Quad Cooker—Triune Cooker Plus Solar Cooker With Tracker

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"The challenge of having to use a new microcontroller and software to build a machine given a strict deadline was met because of the ease of learning to use LabVIEW and the myRIO."

- Azeez Oluwafemi, University of Ibadan

The Challenge:
Cooking with biomass has posed many problems, including climate change, household air pollution, and more.

The Solution:
Developing a transitional technology, the Quad Cooker, to introduce solar cookers to consumers.

Azeez Oluwafemi - University of Ibadan
Shittu Saheed - University of Ibadan
Fasae Taiwo - University of Ibadan
Dr O.E Simolowo - Supervisor, Contributor, and Mentor


Project Introduction

Household energy consumption, especially cooking energy, accounts for a larger part of the overall energy consumption in developing countries such as Nigeria and other African countries. This design became necessary due to the irregular supply of electricity and high cost of gas and kerosene, all of which constitute the main source of energy for electric cookers, gas cookers, and kerosene stoves.

Design Methodology

  • The first stage is to design the electrical component, which includes the regulator, the wires, the fuse, the heating filament, and the poles.
  • We also needed to design the fuel components. The fuel is kerosene, so the components include the wick, the baffles, the pot stand, the jacker, and more.
  • We needed to design the gas components, which include the gas burner, the hose, and more.
  • We would add a design of the solar components with a tracking system.

Figure 1. Triune Cooker

Design Architecture

The quad cooker is a stack of two hybrid cookers. The bottom stack combines a kerosene and gas cooker. For safety purposes, we placed the gas cooker cylinder outside the system and connected to its cooker with a hose. The bottom stack joins the top stack with a hinge. The top stack combines an electric cooker and an intelligent solar cooker. The solar cooking box houses the filament for electric cooking and includes a door that allows the pot to be brought in. It joins the reflector with two universal joints and connects to two stepper motors through two hinges. The stepper motors connect to the reflector through a gearing system that converts rotary motion to linear motion. Sensors attach to the reflector, which actuates the stepper motors through a myRIO microcontroller that we preprogrammed using LabVIEW software.

Figure 2. Quad Cooker

Functional Description

The bottom stack is a hybrid of kerosene and gas cooker.

  • Kerosene cooker: Capillary action through the wick sustains fire as fuel (kerosene) supplied by the cylinder from which the wick comes out.
  • Gas cooker: The external gas cylinder connects to its cooker through a hose. The regulator on the gas cylinder regulates the gas dispense rate, which is the level of fire produced for cooking. When the gas is dispensed, the system lights up and the flame burns to supply the required heat for cooking.

The bottom stack connects to the top stack with a hinge.

  • Top stack: The top stack is a hybrid of electric cooker and an intelligent solar cooker.
  • Electric cooker: The switch and the control for the electric cooker are below the bottom stack. The wire passes through the pole to the top stack where it connects to the filament, which is inside the solar cooking box. The electrical energy is conveyed to reasonable required heat by the positive and negative charges passing through the filament, where the heat is used for cooking.
  • Solar cooker: The cooking box and the reflector comprise the solar cooker. We painted the inner part of the cooking box black to absorb radiation and maintain an inner temperature that the electric cooking could have additionally supplied. At the top, we covered it with a glass cover to prevent radiation from escaping after being trapped in the box. The reflector is made of wood unlike other parts of the cooker, mainly because of weight. It is inclined at a 120° angle from the surface of the cooking box. The inner part includes layers of cardboard and aluminum foil to prevent heat loss and reflect radiation inward.

 Results and Discussion

The first challenge was a safety issue in the arrangement of the bottom stack. We needed to decide whether to place the gas cylinder in the system or outside of it. We eventually chose to place it outside and connect it with a hose to a specially fabricated gas cooker that would allow inflow of gas by one side and cook effectively. Placing it in the system might scare consumers, even if we designed it to be safe. We faced a similar challenge with the location of the filament for electric cooking, which we eventually solved by placing it inside the solar cooking box. The motion of the reflection posed our greatest mechanical challenge. We wanted it to have two degrees of freedom, controlled by two stepper motors responsible for each direction (or degree of freedom). To address this, we connected each stepper motor on the adjacent side of the top of the cooking box to the stepper motor with a one degree of freedom hinge. The remaining two sides connected directly to the reflector with a two degree of freedom hinge (some work like a revolute joint). We had the hinges specially fabricated for this purpose.

The motors connected to the reflector through a gearing system that translated rotary motion of the stepper motor to the desired linear motion of the reflector. Learning LabVIEW was like a crash course on programming. It was so easy to use and we found enough materials online that were readily available. We could use a ready program and materials with the myRIO hardware. We did not have to start looking for which program would match which hardware best, and we did not have to start learning codes when we had our algorithm already. We took the opportunity to train some of our classmates and they liked the software. It empowered us to focus on the most important things in our design. We plan to patent the design immediately. A plan to start an energy company for commercializing products like this is already on the way. We built a network with some students in other schools, and we have planned and strategized on exactly how to start a renewable energy company. This design is one of the products we would be manufacturing, although there are others such as a new micro-hydropower generator.

When transitioning to new ways of cooking, such as solar cooking, many people are skeptical and doubtful about its ability, especially in our type of society. Cooker designs like ours could actually cause them to consider it. They could test the new method of cooking in a wise manner. Cookers like this are more efficient and less expensive than the four cookers individually combined. Their efficiency and cost support one another. 


We developed a method that is helpful to humanity. Our new method can help transition attitudes and engineering designs necessary to fight one of our greatest world challenges—climate change. We believe in our design, believe it would save many lives and help provide a better world for our future generation to live in. Engineers can bring the whimsical thoughts of men to tangible solutions for the world.

Author Information:
Azeez Oluwafemi
University of Ibadan

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