Researchers at the Univ. of Nottingham have developed a biomass burning cooking stove that converts the heat into acoustic energy and then into electricity, all in one unit.
The usd$3.3 million Score project (Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration and Electricity) brings together experts from across the world to develop the biomass-powered generator. By developing an affordable, versatile domestic appliance Score aims to address the energy needs of rural communities in Africa and Asia, where access to power is extremely limited.
Researchers in the Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Engineering are working on the generator's Linear Alternator--the part that turns the sound energy into electricity. The system uses special configurations of magnets that generate electrical energy from sound. Computer simulations of the linear alternator have proved successful, and test models are currently being constructed in the department's workshops.
The researchers are working with Dai-ichi, one of Malaysia's largest loudspeaker manufacturers, to bring down production costs through good design practice. Though the Score unit does not physically resemble the average loudspeaker, it is compatible with the Dai-ichi manufacturing process.
The aim of the Score project is to make a low-cost, high efficiency generator that can be used in the poorest countries. The generator has a cost target of $33/household, based on the production of a million units. The generator will weigh 10 to 20 kg. The target is to generate an hour's use per kg of fuel--which could be wood, dung or any other locally available biomass material.
Chitta Saha, Research Assistant at Nottingham said: "The current Linear Alternator design solves many of the problems we had with using loudspeakers as alternators, but can still be made cheaply.
The Univ. of Manchester, City Univ. London and Queen Mary, Univ. of London and the Charity Practical Action are partners in the project--from researching engine design to the manufacture and distribution of the stove in the developing world. The project will work with governments, universities and civil organizations across Africa and Asia, many of whom have already offered support. This collaboration will ensure the device is affordable, socially acceptable and that there is scope for communities to develop businesses to manufacture and repair locally.
The device is now being tested across the UK and in Nepal.
Source: Univ. of Nottingham - July 21, 2009