Luther Krueger: "Goldilocks Tech? A Solar Oven Overview” | The Great Simplification #119

Luther Krueger:

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It's a distribution problem. I remember  reading this long ago, the food is here,   you got to get it there and it just doesn't get  there. Well, the same for this particular tool   for when they do have the food, but they have no  way to safely cook it. They get it to them.   Today I'd like to welcome solar cooker  expert, Luther Krueger to the show. This   is an odd topic for this show. We're going  to talk about solar cookers. I have one,  

I've always been fascinated by them. This falls  right square in the middle of the Goldilocks tech   category where we get a very important human need,  cooking food, with very minimal energy input.   Luther Krueger has been collecting, designing and  promoting solar cookers for over 20 years through   community education courses, demonstration  at farmer's markets and recently, he's been   traveling across the US to create video interviews  with solar cooker pioneers and practitioners using   solar ovens. He and I discussed the basics of  using solar cookers, how they might apply to  

a future with lower energy throughput. This  is a great whirlwind tour of the different   technologies available to cook food outside  using the sun. Please welcome Luther Krueger.   Luther, great to see you. Good to see you. Thanks for having me.   You are welcome. You are an interesting  guest. Former policeman turned solar cooking  

forensic museum scholar and practitioner. Yeah, just quick correction. I was a civilian with   the Minneapolis Police Department, so I would've  been a hazard to others and myself if I had to   carry a gun. Happily, 28 years, no weapons. How did this transition come about? How did   you get interested in solar technology? Sure. Well, I've always been an environmentalist  

since I was in junior high and read Rachel  Carson's book that I'm sure a lot of people   have read. I probably only read a chapter  or two, but it just struck home how badly   we are taking care of the planet. We weren't  taking care, we were destroying it really.   Forever it's been in the back of my mind and  eventually I just discovered solar cookers,   the actual manufactured ones, when I picked up my  brother after he got out of the Navy in Norfolk,   Virginia, and I didn't have time to talk to  the guy with the store, but he gave me a book   called Cooking with the Sun by Beth and Dan  Hallisey and they were solar engineers in the   fifties and sixties and out of just plywood,  you could make a box with a cut at a slant,   put a sheet of glass over it, reflectors aluminum  foil, and you're talking almost 300 degrees worth   of cooking power, just straight sunlight  fed into the pot, and so I was convinced.   We're going to get into all that. A footnote  is if Rachel Carson were alive today, I think   she would be very upset. Things have gotten  unbelievably worse since she wrote that book.  

I agree. At the core of why I want you, as a guest on this   program, is I think, and I know you follow the  podcast, that we're headed for a world in coming   decades where we're going to have to get 80% of  the things that humans need and value with 20% of   the resources we're using today. If that.   I'm starting to refer to this as Goldilocks  technology, not too hot like colonizing Mars   and flying cars. Not too cold, stone tools, but  something that assumes that interconnected society  

holds together but needs to use less fossil  energy and more appropriate tech. I don't know   a lot about solar cooking other than I do have a  solar oven that I use in the summertime and I can   put anything in there in mid to late morning and  it's done by mid to late afternoon, but I don't   have to worry about it overcooking and I don't use  any energy in my stove or my oven or anything.   We're going to get into that, but let's start at  the broad macro. As a primer, can you inform our   guests, of course, almost all of humans in the  world cook their food. Could you tell us the   current landscape of the most popular cooking  methods in the world, whether environmentally,   sustainably or low resource use or not? Okay, so if you're talking about what we are   pretty much everyone is cooking with right now,  gas ovens, electric stoves and so forth, that's   really the current, 99% of the households have  four or five variations on that theme and they all   draw energy from fossil fuels, most likely, maybe  some of their electricity is from wind or solar,   but they're part of the grid, they're part of  the pipeline for gas and the situation is such   in some cities. New York City, I believe, has said  they want to phase out new construction with gas   and go to totally electric because of internal  pollution inside the home. California, I don't  

know the status of it, but they were looking at  statewide doing the same thing and it should have   come to light years ago, but now it's starting  to, the chickens are coming home to roost.   Okay, so that's United States, Canada,  Europe. What about all 8 billion humans,   though? A lot of people in India et cetera still  cook with wood and dung and other things, yes?   Yes, and that's a big concern because of  deforestation. When I first heard about   deforestation, of course, I pictured a bunch of  stumps of trees, but when I had it described to me   how one particular mountainside got deforested and  then the erosion happened and then the villages   flooded and then the cascading detrimental effects  of that were just beyond catastrophic. I mean,   killing people and so forth, but people have  to cook with something if they want to make   sure they have safe food to eat and they're  going to get it. If they have to walk 10,  

