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Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico

US innovators use the sun to roast state’s famous green chiles

Engineers from Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico recently gathered on top of a 200-foot solar testing facility to roast green chiles. One of them was Kenneth Armijo, himself the son of chile farmers: “Chile peppers are a big part of New Mexican culture, especially with the Latino Hispanic communities.”

The team set out to roast peppers with concentrated solar power. The technology uses mirrors and lenses to concentrate the sun’s rays. The experiment was successful; Armijo says that during a blind taste test, people even preferred the solar-roasted peppers to conventionally roasted ones.

Now he’s planning to test a modular system that could harness the sun’s energy to roast chiles – or coffee beans or nuts – on a small scale. He says the project shows how renewable energy can complement cultural traditions.


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