Optimizing the Use of Biofuels in Cook Stoves for Improved Indoor Air Quality and Forest Sustainability in Rural Nepal

EPA Grant Number: SU835316
Title: Optimizing the Use of Biofuels in Cook Stoves for Improved Indoor Air Quality and Forest Sustainability in Rural Nepal
Investigators: Lighty, JoAnn S , Huber, Jeff , Medina-Rojas, L. , Sandoval, K. , Smith, A. , Sweeney, D.
Current Investigators: Robinson, Jennifer , Huber, Jeff , Lighty, JoAnn S , Smith, A. , Sweeney, D.
Institution: University of Utah
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Cook Stoves , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Over a million women and children die annually from upper respiratory disease related to indoor cooking smoke, while millions more suffer respiratory illness. Inefficient and unsafe open fires for cooking and heating are commonly used. In addition, these open fires contribute to deforestation. This project addresses these challenges by optimizing cook-stove design and operating conditions for use in rural Nepal in order to minimize pollutant emissions, to maximize efficiency, and to identify designs that can be fabricated locally.


The project directly addresses people in the form of public health, the planet in the form of reducing deforestation, and prosperity in the form of economic benefits associated with stove fabrication/repair and reduction in time spent gathering fuel. The project will begin with discussions with community leaders and the characterization of the local fuel sources, burning practices, indoor air quality assessment and capacity for stove fabrication. The project team will systematically evaluate and optimize stove designs and operation for use with local fuels (pine branches), including understanding the effects of different components of the fuels (entire branch, branches with needles removed, dried branches, etc.). The evaluation will include heating efficiency (water boiling test), fuel consumption, and emissions of CO, CO2, NOx, and PM2.5. The results will be ranked based on selection criteria, developed in conjunction with community leaders, and compared to each other as well as the current cooking methods. Training sessions will be developed to provide know-how on fabrication, installation, use and maintenance/repair of the cook-stove. In order to promote knowledge about sustainability, student participants will develop a YouTube video and presentation describing their findings and discussing their experiences. The Chairs of the Chemical and Civil & Environmental Engineering Departments have agreed to let the student participants present at their respective undergraduate seminars.

Expected Results:

The expected results of this project are to develop the capacity for cook-stove fabrication in a rural community and to transition the community from the use of open fires to efficient cook stoves. The community will benefit from improved indoor and outdoor air quality, public health, economic development, and forest health. If successful, this project can be replicated throughout the country and potentially worldwide.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

renewable fuel, environmental education, energy recovery, land use

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report