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Joshi, C.B., Joshi, S., Maharjan, B., Shrestha, P.K. and Shrestha, U.
Engineers Without Borders/STARIC Nepal
Jwagal, Kupondol, LSMC-10, Lalitpur,
Tel: 5522398, 016222332
PO Box: 2433 Kathmandu, Nepal


Nepal's energy consumption is primarily dominated by biomass energy resources. The

largest share of this energy is consumed for domestic cooking, during which a
tremendous amount of hazardous air pollutants are produced affecting the people in
contact that are far beyond the safe level. Different kinds of improved cooking stoves
have been introduced to combat this problem. Their accelerated use has, however, been
hindered due to several problems associated mainly with the social habits of the users.
One such problem is the absence of heat and light in these improved cook stoves which
the traditional ones have and are socially important for the rural people who can not
afford additional energy sources for heating and lighting purposes. This problem has been
addressed by a so called Ujeli Cook Stove. It is an improved biomass cook stove made of
cold rolled metal sheet. Its wall is insulated and the top is exposed to the atmospheric air.
A small thermo-electric generator placed on the side of the pot hole takes up the heat
contained in the flue gas and converts it into electricity, which can be directly used to
light the bulb or can be stored into a battery. A few such cook stoves have already been
installed in Nepal and elsewhere and the results obtained so far are encouraging. The
details of such cook stoves and the results on their performance are described in this

Key Words: Thermo-electric generator, Pollutants, Cook stoves, Domestic lighting,


The energy scenario of Nepal is such that on one hand it belongs to one of the 10 least
per capita energy consuming countries and on the other hand its total energy
consumption is primarily dominated by biomass energy resources (94.83%) consisting
mainly of biomass fuel such as firewood (84.77%) agricultural residues(3.73%) and
animal waste(6.32 %) and coal(0.01%) (WECS, 2006). The largest share of this biomass
energy (around 67%) is consumed for domestic cooking, during which a tremendous
amount of hazardous air pollutants such as particulate matters, formaldehyde , carbon

monoxide, nitrous oxides, sulfur oxides, and polycyclic organic matters including
carcinogens are produced, which cause various diseases such as acute respiratory
infection, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tuberculosis, pneumonia and
asthma/bronchitis onto the people in contact, mainly women & children, and kills
annually 1.6 million globally and 5000 people in Nepal alone (AEPC/ESAP, 2007 and
The World Bank, 2008). Apart from that the long term consequences invited by the
continuous deforestation process as a result of excessive consumption of biomass
resources are another problems being faced by the country. One very pertinent
observation that was made is that most people using biomass stoves do not have modern
lighting. So they have been producing light either from open fire or burning sticks or
kerosene. On the other hand most stoves generate a very large amount of thermal energy
1-5 kW (Mastbergen et al., 2008). Much of this energy gets lost to outside air whereas
some of this energy can be converted into electricity. The most promising device to do it
is a thermoelectric generator (TEG).


In order to combat the problems associated with the traditional use of biomass in
cooking stoves and cash the opportunity of new technology various efforts had been
made in the past including the use of biogas plants, solar cookers, wind generators and
Improved Cook Stoves. Among them replacement of traditional biomass cook stoves
(TCS) by the improved ones (ICS) have proven to be quite promising. These stoves
have indeed helped overcome the problems to a certain extent. However due to some
limitations they have been accepted by the rural people not without any reservation. One
such limitation is that they do not emit heat and light to the surrounding area - socially
very vital components for the people. Without these light users of these Improved Cook
stoves must sit in complete darkness during the evening hours. Precisely this problem has
been addressed by Ujeli Biomass Cook stove. It is a dual purpose technology that
provides not only clean and efficient cooking but generates lighting to the rural homes as
well. The availability of light brings all sorts of benefits to the people including
opportunity to be more active in the evening, ability to educate them and bringing
happiness in their daily life.


