Finalist’s work: Mass production of improved wood-burning cooking stoves
Organisation: ARC: non-profit established in 1976. Annual turnover of £118k and five staff (2008) SSM: private business, annual turnover of £1.3m and 100 staff (2008)
Location: USA and China, worldwide sales

Many people in developing countries cook with biomass, using open fires or traditional stoves. The resulting emissions leads to serious health problems and additional deaths, mainly children and women, and contribute to climate change. The use of wood often contributes to deforestation and collecting it is a demanding chore, usually for women. There are many excellent stove projects around the world, but several billion people have still not benefited. To rapidly increase the availability of improved stoves, the Aprovecho Research Center (ARC) has collaborated with the Shengzhou Stove Manufacturer (SSM) in China, to design and mass-produce efficient stoves for burning fuelwood and charcoal.

Over three billion people worldwide cook with wood, animal dung, coal and other solid fuels on open fires or traditional stoves.1 This causes indoor air pollution which is responsible for more than 1.5 million deaths per year due to respiratory diseases – most of whom are young children and their mothers. Fuelwood is often collected by women, which is time-consuming and tiring and may expose them to abuse. Collectively open fires and traditional stoves consume large quantities of fuelwood and charcoal which can contribute to deforestation and erosion unless new trees are planted. The inefficient burning of biomass contributes to climate change, through emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (the Kyoto greenhouse gases) and also other emissions like black carbon, whose climate-change impact is of increasing concern.

The use of improved fuelwood cooking stoves can help with these problems, and also bring important secondary benefits such as reduced risk of burns, time-saving, income saving and cleaner homes. Programmes have run in many countries to make improved stoves available and affordable for many years. However, most programmes have a local focus, using local artisan-based production methods, and the vast majority of potential users have still not been reached.

The Aprovecho Research Center (ARC), based in Oregon USA, has pioneered the design of efficient stoves since the 1970s, and provided consultancy to many stove programmes. To help achieve a radical increase in the number of people with access to improved stoves, they wanted to establish factory-based mass-production of them. In 2006, ARC found the ideal partner to do this in the Shengzhou Stove Manufacturers (SSM), in Zhejiang province, China. SSM is the largest manufacturer of domestic coal stoves and combustion chambers in China, and has particular expertise in making light-weight ceramic components for stoves. The new range of stoves developed by ARC in partnership with SSM was launched in September 2007.

Read the 2009 Ashden Awards case study in full here

Contact details

Aprovecho Research Centre
Dean Still
79093 Highway 99
PO Box 1175
Cottage Grove
Oregon 97424
dstill at

Shengzhou Stove Manufacturer
Guogan (Sam) Zhao
Dong Xi Qiao, Pu Qiao, ,
Shengzhou City
Zhejiang 312463
samgq618 at