Integrated solar cooking: an underutilized solution.
The Challenge of Environmental Stewardship
It is not just about us. As Americans, our thinking about creation care naturally tends to focus on issues close at hand. We consider the fuel economy of cars and the cost of utilities for our homes. We worry about contamination of our food, excessive use of pesticides, and the reliability of electric power for our freezers and computers. These are the problems of a developed country. Mean while, there are billions of people around the world who live in comparative poverty. They are vulnerable to their environment in many ways, they suffer greatly, and we live alongside them on the same planet. This is an area in which scientists and technologists can intervene to offer innovative and appropriate solutions-especially when motivated by an ethic of other-centered Christian compassion. (5) But to be appropriate, interventions need to be carefully considered from the bottom-up viewpoint of the recipient. Thus, a first step in planning aid pro grams is to visualize in some detail the actual situation of the person in need. Constructing scenarios of people different from ourselves may lead to a better understanding of their needs. Such a scenario is pro vided in the example below, based on a compilation of field data.
A Day in the Life of Sarah
Sarah lives in a very sunny and warm part of the world. She lives with her husband in a stick-and board house in a small village. It has a bedroom and a kitchen. They grow enough food to subsist, including beans, squash, and tomatoes, and Sarah trades some of these for corn and meat at the village market place. The family has to drink water from a muddy creek, because they often cannot afford to buy water from the tank truck that occasionally comes through the village. Sarah cooks in the traditional way. She moves three large stones together, then lights a fire in a pile of sticks and sets a pot over it. Sarah and her children are always coughing due to cooking smoke from burning sticks and dried dung. One of her children died of a lung disease last year.
Sarah's husband works in a field all day. For this, Sarah is grateful; many men have either left their wives or spend the day drinking and hanging out. They have four children. The older children stay around home and play; they cannot afford to buy the uniforms required to go to school.
Sarah gets up about 5:00 a.m. and lights a fire of sticks. She boils some water and makes hot cereal for breakfast. Sarah also makes a lunch for her husband to bring to the fields. Next she feeds her children, and then herself. After cleaning up, Sarah gathers clothes that need cleaning and walks to the creek to wash them, with one child strapped to her back and escorting a toddler. She brings home the wash and hangs it up to dry in the hot sun.
Her children help in gathering sticks for firewood. They sometimes have to walk several miles to find sufficient wood, and then they must carry the load back on their heads. All the local wood has been gathered already, and nearby landowners are scaring away poor people from gathering on their land. Often children get injured by thorns and insect bites. And it is always dangerous for women and children to be out in the woods alone.
Sometimes Sarah runs out of wood for the fire, because her children could not walk far enough to find a sufficient quantity. At these times she has to trade food for firewood. In the hot afternoon, she prepares lunch for the children and herself, by once again cutting up some sticks and starting the three stone fire. After lunch she has some time to gather vegetables from her garden; she shells some beans and puts them into a soaking pot.
By late afternoon her husband returns home, tired and hungry. Sarah has prepared a meal of vegetables and rice over the fire. She feeds the children, scrubs out the cooking pots, and goes to bed-exhausted, coughing, and hot.
Billions of Sarahs
It is estimated that 2.5 billion people depend on food cooked indoors over open fires with biofuels, much as humans have done for hundreds of thousands of years. (6) According to the World Health Organization, this practice leads to respiratory diseases, accounting for nearly two million deaths per year, mostly of women and children. (7)
In rural Peru, for instance, a typical household will burn 3.6 tons of wood per year for heating and cooking. (8) Such consumption of firewood has many ripple effects. This wood must be either gathered by hand or purchased-one of the major household expenses. Fuel and food preparation consume so much time that women cannot earn extra income. They cannot send their children to school because they do not have enough money for school uniforms, and they need the children to gather wood and do other chores. (9) So, in many areas, the education level is not improving. These are chronic lifestyle habits that are not affected much by short-term government or NGO interventions.
