Cooking stoves used in many developing countries produce black smoke, which is a serious health hazard that disproportionately affects women and a major contributor to global warming. As a response to this problem, a Delhi research institute called TERI has developed a new clean stove cooker that reduces smoke by 80%. The clean alternative has already been put to use in the town of Tanda in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The twin stainless steel cylinder resembles a small bathroom pedal-operated trash can, controlling the heat of the stove using a battery-powered fan on the underside of the device. It costs about £40 (approx. $63) to make under a scheme supported by UK taxpayers’ aid. One local shopkeeper in Tanda has already bought one of the cookers for his four daughters who are responsible for the cooking most of the time. In many traditional societies, cooking and fuel collection still fall to women, but instead of being subjected to poisonous smoke and unbearable heat, the clean stove makes this role a significantly less hazardous and unpleasant experience.
Beyond the health of women in developing nations, there is also the issue of shrinking glaciers. Particles from the open fires drift up to mountains where they settle on the ice, making it darker and more prone to absorbing heat from the sun. This phenomenon which damaged glaciers during Europe’s Industrial Revolution has now also become a serious issue for glaciers in the Himalayas as well. The open-source cooker could be the answer, reducing smoke by 80%, and requiring half as much wood fuel to run. Now it’s just a question of how to make this device accessible to the 2.5 billion people worldwide currently relying on mud stoves.
Images by BBC and Himalayan Stove Project