Innovative device which converts diesel into household fuel for rural India

The
critics of diesel or other fossil fuel-based lanterns contend that it’s burning
contributes to harmful earth-warming greenhouse gases. However the fact remains
that in the last 15 years the average earth-air temperatures have remained
constant.

Furthermore
a recent scientific study suggests that earth-warming is caused mostly by
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emissions rather than those of carbon dioxide. Thus
there is a need for rich nations to put their house in order.

The
poor cannot wait indefinitely for getting cheap renewable energy technologies
for lighting and cooking. They need devices now to improve their quality of
life and an excellent diesel combustion device like lanstove will go a
long way in doing so. The best strategy, therefore, is to rapidly develop
technologies which make the existing fuels burn efficiently and in an
environmentally safe manner.

Diesel,
which is normally used in automobiles, buses, trucks and even railway engines
and is considered “dirty”, has been turned into a clean fuel for
cooking and lighting in rural areas courtesy a device developed at the Nimbkar
Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), an NGO in Phaltan, Maharashtra.

Called
‘Lanstove’, the diesel-powered gadget is claimed to simultaneously provide
light (equivalent to that from a 200 watt electric bulb) and enable the cooking
of a complete meal for a family of five. Besides it can purify 10 litres of
water for drinking.

Image
credit: Anil Rajvanshi

“It
is ideal for rural households that do not have electricity,” Anil
Rajvanshi, an Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur alumnus and NARI director,
told IANS. The Lanstove has been tested for the last two months in five rural
huts in western Maharashtra. “It has shown excellent results without
producing smoke or smell and provides better light than a hurricane
lantern,” Rajvanshi added.

The
carbon monoxide (CO) level from the Lanstove – a measure of combustion
efficiency – is less than three parts per million (ppm) compared to 250-400 ppm
emitted by regular coal or wood-fired “chulhas” (traditional stoves).
“Thus Lanstove is an extremely clean device, equivalent to an LPG
(liquefied petroleum gas) stove for cooking,” he said.

NARI
had earlier developed a Lanstove running on kerosene but unavailability of the
fuel for the rural poor hampered its growth. “Hence we thought it prudent
to use diesel which is available everywhere and accordingly modified the
kerosene Lanstove,” Rajvanshi said. “Every fuel is dirty and it is
the way it is burnt that makes it clean or unclean,” Rajvanshi said.
“Lanstove’s combustion technology allows diesel to burn very cleanly in
this device,” he said.

Lanstove
that will cost less than Rs.3,000 ($48) when mass-produced has been so designed
that the diesel is stored in a slightly pressurized seven-litre cylinder from
where it flows into the combustor and burns very cleanly. This detachable
cylinder can be re-filled in diesel pump stations somewhat like getting an LPG
cylinder changed. However, for the Lanstove to spread on a large scale in rural
areas, an enlightened government policy is needed to make diesel available at a
subsidized rate of Rs.30 per litre to poor people through the
“Aadhar” card, Rajvanshi said.

“With
this diesel subsidy, the Lanstove’s running cost will be equal to that of
subsidized LPG for cooking and subsidized electricity for lighting.” NARI
estimates that at Rs. 30 per litre the total diesel subsidy bill for 35,000
Indian villages that are not electrified, will come to about Rs. 126 billion –
less than one-third of the subsidy given at present for LPG.

“With
diesel subsidy given to rural poor, around 21 million rural households will
immediately benefit with excellent light and clean cooking technology,”
Rajvanshi said. (Source: IANS)

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