Improved cookstove

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Improved cook stoves in Uganda.
Traditional cook stove in Nigeria

Improved cook stoves (ICS) are biomass stoves that are intended to replace traditional cook stoves and open fires, in the context of energy poverty and cooking. As of 2020, more than 2.6 billion people in developing countries lack access to clean, modern fuel and technologies for cooking, and therefore rely on burning polluting fuels such as wood, animal dung, coal, or kerosene for cooking.[1]

Compared to traditional cook stoves, ICS are usually more fuel-efficient and aim to reduce the negative health impacts associated with exposure to toxic smoke.[2] A 2020 systematic review found that ICS usage led to modest improvements in terms of blood pressure, shortness of breath, emissions of cancer-causing substances, and cardiovascular diseases, but no improvements in pregnancy outcomes or children's health.[3]

As of 2016, no widely-available biomass stoves meet the standards for clean cooking as defined by the World Health Organization.[4] However, ICS are an important interim solution where deploying fully "clean" solutions that use electricity, gas, or alcohol is less feasible.[5]

Reasons for use[edit]

As of 2020, more than 2.6 billion people in developing countries routinely cook with fuels such as wood, animal dung, coal, or kerosene. Burning these types of fuels in open fires or traditional stoves causes harmful indoor air pollution, resulting in an estimated 3.8 million deaths annually according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and contributes to various health, socio-economic, and environmental problems.

Health effects are concentrated among women, who are likely to be responsible for cooking, and young children.[6] The work of gathering fuel exposes women and children to safety risks and often consumes 15 or more hours per week, constraining their available time for education, rest, and paid work.[6] Serious local environmental damage, including desertification, can be caused by excessive harvesting of wood and other combustible material.[7]

From a health perspective, the cleanest cooking facilities are generally powered by electricity, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), piped natural gas (PNG), biogas, alcohol, or solar heat.[8] Best-in-class fan gasifier stoves that burn biomass pellets can be classified as clean cooking facilities if they are correctly operated and the pellets have sufficiently low levels of moisture, but these stoves are not widely available.[9]

As of 2016, no widely-available biomass stoves meet the World Health Organization's recommended emissions limits for indoor household use.[4] However, "improved" cookstoves that burn biomass more efficiently than traditional stoves are an important interim solution in areas where deploying cleaner technologies is less feasible.


Improved cookstoves are more efficient, meaning that the stove's users spend less time gathering wood or other fuels, while reducing deforestation and air pollution. However, a closed stove may result in production of more soot and ultra-fine particles than an open fire would.[10] Some designs also make the stove safer, preventing burns that often occur when children stumble into open fires.

The efficiency improvements of ICS do not necessarily translate into meaningful reductions in health risks[11] because for certain conditions, such as childhood pneumonia, the relationship between pollution levels and effects on the body has been shown to be non-linear. This means, for example, that a 50 percent reduction in exposure would not halve the health risk.[9] A 2020 systematic review found that ICS usage led to modest improvements in terms of blood pressure, shortness of breath, emissions of cancer-causing substances, and cardiovascular diseases, but no improvements in pregnancy outcomes or children's health.[3]


There are currently more than 160 operating cookstove implementation programs in the world. A few thousand of the cookstove implementation program distribute stoves in specific areas. This is due to high cost of alternative stoves, cookstove malfunction, and the lack of understanding as well as the importance of gender roles and discussing the adoption of alternative cookstove technology. In failing to include women in the household decision-making process, as they are predominantly responsible for childcare and meal preparation, it can lead to a decrease in adoption of improved cookstoves.

Research and implementation efforts are frequently pursued with insufficient coordination with supporting organizations, which, in many cases has led to widespread implementation of so called "improved" stoves that have sometimes failed to deliver on the promise of reducing indoor air pollution. Cookstove implementation efforts have often achieved mixed results because of the combined technical and social complexities related to design of alternative stoves and personal and cultural preferences of targeted communities of improvement.

