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Engineering Impact Report

Combustion to Cookstove

In his day job, Josh Heyne, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, researches ways to improve the performance of jet fuels. When he's not studying how to make some of the most sophisticated machines in the world more efficient, he's doing the same thing with a far simpler system - a cookstove.

More than two billion people worldwide use open fires or traditional biomass stoves for cooking and heating their homes. Due to incomplete combustion, toxic byproducts such as soot, nitrous oxides and carbon monoxide gasses cause an estimated four million deaths per year due to long-term exposure. Air pollution and deforestation are other serious issues.

As a UD undergraduate, Heyne spent two summers in South America working on the combustion efficiency of wood stoves as appropriate technologies. OVer time, "rocket" type stoves have become up to 97 percent efficient and are virtually smokeless, even with minimal ventilation. They improve air quality, provide a safely contained fire and require far less wood. 

Today Heyne advises students like Erin Peiffer, who spent her time at UD quantifying the benefits of biomass gasification and working internationally to help tobacco farmers and shea nut roasters adopt more environmentally friendly methods of drying their crops. Peiffer has gone on to pursue a doctorate at Oregon State University with a focus on technologies to alleviate energy poverty in developing countries. 

Erin Peiffer's international immersions through the ETHOS program and master's work in Heyne's lab has her pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering with a focus on relieving energy poverty.

Erin Peiffer's international immersions through the ETHOS program and master's work in Heyne's lab has her pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering with a focus on relieving energy poverty.

Erin Peiffer's international immersions through the ETHOS program and master's work in Heyne's lab has her pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering with a focus on relieving energy poverty.

Erin Peiffer's international immersions through the ETHOS program and master's work in Heyne's lab has her pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering with a focus on relieving energy poverty.

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School of Engineering

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