Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Udaykumar, H S

First Committee Member

Ding, Hongtao

Second Committee Member

Buchholz, James


Sustainable energy solutions are necessary in developing nations as current food preparation practices are becoming harmful to the environment, economic development and the overall health of the population.

The purpose of this study was to create a Scheffler reflector-based system prototype, experimentally analyze the system and to predict its behavior when subjected to the solar conditions of Rajasthan, India. Former designs from India, the University of Iowa and several other institutions were consulted during the formulation of the prototype design. While consulting a specific set of design constraints, pertinent to developing counties, a Scheffler reflector and tracking stand were fabricated. Solutions for a thermal storage unit were investigated for eventual integration with the prototype.

Solar flux data for Iowa and India was used to predict the amount of energy transmitted by the reflector. Experiments were designed and completed to observe the temperatures experienced at the focal point of the reflector and estimate the energy stored by a steel mass. A series of sun angles, monthly solar flux data and experimental data were used to predict the performance of the storage unit, over a three day span, in Rajasthan. Aspects of the system were then modified to investigate their effects on the temperature of the storage unit.

Public Abstract

Solar cooking practices are needed in developing countries as the use of firewood causes health hazards and is destructive to the environment. Simple solar cookers are often disregarded in these areas because of various cultural and technological limitations that affect where and when the cooking is done as well as how solar energy is collected and stored. The goal of this study was to create and analyze a solar cooker prototype according to design constraints pertinent to Rajasthan, India.

The effectiveness of several solar collection and thermal storage methods were investigated in order to produce a new design. Experiments were completed to observe how much energy was being relayed from the sun to a thermal storage unit. Monthly solar energy data was compared with experimental data and used to predict the behavior of the solar cooker when subjected to the sun conditions in Rajasthan. Furthermore, aspects of the design were modified to investigate their influence on the performance of the thermal storage unit.


publicabstract, cooking, india, scheffler, solar, thermal storage


x, 53 pages


Includes bibliographical references (page 53).


Copyright 2014 Matthew Damon Mercer