A man with something to prove could change the world. And Rene Nunez had something to prove. After dedicating his life and fortune to his invention, he had to prove it could be done to show his family and friends that he is not following a crazy dream. Nunez claims to have succeeded. His invention, the Turbo-cooker (or turbo-cocina), could make life better for 3 billion people who rely on primitive wood- or biomass-burning stoves for cooking and heating. According to the World Health Organization's report Fuel for Life (pdf), "The inefficient burning of solid fuels on an open fire or traditional stove indoors creates a dangerous cocktail of hundreds of pollutants, primarily carbon monoxide and small particles, but also nitrogen oxides, benzene, butadiene, formaldehyde, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and many other health-damaging chemicals." Nunez claims to have a stove that burns very efficiently, reducing the amount of fuel which is needed by over 95%. That is 95% less deforestation, less greenhouse gases and less toxins in the living space of women and children around the world.
Nunez has won an environmental prize from the UN, funding from the Fondo Iniciativa para las Americas El Salvador (FIAES) and has received a US patent for his invention. According to Nunez, in an interview in the El Salvador (Spanish), the secret to his cooker is that the combustion occurs at a much lower temperature than in a normal, open fire. In theory, this concept could apply to any combustibles, including natural gas or propane for example.
The turbo-cooker joins inventions like the solar oven in trying to address a fundamental need for humans around the world, while taking steps to sustainability which may also be useful for those of us lucky enough to consider cooking an engaging hobby or at least a pleasant household duty.