The Indian chulha may soon be replaced by the BioLite HomeStove – a wood stove that reduces smoke, particulate matter and carbon emissions by up to 90%.
According to the World Health Organization, three billion people in the world still cook and heat their homes with the help of stoves that burn wood, coal or animal and crop waste. Over four million die prematurely from illness attributed to household air pollution caused by these stoves.
Designers Jonathan Cedar and Alec Drummond, who met at a design consultancy in New York, started working on a sustainable model for cooking in 2006.
Initially, they started designing a product that would ease matters for recreational campers, who need field stoves to run off-the-grid without gas or batteries. However, they realised millions in the developing world still lack access to electricity and gas, and suffer from chronic respiratory illness. And so, BioLite HomeStove was born.
The stove uses thermoelectric technology to turn cooking heat into electricity, which runs an internal fan to efficiently burn the fire, and can charge a phone or power LED lights through a built-in USB outlet. It requires about 50% less fuel to run, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by upto 2.5 tons per stove per year.
Cedar told Mashable that the stove would pay for itself in about six months, if you consider the electricity it generates, and the fuel and time it saves. For those in rural areas in India who can’t afford the price tag, approximately Rs 8,500, BioLite has partnered with micro-finance banks that allow the users to pay in interest-free instalments.
“If this can save someone’s life, then this technology could have an impact on the same scale as penicillin,” said Cedar.
According to their 2016 Impact Report, by January 2017, they had 1,00,000 people breathing cleaner air, generated over 54,000 watt-hours of electricity, and reduced more than 60,000 tons of carbon emissions.