Even though clean cookstoves may help decrease indoor air pollution, traditional methods of cooking often continue to be used because of cultural tradition, the rate of cooking and as well as the preservation of unique flavors. In large families, where large quantities of food must be cooked, some researchers have observed both types of stoves being used at the same time(the traditional stove and the improved cookstove). If a new cookstove is introduced into a culture, maintenance and repair techniques also must be addressed.[12]

Substantial variations in emissions and fuel consumption have been observed across ranges of cookstove designs and between laboratory and field test conditions. At present, a standard testing mechanism does not exist to establish the true impact of alternative cookstove designs as well as descriptive language for exposure. Stove testing studies are not always consistent depending largely on the discipline of investigators and their scientific specialization.[13][2]


Brick and mortar stoves[edit]

A variety of new brick and mortar stoves have emerged. Most of the new designs incorporate a combustion chamber found in a rocket stove. By confining combustion to an insulated and enclosed area, the stoves increase the core temperature and thereby achieve more complete combustion. This allows a smaller amount of fuel to burn hotter, while producing less ash and smoke.[14]

Justa Stove[edit]

The Justa Stove is a simple biomass stove built around an insulated, elbow-shaped combustion chamber which provides more intense heat and cleaner combustion than an open fire, meaning that it consumes less fuel than a three-stone stove.

The Proyecto Mirador Dos por Tres stove
Dos por Tres Stove

An improved Justa Stove jointly developed by the non-profit Proyecto Mirador and the Aprovecho Research Center called the "Dos por Tres" is being disseminated in Honduras with more than 20,000 stoves installed as of 2011. The Dos por Tres has been registered as Project 690 and certified by the Gold Standard Foundation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.7 tons per year. All Proyecto Mirador documentation related to proof of these reductions can be viewed on the Gold Standard Project registry.[15]

The Justa Stove[16] has been deployed in Honduras by Trees, Water & People and ADESHA, for which they jointly won an Ashden Award in 2005.[17] The Eco Stove and the Patsari stove share common benefits with the Justa Stove, and are also used in Central America. Their proponents claim that these stoves use approximately 1/3 of the fuel required by traditional three stone stoves, lessening the daily labor devoted to gathering wood and also preventing deforestation. At the same time, it employs a stove pipe flue to vent fumes through the roof.[18] This almost eliminates cooking smoke within the home, preventing respiratory problems for the users. Various groups have run programs to provide such stoves, or encourage production of stove making facilities, including certain Rotary Clubs; Trees, Water and People;[19] and organizations aimed at preserving wildlife by preventing deforestation.

Lorena adobe stove[edit]

A predecessor to the Justa/Eco/Patsari Stoves was the Lorena adobe Stove. It was designed as a simple-to-build cook stove for use in Central America, that could be manufactured locally of materials. The name of Lorena Stove comes from the combination of the two Spanish words lodo and arena (meaning mud and sand) as the stoves were a combination[clarification needed] of the two. The Lorena Stove is an enclosed stove of rammed earth construction, with a chimney built onto it.[20]

The Lorena Stove was designed with the mistaken belief that rammed earth would act as insulation; there was a basic misunderstanding of the difference between mass and insulation. Good insulation resists the passage of heat; thermal mass does the opposite, it absorbs heat. Testing has shown that the rammed earth used in the Lorena stove absorbs heat that should be directed toward cooking.[citation needed]

However, this "waste" heat radiates into the structure, providing more efficient heating than an open fire (a disadvantage in hot weather). A Lorena stove can also be used to dry clothes as its mass slowly cools off after the fire dies.

The designers, Aprovecho, now state: "The Lorena has been tested over the years by many researchers and has generally been found to use more firewood than an indoor open fire. The stove has other attributes. Its chimney takes smoke out of the kitchen and it is well liked. It is pretty and a nice addition to the house. It is low cost and can be repaired and even built by the home owner. But, it is not a fuel saving or low emission stove".[quote citation needed] In later designs, the rammed earth has been replaced with thermal insulation, such as pumice or ash.[citation needed]

Kenya Ceramic Jiko[edit]

From the beginning of the appropriate technology movement, one of the principal goals has been to create an affordable stove that was more efficient than the universally used three stone cooking fire. The Kenya Ceramic Jiko is one of the improved stoves.

