Up to now, most interventions have focused on improving the cookstove to lower emissions. And that would be fine, if there were enough improved cookstoves to go around. But there aren’t. In 2012, only 2.5 million improved cookstoves were distributed, improving the household air pollution situation for exactly one-half of 1 percent of the world’s biomass burners.
So an interdisciplinary team of Michigan Technological University students took a different tack. They decided to look for ways to improve the cooking environment, not just the stove. And they found a low-cost, highly effective way to reduce the impact of cooking over biomass fires without designing and installing high-tech, costly stoves.
The cookstove project was born in small town on the Guatemalan border with Mexico, where Michigan Tech environmental engineering graduate student Kelli Whelan was working on an Engineers Without Borders project. She noticed that the kitchen of a family who had built an attic to insulate their house from a hot aluminum roof was much cooler than others she had visited, although they all used the same kind of wood-burning cookstove.
“That made me wonder if the temperature difference helped clear the smoke out, either by a draft or the greater temperature differential between the fire and the surrounding space,” she explains.
When she returned to Michigan Tech, Whelan and several fellow environmental engineering graduate students started work on a project to explore the situation. They built both a working model of a biomass cookstove and a computer model to test different kitchen and cooking conditions.
After receiving the EPA P3 grant, they surveyed Peace Corps Master’s International and Pavlis Global Technological Leadership Institute students at Tech who had worked in countries where biomass-burning cookstoves are used. They also conducted more physical and computational model tests, 57 of them, testing for the presence and transport of particulate matter, carbon monoxide and carbon, as well as comparing wind speed, temperature, humidity, roofing materials, wall height, cookstove placement and windows and doors open or closed.
“Our focus was not on ventilation, but on trying to determine which factors really influence the air quality in a kitchen and which do not,” said Whelan.
They discovered that ventilation is very important. “The improved cookstoves, which are supposed to reduce emissions, actually made the air quality worse under completely enclosed conditions,” she said. “In contrast, we saw the greatest reduction in ambient particulate matter and carbon monoxide with an improved cookstove and with windows and doors open.”
They also learned that not all ventilation helps. “Having two windows open on opposite ends of the kitchen was best, whereas having all the windows and doors open was worse,” Whelan said. “This is because having all outlets open creates turbulence inside the kitchen, and the smoke is not forced out.”
The Michigan Tech students took the results of their field and computer modeling analysis of cookstove air pollution to the EPA Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, DC, last week,one of only 45 college teams invited to do so.
To talk with Kelli Whelan, her faculty advisor or her teammates, call her cell: 517-974-2980.
Kelli Whelan | Newswise
Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences