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close this book Boiling Point No. 10 - August 1986
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Wood Burning, Institutional Stoves from Fiji

The U.N., ESCAP, Pacific Energy Development Programme and Government of Fiji have developed a wood burning stove for use in institutions such as schools and colleges to meet the needs of up to 200 people for hot water, boiling and hot plate cooking and baking. The materials required are oil drums, steel plate and angle etc., cast iron grill plates and grates etc., masonry and clay/cement/aggregate mixtures. When the components are made it can be built on site with local workers in about 1 week. Although performance figures are not yet available, it is clearly much more efficient than the enlarged domestic type stoves commonly used, as well as being more versatile, cleaner and less smoky. Institutional Kitchens are a serious health hazard in many hot countries.

Once the stove is hot it can boil 100 litres of water in 30-40 minutes. It is most efficient if kept burning throughout the day rather than for one meal. Fig. 1 shows a general view of the stove.

Fig. 1: Woodburning Institutional Stove - Fiji.


A 26 page manual has been prepared by K.J. Conger of the Fiji Government with all details and engineering drawings needed for construction. The original design by - Steven Schmidt has been considerably improved and could be modified if water heating or oven or the hot plates were not required.

Seven of these stoves are now in use in Fiji, each costing about S1,500 for components and materials plus 20 more days of work. One is being built in Papua New Guinea and Messrs. Randel, Palmer and Tritton are advising on the construction of one or more in Liberia.

The problems encountered in use have been failure of the clay linings, causing blocking of passages and acceleration of deposition of creosote in the chimney passages and so the design has been improved by use of a refractory lining and a higher temperature in the fireboxes. To obtain good performance and life, the parts must be accurately made using the precise materials specified.

As with any stove or device, the first and most important step is to carry out a thorough needs assessment survey, in this case for an institutional stove, to see how often and when the bread oven, hot plate and water heater will be needed. Often, in institutions, the need is mainly for cooking in pots and so a much simpler stove is needed, perhaps with a series of holes for large pots with baffles and one or more combustion chambers. It may be that hot water for tea or coffee is the largest need, in which case an efficient "boiler" system with convenient taps may be best. Having made these major decisions, the stove can then be designed for maximum fuel efficiency, combined with convenience of use. A DEAP report produced in March 1986 has the following to say about the Fiji Stove:

"It has become clear that this type of stove is suitable for boarding institutions which cook at least 2 meals per day and require hot water, but is not suitable for institutions such as day schools which cook only one meal per day because the massive firebox and the rubble fill that backs it and the hot water tank take too long to heat up, making it inefficient and slow to use for limited cooking. The stove has generally been well received at boarding schools and users have reported a substantial decrease in firewood consumption, although this has yet to be measured quantitatively..

Further details can be obtained from ITDG or from Chris Harwood of the Pacific Energy Development Programme, 15 Goodenough Street, Suva, Fiji.