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Novotera's Hybrid Biochar Cooking Stove: Clean Cooking and Economic Opportunity

novatera biochar stove

Clean cooking stoves address multiple problems created by traditional indoor cooking in the developing world: they reduce the amount of smoke and soot that leads to respiratory disease, they cut deforestation rates, and they lighten the carbon impact of food preparation. Canadian social enterprise Novotera has added a further benefit to this technology: its PlanetStove also creates economic opportunities for users because it creates charcoal from the wood users “burn” in their stoves.

Wait, isn’t charcoal production a part of the problem? Traditionally, yes: charcoal makers would cut wood to create their product, which buyers would then burn for cooking. The economic opportunities here came at tremendous costs to local forests and the health of buyers who cooked with the charcoal (not to mention the carbon emissions created). While Novatera isn’t telling stove users what to do with the charcoal the stove produces – local economic conditions will do that – they’re promoting this product as “biochar,” or a soil additive that sequesters carbon and enriches local farmland.

Intrigued? Then take a look at Novotera founders Olivier Kolmel and Dylan Maxwell’s “pitch” of their stove:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B3t7wM44ek

Yes, they’re raising funds for their project: the Indiegogo campaign they’re running is designed to subsidize the price of the stove for buyers in Asia. The PlanetStove costs $35 to make; Novotera will sell a stove for $15 (the price their customers can afford) with each $25 contribution. Like all crowdfunding campaigns, there are rewards with this one, and most of them are stoves that the company makes. They hope to raise $25,000.

Got thoughts about the design of this stove, or the combination of cooking and charcoal making? Let us know what you think.

Image credit: Screen capture from “Novotera Indiegogo Hybrid Biochar Cook Stove Pitch” video

7 comments
  1. re-emergingworld.com « re-emergingworld.com

    […] In several developing countries, especially in Africa, high rates of deforestation for want of wood lead to high rates of pollution due to burning as charcoal. Making charcoal for sale is a separate business in these countries. Now, a Canadian company Novotera has launched its new range of ‘clean’ cookstoves called PlanetSave, which essentially consume wood to turn it to charcoal. While this may not be an ideal model since charcoal burning facilitates indoor air pollution, the resultant product is being branded as biochar, beneficial for the soil. Read more here. […]

  2. Angeles Mendoza

    Hello,
    I would appreciate information on how/where to purchase biochar stoves. I am preparing a pilot project for Mexico and would need around 50 units. How can one mitigate the indoor pollution from producing biochar with the stoves?

    Thanks you for your postings.
    Angeles Mendoza

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