ICTA-UAB Gathers Worldwide Experts on Degrowth and Environmental Justice

ICTA-UAB is organizing the sixth edition of the Summer School on Degrowth and Environmental Justice from June 23rd to July 5th.

European project to support rooftop greenhouses projects

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is launching an open call to support rooftop greenhouse projects, in the framework of GROOF Project.

El ICTA-UAB participa en el proyecto que habilitará 10 escuelas de Barcelona como refugios climáticos

El Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Ambientales de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) es una de las instituciones impulsoras de un proyecto que habilitará 10 escuelas de Barcelona como refugios climáticos para disminuir el impacto de las altas temperaturas del verano.

A warmer ocean will lead to 17% reduction in global marine animal biomass, by the end of the century

Climate change will affect the distribution and abundance of marine life, but the full extent of these changes under future warming has been difficult to predict due to the limitations of individual ecosystem models used for such forecasts.

New study dismisses green growth policies as a route out of ecological emergency

Researchers from ICTA-UAB and the Goldsmiths University of London suggest that emissions reduction is only compatible with a lower economical degrowth or a degrowth scenario.

New cross-boundary approach for addressing wicked weed problems

Weed species continue to spread and management costs continue to mount, in spite of best management practices and efforts by research and extension personnel who promote them to land managers.

Urban green spaces do not benefit the health of all

In general, the creation of parks and green spaces in urban centers has positive effects on the health of city residents.

ERASMUS+ Edu-BioMed News: ICTA-UAB organizes workshops in Jabal Moussa and Shouf Biosphere Reserves (Lebanon) addressed to university...

From next April, 29th to May, 2nd, about 40 professors and professionals from the higher education institutions from Lebanon, Morocco, Spain, France and Italy will meet in two Lebanese Biosphere Reserves (Jabal Moussa and Shouf) to discuss how to improve Moroccan and Lebanese higher education and academic research in the context of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves (BRs).

ICTA-UAB researcher Antoni Rosell-Melé receives an ERC Advanced Grant

ICTA-UAB researcher Antoni Rosell-Melé has been awarded an Advanced Grant (AdvGr) from the European Research Council (ERC) to develop the project "New geochemical approach to reconstruct tropical palaeo-atmospheric dynamics" (PALADYN).

Urban Agriculture on Rooftops Provides Healthy, Fresh and Sustainable Food

​The implementation of urban gardens on building rooftops could produce fresh, healthy and sustainable agricultural food and guarantee the food sovereignty of cities, which are becoming increasingly populated.

Se prevén niveles de polen muy altos para esta primavera

Las polinizaciones de esta primavera y verano comenzarán en el momento habitual pero serán muy importantes.

Indigenous knowledge, key to a successful ecosystem restoration

Ecological restoration projects actively involving indigenous peoples and local communities are more successful. This is the result of a study carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB).

Future changes in human well-being more likely to depend on Social Factors than Economic Factors

The changes in the perception of personal well-being that could take place in the next three decades, on a global level, depend much more on social factors than on economic ones.

Record-wet and record-dry months increased in regions worldwide: climate change drives rainfall extremes

More and more rainfall extremes are observed in regions around the globe – triggering both wet and dry records, according a new study involving ICTA-UAB researcher Finn Mempel.

Success at ICTA-UAB: Six ERC Grants In Three Years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded six European Research Council (ERC) grants in three years, from the end of 2015 to the end of 2018. Each project (of between 1.5 and 2 million euros) lasts for five years and allows the recruitment of a team of six or seven doctoral students and postdocs.

New ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide'

The new ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide' it is at your disposal now. With this document, we aim to help you discover the basics of the PhD programme, ICTA-UAB’s structure, etc.
Urban solar cookers: Have you thought about their environmental, economic and social benefits?

Date: 2018-12-03


A study published by ICTA-UAB and the University of Manchester proves the potential sustainability benefits of using urban solar cookers (in Spain) made with low-impact household materials instead of microwaves. The authors have observed that there is a reduction of the environmental impact and the economic costs, even if microwaves are used in unfavourable weather conditions. Moreover, making and using the urban solar cooker contributes to a social improvement.  

Researchers from the Sustainable Industrial Systems (SIS) group of the University of Manchester and the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) have developed a comprehensive study to demonstrate the potential sustainability benefits of using home-made solar cookers, instead of microwaves, to heat food in cities with suitable climatic conditions. Spain was used as an illustrative example. The solar cookers considered in this work – box solar cookers, panel solar cookers and parabolic solar cookers –  were designed by students from the eco-design module of the Master of Environmental Studies (Specialty: Industrial Ecology) taught at ICTA-UAB over a 5-year period (2010-2014).

Students were asked to build solar cookers for individual use (e.g. heat one meal at a time) by reusing low-impact household materials (e.g. packaging boxes, glass panels, aluminium sheets, dark fabrics, etc) and applying eco-design criteria, including modularity, easy transport, use and maintenance and high reparability and recyclability over time. The eco-designed solar cookers must reach a temperature of at least 80ºC in late autumn (November and early December in Barcelona) to be considered effective products because this was assumed the minimum temperature o heat food relatively quickly (e.g. around 10 minutes) in periods with low solar irradiation. The life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) methodologies were applied to calculate the environmental and cost savings compared to the use of microwaves to heat food. The contribution of urban home-made solar cookers to deploy a circular economy and enhance social wellbeing was also explored.

The results from the study suggest that solar cookers could reduce annual economic costs by up to 40% and environmental impacts by up to 65% compared to the use of microwaves to heat food in cities. It means that the use of urban solar cookers, with microwaves as backup appliances for days with unfavourable climatic conditions, could avoid annual emissions of 42,600 t of CO2 eq. and reduce the consumption of primary energy by 860 TJ at the country level (Spain). Furthermore, household waste would be reduced by 4200 t/yr. Other environmental impacts, such as acidification, eutrophication, human toxicity and ozone depletion could be reduced by over 65%. If solar cookers were built entirely by reusing household materials, up to €23.2 million could be saved annually in Spain; always due to a reduced use of microwaves.

Finally, the development of craft activities to build and repair the cookers can help people to engage socially and reduce stress, thus enhancing their social wellbeing. It can also increase people’s awareness of a more sustainable use of resources. Thus, home-made solar cookers represent a promising opportunity to motivate behavioural changes towards urban sustainability in developed countries.


Mendoza, J.M.F., Gallego-Schmid, A., Schmidt-Rivera, X.C., Rieradevall, J., Azapagic, A., 2018. Sustainability assessment of home-made solar cookers for use in developed countries. Science of the Total Environment 648: 184-196. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.125


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