20 miles. The stories in Africa are chilling  how far they have to walk just to get that.   I was just in India last month, two months ago,  and even in the relatively well-to-do area that   I was, every day you saw people with stacks of  twigs that they had to walk and pick up and they   were bringing that to cook their food. There's  two issues there. One is the sustainability of   how big are the forests and how much deadfall is  there to sustain a community. There's also the   burning of that has carbon and soot and other  air quality problems. I have this solar oven,   it's made out of plastic and fossil inputs, but  it's made once and so far I've had it for seven   years. It doesn't work as well as it originally  did, but every time I use it, there are zero  

external inputs. I just get the incident sunlight  and I have to move it once or twice to follow the   sun. That's why I contacted you because why is  that not more prevalent in the world, especially   in Africa and India that have a lot of insulation  and more material poverty and more deforestation?   It makes no sense to me. Bring me up to speed.  What are the key issues that I should be aware   of and then I'll have some follow up questions. Sure. That's the eternal question. Solar Cookers   International, which has done a lot of work  overseas to try to answer that question.  

They have several answers. One of the first  ones is the cultural barriers. Can this thing   that we're handing them as the western world  solution to their problem, can it cook that   traditional dish the same way? Some of them want  the smoke in the flavor. A lot of it, my opinion,   having talked to over 100 people who have tried  to promote solar cooking in the US and abroad   is if we're not doing it here, they're going  to say, "Well, why should we?" That's another   cultural barrier. Do they really believe it? Why  are we bringing it to them but we're not using it.   There's a lot of suspicion there. And by the way,  the woods, they are still there. They're only 10   miles away now instead of eight like last year. It's sad, but it's their experience also,   one cultural thing that they have found is  a lot of those walks we think of them all   walking through war zones. Some of them are very  treacherous areas of conflict, but a lot of them  

are through their friends and relatives villages.  There's actually a little bit of a social activity   being able to go get the firewood. One story I  heard was this family said, "We don't want to   do it 'cause we'd never be in touch with uncle  so-and-so five miles away and get the latest   scuttlebutt on the rest of our family tree." It's not like these people are sitting there  

doing the cost benefit of how many fossil fuels  and what's the environmental externality and a   solar cooker would clearly be the best.  It's how it fits into their current life   and culture and social interactions. That's largely it. On the other hand,   several that have come back from areas like Haiti  or several countries in Africa, they'll say they   will give a presentation and talk about all the  environmental benefits and the people will say,   "We get it. We do know that." A lot of them, they  understand that. Of course, even though they're   missing some of the traditional interactions  with their villages and so forth, they do start   to resent all that extra walking they have to  do, so it's a little bit of everything there.  

I'm getting ahead of myself because I'm so excited  about this topic. Let's take a step back and for   those people that have never heard of this, maybe  you could unpack what is a solar thermal cooker?   How does that differ from solar PV? What's  a little bit of the history? You are the   purveyor or how are you related to  the solar cooker museum? I mean,   you have a lot of knowledge on this topic. Sure. Well, the museum is my collection that I   built up over 20 years. I've got just short of  90 unique cookers that have been manufactured   around the world and in ordering them and trying  to find them, I've interacted with the makers of   them. Some of them haven't been made for 30  years, and so I've learned a lot about how   they have put them together, what troubles they  had trying to sell them. One fellow told me,   you want to make a million dollars with  solar cookers, you start with $2 million.  

