MCKEESPORT, Pa. — At Penn State Greater Allegheny, Instructor in Environmental Engineering Alandra Kahl’s students in her Energy and the Environment (EGEE 101) course recently built and tested solar ovens.
Solar ovens are used around the world in developing areas as a cheap and efficient way to cook food. They are environmentally friendly, as they use the heat of sun to warm food, rather than wood or charcoal as fuel. Kahl explained that this reduces deforestation and increases quality of life for those using the cookers, as they are not expending energy gathering firewood or inhaling wood smoke while preparing dishes.
The type of cooker the students made is a box cooker. Box cookers cook at moderate to high temperatures and often accommodate multiple pots. Worldwide, they are the most widespread.
Students placed their ovens on the lawn in front of the lion statue and took temperature readings every ten minutes to find out the efficiency of their solar ovens. Each oven had a bag of chips and cheese to make solar nachos inside. Temperature data were then used to find a performance index for each oven based on temperature difference and cost. Students were then able to eat their results.