It is a bit ironic that a solar cooker technology is being developed in Trondheim, where there hardly is any sun. The days of clear blue sky with no clouds are almost unheard of. This means that the scientists have to look closely at the weather forecast, and once the sun is here you can forget to speak to them. They are only interested in their solar cooker and testing how high the temperatures can get.
The NUFU Solar cooker project has really come a long way since I last visited them. The project differs from other solar cookers, since it aims to create a solar cooking solution that allows for high temperatures and heat storage. The capacity of the heat storage is designed to store heat up to 250 degrees celsius. This allows the end-users to cook when and where they want to, by simply collecting a heated storage from the solar cooker and bringing it to where they want to cook. The heat will be high enough to last 24 hours so that they can cook meals morning, day and night.
To deal with the lack of sun, they have made a solution. An artifical sun will make them able to test the technology even on dark winter days.
Asfafaw is from the Mekelle university in Ethiopia and is doing his Ph.D on this project. Once finished with his Ph.D he wishes to focus on making technologies like this fit the local demand so that it will be used and have a real impact. In Ethiopia, he emphasizes that unless the solution can be used for cooking injera, it simply won’t be used. Asfafaw explains that if an add-on is successfully designed, it may be sufficient with 120 degrees celcius to cook injera. This is clearly a design challenge in addition to a technological one, and is an issue raised also by the ethanol stove distributors such as the Gaia project and Green Technology in Nairobi.