The business is... Not enough people know  about it and realize the benefits. Plus,   I mean in this country at least we're so spoiled.  We just turn the dial on our stove and our chicken   is frying, so there's that part to overcome. It's a convenience thing and it's a sunk cost   momentum thing. This house where I'm, my office  here, has a stove and an oven and a microwave,  

so why would I need to go out and buy a solar  oven because I already have this office and   all the infrastructure is ready to cook food.  If I was starting from scratch, I might say,   "You know what? I'm going to use a solar oven.  It's going to cost me a little bit more time,"   over the long run, especially in a world headed  for less availability and higher costs, it will be   more resilient, more healthy for me and cheaper,  but I'm not sure that I would make that decision   given the sunk cost of my current situation. Sure. In fact, I think a lot of people think,   well, it's got to be a lot of extra work. I'm  going to have to learn this new device. Well,   you had to learn your stove top range or your  induction cooker. If you have an induction now  

or your halogen has different characteristics,  it's really no different. I actually think it   is a lot simpler because remember that Popeel  advertisement, just set it and forget it? Well,   look at your cooker there. You pretty much forget  it unless you got a lot of volume and you got to   move it around a little bit. Right? Well, what is a solar   cooker? Let's start there. Yeah, we'll start with the solar thermal,  

essentially. You got the sunlight hitting the  ground where you're at or hitting the wall of   your apartment building. All the charts I've read  up on, it's a kilowatt per meter squared worth of   energy. Variations based on particulates in  the air from pollution or haze, hazy clouds,   what your altitude is and so forth, but basically  that's the purest energy, there is. There's no   intermediary force that's stopping you from  using it. If it hits the ground, you can use  

it. A solar cooker, thermal solar cooker takes  that energy, captures it, concentrates it, and   it transfers to the food through a pot, through  any cooking vessel. In some cases it's a turkey   bag with the food right in it in a hot pot or what  have you. That's solar thermal. It's pure solar   energy converted to cooking heat for the food. Does the solar thermal cooker,   what is the efficiency and ease and time  differential depending on if the sun is   directly overhead or early in the day or  late in the day or in winter? Does that   angle of the sun make a huge difference? It does make a difference. Although, I have  

to say it just depends on the cooker you have. If  you have a nice sized parabolic, you can basically   start collecting that energy at the sunrise. It  probably won't be enough to cook with for maybe   a half hour or an hour because it's going through  a lot more atmosphere at that low angle. Once you   hit nine o'clock in the morning, 10 o'clock in  the morning here in Minnesota where we're at 45th   parallel, basically up here in Minneapolis,  that's going to be enough to cook for 6, 7,   8 hours, in the height of summer, you can go  eight or nine hours really with that. In the  

winter you might only have three or four, but with  a parabolic you can cook several meals, multiple   meals in a row. If you use a hay basket to put  them aside one at a time and put another meal in.   Box cookers, they need to be insulated to really  be effective. The commercial models out there,   such as the one you have, I believe it was the  Solavore Sport, that one is very well constructed,   very high-tech insulation, and as you mentioned,  it's plastic but it's not single-use. Those are  

solar thermal cookers and they range from  simple panel cookers that just cook in a   pot with a reflector that hits the pot. Often  the pot is covered with a Pyrex bowl or the   turkey bag as they call it, the oven bag. The box  cooker does the same thing only as a dedicated   space that contains the heat. Parabolics,  those are like the stir-fry cookers. They  

hit very high heat and you can fry with them. Okay, so that makes sense. That's solar thermal.   How's that different from solar PV cooking? Sure. Well, with solar thermal, it's the direct   sunlight hitting basic elements, basic pieces of  a cooker to concentrate it on the food in the pot   and the food. Photovoltaic is the panel that might  have wires directly to a cooker. For instance,   you could do a DC cooker. I think the microwave,  I know one fellow told me induction cookers can  

be DC and as some have done, which I think is it  Kris De Decker might've mentioned they have a DC   just direct to a heating element. I visited Alexis  Ziegler in Virginia to see his Living Energy Farm   in February when I was able to take a quick trip  out there to capture that. That's exactly what he   does. Solar panels that go direct to a very highly  insulated oven box that over time can build up the   heat and cook for a dozen or more people that  live on the farm. Of course, the steps are you  

need to get the panels. Before that, the panels  need to be made. Before that, the stuff has to   be dug from the ground, etc, etc. There's a lot  more involved with making it and putting them   to work. It's also a level a little beyond most  people's DIY, which you can make any solar cooker  

without a lot of skills. A thermal cooker. I have very little DIY and so I bought this solar,   you know what I have, right? I showed  you it's just a square with the plastic   on top. It works great. I don't have to do  anything. How much energy do we use from   ovens and stoves and microwaves as a percentage  of our energy? I don't know if you know that.  

