Can the Biolite Stove Generate Clean Cooking for the Middle East?

biolite stove
The Biolite stove cooks up dinner for a family of 5 using local wood and no electricity.

Jonathan Cedar and his business partner, Alex Moss, were working on a cooking device for campers when they realized they could use a thermoelectric module to generate electricity from some of the fire’s excess heat. That electricity could operate a fan to increase combustion and make the fire cook food more efficiently. There was even enough electricity left to recharge a cellphone battery.

Open wood fires are inefficient, wasting potential energy and creating toxic smoke due to incomplete combustion. Carefully designed stoves that use fans to blow air into the fire can dramatically improve combustion. However, such stoves require small amounts of electricity to power their fans and most people who cook on wood are without grid or battery access. BioLite stoves solve this problem by converting a fraction of the fire’s thermal energy into electricity to power the combustion improvement system. Excess electricity is made available to users for charging small electronic devices such as Cell phones and LED lights.

Cedar and Moss hope that their invention can work in developing countries, where people in remote areas already burn wood or other vegetation like pine cones for cooking. The Biolite stove also operates on local resources, but transfers excess heat, normally wasted, into free electricity.

Three billion people worldwide rely on wood or solid fuel for preparing food. Much of the Middle East is desert without many trees for burning, but in Yemen and Tunisia, solid fuel is used for 25 to 50 percent of cooking needs. Open fires consume a lot of wood. They also produce smoke and other toxic gases that dangerously pollute the air inside homes. The BioLite stove’s efficient process uses less than 1/2 the wood of an open fire and reduces smoke emissions by more than 95%.

In the sun-drenched Middle East solar cooking is the most efficient option. When it’s not an option, the Biolite stove saves money and resources, and helps make the planet greener.

More Green Posts by Hannah Katsman

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Picture and article source: Worldchanging and Biolite

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