SERC recently had the pleasure of hosting and collaborating with members of the Interdisciplinary Group for Appropriate Rural Technology (GIRA – www.gira.org.mx), on the construction of a Patsari cookstove. GIRA is a non-profit organization based in Patzcuaro, Mexico and is dedicated to the design, development, and promotion of environmentally and socially sustainable technologies and natural resource use. GIRA is internationally recognized for the design and dissemination of their Patsari cookstove, for which they received an Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in Health and Welfare in 2006.
Studies estimate that approximately half of the world’s population uses biomass for cooking. Wood, charcoal, dung, and other agricultural residues are used as fuel sources for a variety of different cooking techniques. Unfortunately, studies also show that indoor combustion of biomass emits pollutants that cause over 1.6 million deaths per year globally, most of which are women and children. Emissions have also been linked to global warming. New research on black carbon, also known as soot, estimates a 20-year global warming potential between 700 and 2200 times that of carbon dioxide. Since the 1980s, improved cookstove programs have sought to increase efficiency and reduce emissions of stoves. Though stove technology has been improved, there are a host of other factors (economical, educational, and cultural among others), that are crucial to successful stove dissemination and adoption.
Dr. Omar Masera, founder of GIRA, and colleagues Dr. Victor Burrueta and Ph.D. candidate Ilse Mercado Ruiz, lead the Patsari stove building process at SERC. The Patsari stove is based on a simple, location adaptable design that relies on readily available materials such as brick, sand, and clay. Materials vary from region to region and this presented a challenge during the construction process at SERC. For example, commercially available clay in Arcata is refined in a factory. In order to achieve a material similar to that used in small rural communities in Mexico, the stove-building team had to test various mixtures of clay, sand, and cement.
After a long day’s work, the Patsari stove was completed. The following morning the stove was put to the test by successfully cooking a fresh batch of quesadillas. The construction process marks the beginning of collaboration between GIRA and SERC. The goal is to use the stove as a tool to develop research projects aimed at investigating the relationship between stove combustion design parameters and black carbon emissions. We’ll keep you apprised of this collaborative effort in future newsletters.