A laboratory comparison of the global warming impact of five major types of biomass cooking stoves

Nordica MacCarty, Damon Ogle, Dean Still, Tami Bond, Christoph Roden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With over 2 billion of the world's population living in families using biomass to cook every day, the possibility of improved stoves helping to mitigate climate change is generating increasing attention. With their emissions of CO2, methane, and black carbon, among other substances, is there a cleaner, practical option to provide to the families that will need to continue to use biomass for cooking? This study served to help quantify the relative emissions from five common types of biomass combustion in order to investigate if there are cleaner options. The laboratory results showed that for situations of sustainable harvesting where CO2 emissions are considered neutral, some improved stoves with rocket-type combustion or fan assistance can reduce overall warming impact from the products of incomplete combustion (PICs) by as much as 50-95%. In non-sustainable situations where fuel and CO2 savings are of greater importance, three types of improved combustion methods were shown to potentially reduce warming by 40-60%. Charcoal-burning may emit less CO2 than traditional wood-burning, but the PIC emissions are significantly greater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy for Sustainable Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • biomass
  • black carbon
  • carbon dioxide
  • global warming
  • improved cookstoves
  • methane
  • products of incomplete combustion
  • soot
  • sustainable harvesting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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