Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
This one is for fun and also for real. The theme of this post is “There’s never enough time.” I worked in the villages of the developing world off and on for a number of years. A recurring issue is the inefficiency of most stoves. The simplest is the “three stone” variety, made with three stones to put the pot on.
Figure 1. An obviously ancient three-stone fire with a modern cookpot in Tanzania. Photo Source
This is hugely wasteful of fuel, particularly in lands where wood and even branches and twigs are scarce. Among my known defects is that I’m an inventor. Over the years I’ve worked on making and designing a variety of stoves to try to improve stove efficiency. As a result, in one of my peregrinations around the web a few days ago I was intrigued to stumble across the “Kelly Kettle”.
The Kelly Kettle was used in Ireland by the shepherds to brew their cuppa tea. Here’s one at work on a beach somewhere.
The brilliance of the plan is that the water in the kettle surrounds the fire. I looked at that, and my inventor’s soul rose to the fore, and I thought “Man, I could make the radical Dutch Oven using that plan. Here’s what I think it might look like.
Figure 3. What I call the “Magic Cookpot”. Note the split (two part) lids, one of which has been removed, flipped over, and laid on the ground for clarity. Lids will have handles in the final version.
And here’s a cross-section:
No good to throw away waste heat, so the Kelly Kettles have a pan-holder that fits in the chimney to allow you to cook another pot of food on top.
Figure 5. Kelly Kettle with cookpot. Source.
Looks good to me, so here’s my version of the same. This would allow you to cook soup or stew and have a frypan on top …
OK, advantages of this plan:
• Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Even without cooking anything on the top, this will heat water with less fuel than any design I’ve ever seen.
• Cost. Because the stove and the cookpot are one, you don’t need to buy both.
• Portability. It can be moved easily.
• Adaptability. It can use a variety of fuels, including a propane burner.
• Speed. It will heat water fast.
As I mentioned, the theme of this post is the theme of life—there’s never enough time.
In a perfect world, I’d take this idea and run with it and make a big difference in the amount of wood burned around the planet. I don’t have time, I have a bunch of other projects going on. But I’d hate to see this idea die, it’s a really good one that could make a big difference. So I figure I’ll cast the idea free on the web, make a gift of it to the world of stoves, and see what becomes of it out in the greater marketplace of ideas.
How could this rough plan be improved? It needs a damper to control the draft, and some kind of flap to control the air intake. You could probably increase the heat transfer (fire to liquid) by putting some spiral fins up the chimney. This would increase the surface area and transfer extra heat to the cookpot.
In any case, there it is, and I encourage anyone with the time and energy to become the champion of the idea. You’ll make a name for yourself and have women blessing you all around the planet. All it needs are a couple of sharp Brazilian or Indian or Chinese (or European or American) college students who’d like to make a difference in the world.