Rubbish is everywhere, and yet Local Authorities of developing nations are less and less inclined to collect and seldom dispose of responsibly, especially in low-income areas. This results in:
- Pollution of groundwater and rivers
- Pollution of the food chain, as domestic animals often eat from refuse heaps
- Breeding grounds for malarial mosquitoes, flies and rats
- Methane gas emissions from heaps of rotting rubbish
- General degradation of the natural environment and the quality of all forms of life in rubbish strewn areas
- Decline in property values due to the degradation of the environment and health.
The cost of cooking fuel is increasing by 6.34% yearly, making it unaffordable and essentially out of reach for many. Thus many people, understandably, opt to find other sources of fuel such as charcoal or firewood. Both of these are unsustainable sources of heat energy and have irreversible impacts on the environment.
Between 2010 and 2015, 2.5 million hectares of forest were felled in Africa for cooking fuel. Not only does this drastically impact biodiversity, but it also increases the level of harmful gases in the atmosphere, further compounding the impact of climate change on our lives. On average, burning 2 kg of dry wood emits 1 kg of stored carbon.
More than 80 percent of Kenya’s urban dwellers, many of whom live in poor, informal settlements, use charcoal made from wood as their primary source of energy, according to government statistics.
Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, generates 3,000 tonnes of rubbish daily. Only 900 tonnes reaches the overflowing city dumpsite. Therefore, 2,100 tonnes of rubbish daily remains unaccounted for.
Burning rubbish environmentally correctly to provide an alternative heat energy to charcoal, paraffin and firewood altogether will reduce the cutting down of trees for cooking fuel.
Environmental Resource Management (ERM), an international consultancy, has calculated that, if operated 24 hours a day, the Community Cooker could save the calorific heat equivalent of burning about 3,000 mature trees over one year.
The Community Cooker offers a resourceful fuel source that is far less expensive than wood fuel, charcoal, gas or kerosene.
WHAT IS A COMMUNITY COOKER?
The Community Cooker is a waste-to-energy technology that burns rubbish environmentally correctly at 880 – 1200 degrees centigrade to generate heat energy for cooking, baking and heating water. At these temperatures, the Cooker achieves 90% combustion efficiency and meets European Environmental Standards for Nitrogen Oxides, Sulphur Dioxides, Carbon Monoxides, Furans and Dioxins emissions.
The cooker burns all rubbish except rubber, glass and metal. Workers at the facility sort waste, including recycling valuable materials, and incinerate the rest.
The Community Cooker represents a simple, low cost technology with a socially inclusive vision for change, engaging communities to participate in waste collection to exchange for energy to cook food and heat water. Once completely ignited, the Community Cooker can operate 24 hours a day with minimal running cost. The Cooker, which took several years and numerous redesigns to develop requires only rubbish, and uses natural airflow, disused engine oil, and small droplets of water to catalyze heating to combustion temperatures of over 850 degrees Celsius, exceeding the World Health Organization’s (WHO) minimum standards for incineration in developing countries. Heat from the Cooker, which is constructed in a communal, publicly accessible facility, can be used to boil water, brew tea, cook traditional foods, and bake cakes, among many other purposes.
Benefits? At a Primary School, one Community Cooker saves at least 87% of the school’s fuel costs. Profits generated from running the Cooker as a restaurant can be used to finance the day-to-day activities.
The technology is designed to operate 24 hours a day. One Community Cooker can;
- Burn 288kg od dry rubbish when operated 12 hours a day.
- Heat 2,000 litres of water at a time.
- Cook 300 litres of food over a two-hour perio.
- Bake 50kg of bread and cake.
- Create employment for at least 10 people.
- Serve 2,100 residents over a 12-hour period.
While the Community Cooker is currently designed for cooking and boiling water, there is future potential to use the energy produced for alternative income generating activities such as water distillation, and the production of steam, brick and pottery baking and smelting of aluminum, copper, bronze and brass as well as generating off grid electricity.
As of November 2018, 13 Community Cooker have been built, 3,721,600 tonnes of rubbish burnt, and 126,000 trees saved so far.