Eliminating harmful stove emissions is just one benefit of the SolSource 3-in-1. Image credit: One Earth Designs
Revolutionary Light-weight 3-in-1 Solar Energy Device
It's no secret that solar power has tremendous applications in remote, cash poor regions of the world. Whether it's solar water purification, solar charging for cell phones and other small devices, or solar cookers, a small investment can yield massive returns. A new device from One Earth Designs combines all the most vital solar functions in one convenient, portable and affordable device. Read on for all the details. The folks at Worldchanging have a great profile of this vital project, detailing how the SolSource 3-in-1 is being used to provide electricity, cooking, water purification and heat for rural Himalayan communities:
The satellite dish-shaped SolSource, developed by US-based nonprofit One Earth Designs, is elegant in its simplicity. Reflective nomadic tent material, stretched across a bamboo frame, concentrates sunlight from a large area inward toward a focal point where the user can place a pot stand for cooking, a thermoelectric device for generating electricity (at a lower cost than a photovoltaic panel), a heat module for heating the home, a solar water disinfector for treating drinking water, or a thermal battery for cooking after dark. These interchangeable parts are each about the size of a laptop computer, and the main platform is easily folded and disassembled for portability.
The SolSource generates enough heat at its focal point to bring a kettle of water to boil in about five to seven minutes – about the same amount of time as conventional gas stoves in homes throughout the developed world. While it is in use, the device generates heat to warm the home, and can create and store about 15 watt hours of electricity, or enough to power the lights for about seven hours. This is adequate for the villagers' needs, but upgrading to a larger thermoelectric device would easily increase the energy capacity, says One Earth Designs co-founder and COO Catlin Powers.
Head on over to the ever-fabulous Worldchanging for the full story of how the young design team - COO Catlin Powers and co-founder/CEO Scot Frank, both 23, and project chief engineer Amy Qian, 20 - worked with villagers to optimize the design, and avoid the mistakes of previous solar devices that had failed to catch on. Inspiring stuff - it's great to see young teams like One Earth Designs setting out to change the world, and it's especially great to see them actively listening to the folks that they are trying to help. The time for prescriptive solutions imposed from the outside has passed - the future is collaborative.