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Aprovecho Research Center

Half the world still cooks with solid fuel such as wood and charcoal, leading to significant health, climate and safety issues. Women and children who spend hours near the hearth suffer inordinately. Indoor pollution causes pneumonia, chronic respiratory disease and lung cancer, killing 1.6 million annually. The very act of gathering materials to burn can expose women to rape, violence and even landmines in some areas. Further, burning wood and charcoal leads to deforestation and black carbon, contributing to climate change.

Since 1982, US based Aprovecho has pioneered the development of affordable, highly efficiency cookstoves for the developing world. They are also dedicated to developing and disseminating clean cookstove technologies for refugees and impoverished communities across the globe. The organization began when Larry Winiarski, a PhD in mechanical engineering, designed the “rocket stove,” which remains the prototype for the organization’s line of cookstoves.

Aprovecho Research Center works to expand the worldwide knowledge base and technical capacity of solid fuel cookstoves. This includes developing stoves for both personal and larger-scale use that burn as little wood as possible.  Product design is just a starting point. Aprovecho is also involved in creating industry standards, testing and rating the cookstove designs of other organizations for fuel efficiency and emissions. They also serves as a global advocate for cookstoves and other appropriate technology, maintaining a network of 20 regional testing centers around the world.

Clean stove design has become a trend in recent years.  Some companies are looking at the business potential, given the large demand globally. Aprovecho takes a different approach, preferring to remain independent of business concerns. The hope is their testing methods and designs will be shared and improved by anyone who takes an interest.

We had an opportunity to speak with Dean Still about about the history of Aprovecho and their work to improve cookstove technology on our podcast, Social Design Insights. Listen to the episode below.

36 | Changing the Way We Make Fire


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2017 is "Sorry" by Comfort Fit. The break music is "Wish and Want" by Stick Against Stone Orchestra from their album "Get It All Out (The Instrumentals)."