Charcoal is the standard cooking fuel in East Africa. Traditionally it was burned in a metal stove or "Jiko" as stoves are called in the Swahili language. The KCJ is the traditional Jiko with a ceramic liner. The initial model has a distinctive shape, differing from the traditional cylindrical jiko, with the top and bottom the same diameter, tapering at about 30 degrees to a waist.[citation needed]

Sanjha Chulha/Earth Stove/Surya Stove[edit]

handmade earth stove

Since 1999, an engineering company named Nishant Bioenergy (P) Limited in North India is conceiving, designing, fabricating and selling patent pending biomass briquette and pellet fueled cook stoves. These are useful for commercial cooking and are designed to burn biomass pellet and briquette. Biomass briquettes can be made from any farm or forest residues with or without binders and pellets are made with or without the addition of binder.[citation needed]

The company has won national and international recognition for their efforts, including the Ashden Award in 2005,[21] PCRA Award-2001, and UN promising practices-2006.

Nishant Bioenergy developed its first stove in 1999 and named Sanjha Chulha (community-cooking stove) is an "Institutional Cook Stove" for use with multiple cooking pot and hot water tank as combined cooking. The stove name is derived from a village tradition where women would cook all their chappatis / rotis (Indian bread) on a "Sanjha Chulha", which was a communal earthen cook stove used by everyone. The stove was designed by Ramesh K. Nibhoria who also designed the Earth Stove for cooking and frying use with a single pot. Earth Stove has two model, one is fixed pellet feed and second one with automated pellet feeding system. Earth Stove with automated pellet feeding system is very innovative and has controls on heat intensity from zero to full like LPG. New design is applied for patents and also being registered under copy write acts. Now "Nishant Sanjha Chulha" has addition of pellet/solid fuel burner having automated fuel feeding thus more advantages.

"Nishant Combo Fryer-NCF" is very unique cook stove having pellet burner with innovative "NO CLINKER" mess. NCF is pellet/solid biomass run fryer to be used for high temperature cooking ( frying) as used for ready to eat snacks cooked in hot oil. The stove has an automated fuel feed system (duly linked with temperature controller) and can run for almost 2-3 days without the worry of ash cleansing. Its detachable burner system enables the user to do cleaning and starting of fire. It is adoptable ( with addition of desired equipment) for cooking/steam generation/hot air/hot water.

Project Surya[edit]

Project Surya, by Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UCSD, field tested improved cook stoves and modifications during its pilot phase which is now complete and the results have been posted online.[22] Project Surya has also launched the Carbon Credit Pilot Project (C2P2) to explore if rewarding women directly with funds from carbon markets, for using improved stoves, will significantly enhance adoption of the field tested stoves.

Prefab stoves[edit]

The Ecocina stove was designed by StoveTeam International and is manufactured at a central location from cement, pumice, and ceramic tiles. It resembles a large flower pot, with a steel cooking surface which can also receive a pot.[citation needed] It was created by a volunteer worker who noticed the high number of respiratory illnesses and burns on patients in Guatemala. It is actively produced in countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. Unlike its brick and mortar counterparts, the Ecocina stoves have no flue and are manufactured in a backyard factory. They are then placed in a home on top of a table or similar raised surface. As with its brick and mortar counterpart, the Ecocina stove employs a rocket stove combustion chamber and promises reduction in the consumption of firewood and in the amount of fumes emitted into the home. It also remains cool to the touch, preventing burns.[citation needed]

Baker stoves[edit]

The Baker cook stove was developed by Top Third Ventures and designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune. It is designed to emphasize aesthetic appeal, usability, and cultural conformity. Rural households in Kenya are its target consumer group. The Baker cook stove is made up of metal components. Thermal insulation and a forced air flow mechanism result in a higher combustion temperature and safer and cleaner cooking compared to the traditional three-stone cooking fire.[23]

Turbo stoves[edit]

Some new metal stoves employ turbo-charging features such that air pressed into the stove or swirled, will then significantly increase the efficiency of combustion.

