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Going Beyond Green – Very Low Cost Solar Cooker Competition

There is a dire need of making education compliant to societal needs. This initiative is determined to bring to the notice of entire nation, the problems that persist in rural India. Thus, we appeal to all the privileged Indians to come forth to find a sustainable solution to them. Renaissance, will then occur.

Design a solar cooker and entice rural households in India to switch to solar cooking.


Cooking and lighting constitute 75% of the total energy utilized in India’s rural areas, where more than 65% of the country’s population resides [Rajvanshi, 2003]. Nearly 90% of this population depends on some form or other of biomass fuels (firewood, agricultural wastes and cow dung) to fulfill its energy requirements [D’Sa and Murthy, 2004]. Smoke resulting from the combustion of these solid fuels contains complex pollutants. These are especially harmful when burnt in poorly-designed stoves in unventilated rooms. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, over 1.6 million deaths worldwide are attributable to indoor air pollution resulting from the use of biomass fuels [ITDG, 2004]. Hence, to improve the living conditions of such a large number of people it is imperative to develop clean and sustainable alternatives to fulfill their energy requirements. The availability and cost of cleaner cooking fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas keep them out of the reach of the rural poor. Besides, these fuels are non-renewable and hence present only a short-term solution. To solve the cooking fuel crisis clean and renewable alternatives have to be promoted.


This contest forms the first phase of a proposal to cover the entire state with a clear objective – to entice rural households to switch to solar cooking. The rationale is to short-list a few working models for user trials as part of a pilot study.

This is an invitation to savour the nation building pie. Share the pride that one has done his bit to serve a social cause. Go for an innovative value addition to what is essentially a simple technology. Apart from everyday food, the cooker may grill meat, bake chapattis, heat/pasteurize water, dehydrate whatever, demonstrate use as a refrigerator, & what have you!

All designs will be evaluated considering their:

  • Time taken to cook dal
  • Temperature of water attained at the time dal is cooked
  • Cost of manufacturing
  • Ease of use
  • robustness
  • Flexibility in working conditions
  • Maintenance cost and replace ability of parts
  • Aesthetics

Details of the Contest


The best designs will get be rewarded with:

  • Cash Prize worth INR 40000
  • The selected designs will be taken up by Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technological Commission for further tuning at labs of VNIT, under the mentorship of its noted faculty. The designers would be allowed to play the lead role in tuning up their designs
  • Prototypes of this tuned version (after successfully developed) will be sent for an on-field trial to an identified village by RGSTC.
  • Subsequently, it would be implemented at a larger scale.


  • The contest is for very low cost designs. Build a working model that is efficient, simple to make, and easy to use; keep focus on the rural ambience, easy availability of materials, etc.
  • Submit only tested designs; concept designs may be considered if sufficiently innovative.
  • Selection criteria would include parameters like performance, robustness, ease of construction/ operation, and so on. Innovation will pay, have no doubt about it.
  • The shortlisted designs will go in for a field trial for selecting the winners. The cookers and designs will have to be handed over to the contest committee. The selected few will go in for user trials in chosen village/tribal hamlets.
  • Teams from different universities, individuals, non professionals can participate in the contest.
  • Team members need not be from a single organization/university.

How to enter?

Register to the competition and submit your abstracts.

Abstract should be a description of:

  • How would the solar cooker work?
  • Procedure for making the solar cooker
  • Its cost of construction
  • Avenues of procuring materials
  • Test Results