Tech Tuesday: AIDG's Rocket Box Stove

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Rocket Box Stove

Summary

The Rocket Box stove is a lightweight portable stove, recently developed by AIDG’s R&D interns as a lower-cost, pre-fabricated alternative to common masonry stove models.

The Good

The Rocket Box uses 50-60% less firewood than traditional cookstoves and fires. This provides a huge costs savings for families that buy fuel wood. For instance, women we interviewed at San Alfonso, a cooperative in Guatemala, reported spending 28-56% of their monthly income on wood.

This stove design shows similar fuel efficiency to masonry stoves, but is up to 50% cheaper. Being portable, it is particularly useful in communities where residents are living in temporary housing and/or want more flexibility in where the stove is placed in their home. Like most good ‘improved’ stoves, it comes equipped with a chimney that vents smoke out of the home and thus cuts exposure to the ‘killer in the kitchen’.

Demoing the Rocket Box at the Feria Ecologica

The bad

Wood needs to be cut into smaller pieces than typically used in traditional open fire. However, it’s not too much extra work for someone skilled with a machete. (See instructions for how to use below.)

Many families who would most benefit from this tech may still need creative financing to make it affordable. We’re working with communities to figure out adequate funding mechanisms.

Why it’s great for XelaTeco

Compared to masonry stoves, the type of improved stove most commonly installed by NGOs in Guatemala, Rocket Box stoves are much less labor intensive to produce and use fewer materials, two things that increase affordability. They can also be mass-produced and distributed in local markets like Xela’s Democracia for direct sale to consumers. XelaTeco is already taking advance orders on this niche technology from women’s cooperatives and will begin production in early 2008.

Base Specs

Parts:Sheet metal for the body, plancha, pumice fill for insulation, and Baldosa tiles for the ceramic combustion chamber
Chimney: Yes, smoke vented out of the home
Fuel efficiency: Uses 50-60% less firewood than traditional wood fire.

Rocket Box Stove Cutaway

Rocket Box Stoves Cutaway in Solidworks
Cutaway of rocket box stove in Solidworks. Not shown: pumice fill for insulation or plancha cooking surface

Rocket Stove - view under the plancha - Pumice Fill for insulation
View under the plancha – Pumice Fill for insulation

Pedro and Natalia making tortillas on the plancha
Pedro and Natalia making tortillas on the plancha

Rocket Stove Instructions [Spanish]
Rocket Stove Instructions [Spanish]. View Larger Version

Update:
Rough Guide on How to Build a Rocket Box Stove