Solar Oven/Cooker calculator s Dr N K Srinivasan

Bangalore India

How to do design calculations?
         This presentation helps you to calculate design parameters for solar cooker/oven construction I give simple formulae and guide you step by step You need only school algebra and a pocket calculator I provide simple thumb-rule or empirical factors based on my experience and the open literature You can vary the numbers for the variables given You can even simulate the design by varying certain parameters over a range of values…thus solar flux ,I have taken 700 watts/sq meter…you can vary this number over the range 200 to 900 watts….have fun ! Study the examples and improve the design Focus on two things---how to increase the heat gain? ---How to decrease the heat losses? Once you have the numbers, you can tweak or fine tune them as you evolve or improve the design & construction of your oven—that is ,you engineer it.

Simple Box cooker calculation
 Box window area= 2 feet x 2 feet = 4 square feet  Solar flux= 700 watts/square meter (variable)  Heat gain = solar flux x area x transmittance x hours of operation (hours—variable)  Heat gain = 700 x 4 x 0.75 x 4 = 8400 watt-hr  Effective heat gain = heat gain x efficiency  Since heat losses are there by side walls, bottom area and glass/plastic glazing or window---take efficiency = 55% = 0.55 (variable but 50 to 60%)  Net heat gain= 8400 x 0.55 = 4620 watt-hr  Assume 1500 watt-hr to cook one kg of food  You can cook 4620/1500 = 3kg of food (approximately) in 4 hours!



Box cooker with reflectors
 Most solar ovens have one or more reflectors.  Find total area of reflectors  For 4 reflectors of each 2 sq feet. Total area= 8 square feet.  Take reflectance = 75% = 0.75  Effective reflector area = 8 x 0.75 = 6 square feet.  Add this to window area in previous calculation  Total area = window area + reflector area=4+6 = 10 square feet  Proceed as before with further calculations.

Heat loss calculations
         Taking efficiency as 55%, heat loss= 45% Heat loss= 0.45 x 8400 = 3780 watt-hr Heat loss occurs through side walls, bottom area and also through the glazing window. Insulation reduces loss through walls, nearly 40% = 0.4 x 3780= 1512 watt-hr Loss thru glass/plastic window=0.6x3780=2268 watt-hr Note that much loss, nearly 2268/ 8400 =27% occurs thru glazing; nearly one fourth. To reduce loss through window, designers use doube glazing—two glass plates with an air gap of one inch. Some even use three plates one above the other; Solar ovens reach higher temperatures with more layers of glazing!– this adds to the cost & weight…. I use one layer of glass plus one layer of plastic glazing.



Some design factors
 A large, flat box, depth not greater than 9 inches is preferred… this reduces the volume of air inside and also side wall area…  If you have bright sunlight most of the days, do without reflectors or just one back reflector only.  Double glazing may be required for higher temperatures—for baking, roasting, deep fry.  Plastic glazing is alright—plastics yellow with UV rays---use UV stabilized plastic for longer usage.  Try to reduce overall weight of the cooker/oven.  If you location latitude is greater than 15 deg, use tilting or slant faced window for greater intensity of light.



Some heat transfer stuff
        As you build solar devices, you learn also about heat transfer principles. You can compare materials you use for thermal properties. Volumetric heat capacity is the product of specific heat [at constant pressure Cp] and density. k=Cpxd This gives the energy the body soaks up to heat one degree centigrade. VHP for three materials are: Copper: 3.49,Al:2.46,steel:3.85 [x1/1000]Note that copper and steel are pretty close; Use one of them for bottom plate in a box cooker. Thermal diffusivity is the ratio of thermal conductivity K and VHP : D=K/Cp.d This value measures the rate at which heat will diffuse in conduction for a given temp gradient. D for copper: 1.12, Al: 0.84, steel:0.1----So it is better to have copper or Aluminum cooking pot .But enamelled steel is used because it is cheaper and soaks up more heat….Most developing countries use Al pots, because they are cheaper.. dont worry about the contamination with Al compounds? Ordinary glass contains some iron ions and are greenisg..see the edge for color… Choose a better glass which is almost colorless. Plastics become yellow due to UV rays…choose UV stabilized plastic.

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Heat loss,insulation-R values
 R value is a measure of thermal resistance--like electrical resistance  R is defined as : R = temp difference/heat flux  Heat flux Q=heat passing through unit area [Watt /sq meter]  R is expressed in T.m,m/W per unit thickness  We can add R values for each layer of insulation: R(total)= R1 + R2 for two layers  See the example in next slide

Heat loss calculationexample
 Ms.Rose designs a solar box cooker with inner box temp of 100 deg C and outer (ambient) temp of 20 deg C. She uses two layers of insulation --cardboard (0.5 in) and fiber-glass batt of 2 inches thickness.Her glazing window gathers 80 watts.The total side wall area [for 4 sides] is 0.75 sqmeter. Find the heat loss through side walls and the % heat loss through side walls in her cooker.  Data: R values for cardboard= 3, for glass-fibre batt=4 per inch(25 mm) [SI units]  Temp difference= 100 – 20 =80 deg K  Total R = R(cardboard)+ R(fg-batt)= 0.5 (3.0) + 2(4)=9.5  R = 9.5 = 80/Q  Q= heat flux= 80/9.5 = 8.42=8.5(approx) Watt/sq m  Heat loss thru side walls = total side wall area x heat flux= 0.75 x 8.5 = 6.375 watts = 6.4 W  The % heat loss thru side wall = 6.4/80 = 0.079 = 8%

Retention of heat
 A well insulated box will retain heat much after sunset.  Since heat loss occurs thru window, provide an insulated cover to place over the glass/plastic glazing to retain heat.  You can place heat absorbers inside the box during heating. A water bottle, bricks, tiles and others asborb heat and retain for hours later  They also avoid quick cooling during cloud cover.  I use a bottle of salt [sodium chloride] as heat absorber..  Heat retention helps to continue cooking and keep food warmer after sun set.
NKS 10

Temperature rise
 Temperature rise [above the ambient] depends on net heat gain and the thermal mass in the oven  Heat Gain= Q joules  Q = mass x specific heat x (T – Tambient)  Q = volume x density x sp heat x delta T  Density x specific heat = volumetric heat capacity  To increase the temp, reduce volume of the tray, decrease vol-heat capacity  To store more heat, use trays with higher VHC and bulky volume.
NKS 11

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