History of Solar Cooking Episode 2

We’re back with Episode 2 of the History of Solar Cooking

I think we left off with 1767.  Let’s move on to the 1800’s. 

1830– English astronomer Sir John Herschell cooked food in a similar insulated box on an expedition to South Africa in the 1860s and 70s.  Augustin Mouchot was the first to combine the box/oven heat trap and burning mirrors concepts to create a solar oven, a solar still, a solar pump and ultimately the first solar steam engine. He saw great commercial potential in France’s sun-rich, fuel-poor colonies in North Africa and Asia. In 1877 Mouchot devised solar cookers for French soldiers in Algeria, including a shiny metal cone, made from a 105.5 degree section of a circle. He baked bread in 3 hours, built a separate cooker to steam vegetables, tried shishkabobs in a parabolic cooker and also wrote the first book on Solar Energy and its Industrial Applications. He also pasteurized water and wine, and worked on a solar device to break down water to hydrogen and oxygen.

When improved coal transport and better political relations with England restored France’s source of coal, interest in solar energy waned and a discouraged Mouchot went back to teaching math. (Butti & Perlin, pp 66, 70-73; Narayanaswamy 2001, p. 93; Halacy, 1992, p. 3). 1876- In India W. Adams developed an octagonal oven with 8 mirrors which cooked rations for 7 soldiers in 2 hours (Narayanaswamy, 2001, p. 72). Dr. Charles G. Abbot, Secretary of the

American Smithsonian Institution was the first recorded inventor of solar cookers in which the heat collector was outside in the sun but the cooker itself was in the house, with heat carried from collector to cooker by circulating oil.

This solar boiler’s stored heat allowed cooking in the evening. 1884- Another Smithsonian scientist, Dr. Samuel P. Langley, solar cooked meals atop Mt. Whitney in California (Halacy, p. 4).

1891– Clarence Kemp, ‘father of solar energy in the USA,’ patented a solar water heater that enjoyed broad popularity, especially in California. Nearly 30% of houses in Pasadena had solar water heating systems by 1897. This industry declined during WWII when copper, a key material, was heavily rationed (Sklar & Sheinkopf, 1995). 1894- Xiao’s Duck Shop in Sichuan, China, roasted ducks by solar cooking (Wang, X., 1992, p. 12). 1930s- France sent many solar cookers to its colonies in Africa. India began to investigate solar energy as a substitute for dwindling wood and depletion of soil from burning crop residues and dung (Halacy, p. 4).

Stay tuned…

Solar Zenith Team