All I know is for my household, we just  installed a heat pump and before that we   looked up our gas a percentage, 90% for heat, 5%  for heating water, and 5% for our stoves. Now,   that 5% was based on the quote we got to install  the panels and we have been doing solar cooking   every possible way to not even use the electricity  from that. We want to get paid for it since we're   on the net metering system. How much of your food living   in Minnesota living that you cook is  made using some form of solar oven?   We are probably only a quarter at most. I like  to say we live in the variety weather belt.   We're at the mercy of the clouds might be-- Just like solar panels for 24/7 electricity and   wind turbines, et cetera, there's intermittence  for watching a football game might be okay,   but intermittence for eating, not so  much. That's something that's important,  

right? If you planned on only cooking your  food using a solar oven, there would be days   or even weeks that would be tough, yes? Yes. On the other hand, one trend that I   hope increases is the manufacturer of hybrid  cookers where it's a solar thermal cooker,   but with electric backup, it's an ingenious  cooker because you don't need to be near the   grid or have solar panels or batteries, but  you can still use wood or biomass and it's   a rocket stove that shoots right through the  box of a solar cooker. If the clouds come in,   you just stoke it up and fire up the wood and  you're good to go. The reason behind that is a lot  

of people are not going to give up wood entirely,  but they'll adopt a solar cooker if, oh well we'll   still cook with it, but we'll just put wood in as  well. A dual use or a backup system is needed.   What about Kenya or Tamil Nadu in India  that have sun almost all the time? I mean,   this makes complete sense from an environmental  and a resource standpoint, doesn't it?   Absolutely. Just for just the cultural   problems that you said earlier. What would not  the best top of the line and not the uber basic,   but a solid usable that has a five plus year  lifetime solar oven cost, if someone in Africa   were to buy one or to be donated one? Sure. The manufactured models out there in  

the States, there's the Haines panel cooker, which  he ships with his own pot at a cost of $65, $70,   and he's been involved with shipping whole crates  of cookers to various countries in Africa. He's   actually explored the use of carbon credits.  That's at the low end and it is just a plastic   foldable cooker that it'll pretty much last  forever. It's just windshield reflector material,   aluminized mylar, that's the least expensive.  Moving up to where you have, that's probably  

a three or $400 model a few years ago. A box  cooker, every bit as reliable, probably needs to,   my Haines, I just set at the point where the  sun will be at noon at nine in the morning and   by five we have a piping hot stew for a family of  six. A very low cost, and I don't know what he's   charging to get it to Africa, but it's  got to be pretty infinitesimal.  

Luther, as usual, my mouth is faster than my  brain and I have overly too many questions   for you and I wanted to follow a logical  sequence, but I'm too curious. Sorry.   Sure, no problem. Does the food taste any   different? Can you notice or let me ask it  this way, you as a solar oven museum curator   that has 90 models in your garage or your  basement, could someone do a series of meals,   an entree like fish, some potatoes, some cookies  or something like that? Could the difference   blindly if it was cooked in a solar oven or in  a conventional oven by taste or by texture?   I don't know if I could, with a blind taste  test, I feel I have about half the taste buds   of your average person, so I need a lot of  spice and so forth. Everyone I've talked  

to that cooks regularly with solar thermal  cookers, they'll say, it tastes different,   it tastes better. Joe Radebaugh, who wrote  the best book on solar cooking to date,   and it's 20 years old, it needs to be updated.  He said he talked to chefs who said the longer   you can cook something at the lowest possible  temperature, the better it's going to taste. It  

gives the right amount of time for the proteins  to break down, for the sugars to be developed,   what have you. It doesn't wreck things. You don't  get charred food. You get actually cooked food and   I see that you've frozen again, but I have,  whenever I do my banana bread, that's my old   standby, it's the easiest recipe to remember.  It always tastes better than when I have it in   the gas oven. For one reason, the gas oven will  dry out more food necessarily. Instead of with   a solar cooker, you tend to not dry it out, so  it's going to taste better because you want that   moisture to be retained as much as possible. Can you overcook things like if you wanted to  

