Willson: Half of the world’s population cook on solid fuels using wood, dung or crop residues. The smoke from cook stoves kills over 4 million people a year, more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Ambience: setting up of cookstove
We’re listening to the sounds of a woman in Nigeria preparing a meal on a new kind of cook stove, designed to reduce carbon emissions and save lives. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Willson: Cook stoves may be used for boiling rice in India, making beans in Mexico, tortillas in Central America, or porridge in Africa.
Bryan Willson is director of the Energy Institute at Colorado State University and Co-founder of Envirofit International in Ft. Collins, Colorado. They’ve developed an affordable cook stove that’s already having an impact worldwide.
Willson: The magic of the stove is really the combustion chamber which is responsible for eliminating 70 to 80 percent of the pollution. It looks very much like a 90 degree pipe elbow, and its function is to give rough control over the air-fuel ratio in the stove in much the same way that a carburetor controls the air fuel in your engine.
Willson: We’re able to bundle the carbon savings from our cookstoves and then sell those to companies or governments and then use those funds to buy down the cost of the stove, bringing it down to a level that’s affordable for individual users.
While we have a long way to go, it’s gratifying to know that we’ve sold a million stoves, impacting the lives of 5 million people and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by millions of tons.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, presenting Places of Invention, a new exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.