Vuthisa Technologies investigates and disseminates new and innovative technologies to developing economies. They provide a service to NGO's, charities and local businesses in South Africa looking for fuel-efficient and green energy solutions. In November 2011 they facilitated a donation by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation to provide 40 StoveTec/EcoZoom rocket stoves to the Thandanani Childrens Home.
Vuthisa Technologies supports and promotes various initiatives such as StoveTec/EcoZoom rocket stoves, The Hippo Water Roller Project, Legacy Foundation briquetting technology, invasive alien removal programmes with the aid of portable charcoal kilns, Development Bookshop initiative (Practical Action) and Sunfire Solar Solutions. Vuthisa also work closely with government programmes, NGO's, charities and Round Table South Africa aimed at providing upliftment in energy poor areas.
Vuthisa is involved in one of the government programmes, The Natural Resource Management Programme (funded through the Expanded Public Works Programme) operating throughout South Africa, which presently involves some 35,000 poor South Africans.
On a local scale and looking at the impact of current projects, the 157 rocket stoves sold to impoverished families in 2011, equates to approximately 785 family members having benefited directly from this technology. Collecting, transporting and storing fuelwood is a hazardous and mammoth task and Vuthisa is happy to have saved these families the time, effort and expenses associated with these activities. In South Africa fuelwood usage can be conservatively estimated at approximately 0.5 tons of wood per capita annually. By introducing the rocket stove to these families, their fuelwood requirement dropped by 50% from 393 to 196 tons of wood. Fires are often made indoors leading to respiratory diseases in children and adults alike, so Vuthisa introduced a novel cooking hood system in conjunction with a rocket stove docking station to remove harmful emissions from homes.
Our Experience And Interest In The Four PCIA Central Focus Areas
Vuthisa sets up a meeting with the project facilitators to discuss various implementation strategies suited for different communities. In some instances they need to provide training sessions or cooking demonstrations to inform the sales agents or volunteers on how to use the products in order to transfer that knowledge more effectively to the target group.
The improved cooking stove technologies are primarily marketed by word of mouth. Sales agents or volunteers may purchase a few stoves or they can be provided them on lay-bye. They do passive website marketing and the occasional pamphlet distribution drive.
The technology must be adapted to suit the local socio-economic conditions, but the rocket stoves of today can be ordered in bulk in mass produced fashion, which means that products are always of the same quality (due to stringent quality control), resulting in consistent product performance. Localized production or licensing out production will give the added benefit of providing employment and we are investigating these options.
In developing new stove products Vuthisa found it necessary to test new stove designs for emissions. They have done PPM type CO monitoring on various prototypes and other products on the market. Fuel types range from biomass (including wood, agro-residue briquettes, charcoal and ethanol gel stoves) to non-renewable mined coal briquettes for a mining house. Vuthisa is very interested in the portable PEMS air quality monitoring system developed by Aprovecho Research Center and if funds become available we would make use of this monitoring system.
Relevant Publications or Studies
Co-authors a publication with The Legacy Foundation namely "Production of useful and competitive basic cooking and heating fuel from pulp and sawdust in South Africa" Wood SA June 2004
Some findings were credited in the following online magazine: http://issuu.com/bbiinternational/docs/dec.10-bpt-final/47 (Biomass Power & Thermal, December 2010)
Our Contribution to the Partnership
Vuthisa has 12 years experience in participating in projects concerning indoor air pollution and will continue to investigate and disseminate new technologies in our region. Vuthisa is connected to many organisations (project implementers) that have access to impoverished communities and can help connect private business, NGO's and even individuals to actual communities on the ground in need of assistance.