Sam Bentson trains Bernard Kabera and colleagues to use the new stove lab equipment

Aprovecho’s General Manager Sam Benston recently returned from a trip to Rwanda, where he helped to set up a new ISO compliant cookstove lab. Here are some photos and information from Sam about his work there:

I was installing the LEMS (Laboratory Emissions Monitoring System) and PEMS (Portable Emissions Monitoring System) and the rest of the new ISO 19867 cookstove laboratory at the Rwanda Standards Board in Kigali. The lab started as an empty room full of equipment in boxes. I trained the laboratory staff on the set-up and use of the equipment for cookstove evaluations according to ISO 19867. Shortly after I left there was a Grand Opening to celebrate on the ISO’s World Standards Day. Here is a twitter link with photos:  Our new PEMS with the battery powered gravimetric system is visible.

The PEMS is visible here at the launch of the Cook Stove testing lab in Kigali
The PEMS is visible here at the launch of the Cook Stove testing lab in Kigali.
Photo via @REMA_Rwanda

Aprovecho provides a turnkey cookstove testing laboratory which is useful for cookstove performance certification, design, and basic research. The lab is centered around the ARC manufactured LEMS. It consists of a gas and particle analyzer with a pump and filter PM2.5 sampler, an emissions collection hood, and a dilution tunnel. The LEMS is the result of 20 years of development that started due to the lack of affordable and easy to use equipment suitable for cookstove emissions monitoring.

Testing a stove under the new LEMS hood.
Testing a stove under the newly installed LEMS hood.

Aprovecho develops its equipment as the need arises during research and development activities that occur in its laboratory. Aprovecho’s ability to commission the other instruments that makeup a cookstove testing laboratory is the result of a similar depth of experience.

Bernard Kibera and colleagues training to use the new stove lab equipment
Mr. Bernard Kabera and colleagues training to use the new stove lab equipment.
Sam Bentson trains Bernard Kibera and colleagues to use the new stove lab equipment
Sam Bentson trains Mr. Bernard Kabera and colleagues to use the new stove lab equipment.

It was remarkable to observe how the Rwandan people have protected themselves against COVID. It was a great honor to be part of their community at this time.

–Sam Bentson

Testing was designed to occur before manufacturing. 42 years after the International Standards were published, how many stove projects are spending a year or two in their project areas to make sure that the cooks love the intervention and that it decreases pneumonia before starting to make stoves?

Testing the Efficiency of Wood Burning Cookstoves: International Standards was published in 1985 and was the result of three international conferences. The purpose was to describe three tests that would enable stove projects to create interventions that met their goals. Testing was intended to happen before manufacturing to make sure that the stove and the entire intervention (a lot more than the stove!) works to save fuel, decrease pneumonia, protect kids from burns, or whatever is important in the context.

Using stove testing after the stove is manufactured to see if project goals are met is a great idea, too. But, bringing a stove into a village without good information showing what is needed in the cultural context to accomplish goals is obviously foolish. The WBT, CCT, and KPT were designed to result in reliable data to try to make sure that project was proven, before dissemination of the stove, to be successful.

The recent pneumonia study in Malawi showed that the new stove was used less than 1/3 of the time for cooking. Prior studies using the WBT, CCT, UCT, KPT, etc. with emission equipment could have been used to create a successful intervention that then would have been followed up to analyze results. This approach uses testing to identify the interwoven factors involved in the design of a useful medical intervention. When ARC created a Rocket stove for the Shell Foundation project in India it took about a year with months spent in villages (and in the lab) to discover what made both cooks and funder satisfied. We were trying to make sure that the consumer would love and buy the product and that it was significantly improved before it was made available on the market.