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Thursday, 10 April 2014

New Cookstove Designs offer Improved Performance

Through the Spark Fund Project in Kenya, GVEP has been working with local stove entrepreneurs to develop new biomass (wood & charcoal) cookstove designs for domestic use. The new stove designs will offer greater efficiency, reduced emissions, and improved safety and durability compared to other local existing models. 

The involvement of local stove manufacturers and end-users in the process is a crucial ingredient for ensuring success of the product. GVEP has worked closely with Kenya Stove Works Limited, a local stove design and manufacturing company, who provided technical expertise.

In February 2014, GVEP brought together 12 entrepreneurs from Kisumu and Central regions in Kenya and trained them on production of the new stoves. The entrepreneurs will produce the initial batch of stoves that will be used to conduct field-based testing to establish the level of fuel savings as well as gaining further feedback from end users. 

“Engaging local manufacturers and users coupled with application of best design principles has resulted in a product of good performance, which is suited to local needs and tastes,” explains James Gatimu, a technology mentor at GVEP who has been working on the program.
Initial testing, conducted at the University of Nairobi indicates that the stoves can offer improvements in efficiency compared to local models in the market. 

The stoves have been fabricated with metal gauges prescribed by Kenya Bureau of Standards with the aim of making them more durable. Metallic parts likely to wear out fast, by nature of their position in the stove body – for example those in direct contact with burning flames- have been made detachable for ease of replacement. Typically these products are designed for lower-income households that are price sensitive. There are numerous and varying user requirements, due to culture and geography.

“The combustion of biomass occurs in a high- temperature, extremely corrosive environment. Optimizing price, usability, durability, and efficiency is a daunting task”, Said Payan ole-MoiYoi of Kenya Stove Works Limited. 

Ole-MoiYoi adds, “I hope these stoves serve as the starting point for an on-going collaborative design process moving forward, between stakeholders in this sector, the private sector, and end users, so that eventually these products are optimized to the highest degree possible for the different geographical and cultural settings in which they are used.”
Other design features include the fuel chamber of the wood stove being designed to accommodate a considerable amount of fuel thus eliminating the need for constant tending and a thick layer of insulation to reduce the outer surface temperature making the stove safe to use at all times. 

However, as a result of using better quality and more durable materials the stoves will be more expensive than other locally made stoves. But they are expected to bridge the gap that currently exists in the market between basic improved cookstoves produced and other advanced models. They will offer local producers an opportunity to add new products to their range that will be more profitable and offer greater benefits for the end user.

GVEP is currently developing a marketing strategy for the new cookstoves that will consider the best way of communicating its benefits so that end users can realize the added value from the increased up front cost.

“I am delighted that my artisans have been trained. I look forward to starting manufacturing and trading in the new stoves. I am sure my clients will like them thus increasing my sales volume and hence growth for my business” says Josephat Kariuki, an ICS producer from Central Kenya and one of the beneficiaries of the training on the new stove designs.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), 84% of Kenyan households primarily rely on biomass fuels, which emit toxic fumes. Exposure to these harmful emissions, WHO observes, is the largest risk mortality factor in Kenya, being responsible for over 25% of pneumonia deaths and 40% of other respiratory illnesses.

The Spark Fund Project is part of an initiative of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, as part of their strategy to create an enabling environment that enhances demand and strengthens supply in cook stoves and fuels sector.

The initiative has been working with cook stoves stakeholders to improve the performance and quality of locally manufactured, efficient biomass cook stoves in Kenya.

Posted by Deborah Mupusi