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Research & Development

February 10, 2010

One of the projects Marty started in Togo was the building of rocket stoves. The rocket stove’s basic principle is increased heat based on air draw. There is a formula to getting the width of the fire area in proper proportion to the height of the chimney to create a draw of air. If done properly, the fire burns hotter with much less fuel (wood or charcoal). At the peak of its temperature a roar can be heard like that of a rocket. The main goal of this type of stove is reduced fuel need, an eco-friendly advancement for Rwanda. There have been some challenges in recreating the rocket stove from natural materials found in Rwanda. The stove in Togo was made of mud and looked like a big mound of clay. Rwandans use more bricks for building, so Marty has been playing with the design to maximize the heat retention. Our side yard has become the laboratory for stove research and development.

Just before Christmas, we got together with a friend her that has been helping run a successful bagel bakery from her kitchen. She desperately needed to help the business get on its own feet and out of her house. She found them a location to bake from and Marty went and guided their workers in building a rocket stove. Robin excitedly called a few days later to say that the rocket stove had cut the boiling time down by three hours. A process that used to take them nine hours to complete, now took only six. And the amount of charcoal used was cut tremendously.

One of the things Marty has stood by, when teaching the stove building, is that he does very little of the work himself. It is a hands on process for the user. The purpose in that is so that the builder can then go and instruct someone else to build one. It is to be a reciprocal project.

Before the boys’ school holiday was finished, I went in the yard to find Marty training the boys in rocket stove construction. The outcome was very nice. In fact, Marty claims they did a better job than he does. I do know it resulted in some very nice quickly grilled burgers that week!

The boys mixing cement for the rocket stove.

Rocket stove fire shooting up the chimney.

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