Apr 222012
Authors: Devin O'Brien

The staff of CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory is looking to make life a little easier for rural communities in Peru this summer by sending something most people may take for granted: stoves.

The high-altitude communities surrounding Ayaviri, Peru rely on stoves for a number of functions –– from cooking, to light, to heat.

The area’s currently-used stoves, however, cause a number of problems because of their lack of ventilation systems, said Jason Prapas, a mechanical engineering PhD candidate at CSU.

According to Prapas, the poorly ventilated stoves can create a number of health concerns, including asthma, emphysema and cancer.

The EECL, which, according to eecl.colostate.edu, researches “fuels, energy conversion, and energy distribution,” is designing new cook stoves to combat this problem.

“We have a state-of-the-art testing facility complete with a laminar flow fume hood, high quality gas sampling equipment and trained stove testers,” Prapas said in an email to the Collegian. “We follow internationally recognized standards for stove testing to determine the performance of stoves from all over the world, including those which we develop.”

“Our lab has been an active participant in the development of new standards and protocols with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.”

In addition to a chimney to improve ventilation, the improved cook stoves will have other features.

Locally made adobe materials will be used to construct the stove’s main part, with only the combustion chamber, support metal and chimney being built with materials brought in from outside of the community.

A new feature also increased combustion efficiency, which is the ability of the fire to convert to carbon dioxide and water, instead of soot and carbon monoxide.

And while the lab is working to make more efficient and healthy stoves, education and user feedback conducted in the Spanish and Quechua languages are other parts of the program.

The local populace will be taught how and why to use the stoves, with the health factor being emphasized. The feedback collected could affect design of future cook stoves.

Another aspect of this program is a “sweat equity” process, developed by the Center for Energy and Environmental Security and Ayaviri-based nonprofit groups. This allows a resident to help fellow community members in exchange for a stove, and gets the community more involved in the project, Prapas said.

The EECL became involved in this effort through the Center for Energy and Environmental Security, an interdisciplinary research and policy center at the University of Colorado Law School, which according to Today@Colorado State, has been in contact with the rural communities for three years.

“(CEES director Lakshman Guruswamy) became aware of and reached out to Envirofit and the lab to help put stoves in Peru,” said Operations Manager Mac McGoldrick.

While they aren’t involved in the lab’s May and June venture, Envirofit has collaborated with the EECL in the past on product development.

“Envirofit continues to work with our partners in Peru to develop market appropriate products,” said Vice President of Sales Operations and Business Development Tim Bauer. “The key challenges to scale, which our partners and products need to address are productionability, transportability for implementation and durability, while being able to meet the performance factors that define our products as improved cook stoves.”

A fundraiser for the stove project was held on April 12 at the New Belgium Brewery. The event sold out with more than 150 people and included live music. CEES sponsored a bus to the event.

Other projects at the Engines and Energy Conversion Lab includes an effort to convert wood to charcoal, which was featured at one of the Engineering Days booths and a super critical carbon dioxide-based washing machine, which removes hazardous materials.

The lab also offers tours of its facilities. To arrange a tour, students should contact McGoldrick at mac.mcgoldrick@colostate.edu.

Collegian writer Devin O’Brien can be reached at news@collegian.com

 Posted by at 3:26 pm

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