Dartmouth

Dartmouth

Editor’s Note: Students from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering are working in Tanzania to help improve sanitation and energy technologies in local villages. This series chronicles work being done by the student-led group, known as Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP), to design “rocket stoves” in the village of Mwamgongo and top-light updraft design (TLUD) gasification stoves in the village of Kalinzi. The goal is to create a healthier, more energy-efficient cooking apparatus that these villagers will accept and use. HELP students are filing these dispatches from the field during their trip. This is their 15th blog post for Scientific American.

We took our design back to Kalinzi and demonstrated the stove to all of the six women who we had performed bean tests with. Our culminating experience was successfully cooking ugali with one of the women in her kitchen in front of an audience of about 30 people. The women were all impressed with the design, especially with the strength of the flame.

Still, the stove emitted smoke midway through the batch cycle, and we measured moderately high levels of carbon monoxide emissions. We decided that we needed to do further research to quantify these emissions before they could be safely placed in people’s homes. We are currently partnering with students at the University of Dar es Salaam to develop the design further and optimize the fuel chamber shape to reduce these emissions. Fortunately, we were able to leave two stoves at an Anglican mission and the local coffee cooperative’s processing mill, which both do their cooking in open-air environments and will allow us to get long-term user feedback when we return.

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