Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Biochar stoves (the char mini factory)

Inside thousands of homes across rural  El Salvador (marginalized zones of the city are also included), families use open wood-burning fires to prepare their daily meals without knowing that this cooking method has devastating effects. In the country 65% of the total population uses wood-burning fires to cook.

Open-fire cooking stoves... 
Devastate lives. 18% of all deaths of children under five in El Salvador are attributed to respiratory infection often caused by smoke in the home. Millions of children all over the world die from smoke inhalation in developing countries every year.

Waste time and money. Wood costs the average poor family up to 25% of their income. Gathering wood can consume up to 20% of a person’s time. 

Ravage the environment. Open cooking fires use much more wood than necessary. Deforestation has led to soil erosion, crop and water table damage, and fatal mudslides.

Fortunately there are always alternatives to make some positive changes in our population traditional (not well designed) way of cooking....

Open wood-burning fire stoves

I had the chance to meet a clever gentleman (Gustavo) that has a stove factory as family business. I was able to get into his workshop where he designs and ensembles what he calls "eco-cocinas" - the purpose of the eco-cocina is to save half of the wood people usually employs to cook in a traditional way and at the same time improve peoples health with non smoke stoves. 

These are some of the stoves Gustavo design and assembles at his factory....

We made some trials with Gustavo's Eco-cocinas , as a result, we obtained biochar due to the pyrolysis process used to produce heat in the stoves 

This one is his smallest model 

You can use corn cobs for the combustion, is enough for boiling a cup of water...

This is the model I got from Gustavo and is the one i'm using for biochar production at home

It comes with a small metal "comal" to make tortillas while I make my biochar....

Also has a support in case I want to prepare food in a casserole instead of making tortillas 

Once ignited it gives a clean flame and zero smoke

I used Dendrocalamus asper bamboo to produce my biochar

Dendrocalamus asper also known as Rough Bamboo or Giant Bamboo is a giant tropical and subtropical dense clumping species native to Southeast Asia. This timber bamboo is used as a building material for heavy construction, and shoots are consumed as a vegetable.

Read more: Dendrocalamus asper — Guadua Bamboo 

I chopped the bamboo in smaller pieces, due to the size of the eco-cocina drum, it will make a better and faster combustion if small pieces are ignited. 

And this is the final result, nice and well done bamboo biochar!!!!!!

For more information about Gustavos Eco-cocinas you can check his information:

Country:  El Salvador
Factory:  Inversiones Falcón
Contact:  Sr. Gustavo Peña and Rosa Elvira Hererra
Location:  Av 23 de Noviembre 2-2, Nahulingo, Sonsonate

Telephone:  +503-2451-9605


Gustavo Peña left El Salvador during the war after being hunted by the death squads. He worked both in Los Angeles and in Canada prior to returning to El Salvador. He has worked in a variety of occupations from motorcycle sales to the establishment of a pizza business. Members of StoveTeam International met him in early 2008 and assisted him to develop the first Ecocina stove factory. Within the first five years, Gustavo’s factory, Inversiones Falcón, produced and sold over 20,000 Ecocina stoves.

- See more at:

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