Beginnings

How the Project Began

A portable stove that converts sticks into clean-burning gas and saleable activated charcoal, while boiling/sterilising water using heat otherwise wasted.

We developed this stove at the turn of the century, to address a shortage of fuel-wood and charcoal for employees of our family business in Kenya. We also needed to find a cheap and reliable way of filtering drinking water from our only water source – the local river. This concept solved both problems. It produced clean energy, was very economical and made excellent activated carbon for use in water filters. All this from forest litter; there was no need to chop down any trees. 

The original stoves had to be easily manufactured locally from readily available materials. Adding a water jacket allowed us to use galvanised sheet that would otherwise have burnt through. The combustion chamber was simply a trench in the ground.

Producing saleable activated charcoal as a by-product can generate valuable income for families. The charcoal can either be burnt as a fuel or used to make sterile water filters that effectively remove most organic compounds, including bacteria. These filters produce crystal clear water without any need to pre-wash the charcoal. Even water heavily contaminated with soap and detergent is taste and odour free after filtration. As shown in the illustration above, filters can be made very cheaply from a variety of readily available containers. 

Some statistics

(Times were taken from when the fire was lit. All figures were from the same trial. )

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MINUTES TAKEN TO BOIL 5L OF WATER IN THE WATER JACKET​
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MINUTES TAKEN TO BOIL 3L OF WATER IN A POT ON THE STOVE
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GRAMS OF WOOD USED IN 30 MINUTES
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GRAMS OF BIOCHAR PRODUCED IN 30 MINUTES

The concept works just as effectively scaled up, so we made bigger versions for a community kitchen. 

Our stoves produced plenty of biochar for filtering water. In fact we made so much charcoal, we also developed a stove to burn it!

Over a decade later, with more climate awareness, we now mix any surplus charcoal with soil, to capture the carbon.

All the water we drink is filtered using the charcoal we produce!

Some Advantages

Purifies water

Water jacket boils/sterilises water using heat otherwise wasted.
Produces activated charcoal ideal for use in water filters.

Uses less wood

Uses less than half the wood of traditional stoves.
Converts wood into charcoal more efficiently (14%) than traditional methods (10%).

Eco-friendly

Burns completely cleanly, greatly reducing smoke-related health hazards.

Simple to use

Quick and easy to install.
Easy to operate.

Versatile

Can be operated continuously.
Can be scaled up to any size.​

Low cost

Can be mass produced at low cost.
Water jacket protects metal from burning out so will last for a long time.

Gallery

Click on photos for descriptions

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