The cumulative effect of a billion cooking fires (as well as slash-and-burn agriculture and other fires) adds significantly to the amount of black carbon, (10) aerosols, (11) and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Pollution of air, water, and earth (soil erosion) are evident in many places. The constant gathering of living and dead wood leads to deforestation and habitat loss. For example, in Haiti, the contrast between its barren land and the forests of the Dominican Republic can be seen clearly on satellite maps. (12)
The Energy-Poverty-Climate Nexus
In the year 2000, the United Nations announced eight global goals that must be achieved to meet the needs of people like Sarah.
The Millennium Development Goals
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality.
Goal 5: Improve maternal health.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/ AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability. Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development. (13)
In reaching these goals, we need not assume that development in the less developed nations will take the same path that Western civilization took-along with its excesses. It is not necessarily desirable that the solution for them is to have what we have. The ultimate consumer "dream" may not be to have a big home with a dishwasher, a freezer, and an electric stove (along with all the resource demands, infra structure costs, and environmental impacts that these products entail). In the colonial era, the USA was powered by wood. In the twentieth century, petroleum and its plastic and chemical products dominated. But with the advent of technologies such as the Internet, cell phones, satellites, fiber optics, vaccines, and nanotechnology, it is becoming possible for developing countries to "leapfrog" over energy intensive products and to develop by more efficient paths. In some cases, it only takes a small amount of technology transfer to achieve significant economic impacts. This article will describe one such technology.
Daniel Kammen, a climate expert at the World Bank, noted that there is a "nexus" between energy, poverty, and climate change. (14) All three challenges are complementary; they impact each other. For example, as the story of Sarah's lifestyle indicates, reducing the need for firewood can also have an impact on poverty and climate change. Cooking over a fire is a major part of daily life, primarily of women. Moreover, the cost of fuel, or the labor in collecting firewood, is often a significant fraction of total household costs. (15) Because biomass fire-based cooking takes so much time and labor every day, it robs women and children of other opportunities such as education and small business. Hence, inefficient, fire-based cooking is one of the main causes of many social, health, economic, and environmental problems. (16)
The Solar Cooker
For many regions of the world, one approach to address the "nexus" is solar cooking. A solar cooker is a device that uses concentrated sunlight to cook foods. It does not require photovoltaic (PV) or other complex technologies; the only innovation required is a polished metal surface such as aluminum foil or metalized plastic film. Although it is "high tech" in terms of manufacturing, metalized film is very inexpensive and is now widely used as food packaging.
There are three basic types of solar cookers (figure 1), with many variations available:
1. Parabolic cookers, which use curved reflectors to focus sunlight onto a small area where a pot or teapot is mounted. Some designs include a sun-tracking device.
2. Panel cookers, in which flat sheets of shiny metal are arranged to focus sunlight on a black pot.
3. Box cookers, in which an insulated box covered with a transparent window captures sunlight to heat a black pot in the box.
There is a continuum from devices that heat by concentrating sunlight (parabolics) to devices that cook simply by retaining heat. Thus fuel-free cooker designs may be arranged in this order:
1. True parabolics with a high light concentration factor;
2. Modified parabolics (e.g., troughs);
3. Panel cookers with a transparent enclosure to reduce convective heat loss (This also includes evacuated tubes and solar hot water collectors.);
4. Boxes with shiny reflectors internally and externally;
5. Boxes with shiny external reflectors and black internal surfaces;
6. Boxes with no reflectors and black internal surfaces; and
7. Retained-heat insulated containers (no light input).
Solar cookers can also be characterized by three physical parameters:
* food and container mass
* light concentration factor
* net heat loss factor
The time it takes to heat food or water can be obtained from Newton's law of heating and cooling. The cooking time is directly proportional to the mass of the food and the pot, and the mean specific heat of the food and the pot, and inversely proportional to the reflector area and light concentration factor. Typically, a solar cooker takes from 1.5 to 2.5 hours to cook a meal. It performs like the slow cooker or "crock pot" in many American kitchens.
