By Alexander Villafania
COTABATO CITY, MINDANAO – In the last three months, we’ve experienced among the hottest periods ever recorded in the country’s history. Perhaps there’s a way we can harness the sun’s energy to cook our meals.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) says temperatures could reach 40 degrees Celsius as the summer season reaches its peak. This means there will be more sunny days ahead. How about we try to experiment on “solar cooking”?
As the name implies, solar cooking primarily uses trapped heat and light from the sun to cook food. Trapping the heat and light of the sun requires uniquely designed stoves such as heat trap boxes and parabolic (or curved) concentrators. Majority of these devices are actually homemade and their most common material is reflective glass or metal, which should generate concentrated heat. This wiki on solar cooking and its elements gives more details.
Dark surfaces also absorb and retain heat better than light colored surfaces, which is why many solar cookers employ black colored metal pots. It takes a bit longer for food to be cooked in a solar panel, though in some cases, and depending on the kind of solar stove that is used. Here is an example of a Filipino dish, chicken adobo, being cooked in a solar box.
There had been only a handful of other experiments regarding the use of the sun for cooking. A Norwegian company called Green Life Innovators developed a solar cooker branded as the “CooKit”. The company’s chairman Vidar Kristiansen has been in the Philippines to promote CooKit as well as its other environment-friendly solutions.
The CooKit solar stove is actually made up of readily available household products such as cardboard, glue, a cooking bag, and aluminum foil. The foil is glued onto a cardboard, which is then folded to allow light to reflect back and forth. A black colored clay or metal pot is then wrapped inside the cooking bag, then placed in the middle of the solar stove. As the foil reflects sunlight towards the foil, the cooking bag will retain the heat inside, increasing the temperature and allow the food to be cooked.
Because of the simplicity of making a solar stove, Green Life Innovators even gave out a detailed schematic of the CooKit solar stove that they’re promoting.
Another solar cooking project being conducted in the Philippines is the one by the German Development Service (DED). Under the program called Small Scale Solutions for Reducing Emission of Greenhouse Gases, they implemented a solar cooking training program for some residents in Mindanao last 2009. The project utilizes the Kyoto Box, an invention by Norwegian Jon Bohmer. The project’s goal was to provide alternative methods of cooking that are cheap, safe, and environment-friendly.
And like the people from Green Life Innovators, they also provided a blueprint of a solar stove that is similar to the Kyoto Box, with the same types of materials being employed.
As the summer season continues to heat up our homes, maybe it’s time to start using that much sunlight for something that we can truly appreciate: cooking our food.
(Image courtesy of http://philippines.ded.de)
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