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.

Learn to explain your research in 2 minutes and win the Elevator Pitch competition

The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, IBB, INc and ICTA-UAB institutes announce a competition for the doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers at their centres.

ICTA-UAB researcher Gara Villalba receives an ERC Consolidator Grant

The European Research Council (ERC) announced the recipients of its Consolidator Grant competition: 291 top scientists across Europe.

The ICTA-UAB awarded an Erasmus+ for running a project on higher education and research in Biosphere Reserves

For the first time since its founding, the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded approximately 1 million euros by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ funding scheme.

ICTA-UAB contributes to bridging science and society in the 100xCiencia.3

ICTA-UAB took part in the 100xCiencia.3 “Bringing Science and Society”, the annual event of the SOMMa Alliance held on November 15th at the CNIO in Madrid.

Citizens prefer landscapes that combine nature with built infrastructure

A pioneering study analyses the photographs shared by citizens in social networks to evaluate the aesthetic consideration of natural landscapes.

Co-managed small-scale fisheries lead to social and ecological improvements

The co-management model of small groups of fishermen contributes to a greater abundance and habitats of species.

ICTA-UAB to design participative and concurred forest fire prevention strategies for the Montseny region

Scientists from the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) aim to design prevention strategies for forest fires occurring in the Montseny Biosphere Reserve through a citizen participation process.

Nace El Observatorio del Besòs: un proyecto de seguimiento de la calidad de los sistemas fluviales de la cuenca

La Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) a través del Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA-UAB), y el Consorci Besòs Tordera evaluarán el estado de calidad a largo plazo de la cuenca del Besòs gracias a la creación de la Observatorio del Besòs.

Shift in large-scale Atlantic circulation causes lower-oxygen water to invade Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Gulf of St. Lawrence has warmed and lost oxygen faster than almost anywhere else in the global oceans.

Climate Change Modifies the Composition of Reefs

Corals devastated by climate change are being replaced naturally by other species such as gorgonians, which are less efficient in acting as a carbon sink.

ICTA-UAB launches the first master’s Degree in “Political Ecology. Degrowth and Environmental Justice”

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) launches the master’s Degree in “Political Ecology.

Pioneering study analyses the effects of forests on human health

A group of volunteers have participated in an experimental study conducted by the ICTA-UAB to analyse the potential health benefits of forests.

Marine Litter on Mediterranean Beaches Triples in Summer

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) analyses and quantifies the waste generated by tourists in eight islands of the Mediterranean as part of the European BLUEISLANDS project.

Mapping the Urban Vitality of Barcelona

Researchers at the UAB have mapped Barcelona and and 9 surrounding towns using a new methodology based on urbanism activist Jane Jacobs' ideas on how cities should be configured to become vital spaces: 25% of the area is classified as having high vitality.

Agricultural intensification not a “blueprint” for sustainable development

Social and ecological results of increased agricultural intensification are not as positive as expected.

Green urban planning must consider social equity criteria

Cities that do not include social equity criteria into their political strategies to make their urban environment greener and more ecological will not achieve long-term sustainability and risk creating green enclaves only for the social elite.

The ICTA-UAB alerts of a new invasive Asian beetle pest in Catalonia that kills mulberry trees

A study by researcher of the ICTA-UAB and the Department of Agriculture Víctor Sarto i Monteys has identified in the province of Barcelona the presence of a species from Asia that could spread through Europe.

More than 120 ICTA-UAB researchers addressed environmental challenges at a symposium, especially those arising from global and...

The Institut of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) organized its 1st Spring Symposium with the aim of addressing some of the main environmental and sustainability challenges.

Low-carbon energy transition requires more renewables than previously thought

A new study by ICTA-UAB analyzes the impacts on lifestyles of substituting fossil fuels for cleaner energies.

Climate Change Threatens World's Largest Seagrass Carbon Stores

Shark Bay seagrass carbon storage hotspot suffers alarming losses after a devastating marine heat wave, according to a study led by ICTA-UAB researchers.

Amazon's indigenous people hunt animals feeding in areas contaminated by oil spills

A study by the ICTA-UAB and the UAB Department of Animal Health and Anatomy demonstrates that the main species hunted by the indigenous popoulations of the Peruvian Amazon ingest water and soil contaminated with hidrocarbons and heavy metals.

The new Planttes app warns of allergy risks in different urban areas

The Planttes application is a citizen science project which aims to encourage people to identify and locate on a map the existence of allergy-causing plants and indicate their phenological state.

ICTA-UAB’s success: five ERC grants in two years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded five European Research Council (ERC) grants in two years, which is about ten per cent of all ERC grants arriving in Catalonia over the period from the end of 2015 to the end of 2017.

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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