Gov’t Spends $50K on Green Cooking Alternatives

June 12, 2014 - 4:02 PM

Wood Stove Regulations

Darwin Woods cuts wood for his wood burning stove that he uses to heat his workshop Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, at his home near Clark, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

( – The National Science Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to develop stored solar stoves as a solution to the “global cooking problem.”

“The World Health Organization asserts around 3 billion people still cook and heat their homes using solid fuels in open fires and leaky stoves. Such cooking and heating produces high levels of indoor air pollution with a range of health-damaging pollutants, including small soot particles that penetrate deep into the lungs,” the grant said.

“In poorly ventilated dwellings, indoor smoke can be 100 times higher than acceptable levels for small particles. Exposure is particularly high among women and young children, who spend the most time near the domestic hearth,” said the grant. “Nearly 2 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to indoor air pollution due to solid fuel use.

The grant noted that “considerable time” is wasted for women and children on fuel gathering, taking away time from other productive activities like school. It also noted that, “in less secure environments, women and children are at risk of injury and violence during fuel gathering.”

The grant cited “non-renewable harvesting of biomass” as a contribution to climate change. It also warned that “methane and black carbon” climate change pollutants can result from the emission of from inefficient stove combustion.

“Non-renewable harvesting of biomass contributes to deforestation and thus climate change. Methane and black carbon (sooty particles) emitted by inefficient stove combustion are powerful climate change pollutants,” the grant said.

“The proposed technology addresses this large market and a corresponding domestic market that seeks green cooking alternatives with a no-fuel and no-flame device that stores energy to cook when the user needs it,” the grant said.

“In this proposal, the team proposes a strategy of concurrent (a) research, (b) development, and (c) field testing, with each of the three efforts informing the others. This three-pronged approach uses the lean start-up model which advocates interaction with end users and avoids prolonged R&D around solutions that may not be adopted in the field,” the grant added.

The grant recipient plans to work with state and national parks to develop a prototype as well as with local parks and campgrounds for input.

“The team intends to work with state and national parks to develop prototype grills/stoves for testing, and will also work with local parks, campgrounds, and university/campus facilities to gain input for development of prototypes,” the grant said.

“Preliminary feedback from park facility managers indicates a very high level of enthusiasm for a green, clean, fuel-free cooking alternative that reduces fire risk, and there are 215,000 state park campsites alone,” it added.

Calls to Bruce Elliot-Litchfield, principal investigator for the grant, were not returned by press time.