Bangalore: A retired chemical engineering professor from the Indian Institute of Science, Prof S S Lokras, has been working on techniques to develop heating appliances that can help conserve nearly 40% of biomass.
Over the past three decades, Prof Lokras has developed energy saving techniques for domestic and industrial stoves. Improper burning of biomass leads to emission of harmful gases in the atmospheres. The stoves are designed to burn biomass in an enclosed space, thereby extracting maximum heat for cooking or drying.
“In Indian rural homes, the use of wood as a fuel has resulted in large-scale deforestation. One way to arrest deforestation is to design and deploy fuel-efficient devices which can conserve fuel-wood”, says Lokras.
Astra Ole, a three-pan stove, yields thermal efficiency of 40%, compared with five to 10% of a traditional stove. A stove for domestic use costs Rs1,500 and saves around a kilogram of fire wood every day.
Lokras’ techniques are being used by Bangalore-based Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE) and four other NGO’s. These organizations adopt the technologies, demonstrate and train people and disseminate them. His fuel-efficient designs have been adopted by stovemakers and hotel owners also. A commercial stove costs about Rs4,500 and generally works well for seven or eight years.
Lokras does not want his technologies patented. “My work is for public use and I’d like it to be as accessible to people as possible. As far as awareness is concerned, not many people outside Karnataka and Kerala know about my work”, he added.
“Our technologies have attracted the attention of foreign entrepreneurs, but our own countrymen are unaware of them. We need someone to propagate our technologies across India,” he says.
In India, approximately 90% of rural households and 20% of urban households rely on biomass for cooking or heating. Biomass caters to 26-40% of the country’s energy consumption, according to The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).