have them out for three hours and then you  forgot and you came back at six P.M.?   Yes, you can. I mean, energy is not going to stop,  and if you leave something out long enough or if   for instance, in a parabolic, if you step away  for about 20 minutes, it might get out of focus   and it won't cook enough, or you might not  realize that it's charring in one corner of the   pot because it's not quite calibrated right for  the focal point. People say they have burnt stuff  

in box cookers, which is hard to imagine, but  they're down in Tempe or Albuquerque where the sun   is more powerful, they're at a higher elevation,  so forth. They're getting more of the concentrated   energy and it's a little bit of risk. If you have one of these solar ovens,   maybe a higher end one or even a solar PV one,  can it be used for things other than cooking?   Absolutely. There are whole development programs  they're trying to establish around the world  

for drying fruits and vegetables. One of my  favorites is Juana Maria Hernandez in Chiapas   approached the family who said they produce  a lot of milk and they'd like to sell more   of this heirloom kind of dried cheese. That was  their specialty for the Chiapas area. She worked   with them to put together a solar dryer that  would get it at just the right temperature,   make sure the humidity level didn't drop too  far so it got too dry too fast and so forth.   There's all sorts of possibilities for that. In Arizona, the Kerr Coal Sustainable Living   Center, they have a solar dryer, which  a lot of people in permaculture use,   and it's surprising how few of them actually do  solar cooking, but they dry a lot of stuff in what   almost looks like an industrial scale dryer,  but it's entirely solar thermal. Because it's  

dried at the right temperature with the right  ventilation and so forth, the food loses very   little of its nutrition value. It's going to be  a lot better than drying in your electric spinner   thing with the electric heating element. Let's just take today's economic landscape   and ignore what you and I might infer  about coming decades, but using today's   costs for equipment and costs for energy, natural  gas, electricity, et cetera, what are the cost   benefit analyses of a solar cooker for someone in  the United States or for someone maybe in India   or Africa or elsewhere that is sunny? Sure. Well, the analysis would be fairly   simple with solar thermal because you're paying  nothing for the sun for the energy itself. There's   no other way to put it, the materials. It just  depends on how far you want to go with the DIY   models for a couple bucks worth of aluminum foil  and cardboard and you've got a cooker that's every   bit as powerful as a manufactured one. Oh, so you don't have to buy a cooker,  

you can make a cooker. Yes. In fact, on the SEI wiki,,   there must be 100 DIY models, and I don't know  why people keep trying to make yet another one   because they all work. I mean, it's the free  energy. If they're somewhat parabolic in shape,   even if they're kind trapezoids, they will cook  plenty for next to nothing or found material.  

Wait a minute. Here's another thing. For people  that have apartments or small residences and   they have air conditionings running and then  they're also heating their food, for a few bucks,   those DIYers or even 50 bucks or 100 bucks, they  can go and create a solar, make a solar oven,   and then not only are they getting the health  benefits and the other things you mentioned,   not only are they not having emissions, but  they're also not heating their home while the air   conditioning is going at the same time, right? Absolutely. That's yet another thing that's just   a common statement from the people I interviewed  is I just got tired of the hot kitchen and the   AC wouldn't keep up with it. Here I'm out in  the yard, I'm gardening at the same time I  

get things done. I don't have to be stuck in  a hot kitchen. It might be hot out, so what?   I get myself in some shade, but yeah, and the  inexpensive DIY models, if you want to just start,   there's all these models on the Wiki and get your  feet wet. Just about everyone I've talked to that   started that way within a year or two, they said,  "I really want the juice of these really powerful   ones. Maybe the parabolic, maybe a box cooker,  something a little more official," but there   are some people they've still been cooking  with the plywood and cardboard insulation,   glass sheet over the top for years. I just interviewed Ed Eaton, Peonia, Colorado.   He is a member of a Solar Energy International, I  believe is based out of there. He still has this  

