(Phys.org) —A company called Contemporary Energy has unveiled a new device it calls the Solar Kettle. It looks very much like a normal coffee thermos, but has flaps on one side that open to allow for collecting solar energy, thus heating whatever is held inside. The company will be marketing the device to campers and others that need a way to boil water when electricity is not available.
The Solar Kettle looks very much like a normal thermos when not in use, though it's heavier—2.6 pounds when empty, compared to about a half pound for a normal thermos. It looks markedly different however when heating a liquid. The flaps open and direct the sun's energy to the vacuum sealed thermos. The device comes with a stand as well to allow for unattended heating. It typically takes about two hours to heat cold water to boiling. The Kettle can also be used to brew tea, melt snow or to boil water to make it safe to drink. And if the need arises, it can even be used to desalinate seawater.
Devices that can make tainted water safe to drink have become increasingly popular as world health authorities have spread the word about the risks posed to people around the world who don't have access to clean drinking water. While the Solar Kettle is not directed towards such end users, it's clear it could very easily be used for that purpose. The device holds 17 ounces of liquid, which is enough to make three cups of tea. That means it's capable of providing enough safe drinking water for one person, indefinitely. Of course that only applies on days when the sun is shining.
Reps for the new device point out that their Solar Kettle can also be used to heat soup, or even to boil eggs. That makes it ideal, they say, for hikers, campers or anyone else who wants to boil water without going to the trouble of setting up a campfire. They note also that the exterior of the device remains cool to the touch during heating, preventing users from getting burned—and because it's heavily insulated, water once heated, will remain that way for several hours.
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