New wood-burning stove tested in Burkina Faso

New wood-burning stove tested in Burkina Faso

19 June 2017

The triple challenge of energy poverty

Reducing deforestation, cutting solid fuel costs, and lessening the harmful effects of smoke on their families’ health – this is the triple objective for the beneficiaries of Entrepreneurs du Monde’s access to energy activities.

In many developing countries, the poorest families, who don’t have access to clean cooking technologies, heat their food in the traditional way on wood or charcoal cookstoves. The result: wood resources in these countries are being overexploited and are becoming depleted, which poses a threat to the environment; families sometimes pay a lot of for this solid fuel – too much for their limited daily budget – and the carbon monoxide-laden smoke emitted by burning wood or charcoal has a devastating impact on the health of women and children who are inhaling it several hours a day, 365 days a year.

The solution proposed by several participants, including Entrepreneurs du Monde, lies in ‘improved’ cooking stoves, which are designed to ensure that the energy produced by combustion is better channelled to heat the cooking pot: less fuel is needed and less smoke leaks out of the stove.

A new stove in its testing phase

With a view to delivering increasingly relevant solutions for family-related concerns, Entrepreneurs du Monde and its partners are constantly seeking to improve the stoves on offer. For example, due to different climatic factors (particularly the relative levels of air humidity affecting the corrosion of certain metals), stoves recently developed in Togo have different features from those distributed in Burkina Faso.

Between April and June 2015, Nafa Naana, a social enterprise created by Entrepreneurs du Monde in Burkina Faso, piloted a project in partnership with Potential Energy in which they tested a new improved stove model: the African Clean Energy 1 (ACE1) gasification stove.

In terms of emissions of harmful fine particles and carbon monoxide, the ACE1 is one of the best-performing improved stoves available. It is fitted with an electric fan which improves combustion and significantly reduces the emission of harmful fumes. The fan is powered by a lithium battery which is charged by a mini solar panel. The battery also powers a USB port which can be used to charge a mobile phone or run an LED lamp.

Not only does the ACE1 provide smokeless cooking and offer a free and unlimited source of electricity, it also enables households to make significant savings on fuel: it works with any type of biomass – dry wood, charcoal, agricultural residues, and other types – and it uses up to two times less fuel than a traditional stove.

During the testing phase conducted by Nafa Naana, 22 women from deprived neighbourhoods in Ouagadougou were able to try the stove for a period of 1 to 3 months and assess its suitability for their needs. These trials proved conclusive, with a large majority of users expressing a desire to obtain the device after having testing it.

Preparation for phase two of this study is currently underway. Its aim will be to explore the best way of making these stoves, which are much more expensive than bottom-end stoves, accessible to disadvantaged families. Payment solutions that facilitate investment will be tested. If this proves successful, large-scale marketing of the stove will be considered. This would have a significant impact both on users’ living conditions and the environment.