Aprovecho Research Center was established in 1976 as a research and education center dedicated to researching appropriate technology and sustainable living. In 2006, ARC became a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to developing clean cookstove technologies for meeting the basic needs of refugees, impoverished people, and communities in the developing world. ARC has been the world’s leader in open source development of all aspects of improved cooking stoves. Consultants work with non-profit, for-profit, and government agencies around the world to test, develop and produce better cookstoves.
The specific tasks of ARC include designing/redesigning biomass stoves to achieve improved heat transfer and combustion efficiency while working in the field with users to assure the effectiveness and market viability of the new stove, manufacturing and selling the Laboratory Emissions Monitoring System (LEMS) to measure harmful emissions from biomass stoves, training laboratory and field staff to set up and operate the LEMS, and working with factories to build a new generation of clean-burning stoves.
In 1980, Larry Winiarski, Technical Director of Aprovecho, began developing the rocket stove and rediscovered the principles of the systems developed by the Romans in hypocaust heating and cooking systems. A number of variations on these stoves have been created over the years, often designed specifically to suit the country in which they are being used, as they are now sold worldwide. In field tests in India, rocket stoves used 18 to 35 percent less fuel than traditional stoves, and reduced fuel used by 39-47 percent compared to traditional open three-stone fire stoves.
Currently, ARC is learning how the use of carbon-neutral biomass energy can heat more homes and generate more electricity. Residential and commercial energy use make up 13% of USA greenhouse emissions. Electricity creation produces 25%. ARC is investigating how to design (and manufacture) clean-burning pellet and log-burning heating stoves, hoping to generate clean combustion with forced draft and optimized heat transfer efficiency.
In addition, as recent research has found that biomass-heating stoves can result in health problems in densely populated areas, ARC is working with the EPA to explore ways to define PM2.5 emission rates for residential biomass heating stoves that would protect health in densely populated cities.