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issue: August 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Europe Report
The New Plant Oil Cooker From BSH

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by Paul Roggema, Europe Correspondent

BSH embarked on a project that could be of enormous benefit to users in developing countries. The new Protos cooker, developed by BSH, is able to use plant oils instead of fossil fuels.

Most people in developing countries use open fires for cooking, which causes massive respiration problems, takes too much time from the lives of woman and girls (time not spent on education) and causes forest depletion. The fuels must be imported and some are dangerous.
Using plant oils has great advantages: they can be produced locally with low-tech methods, their environmental balance is neutral and local production is a great way to improve standards of living. Different oils can be used, including oils that are not suitable for human consumption.
Until now, there was no practical cooking technology using plant oils. The biggest obstacle comes from the plant oils having a much higher flammability point (above 200°C) and burning it requires a vaporizer that must be heated up to at least 550°C. The viscosity of plant oils is much higher than kerosene or other fossil fuels, so the oil line and valve need a completely different design. Flame temperature can reach 1,400°C, so new burner materials are needed. There are more carbon residuals in the fuel so the vaporizer and nozzle need to be constructed for easy cleaning.
But German engineers never give up, so an existing project of the University of Hohenheim and environmental foundation Euronatur was adopted by BSH back in 2003. Eventually four German universities, seven departments of BSH and the Leyte University in the Philippines all joined forces. Researchers spent many hours mastering the fine art of coconut oil burning.
The result is a cooking system called Protos, consisting of an oil reservoir and a stand with a burner. Extensive field tests started about 2 years ago, studying the cooker design itself and the prototype of a possible production plant. Production of the burner is crucial because of narrow manufacturing tolerances. The rest of the cooker is manufactured locally.
The test project will be finished at the end of this year, after which burner production will move to the BSH cooking factories in Nanjing, China, and introduction will start in Leyte and neighboring island Cebu. Preparations are under way for introduction in Tanzania and China.
The Protos appliance itself resembles a large backpacking stove for liquid fuels. The fuel tank has a pump for pressurization and a manometer. To reach sufficiently high temperatures, the evaporator is placed directly in the flame itself. To achieve start temperature, the evaporator must be pre-heated with an additional fuel such as alcohol. The whole set can be manufactured for about 30 euros (approx. U.S. $38).

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