Cool article from the CS Monitor on a social entrepreneur in the Phillipines who has created a huge leap forward for those interested in low cost bio fuels to help those in the developing world. From the article by Gisela Angela Telis,
Alexis Belonio’s obsession with rice husks began in 2003, when rising fuel prices and heavy dependence on foreign oil slammed his native Philippines with an energy crunch.
“I saw rice mills throw husks into the rivers,” says the agricultural engineer. “I started thinking about using them as fuel.”
Mr. Belonio was already an accomplished inventor, having designed over 30 devices ranging from paddy dryers to water pumps for poor Filipino farmers. So his thinking led him to the cooking stove, an item fraught with expense and danger in the developing world.
More than a third of the world’s population can’t afford propane or other petroleum-based cooking fuels, relying instead on biomass such as wood or charcoal. Most biomass is burned in inefficient stoves that emit soot, smoke, and toxic fumes.
Belonio envisioned a safer, cleaner, and less-expensive way to cook. Working largely in isolation and with little funding, he turned rice husks – an inedible byproduct of milling rice for food – into a bright blue flame.
Belonio was not the first to work on rice husks, be made some interesting changes that led to more efficient and cleaner burning rice husks. Read the full article and lets keep our eyes on this. Its clear from the article that the idea is not quite scalable due to cost, but it seems close.
BTW, you’ll notice at the end that Belonio won an award from Rolex for innovation. 50K large. Thats pretty cool — you know we love contests here.
The stove’s promise hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last month, watchmaker Rolex named Belonio as one of its 10 exemplary innovators. Belonio says he plans to use the $50,000 prize to build a stove demonstration and research center in Iloilo, Philippines. He’s also working with an Indonesian company to manufacture 30,000 units for distribution – and that, adds Smith, will be the technology’s ultimate test.