Multidisciplinary Approach to Innovative Social Enterprises
Fuel Efficient Cookstoves
Under this project, indoor cookstoves are designed to be time and fuel efficient, while reducing harmful emissions and pollutants. A pilot project was carried out in 2018 in three villages throughout Karjat district in the state of Maharashtra, India.
More than half of the world’s population — three billion people — cook their food using open fires or rudimentary stoves. Indoor burning of solid fuels releases toxic pollutants, including particulate matter and carbon monoxide. These harmful cooking practices cause an estimated 1.9 million premature deaths annually (Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, 2010). The reliance on biomass fuels in developing nations has put considerable pressure not just on the safety of families, but on the environment as well, increasing both deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Under this project, the Cool Mesh Berkeley India Stove (CMBIS) has been designed as a response to this problem.
The CMBIS cookstoves are designed to be time efficient and reduce fuel consumption per meal by 50%, while producing 50% less smoke than a traditional biomass fire. In the summer of 2018, the team purchased 95 temperature monitors and dataloggers, which were used for long-term monitoring of the CMBIS stoves. Thousands of data-points — both time and temperature — have been collected and transmitted to UC Berkeley for analysis.
Presently, the project is exploring user-friendliness and price-point issues related to the CMBIS cookstove, and researchers and manufacturers are making modifications accordingly. By the end of the project, there will be enough data to answer questions about the extent of use of the cookstove. Individual and focus group interviews have been completed with families across the three pilot villages (in Karjat district, Maharashtra). Stove trials are conducted in households, collecting stove-usage data based on their free one-week trial periods. The free one-week trial allows members of a household to decide whether or not to purchase a stove. The input of women in rural areas has thus been emphasized and included through qualitative methods. Issues raised about the design of the cookstove are taken into account and addressed.
Time has been taken to learn the important practices (cooking, household chores, etc.) of the households in the villages to understand how the cookstoves can support these practices. Additionally, payment model options for women interested in purchasing the cookstove and strategies for expansion are being explored.