Testing, Evaluation and Training
Testing helps us to compare and improve stove designs, and to understand the most important thing: How much of an improvement can be made in people's lives. It is extremely satisfying to carefully design and build a stove and then receive validation from field test results that show a substantial improvement over less efficient cooking methods. When stoves are carefully tested and adhere to quality and performance criteria, continued funding and the success of projects becomes more viable. Efforts in many countries toward establishing internationally accepted performance standards are rapidly moving forward, leading to better stove designs and greater confidence in the success of stove projects.
Aprovecho's Lab is equipped with state of the art emissions and IAP monitoring equipment, including:
- Portable Emissions Monitoring System (PEMS) for conducting stove tests while monitoring emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and particulate matter (PM), in order to calculate emissions to complete a task, pollutant/CO2 ratios, and Emission Factors for each stove and fuel type. This system is portable for ease of use in field studies, and is offered for sale as well.
- An SRI Instruments Gas Chromatograph for analysis of climate changing emissions such as methane (CH4), total hydrocarbons (THC, TNMHC), and nitrous oxide (N2O) in addition to CO, CO2 and PM.
- Equipment for collection of particles for OCEC (black carbon / organic matter) particle speciation analysis for climate change impact investigations
- Radiance Research equipment for masuring emissions of black carbon in real-time
- Various equipment for measurement of indoor air quality, including Minivols, Bucks, HOBOS, and the Aprovecho-designed IAP meter which tracks levels of CO and PM and can be hung in a home or worn by a cook to measure direct exposure.
- A pulse oximeter for measuring the concentration of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood of a cook, indicating CO exposure.
Having completed full emissions and exposure tests for more than 100 improved technologies since 2004, ARC's lab has a large databank of existing stove performance parameters for comparison and design optimization of stoves sent to the lab.
In addition to testing services, ARC can recommend design modifications to improve a stove's performance, safety and user acceptability. The ARC lab is fully equipped with a sheet metal and wood working shop to fabricate and modify stove prototypes. ARC also has the facilities for making insulative ceramics.
In-field capabilities are also extensive. The emissions collection hood can be used in-field to optimize stoves on location. Further, the Aprovecho-designed IAP meters can and have been used for in-depth studies of levels of indoor air pollution in homes or test kitchens and actual cook exposure. Aprovecho consultants are well versed in study design, sample size, and monitoring to best determine the real-world fuel, IAP, and exposure savings generated by a stove project.
The recent addition of actual exposure monitoring by measurement of smoke levels near the mouth and nose of the user through use of the IAP Meter is an exciting development toward studies of the links between improved stoves and improved health. An extensive field study of exposure paired with research into hospital records in the area can be instrumental in proving the beneficial health impacts of improved stoves.
For the past 5 years, ARC staff and has taught stove testing and design workshops to stove projects around the world for many organizations. The overwhelming response has been that stove testing is both extremely informative and necessary.