The African Clean Energy Company is a joint venture between
Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands, the South African
Industrial Development Corporation, and
ACE Pty Ltd, Maseru, Lesotho.
A home placement trial was done in villages and towns in Lesotho: Semonkong, Thabang, Masaleng, Ramabanta, Paballong, Patlong, Mamathe and Maseru. Results were overwhelmingly positive. Observations that fuel saving allowed wood collection once per week, instead of daily. Cooking was much faster than other stoves, even LPG. The absence of smoke was a great relief.
The names thought of in the various villages: Mapotlaki (the fast one), Mabotlenyane (the beautiful one), Baballa libeso or Maballi oa libeso (the fuel saver), Paola oa lekhooa (European stove), Setofo sa mohlolo (the magic stove).
The Philips Smokeless Stove is an innovative cooking stove fueled by wood, dung, or other biomass.
It was designed by Paul van der Sluis, who is principal research scientist at Philips Research Laboratories in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
The stove principle is not complicated: air is forced into a combustion chamber at the top and bottom of the chamber. Intense heat at the bottom vaporises the fuel (wood, biomass) and the injected air burns the vapour as a combustible gas. The flame is smokeless once the stove is running, and because the fuel burns so efficiently, the stove also uses far less fuel than a conventional fire. To contain the extreme heat, high-tech materials are used.
The population of sub-Saharan Africa exceeds 800 million people. The large majority rely on biomass for cooking. There are over 100 million stoves used.
In many areas fuel of any sort is scarce. Vast tracts have been cleared of trees and bush for use as cooking and heating fuel.
Although charcoal is used extensively throughout Africa, it is expensive and the production of charcoal is energy intensive.
No matter how good the stove, the use of charcoal will consume at least 8 times the amount of virgin wood per kilogram of cooked food,
The Philips Smokeless Stove operates without smoke, and the combustion takes place at a high temperature. There is no advantage in using charcoal for efficiency, or smoke reduction, and certainly not for cost.