Sometimes, all it takes is a spark to launch a potentially world-changing idea. Long eclipsed by coal, oil and renewables, wood is no longer regarded or used as a primary source of energy in the post-industrial world. Yet wood is still widely used for cooking in the developing world. According to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, nearly half of the world still cooks on open wood-burning fires, and improper ventilation in cooking areas leads to over four million deaths per year.
BioLite founders Jonathan Cedar and Alec Drummond shared two passions: to help solve this problem through sustainable design — and camping. As longtime colleagues at New York-based design consultancy Smart Design, they began investigating thermoelectric technology as a side project to explore alternatives to traditional wood fires, both for themselves and those living in developing countries. But it was only when they won a “camping gizmo” competition at a conference on wood-burning stoves, in 2008, that they realized the true potential of the technology: for off-the-grid use cases. More