University Stoves Interest in Nepal

By Bryan Willson June 9, 2004

I’m currently in Kathmandu for a few more weeks working to help set up a Fulbright-funded hydrogen research laboratory at Tribhuvan University. Chandra Joshi from Tribhuvan visited Colorado State University in January on the same project and then accompanied me to the Ethos conference in Seattle. Chandra’s son, Sachin, received in BS in Mechanical Engineering a year or so back and has since been working on a relatively large “improved cookstove” dissemination project in rural Nepal. I took Chandra to some “Engineers Without Borders” meetings while he was here, and his son Sachin then started a chapter after Chandra returned. Today, they held a meeting with a speaker on improved cookstoves from a local NGO (Center for Rural Technology) and almost 50 students showed up.

There is a recognition by many that the cookstoves currently being disseminated in Nepal (somewhere around 180,000 in the past few years!!) provide substantial health improvement (because of the use of a chimney), but provide little improvement in efficiency. In fact, due to high draft (perhaps from excessively tall chimneys) on some stoves, the wood usage often increases. Sjoerd Nienhuys is the Nepal representative for SNV, a Netherlands funding agency. He is aware of the potential efficiency improvements. Through the web he found the REPP stoves website, the Stoves listserve, and is aware of the Ethos group. I think he’s posted a few times on the Stoves listserve. He is providing some funding to have the EWB student group fabricate some “rocket-like” stoves for evaluation in Nepal. [Interesting side note: Sjoerd told me he asked for a larger diameter for the firebox to allow use of bigger wood. I gave him what I could remember of Larry’s arguments against large entry holes – including the problems of chimney fouling that Rogeria discussed in Seattle.]

Partway into the lecture, I started to think about the potential implications of a meeting like this. 50 engineering students in a developing country (with a huge need for new cookstove technology) asking very insightful questions about cookstove design. I snapped a few pictures and thought you folks might like to see them.

The students asked for a more technical discussion of stove design, so I’ve been enlisted to give some lectures next week on combustion, pyrolysis, gasification, and principles of stove design. I think I know enough to be dangerous, but could do a better job with a few diagrams, and slides with temperatures and such. If anyone has some PowerPoint slides and/or handout materials that they could e-mail that would really help. Since yesterday, all schools are “shut down” due to a general education strike called by the Maoist insurgency. The strike affects both “K-12” and higher education. The duration of the strike is indefinite so the students have lots of time to spend on this. I guess my lecturing doesn’t count against the strike.

- Bryan Willson

Dr. Bryan Willson

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Research Director, Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Colorado State University

Phone: (970)-491-4783

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