grill photo

MIT professor David Wilson developed a new solar powered energy technology that will bring solar cookers that function at night. This invention will significantly benefit developing nations who depend on wood for cooking.

Unfortunately, our grills are harmful to the environment. Whether you use wood chips, charcoal, or propane, it releases emissions and creates poor air quality. Up until now, solar cookers needed to the sun in order to function, which means that the environment suffers by night and evening barbeques, which, to be honest, is the prime time to have them.

The Perfect Solution for Us to Barbeque Without Ruining Our Environment

Wilson’s technology concept harnesses the sun and stores the latent heat for cooking. It stores latent heat for up to twenty-five hours at temperatures above 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The technology uses a Fresnel lens to hold the sun’s energy. The solar energy melts a container of Lithium Nitrate. This acts as a thermal-storing battery for 25 hours at a time. Afterwards, the heat releases for our favorite way to cook outdoors.

“There are a lot of solar cookers out there,” Wilson says. “But, surprisingly not many using latent-heat storage as an attribute to cook the food.”

There have been solar cookers, grills, and ovens made before. However, they all had to be used during the day to function.

Benefits For Developing Countries

Wilson came up with the idea after visiting Nigeria where their standard cooking method uses wood which results with issues like, respiratory illnesses, deforestation, and women being vulnerable to rape while searching for the firewood.

A group of MIT students are working to develop the technology for a prototype solar grill. Derek Ham, Theodora Vardouli, and Eric Uva are conducting a study through the multi-disciplinary course “iTeams,” which is short for “Innovation Teams”, to assess the concept and to then potentially launch a business to manufacture and distribute the barbeque.

The final goal is to create a business model for selling solar cookers for developing nations, in addition to creating a grill for the American market. The American version is potentially going to be a hybrid propane/solar model that will allow for flame cooking as thoroughly as thermal convection

Read more about solar cookers here