Innovation That Matters

SolFoil has created portable solar-powered pouches that can cook food | Photo source SolFoil

Heating food with a portable solar heater

Food & Drink

The lightweight technology fits inside a backpack and requires nothing but sunlight

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Spotted: One of the many effects of climate change is a reduction in the number of outdoor places that allow barbecues. Open flames are increasingly banned due to ongoing droughts and ensuing risk of fire. Yet after several years of confinement in or near home, scores more people are interested in exploring outdoors. So how to make cooking outside safer? A lightweight, portable pack that uses sunlight to heat the items inside could be the answer.

Finnish startup SolFoil has created solar-powered pouches that cook or heat food and non-food items. Cool to the touch, even after hours in the sun, the packages absorb 90 per cent of the available sunshine. Cooking times vary due to time of day, strength of sunshine, and outdoor temperature, and the pouches can be left for hours without overheating. They connect to a gauge that indicates the internal temperature, making it easy to track cooking times.

As well as food, clothes and other items can be heated by the pouches – which require no fuel or power source other than the sun. As a replacement for disposable barbecues, the pouches make meals on the trail or at a picnic much quicker and cleaner. The company recognises the potential of the technology to help vulnerable communities living in insecure housing and inhospitable locations, and the company plans to develop the product further for use in humanitarian emergencies.

Portability is growing as an asset through innovative designs that bring technologies and services to people, rather than the traditional practice of requiring people to travel to a single, often far-off, location. From a hand-washing cart used in hospitals to a mini-factory in a shipping container, mobile options open up a range of opportunities as well as make processes more efficient. 

Written by: Keely Khoury



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