Funny but very practical idea developed by MIT students, a new type of solar powered outdoor grill.
Based on MIT professor David Wilson technology, this grill collect solar thermal energy and store it to allow up to 25 hours cooking times at temperatures above 230 Celsius degrees.
Innovation Teams, “iTeams”is a unique MIT course that bring together cross-disciplinary students teams from all institute with a goal to teach students the process of science and technology commercialization very well focused to judge the commercial potential of
technology. This course is conducted by Derek Ham, Eric Uva and Theodora Vardouli.
According to Wilson “there are a lot of solar cookers out there”, “but surprisingly not many using latent-heat storage as an attribute to cook the food.” In fact the Wilson’s technology uses Fresnel lens to harness solar thermal energy to melt down a container of Lithium Nitrate which it serves as solar battery. The solar thermal energy is stored long period of time at a higher temperature. When necessary heat is is redistributed through convection and used for outdoor cooking.
The students are creating a new kind of grill for American backyards but the business plan was design to be mainly deployed in developing countries as an alternative source for cooking. Wilson came up with idea during his travel in Nigeria while he noticed the issue of practice of cooking with firewood. Another starting point for this idea was the repeated reports of women being raped during daily search for firewood, constant increase in deforestation and respiratory issues due to the daily inhalation of smoke. According to the UN Statistics Division, 55% of households in sub-Saharan Africa depend on firewood. We hope developing countries will appreciate this Solar Grill.
According to Barbecue Industry Association, in 1990, over 75% of all US households owned a barbecue grill and 40% owned more than one. To be suitable for American market the proposed US model would be a hybrid system of both propane and solar thermal energy.
The technology of using solar thermal energy is in the stage of prototype, and probably in a few years will be on market.