Energy & the Environment

Tim Bauer, Nathan Lorenz and Bryan Willson, Systems for improving indoor air quality in the developing world.

 

Nathan Lorenz, Tim Bauer and Bryan Willson founded Envirofit in 2003 to develop well engineered sustainable technology solutions that are focused on reducing pollution and energy dependence while yielding health, environmental and economic improvement in emerging markets. Originally derived from research work undertaken by Colorado State University Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, Envirofit was created to unite clean energy research with consumer driven product design to bring sustainable and scalable market-based solutions to emerging markets.

 

Envirofit’s first project focused on retrofitting motorcycles and three-wheeled taxis known as tricycles in Manila. By selling direct injection conversion kits, the team was able to reduce emissions by a two-stroke engine by 90% while reducing fuel consumption by up to 40%.

 

Envirofit then turned its attention to reducing the impact of indoor air pollution through the use of cleaner burning, efficient biomass cook stoves. About half of the world’s population cook their daily meals indoors over biomass-fueled cooking fires. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, reported in The Lancet, estimates that the resulting indoor air pollution kills as many as four million people every year, making it the 4th worst global health risk overall and the 2nd worst health risk for women and girls.

 

In 2007, Envirofit International partnered with the Shell Foundation to try to solve the indoor air pollution problem through market-thinking and private sector involvement. To this end, Envirofit developed a compact stove that reduces smoke and toxic emissions from burning biomass by up to 80 percent, while reducing biomass consumption by up to 60 percent and cooking time by up to 50 percent compared to traditional cooking fires and stoves. The EnviroFlame Combustion System stoves use a special alloy, which adds durability, and the design directs unburned gases into the center of the combustion chamber, which reduces emissions and boosts efficiency.

 

In 2008, the team piloted their first clean stove in India and has since grown to produce an entire product line of culturally customizable cookstoves to meet the growing global demand.

 

Its stoves are designed to be integrated into local manufacturing systems so that they can be produced and shipped via factories and supply chains close to where they are sold.

 

Envirofit has sold more than 700,000 cookstoves in more than 40 countries affecting more than 3.5 million people through a sustainable scalable business model. Envirofit relies on standard market mechanisms and consumer demand to guide product development, distribution, and sales. Operating income from sales pays for further development and expansion of its businesses. In addition Envirofit also operates a Carbon Credit program that helps to further reduce the cost of cookstoves and drive cookstove adoption. This allows a lower initial purchase price for distributors and results in a lower market price. This subsidy is later paid back by the revenues from the first future carbon credits.

 

Bauer and Lorenz continue to work for Envirofit; Bauer as director and vice-president of operations and Lorenz as director and vice-president of engineering. Willson is a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Energy Institute at Colorado State University.

Winner 2013

Tim Bauer, Nathan Lorenz and Bryan Willson

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