A pro bono project that burns with a clean flame. Since 2015 Zenit Design has been one of three pillars in the project Zstove – a pro bono project together with Emerging Cooking Solutions (ECS) and Zemission to develop a completely new pellet stove. This is how the vision that “cooking shouldn’t kill” started for Per Löfberg, cofounder of ECS.
Unsustainable logging and major health problems are just two of the consequences of the burning of coal and wood in Africa. The Swedish-Zambian company Emerging Cooking Solutions (ECS) started in 2012 with the mission to put an end to the use of charcoal for cooking.
– Our vision is that “cooking shouldn’t kill”. We realized that it was possible to solve several major issues with one solution. Therefore, we started producing pellets from residual biomass, which in the correct stove provides a cleaner combustion without toxic gases, Per says. He explains that millions of people die every year because of the poisonous gases from burning wood and charcoal during cooking.
By using residues and biomass from sawmills, among others, ECS started its production of pellets. The next step was to sell stoves for the pellets to achieve the desired result and be beneficial. Per tells us that they began to buy stoves from different suppliers, but soon discovered the disadvantages of the existing market offer.
– It made me upset that there was no fireplace that was both cheap and good, says Per. The cheap ones did not burn well and were not clean. The stoves that burned well did so because they had a fan, but they became far too expensive for the African household to buy without offering credit and instalment plans.
But how do you make a stove that does not have an electric fan, at a cheap price, but still allows for clean air? The big advantage of an electric fan is that the forced draft makes the combustion cleaner. But the downside is that it has a battery that needs to be charged, which in itself is a gamble to the end user, and also makes it expensive.
By chance, Per met Johan Lundgren and Oskar Ponnert from Zenit Design at the Ideon Science Park in Lund. The meeting was the starting point for the project: the project to produce a new stove for pellets, a stove that burns with very long emissions and is cheap to manufacture and sell.
– With our own stove we wanted to solve what we think others had missed - to solve the problem from the bottom instead of tweaking it, Per says. By producing a stove that burns with very low emissions, African households can both save money and cook without damaging their health or the environment.
Would you like to know more about the Zstove project? In the next part, Per comments on the challenges of the project and how collaborations made the vision possible.