Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Improved Cook Stoves for Haiti Using Thermoelectrics to Reduce Deforestation and Improve Quality of Life

EPA Grant Number: SU834291
Title: Improved Cook Stoves for Haiti Using Thermoelectrics to Reduce Deforestation and Improve Quality of Life
Investigators: Stevens, Robert , Thorn, Brian
Current Investigators: Stevens, Robert , Brol, Chris , Chaijaroonrat, Salinla , Dibble, Aaron , Donahue, Ian , Fontaine, Young Jo , Goulet, Chris , Higgins, Dan , Hoskins, Shawn , Labrie, Matthew , Lux, Richard , McKimpson, Neal , Molocznik, Kevin , Myers, James , Poandl, Luke , Scannell, Dan , Thorn, Brian
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2009 through August 14, 2010
Project Amount: $9,976
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Sustainability , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy


Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is plagued with continual problems due to severe deforestation throughout the country. Haiti was once nearly completely covered by lush forest, but now less than three percent of Haiti is forested. This environmental calamity has led to significant loss of topsoil and results in numerous mudslides that have killed thousands in recent years. The extreme deforestation of Haiti has been primarily caused by the need of Haiti’s poor to gather cooking fuel. The use of traditional and unsustainable cooking techniques results in increases in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions associated with poor combustion. Incomplete combustion also has a huge detrimental impact on the indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality is one of the leading causes of respiratory diseases in children.


To develop an improved cook stove design using thermoelectrics to improve the quality of life in Northern Haiti and reduce the rate of deforestation.


To reduce these negative impacts of cook stoves, a multidisciplinary engineering student team in partnership with an NGO serving Borgne, Haiti, will design, build, and conduct preliminary tests of an improved cook stove. The novel approach will be to integrate thermoelectric modules into the stove to generate electrical power to drive a small fan that will be used to blow air into the combustion portion of the stove. This forced air will allow for a better air to fuel ratio and improve overall combustion resulting in higher efficiency, controllable cooking, and reduced emissions. The student team will place special attention on developing a durable stove utilizing minimal resources. The goal will be to design a stove that can be assembled in Haiti in order to create local expertise and generate income. The team will also examine the option of expanding the thermoelectric system with power storage to provide auxiliary electrical power for lighting and radio use. The enhanced stove will improve indoor air quality, save money and time expended for acquiring fuel, reduce deforestation pressures, diminish greenhouse emitted gases, and develop local skills and jobs. To quantify the impacts a testing protocol will be developed and carried out to ensure that the innovative stove design meets the specifications formulated during the early stage of the design process in cooperation with partners. Several prototype units will be demonstrated and field tested by partners. The project will be conducted in the context of RIT’s multidisciplinary senior design program which recently added a track of projects dedicated to sustainable development.

Expected Results:

The project will develop a prototype of an advanced cooks stove that has been field tested in Haiti. This effort will expose a team of undergraduate engineering students to sustainability issues in developing nations and help them understand the potential role of the engineer in addressing those issues.

Supplemental Keywords:

cookstove, innovative technology, deforestation, sustainable, engineering, Haiti, and developing countries,

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report