Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A simple solution to air pollution from wood-burning cookstoves

Date:
April 24, 2013
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
Wood-burning cookstoves, used by millions of people worldwide, cause air pollution, disease and death. A team of university students studied the problem and came up with a simple, low-cost solution: better ventilation.

Wood-burning cookstoves cause air pollution and health problems.
Credit: Michigan Technological University

Billions of people worldwide burn animal dung, crop residues, wood and charcoal to cook their meals. And the chemicals produced and inhaled sicken or kill millions. At particular risk are women who prepare their families' food and children 5-years-old or younger.

Up to now, most interventions have focused on improving the cookstove to lower emissions. And that would be fine, if there were enough improved cookstoves to go around. But there aren't. In 2012, only 2.5 million improved cookstoves were distributed, improving the household air pollution situation for exactly one-half of 1 percent of the world's biomass burners.

So an interdisciplinary team of Michigan Technological University students took a different tack. They decided to look for ways to improve the cooking environment, not just the stove. And they found a low-cost, highly effective way to reduce the impact of cooking over biomass fires without designing and installing high-tech, costly stoves.

Better ventilation.

The cookstove project was born in small town on the Guatemalan border with Mexico, where Michigan Tech environmental engineering graduate student Kelli Whelan was working on an Engineers Without Borders project. She noticed that the kitchen of a family who had built an attic to insulate their house from a hot aluminum roof was much cooler than others she had visited, although they all used the same kind of wood-burning cookstove.

"That made me wonder if the temperature difference helped clear the smoke out, either by a draft or the greater temperature differential between the fire and the surrounding space," she explains.

When she returned to Michigan Tech, Whelan and several fellow environmental engineering graduate students started work on a project to explore the situation. They built both a working model of a biomass cookstove and a computer model to test different kitchen and cooking conditions.

After receiving the EPA P3 grant, they surveyed Peace Corps Master's International and Pavlis Global Technological Leadership Institute students at Tech who had worked in countries where biomass-burning cookstoves are used. They also conducted more physical and computational model tests, 57 of them, testing for the presence and transport of particulate matter, carbon monoxide and carbon, as well as comparing wind speed, temperature, humidity, roofing materials, wall height, cookstove placement and windows and doors open or closed.

"Our focus was not on ventilation, but on trying to determine which factors really influence the air quality in a kitchen and which do not," said Whelan.

They discovered that ventilation is very important. "The improved cookstoves, which are supposed to reduce emissions, actually made the air quality worse under completely enclosed conditions," she said. "In contrast, we saw the greatest reduction in ambient particulate matter and carbon monoxide with an improved cookstove and with windows and doors open."

They also learned that not all ventilation helps. "Having two windows open on opposite ends of the kitchen was best, whereas having all the windows and doors open was worse," Whelan said. "This is because having all outlets open creates turbulence inside the kitchen, and the smoke is not forced out."

The Michigan Tech students took the results of their field and computer modeling analysis of cookstove air pollution to the EPA Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, DC, last week.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "A simple solution to air pollution from wood-burning cookstoves." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132635.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (2013, April 24). A simple solution to air pollution from wood-burning cookstoves. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132635.htm
Michigan Technological University. "A simple solution to air pollution from wood-burning cookstoves." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132635.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins