College - Author 1

College of Science and Mathematics

Department - Author 1

Physics Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Physics



Primary Advisor

Nathan Heston, College of Science and Mathematics, Physics Department


In developing countries, the use of wood burning fires for cooking is cause for illness and death. With this in mind, research was conducted to develop a solar cooking device capable of cooking of soup within 15 mins in order to reduce the negative impacts of cooking with wood. Current methods of solar-based cooking, such as solar concentrators and solar tube ovens, are impractical. A small solar panel is a cost-effective way to produce energy but will not produce enough power to cook within a reasonable amount of time. Even if it is assumed that all of the energy produced by the panel is transferred into the soup, it will take about to bring it to a boil. To allow for the use of solar panels, thermal batteries utilizing phase change materials were researched. Thermal batteries can store energy produced throughout the day and release it when the user is ready to cook. In solar-based technologies, a common substance used as a phase change material to store is erythritol. Erythritol is a sugar-substitute that has a heat of fusion ranging from but it also has a low conductivity at when it is a solid. Due to low conductivity, if a thermal battery is made with only erythritol the rate of heat transfer will rapidly decrease to an unusable power. This is caused by a layer of solid erythritol that hinders heat flow. To increase the thermal conductivity, the battery can be laced with a metallic foam. Production of the suggested battery was not possible so a weighted average for the conductivity was determined to be . The new conductivity allows for a rate of heat transfer with a layer of solid erythritol, creating a unit with a higher rate of heat transfer than the pure erythritol battery. These findings can lead to the creation of a solar based cooker that utilizes a thermal battery.