Vashon's Burn Design Lab builds better stove for world's poor

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on August 23, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

Vashon Island is home base for an effort to improve the lives of millions of people in the developing world.

At the Burn Design Lab, scientists and engineers have developed a more efficient, easily manufactured cookstove in hopes of combating deforestation in poor countries and cutting the public health threat from wood and charcoal smoke.

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health said last year that indoor air pollution from inefficient stoves affects about 3 billion people worldwide. Providing cleaner, more efficient stoves could save the lives of 2 million people a year, the researchers concluded.

"Millions of women in urban areas in Africa and Asia tend to rely on charcoal. But in the rural areas people tend to rely on wood. So something like 90 percent of the household energy comes from wood in Africa," said lab founder Peter Scott.

"Burn design Lab is sort of my vision of creating a stove army," he said.

Scott and his colleagues designed the "Jiko Poa" stove -- a so-called rocket stove that is 43 percent more efficient than cooking over an open fire.  The stove is being manufactured and sold in Kenya, with the goal of selling 1 million over 10 years.

The lab has designed other fuel efficient stoves for use in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo -- recognizing that cooking traditions and available fuels vary widely across the developing world.

The people who work at the lab love that they are doing the work to help others, not make money.

"You could be engineering or designing to make neat stuff for rich people, or you could use your abilities and skills that will save people's lives and save forests globally," said Scott.

Scott poured much of his own money into the lab's work. Government grants and donations from individuals and foundations have also helped. But more help is needed to help the lab meet its goal of manufacturing 100 million stoves by 2020. Donate via the link on the lab's website -- www.burndesignlab.org.

Also online:

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Cookstove Projects 

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