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Tibetans ditch yak dung stove for solar cooker

fire.jpgImagine, if you will, that you’re a Tibetan villager, and a hungry one at that, and you want to rustle up a tasty meal.

On the one hand you’ve got a yak boo burning stove that could give you lung disease, on the other hand, you’ve got a solar stove – bonus points on the lack of lung disease front – but it’s so heavy it needs four people to shift it. Aside from being about as fun to move as a gorilla with a toothache, the solar cooker also doesn’t always turn out a decently cooked meal to boot.

So what do you do?

Greenbang suggests if you have a problem, if no one else can help – and if you can find them – maybe you can hire the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Someone in Tibet obviously did find them (Massachusetts was probably a good starting point) and, together with a team from Qinghai Normal University in Tibet’s Amdo region, the MIT folk developed a whole new lightweight stove.

From MIT

The lightweight dish they produced, inspired by Tibetan nomadic tents, is made of yak-wool canvas panels, supported by bamboo ribs, and faced with reflective mylar. Easily disassembled and transported by one person, the cooker can then be quickly reassembled in the field and staked down solidly on the ground to resist the wind. In the fall, the students will begin testing their prototype in several villages, and make the design available to local factories for manufacture.

All that, and it costs less than $20. How good is that? Add on an attachment (taking the cost up to a princely $26) and you get a device that can heat homes too. Greenbang is very impressed.

Manufacturing could start as soon as next year.

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