Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have found that while advanced wood-burning cookstoves can provide benefits to the environment and climate, these benefits are less than expected due to higher emissions measured in the field compared to laboratory settings. The study, conducted in rural Malawi, found that pollutant emissions from these stoves were much higher than was reported in laboratory testing, due in part to how the stoves were being used.
Despite these differences, the cleaner-burning forced-draft stoves tested reduced fine particulate matter emissions per amount of wood burned by 45 percent, and reduced carbon monoxide emissions per amount of wood burned by 47 percent, compared to traditional open fires. In addition, because the forced-draft stoves used less wood, they actually reduced particulate matter emissions by approximately 75 percent.
"However, the field measurements of the forced-draft stoves were still almost 10 times higher than the emissions we see from the same stoves when they are tested under controlled, laboratory conditions," says Andrew Grieshop, an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State and corresponding author of a paper describing the work. "This highlights the importance of doing field measurements rather than relying solely on laboratory testing."