The Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC) is a not-for-profit organization for research, training and consultancy located at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) within Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
The centre focuses on four areas in renewable energy: bioenergy, solar PV, pico-hydro and energy management. CREEC aims at application and adaptation of technologies to the local and regional environment. Within bioenergy, the centre is currently active in improved cookstoves, biogas, gasification and briquette making. The organization is equipped with the so-called Biomass Research Centre, a laboratory for conducting practical tests, training and applied research, which was built in 2008 in cooperation with GIZ.
The aim of the Biomass Research Centre is to develop into an independent and internationally recognized stove testing service using globally accepted testing procedures for the (East-) African region. The centre is equipped with a Portable Emission Monitoring System (PEMS) from Aprovecho Research Center, Particle and Temperature Sensors (PATS) from UCB, a Lascar Carbon Monoxide Sensor, weighing scales, stove use monitoring equipment, thermometers, etc. CREEC also has access to an oven to determine moisture content and a bomb calorimeter. With this equipment, the testing centre is able to determine stove performance and support stove builders to design a better stove for the future. Currently, CREEC employs four people within the stove testing service: two lab technicians, one lab assistant and a unit head.
Stoves from within Uganda and other neighbouring countries like Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been subjected to various lab tests, such as the Water Boiling Test, the Controlled Cooking Test and the IOWA Safety Test. Currently, CREEC is making arrangements to install a test kitchen for indoor air pollution measurements. Furthermore, the centre plans to introduce field testing and monitoring in the near future.
The stoves that have been tested and experimented with at the centre include a wide variety of fuels: wood, charcoal, other solid biomass, biogas and liquid fuels. Mud stoves and other rocket stoves, non-rocket stoves, gasifier stoves and solar cookers have also been observed. Due to limitations to the facilities, institutional stoves have not yet been tested.
When carrying out these tests, the centre measures, calculates and analyses thermal efficiencies, stove emissions and indoor air pollution. Other aspects such as IAP concentrations, safety and user acceptance are looked at through protocols and surveys.
In principle CREEC works on an open-source basis, depending on confidentiality agreements with clients. Data collected is used to understand the stove performance and serves as a basis for recommendations on improvement of the stove design or is used within carbon finance programs. CREEC is currently looking into appropriate ways of publishing test results.
The centre’s experience in stove testing reveals a number of significant challenges. First of all, stove manufacturers’ stove design understanding and capacity building are insufficient. Secondly, the local manufacturing processes are not uniform. Thirdly, most stoves lack a power control to allow a simmering mode. The first two result in a high variance in quality and inconsistent stove dimensions within the same stove type. Another example is that producers copy other stove designs including the design flaws (such as lack of secondary air supply) since they have no understanding of how the stove works. CREEC continues to strengthen its training program to enhance knowledge transfer, skills building and increasing experience of stove manufacturers. These activities can take shape in general stove testing workshops or as tailor-made programs to suit the clients’ specific requirements. With regard to stove testing itself, the centre recommends and implemented in its protocols testing of more than one sample of a particular stove type to provide statistically accurate data from which proper conclusions can be drawn.
CREEC is a core member of two working groups in the GACC, namely “Technology and Fuels” and “Standards and Testing”. Furthermore, starting from the inception at the PCIA meeting in Peru (2011) up till today, CREEC is actively involved in discussions (such as the ISO International Workshop Agreement, February 2012) about the various tiers regarding stove performance. These guidelines will form the basis of CREEC’s stove testing service.
Organizations interested in having their stoves tested at CREEC’s facilities are welcome to contact the centre any time!