5-Euro cardboard solar cooker could drastically reduce wood fires

On April 9, 2009, Forum for the Future announced that it has awarded a $75,000 prize to Kyoto Energy for its Kyoto Box, a cardboard solar cooker designed for households in developing lands. The foil-lined cooker can be made for only 5 Euros and can boil water as a substitute for woodburning.

Wood fires are considered a major source of deforestation and pollution in developing lands, as well as a source of greenhouse gases. They also present a household fire hazard and a danger to families’ health due to smoke inhalation.

The Kyoto Box (photo below, courtesy of Einar Lyngar, shows Kyoto Energy founder Jon Bohmer with the box) received the $75,000 prize in Forum for the Future’s FT Climate Change Challenge, which aims to “raise the profile of green innovation and demonstrate that there are solutions and money can be made from them,” according to the organization. The prize is sponsored by HP and FT (Financial Times).

Jon Bohmer and Kyoto BoxFrom the Bubbleconomics perspective, innovations like this represent, on the one hand, examples of entrepreneurial opportunities offered in the context of the Big Bubble problem — the proposition that the world economy is in an unsustainably overinflated state.

On the other hand, such innovations represent personal solutions for individuals and families that are struggling to survive on the lower tiers of the world economy. The Kyoto Box, as an example, provides a low-cost way to obtain clean water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. In a previous post, we also pointed to the EDAR, a low-cost shelter for the homeless — see “Does Bubbleconomics offer solutions, or is it all negative?

For more details about the Kyoto Box, see this illustration at Kyoto Energy’s web site. Kyoto Energy offers some other interesting products, such as the Kyoto Turbo, a smokeless biomass cooker; the Kyoto Bag, a water carrier that can double as a solar-powered shower; and Kyoto Flash, a solar-charged light with battery backup. The company is also doing considerable work with larger-scale solar energy. The company is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

AB — 10 April 2009

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One Response

  1. Those of us who have worked for years to promote awareness of solar cooking are thrilled at the prize won by Jon Bohmer for his solar cooker. The publicity it has generated will help raise the profile of this simple, powerful and renewable technology.

    It is however, not a ‘new invention’.

    The solar box cooker is the oldest type of solar cooker, which people have been making and using for years. You can find a page on the Solar Cooking Archive website with detailed instructions for the basic design that Mr. Bohmer used.

    The cardboard solar box cooker, for which Mr. Bohmer won $75,000 from the FT Climate Change Challenge is a variation on one of the many plans that have been freely available to the public for years on Solar Cookers International’s archive.

    The archive website contains extensive data on the design, construction, dissemination and international use of solar cookers to reduce carbon emissions and deforestation.

    After logging on to the SCI web archive, users can click on ‘build a solar cooker’. There they will find detailed plans for a variety of cardboard, wood, metal and plastic solar box cookers, solar panel cookers and solar parabolic cookers. There are also a number of commercially available solar cookers like the Sun Oven, the Solar Hot Pot, the Tulsi Hybrid, the SOS Sport, the SK-10 and SK 14 and the Cookit.

    Solar cooker advocates like Mr. Bohmer who have been inspired by the many designs currently available often come up with new do-it-yourself variations and post them to our website where they are shared with the rest of the world.

    Almost all solar cooker projects are currently funded by small non-profits. There is little to no government funding available. And yet many governments continue to subsidize the purchase of bottled cooking gas by up to 50% and the charcoal trade is destroying the forests of Africa and south Asia. This needs to change.

    The largest solar cooker project currently underway is in three Darfur refugee camps in Chad. The women in those camps have manufactured and distributed more than 30,000 cardboard and aluminum foil Cookits. Trips outside the camp to gather firewood have been reduced by 86%.

    To learn more about solar cooking go to http://solarcooking.org/

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