Decoding Design

Power your cell phone with a campfire

Power your cell phone with a campfire

Posting in Energy

After developing a super-efficient wood stove for the developing world, BioLite has introduced a compact, camping-friendly version to the American market.

Basic wood- or charcoal-burning cook stoves has been widely innovated in recent years, in order to lessen their negative impacts on the environment and public health in the developing world. Toward that end, more than 20,000 clean-burning cookstoves, produced through the Darfur Stoves Project, have been distributed in Darfur.

There is a trend among makers of these types of solutions, which fall under the rubric of appropriate technology, to also begin marketing their innovations in the developed world. Fenix International and its ReadySet is a good example of this trend. Another example is BioLite, a New York-based manufacturer of cookstoves.

BioLite's HomeStove is a nifty stove that includes a small thermoelectric generator. As heat builds in the stove, electricity is generated. The electricity powers a fan that improves airflow in the fire and boosts its efficiency. But any extra electricity is also captured and used to charge small electronics, such as mobile phones or LED lights, via a USB port.

The BioLite HomeStove

The HomeStove burns 50 percent less wood and generates 95 percent less smoke than conventional wood stoves used for cooking by around half the world's population. Now BioLite has developed a more compact version of the stove and is marketing it in the U.S. as a camping stove.

The BioLite CampStove is 20cm by 13cm and weighs just under a kilogram, making it very portable for camping and backpacking, especially considering that the user does not need to also carry fuel. Instead of gas, the CampStove is powered by small twigs that are collected at the campsite.

Reportedly, an Apple iPhone 4S (2G) can gain 60 minutes of talk time from 20 minutes of charging with a strong fire. And this Outside magazine review by Bob Parks gave CampStove thumbs up: "The BioLite stove worked as promised, and was fun to use. It produces continuous power of around 2 watts at the standard 5 volts of a USB cord. For a solar panel to produce the same energy, the panel would have to be about 26 square inches in size—quite a lot of glass to lug around in your pack."

The CampStove sells for $129.

Via: Energy Harvesting Journal and Outside

Images: BioLite (Top image is CampStove; Bottom image is HomeStove)

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Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure