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Sunday,January 22, 2006

Sunny Days:
a page from the Solar Bowl diary

See also:

Solar Kitchen seating analysis

January 19 th was the first of the completely sunny days of the coming sunlit season.

January 20 th too, was a perfectly cloudless day, so I went to visit Purani, the head cook in the solar kitchen to see how they were using the steam being produced by the solar bowl on the roof.

Purani was all smiles, for she had been able to use the solar steam for several jobs.

In the morning a 9 am the solar bowl is put into operation, converting water pumped into its receiver directly into steam. The solar steam is mixed with the steam of the kitchen's diesel fired boiler which is started daily at 8 am. Both the solar steam and the diesel steam work together to cook most of the lunch for the solar kitchen.

The diesel boiler is stronger and contributes ¾ of the steam required during the morning, while the solar steam accounts for ¼ .

But at 11 am or so, the diesel boiler is turned off on sunny days, and the remaining cooking and the production of all hot water for cleaning up all the kitchen vessels is all done only by the solar bowl steam.

On the days when I visited Purani, she had completed the cooking of the final batch of rice and the balance of the noodles with the solar steam on its own between 11 and 12 am. In addition, on each day she had used it to cook a big pot of banana jam for the children in the schools. Then the evening dinner team had used the solar steam between 12 and 2 pm to make a 100% solar cooked soup for those taking the tiffin dinner. They gave me a cup to taste and I'm sure it had an extra sparkle to it !

In February we will complete one year of daily operation of the solar bowl. The bowl saves the kitchen more than 12 liters of diesel for each hour that it fully replaces the diesel boiler after 11 am this easily adds up to a saving of Rs 700 on a sunny day. The solar bowl, 15 meters in diameter, produces about 200 kgs of steam on a sunny morning (ie. it can boil dry a full 200 liter barrel of water in the three hour morning) and has a peak thermal power of 63 kilowatts at noon.

We are very happy that after several years of testing and alterations, with an especially big technical help by the American guest Daryl Carlson during 2004, the solar bowl has come into its own and that now the Solar Kitchen has a real functioning solar side to it!!

John J



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