Solar cookers: Simple technology with huge potential
Burning heat is both a cause and a possible solution for food waste in Africa.
Solar thermal fruit dryers are at the core of SOLTØRK, a research project exploring how solar technology can prevent food waste, and provide revenue for people in rural areas of Mozambique.
– Today, the heat in these areas results in substantial fruit spoilage. Solar dryers combined with newly developed breathable membrane bags can absorb heat from the sun, which can be used for drying citrus fruits, which can be further processed to jams and juices. Solar energy is an important resource in areas with little or no access to electricity, such as many rural areas in Mozambique. Ruralis is studying the social acceptance of this technology in the project, which aims to develop, test and implement solar collector technology combined with membrane bags, says Otte.
SOLTØRK is an interdisciplinary research project funded by FORMAS and led byLund University. Physicists, engineers, food scientists and social scientists from Sweden, Mozambique and Norway work closely together with local farmers’ organizations in Inharrime district in Mozambique.
During the conference, the SOLTØRK team presented the first tests of sun dryers in Mozambique, in a short video.
– This is a taste of what is going to be a full-length documentary. The documentary will demonstrate the testing process of the first solar drying prototypes, presenting the technical, economic and social challenges and opportunities. The documentary, when completed, will provide insights into research on technology development in developing countries. It will also provide insight into interdisciplinary cooperation between natural sciences, social sciences and engineering. The documentary will also contribute to cross-cultural communication by informing the public about farmers’ lives and their livelihoods in rural Mozambique, explains Otte.
Solar cookers in the swing
Professor Celestino Ruivo from the University of Algarve hosted the CONSOLFOOD conference.
– The highlight of the conference was the international cooking team, consisting of solar cooks from India, Spain and Portugal. Ruivo, who is not only a passionate solar cook, but also professor at Algarve University, led the cooking team. The chefs prepared a large part of the food during the conference on solar cookers. It is not that often that you see so many different types of solar cookers in the same place, says Otte.
Here you can see Bernando’s and Otte’s presentation from the conference.