DOE awards CSU $1 M to improve cookstove

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory a $1 million grant to build a more efficient biomass cookstove that could help further reduce indoor air pollution around the globe.

Morgan DeFoort, co-director of the laboratory, will lead a team of researchers from CSU, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Princeton University and Envirofit International to build the “semi-gasifier” cookstove.

A semi-gasifier stove uses a two-step process to burn solid biomass instead of one currently used in the “rocket-elbow” stove that CSU engineers have improved with spinoff company Envirofit International. Most clean cookstoves that burn wood have combustion chambers that use the rocket-elbow design.

Envirofit is a private, non-profit technology company that hopes to solve global health and environmental problems. The Federal Laboratory Consortium has honored CSU, Envirofit and Oak Ridge National Laboratory for designing and disseminating the biomass cookstove.

About 50,000 of the stoves have been sold to date in developing countries including India and countries in Africa and Central America.

The technology on the biomass cookstoves reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent and fuel consumption by 50 percent.

The semi-gasifier stoves will have even lower emissions, said Jessica Tryner, a second-year doctoral student in the cookstoves lab.

Indoor air pollution is a leading cause of death for women and children under age 5 around the globe. Two-thirds of the world’s population use biomass to cook their food and heat their homes, but CSU’s efforts in this program will focus on designing the stoves for China and India.

“As the health data grows, it is more and more apparent that emissions reductions of improved stoves using rocket-elbow technology are not adequate,” DeFoort said. “With nearly 360 million and 690 million users respectively, China and India use more wood for cooking than any other countries.”

Nearly 50 percent of the global population that primarily relies on wood for cooking can be found in those two countries, he said.

CSU engineers develop international cookstove testing protocols, create international standards and test dozens of stoves from manufacturers throughout the world.

Led by DeFoort, students and faculty at CSU will continue to improve cookstove technology with the energy department grant by creating generic technology that could be applied to a variety of stove designs.

“The design and configuration of a cookstove is highly location-specific,” DeFoort said. “Critical design choices must be made to ensure that a stove is appropriate for the fuel type, cooking tasks, and cultural habits of a particular region.”

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