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16 May 08

Clay Stove

As part of her masters degree Lorrin Windahl is currently designing a clay stove for use in rural Uganda in East Africa.

Lorrin has an ongoing interest in design for the majority world after living and working in Uganda in 2004. During her time in Uganda she realised that the stoves traditionally used in the region are often very fuel inefficient. This has a large impact on the economy, the environment and the health of the people. These stoves require more fuel, take longer to heat and generate more smoke that causes sickness.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reveals that smoke from cooking is the fourth biggest killer in developing countries. Smoke from cooking can be attributed to the death of a women or child every second. It is a very serious issue.

One of the problems this new stove design addresses is the problem of heat loss. With traditional stoves the pot sits on pot holders at the top of the stove. Often heat is lost through the gap between the pot and the rim of the stove and is obviously worse when using smaller size pots. However, with Lorrin’s concept the funnel like shape of the stove allows any size pot to sit snugly inside the stove. The snug fit of the pot reduces any gaps where heat can escape.

The shape of the stove also controls the amount of fuel used. The smaller the pot, the lower it sits inside the stove, therefore reducing the amount of space available for fuel. The larger pots sit higher in the stove allowing for more fuel.

Traditional stoves are also problematic in that smoke is often blown into the user’s face. This is largely due to the gap between the pot and the rim of the stove. This gap has been eliminated in this new stove and a chimney has also been incorporated to guide the smoke away from the user. The higher edge of the stove at the back also acts as a barrier between the user and the smoke.

There are several benefits to using clay for the stove. Firstly it is extremely sustainable as it can be found in some form everywhere in Uganda. It is possible for local people to make their own clay at little cost and in some areas it is already a developed resource.

Secondly it can provide an income for local people, especially women, who can make the stoves themselves and sell them in the local market. The stoves are handmade using a clay coil technique which means there are no overheads or set-up costs.

The stove is also adaptable to the various types of sold bio-mass fuels that are traditionally used in this area of the world. These include charcoal, fuelwood and other organic matter, such as crop residues. Although modern fuels such as LPG and bio-gas may be healthier alternatives they are still at least 15 years away.

This new clay stove design is a great improvement on traditional stove design in Uganda. It reduces the impact of cooking on the environment, economy and health of the people. Not only does it reduce the amount of fuel and time required for cooking but the incorporation of a chimney ensures that smoke is directed away from the user. The stove is made of locally produced clay increasing the sustainability of the product and is handmade allowing local people to generate an income from its production.

 

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Based in Australia, Cobalt Niche is a globally focused creative product design and development group. We operate locally as well as Asia, North America and Europe.
 

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