The Lucia Stove developed by World Stove[24] employs swirling air patterns to change combustion and has been economically produced. It is marketed by World Stove as one part of a larger environmental solution because it captures carbon and thereby reduces the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from cooking. It produces biochar that is then recycled back to the soil.[citation needed]

The Turbococina Stove was developed in El Salvador by René M. N. Suarez;[25] the name is derived from the term "Turbocombustión" which is a new combustion method in which, during combustion, temperatures as low as possible are maintained to inhibit the formation of pollutants like NOx; an alternative is to reduce the concentration of oxygen below the stoichiometric requirement. The Turbococina promised positive results by employing higher pressures to lower combustion temperatures, but its high cost of production (stainless steel) and its use of electricity have prevented it from going into production. At present, it does not appear to be economically viable.

BioLite stoves[edit]

The BioLite CampStove

The BioLite HomeStove was made to replace open cooking fires. Its design converts the heat into usable electricity to power a fan, which reduces fuel needs by 50%, toxic smoke by about 95%, and black carbon emissions by 91%. The amount of CO2 saved per year by one stove is equivalent to the amount saved by buying a hybrid car.[26] The effects of deforestation are lessened and time is regained by people spending less hours gathering wood for open fires. The remaining off-grid energy that does not power the fan can then be used to charge portable devices through a USB port, such as cell phones and LED lights.[27][28]

Advanced biomass cookstoves[edit]

There are two primary types of advanced biomass stoves[29] that can achieve high levels of performance;[30] forced air stoves and gasifier stoves, both of which can run on processed or raw biomass.

  • Forced air stoves have a fan powered either by a battery, an external source of electricity, or a thermoelectric generator. This fan blows high velocity, low volume jets of air into the combustion chamber, which when optimized results in more complete combustion of the fuel.
  • Gasifier stoves force the gases and smoke that result from incomplete combustion of fuels such as biomass back into the cookstove's flame, where the heat of the flame then continues to combust the particles in the smoke until almost complete combustion has occurred, reducing emissions. Typical gasifier stoves are known as Top Lit Updraft (TLUD) stoves because some fuel is lit on top of the stove, forcing combustible products to pass through the flame front before being emitted into the air.[citation needed]

Insulating ceramic rocket stoves[edit]

This insulating ceramic rocket stove is highly energy efficient, fabricated for the poor, by the poor, affordable as such.

For genuine rocket stoves, the cook pot fits down inside, helping to insure almost complete combustion. There is a narrow gap, e.g., 12.0 millimeters, between the stove liner and the cookpot. As introduced by the organization Aprovecho, the principles of initial rocket stoves included their ‘…vertical combustion chambers that acted as chimneys, mixing the wood’s volatile gases with air so that the rockets burned more efficiently.’[31] For the insulating ceramic rocket stove, this consists of curved insulating bricks formed into a cylinder, such that similarly...'The pot fits down inside with only the narrow gap all around,'[32]

The insulating ceramic rocket stove is 100% insulating material, with no metal at all. Thus, the stove is highly energy efficient. The stove is built of insulating bricks that are composed of 50/ 50 by volume, clay and charcoal. The charcoal burns out when the bricks are fired, giving the voids that make these insulating.[33] For these bricks, the dry composition consists of powders of clay and charcoal. Once this is wetted, this moist clay composition is formed into the bricks, using purpose-made molds. Powders are used in the clay/charcoal composition because this maximizes the bonding between adjacent particles, thus maximizing the strength of the bricks.[33]

The dried and fired insulating bricks are mortared together to fabricate the stove, using a mortar mix of 50/ 50 by volume, pre-mixed powders of clay and sand. For the wetted mortar, applied between the bricks, the clay brings about a bond between the bricks and the sand prevents the mortar from shrinking away. As in ceramics in general, as powders, '...the strength of the agglomerates is because of adhesion between the particles.[34]

