Technology and Fuels
The Alliance and partners are actively exploring fundamental principles of combustion and innovative design ideas through research and development (R&D) efforts. The Alliance’s Pilot Innovation Fund identifies and funds innovative technologies with potential to scale. PIF grantees drive disruptive change in technologies and fuels, with projects covering vacuum tube solar cookers, multi-fuel biomass stoves, and ethanol stoves. The U.S. Department of Energy has supported a research portfolio that includes research on semi-gasifier cookstoves to be more robust to different conditions, developing combustion cores that can be incorporated into widely used stove types, durable materials, and improved auxiliary devices like thermoelectric generators. Across all of these R&D efforts, laboratory design is integrated with field and user testing and improving manufacturing processes, to reach the goal of high performing technologies that will be affordable and meet user needs.
Disseminating lessons from research organizations to the sector is required for successful commercialization and scale for these new innovations. To address this challenge, the Alliance is also supporting technology transfer and capacity building, to extend the impact of ongoing research and development projects.
Interventions and decisions focused on fuel supply and demand must be based on sound data and analysis. Research to improve harvesting, processing or conversion, and distribution, as well as sharing the best practices learned from these studies, can help to scale up efficient practices with low environmental impacts and increased benefits for livelihoods.
As part of a three-year strategic research initiative for climate benefits and reduce environmental degradation, the Alliance and partners are developing a database of wood fuel demand and use, as well as estimates of the fraction of non-renewable biomass (fNRB). In places where deforestation is a concern, and where the collection of firewood contributes to negative environmental impacts, this information can be used to identify areas where scaling clean cookstoves and fuels could provide the greatest benefits to the environment.
Environmental benefits will also be gained by removing barriers to processing and enhancing efficiency of global supply chains. The Alliance is performing an analysis across different fuel supply chains to evaluate social, economic and environmental impacts and strengthen the case for investors, and support decision-making for partners working in the fuels space.
Enterprise-level innovations are also an area of focus, including innovations on fuel product design, performance, processing, marketing and distribution or business models. The Alliance is also supporting analyses of life cycle impacts of enterprise fuel production and processing. The results of these analyses help enterprises to communicate evidence of environmental benefits, build their capacity and plan for sustainable scale up of production. The lessons learned are being shared to scale the best ideas across the sector.