The facility was created in response to the lack of research into improving cookstoves in Ghana.
According to Paolo Dalla Stella, a sustainable development analyst at the Ghana office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a study last year showed that 47 per cent of Ghanaian manufacturers lack facilities to test their cookstoves.
The Cookstove Testing and Expertise Laboratory resulted from a partnership involving UNDP Ghana office, US-based International Development Innovation Network, Ghana Energy Commission and the Technology Consultancy Centre (TCC) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), which is hosting the facility.
“KNUST has all the credentials and now the tools to become a centre of excellence for clean cookstoves.”
Dorothy Adjei, Ghana Energy Commission
The laboratory, which was commissioned on 31 March in Kumasi, Ghana, aims to carry out efficiency, performance, emissions levels and heat content tests on locally-produced and imported cookstoves.
Experts and local manufacturers from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leonecould also benefit from hands-on training on cookstoves and standard testing at the facility, says George Yaw Obeng, the director of the TTC.
The US$150,000 facility will facilitate continuous technological improvement and innovation in the design and manufacture of improved cookstoves, Obeng adds. The UNDP Ghana office provided US$100,000 and the TCC the rest through internally generated funds to establish the facility.
The facility is expected to encourage the supply of fivemillion clean and improved cookstoves for use by four million households in Ghana by 2020, a target set by the Ghana Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
Obeng explains that high carbon emission cookstoves produce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide when fuels such as charcoal are burned to produce energy for cooking.
"If a stove is efficient in its use of fuel for cooking and combustion is complete, less carbon dioxide and other gases will be emitted into the atmosphere to reduce global warming,” he says. “By reducing woodfuel or charcoal consumption, improved cookstoves contribute to reduce deforestation and forest depletion.”
Dorothy Adjei, the programme officer in charge of bioenergy at Ghana Energy Commission, says a high number of cookstoves on the Ghanaian market are not scientifically improved in terms of emission levels.
Ghana Energy Commission and Ghana Standards Authority are currently developing technical standards to regulate the energy efficiency and safety of cookstoves, Adjei says. "There are just a few capacity builders in this sector involved in training, research and advocacy, so KNUST has all the credentials and now the tools to become a centre of excellence for clean cookstoves,” Stella adds.
Emmanuel N. Angmor, a lecturer at the faculty of development studies, Presbyterian University College, Ghana, says air pollution from cooking with solid fuel is a key risk factor in childhood acute respiratory diseases caused by the use of inappropriate cooking technologies.
Angmor calls for improved cookstoves that burn biomass inputs more efficiently to help prevent such diseases.
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.