massive plywood cooker with just a glass window.  He put it on a trailer and he brought it to demos   and he'd be able to cook for 20, 30 people at  a time for next to nothing, the cost of scrap   plywood and a sheet of glass someone threw out. Are there any places in the world,   any nations or even subsections of nations where  thermal or PV solar cooking is quite prevalent?   Both are still way down at the bottom as far as  adoption. Interesting that you just went to India   because their perception here in the United States  is that India is light years ahead of us, but the   Indians that I have talked to have said, oh, still  no one really knows about solar cooking there.   Where I was in Auroville, there is a place called  the Solar Kitchen, which is the center organizing   meeting place for everyone in the community. They  go there for lunch every day, and that is solar   cooking, but not solar thermal. They have solar  PV and a big solar oven on. It's like industrial  

scale, but they do all their cooking with solar.  As far as individual people having the things   you're discussing, I didn't see that anywhere. No, and we still have a lot of work ahead of us.   We have so many that I sent you that solve  a lot of those problems. One particular that   came up at the Solar Cooking Conference in  Portugal 2020 was, hey, we're in Madrid,   and Madrid is a lot of high-rise apartments and  condos, and so we can't solar cook up there. Well,   this Millen Kulkarni in India heard that same  thing from Indians with all they're building   up rather than sideways for housing. They don't  have sprawl. They got, what'd you call it? They  

got it tall. He came up with this cooker that  you can hang from your balcony that's a slow   cooker. It'll cook for a family of three or four,  the sun dish, and it's based on a seashell.   You sent me this PowerPoint. Maybe we should  just go through that and you could speak for   a few seconds or 30 seconds on each of  them and give the audience a little bit   of overview of what we're talking about. Sure. Well, that first one, it's one of my   favorite interviews, this humble inventor, he  thinks of himself as just an inventor. He came  

up with this because he believed in solar  cooking and too many of his friends said,   "I can't. I'm on the 15th floor or whatever in  Mumbai." He says, so long as about two thirds of   that building is going to get sun during the day  with enough time to cook, you can just hang this   thing out of your balcony. It's a Tiffin pot. You  probably saw plenty of those, three stacked pots,   kind of wire snap together and it'll cook  for a family of three or four, at least. You   can scale it up to cook for more people. Let me just ask you a question. In theory,   if you're on the side of the high rise, that is  the one third where the sun doesn't go, you could   just walk across the hall and make friends with  your neighbor and do some barter or something.  

Yes. In fact, there- Using their balcony.   Yeah, and there are lower- Hey, hey buddy in 103, can I borrow your sun?   Exactly. Give me a cup of sun. Absolutely. I mean,  that's where it can help build community too,   because there are people that aren't going to  be in the most advantageous spots to do it.  

Number two, that's the sun oven. That's probably  the most prevalent box cooker possibly in the   world. It's been around for probably 40 years,  and it is just a box insulated with a kind of   pizza grade fiberglass is what I understand.  A sheet of regular glass over the top and then   four reflectors that basically triple the amount  of sunlight that gets reflected into the cooker,   and it's an oven for baking. You  can get up to 400 degrees.   I've had a version of this in the past, and  what I noted is you could cook fish or rice   or anything in just the box, but to increase the  temperature, like if you wanted to make cookies or   something, you would need the reflectors. Yes, and in fact, I think if the model that   you have is the Sport you can order it with or  without reflectors, they advise not using them,   except maybe in the winter when you have it at  the winter angle to get that extra grab of sun.  

I use it all the time in the winter, again,  for banana bread using the reflectors.   Okay, number three. Okay, and this one is a parabolic, and it's   one where I try not to play favorites, but it's  hard to not. It's the Sunplicity. Alain Bivas,   my undergraduate was in theater and he was a mime,  a professional mime who stumbled across a pamphlet   on solar cooking by Joe Radebaugh, who later  turned that pamphlet into a book. Alain told me,   he said the day he saw that, he said, "I'm done  miming. I'm going to design the best solar cooker   ever made," and he's come damn close. This thing  is a parabolic, which is a very powerful shape to  

begin with. Totally collapsible into about an inch  and a half frame, maybe two feet by eight inches,   10 inches, 10 pounds. You can bungee cord it  to a backpack. I put it in the trunk of my car   whenever I go on my solar cooking road trips,  it's the only cooker I use when I go out.   How much would that cost me  if I ordered such a thing?   Well, the great thing with Alan is he said, "A,  I don't want to use any plastic parts." Right   away you're talking metal, so you're talking  more expensive. It's what they call spectral  

