Friday, June 14, 2013

The Rocket Stove

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Every once in a while I run into a sensational concept that is worth backing, and the rocket stove built by Ahisaun Concrete Products is certainly one of those ideas…
Imagine going home to cook with no electricity and no gas.  What would you do?  Really?  Go out the back and light a BBQ?  Where would your wood come from?  And then where would it come from next week? 
This is a problem for Timorese.  In fact, supplying the cooking needs of 1.1million people in Timor Leste is one of the biggest causes of de-forestation.  Not only that, their stoves are usually just 3 rocks on the ground to support a pot on an open fire.  Extremely inefficient and it can lead to lung cancer for the unfortunate woman who has to bend over it day in and day out to cook for her family.
We’ve tried biogas (and its still worth pursuing) and we also tried woodgas stoves (sorry it didn’t fly Ro).  But rocket stoves are a proven technology that Timorese can handle and actually keep using.
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The cool thing is that there’s a small business right here in Timor Leste that has refined the production of these things using materials sourced in the country.

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Preparing clay for casting and firing.
On top of that, its a business that provides jobs for people with disabilities.  How cool is that?!

So what’s a rocket stove?
Its basically a way of burning wood in an enclosed, insulated chamber so all the heat is directed straight to the cooking pot.  It burns hotter and cleaner and uses far less wood than traditional methods.  There’s less smoke and less chance of getting burnt while cooking.
The stove itself has 4 main parts:
1. The inner clay chamber:  just the right sort of clay is sourced from the mountains of Timor Leste and mixed in the right proportion with saw dust then cast and fired in an oven (heated by, you guessed it, 2 rocket stoves).  The result is a clay chamber filled with little airpockets (it can float in water) to create an insulative layer.
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Casting the clay, fired inserts in the background
2.  The outer concrete layer:  The inner chamber is then cast into the outer concrete layer to give the whole thing strength and stability as it will have a long working life on a dirt floor kitchen.
3.  Steel spacers:  these are cast into the stove and allow the heat to come up around the pot.
4.  Metal grate:  a special piece that supports the wood so air can enter the chamber from below.
The whole stove including casting, firing, and welding occurs in a small business enterprise called “Ahisaun Concrete Products” Which is part of the Ahisaun Disability Foundation.
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How much does it cost?  One of these babies will set you back $15.  They’re so good we’ve just bought 20 of them. I’m putting this info up here to entertain your inquisitive mind and also to say that if you want, you can chip in for some.  I’ll leave it with you.  We’re pretty excited about it so we’re going to start getting them out into the communities.  (For those folks who already put in for things, this is one place where funds will go.)
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To contact Ahisaun directly about this or find out more:
Sabino Soares 7729 2425
Facebook:  Ahisaun Disability Foundation
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If your in Timor, Ahisaun Concrete Products is just near the Comoro Bridge, 100m to the left of Esset and the Ministry of Agriculture.
We’ve got other cool ideas sprouting up too, like Moringa seedlings to distribute … but that's another story.
Bibles, drums, laptops, sanitary pads, prayers, good vibes and other odds and sods are still coming and going.

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