The portable stove
Not only the training program for the energy saving clay stove has been expanded, I also started to work extensively on developing a portable charcoal stove.
People in development countries, which rely on traditional stoves, basically use two different kinds of cook stoves. Firewood cookstoves, or charcoal cookstove. While firewood cookstoves are very common in the rural areas upcountry, the charcoal stoves are more common in urban areas, where the forests are simply too far away, or due to the construction of the house, a fire can’t be used.
Especially the charcoal production is a huge business in Uganda and feeds thousand of families. Uunfortunately the producers are very ruthless and are not a bit interested in nature and the environment. They move across the landscape and chop everything down like a swarm of grasshoppers. Coming back from the north of Uganda, one can see big depots of charcoal bags on the roadside which are sold for people in Kampala. In the north of Uganda, they don’t even make halt from the shea trees, a tree which nut is the precious raw material for the well known shea butter.
In 2019, I was traveling with my family to germany, where I had a meeting with a gentleman called Richard Fetzner, a very deidacted stove builder. He introduced me to a network of various professionals from different areas such as heating engineers, social workers, mechanical engineers and economists. These have created a network to discuss various approaches and to develop a suitable cooking solutions. Richard introduced me to his development, a portable secondary air oven. This stove is assembled from 6 segments, hold together with a whoop iron.
I am very thankful and happy, that Richard shared all his knowledge and experience with me, and told me all about this stove. Materials, designs, Combustion processes etc. The secondary combustion is a process, where highly toxic CO is burned with preheated oxygen to unharmfull CO2. The charcoal, which is usually heating with radiation, therefore becomes a gas burner with much higher temperatures.
Back in Uganda, I immediately started on the design of this technology in order to implement it as a manufacturing facility at the stoves training center to creat a stable incoming for them. It turned out to be a very long way. I started with a basic design, based on the design of Richard.
I then started to improve and modify the design and adjust it to the requests of the market in Uganda
Having this design ready I started to develop a business plan with the required materials, workforce etc. The same time I designed the forms, which were needed in order to produce the bricks for the stove
With all this preparation work, I finally travel from Kampala the 400km towards the boarder of Kongo, where the training center is located. Within the infrastructure of Holy Dove vocational school, they have training facilities for welding and carpentry. Here I had the best conditions in order to build a prototype. I planned to be there for 2 weeks in order to have the first prototype ready. But as always it became more complicated as expected. Starting with the materials to the production of the forms. I needed a specific mineral which should be mixed with the clay, in order to reach best insulation results. I now that the price of this material in Kampala is around 100.000 UGX (~25€) for a whole load of a small lorry. The people I requested to deliver me this material requested 150.000 UGX per kilo, a totally absurd sum. So I had to send various people pout, to look for this material for an affordable price.
The same time, the carpenter struggled to build my forms according to my requests, since I needed a very exact result. The planned 2 weeks weren’t enough to prodcue a prototype. Therefore I had to return to Kampala for my other acitivities and returned 4 weeks later to the school in order to finish a first prototype.
In the end most of the produced bricks broke due to a design which was simply too thin. That ment for me, that I basically have to start from the beginning. Redesign the stove, the forms, build new forms etc.
Since that takes a lot of time, I desided to look for a posibility via a 3D printer. I checked all over Uganda, but couldn’t find anyone with a printer. A quotation I received from India requested 800 US$, even without transport. So I finally decided to do the investment and buy my own 3D printer. I found an affordable used printer and the owner even gave me a big discount, once he heard what the printer was for. Sadly the package is now stock in germany, since Covid-19 put the world upside down. The airport in Uganda is closed and DHL is only delivering packages up to 2kg. Nevertheless, I have hope, that I will receive it very soon, and can proceed with the development of this portabel stove.