College - Author 1

College of Science and Mathematics

Department - Author 1

Physics Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Physics



Primary Advisor

Peter V. Schwartz, College of Science and Mathematics, Physics Department


The Insulated Solar Electric Cooker (ISEC) project is aimed at providing an alternative method for cooking that does not require fuel or fire, has no harmful emissions and is appealing to the culinary tradition of cultures around the world. The World Health Organization estimates that three billion people cook with biomass and coal, which causes 4 million deaths per year from breathing the associated emissions (WHO, 2016). Besides the dangers of indoor air pollution (Lim, 2013; Subramanian, 2014), cooking over open fires also results in deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions of CO2 and soot (MacCarty 2008; Bailis & Kammen 2005). The ISEC could provide a grass roots solution to these problems.

With an Insulated Solar Electric Cooker (ISEC), a 100 W solar panel can be used to directly cook food and provide electricity access and eliminate the health and environmental impacts of biomass cooking. With the addition of a phase change thermal storage the ISEC can cook more rapidly, as well as cook after sunset. The efficiency of this thermal storage is comparable to that of more expensive systems using battery storage and induction cooktops. The phase change medium we use (erythritol) has broad thermal storage utility, and we continue to find ways to increase the efficiency of the use of the stored heat.

One important factor for increasing the efficiency of the ISEC technology is that of insulation. Better insulation results in more heat energy being directed into cooking. Current models of our ISEC have the cook pot surrounded by fiberglass inside a larger container. While this provides great insulation the lack of physical stability of this arrangement leads to problems down the road as the fiberglass settles, the cookpot sinks and fiberglass is pushed up over the edges of the pot. In this paper I will document the exploration of various methods to provide the ISEC with stability, without compromising its insulation.