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COOKING WITH SOUND – THE GENERATOR THAT TRANSFORMS LIVES Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council I Case study 26

An affordable cooking stove that generates electricity could transform lives in the world’s poorest communities. It burns biomass such as wood or dung and converts the heat produced into electricity.

≥60 mins of usable electricity generated by every kg of fuel burnt.

≥10m tonnes cut in CO2 emissions per year once stove is fully deployed.

Over two billion people have no access to electricity. Recent tests showed that a Score (Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration and Electricity) stove could produce enough electricity to power lights and simultaneously charge a mobile phone (19.5W). The objective is to produce 100W per household. The EPSRC-funded project is led by the University of Nottingham. Other partners include the University of Manchester, City University London, Queen Mary, University of London and the charity Practical Action.

IMPACT ON THE DEVELOPING WORLD AND THE ENVIRONMENT > 200 million households in Africa and Asia could gain affordable electricity. > 10,000 local manufacturing industries could gain business manufacturing and repairing stoves. > Each household will be able to sell surplus electricity to neighbours. > Deforestation would be dramatically reduced as the Score stove halves the amount of wood being burnt. > When fully deployed, Score could prevent ten million tonnes of CO2 being emitted per year, or the equivalent of five large power stations. A Score first The concept behind Score is a novel application of thermo-acoustics, where heat is produced, converted into sound energy and then electricity. This application has already been demonstrated in the Thermo-Acoustic Stirling Engines and refrigerators developed by the US military for applications including nuclear-powered satellite systems.

The Score team is the first to combine a Thermo-Acoustic engine and a linear alternator (the part which turns sound energy into electricity) in a single device, powered by a biomass stove. Challenges have included designing a tough, inexpensive linear alternator that can be easily mass-produced; and producing a model that is simple to construct, uses indigenous materials and local manufacturing skills. The ThermoAcoustic systems produced before have all been high-cost and high-tech. Making the most of magnets Researchers at the University of Nottingham are working on the generator’s linear alternator, using special configurations of magnets rather than loudspeakers, which are used in conventional systems. Computer simulations have proved successful so now Nottingham researchers are working with Dai-ichi, one of Malaysia’s largest loudspeaker manufacturers, to bring down production costs. Tests in Nepal Summary results from the first field trial in Nepal look very good, according to Paul Riley, Score project director at the University of Nottingham. He said: “The units were well received by all 12 households, who used the electricity for lighting, and all appreciated the reduction in smoke and reduction in wood consumed.” More units should be available for testing in field trials in 2010, with full production of the Score generator taking place after 2012. For more information about EPSRC and the impact it is making visit

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council


Cooking with sound - The generator that transforms lives