Emissions from burning biofuels in metal cookstoves


Promoting stoves that burn wood and other biofuels more efficiently is one of the means to reduce fuel consumption, but such efficient stoves may also emit more carbon monoxide and total suspended particulates. In an earlier study, a standard chamber method was proposed to estimate emission factors from burning fuelwood (Acacia nilotica). Here that methodology is extended to measure emission factors from burning of dungcakes and crop residues (Brassica or mustard stalks)—common fuels in many developing countries. The amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) and total suspended particulates (TSP) emitted by four different models of stoves, when using each of the three biofuels, are measured.

The CO emission factors range from 13–68 (g/kg) for fuelwood to 26–67 g/kg for dungcakes and 20–114 g/kg for crop residues, for particulates they range from 1.1–3.8 to 4.1–7.8 and 2.1–12.0 g/kg for the three fuels, respectively. On a per unit heat delivered basis, the emissions of CO and TSP from both dungcakes and crop residues are two to three times higher compared to those from fuelwood. While for some “improved” stove-fuel combinations, the increase in emission factors was offset by the increase in thermal efficiency, this was not always so and causes a dilemma. The more efficient stoves are found to have higher emission factors of both CO and TSP for all three fuels. Emissions per standard task (i.e, on a unit heat delivered basis) is proposed as a criterion to evaluate cookstoves.

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Correspondence to Veena Joshi.

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Joshi, V., Venkataraman, C. & Ahuja, D.R. Emissions from burning biofuels in metal cookstoves. Environmental Management 13, 763–772 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01868315

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Key words

  • Developing countries
  • Cookstoves
  • Biomass combustion
  • Emission factors
  • Performance standards