Mechanical Engineering Department
BS in Mechanical Engineering
This document is the full report for the senior project of Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering students Ian Davison and Devin Mast. The report encompasses the full project process, including background research, identification of need, design requirements, design development, proposed design, design realization, changes to proposed design, and design verification. We were tasked with the design and manufacture of a “dual mirror” solar cooker to verify a concept for a new type of off-axis parabolic solar cooker conceived by Dr. Pete Schwartz, the sponsor of the senior project and a physics professor at Cal Poly. Previously, off-axis parabolic solar cookers have used a deformable concentrator to adjust for seasonal change in solar position. The core innovation of the dual mirror concept was to replace the deformable concentrator with a rigid dish and use a tracking heliostat to adjust for seasonal variation, redirect the light, and provide a constant light source on the dish. The motivation for this modification is to simplify construction and lower costs, as deformable dishes must maintain precise geometry throughout deformation and are therefore difficult to manufacture. This means traditional off-axis parabolic solar cookers are often beyond the financial reach of the intended users: economically disadvantaged communities in developing countries. The scope of the project initially encompassed the creation of both the concentrator and the heliostat but was redefined at the beginning of fall quarter to solely encompass the tracking heliostat, as proof of concept could be accomplished using a previously built concentrator. The heliostat was completed and testing was performed fall quarter.