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BioLite Stove: Jonathan Cedar and Alex Drummond's Innovation for Clean Cooking

by Lucy Siegle

Jonathan Cedar, 30, has a lot on his plate. "We're talking about half the world and its cooking habits," he explains. "Can there really be one design for 3bn people?" He hopes, with his BioLite clean stove, the answer is "yes".

Cedar met business partner Alex Drummond, 50, when they were designing products for the same company in New York. They became intrigued by luxury camping stoves which used local sources of wood for fuel (pine cones, for example) and a battery-powered fan, for wilderness adventurers who didn't want to drag around a gas canister. "We wanted to know what happened if we got rid of the batteries and used thermoelectrics [a semi-conductor chip that produces electricity when one side is hot and the other is cool] instead."

Image of The BioLite Home Stove currently in limited field trials in Northern India in partnership with Project Surya and developed in partnership with the Aprovecho Research Center. (via BioLite)

The design worked well as an eco stove for posh campers until a development expert spotted greater potential. Some 1.5m people in the developing world die each year from illnesses caused by smoke inhalation from rudimentary cooking stoves. The BioLite, using the stove's waste heat to run the fan and generate combustion, uses a fraction of the wood needed by a normal stove and reduces the output of black carbon – a leading greenhouse gas chemical – by 90%.

Trialling the stoves in Myanmar, it became obvious that they were too small for the average family of five and that there needed to be more value to encourage poor families to change up. Cedar and Drummond increased the size of the stoves and used the extra heat to generate electricity to power a light or a mobile phone. BioLite mark II, a real-world, robust model is now in its first full field trial in India.

This post originally appeared on The Guardian. | Image and caption added by Worldchanging.

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Wow! It is always thrilling when something developed with a commercial view can also have more humanitarian uses.

I lived in Kolkata for a number of years working with slum families and this sort of clean cooking stove would have been a areas where polution is very high, it will save more than the health of just those using it...hopefully these guys are working with some of the big charities because this is vital stuff.

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