The Himalayan Rocket Stove

The Himalayas is a cold region for a large part of the year. From October through to May, most houses are burning wood and/or dung to keep warm and to cook food while temperatures drop to minus 20 to 30C.

Most heating and cooking is done on basic wood combustion stoves which consume large amounts of fuel and where most of the heat exits via the chimney and is lost, creating lots of smoke in the process. The efficiency rating of these stoves is usually as low as 15%, which means that 85% of the energy generated in the combustion process is wasted, generally as air pollution.

The aim of this project is to deliver a highly efficient fuel stove to the people of the Himalayas at a price that is affordable to the average Himalayan family budget.

This stove is designed to meet the needs of a typical Himalayan family, which is explained in detail below.

We call this stove the “Himalayan Rocket Stove” to distinguish it from other variations on rocket stove designs that already exist. A Rocket Stove is an innovative design that uses small sticks in a combustion process that is highly efficient, burning cleanly at high temperatures releasing large amounts of heat energy that can be effectively used in multiple ways.

Small sticks and/or dried animal dung are the preferred fuel sources. In many regions these are available in sustainable amounts that don’t require felling mature trees, which is currently a significant issue throughout the Himalayas. Illegally harvested timber is gradually decimating the grand forests of cedar and deodar that cover the mountain sides.

Rocket stoves have very specific design parameters that need to be adhered to in order to be effective. It is the exactness of the design parameters that make a “good” rocket stove difficult to design.

We have completed extensive prototyping and testing in Australia and Ladakh (Himalayan India) and are now in the process of scaling up production at our factory near Chandigarh.

The Himalayan Rocket Stove currently has 2 styles, the “Standard Rocket Stove” and the slightly larger “Water Box Rocket Stove”. These stoves integrate several features as indicated below:

  1. Room Heating (Every Stove)
  2. Cooking Surface (Every Stove)
  3. Hot Water System (Water Box Stove only)
  4. Phone Charging and Lighting (in development)

Our design will appeal to all peoples of the Himalayas as it easily fits into the space currently allocated to the traditional style of stove (Tandoor, Bukhari, Thap, Chula) and yet offers a greatly improved efficiency that reduces fuel demand by 4 to 5 times.

We have integrated a water jacket into the design of the larger unit that allows for water to be heated and drawn off on demand, or left in the box to act as a heat bank that will radiate into the room after the fire has gone out.

In the next generation of stoves, we plan to install small thermo-electric modules that will generate small amounts of current, sufficient to charge a mobile phone and power LED lights fixed to the stove.

The potential market for this stove in India and Nepal alone is 5 to 10 million households, with other cold regions also able to be explored. Our pricing strategy is based on the stove being able to pay for itself in 2 years of normal usage in a region where wood is being purchased.

Early feedback from field testing has suggested the demand for high efficiency stoves such as these to be very high. We are already receiving requests from various regions (Pakistan, Nepal, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Shimla, Kashmir, Ladakh and Manali).

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