rica followed by a flight to Managua. Karen Holway, a skilled furniture maker, joined the team in Managua for the third year, lending her considerable skill and talent. The primary intent of the project for this year was to design and build versions of cookers designed for prefabrication and easy shipment. The standard cooker design is 30 inches square (exterior), 12 inches high and weighs roughly 60 pounds. It is an effective cooker, but is not easy to ship, especially with its heavy and brittle double glazed top. More info and photos...
- Spring 2011:Harrison Ko, Sarah Clement, Karen Holway, Francis Vanek and Tim Bond visited Sabana Grande this spring break (March 19th through 26th). Hari, Sarah and I drove overnight from Ithaca to Newark Airport and caught the 6am flight to Atlanta, where we rendezvoused with Karen, then flew to Managua. The flights went well. The marvelous and wonderful Lyndsey Chapman met us at the airport and guided us to Sabana Grande via an express bus. The bus was pretty crowded, requiring one of us to stand in the aisle for the whole trip, though no live chickens. The Solar Center in Sabana Grande was much changed from my last visit (this is Tim writing), with substantial progress on the Solar Restaurant, new gardens to support the restaurant effort, more solar panels and more cookers. Our families gathered us up and took us home for the night. We took a day trip to Somoto Canyon, a totally beautiful canyon on the upper reaches of the Rio Coco, on Sunday. On Monday morning we met the group from MIT working on a charcoal stoves and making charcoal from corn straw and other waste vegetable materials. The cooker building started with discussions of what to build during the week: a new large cooker with fiberglass insulation (instead of wood planings) and a metal stand was the decision. Hari, Sarah and Karen teamed with Alejandra and Ramuldah to build the cooker. Reyna, Maria Magdalena and I worked on the support frame. One of the previous volunteers had worked out the dimensions for an angle iron frame which we adjusted for the larger oven. Cutting the angle iron with a hand hacksaw is lots of work. We set up the miter saw that the PV team uses to cut aluminum for the frames of the solar panels with a blade for cutting steel and had a training session on safe use of the saw. A second miter saw with a blade for cutting wood was donated to the Solar Center and put into operation after a safety training course. The teams worked diligently to finish the new cooker and the stand (support frame with wheels). Francis traveled separately, first to Costa Rica, then to Sabana Grande, arriving Wednesday morning. The Solar Center had a large drill press that was donated some time ago, but never used. We cleaned and lubricated the drill and frame and required the switches to get the press working nicely, then had a safety training class to teach safe use of this very dangerous tool. We finished the cooker and stand on Friday just before our closing party/event at which most everyone performed. The Solar Children put on a couple skits which were the hit of the show. Photos from the trip...
Cornell Solar Design Manuals
- Links to several construction manuals used at various times by the Solar Cooker Project team - Solar Cooker Design Manuals
Tim Bond, Staff Advisor
Solar Cooker Project Team at Cornell University