Newsletter No.34 Oct. 2012
are you? Summer (or winter in certain
parts of the world) has gone and we are waiting for a new season. Till
now it has been a good year for us and we are excited for the new
things to come. This letter is mainly about a new challenge besides our
ongoing solar cooker projects. We want to start with an explanation of
this challenge and show you some pictures.
When it’s raining, what do we do?
Since 1997 we have been
testing our solar
cookers. In the summer, the use of box solar cookers is for many people
although a little bit slow for people with limited time and not
suitable for cooking rice in the Vietnamese way. The parabolic cookers
changed all of this. It could cook faster and it was suitable for all
Vietnamese dishes. But the drawback was that it required more
attention. Vietnamese women do not like to stand in the sun for a long
period of time. We made some alternatives with umbrellas and even a
cover above the parabols. Today we have made a faster cooker and it
doesn’t require lots of adjustments or standing in the sun during
cooking. But all those years there was still one major question: “But
when it’s raining, what do we do?” The main answer was to encourage
people to return to their old way of cooking. We also made different
tests and even converted a solar cooker in an electric oven. But it
never satisfied us, because in some rural areas there is no electricity
and a combination was often too expensive and sometimes dangerous.
The alternative: A clean cooking stove
In 2007 Bich was invited
for a solar cooker workshop in Nepal. During the exhibition
they showed him several clean cooking stoves. Bich became very
interested and talked with
some people about their benefits. Was this the answer to the above
question and a
good alternative? When he came back to Vietnam he explored the
internet. One day an Australian tourist came to visit our center and
knew everything about the clean cooking stoves. Bich talked with him
and was inspired to build one. One year ago he came up with his own
model. It was really the right time because after he finished it, he
was invited for a conference in Hanoi. It was organized by the Global
Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Their purpose is to equip millions of
homes with clean cooking stoves. This will save lives, improve
livelihoods, empower women and combat climate change. The conference
became a big booster for Bich.
First order of 150 stoves
A few months ago a
delegation of local
leaders and farmers
from a small village near Hue city visited our Solar Serve center. They
were looking for alternative ways to use the waste from their corn
harvest. They became very excited when they saw the design of Bich’s
clean cooking stove and were very impressed by the results. His design
was perfect for using their corncob bio-waste. A big pot could be
cooked fast and produced less smoke, less pollution and it could also
be used indoors. It will also save money especially when their corn
bio-waste will be used as fuel. The delegation was very happy and went
home. They found a sponsor and a few weeks later they ordered 150 of
these clean stoves for their farmers. Although we are still making
solar cookers, we are also very glad for this alternative which fits
our goal in helping people with clean energy, and can even be used when
it is raining!
How does a clean cooking stove work?
It is very simple. The
stove has an inner and outer cylinder
for primary and secondary air to enter. Fuel (like bio mass) is first
loaded into the inner cylinder and then lit at the top. For the first few minutes, the fuel is directly
burned by using primary air and producing normal smoke. As more gases
are released they need a fresh supply of oxygen. This comes from a
secondary air supply which flows from the bottom through the area
between the two cylinders to the top. This air provides enough oxygen
for the gases to burn. When flames are formed at the top, smoke will be
reduced and the stove is ready for cooking.
What are the benefits?
It uses less fuel, therefore lower cost.
- It produces a very high heat output.
- It produces smoke only at the beginning.
- It reduces the exposure to indoor air pollution.
- It reduces lung, heart and eye problems.
- It can burn a wide variety of
solid waste biomass.
- It reduces CO2 emissions and deforestation.
Need for workers
With the increasing
demand of solar cookers and clean cooking
stoves we were in need of workers. Just in time two new deaf workers
joined our team. We love the deaf because they are wonderful people and
good workers. Kha is only 19 years old and is now our youngest worker.
He had no skills and it took him several weeks to get used to our work.
Now he is doing well and everyone enjoys his company. When we were
really in need for more workers, another deaf young man with the name
An, asked for a job. His parents came along with him and we agreed to
give him a trial period of one month. It is wonderful to see how
everything comes together in the right time. Now we are again with
eight Vietnamese staff and one foreigner. We are very pleased.
International will be publishing a new issue of
Solar Cooker Review
The Solar Cooker Review in November with many solar cooker topics and
the combined use of solar cookers, retained heat cookers and fuel
We have asked a company to make hundreds of
dragonflies with our name
on top. They will be used for charity and souvenirs for people to take
home. They can balance on the top of your finger and became very
popular. A second order is already made
In the next newsletter we
will tell you about a new
providing coconut wood for a rehabilitation center in Holland. The
center will teach people skills in carpentry, in order to help them
with a job when they return to society.
In Danang a conference
organized by several social entrepreneurs. Their purpose was to serve
the local community of handicapped people. A website will be made where
they can find information about jobs and other things.
Bich and Thang
were invited for a conference in Tuy Hoa for local leaders of
provinces in Vietnam. It was a good opportunity to show our newest
models. The only clean cooking stove they had with them was
sold immediately, and more stoves were demanded.
We got several solar
cooker orders from people in Vietnam,
Malaysia, Africa and Holland. Also the installation of solar panels
will be considered soon and several water boilers were installed on
roofs of private houses in Danang.
Three French students
came to visit us. They made an Asian
trip for six
months to visit social entrepreneurs. They made short documentaries
about the impact in society. Please watch the one about Solar Serve.
Solar Serve team
Called to Serve