We live in a world ruled by consumerism, which means we buy many more things than we need. In the end, we find our homes filled with a lot of stuff that no longer serves any purpose. And we have trouble getting rid of them, especially if we think they might “come in handy” one day. Sometimes, that’s where our most creative repurposing ideas come in.
Here’s a clever project that can cook your food in an emergency when no alternative fuel is available – a parabolic solar oven! But why wait? You can build a parabolic solar oven just for the fun of seeing how it works. It’s a great project to do with the kids as it highlights the power of our sun!
A parabolic solar oven is an oven that makes use of solar energy — the cleanest, most abundant renewable (and free) energy source that we have. 🙂 This parabolic solar oven can give you a litre of boiling water within 20 minutes. You can cook a full meal in 45 to 60 minutes on a good day!
What do you think of this parabolic solar oven?
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- 5mm thick plywood
- 1″ thick timber
- Plastic cable ties
- Nuts and bolts
- 2 rolls of adhesive aluminium tape
- Bamboo pole
- Potholder setup
The idea is that if the parabola is cut symmetrically along 8 radial directions and flattened out, then it would appear like a 16-petalled flower. So once you have the petals made of any flexible material you can bend them into the shape of a parabola.
I used 5 mm thick plywood. I think you can use thinner plywood, but then you’ll need to add a stronger structure to stiffen the parabola. Have a look here, they use a metallic structure to keep everything stiff.
I used this publication to calculate the dimensions of the petals. I had to tweak it a little bit to have something I could use.
Here is a google spreadsheet with everything you need (you can download it to modify it).
Once you’ve cut the petals, drill holes every 20 cm along the sides of the petals so that you attach them with the plastic cable ties.
The discs will force the bottom of the parabola to be plane. Without them, it’s just impossible to bend the plywood!
Cut two discs of 20 cm out of plywood. Divide them like a pie into 16 equal parts and drill holes 2 cm from the outside of the discs.
Drill a hole of the same width 8 cm from the base of each petal.
Sandwich the petals between the two discs using bolts.
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