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A More Balanced Design Approach for Preserving the Usability of a Peruvian Cookstove

[+] Author Affiliations
Kendall S. Thacker, McCall Barger, Christopher A. Mattson

Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Paper No. DETC2015-47270, pp. V02AT03A045; 9 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2A: 41st Design Automation Conference
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, August 2–5, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5707-6
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Over the past decade, a large amount of research has been dedicated to improving the efficiency and reducing the emissions of biomass cookstoves. The trade-off from placing such an emphasis on these two objectives is that improved cookstoves are often not as functional or desirable to the end user in comparison to their traditional cookstove. Thus, users often abandon their new improved cookstoves and sustained use is not achieved. In order for improved cookstoves to be more impactful, a different design approach is needed; improved cookstoves must be designed for usability, even at the expense of higher efficiencies or lower emissions. This paper explores the benefits of this alternative approach, which is demonstrated in the design of a replacement biomass cookstove for residents living in the Tambogrande region of Peru. The heavy use of biomass cookstoves in this small collection of villages, has resulted in many health and environmental problems for the residents. Recent field studies revealed that residents were pleased with the functionality of their traditional channel stove, yet also desired to have a stove that cooks faster, consumes less fuel, and emits less smoke. The resulting design includes a set of adaptable, inexpensive pot skirts that can be integrated with their current channel stove. These pot skirts allow for varying sizes and number of pots, as well as allow traditional fuels to be used. Despite a usability focused design approach, the pot skirts still improved the technical performance of the cookstove by improving thermal efficiency by 25.8%, decreasing time to boil by 26.0%, and decreasing fuel consumption by 24.7%. These results demonstrate that a usability focused design can still yield significant performance improvements while achieving a high level of user functionality.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
Topics: Design



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