FutureMetrics: Wood pellet cooking improves health in Rwanda

By Erin Voegele | October 10, 2022

FutureMetrics on Oct. 10 published a white paper that demonstrates how wood pellets and high-efficiency gasifying pellet cookers can improve household air quality in Rwanda and other countries where people currently use smokey solid fuel for cooking.

In the paper, FutureMetrics President William Strauss explains that 2.3 million premature deaths around the world are attributed to household air pollution from dirty cook stoves. These stoves, fueled by charcoal or stick wood, emit high levels of particulate matter, black carbon and carbon monoxide. The cutting down of trees in these countries to make charcoal or firewood also causes deforestation.

Wood pellets have traditionally been used for heating or power production. FutureMeterics estimates that combined heating and industrial pellet demand for last year surpassed 42 million metric tons. The fuel can also be used in cooking applications. In recent years, there has been increased demand for barbeque pellets, primarily in the U.S. These BBQ pellets are typically made of 100 percent hardwood and used in purpose-built BBQs. Both the BBQs and BBQ pellets are expensive and limited to use in niche markets in rich countries, according to FutureMetrics. The pellet BBQs also rely on electricity to regulate temperature, create draft, and operate the fuel feeding system.

Recent innovations, however, could make wood pellet cooking appliances accessible to a wider range of consumers. Among these innovative appliances are the small pellet gasification stoves developed by Mimi-Moto. Strauss stresses that Mimi-Moto’s gasification stoves do not require mains power and are fully compliance with ISO/IWA Tier 4 emissions limits. They also work cleanly and efficiently using regular low-cost heating pellets as fuel.

According to Strauss, using wood pellets in simple but higher efficient cookers significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions and smoke. It also reduces the wood needed to produce cooking fuel by 70 to 80 percent. In Rwanda, the use of wood pellets would also reduce the daily fuel costs by an estimated 82 percent for those currently using firewood, and by 33 percent for those currently using charcoal. BioMaasters is offering the Mimi-Moto to customers in Rwanda via a lease-to-own business model, which Strauss estimates costs roughly $2.50 per month over a 24-month period. His analysis shows that the savings in fuels costs achieved through the use of pellets more than offsets the estimated price of the pellet stove, making wood pellet cooking a viable economic option for those living in Rwanda.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the FutureMetrics website