Engineering a Better Stove
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This project will save lives and forests in East Africa by designing clean burning cookstoves which meet user needs.
Engineers for Appropriate Technology: Cookstoves in East Africa
Saving lives and forests in the developing world through clean burning cookstoves.
Nearly 3 billion people in the developing world rely upon biomass, such as wood, charcoal and dung, to cook. Burning biomass inefficiently, such as in a 'three stone' open fire, produces life threatening smoke. Tragically, nearly 2 million people, mostly women and children, die every year from respiratory diseases related to indoor cooking pollution. This is equivalent to the number of deaths due to HIV/AIDS.
Harvesting fuelwood also diminishes tropical forests. In Kenya, for example, wood gathering has contributed to the destruction of 94% of the original native forest. Furthermore, these fuel sources account for an estimated 25% of global CO2 emissions; more than all transportation emissions combined!
There are currently many cookstoves on the market, but few are designed to specifically meet the local needs of those who use them. Because of this, many projects have resulted in stoves being used as trash cans and doorstops. Our cookstoves will be designed to meet the end users unique needs and wants, specifically fuel type, aesthetics, price points and cultural practices. Furthermore, our stoves will be produced regionally to support the local enconomy.
Prize money will be used to carry out user case studies as well as the prototyping and testing process, summarized as follows:
-Conduct market study of wood stove users in Uganda through participatory focus groups
-Piloting of new stove prototypes and iterative refinement in design
-Establish local production team
Stoves will be initially manufactured in Kenya where production facilities currently exist, and will be sold to carbon asset developers who subsidize the stove cost such that they be reasonable to buy for Ugandan households. Once a market has been established, production will move to Uganda.
Roadmap to Success Optional (1 - 3 minutes to upload)
FIVE PROJECT QUESTIONS Required (60 - 90 minutes)
1. What is your innovation?
An efficient and low-emissions wood cookstove optimized to suit the local habits of Ugandan households. From previous studies, it has been found that one clean cookstove will annually save approximately 130 trees and 1300 hours of time spent collecting wood, as well as greatly reduce the risk of smoke related respiratory illness. A user-driven design process will also yield a stove more adept at meeting local needs and ultimately be less detrimental to the environment.
2. Who gains the most?
The most immediate and significant impact will be to prevent smoke related illness and death for women and young children who spend most of their time preparing and cooking meals. Time saved not collecting wood may also be used more productively. Efficient cookstoves will mitigate the estimated 25% of global CO2 emissions produced by rural poor and open fires.
3. Who pays?
Initial research, development, prototyping and deployment will be supported by grant and prize money. The manufacturing of stoves will occur in neighboring Kenya, where there currently exits sufficient infrastructure to meet manufacturing needs. Stoves will be sold to carbon asset developers who subsidize the stove cost such that they be reasonable to buy for Ugandan households. Revenue from sales will fill the gap between carbon asset subsidies and manufacturing costs.
4. What is your success?
In 12 months, we hope to have finished the design and pilot group testing process and move to manufacturing. The final stove must meet the standards of the locals (as determined in the pilot group testing), as well as decrease emissions by >40% relative to an open fire. Our success will the be initial manufacture and sale of 200,000 cookstoves within 18 month's time.
5. How will you do it?
Principles of clean cookstove design will be combined with case study information and user feedback to create a stove optimized for local fuel availability and cooking practice. Initially stoves will be manufactured in Kenya with the hopes of moving production to Uganda should projected sale volumes and funds permit expansion. Once facilities have been established, stove sales and carbon asset subsidies will pay for stove manufacturing costs.