The concessionaire Águas de Teresina, the Superintendence of Partnerships and Concessions of Piauí (Suparc) and the State University of Piauí (Uespi) are going to invest in stoves that work with solar energy. The project, born at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), aims to help low-income families who suffer from high prices for cooking gas and electricity.
Águas de Teresina, the company responsible for water supply and sewage collection in the state since 2017, decided to enter the project as a way of investing in social programs and environmental awareness – as opposed to gas, wood or electric equipment, the stove solar does not generate pollution.
In July, Uespi and Suparc signed another partnership to promote extension, research and education aimed at developing projects in the area of clean energy.
Solar cooker project using scrap was born at UFRN
If when reading “solar stove” you thought of an electric stove that uses energy generated by a photovoltaic panel, know that it is nothing like that. The project is simpler: using mirrors arranged in a parabola, the device reflects the sun’s rays to a focal point, where the pan is placed.
The technology has been studied by Professor Luiz Guilherme Meira de Souza, who has been coordinating the UFRN hydraulic machinery laboratory and researching solar energy for over 40 years. In an interview with BBC Brazil in 2018, he says he didn’t invent the device, but works to improve it and make it viable with cheaper materials.
The solar cooker design uses pieces of mirrors arranged in a concave lens. These pieces can be obtained from scrap metal. The base can be made of resin, fiberglass or other materials. The cost is R$700, but large-scale production could make it cheaper
Souza’s students also developed a solar oven using tires, mirrors and a transparent lid to create the greenhouse effect and heat the equipment’s interior. In another oven project, made using MDF, it was possible to bake nine cakes in an hour and a half.
Obviously, equipment of this type needs to be outside the houses to make the best use of sunlight, preferably between 9 am and 2 pm, and they do not work on cloudy or rainy days. Also, it is necessary to wear sunglasses to avoid eye damage.
Alternative to firewood and option for camping
The idea of using sunlight to cook elements has also been studied for some decades and is supported by some initiatives around the world. Solar Cookers International, a non-profit organization based in California (USA), proposes that equipment of this type be adopted to replace firewood, which is still widely used in poor regions of the planet.
According to Alan Bigelow, scientific director of the institution, three billion people across the planet still depend on burning wood for cooking. The exchange would avoid accidents, burns and health risks, in addition to reducing pollution and deforestation.
Products of this type are also sold at retail in other countries. GoSun, a brand of solar energy appliances, has a line of solar ovens that work on the same principle. They are meant for camping, picnics and barbecues.
The equipment has mirrors to converge the sun’s rays towards a closed tube, where the food is roasted. The device family starts at $100 and has good reviews on Amazon.
With information: Government of Piauí, BBC Brasil, UOL, The New Yorker