grade aluminum. Very highly polished and kind  of a ceramic coating to prevent scratches and   let it age. It won't corrode over time.  Right now it's in the 500 euro range,   450 to 500 euros, which is about 550, 600 here. How long, if I took care of it, which I haven't   with my other ones, 'cause I leave them out  in the rain and the wind because I forget,   but how long would this last, do you think? The Sunplicity, I think pretty much forever. It's   a very high quality aluminum, spectral  aluminum high quality metal frame,   very solid. I have cooked on a snow bank and  it's taken tumbles when the sun has gotten the  

base warm enough where it melts and it's slid off  and I've had to restart over and it survived.   Is wind a factor? Is wind  a factor? Can you cook when   it's 20 mile an hour wind here in Minnesota? You can. You do want to brace your cookers because   as you can see from parabolics, they're pretty  much like a sail. They will grab, you got to   weight it down, but once you do, it almost has no  impact on the temperature because you're talking   hitting up 350, 400 degrees in the parabolic  pretty easily at the bottom of the pan.  

The parabolic gets to be 400 degrees. What  couldn't I cook? I might not be able to   get a crispy broil sort of texture, but you  could cook anything at 400 degrees, right?   Oh, absolutely. In fact, the Sunplicity was  meant to be portable and a small family,   you could cook an entree for a small family in it,  but there are a much larger parabolics. Germany,   for instance, the SK-14 from EG Solar, that hits  close to seven or 800 Fahrenheit in the focal   point. You're talking wok stir fry cooking. You  can get your braised chicken, steak, whatever you  

want in one of those, or boil a gallon of water in  an hour and purify it, pasteurize it, or stew.   Number four. Sure. Now, this is in fact, this   is exactly the parabolic I was talking about, the  SK-14, one of the best stories about solar cooking   halting deforestation, demonstrably halting it. In  Nepal, Bhutanese refugees had to cross the border  

into Nepal, and it was on the order of 110,000, I  believe, total with eight different camps. Martin   Olthoff from the Netherlands, who was a firm  believer in getting the solar cooking message out,   heard about this, saw that you could literally,  basically define every 10, maybe 10 meters worth   of forest was going to be taken down every day  for people to cook for 100,000 people. He said,   let's get a group together to put these  parabolics in their hands in this refugee   camp. He raised the funds and the interest  and the infrastructure to get 7,000 of them,  

which pretty much got them cooking right away as  soon as they got there and stop the deforestation.   It's one of the biggest success stories, very  direct impact on refugees, but also preserving   the environment for them as they settled in. Cool. What about number five?   Sure. Well, this is a parabolic, but it's what  I call the community scale solar thermal cooker.   It's the kind that you may have seen in India  about Deepak Gadya and incredible work. The   parabolic that he has used as Scheffler reflector.  He has it on whole campuses of buildings, heating  

the water, cooking the food, heating the building,  everything. While it's a very well-designed cooker   with a tracker, so you don't even have to think  about it. The picture I sent, the video is of the   Présage restaurant in Marseille, so it's a double  duty. It's a economic engine for restaurants where   they don't need any fossil fuels. Marseille is  a fairly sunny part along the Mediterranean,   and we had a great time visiting them for an  episode that should be within a week or two   going up on my channel. What is your channel?  

It is Solar Cooking Museum on  YouTube, so @SolarCookingMuseum, What's number six?   Number six, actually the next three are  the insides of the cooker of the Cafe   Le Présage restaurant. They have a sign out front  that says, Le Snack where you can get snacks,   quick cooked food because it's such a quick cooker  due to the high power of the Scheffler reflector,   and basically one of their main cooks showing us  how this three foot by five foot griddle cooks   everything for people. While he interviewed  Pierre-Andre Aubert, who was the proprietor,  

every minute or two, another three, four people  were coming up and being served, and he's got a   permanent restaurant there that should open up  in a month. He's looking at April or May.   It's kind of fun and exciting,  isn't it? And hopeful.   Absolutely. In fact, I have been catching up  on your interviews, and I got to say it can   be a little bit of a downer, but I'm not cowed  by some of the messages because I can see this   as being an integral part of people surviving  what is to come, but starting now where you're   going to survive those high gas costs and  so forth, so anyway, I'm optimistic.   I'll get to that. Let's finish your little  collage here. What about number eight?  

