[Stoves] China and cookstoves [Was Re: A user-centered, iterative engineering approach for advanced biomass cookstove design and development]

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott crispinpigott at outlook.com
Wed Dec 6 01:31:38 MST 2017


Dear Gordon

“We plan to give the micro-producers free dried and densified feedstock in trade for their char. “We”, in this case, will be a regional biochar cooperative that will handle technology distribution and operation, biomass processing and feedstock distribution, and biochar aggregation and marketing.”

There is a project in Rwanda that operates on a similar basis. People bring wood fuel to the pellet mill and trade it for pellets which they use in their pellet stoves.

People find the fuel and deliver it when convenient, bringing enough to trade for a month of cooking fuel.

Am I correct in understanding you are looking at something similar?

There is no char involve, it is a wood fuel from end to end. The idea is that rural homes will operate that way and urban families will but the pellets to use instead of charcoal.

Thanks
Crispin


Gordon:

Sounds promising. "Disruptive" is music to my ears.

Aggregation of demands or of use benefits - monetized or not - is the central problem of small-scale retail technologies in the developing countries - be it in energy (including electricity), water, transport, and until recently telecom. Anything that has economies of scale at organizational level -- even the simple issue of disbursing public money, if planning projects - even if not at technology level suffers from this problem.

I wonder what you are thinking in terms of the owners and operators of the community scale biochar+heat systems or "regional biochar cooperative". I take it you are thinking of US-based enterprises and cooperatives, but if the unit investment size is around $0.5 million to serve a community (households plus others) of roughly 10-20 kt per year of feedstock, there may be markets in some developing countries as well. (Using waste biomass, if usable.)

Are you planning a survey of cooks in the developing world where you could add in the questionnaire "“How important is making (more than saving) money when you cook?”

Nikhil

On Dec 4, 2017, at 12:28 PM, Gordon West <gordon.west at rtnewmexico.com<mailto:gordon.west at rtnewmexico.com>> wrote:
I want to support Ron in his point and to provide a scenario to help to explain it. We are a relatively new ‘stoves’ R&D company and manufacturer operating in the U.S. Our business plan is not directly relevant to the markets that are the major focus of this list, but there are some significant developments in our world carrying what should be a disruptive lesson for biomass cooking strategies.

The basic lesson, which we are creating a business model for, is this: the biochar that is produced from our TLUD appliances is worth many times more that the biomass feedstock going in. This is true on a triple-bottom-line basis, looking at direct economics, social benefits, and environmental benefits - note that global economic systems generally acknowledge only only transactions involving sale for currency as “making money” even though the other non-monetized benefits result in greater lifecycle economic good than the direct sales do.

First let me make the distinction between fuel and feedstock - this is a very important point. Fuel is burned for energy; feedstock is used to make other products. In our TLUD process, biomass is always feedstock, from which is produced char and a flammable gas (a fuel).

One problem with micro-production of biochar (cookstoves and heaters in households) is that the char does not have enough value to cover the cost of aggregation and sale to existing markets - and existing markets are poorly developed, partly because of a lack of supply. Our solution is to establish community scale biochar+heat systems that acquire local biomass for feedstock, process it into char and heat, use the heat to dry more incoming biomass, and densify it into pellet or briquet feedstock. The densified and bagged feedstock can then be distributed to micro-producers to make heat for cooking or other uses while making more char. We plan to give the micro-producers free dried and densified feedstock in trade for their char. “We”, in this case, will be a regional biochar cooperative that will handle technology distribution and operation, biomass processing and feedstock distribution, and biochar aggregation and marketing.

This approach solves many problems - the households get free feedstock, saving significant amounts of time and money; the feedstock is of a much higher quality - it is dry and consistent and dense, making stove operation safer and better; the char is aggregated into a marketable form; carbon is sequestered; adding CO2 to the atmosphere is avoided; soils and biomass productivity is enhanced; and water is saved. There are many more benefits, but those are some top examples.

In the U.S. we have the numbers to show that we can make a business out of this approach. In more distressed areas, governments and NGOs, who have more of an interest in the non-monetized triple-bottom-line benefits, could set up the core biochar+heat facilities to produce free feedstock for micro-producers and manage the char collection. The subsidies to do this would actually be long-term investments, and not bandaids like so many ‘help for the poor’ efforts are.

Burning local biomass to ash in cookstoves for heat does not really solve any fundamental lifecycle problems, no matter how cleanly it is done.

Gordon West
The Trollworks
503 N. “E” Street
Silver City, NM 88061
575-537-3689<tel:(575)%20537-3689>

An entrepreneur sees problems as the seeds of opportunity.






On Sun, Dec 3, 2017 at 3:39 PM, Ronal W. Larson <rongretlarson at comcast.net<mailto:rongretlarson at comcast.net>> wrote:
Paul:

I have yet to see on ANY stove questionnaire:  “How important is making (more than saving) money when you cook?”

Ron

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