Utne Blogs > Environment

Harnessing the Cooking Power of Cow Dung

by Jake Mohan 


Tags: environment, energy, biofuels, solar power, sustainability, India, developing nations, Shell, EnviroFit,

Developing nations will soon benefit from personal stoves that combine energy efficiency and sustainable business models. Triple Pundit highlights efforts by EnviroFit and the Shell Foundation to distribute clean-burning biomass stoves in India.

EnviroFit, a Colorado-based nonprofit manufacturer, first became known for retrofitting two-stroke engines in Southeast Asia. Its stoves are designed to harness the power of “wood, crop waste, or animal dung” and produce nontoxic exhaust. This is valuable to India and other developing countries, where toxic indoor air pollution claims millions of lives every year. EnviroFit and Shell hope to subsidize the $12 to $50 cost of the stoves for families in need and eventually expand the program to Latin America and Africa.

Biomass stoves are part of an alternative-cooking trend that harnesses old technologies in new ways. Utne blogger Erik Helin pointed me to a spread in BackHome (article not available online) featuring the latest solar cooking technology, ranging from expensive high-tech cookers to do-it-yourself contraptions made from windshield shades and other materials. We’ve come a long way from the lukewarm hot dogs yielded up by the tin-foil-and-shoebox cookers my sixth-grade science class constructed.