Design and performance evaluation of wood-burning cookstoves for low-income households in South Africa

Keywords: heterogeneous stove-testing protocols; thermal efficiency; emissions performance; design and development; natural-draft cookstoves


Many cookstove programmes implemented around the world aimed to reduce fuel consumption and pollutant emissions through the dissemination and adoption of improved cookstoves. A study was carried out for the design of wood-burning cookstoves for low-income households in South Africa by employing user-centred design and co-design/co-creation approaches. Six designed variants of the biomass stove were constructed. Water-heating and emissions tests, using black wattle wood, were conducted to evaluate them for thermal and emissions performance. The large hopper stove with two secondary air inlets ranked highest, with best performance regarding thermal and emissions parameters. It outperformed the small hopper stove in time to boil, heat flux and firepower, although the latter had higher thermal efficiency values. Fuel consumption rates were high in large hopper stoves compared with small hopper stoves, resulting in increased firepower. The experimental work showed the need for iterative designing and testing of cookstoves for emissions and thermal performance to identify efficient and less polluting candidate stoves for dissemination in low-income communities.

Author Biographies

Tafadzwa Makonese, SeTAR Centre, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg, P. Bag 524, Johannesburg 2006, South Africa

Senior Research Scientist, SeTAR Centre

Christopher Bradnum, University of Nottingham

Chris Bradnum is a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Nottingham


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