Solar cooking has always been doable. Camping, after all, means retrofitting a cardboard box, lining it with aluminum foil, and slow baking a pineapple upside down cake. Well, at least that was a memory camping at the beach back in the 1970s.
Camping food has improved over the years, evolving from freeze-dried chili macaroni that resembled kibble most dogs would not eat. But trekking in far-off places still means hauling a lot of fuel. Not only is all that fuel heavy, but it is expensive. Furthermore, you need plenty of fuel to boil water in case purification is not guaranteed. A huge change is on the horizon, however; one young Israeli industrial designer is not only rethinking solar cooking, but his work has the potential to shift from we know as “grilling,” but could help those in the developing world as well.
Nir Beit-av designed a full scale solar oven that at first glance, looks like a satellite dish that can send messages to other solar systems. But the Solar Ibex is also relatively light: it weights only 8 kilograms, and its folding size is equal to that of a medium sized backpack.
Its potential has a much further reach than exotic treks in Patagonia or the Yukon. For consumers who are watching their carbon footprint, the Solar Ibex snags free energy from the sun, allowing for more possibilities other than the grilling of yore. The device is also safer to use in forested or extremely dry areas, where cooking with gas or charcoal is risky.
And while the Solar Ibex is not yet ready to scale—the company is looking for investors and partners—huge potential exists in the developing world. Millions of people are relegated to using dangerous cook stoves that rely on dirty fuels like charcoal or animal dung. These same people also face challenges from a lack of clean water—the chance to use a product that benefits from unlimited and free energy could make a huge difference socially and economically. Plus the soaring awe-inspiring design is just plain cool.
The materials and design are still in the works, but the Solar Ibex’s progress is exciting to watch.