An exciting development has emerged over the last few years in the area of Energy Research. We have successfully imported the technology of the Danish `masseovne’, a wood stove that stores heat in a masonry mass and slowly releases this over the next 24 hours to give gentle radiant heat for room heating.

We have made four such models in the mountains, one of which is in the Aarohi hospital and keeps the patients and nursing staff amazingly warm during our surgical camps in the cold winter months. A further development has been learning and construction of one `rocket stove’ with technology imported from the Netherlands. This uses similar principles of clean combustion, is significantly cheaper than the masseovne and can be adapted further to be used in local village homes.

Based on our learning from these stoves, we associated with ARTI (Appropriate Rural Technology Institute), Pune and have now constructed 400 improved cook stoves (chullahs), which suit the cooking habits of local women. The important additions in these models have been chimneys, which have made homes smoke free, and a more efficient air entry, thus enhancing combustion and reducing wood consumption by about 50%. Three hundred and fifteen or 79% of these stoves are currently in use. Further research, trainings and spread of these chullahs in planned in the next year.

This area of action research will yield rich dividends in making lives in village homes comfortable, reducing the drudgery of women in sourcing firewood and eventually easing the immense pressure on forests.

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