BioLite stove, now you can charge and cook at the same time


It was back in 2006 when the product developers of the ‘BioLite’ stove, Alec Drummond and Jonathan Cedar spoke about combustion stoves during their leisure time, then, they had no intention to build a product that could improve and save lives in the developing world.

Later, the two realized that by blowing air in a particular place in a wood fire, you can really improve combustion and turn a rudimentary fuel into a super-hot, controllable, clean combustion process. “We were fascinated by this idea that you could take waste product and turn it into a useful energy source,” recalls Cedar.7364234886_ae9cd1f112_h

Their solution was to then affix a thermoelectric generator inside a wood-burning stove, so a portion of the waste heat from the fire can be converted directly into useable electricity. The newly created electrical energy then powers an internal battery and a fan, which increases the stove’s combustion, creating a cleaner, nearly smokeless fire.

“We needed one watt of electrical energy to power a fan that would completely change the combustion dynamics of the system. Thermo electrics were a great way to do that,” said Cedar.

Drummond and Cedar spent countless hours in the design consulting firm, Smart Designs workshop, building a clean burning, self-generating stove prototype.

2008 led them to an advanced wood combustion conference in Seattle, where the two realized that the attendees, unlike them, were designing stoves to be primarily used in the developing world, where three billion people, according to the World Health Organization, cook and heat their homes using open flames or stoves that burn wood, coal or animal and crop waste.

BioLite-stoveThese were crude, indoor cooking methods, aside from releasing nearly 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, expose billions of people who live in poorly ventilated homes to air pollutants that cause a litany of diseases and outcomes like pneumonia, stroke, coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

Fast forward to years later, the two have managed to come up with an innovation that has changed many lives, the BioLite stove. This stove has brought clean cooking and charging, 50% less fuel than traditional fires, 90% reduction in harmful emissions, 2 Watts useable electricity generated, 250 hours a year saved collecting fuel and 200 dollars a year saving buying fuel and charging phones.

Come 2020, the global alliance for clean stoves aims to foster the adoption of 100 million cook stoves worldwide.

BioLite has thus far distributed more than 10,000 stoves in Uganda, India and Ghana. These are areas which are prone to many dangers including house fires as they cook using open flames and this is what “innovation” is all about, changing the lives of people.