Amazing Solar Oven Facts: Learn How The Sun's Energy Can Be Used To Cook! | Kidadl


Amazing Solar Oven Facts: Learn How The Sun's Energy Can Be Used To Cook!

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In the 1870s, the French Foreign Legion first developed the technique of cooking meals from the sun.

The solar oven is an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way to cook food. Solar cookers absorb solar radiation and convert it into a powered source.

It is really hard to believe that ancient people didn’t use such technology, as the principle behind it is very simple: solar energy. However, in today’s era, the solar oven is very useful and is used mostly by developing countries, as it doesn't require fuel to cook. The cookers are a lifesaver for people in rural areas where amenities like food preparation and heating water are not provided.

It is believed that the sun converts 4 million ton (3.6 met ton) of power into heat every second. Why not use such energy to conserve the planet? The solar cookers are efficient and sustainable as they save money, fuel, gas, electricity, and do not burn food due to their slow heating. It is also easy to transport because of its portability.

Today, many kinds of ovens have been invented that also prevent deforestation and desertification, namely parabolic ovens, box ovens, or panel cookers. Whatever the designs are, the oven must be capable of concentrating sunlight from over a wide area onto the prime. These range from basic camp setups to actual cooking devices. However, the four most common types of solar cookers are vacuum tube ovens, solar panel ovens, and more.

Although the solar oven seems like a child’s play, with every pro comes a con too. The device is capable of gathering sunlight, but have you ever wondered about the days when it’s cloudy or raining? Another problem is that the sun keeps moving, and these ovens need to shift to keep them aligned with the sunlight and gather power. Certainly, there are many more limitations to the oven, and a perfect solar oven has yet to be invented.

Once you have finished reading this article on the solar oven, you must discover bottled water facts and flashlight facts, here at Kidadl!

Invention Of Solar Oven

The chronological efforts of French-Swiss physicist Solar Cooking started in 1767. The principles of the solar cooker were first described by the Swiss geologist, meteorologist, physicist, Alpine explorer, and mountaineer, Horace-Bénédict de Saussure.

But the use of solar energy began much further back in time. It existed amongst the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese, in its simplest form, for a purpose other than cooking. In the years 1651–1708, the solar cooker was first initiated by the German scientist Tschirnhausen. He classified them into two main categories – solar ovens and direct focusing solar concentrators.

Saussure built a five-glass layered miniature greenhouse turned upside down on a black table to cook fruits and bake bread. It was small, inexpensive, and easy to make. With time, DuCarlu, a French contemporary, added mirrors in the oven setup to gather more power and cook meals in an hour.

With such additions, the solar oven was invented and evolved with time. However, its evolution started in the late '50s. Today, more than 3 billion people around the world use solar ovens.

Parts Of A Solar Oven

As classified by German scientist Tschirnhausen, there are two main types of solar cookers: box-type solar ovens and solar concentrators. The box type is mainly used for household purposes, whereas the concentrator-type solar cookers, also called Scheffler's models, such as the Parabolic Solar Cooker and Tube Solar Cooker, are used for community cooking.

The box-type solar cooker is similar to the model used by Saussure to cook food. The important parts consist of an outer box made of aluminum foil or fiber-reinforced plastic. Then there is an inner box or tray that is slightly smaller than the outer box. It is made from an aluminum sheet coated with black paint to easily absorb the sun's rays. This tray is covered with a double glass lid that prevents heat from escaping from inside.

The space between the outer and inner box tray is packed with a thermal insulator. It is used to reduce heat loss from the cooker. However, to increase radiation input, a mirror is fixed on the inner side of the main cover. Most importantly, a container that is placed in the oven made of aluminum or stainless steel is also painted black on the outer surface on which the foods are cooked.

The parabolic solar concentrator comprises a solar concentrating disk or a primary reflector that concentrates solar energy to a focal point. An automatic tracking system that assists solar disks rotates in the direction of the Sun to give accurate radiation.

Also, a secondary reflector is adjusted on the north-facing wall or below the cooking vessel in the cooking place to receive and reflect the solar energy onto the bottom of the cooking vessel.

Solar energy is the safest form of energy.

How A Solar Oven Works

Solar oven technology works on the triple principle- concentrating heat, converting light energy to solar energy, and trapping solar energy. It is also called the ‘3C rule of successful solar cooking'.

Solar ovens are generally designed to achieve a temperature of about 149-752 F (65–400 C) on a bright sunny day in a parabolic oven. However, to concentrate the radiation of the sun into a small cooking area, a mirror with high specular reflection is used. The mirror acts as a solar reflector that gathers sun rays by several orders of magnitude to bring out enough higher temperatures to melt metal.

A thin, dark-colored receiver concentrates this power. This process is called conduction. However, to increase the conversion of light energy from solar panels into heat, different kinds of materials are used to conduct and possess heat. Infrared radiation is absorbed by dark colors, as light colors are used as reflectors.

Last but not least, after conduction, different methods are used to conserve the heat produced in the solar oven. A method of isolation is used to reduce convection. For example, using a magnifying glass to enhance light absorption or a cooking bag to serve a similar purpose.

Benefits Of Using A Solar Oven

Solar cooking at high temperatures like in a vacuum tube is used for several purposes, such as stir-frying vegetables, making soup, grilling meats, baking bread, heating water, and more. These solar cookers heat food and prepare meals within an hour.

Unlike other cooking methods, solar ovens are foolproof and energy-efficient. The cookers are self-contained, which directs solar radiation within, which also prevents fire and smoke. It conserves the environment and eliminates the need to harvest wood for fuel. These ovens use solar heat, which saves time for gathering fuel such as wood, gas, or electricity for cooking.

Not only the environment, but this technology helps save money as well. It reduces the cost of fossil fuels or electricity and can give large economic benefits as it is free. It is also beneficial to health as cooking with such powered energy preserves about 10–20% of the protein in the food. And the food cooked is amazing in taste, as the slow nature of cooking retains taste and flavor.

The most interesting fact about solar cookers is that they can be used to cook anywhere, whether at the beach, camp, coach roof, or home backyard. They are light in weight, portable, and can be carried anywhere. Therefore, solar ovens' technology is not only efficient and effective but also has economic and environmental benefits.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for amazing solar oven facts: learn how the sun’s energy can be used to cook, then why not take a look at 39 impressive aluminum facts that all kids should know or 15 curious Peterloo massacre facts that reflect the industrial revolution.

Written By
Joan Agie

<p>With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.</p>

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