The "Godzilla of Solar Cookers," Built in 1949

A look back at the precursors to GoSun

January 13, 2020 2 min read

The "Godzilla of Solar Cookers," Built in 1949

GoSun is trying to accelerate the technological growth of solar cookers (and we like to think we're doing a pretty good job, as do others). While we always try to look forward, it pays to look back once in a while. And you can't look without your vision being obscured by the "Godzilla of Solar Ovens," built in 1949.

Here's the description: 

Constructed in 1949 in the citadel of Mont-Louis in the French Pyrenees, this double-mirror solar furnace concentrated the sun’s rays to melt just about anything that wandered into its 3,000 °C beam. Engineer Félix Trombe [shown below] designed the solar furnace and used it for high-temperature experiments on materials and to demonstrate how to fire ceramics without using wood.

 The oven is still in operation. In 1975 it was moved from the center of the citadel to a place near the city walls. It is now only used for educational purposes and, on sunny days, can concentrate 50 kilowatts of solar energy into an area of just a few square centimeters. This is enough concentrated solar energy to ignite wood or liquify a steel plate in a few seconds. It sounds like a real-life version of Archimedes fictional death ray, which according to Roman accounts, incinerated a fleet of ships with an array of mirrors that ignited the wooden vessels in 200 BC.

The success of the French furnace led to the construction of a bigger solar furnace in Odeillo, which began operating in 1970. This parabolic reflector was 1,830-square-meters, the largest and most powerful in the world.

 While this oven was way too large to be adapted for consumer use, it paved the way for portable solar cookers like GoSuns (sort of like how IBMS 1960s monster mainframes made smartphones possible today). We tip our hat to these early inventors and their pioneering spirit in carbon-neutral cooking.


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