Rocket Stove+ is a high-efficiency cooking stove designed to reduce the effects of indoor air pollution and provide electricity for communities in rural Uganda, and communities like it around the world.
Through ethnographic research with community leaders in Uganda, correspondence with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, and support from Massachusetts Institue of Technology, Rocket Stove+ was able to address a problem that has gone overlooked by much of the developed world.
Indoor air pollution is an issue that affects a large portion of developing countries.
“More than 50% of premature deaths among children under five are due to pneumonia caused by soot inhaled from household air pollution.” ¹
On top of exposure to indoor air pollution, the populations of developing countries frequently lack access to electricity.
In the case of rural Uganda, often the only electrical appliance used is the mobile phone. Quickly becoming a staple in Ugandan life, the mobile phone grants communication and access to the increasingly important industry of mobile banking.
As of 2015, 52.3% of all Ugandan's owned a mobile phone. ²
The Rocket Stove+ features a TEC plate generator and a high-efficiency 'rocket stove' body. The Rocket Stove+ is highly efficient, burning at a higher average temperature than a traditional fire, producing less smoke and trapping 95-100% of dangerous inhalants.
The design allows for the continued use of traditional fuels.
Current cooking methods create fire hazards and potential for injury. With the use of an enclosed stove, we eliminate the open flame and reduce the risk of injury. With the additional exterior metal casing, we greatly decrease risk and severity of burns, making the appliance safer around young children.
With the majority of the smoke being ducted out of the home, long-term health problems associated with smoke inhalation decrease.
The thermal generation unit is made from a milled aluminum heat sink with thermoelectric cooling plates (utilizing the Peltier effect) a small fan, and copper rods to transfer the heat.
A small circuit enclosure provides two USB A I/O, and an On/Off switch to control the LED light bar.
The stove produces about 12v, sufficient to charge a modern smart phone and power a small bank of LED's.
With projects like Rocket Stove+, I believe it is possible to make a measurable positive impact in communities around the world.
By applying design thinking principles at every step of the process, and producing diligent ethnographic research, designers can produce culturally aware and well-targetted projects that empower their users.
The Rocket Stove+ project was made possible by the Lemelson MIT InvenTeams grant initiative, with support from Carnegie Mellon's CREATE LAB and Sylvia Namukasa founder of KYEMPAPU, "a grassroots non-profit organization that is committed to community development, environmental management, and poverty alleviation in Kirinda, Uganda".
This project is dedicated to those researchers, communities leaders, and advocates whose efforts are changing lives around the world.