Innovator makes clean cooking stove that uses recycled engine oil

Jacob Mwangi develops stoves that harness the power of old engine oil. [File, Standard]

Widespread use of traditional stoves has been cited as one of the significant contributors to climate change.

These cooking appliances not only consume large amounts of fuel but also emit copious amounts of harmful greenhouse gases.

Data from the Kenyan cooking sector in 2021 indicated that over 90 per cent of the rural population and around 75 per cent of all Kenyan households still rely on wood or charcoal for cooking.

Only about 20 per cent of households use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as their primary cooking fuel while electric cook stove usage is low, with approximately 3 per cent of households owning an electric appliance.

However, a promising solution has emerged in the form of old engine oil stoves.

At his workshop located in Giakanja, Nyeri County, Jacob Mwangi successfully developed stoves that harness the power of old engine oil, an innovation that could reshape the way we approach energy consumption.

”When old engine oil is burned at very high temperatures in an oxygenated system, the combustion process becomes more efficient and cleaner compared to traditional burning methods,” he says.

Mwangi notes the presence of oxygen allows for better fuel oxidation, resulting in reduced emissions of harmful pollutants. This cleaner combustion process leads to lower levels of carbon monoxide in the air.

Crafted from old steel pipes, the stove transforms what would otherwise be discarded into a valuable energy source.

“The stove is made from used or old steel pipes, which are considered as waste. However, rather than being thrown away, we repurpose and transform the pipes into something useful,” he says.

It has a canister repurposed from a used mini-LPG cylinder, specifically designed to store the oil required for fueling the burner and there are two mini fans on one end of the frame, which makes the stove different from others.

In the suspended cylinder, there are two taps located at the bottom. When the taps are opened, fuel is dispensed into two funnels, which are then connected to two pipes. Eventually, these pipes lead to two cylindrical burners, where cooking takes place.

“Controlled by the taps from the resolver, the flow of oil into the burner is precisely regulated. Once ignited with a matchstick, the fire dances to life. As temperatures climb to between 500-600 degrees, a breath of air is introduced,” he says.

Mwangi added that once the old engine oil is ignited, the stove can run continuously for more than 12 hours, a single stove uses 20 litres of used oil in a month translating to a Sh1,000 electricity bill.

“The stove is not only safe, but it also does not emit smoke. Additionally, the cost is affordable for both domestic and commercial customers. Currently, the commercial stove is available at Sh40,000, while the domestic stove is priced at Sh 15,000,” he says.

Mwangi added that he spends most of his free time conducting research on the internet and exploring YouTube for new ideas.

“I am determined to make a significant impact on sustainability, I am in the process of creating a clean energy generator that produces 150 kilowatts; this is my contribution to help Kenya meet its 32 per cent greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030 while simultaneously promoting clean energy for a greener tomorrow,” he says.

Old engine oil contaminates soil, water, and air and poses harm to both humans and wildlife. It can lead to soil infertility, water source pollution, poor air quality, respiratory problems, lung damage, biodiversity decline, and even death.

When used engine oil is improperly disposed of or leaks into the ecosystem, chemicals present, such as heavy metals and hydrocarbons, can contaminate air, soil, and water, posing serious health risks and ecological damage. 

Proper recycling and disposal of used engine oil are crucial to prevent these harmful effects.