New Biomass Cookstoves Significantly Reduce Fuel Requirements, Indoor Air Pollution

Indian women carrying wood photo

photo by Matthew Logelin

The problems: 1) Indoor air pollution in the developing world caused by cooking fires and sooty illumination results in an estimated 1.6 million deaths per year, 2) Deforestation resulting from over use of wood as an energy source causes serious ecosystem degradation in many parts of the developing world.

A solution, as Envirofit sees it: New cookstoves, which while still burning biomass (wood, crop waste, dried animal dung) reduce indoor air pollution by 80%, reduce fuel usage by 50% and decrease cooking times by 40%.

Envirofit cookstove photo

Updating Tradtional Rural Cookstoves

Envirofit is selling four new cookstove models which have been designed to meet the "unique cooking habits" of women in semi-urban and rural India. The stoves are all portable, require no ventilation piping, and are usable with traditional pots, pans and cooking methods. They are currently available in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. (Two states in southern India for those who slept through geography class.) By the end of this year, Envirofit hopes to have the stoves available in 600 stores by the end of this year. The stoves ranging in price from Rs500-2000 (US$11-47).

Touting the appeal and affordability of their stoves, Envirofit says:

Although cooking habits in semi-urban and rural India are steeped in tradition and perpetuated by myths, the response to our stoves has been very strong as each has been developed based on extensive market research and local customer insights. We are in discussion with financing institutions for low financing options to provide additional options for families to buy the stoves.

Although there more quickly renewable sources of biomass for cooking than wood, a 50% reduction in fuel usage compared with other tradtional stoves is something to take seriously. As I've said before, sometimes the best solution to a problem is improving efficiency of older technology (or even returning to it) rather than developing a new high tech solution.

:: Envirofit Cookstoves
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