The maximum temperature achieved by a solar cooker is also dependent on the rate of heat loss; at equilibrium, the losses will equal the solar input. To reduce cooking time, the cooking pots and container walls are usually painted black. But at equilibrium, radiation loss will equal incoming solar radiation energy (Kirchhoff's law). Convection is also an efficient cause of heat loss, so box cookers must use a tightly sealed box. Of course, for water-based foods such as rice, polenta, or stews, the maximum internal temperature is self-limited to around 100[degrees]C.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Thus the main cooking requirements--quantity of food and cooking time--lead to solar cooker design requirements. Each type and size of cooker has its appropriate uses. For frying foods, parabolic or other curved reflectors can attain very high temperatures by concentrating sunlight on a small spot where a pot or frying pan is placed. These devices cook food in a short time, although the reflector must be turned frequently to keep it aligned to the sun direction.
For emergencies, and in refugee situations, a low cost cardboard-and-aluminum panel cooker called the CooKit has been developed by Solar Cookers International (SCI). Tens of thousands of these devices have been distributed in camps in Africa. (17) The CooKit design is simple and can be made locally with existing materials such as cardboard and any kind of shiny material, e.g., aluminum foil, or even potato chip bags, candy wrappers, or cigarette packs. (18) The reflective panel can be used with any black pot, as long as it is enclosed in a roaster bag to reduce convection. It can reach temperatures around 120[degrees]C. (19) In addition to cooking food, the CooKit is used for pasteurizing water and milk, because experiments have shown that to pasteurize water it is only necessary to achieve a temperature of 65[degrees]C; it is not necessary to boil the water. (20)
A more durable general-purpose panel cooker is the HotPot, which includes a polished aluminum reflector, a glass bowl and cover, and an inner black enameled steel pot. The glass bowl acts to prevent convective heat loss. This product is well made and will last for many years. The author has personally used a HotPot cooker for a couple of years to cook vegetables, rib roasts, hot dogs, hamburgers, and cakes. He is one of many people in Washington DC, and other places around the USA who cook frequently with a solar cooker (figure 2).
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
Box cookers can be made of plywood, cardboard, or molded polymers. A simple box cooker design tested in Guatemala achieved 120[degrees]C in 30 minutes. (21) One commercial product, the Sun Oven[TM], claims to achieve temperatures of over 180[degrees]C. (22) Panel and box cookers do not need to be turned or adjusted frequently, and the pot does not need to be tended during cooking. These realities free up time for other activities. The American Society of Agricultural Engineers has published a standard for performance measurements of box cookers; international standards for solar cookers are currently being developed. (23)
Integrated Solar-Biomass Cooking
What does a solar cook do on cloudy days, or after dark? To provide for this, a modern fuel-efficient stove is recommended. Many designs have recently been developed. They are small and lightweight, typically made of clay or steel with insulated walls. They are efficient because of carefully designed air flow and reduced thermal mass. They can cook a meal quickly with only a small handful of wood or other biomass. Within the past year, a major effort has been launched to scale up the introduction of fuel-efficient stoves, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC). Funded by hundreds of partners, the GACC seeks to distribute 10 million efficient stoves (including LPG stoves). (24) With widespread recognition, celebrity endorsements, and numerous meetings, the GACC has rapidly succeeded in focusing government and NGO efforts, primarily aimed at improving indoor air quality.
If food is cooked on a sunny afternoon in the solar cooker, how is it kept warm for the evening meal after sunset? For this purpose, a third component is required: a large insulated basket or box, which is lined with a thick insulating material such as straw or wool to reduce the heat loss factor. If a pot of hot food is stored in such a container, it will continue to cook and stay warm for hours.
The combination of these three simple devices a solar cooker, a fuel-efficient stove, and a heat storage container-provides a complete "integrated cooking solution" for people in sunny regions all over the world, particularly in northern Africa and the Middle East, Central America, India and central Asia, Australia, and western South America. Haiti, for example, is dry for at least half the year--an excellent candidate for solar cooking. (25)
Fuel-efficient stoves reduce firewood requirements significantly. But solar cookers use no fuel at all. Thus, solar cookers can serve to drive down fuel costs for the poor, as well as reduce the environmental and health impacts from burning fuels.
