Architectural Design Solution for Reducing Smoke Build-Up inside Rural Kitchens in Kenya, Africa
Uwe Reischl, Lauren Haggerty, Olga Salinas

Families living in rural Africa must rely on burning biomass as their fuel source for cooking. Examples of biomass sources include including wood, dried dung and crop residue, all of which produce high levels of smoke. Repeated long-term exposure to the smoke can cause pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 2 million persons die prematurely each year as a result of such exposure. The persons most affected are women and their young children. Scientists, engineers and public health professionals have attempted to address this problem in the past but have focused primarily on the use of more efficient stoves. New stoves are often difficult to maintain and cost more than families can afford. The introduction of innovative architectural ventilation design solutions has not been reported in literature. To determine whether new architectural design approaches could be used cost-effectively in reducing indoor air pollution, scale-model based laboratory simulations were carried out to study the thermodynamic and airflow characteristics inside traditional kitchens. The tests revealed that use of window and roof openings to increase ventilation negatively impacts smoke removal by lowering convection (buoyancy) of the smoke generated by a fire. Based on this insight, a new architectural design approach was developed which allows the smoke to exit the kitchen freely in spite of limited convection. The scale-model simulations yielded an 85% reduction of indoor smoke-build up. Testing of a full-scale prototype kitchen in Kenya, Africa showed a reduction of indoor kitchen smoke build-up in excess of 95%. Implementation of this design in the form of a retro-fit option for existing rural kitchens is proposed. Improvements in the health and wellbeing of women and children in rural communities is hoped for.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jea.v7n1a1