Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How Much Do You Carry?

Collaborative effort between Alicia Ly, Emily White, and Stella Strother-Blood

Maybe you carry a twenty pound backpack to class each day, or perhaps you lug a five kilogram briefcase to work. Maybe you carry twelve-pound bags from the grocery store to your parked car, and from your car to your home.

A woman in Ethiopia carries wood. 
Now imagine carrying over 75 pounds of firewood, on your head, every day! Many women in developing countries carry these heavy loads for miles, and often barter the firewood for small amounts of food upon their return home.

In addition to being strenuous and uncomfortable, wood-gathering can also be extremely dangerous in areas of conflict, where natural resources are scarce and many people are in need. Enemies lurk in waiting, defending the little bit of wood left for their own means. The World Food Programme states that, “[These women] face physical, sexual and other forms of violence and risks to their safety during collection, supply, and use of firewood, or are reported to exchange sex for cooking fuel”.

Notice the lack of vegetation surrounding this refugee camp. 
InStove has created the world’s most efficient institutional-sized (60 and 100 Liter) stoves, which require 75-90% less wood than the traditional cooking method: open three-stone fires. Women with access to these stoves spend less time and make fewer trips, while carrying lighter loads. Our cookstoves take the pressure off of local firewood supplies – and take pressure off the backs of women worldwide.

Next time you notice the weight of your pack or bag, think of the ways that you can help support InStove as we work to make everyone’s load a little lighter.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

InStove at the Spark! Initiative

Stella Strother-Blood Reporting

Last Friday, the InStove team joined five other local cookstove research and design partners at the first annual Spark! Initiative hosted by Global Oregon at the University of Oregon. At this half-day event, we interacted with students, faculty, and the community to teach them more about the clean cookstove initiative.

Nick Moses discusses stove technology at the Spark! Initiative.
The morning started off with a keynote address from Peter Scott, the Founder and CEO of BURN Design Lab. This was followed by a plenary panel focusing on stoves and development alternatives. Attendees were able to hear from a variety of different organizations, ranging from a small NGO working in villages to a large manufacturer focused on developing cities.

Panel discussions included the environment, health, social impacts, and stove science. Stella Strother-Blood, from InStove, discussed public health and the importance of clean cookstoves in preventing negative health impacts. Matt O’Hern, a University of Oregon Professor who has worked with InStove, addressed the benefits of alternative technology, such as the 60 Liter and 100 Liter stove, in the field. Nick Moses, research and development engineer with InStove, discussed how fire does not actually have to be smoky – and how InStove technology is proving this concept.

Fred Colgan shows the 60 Liter Stove to attendees.
Following the panels were the stove demonstrations. InStove made corn on the cob in one of our 60 Liter Stoves. Passersby joined in on the fun and enjoyed the snack while learning about clean cookstoves.  It was a wonderful sight to see all of these different stove-focused groups come together and discuss technology, distribution, and impacts.

Intern Adam Durkee helped with set up and attended many of the panels: “The clean cookstove initiative is relatively unheard of. This event is going to help spread the word for years to come!”

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

100 Liter Stoves are in Full Production

Stella Strother-Blood Reporting

In January of 2012, our factory continued to be filled with the sound of hammers banging, metal bending, and chop saws cutting – but, this was different. We were starting the development of our 100 Liter Stoves and now, as of May 13th, 2013, they are in full production after 17 months of development!

When our Executive Director, Fred Colgan, went to Sudan and Ethiopia as a consultant to the UN, the only criticism the 60 Liter Stoves received from cooks was that the stoves could be even bigger. “Schools or organizations feeding thousands of people a day need bigger stoves,” said Colgan, “We began working on that immediately after my return.”

The first seven prototype stoves were made of parts cut by jigsaw and built by hand. We had no jigs or laser cut parts to assist in the construction of these new-sized stoves. “They were literally hand built,” said Production Manager JD Laurich, “So each one was a little bit different. We affectionately refer to them as snowflakes.”

Stella Strother-Blood assists with a burn test.
To go to full production, we had to first “freeze” the design, and then build custom jigs and other tools. “This is a very complex process,” said Colgan, “there are hundreds of design decisions that affect performance, safety, cost, and ease of use.”

Through extensive lab testing and field testing in Senegal, we have determined that the 100L stove brings water to a boil twice as fast as the 60L stove. With this improvement, it can 750 people per day, and we believe that demand will be very high. Our first order for nearly one hundred 100L stoves is already being processed and is bound for UN refugee operations.
Colgan said, “It’s very satisfying to see 100 Liter Stoves coming off the production line. It’s a true team accomplishment.” 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Research and Development

Stella Strother-Blood Reporting

The 100 Liter Stove and water pasteurizer. 
We’ve been keeping busy at InStove headquarters – especially with research and development. It is important to ensure that all of our technologies are thoroughly tested in the lab and field before mass-production; we wanted to share a bit of this journey with you!

Close-up of part of the briquette press.
The water pasteurizing system sits on the edge of campus in a beautiful shaded spot near the river. We have been using the local, dirty river water to test our pasteurizer’s strength and durability. Ten hour tests are now being conducted with this system to gain an accurate idea of how the pasteurizer could be used in the field. The system is yielding, conservatively, 3,000 liters in a day! Field trials are planned for July 2013 with a collaborative partner in Zambia.

The briquette press has undergone a complete remodel with a more effective lever system. This is essential in the field, where children and women can make an income by using the press to sell briquettes! The magazine (piece of metal that shapes the briquette) has been made longer and thinner, so that the briquettes burn more like wood. There are now four chambers in the magazine meaning the process to fill and mold briquettes is much more streamlined.

The new briquette press prototype. 
Here at InStove, our innovative technology is only one way that we commit ourselves to helping the global community. Stay tuned to hear more about upcoming events, international ventures, and ways you can help. “I never thought I would have the opportunity to work on technology this important right after graduation,” said InStove Research and Development Engineer, Nick Moses, “it is a dream come true”.