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The BYU Solar Cooker/Cooler

The BYU Solar Cooker/Cooler

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The parabolic cooker involves a reflective dish that concentrates sunlight to a point where the food is cooked. This approach is very dangerous since the sun's energy is focused to a point which is very hot, but which cannot be seen. (BYU students and I built one which will set paper on fire in about 3 seconds!) I learned that an altruistic group had offered reflecting parabolas to the people living at the Altiplano in Bolivia. But more than once the parabolas had been stored next to a shed -- and the passing sun set the sheds on fire! The people did not want these dangerous, expensive devices, even though the Altiplano region has been stripped of fuel wood.

The box cooker: Basically an insulated box with a glass or plastic lid, often with a reflecting lid to reflect sunlight into the box. Light enters through the top glass (or plastic), to slowly heat up the box. Problems: energy enters only through the top, while heat is escaping through all the other sides, which have a tendency to draw heat away from the food. When the box is opened to put food in or take it out, some of the heat escapes and is lost. Also, effective box cookers tend to be more complicated to build than the funnel cooker.

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