Six Brick Stove

AIDUGANDA: Why are these Women Carrying Stoves on their Heads? and Other Images from Uganda and Darfur
Ken Goyer, AidUganda, October 2007

Aiduganda has been installing stoves in Uganda and Darfur. The following are links to images and videos from those activities courtesy of Ken Goyer.

Why are these Women Carrying Stoves on their Heads?

Cooking with the standard pot in Darfur

SixBricks Rocket stoves in Lira Refugee Camps

Dean Still and Brad van Appel, Aprovecho Research Center, January 1, 2002

The Effect of Material Choice on the Combustion Chamber of a Rocket Cooking Stove: Adobe, Common Brick, Vernacular Insulative Ceramic, and Guatemalan Floor Tile (Baldosa)

The Search for Vernacular Refractory Materials

Multiple tests of the Lorena stove beginning in 1983 at the Aprovecho Research Center have shown that placing thermal mass near the fire has a negative effect on the responsiveness and fuel efficiency of a cooking stove. In 1996, Leoni Mvungi built a Rocket stove from earth, sand, and clay that was a replica of a low mass Rocket consisting of metal chimney parts. His version weighed hundreds of pounds even though the Rocket internal chimney was only eleven inches high. Tests of a low mass sheet metal version scored around 30% fuel efficiency. But the best result achieved by the Mvungi stove was around 15%.

Building Rocket stoves from sand and clay showed little promise of improving on the three stone fire which was scoring around 18% in repeated boiling tests performed by Jim Kness and Dean Still (1994). Unfortunately, metal stove parts also have a major drawback in that the high heat in the combustion chamber quickly destroys thin metal. Consultants were in agreement that a good stove should last for years without requiring maintenance. Replacing metal parts as they wear out was not considered a viable solution.

A women's co-operative in Honduras (Nueva Esperansa) makes ceramic stove parts that have a reputation for working well in stoves. Aprovecho consultants Mike Hatfield and Peter Scott contracted with this group to produce combustion chambers for the Dona Justa plancha stoves that they helped to design. This material seemed to work well and, in fact, the Rocket elbow made by Nueva Esperansa has been successful in Honduras and Nicaragua. It is difficult, however, to deliver the fragile combustion chambers without breaking them. Also they are relatively expensive, costing about eight dollars each.

Don O'Neal (HELPS International) and Dr. Larry Winiarski have shown that cast iron combustion chambers, which do last, also have problems. Tests showed that the very conductive cast iron made the fire hard to start. In fact, a group of indigenous Guatemalan women stove testers living in Santa Avelina were unhappy with the expensive cast iron combustion chamber and asked for it to be replaced. They wanted a more responsive stove that started quickly, and quickly cooked food in the morning. Don and Larry eventually found an alternative material: an inexpensive Guatemalan ceramic floor tile (called a baldosa in Spanish) which seemed to function well when cut up to make the walls of the Rocket combustion chamber. The baldosa was about an inch thick so the combustion chamber only weighed eighteen and a half pounds. Like all Rocket combustion chambers it is surrounded by insulation, either wood ash or pumice rock.

The baldosa tile has done well in test stoves. It seems to be durable, lasting a year so far, and the group of testers from Santa Avelina reported that their stoves are much improved. The ceramic material made the stove much quicker to heat up. The women approved the improved stove for general dissemination to neighbors and other villages. The HELPS molded griddle stove now uses a preformed ceramic combustion chamber made by a local baldosa manufacturer. Unfortunately, all baldosa are not equally resistant to heat and it's important to test tiles before using them in stoves.

Appreciating that ceramic seemed a promising material for Rocket combustion chambers, Ken Goyer, an Aprovecho Board Member and consultant, spent a year, 2000-2001, testing ceramic mixes. His research resulted in a vernacular insulative ceramic material (VIC) that is refractory, insulative and can be home made. Six bricks made from this material combine to make a complete Rocket combustion chamber. Making the chamber from separate bricks has resulted in a greatly reduced tendency to crack. The bricks have held up so far in durability tests and they seem to create a very active fire.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the results of experiments involving same sized brick combustion chambers made from adobe, the insulative ceramic mix and common ceramic brick material. All bricks shared the same dimensions. Six bricks (11 ½" high by 2 ½" thick) made up a hexagonal cylinder surrounding a four inch in diameter chimney. Sticks of wood entered the bottom of the chimney through a hole sawn in the bricks. A combustion chamber made to similar dimensions was constructed using baldosa tile bought in Guatemala. Vermiculite filled in around the baldosa creating a combustion chamber with approximately the same dimensions as the brick stoves.

Protocols for Standard Stove Tests Using PICO Software

Fuel Efficient Stove Programs in IDP Settings - Summary Evaluation Report, Darfur
Academy for Educational Development for USAID, December 2008

1. INTRODUCTION: EVALUATION OBJECTIVES
Around the world, conflict and natural disasters have displaced millions of people. Displaced populations fleeing to settlement camps and seeking safety in host villages often put great stress on natural resources, leading to environmental degradation and conflict with local populations. One of the greatest needs of people affected by crisis, be they displaced, settled, or on the move, is firewood or some other type of fuel to cook their food, heat their homes, and treat water for drinking and food preparation. The risks endured (especially by women and children) collecting scarce wood resources constitute some of the most challenging and serious protection concerns both in IDP camps and in villages where conflict over resources is high.

