Syrup Producer in Mexico Uses Solar Cooking to Process Agave
About 15 years ago a smallÂ group of women in the village San Andres (Mexico) startedÂ production of a sweet agave syrup. They formed a cooperative to make the syrup of the juice of the green agave. The process involvesÂ intensive cooking of Â the raw juice to concentrate it into a syrupÂ using big gas stoves which consume large amounts of expensive natural gas.Â To reduce costs and take advantage of an abundant local resourceÂ the team began experimenting with solar cooking using an SK-14 solar concentrator. This early attempt at solar cooking was not very succesful as it required that the cooks stay out in the hot sun while the solar cooker could only process small amounts at one time.
In 2005Â theybegan testing the process usingÂ an 8mÂ²- SchefflerreflectorÂ which proved to be satisfactory andÂ in 2008 started the production of solar agave syrup with six 10mÂ² Schefflerreflectors in a new kitchen building.
The NGO Globosol from Switzerland helped the women with an interest-free credit to build six 10mÂ² San Andres which were installed in 2007/2008. The Woman can cook each sunny day up to 250 liters of aguamiel with the Schefflerreflectors.Â This is equal to the daily amount that they were able to process previoiusly with gas burners. The six Schefflerre relectors are installed outside while the women can cook inside the kitchen. The sun is concentrated to a secondary reflector downside of the cooking pot such that the process similar to cooking with a gas stove.
The green agave, the Maguey, is one of the oldest plants cultivated in Mexico. The culture of the Ã‘hahÃ±us, the native people living the altiplano about 200 km in the north of Mexico City, is aligned with the cultivation of this agave which is one of the few plants growing in this semi-desert region.
Every part of the plant is utilized by the local people andÂ you can find large plantations of magueys in the altiplano. All the families in the village San Andres have plantations of magueys and the majority of the people earn theirÂ living by selling “pulque” in the towns nearby. Pulque was the “agave beer” of Mexico and in former times selling pulque was a good business.
The Maguey needs about 7 years toÂ mature and can provide from 1Â to 8 Liters of the juicy liquid “Aguamiel” eachÂ per day. The pulque is a result of fermentation of the aguamiel and it contains a small amount of alcohol – like beer.
The solar installation in San Andres is the first small industry project performed by the mexican company Trinysol which started 3 years ago with the production of Schefflerreflectors and solar hot water system in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico.
Â Credit : Solarfood2009 conference paper – http://www.solarfood.org/solarfood/pages/solarfood2009/3_Full_papers/SolarFood/25_Schapers.pdf
Âconcentrated solar, mexico, solar cooking, Solar Thermal Cooking, Solar Thermal Energy Technology Type
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