As mentioned earlier the Ujeli Biomass Cook Stove serves two purposes-cooking and
generating electricity. Accordingly it has two separate parts combined together to a
complete metal stove ( Fig.1). On the left of the stove, a combustion chamber is built

Fig.1. Ujeli Biomass

Cook Stove

which works on Rocket Stove principle and is used for cooking . On the right a so called
Thermo Electric Generator is mounted, which generates electricity. It consists of a
thermoelectric element sandwiched between two finned heat sinks (Heat exchangers) and
a fan on one side of the cold heat exchanger. The hot flue gas coming out of the
combustion chamber comes in contact with the hot heat exchanger and transmits its heat
to one side of the thermo-electric element. At the same time the cold air drawn by the fan
cools the another side of the thermoelectric element creating a temperature difference
across the two sides of the element and thus producing Seebeck effect required for the
generation of electricity. The electricity produced is stored in a lead acid battery at 12
volts and is used to light the DC bulbs. The flue gas, after having given part of its heat
energy to the hot heat exchanger, exits through the chimney installed at the end of the
stove. The remaining heat energy of the flue gas can also be used for water pasteurization
by replacing the chimney by an appropriate device. Similarly, the fan can also be used
either to circulate the hot air inside the room or create forced draft in the combustion
chamber to get cleaner combustion. Likewise the top plate on the right of the pot hole can
be used to bake the bread and warm up the foods.


The design of Ujeli Biomass Cook stove is a joint effort between a team of Sustainable
Technology Adaptive Research and Implementation Centre ( STARIC), Nepal ,
Engineers Without Borders (EWB Nepal) and a team of Colorado State University
(CSU), USA. The team at CSU got the thermoelectric

Fig. 2. Thermoelectric Generator Kit

generator kits fabricated from one of the manufacturing industries in USA and the one at
STARIC and EWB Nepal built the stove. Both the teams jointly assembled the TEG kits
and mounted them on the stoves to take them to the sites for installation and testing.

The performance testing of the stove was carried out in two stages - preliminary lab tests
and field tests. The preliminary test was carried out in the Energy Research and Engine
Laboratory of CSU and the field tests were conducted at various places of Nepal. They
included Gatlang and Bahung Dada in Rasuwa District, Surkhet in western Nepal and
Sundarijal, a suburb area of the capital city.

Fig.3. Site Installation of Ujeli Biomass Cook Stove
Preliminary testing was performed to access generator power, stove temperature and
transient behaviors. The field performance of the stoves, were monitored by using two
different types of data loggers. The first was a power meter that displays the power,
voltage and current from the generator. It also displayed the amount of energy generated
between check-up. These values were recorded on a bi- weekly basis to determine the
generator performance.

The results of preliminary tests are depicted in fig.3 to 5.Fig. 3 show that ……..

Fig.4. Time Vs Temperature


Fig.5. Power and energy Accumulation Vs Time for Two 10W Modules

can be seen that stove set with two 10 Watts module produced enough energy to power
a 15 W CFL for three hours.
From the analysis of the data obtained from the field tests it has been found that the stove
had an efficiency of 22-23%, and power out-put was 12 watts at 12 volts. It was observed
that the combustion was complete, there was no smoke inside the room and the heat was
radiated outwards only through the top- plate of the stove. All these factors contributed
towards making the users happy and the design successful.


Fig.6 shows the cost of Ujeli Biomass cook stove set with two 10 watts module when
produced in a large scale i.e. 1000 numbers making the cost of electricity per watt as high
as one generated by photo-voltaic system. Based on the present trend of the research in
this sector it is hoped, however, that this cost could go down by as low as more than one-
third in near future ( Mastbergen et al.,2008).

Fig.6. Cost of Ujeli Biomass Cook Stove in the U.S.A.

The results obtained so far from the various tests on Ujeli Biomass cook stoves can be put
together to draw the following conclusions:
• Waste heat generated by biomass cook stoves can be converted into electricity by
using a simple technology and used for domestic lighting
• The technology based on thermoelectric generator is appropriate to convert the
waste heat into electricity.
• The cost of electricity produced by this technology can be reduced to complete
the one by other technology if produced in a large number.
• Country like Nepal, where vast majority of people use biomass cook stove and
has hardly any access to electricity, can be highly benefited from this technology.


• Water and Energy commission secretariat (WESC), 2006, Energy Synopsis

Report: Nepal 2006, Report No: 7, Seq. No. 489, Kathmandu, Nepal
• Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC)/Energy Sector Assistance
Programme (ESAP), 2007, Biomass Energy Sector Programme, Lalitpur, Nepal
• The World Bank, 2008, Nepal: Strengthening Institutional and Management
System for Enhanced Environmental Governance,
Washington, USA
• Mastbergen, D., Willson, B., Miranda, R., and Joshi, S., 2006, The Electric Eco
Fogao, Colorado State University and Winrock International, USA
• Colorado State University (CSU) and Sustainable Technology Adaptive Research
and Implementation Center (STARIC)-Nepal, 2007, Lightning by Wood Stoves in
Nepal, A Field Report.