May 15, 2007 The £2m Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration and Electricity (SCORE) project aims to work with rural communities in Africa and Asia, where access to power is limited, to develop a versatile domestic appliance powered by biomass that will significantly improve health and welfare.
The team hopes that the device will also promote economic growth and reduce poverty by enabling communities to take ownership of its development and establish businesses from its manufacture, repair and application.
Dr Keith Pullen of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London leads Imperial's side of the project with Ron Dennis and will work to ensure that the technology can be adopted, developed and maintained in developing countries. He says:
"Heat, refrigeration and energy form the basis of a decent quality of life, from storing medicines at the right temperature to improving access to education through electricity for computers and lighting. But you can't just go into communities and tell them what they need - what's so important about this project is that we are working in partnership with people to work out what's possible and develop something sustainable based on the skills and the raw materials available locally."
The electricity generating and refrigerating aspects of SCORE will be operated through thermoacoustic principles, which convert sound waves into heat and vice versa. This technology is far more efficient and less polluting than burning wood in an open fire, currently the primary cooking method of two billion people around the world. Dr Pullen adds:
"Using this technology while ensuring that the device is relatively low-cost and can be produced using local materials and labour is one of the great challenges of this project. Thermoacoustic systems have always been expensive and high-tech - a great deal of the first stage of this project will be taken up with translating the technology into something that can easily be mass produced."
The five year project is funded by grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council as part of its initiative on energy and international development. It will comprise three years of social and scientific research and a further two years focused on technology handover, including field trials.
The project is a collaboration between Imperial and the Universities of Nottingham and Manchester, Queen Mary, University of London, Los Alamos National Laboratory, GP Acoustics and the charity Practical Action. Universities in Africa and Asia will also join the project on the design, development, production and introduction of the device.
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