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Title of the Project: Development of portable indoor solar cooking device with energy storage facility

Brief Description

The problem at hand pertains to the limitations of conventional solar stoves, primarily used during daylight hours and restricted to outdoor conditions, making them impractical in adverse weather. The proposed solution aims to bridge these gaps by introducing a low-cost solar stove with thermal energy storage capabilities, which can serve as an alternative to traditional stoves that burn carbon-emitting biomass like coal or dung cakes. This transition is crucial for reducing health hazards and carbon footprints, as millions of people are affected by indoor air pollution caused by the combustion of such fuels.

While some existing solutions, such as Greenway Grameen Infra Pvt Limited's portable chullas, have mitigated smoke emissions, the combustion technology remains a concern. However, the real game-changer here is the "Surya Natun" solar stove from IOC, equipped with a rooftop solar panel and a thermal battery using silicon as the phase-changing material. This innovation has the potential to revolutionize indoor cooking while releasing stored solar energy, although its price range of Rs. 10,000 - Rs. 12,000 may limit initial adoption.

The proposed solar stove under consideration offers distinct advantages. It operates solely on solar energy, eliminating smoke generation and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Health hazards associated with traditional kitchen stoves are also eliminated, and the cost and installation are kept low due to the absence of expensive photovoltaic modules. The solar concentrator, an attachment, can be procured through community service, enhancing portability for both individual and community use.

India receives an average of 4-6 kWh/m2/day of solar insolation, and the proposed solar stove features a double reflector solar concentrator to harness this energy. The secondary mirror directs reflected sunlight to the top surface of the stove through a small hole.

The objectives of this project include the fabrication of a low-cost solar cooker with thermal energy storage capabilities, the installation of a solar cooker with a double reflector solar concentrator using phase-changing material storage, the development of a low-volume portable solar stove, and the minimization of the solar receiver's footprint, making it more practical than rooftop PV setups.

The benefits of adopting this technology are significant, especially for areas lacking access to electricity and alternative cooking resources. Rural residents, in particular, will benefit from reduced health hazards associated with traditional stoves. The solar stove's portability, low cost, and potential for community service add to its appeal. As production scales up, the estimated cost could decrease to around Rs. 5600, making it accessible to a wider audience. Subsidies from the government could further reduce the cost, making this renewable energy-based solution an attractive choice for regions struggling with electricity and LPG access issues.

Name of the Principal Investigator: Dr. Dwaipayan Sen


Name of the Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Sulagna Chatterjee & Mr. Subrata Mukherjee

Current Progress in Brief:
The current progress involves the successful design and fabrication of a solar cooker module featuring a centrally aligned chamber for controlled energy release during discharge. Utilizing the SK14 solar concentrator, solar energy is directed to the bottom plate of a trapezoidal-shaped solar oven to melt a phase change material (PCM) comprised of 97% wax and 4% graphite by weight. Solar intensity measurements were conducted with a pyranometer under no-load conditions, yielding valuable data for understanding solar flux over a 1-hour period. The initial analysis resulted in a first figure of merit (F1) of approximately 0.12 at a solar insolation of 411 W/m² (Purohit, 2010). Experimental charging trials with the PCM indicated a charging time of approximately 3 hours, commencing at 10:30 AM, to elevate the temperature to around 100°C, despite varying sun intensity due to cloudy conditions (ranging from 330 to 470 W/m²). Further progress awaits insulation provision from Indobell Insulations Limited to maintain PCM temperature during discharge under no-sun conditions.

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