Child eating
Child eating
Photo: Ian Berryman and Joseph Matiko

Researching practical use of solar cookers in Kenya

  • The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.6 million people in the developing world die each year from smoke inhalation due to cooking indoors using biomass and fossil fuels.
  • An effective low-cost solar cooker would not only cut deaths but would greatly enhance the quality of lives, removing the necessity of long treks to collect ever decreasing amounts of brushwood.
  • Solar cookers could be used across large parts of Africa, in India, China and elsewhere in the world. The potential humanitarian benefit is significant.
  • Professor Nick Jelley's research (Physics) on a low-cost solar concentrator - using simple surfaces - has shown that two single curved surfaces can focus sunlight to power a solar cooker: the Sun's energy is directed to the underside of a cooking platform, located away from the ground, and where the user can be shielded from the direct sun.
  • With direct sunlight the cooker is designed to provide heating in excess of 200ºC and can be used with a saucepan on a cooking surface, with an oven, or just with a suspended pot at a standard worktop height. It is comfortable to use, particularly for the elderly or infirm, and much more hygienic than a cooker placed directly on the ground.
  • Field trials in the UK, Europe and Africa are testing the performance of the current design. The results of the trials will then be used to refine a production standard model.