Engineers Develop Sustainable Solar Cooker

After developing SolSource to help alleviate pollution and health problems in the Himalayas, Dr. Catlin Powers has brought a portable version to North America.

Dr. Catlin Powers visited China as a college sophomore, to study climate change in the Himalayas. The citizens told her that even though scientists came to study outdoor pollution, there was much more pollution inside from cooking fires. She says that every year more than half a million people in China die from breathing toxic cooking smoke. Knowing that cooking with fire and consumable fuel was dangerous she began to seek solutions and developed solar cooking devices. Her company One Earth Designs developed SolSource, a solar cooker that has been deployed all over the world. A portable version branded as the SolSource Sport is currently finishing a highly successful Kickstarter funding campaign.

SolSource Sport is designed to pack into a two foot carrying back and weigh less than ten pounds. Assembly can be done in less than five minutes, and no fuel is required. State and National Parks that prohibit fires will allow users to use the SolSource Sport. The solar power works with moderate winds from 0-30 miles per hour and temperatures from 30-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The campaign page says that ‘as long as you can see your shadow, SolSource Sport will work.’ Heat generated from the grill can reach a maximum of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

The original design has been marketed as a way to give developing nations a way to sustainably prepare food and heat their homes. Cooking is the main focus but other applications exist in terms of disaster preparation, people living off the grid, and sanitation. It’s really interesting to see a product that was designed for developing societies take on a new life as something marketed here in North America. It’s a great example of engineers filling a need in one place and then transferring that technology to other markets and industries. The campaign ends on June 14 and first units are expected to ship in August 2017.