In much of rural sub-Saharan Africa, families predominantly cook their meals over three-stone fires. This cooking method leads to high levels of pollutant emissions, which can have detrimental impacts on health. To help transition households toward more modern cooking practices, C-Quest Capital (CQC)1 has paired the Total Land Care Rocket Stove (TLCRS)i with a novel insert called the Jet-Flame, which can greatly increase the stove’s efficiency, reduce cooking time, and cut pollutant emissions. Encouragingly, a preliminary assessment in Malawi suggests that households may be amenable to using the TLCRS and Jet-Flame as their primary means of cooking.
The Jet-Flame is a robust, cast iron insert with a variable-speed, brushless, three-Watt fan housed in stainless steel, which drives excess air from combustion through pinholes in the grate. The Jet-Flame fits perfectly into the combustion chamber of the TLCRS, replacing the stick shelf normally used in natural draft mode. This allows users to switch back and forth between natural and forced draft modes, as needed.
To assess consumer acceptance of the Jet-Flame, CQC conducted a preliminary assessment in Lilongwe, Malawi. After just two weeks, seven of the eight cooks that remained in the assessment had transitioned away from their baseline stove to the TLCRS and Jet-Flame. One participant continued to rely primarily on her electric stove but reported using the TLCRS and Jet-Flame as a secondary stove.
When asked why they had transitioned to the TLCRS and Jet-Flame as their primary stove, cooks cited its cooking speed and time-saving benefits as the foremost reasons. Cooks who had previously used an electric stove also claimed that the TLCRS and Jet Flame combination was comparable to the electric stove in its speed of cooking. Still, having to kindle the TLCRS led these cooks to prefer the electric gas stove, which has no such requirement.
The results from this preliminary assessment of the Jet-Flame are limited but encouraging, particularly since the Jet-Flame is inexpensive and adaptable to different rocket stoves. The assessment has spurred pilot programs in Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia, and northern India.
Further, CQC and BIX Capital2 have financed the first large-scale production and assembly facility for the Jet-Flame and its matching solar panels and batteries - collectively called Jet-Flame Kits. Together with partner Ener-G-Africa3, CQC aims to begin producing these kits in Lilongwe in March 2021, potentially supplying cleaner cooking solutions to as many as 200,000 households a year. These early but positive efforts point to the important role that supplemental biomass technologies like the Jet-Flame can play in helping households easily transition to more modern cooking methods.
1CQC is a social impact investment firm delivering sustainable energy sources to the rural poor in developing countries and focuses on improved health and wellbeing for Women and infants.
2BiX Capital invests in delivering clean energy and improved cooking technology to the base-of-the pyramid families in developing countries.
3Based in Lilongwe, Malawi, Ener-G-Africa is a manufacturer and distributor of solar energy technology, biomass fuels and improved cookstoves across sub-Saharan Africa.
iThe TLC rocket stove was developed in joint effort between CQC and Malawian non-governmental organization Total Land Care.