Ongoing Solar Cooking Projects
Solar cooking devices are in widespread use in India, and production of solar cookers is growing rapidly in China. (26) For instance, there is an institution that feeds 30,000 people each day from a large solar cooker installation in India. (27) Solar Cookers International (SCI) has distributed tens of thousands of CooKits and other cooker products to African countries and Haiti. (28)
Solar Household Energy (SHE) is a nonprofit organization located in the Washington DC area to build awareness and support for solar cooking. (The author joined the board of this organization recently.) SHE has conducted field projects in El Salvador, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Haiti, Senegal, and Chad. These projects are being evaluated to assess long-term acceptance by cooks in these countries. SHE also conducts research on cooker designs and is partnering with other US non profit organizations to collect detailed measurements to improve cooker performance.
This year SHE established or advanced several important relationships, and provided technical assistance to these new partners. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) contracted with SHE to train 48 women in the Gaga refugee camp in Chad to solar cook, and to distribute HotPot solar ovens for them to use (figure 3). UNHCR was interested in this project as a pilot to determine if a larger-scale program of solar ovens is warranted in the camps. The preliminary results are positive. The following description of the project is excerpted from SHE's final report to UNHCR:
The preliminary results indicate that introducing solar cooking has caused them [the participants] to reduce their wood use by an average of 25-40% after only two months. These savings are likely to grow over time and could be further increased by additional measures. The users are extremely enthusiastic about their new HotPots and have adapted their cooking to use them every midday meal. (29)
[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]
These results indicate that cultural acceptance and lifestyle changes are feasible. However, the scale of the projects so far has been small. SHE and SCI hope to scale up the size and duration of these projects, and many plans need to be prepared in order to be ready for this. SHE is currently working on ways to develop and test microfinancing practices, so that in-country entrepreneurs can enable solar cooking practices to grow organically within a country. This is a challenging, multidisciplinary long-term effort.
Challenges to the Introduction of Solar Cooking
It is gratifying to see the beginning of a large-scale introduction of more fuel-efficient biomass and LPG stoves around the world. However, fuel-efficient stoves of any kind still use fuels, they still generate C02, they reduce but do not eliminate deforestation, and they still require users to pay fuel costs and fuel distribution costs. In sunny regions, solar cooking can drive down costs, labor, pollution, and deforestation still further. But scaling up of solar cooker use faces several serious challenges. As Steve jobs has said, "A lot of times, people do not know what they want until you show it to them." (30)
Many people in developing countries do not recognize solar cooking as a potential solution because it is such a paradigm shift in their thinking about how food is cooked. This is certainly understand able, and it implies that adequate training and careful adaptation to the local cooking practices is necessary for effective acceptance. However, based on recent pilot field projects, there is ample evidence that many users do accept solar cookers, especially as they begin to realize the economic, labor, and health benefits.
Despite the great potential benefits, currently there is little recognition of solar cooking in the USA. Field projects are small, because there are few significant sources of funding, either from nonprofit organizations or government agencies. Many people in developed countries, accustomed as we are to gas, electric, and microwave cooking, are unfamiliar with the concept of solar cooking. This is indicated in some common objections or misconceptions, such as the following.
"Two hours is too long to cook a meal." This objection is based on a misconception. Although solar cooking takes more "wall clock time," it takes much less actual labor time because food does not have to be stirred, as it does over a fire. Panel or box cookers work like an oven or slow cooker in a developed world kitchen. You put the food in, then go away and do some other productive work. Moreover, solar cooking significantly reduces the labor and time for wood gathering, cutting, preparing the fire, and other tasks. By visualizing "a day in the life" of the solar cook, one can begin to recognize more benefits that follow from this labor-saving use of the sun.
"Solar cookers don't get hot enough." Of course they do; people cook with them all over the world. But like any technological product, a solar cooker must be "the right tool for the job." Selection of the product must begin from the end user's requirements (including food types, latitude, climate, etc.) to derive design parameters such as those suggested above. Users need to know how to orient the cooker to the sun angle, anchor it properly, and so forth. Some well-intentioned interventions have reported poor performance because the products were not appropriate for the conditions, or because users were not properly trained in their use. (31)
"Solar cookers cost too much for the poor." It is true that the initial product cost may be prohibitive--for clean cookstoves as well as for solar cookers--but microfinancing methods are being implemented to reduce initial cost, and the reduction in fuel cost over time will decrease total cost of ownership. The economic rationale is parallel to that for fuel-efficient cookstoves. But more research is needed in order to design cookers that use lower-cost materials and reduced manufacturing labor, and to refine funding methods.
