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Advancing Heating Services: Experience with High-Efficiency Low Emission (HELE) stoves in Kyrgyzstan

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This needs a new Forum category: Domestic space heating and cooking.

There is a new technical paper in the World Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository:

“World Bank Group. 2019. Advancing Heating Services Beyond the Last Mile : Central Asia Pilot Experience with High-Efficiency, Low-Emissions Heating Technologies. ESMAP Paper; World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank.

Please ask readers to download a copy from the website as it counts the number, and that ultimately influence pro-poor policies.  This paper on HELE stoves is downloadable from the following webpage: or

Please share the link widely.

The direct link to the PDF is

The document provides a detailed description of how one of the cooking and heating stove technologies used in the Kyrgyzstan Winter Heating Pilot was developed.  It is a comprehensive discussion of the social and technical factors that contributed to the success of this Pilot, producing significant impacts on health, income and comfort of people living “beyond the last mile”. A link is provided to the full set of drawings and some photos archived in the ESMAP Library.

The point of saying “beyond the last mile” is that whatever are the current plans to extend modern heating and cooking services, there are a large number of people who will not be reached. This group of 500m people “beyond” are, now and in the medium term, dependent on burning solid fuels (biomass, dung and coal).  The question addressed is: What can we do for this group of low income, deeply rural and hardly accessible families which suffer all the negative consequences of chronic cold, poor combustion, indoor leakage of smoke, inconvenient drudgery and a dire lack of access to modern energy?  How can we bring modern science and engineering to these spatially and culturally diverse groups?  

The article proposes a comprehensive approach and describes how this was done in highland, rural areas of Kyrgyzstan. It covers in some detail how the KG4.3 crossdraft stove was developed over 9 years and the scientific cooperation between groups in several countries that led to the development of this HELE technology.

This document can be used to inform policy in multiple ways. If we are to eventually bring modern energy services to everyone, which will take time, there are highly beneficial interventions which can be made a low cost per person, even in poorly served regions using carefully crafted technology transfers. Apart from all the social and health benefits, the project also makes positive impacts on everything from local employment, the social status of women, emissions of CO2, Black Carbon and PM2.5.

Two further papers reporting the health benefits of the project have been submitted by the Dutch International Primary Care Respiratory Group to the WHO Bulletin and npjPCRM (Primary Care Respiratory Medicine) which conducted a Fresh Air-sponsored study of the impacts of the stove and low pressure boiler replacements.

Please circulate the links given above to anyone who you think is interested in these topics.  Stove designers will find a good deal of technical information about construction and principles of combustor operation, as well as guidance on how to interact with the communities in which it is intended to provide such modern heating and cooking services.  This crossdraft technology has already been replicated in China, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Poland, South Africa and Tajikistan. A few photos are provided.

Forthcoming: Complete details on construction of three versions of the technology will be included in the final report from the World Bank-funded UB-CAP Project in Ulaanbaatar, Contract C-5039-MN/KLTA-01.

Best regards
Posts: 487
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
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This is a coal burning appliance isn't it?
Posts: 499
Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
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Hi Crispin,
Thanks for posting that interesting article. Even though there isn't one lump of coal anywhere near where I live, I'm always interested in stove design. It makes me happy to see creative innovations work their way into the population who can make good use of it. The only heat source in our home is a wood stove so we also use the latest technlology.
Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
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The stove is indeed a coal stove, though that is not the only model we used. Altogether 4 different stoves were developed, initially in Tajikistan, of which 2 were specifically for biomass in any form (dung is a very important fuel at high altitude).  Now there are 6.  There had never been a stove in Central Asia before which could burn dung without the addition of some sticks and wood.  The oft-assumed unburnability of dung was shown to be incorrect. It can be used to heat a home at -30C and cook properly, if operated in a new manner (back lighting) and if there is a "flame tube" incorporated into the heat exchanger.

It was decided to report the KG4 series in this document because it highlighted that if a concerted effort was made to apply modern engineering, assessment and testing, it was possible to produce a coal burning stove that was about as clean as propane. We won't quibble about numbers, it is just important to show that profoundly clean coal combustion is possible and that people dependent on it should not be denied access to modern engineered solution. In short, a pro-poor policy of doing what we can with what they have, given that nothing else will be done that helps them. We are also attaching the false claim that all solid fuels are "inherently dirty" - a position promoted by those advocating gas and liquid fuels. It's nonsense.

Touring the Kyrgyz uplands last year in February was shocking in some ways. People are so poor it is tragic, and they have terrible living conditions because of the poor stove designs and condition. Everyone over 40 is said by the Chief pulmonologist to have COPD. Everyone with one of these KG4.3 stoves was so-o-o happy. In most cases the stove saved more fuel expenses than they received per month from government in welfare payments.  The stove saves enough fuel to pay for itself after 4 months. So the issue is access, not affordability. All the designs and drawings are available at my website (in the public domain) in the Library/Stoves/Kyrgyzstan then folder KG4.3 or 4.4 (there is a small difference in the overall length of those two versions).

In principle, the same combustion system (cross draft gasification) could be used to burn wood but we are not there yet.
Posts: 600
Location: Michigan
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"In short, a pro-poor policy of doing what we can with what they have, given that nothing else will be done that helps them."

Awesome. Great applications of appropriate technology to be deployed.

"We are also attaching the false claim that all solid fuels are "inherently dirty" - a position promoted by those advocating gas and liquid fuels. It's nonsense."

I got chills reading it because it rings true to me and we are fighting this fallacy in the "developed" world, just the same.

Is the status of women improved with less relative labor for duties and maybe that they command the appliance which gives the household economic and survival leverage?

That is at least as interesting as coal stoves clean as propane!
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