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Mexicans Using Solar Power to Cook Tortillas

El Sauz is a small village in Hidalgo, Mexico. Over recent years villagers have watched the development of a solar cooking system which is now powering many of the local bakeries.

These solar ovens are made at Trinysol, a solar-thermal energy workshop created and run by Gregor Shäppers. Originally from Germany, Gregor is a self-taught solar engineer. This wonderful video tells the story:

Gregor’s first solar cooker was a boiler which looks like a TV satellite dish. People like to ask how many channels it picks up, he tells us.

Later models are based on a Scheffler reflector which focuses the sun’s rays onto a hot-plate. He makes larger Scheffler reflectors up to a surface area of forty square feet which create a focal point temperature of over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot enough to melt aluminium.

An automated system tracks the sun by means of a sensor. Energy is created by directly heating a hot-plate and by creating steam. The large reflectors are designed for industrial use in bakeries and tortillerias. Here come some cool facts:

  • A tortilleria or bakery spends between 80 and 100 US dollars a week on fuel.
  • 52 weeks means a saving of around 5,000 dollars.
  • The system costs around 4,000 dollars to build and install.
  • The system is paid for within a year in the average village bakery and has a shelf life of over 30 years.

Wake up a smell the tortillas!

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