Module 12: Innovations in Air

Case Studies: Clean Cooking Stoves


Envirofit’s $25 clean-burning cooking stove is an effective solution for indoor air pollution in the developing world. Over the next 5 years, the stoves could reduce CO2 emissions by over 400,000 tons and prevent over 85,000 kg of black carbon from entering the atmosphere. They could also generate savings of up to $18 million. Previous stoves were ceramic, but the new model is made of metal, which is stronger and cheaper to produce. The stoves use wood, coal, and crop waste, which are the same materials used in traditional stoves. Envirofit, however, has developed a combustion chamber that uses up to 60% less fuel than other stoves and reduces toxic emissions by up to 80%. The price of the stove is still relatively expensive for families in developing countries who often only live on $2-$5 a day. However, Envirofit offers microfinance loans to customers. The stoves also pay for themselves within six months due to fuel cost savings. Concurrently, Envirofit stoves drastically reduce toxic indoor air pollution. The stoves have been sold in India, and the plan is to expand to African countries. A customized stove with a flat cooking surface and second pot spot is also being developed.(1)


Aprovecho Research Centre’s StoveTec project applies modern engineering to design efficient, clean-burning stoves and fuel. In Africa, the new cooking stoves have been particularly popular. In fact, over 300,000 Ugandans own and operate the stoves, which comprises over 1% of Uganda’s population. South and Central America and Asia are targets to extend production. The challenges of expansion mostly relate to marketing the product and adapting stoves to meet the specific cultural cooking needs of each region. Before the stove can be used, marketers must educate the people about how and why they should use it..(2)

Trees, Water & People

More than 80% of families in Central America cook their meals over open wood fires. Trees, Water & People (TWP), the developer and distributor of clean-burning, high-efficiency cook stoves for the world’s poor, is the 2008 winner of the US$1 million Rio Tinto Prize for Sustainability. The stoves developed by TWP and Aprovecho Research Center emit 80% less smoke than open fires, which reduces the risk of respiratory illness for users. The stoves also use up to 70% less wood than traditional open fire stoves, which eases the pressure on local wood supplies. The stoves, which range from the size of a paint can up to the size of an oil drum, can be manufactured using local materials and adapted to meet local cooking customs. The clean cook stoves were designed to be simple and low-maintenance, and they sell for as little as $5. TWP and their local partners have built more than 20,000 fuel-efficient cook stoves in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and in 2003 they began introducing the stoves in Mexico, Brazil, and Bolivia, and in 2007 in Haiti.(3)

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(1) Schwartz, A. “Envirofit’s $25 Clean-Burning Cooking Stove Is Ready for the Developing World.” (8 July 2009). Accessed 10 July 2010.

(2) “Clean-cooking stoves cut carbon, improve life.” (25 March 2010). Accessed 10 July 2010.

(3) Markham, D. “Clean Cook Stoves Fueled by Million Dollar Prize.” (10 September 2009). Accessed 11 July 2010.