Solar energy is an intermittent energy resource but can be stored for later use, says Prof Ashmore Mawire, principal researcher in the solar thermal energy group at the North-West University’s (NWU’s) campus in Mahikeng.
He is one of the very few applied physicists investigating solar thermal energy storage systems for domestic applications in South Africa.
Prof Mawire believes that the use of solar cookers could assist in reducing the dependence on firewood for cooking, especially in rural areas where rapid deforestation is occurring.
Since solar energy is not always available (at night or during cloudy periods), thermal energy storage systems can be employed to store energy for later usage.
Domestic storage systems could assist
Prof Mawire’s research indicates that small domestic storage systems for solar cooking applications could assist people in developing countries by providing energy for cooking and heating water.
An NRF-rated researcher in physics and electronics, Prof Mawire has published extensively in national and international journals and written a book chapter on thermal energy storage for solar cookers. He has twice been awarded the former Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Technology prize for the most inspirational lecturer as voted by students (2011 and 2013).
Prof Ashmore Mawire has also published an educational journal article on simple, affordable electronics experiments for universities with limited resources.
Improving the quality of teaching in technology-related fields through the use of affordable experiments is his other research interest.