In the evidence base of the sustainability of the insulating ceramic rocket stove, there is an important need to address its affordability to those impoverished, e.g., of daily income US$1 or $2. All over the developing world there are low-income potters who produce, e.g., water containers and cook pots that are affordable within their communities. Once these potters are trained in model and mold making,[35] they will be able to easily fabricate these insulating rocket stoves, such that these are affordable to their neighbors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Access to clean cooking – SDG7: Data and Projections – Analysis". IEA. October 2020. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  2. ^ a b Gall, Elliott T.; Carter, Ellison M.; Matt Earnest, C.; Stephens, Brent (April 2013). "Indoor Air Pollution in Developing Countries: Research and Implementation Needs for Improvements in Global Public Health". American Journal of Public Health. 103 (4): e67–e72. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300955. PMC 3673244. PMID 23409891.
  3. ^ a b Pratiti, Rebecca; Vadala, David; Kalynych, Zirka; Sud, Parul (July 2020). "Health effects of household air pollution related to biomass cook stoves in resource limited countries and its mitigation by improved cookstoves". Environmental Research. 186: 109574. Bibcode:2020ER....186j9574P. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2020.109574. PMID 32668541. S2CID 219033298.
  4. ^ a b World Health Organization 2016, p. 88.
  5. ^ World Health Organization 2016, p. 12.
  6. ^ a b World Health Organization 2016, pp. VII–XIV.
  7. ^ Tester 2012, p. 504.
  8. ^ World Health Organization 2016, pp. 25–29.
  9. ^ a b ESMAP 2020, p. 19.
  10. ^ Umair Irfan (April 5, 2013). "Study finds improved cookstoves solve one emissions problem, but create another". ClimateWire E & E Publishing. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  11. ^ World Health Organization 2016, pp. 11–12.
  12. ^ Rhodes, Evelyn; Dreibelbis, Robert; Klasen, Elizabeth; Naithani, Neha; Baliddawa, Joyce; Menya, Diana; Khatry, Subarna; Levy, Stephanie; Tielsch, James; Miranda, J.; Kennedy, Caitlin; Checkley, William (3 October 2014). "Behavioral Attitudes and Preferences in Cooking Practices with Traditional Open-Fire Stoves in Peru, Nepal, and Kenya: Implications for Improved Cookstove Interventions". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 11 (10): 10310–10326. doi:10.3390/ijerph111010310. PMC 4210980. PMID 25286166.
  13. ^ "Research and Evaluation". Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves. Retrieved 2017-10-27.
  14. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2011-11-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Ashden (25 February 2008). "TWP / AHDESA, Honduras, Fuel-efficient stoves". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Justa stove wins Ashden Award". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  18. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  19. ^ Trees, Water and People Archived 2010-10-30 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Household stoves construction manual;
  21. ^ "Ashden Award for Nishant Bioenergy". Archived from the original on 21 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  22. ^ Aprovecho Research Center Test-Results-Cookstove-Performance.pdf Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "JAM With Chrome Lets You Create Digital Tunes WIth Friends". 8 November 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  24. ^ "Worldstove: Transforming Haiti and the World". 6 April 2018.
  25. ^ US 6651645, "Pressurized combustion and heat transfer process and apparatus" 
  26. ^ "BioLite Home Stove". Design To Improve Life. Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
  28. ^ "OWPG Derryck Draper Award goes to BioLite Campstove". OWPG. 18 October 2012.
  29. ^ The Global Alliance For Clean Cookstoves - Cookstove technology
  30. ^ "Improved Clean Cookstoves". Project Drawdown. 2020-02-07. Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  31. ^ "Hearth Surgery". 14 December 2009.
  32. ^ "Reducing air pollution: Insulating ceramic rocket stoves". 8 January 2019.
  33. ^ a b Harvey, Anthony Reid (2020). Environmental Health and Development for All Micro-scale Industry, Starting with Ceramics (1. Auflage ed.). Saarbrücken. ISBN 978-620-2-51414-9. OCLC 1155549212.
  34. ^ Sommer, K. (1991). "Powders: Granulation". Concise Encyclopedia of Advanced Ceramic Materials. pp. 373–375. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-034720-2.50102-7. ISBN 9780080347202.
  35. ^ Harvey, Anthony Reid (2020). Plaster of Paris Techniques Forming Processes of Ceramic Mass Production for Developing World Ceramists (1. Auflage ed.). Saarbrücken. ISBN 978-620-0-78788-0. OCLC 1155581184.

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