A Better Stove for Half the World?

The Economist has an article this week on something we often take for granted: the kitchen stove.

IF USER demand were the sole driver of innovation, the biomass cooking stove would be one of the most sophisticated devices in the world. Depending on which development agency you ask, between two-and-a-half and three billion people—nearly half the world’s population—use a stove every day, in conjunction with solid fuel such as wood, dung or coal. Yet in many parts of the world the stove has barely progressed beyond the Stone Age.

Another part that matters:

In the refugee camps of Darfur, the dough for the staple food, assida, requires vigorous stirring of the cooking pot. “None of the stoves we tested had been built with this in mind,” says Ashok Gadgil, the head of the Darfur Stoves Project. Only after the stoves were seen to tip over during cooking did Dr Gadgil and his researchers go back to the drawing board and refine the design. Other findings from the Darfur project shone new light on cooking habits. The original stoves had been designed to boil water, but researchers found that for each meal, two-thirds of the fuel was used to make sauces by frying onions, a process that requires a more intense, continuous heat. One criticism of BP’s Oorja stove is that it does not get hot enough to make traditional Indian breads.

If such cultural factors are not taken into account, people will not use the stoves.

A worthwhile article to read. 🙂

Here’s the link.

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