Biomass Fuels

Biodigester to utilise agricultural waste in food production.


Sustainability in food preparation

THe Problem

3 Billion people around the world still cook over open fires.

3.8 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution

Exposure to household air pollution almost doubles the risk for childhood pneumonia and is responsible for 45% of all pneumonia deaths in children less than 5 years old

Smoke inhalation from household cooking is the second largest contributor to ill health in the world

PE Ventures has worked in Fiji and Timor-Leste in the cooking stove and cooking fuel space for two years. Our research has found that education and understanding of effective cook stoves and fuels is limited and thus developed a more effective cook stove for those still using biomass. In having success with this design, PE Ventures intends on assessing whether this proven product can be translated across into the context of India with an additional focus on the potential use of a bio-digester (research and Intellectual Property of University of Adelaide).


Deforestation is an issue across the globe and residential use of wood for cooking is a large contributor to the cutting down of trees in developing countries. Removal of trees reduces the Earth’s capacity to process the carbon dioxide released from human activity. Additionally, this “stored” carbon is then released when combusted. Carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide is released in the burning of wood – when inefficient combustion occurs, black carbon is emitted. Black carbon is one of the top contributors to global warming.


Respiratory issues associated with cooking are estimated to result in over 3.8 million deaths per year. Current methods of burning fuels for cooking are inefficient, cause a lot of smoke and production of harmful gases.


The smoke from inefficient combustion also results in significant discomfort during cooking, causing itchy eyes, coughing and carbon (soot) on the walls and roof.


PNV Foundation – PNV Foundation is a non-profit organisation with a number of different CSR initiatives and activities that address an array of sustainable development objectives. They have partnered with PEV as our in-country partner to help connect local university students with our projects on the ground, providing assistance with empathising with locals and breaking down the language barrier, while also giving these students the opportunity to develop in both a personal and professional manner.


The project aims to increase the environmental sustainability and decrease respiratory health risks around cooking in the state of Odisha through the rollout of more sustainable cooking practices and tools. The assessment is to ensure this is done in the most cost effective and socially appropriate manner – endorsement from the state government and initial subsidies will assist greatly in the number of positively impacted households. Through partnerships, PE Ventures will aim to engage with key communities in the urban, urban-rural and rural demographics to assess the opportunities around a business that will encourage safer and more environmentally friendly cooking practices.

For those cooking on open fires and in enclosed spaces, the fuel stove designs in Fiji and Timor would be easily translated and implemented.

A more complex opportunity for the state of Odisha is rolling out the bio-digestors with biochar that control the methane and hydrogen sulfide produced. This opportunity would see agricultural and livestock waste converted into combustible gasses and potentially an entire village or multiple households oriented around the production of gas. This gas would then be used as an alternative to natural gas in more advanced cookstoves.

The business model

The opportunity to achieve a sustainable business model to support the social impact is to be determined as part of the assessment. We assess that the end user will pay for the economic and social benefits provided by the product and these are highlighted below.

KEy Value Proposition

This is to be determined through our assessment process. The inherent value of our assessment process is that we are not going into India with a planned solution already in mind, we will assess what is best suited to the context. That said, we assess that the value to be gained from our intended beneficiaries include:

Improved health

Cleaner air and less pollutants will result in better health outcomes and greater quality of life for those engaged in household food preparation.

Financial Savings

We assess that home/community manufactured fuel sources will reduce costs of purchasing alternate fuel sources.

Time savings

Sourcing and preparing firewood from local, adjacent or third party sources takes time away from the household and usually falls to family members preparing meals- primarily females and children. Changing the source of cooking fuel to the household will increase time available for other productive uses.

Environmental sustainability

Gaining energy from renewable sources reduces environmental degradation and provides a greater local environment and healthier planet.





Academic Credit

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