A key challenge is the lack of long-term evaluations of previous field projects. Often interventions begin with great enthusiasm, but follow-up reports are inadequate. Cooking is a daily routine that varies widely around the world; the appropriateness of a technological solution needs to be carefully matched to the "cooking facts" of a particular region or village. This requires anthropological data (e.g., "a day in the life of Sarah") as well as feedback from users, in order to optimize the fit for maximum usage. Video ethnography is a new technique that could be very helpful in this regard. (32)
There are numerous challenges of solar cooking that can be discouraging--until we are reminded of the large potential benefits of this technology for many people, as well as for the global environment. In fact, solar cooking has benefits that directly or indirectly cover every one of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
The Role of Christians in Meeting the Challenges
Christian organizations are playing a key role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Faith-based NGO's have advantages over government-sponsored programs in ensuring environ mental sustainability. In a recent white paper, Amy Gambrill, a USAID official quoted advice from the findings of the African Biodiversity Collaborative Group as follows:
Reach out to faith communities for dialogue and collaboration. The global urgency for a sustainable world demands multidimensional approaches and a persistent push for ideals based on innovative and pragmatic strategies. Faith-based communities comprise the largest social organizations in Africa, representing a repository of opportunities to spread the cause for sustainability in the continent. Conservation leaders should reach out to religious communities to collaborate in implementing these recommendations, with a view to enhancing the capacity for value-based sustain ability decisions that link nature and human well being. (33)
Gambrill notes that a purely technical approach to environmental challenges may overlook human values and motivations in the local culture, which frame the worldview of the people we intend to reach with interventions. Government-based aid programs typically have a short lifespan and cannot sustain long-term efforts. But mission organizations are often more trusted than governmental agencies, and they are going to be around for the long term to encourage adoption of new methods and products. Hence, some mission organizations are learning to partner and "piggyback" each other's programs to provide better care for the whole persons physical and spiritual needs.
Summary: The Sun Is Manna from Heaven
During the Exodus in the wilderness, the Israelites became hungry, and they suffered and grumbled to Moses (Exodus 16). God gave them manna. In the dryer areas of the earth, the sun is energy "manna" from heaven. It is distributed freely each day and almost every day. Like manna, each one can gather as much as she needs. Like manna, it cannot be stored but must be used on a daily basis. But until recently, it has not been possible to gather this "manna." One bit of new technology has changed that: metallized film and aluminum foil-materials that are now available cheaply everywhere, and are often considered trash. With this shiny material and other low cost materials, the Sarahs of this world can obtain appropriately designed solar cookers and start gathering the "manna," cease gathering so much fire wood, and immediately begin to enjoy the many benefits of solar cooking.
(1) Francis A. Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1970).
(2) Jack Clayton Swearengen, Beyond Paradise: Technology and the Kingdom of God (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2007), 275.
(3) Joseph K. Sheldon, Rediscovery of Creation: A Bibliographical Study of the Church's Response to the Environmental Crisis (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1992), 29.
(4) Al Truesdale, "Last Things First: The Impact of Eschatology on Ecology," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 46 (June 1994):116-22.
(5) Daniel A. Salomon, Creation Unveiled (Xulon Press, 2003), 101.
(6) International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2009 (Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2009), 134. Regarding the earliest use of fire, see R. Rowlett et al., "Friendly Fire: The First Campfires Helped Hominids Survive the Night," Discovering Archaeology 1, no. 5 (1999): 82-9.
(7) N. Bruce, R. Perez-Padilla, and R. Albalak, "Indoor Air Pollution in Developing Countries: A Major Environmental and Public Health Challenge," Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 78, no. 9 (2000):1078.
(8) P. N. Bodereau, "Peruvian Highlands, Fume-Free," Science 334 (October 14, 2011):157.
