Cook Stove Design Competition Yields Innovative Designs for a Cleaner World
Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and Toyotomi asked designers from across the globe to create stoves to benefit households in developing countries
The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University announced the winners of its Cook Stove Design Competition, sponsored by Japanese kerosene stove manufacturer, Toyotomi. Designers, engineers, and innovators from around the world were challenged to envision fresh, creative designs that could benefit low-income households in developing countries, leading to entries from 13 countries in Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia. First prize was awarded to U.S. designer Ryan Bookhamer; second prize went to Japanese freelance designer Taro Nagano; and third prize was awarded to Indian freelance designer, Uday Kiran.
“Environmental and social needs can be addressed through innovation and entrepreneurial solutions,” said Mark Milstein, clinical professor of management and director of the center. “The winners’ designs illustrate how design can significantly impact lives in creative ways.”
According to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, more than three billion people still burn biomass fuels, such as wood and dung, inside their homes. This results in poor indoor air quality, which is responsible for more than 1.5 million deaths a year, affecting mostly women and children. In addition to health issues, burning biomass fuels leads to a variety of environmental issues, such as the depletion of forests and the production of greenhouse gases.
In an effort to advance progress in cook stoves, leading Japanese kerosene-stove manufacturer Toyotomi partnered with the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise to promote innovation in cleaner, more reliable, and affordable cook stoves that could be used by low-income households in developing countries.
“This competition was inspiring for the Toyotomi design team,” said Mr. Yukihiro Oguchi, executive director of R&D, Toyotomi. “As we consider entering new markets, the competition was extremely useful in helping us think more broadly about the concepts and functions of cook stoves that may be valuable in emerging markets.”
Bookhamer’s design, LO, a sleek, bright green unit, was noted for being durable, lightweight, and efficient for its compact size. The LO unit holds a single kerosene tank for ease of transport and cleaning. The judges were impressed with its simple design, which requires few parts making it easy to manufacture and affordable.
According to the judges, Nagano’s Stick Stove design was inspiring and challenged notions of cook stoves. This stove focuses on the function of the burner and therefore has no grill for pots or kettles. It allows users to continue using traditional stoves that burn biomass by simply replacing the biomass with this innovative clean kerosene burner shaped like a stick.
Stoves are typically designed around the use of one particular fuel, but third place winner, Kiran, took a different approach. His Kayla Stove design was unique for allowing the use of various fuels, enabling the stove to be adaptable to most locations. In addition, it provides the user the ability to choose the fuel that is most readily available and affordable on any given day. “The idea of using one platform with different fuel modules provides the greatest ability to appeal to diverse consumers in different markets," said one judge.
About The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise
Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise produces and disseminates relevant knowledge for managers seeking innovative, profitable business opportunities that address global sustainability challenges. The Center works with firms to specify innovative, entrepreneurial, and new business alternatives that can be implemented in the marketplace. Programs include those focused on market and enterprise creation, clean technology commercialization and innovation, and finance + sustainability.