According to WHO, around 2 billion people are still dependent on burning biomass fuel such as wood for cooking food that produces harmful smoke. Odisha’s Anup Paikaray developed Venticook that uses a treadle mechanism to produce minimal smoke.
A stove is a staple product in every household. In the rural parts of India, most families are unable to afford a CNG cylinder. One cylinder which can last for three months costs about nine hundred rupees. The next best alternative is electric stoves. However, it is not an option due to the uncertainty of electricity. That leaves them with the last option, a mud stove or ‘mitti ka chulha.’
The problem with the mud stove is that lighting it on fire is a very tedious process. Even after it is lit, it produces a lot of smoke which is not only an inconvenience to the person cooking but also a pollutant of the air. According to WHO, 2 billion people around the globe are still dependent on burning biomass fuel such as wood for cooking food. Burning these biomass fuels produce smoke as an outcome of incomplete combustion. Statistically speaking, cooking nonstop on the mud stove is as harmful as smoking five cigarettes. A study states that almost thirty per cent of the Indian and African population still use a mud stove which is hazardous for them. The good news is that Orissa’s Anup Paikaray developed Venticook – a clean biomass-burning stove to provide a cleaner and more efficient alternative to the conventional biomass cooking stove.
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Venticook – a mechanical stove that produces minimal smoke
Venticook is the first-ever mechanical stove in the world to produce minimal smoke. It uses a treadle mechanism which is similar to the ones used in pumps and sewing machines. Venticook has two fans on opposite sides – one rotates clockwise and another anti-clockwise. The person cooking has to step on a pedal which in turn rotates a fan. The peddle acts as an exhaust fan and an air blower, making it a cleaner and safer option, unlike conventional alternatives. The peddling increases the air supply thus, providing the product with more oxygen which then directly increases the heat. The increase in heat, consequently, leads to a lesser cooking time. With a metal welded under the stove, the burnt ash can escape. Thus, the stove doesn’t require much cleaning.
Striking Features of Venticook
Nearly thirty per cent of the world’s population still uses a mud stove which is hazardous for humans, animals and plant life. So, the main aim of the Venticook was to reduce indoor air pollution caused by the mud stoves. It helps the people who cook by making a cost-effective and less tedious method of cooking. Venticook is different from the conventional stoves that are available in the market as they use electrical motors for the generation of heat. However, Venticook gives better combustion than primitive clay stoves, emits less smoke, and is cost-effective thus, being an ideal option for low-income communities.
Anup shares, “The pilot test included twelve families wherein they used the Venticook for two to three days.” He adds that they received were positive remarks on how they saved a considerable amount of time, or how they required less amount of wood, etc. They also received a few constructive criticisms regarding the weight of the Venticook which is a bit high due to the use of iron. Although it is not very compact; compared to the price they have to pay for it, they are willing to do it.
Anup Paikaray is an engineer who is an alumnus of the College of Engineering and Technology in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India. He is a BEEE Engineer at EIE Instruments Pvt. Ltd. He decided to build Venticook when he saw his grandmother cooking on the mud stove. Anup recalls, “I noticed my grandmother was inhaling the poisonous carbon monoxide gas. Moreover, she was being irritated by repeatedly using the blowpipe to keep the embers of the flame alive.” At first, building a Venticook required various prototypes with different permutations and combinations to achieve the most optimal result. Later, Anup developed the entire model piece by piece after finalizing the prototype. A software named AUTOCAD helped in finalizing the prototype and also achieved the best alternative.
Challenges faced, lessons learnt
Venticook faced a host of challenges along its way. First, people didn’t believe in Anup or his product. Second, it was difficult to access the mechanical gears and equipment required for a smooth and good-looking prototype. Thereafter, Anup realized that he had to be innovative and worked with whatever he could, like borrowing the equipment from his acquaintances. People often asked him to not work on social innovations and do something more commercial like Amazon. Despite the challenges, Anup is proud to have been working with a team that worked cohesively to create a positive impact.
Winning YICA 2021
Winning the Young Innovators Challenge Award 2021 was a shocking moment as Anup went through a momentary brain lapse. Then it took him some time to process this news. He is ecstatic to have received the prestigious award. Anup believes that this award will get him a ton of exposure. Additionally, he said that he will use the prize money from the competition for patenting and team building.
Next March, Anup plans to launch nearly 25 of these products to help the environment and people. The future is unpredictable as he has been able to do something that international innovators could not do. After India, he also plans to help the people in Africa. This is because the death rate due to the mud stove in Africa is almost double that in India.
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