Solar Thermal Cooker

Introduction: Solar Thermal Cooker

The goal of the project was to design a solar cooker that can boil water to cook instant noodles. The maximum temperature was 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  This project would interest people in third world countries who need to cook their food, but do not have a lot of resources. These materials should cost under $20, and most if it can be recycled. It will take about 3 hours to assemble, and the final project should be square feet. Scissors and box cutters are dangerous, and sunglasses should be worn when cooking to prevent vision damage.

-3 foam sheets (21 in X 21 in)
-1 foam sheet (18 in X 8 in)
-1 roll of reflective Mylar
-4 Popsicle sticks
-a pan
-a pack of ramen
-a roll of string

Cardboard can substitute for foam sheets. Reflective tape, or aluminum foil can be used to replace the Mylar. Wooden pencils or any strong stick can be used in place of the Popsicle sticks.

-box cutters
-duct tape
-yard stick

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Step 1: Physics of How It Works

The mylar covered foam pieces capture the light from the sun. The reflective pieces is angled to reflect all the light to focus on one point, which is the black pan. Since the black color absorbs light (unlike white, which reflects light), the light energy is turned into heat energy. This heat energy is used to heat up the water in order to cook the food.

Step 2: Step 1

First, use the yard stick and box cutter to measure and cut out three 21'' X 21'' in foam pieces, and one 18''X 8'' piece.

Step 3: Step 2

Second, measure, and cut the reflective Mylar the same size as the foam pieces. Afterwards, cover the foam pieces with the reflective Mylar. Make sure there are no air bubbles or wrinkles, as this will reduce the amount of light that can be reflected.
Tip: when attaching the Mylar, stick one end to the foam board first, without removing the whole thing. Afterwards, slowly remove it while smoothing out the other end. 

Step 4: Step 3

Next, attach the three 21''X21'' pieces together in the shape of half a cube. Use the string to secure the shape by tying it to two ends of the foam pieces. 

Step 5: Step 4

Pick one side of the 21''X21'' foam pieces, and attach the Popsicle sticks on each end at an angle so it can hold the 18''X8'' foam piece in place. Use duct tape to secure it to the back of the foam piece (the side that is not covered in Mylar).

Step 6: Step 5

Place the 18''X8'' piece on the secured Popsicle sticks. 

Step 7: Step 6

Bring the materials out into the sun. Be sure to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the reflection of the light from the sun reflecting off the Mylar. Face the reflective sides to the sunlight, and make adjustments in the angles in order to focus all the light onto one point. 

Step 8: Step 7

Fill the pan with water, and put the instant noodles in. Then place the pan onto the point where all the reflected light is focused. Wait for the noodles to cook (this will take about 10-15 minutes). 

Step 9: Result

The cooker was able to heat up to about 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and cook the instant noodles. Since we succeeded in cooking the noodles, we were happy with our product. Next time, we would attach more reflective surfaces to it, in order focus more light and heat up the pan even more.

Step 10: Usage Tips, Tricks, Hints:

-The angle of the half cube might have to be adjusted, depending on the angle of the sunlight. Also, the cubes can be made out of mirrors, which is even more reflective and shiny than the Mylar.
-When cooking, cover the pan with a lid to trap the heat in so it can cook faster.
-Cook in a place without wind, because the wind will cool down the pan, and possibly blow the cooker away.

Step 11: Credits, Thank-You’s, Final Thoughts

Special thanks to Mr. Bording for buying us materials and teaching us the physics needed to build the solar cooker. 

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