Fuel Efficient Stove Programs in IDP Settings - Summary Evaluation Report, Uganda
Academy for Educational Development for USAID, September 2007

Introduction: Evaluation Objectives

Around the world, conflict and natural disasters have displaced millions of people. Displaced populations fleeing to settlement camps and seeking safety in host villages often put great stress on natural resources, leading to environmental degradation and conflict with local populations. One of the greatest needs of all people affected by crisis, be they displaced, settled or on the move, is firewood or other types of fuel to heat their homes, cook their food, and treat water for drinking and food preparation. The risks endured (especially by women and children) collecting sometimes scarce wood resources constitute some of the most challenging and serious protection concerns both in IDP camps and in villages where the conflict over resources is high.

USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has been one of the key US Government funders of humanitarian agencies implementing fuel-efficient stove (FES) programs in IDP settings. The FES programs are intended to help the agencies accomplish various goals, such as improve food security or decrease deforestation, by reducing fuel consumption. However, the large number of implementers, their varying motives and degrees of expertise, and differing conditions within and among IDP communities have made it difficult for OFDA to determine the relative efficacy of the FES interventions and provide guidelines for USAID-funded entities working in IDP settings.

Therefore, OFDA enlisted the assistance of the USAID Energy Team to undertake a multi-phase evaluation in order to derive “best practices” for future FES interventions. While the primary purpose of this evaluation is to provide guidance to USAID-funded organizations, USAID hopes to inform the broader humanitarian community by sharing the results of the evaluation with them as well. Eventually, the best practices will be developed into a series of recommendations and toolkits for use by NGOs, donors, and other groups operating FES programs in IDP settings.

Production of Sixbricks Rocket Stoves in Uganda and Darfur 2006
Ken Goyer, AidAfrica, International Lifeline Fund, November 12, 2006

Dear Tom,

I believe that so far, with Mathew and All Nations Christian Care, we have made about 15,000 SixBricks Rocket Stoves in the Lira, (north) Uganda refugee camps . I have 2,700 numbered pictures of these stoves, with the owner, her house, the flag of the Rotary Club of East Fresno and the number of the stove. Taking pictures has proven to be more difficult and more elusive than actually making the stoves. I hope to show these pictures at our ETHOS conference this year. Dan Wolf of the International Lifeline Fund has taken over this project in Lira and plans to fund 100,000 more stoves as well as to fund and run the project in Darfur camps to build a targeted 100,000 stoves there.

Meanwhile, I have started a new stove project in Gulu, (north) Uganda to make an unlimited number of Six Bricks Rocket Stoves in the Gulu refugee camps, in addition to teach stove building in Northern Uganda. AidAfrica is also working with Rotary Clubs in Southern Uganda to make about 1000 stoves for each of thirty Adopt a Village projects.

So this coming year will be even more exciting than last year.
AidAfrica now has an office and staff in Gulu and we plan to send volunteers from here to Gulu (and other parts of Uganda) to build stoves, start a reforestation project, address the problem of malaria and continue with the medical project which has directly saved very many lives.

Much thanks to you for running the stoves list. It has been instrumental to bringing the world closer together.

Best regards, Ken Goyer

The First Sixbricks Rocket Stove in Darfur
Ken Goyer, AID Africa, Dan Wolf, International Lifeline Fund,September 4, 2006

Yesterday we had our first demonstration of the SixBricks Rocket stove in North Darfur. We had successfully fired about 1,000 of our special lightweight bricks using a local brickmaker, and now we have now started to show off the stove. Our first demonstration was a huge success. While the demonstration was intended to show the stove to a few nonprofit organizations, about 100 women came and took over the cooking action.The local staple food, aceda, was made in the largest round bottomed pot and then meat and sauces were cooked in other pots. The surprise was that after cooking this large and rather complicated meal, two thirds of it was handed over the fence and spirited away into a hut where some men were gathered. So the women were left with very little to taste. None the less they were very happy with the performance of the stove.

The political situation here remains touchy and for various reasons we will not travel to Kebkabia. Instead, we will stay here and work in El Fasher for now. Next, we hope to start a demonstration stove project in a camp which is actually a part of El Fasher. This way, access is easier, and it is safer, and still there are 32,000 people there, desperate for fuel with no trees in sight. Traveling even to the closest outside camp requires permits and permission and some worry about personal security or at least the theft of your vehicle by various rebel groups.

I have attached two photos to this email. The first one is of the stove and the second one is looking the other way at the crowd. Dan Wolf, founder and director of the International Lifeline Fund, and the benefactor of this project, has decided to rename the stove the "Miracle" Stove. I told him that it should be called the "Science" Stove, but that name just doesn't have quite the same ring.

Thanks to everybody who has made the invention and development and dissemination of this stove possible. The fruits of our labor are about to ripen.

Best regards, Ken Goyer

The Sprocket Rocket (pdf) (Uganda)
Ken Goyer June 4, 2006

Ken Goyer describes the "sprocket rocket" charcoal stove and its use in Uganda.

This is a bicycle sprocket. I was visiting a camp near Lira and this woman came along holding this sprocket. She said that she was planning to make a Sprocket Rocket and that she had paid 1000 shillings (about 54 cents) for it.

File attachments: 

Using Pumice to Make Lightweight Ceramics in El Salvador
Damon Ogle, Aprovecho Research Center, March 31, 2003


Tilemaker in Central America making "baldosa" a floor tile.


Six pumice/clay bricks create an insulated combustion chamber

A kiln in El Salvador for firing bricks

Kilns and Brick Making, A Rough Draft (2.3 MB pdf), Ken Goyer, March, 2006

Ken Goyer has posted a 2.3 MB pdf document on the stoves site titled "Kilns and Brick Making, A Rough Draft". While it may be work in progress it illustrates a lot that we need to learn about brick making to accelerate stove construction. Many thanks to Ken.

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