(9) "Lack of a school uniform is often the single obstacle to a child getting an education," SOMB report, http://www .sombstyle.com/pages/story.
(10) V. Ramanathan et al., "Indian Ocean Experiment: An Integrated Analysis of the Climate Forcing and Effects of the Great Indo-Asian Haze," Journal of Geophysics Research 106, no. D22 (Nov. 27,2001): 28,371-98; and Black Carbon e-Bulletin, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 1, no. 1 Only 2009).
(11) Carolyn Gramling, "Aerosols Altered Asian Monsoons," Science 333 (September 30,2011): 1808.
(12)Ann Gibbons, "Greening Haiti, Tree by Tree," Science 327 (February 5, 2010): 640-2.
(13) United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report, 2011.
(14) C. E. Casillas and D. M. Kammen, "The Energy-Poverty Climate Nexus," Science 330 (November 26, 2010):1181-2.
(15) United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), State of the World's Forests 2011 (Rome: FAO, 2011).
(16) World Health Organization, Health in the Green Economy: Co-benefits to Health of Climate Change Mitigation-Housing Sector (Geneva, Switzerland: WHO Press, 2011).
(17) B. Loskota, "Solar Cooker Project Evaluation: Iridimi Refugee Camp, Chad, October 2007," http://www .jewishworldwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06 /Solar Cooker Project Evaluation.pdf; and D. B. Wood, "Simple Sun-Cooker Takes Off as a Way to Help Darfuris," Christian Science Monitor, July 26, 2007.
(18) Patricia McArdle, Farishta (New York: Riverhead Books, 2011), 180.
(19) Solar Cookers International, http://www.solarcookers.org/.
(20) D. A. Ciochetti and R. H. Metcalf, "Pasteurization of Naturally Contaminated Water with Solar Energy," Applied and Environmental Microbiology (February 1984): 223-8.
(21) D. M. Kammen and W. F. Lankford, "Comparative Study of Box-Type Solar Cookers in Nicaragua," Solar and Wind Technology 7, no.1(1990): 463-71.
(22) Sun Oven[TM], http://www.sunoven.com/.
(23) American Society of Agricultural Engineers, "Testing and Reporting Solar Cooker Performance," ASAE S580 (January 2003).
(24) N. Adams, Household Cookstoves, Environment, Health, and Climate Change: A New Look at an Old Problem (Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2011).
(25) Gibbons, "Greening Haiti, Tree by Tree," 640.
(26) United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Project 2307: Federal Intertrade Pengyang Solar Cooker Project, Validation Report, November 23, 2007.
(27) http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanam.
(28) G. Simbriger-Williams, "Solar Cookers Everywhere Assessing Progress in Iridimi Refugee Camp," Solar Cooker Review (March 2008).
(29) Solar Household Energy Annual Report, FY 2011, http ://she-inc.org/ar20ll.pdf.
(30) Quoted in Bloomberg Business Week special issue, October 10, 2011.
(31) D. M. Kammen and W. F. Lankford, "Cooking in the Sun shine," Nature 348 (November 29,1990): 385-6.
(32) J. H. Schaeffer, "Videotape: New Techniques of Observation and Analysis in Anthropology," in Principles of Visual Anthropology, ed. Paul Hockings (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter,1995).
(33) Amy Gambrill, "From Practice to Policy to Practice: Connecting Faith and Conservation in Africa," USAID White Paper, January 2011.
As an undergraduate, Paul Arveson became a Christian in 1963. He received a BS in Physics from Virginia Tech and an MS in Computer Systems Management from the University of Maryland. He served as a civilian employee in the Navy, conducting research in acoustics and oceanography, and designed systems for signal processing and analysis. In 1998 Paul cofounded the Balanced Scorecard Institute, a management consulting firm. Paul has maintained a lifelong interest in issues of faith and science through his work with the ASA; he now serves as Secretary of the DC Metro Section. Paul facilitates a Sunday adult class at his church and was a cofounder of the C. S. Lewis Institute. Recently he has joined the Board of Solar Household Energy. He also currently serves on the Board of Managers of the Washington Academy of Sciences.