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Solar Cooking:This week's featured article/2007-05-06

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Solar Fryer

I (Mike Pool) wanted to make a large solar cooker. I wanted it versatile enough to cook steaks or brown the crust on a large pizza. US$574 and 67 truck mirrors later, I had a solar fryer with 4 square meters of sunlight directed to the bottom of the grill. I cook pizzas on the fryer in a 19 inch aluminum motorcycle wheel ($40) with a special low iron glass cover ($200).

I started with an anodized aluminum griddle that was on a military surplus website. The griddle weighs 52 pounds and is 23 inches deep and 43 inches wide. I painted the bottom of the grill black bbq paint. Even though the anodized grill is dark, black paint is better still for absorbing heat. The grill, at a comfortable working height of about 36 inches, is supported by an adjustable stand that is normally used for an electric piano or keyboard. The truck mirrors are 15.5 inches by 6 inches, and mounted onto four frames.

I start cooking around 30 minutes before solar noon. With the sun at an azimuth of 178.46 degrees, and an elevation of 59.16 degrees and an ambient temperature of 19 degrees Celsius, the grill reached a temperature of 174.5 degrees Celsius (346.1 degrees Fahrenheit). This was enough to cook a 16 inch pizza in about 30 minutes.
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