Project Lead(s): Sarbagya Tuladhar
Indoor air pollution remains a very significant problem globally, with nearly half of the world’s population relying on solid fuels (wood, animal dung, crop residues, coal) for their everyday household energy needs.
Much of this fuel is burned in open fires and simple stoves with poor ventilation, leading to very high levels of smoke exposure – particularly for women and young children.
While most clean cook stoves are optimized for either wood or charcoal, dung and agricultural waste tend to be the fuel of choice for the poorest households.
Past attempts at dung multi-fuel stoves have not achieved satisfactory emission levels, efficiency or usability.
The project developed a commercially viable, multi-fuel stove optimized for dung, wood and agricultural waste that produces clean smoke.
The research and development team experimented with different combustion chamber sizes and shapes, and different insulation materials and thicknesses, to better understand variables impacting cow dung combustion.
Various prototyped stoves were developed capable of using cow dung, wood and agricultural wastes with optimal combustion (to reduce emissions), efficient heat transfer (for minimal fuel consumption), fast cooking, durability, minimal cost and usability.
The stove prototypes performed well in terms of perceived fuel savings, actual fuel savings, perceived smoke reduction and perceived cooking time savings, compared to traditional stoves.
The multi-fuel stove that was developed met the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s natural draft biomass stove standards of thermal efficiency.
However, the stove did not pass updated materials standards from the Bureau of Indian Standards.
All of the 22 households recruited to test stoves in West Bengal said they found the stoves to be of a high quality and would recommend the use of the stoves.
They also indicated that they would continue to use the stoves after the field test.
The team plans to commercialize the multi-fuel stoves.
The team is conducting commercial pilots to test willingness to pay at different price points, and different payment plans (rent-to-own, instalment payment plans, etc.)
The team is also testing different distribution channels (social distributors, small retailers, micro-finance institutions, self-help groups, door to door saleswomen, etc.) for sales effectiveness, logistics, marketing and after-sales capacity.