Okay, number eight, that's another cooker. It's  a vacuum tube cooker, and it's about a nine or   10-inch diameter cooker, maybe two feet, two and  a half feet long. Le Présage, again, uses that to   cook one of their signature dishes. When he pulled  that out, it smelled and looked like mushrooms,   braised buttery mushrooms, just beautiful. It's  actually eggplant and it's one of their signature  

dishes that they cook in high volumes, and it's a  France-based cooker that restaurants can use.   Are these a little bit more popular in France? I think they're gaining ground due to simplicity.   Alain Bivas really hit the ground running  with marketing it. I mentioned he was a mime,   but he got some kind of engineering  award for this thing. Yeah.   Well, also there's collapsologie, which  there's a collapse aware demographic   there that is a much higher percentage  of the population than in the US.   Yeah. Yeah. What about number nine?  

Number nine, that's yet another community scale  cooker, but it's a box cooker. The Sun Oven,   the one people mostly know about is the actual  family size box might hold two four quart pots in   it at the most, but this thing can cook 40 loaves  of bread at a time, probably six, eight trays of   pizzas or croissants and so forth. This one, it's  back in production with the third owner of the Sun   Oven Company in Kansas, the couple there, they put  it this way, they pestered the guy because they   tried to just send them overseas using NGOs to  get them into the countries that are most in need,   but they got the brand new version of it there. I mean, there's so many different reasons this   makes sense. There's the climate low carbon  emission reason. There's the let's save our  

forests reason, there's the not heating our  kitchen reason. There's the let's save money   on future electricity and gas reason. There's  the health of the food and the simplicity,   and there's the DIY, I'm in control of cooking my  own food without relying on these external things,   but just focus on the climate reason. What would,  I mean, are there any plans or such where NGOs and   philanthropists and institutions from the global  North might donate huge amounts of these ovens   to people in Africa and India where they just have  to start using them and maybe see the benefits and   then word of mouth? Could something like that  happen? Is something like that happening?   Just about every manufacturer I know has tried, or  they do have limited programs overseas in Africa,   Asia, primarily Africa. It seems like they get a  little bit more of an ear bent toward the cause  

by governments. Kenya in particular, they've  been working with Solar Cookers International   to work it into their national scheme to address  climate change and pasteurizing water. I know one   of the reasons I ratcheted up my involvement in  promoting it was hearing about kids with river   worms or bacterias in the nearest source of water,  and if they live to be 10 years old, maybe they   were blind or lame, and it's just a tragedy on a  current level. This is before we're talking losing   fossil fuels. Pretty much every manufacturer has  done that. Solar Cookers International, they're   the best source on their wiki, at  they have by country, which countries have   been involved, which have tried things. Some of them, when I check in, they say, "Well,  

that was 2014 and we just really haven't gained  any traction," but some are really currently   making tracks. I mentioned earlier, just to  cap this off, Roger Haines, retired federal   prosecutor, yet he designed this panel cooker  that is amazing. He has been working with NGOs and   the Rotaries. He's a rotary member. They've been  involved in a lot of the solar cooking promotion   overseas, and he has looked into carbon credits.  He's stepped back from trying to use them, but   he's sending them by the thousands overseas. It is  happening, not to the level we'd like to see.   Continuing with your little montage  here, what about number 10?   Number 10, that's the Fusion. Ghost Sun is a  company based out of Cincinnati. I interviewed  

Patrick Sherwin back in 2021, vacuum tube cooker,  but also a hybrid. It's got a tray. If you slide   the tray out, you'll notice on the bottom it's  got a heating element. If the sun goes down,   clouds roll over, you just plug it into a battery,  which they also include a little solar panel kit   with it so you can keep cooking. Interestingly,  it has higher temperatures with the solar than it  

does with the heating element for various reasons,  the materials they'd have to choose, but it's a   24/7 cooker, a little pricey, maybe marketed a bit  more toward the vacationing crowd, the campers,   but it's an all-season 24/7 cooker. Okay, so we're at number 11,   Luther. What are we looking at?

2024-04-23 18:53

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