Microgasification cookstoves and pellet fuels from waste biomass: A cost and performance comparison with charcoal and natural gas in Tanzania

  • D Lotter
  • N Hunter
  • M Straub
  • D Msola


Cooking with wood and wood charcoal is done by over 90% of Africa’s population; it has two major challenges: deforestation and indoor air pollution from cooking smoke, the latter being the top risk factor for disease in Tanzania. Microgasification stoves (top lit up draft [TLUD]) that burn pellets produced from agricultural waste have potential to address both of these issues. We examined the relative efficiency and cost of the major urban cooking fuels - charcoal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) – and compared them to cooking with waste biomass-based pellet fuels; we also compared the performance of three models of natural draft (ND) TLUD stove (Troika, Jiko Bomba, St. John’s) and one forced air (fan) stove (Philips). The Philips and averaged ND stoves used 83 and 133% more pellets by weight respectively to cook beans than charcoal, costing 47 and 93% more at 2013 charcoal and pellet prices. Cooking with LNG costs 387 to 647% more than cooking with charcoal, depending on gas flow rate. The high cost of LNG and LNG stoves will be barriers to the great majority of Tanzanians to move to this improved cookstove technologies (ICTs). Biochar production averaged 59 and 29% of total fuel in the ND and Philips, respectively. Interviews of 30 ND TLUD stove users showed that 60% abandoned use within one month, 80% stating that they produce too much smoke and 40% stating that controlling the air vent is too much trouble. Seventy five percent said that the TLUD cooks significantly faster than charcoal. Due to the continued 33-99% annual increase in charcoal prices in Tanzania, work on introducing TLUD stoves is justified.
Key words: Microgasification stoves, TLUD, improved cooking technologies, deforestation, pellet fuels.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1996-0786
print ISSN: 1996-0786