Half of the world’s population relies on wood stoves to cook their food. These stoves are cheap, provide warm meals and heat homes throughout the world. However, wood stoves come with a number of negative consequences that affect global health and the global environment. Each year, four million people are killed from the household air pollution that results from cooking with wood stoves. Additionally, roughly 800,000 metric tons of soot is generated from these stoves each year, releasing 18% of the world’s greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
Because of the negative medical and ecological effects of the use of wood stoves, researchers at the University of Nottingham in England have created a greener and healthier stove. The SCORE stove is a new device that still uses wood as its fuel, but is nearly twice as efficient as traditional wood stoves. The new stove uses roughly four and a half pounds of wood a day, about half the amount needed in a conventional stove. The developers of the SCORE stove point out that less time spent on collecting wood can translate into “extra time for other income-generating activities.”
Advanced features in the design of the SCORE stove allow it to act as more than just a stove. Developers of the device have utilized the heat generated from cooking to use the stove as a source of power. The high-tech stove “takes excess heat produced during cooking and converts it into sound waves, which then generate electricity.” Currently, the stove produces up to 36 watts of power, enough to charge efficient LED lights or to power a mobile phone. In the future, developers of the SCORE stove hope that their invention will generate enough power to fully charge a laptop.
The most direct benefit of the SCORE stove could be its ability to eliminate dangerous smoke fumes from burning wood. In many cold areas of the world, wood stoves are used indoors to cook food and warm homes. With poor ventilation, the stove’s off-gasses become a health problem. Inhalation of smoke can lead to conditions such as “pneumonia and lunch cancer, which disproportionately affect women and children.” The SCORE stove helps mitigate this problem by helping to eliminate the dangerous smoke fumes that are produced by traditional stoves, making cooking safer in developing areas.
Developers of the new device recognize that although the SCORE stove is more expensive than a traditional wood stove, it is more durable and provides many more benefits. The SCORE stove’s ecological, medical, and economic advantages could result in a cleaner environment, improved global health, and increased economic production.
– Jordan Kline