India's top oil firm Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) on Wednesday unveiled a stationary, rechargeable and indoor cooking stove that uses the sun's energy to cook food while always being kept in the kitchen.
The stove, which entails a one-time procurement cost and has zero maintenance, is being touted as a substitute for fossil fuels.
Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri hosted a function at his official residence where a full three-course meal cooked on the stove, which has been named Surya Nutan, was served.
Speaking on the occasion, IOC Director (R&D) SSV Ramakumar said the stove is different from solar cookers as it does not have to be placed under sunlight.
Surya Nutan, which has been developed by IOC's research and development division at Faridabad, always stays in the kitchen and a cable carries solar energy captured through a PV panel kept outdoor or on the roof.
It collects energy from the sun, converts it into heat through a specially designed heating element, stores thermal energy in a scientifically proven thermal battery and reconverts the energy for use in indoor cooking. The energy captured not just covers day time cooking needs of a family of four but also the night meal.
"One kg of LPG saved (using the stove) will mitigate 3 carbon dioxide emissions," he said adding that the prototype is being currently tested at 60 locations including Ladakh where solar intensity is very high.
Once tests are completed, commercial manufacturing would be launched.
"The stove currently costs between Rs 18,000 to Rs 30,000 but considering economies of scale when 2-3 lakh units are produced and some government support, the cost can come down to Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 a unit," he said.
The stove has a 10-year life with no maintenance. It does not have a traditional battery that needs replacement. Also, the solar panel has a 25-year life.
It can be used for the full range of cooking - boiling, steaming, frying and cooking roti, he said adding that an electrical grid can be used as an auxiliary supply when the charge is low or on cloudy days.
Puri, who tried his hand at cooking a dessert on the stove, said it would take 2-3 months for the commercial launch and the cost can come down further if it generates enough demand.
IOC Chairman SM Vaidya said the company may manufacture the stoves on its own or could go for contract manufacturing.
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