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New and Renewable Energy Systems for Cooking in MDM. Priyadarshini Karve Samuchit Enviro Tech Email: How Much Energy do we actually need?. Fuel wood requirement for a mid-day meal comprising of rice, sambhar, and boiled potota/egg is cooked on a three stone fire:

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New and renewable energy systems for cooking in mdm

New and Renewable Energy Systems for Cooking in MDM

Priyadarshini Karve

SamuchitEnviro Tech


How much energy do we actually need
How Much Energy do we actually need?

Fuel wood requirement for a mid-day meal comprising of rice, sambhar, and boiled potota/egg is cooked on a three stone fire:

160 g per child per day

(Ref: data collected from schools by TIDE, Bangalore)

Total number of children fed across India under MDM: 111 million

Total quantity of fuel wood potentially required: 17,600 ton/day

Equivalent quantity of LPG required if the same food is cooked on a commercial LPG stove: 979 ton/day (51,462 commercial cylinders/day)

Current status
Current Status

  • Common practice in many states:

    • Cooking is done on three stone fires in the school premises

    • Flat bottom aluminum cooking vessels available in the market are used

    • Cooks are local women or teachers themselves

  • Adverse consequences:

    • Adverse impact on health of the cooks due to smoke and soot inhalation

    • School children and staff also get exposed to smoke and soot emission

    • Potential fire hazard

    • Environmental impact in case of unsustainable harvesting of firewood

  • Improved wood burning cook stoves can reduce the fuel wood requirement by about 50%

  • LPG is the ideal option, but not always affordable or available

Energy flow in the cooking system
Energy Flow in the cooking system

Heat in the ‘fire’

Heat in the ‘cooking pot’

Chemical energy ‘locked’ in the fuel

Heat from ignition and air

Unburnt / partially burnt fuel leading to ‘loss’

Heat loss to atmosphere

  • The factors that directly impact the energy flow are:

  • The fuel + stove combination

  • The cooking utensils

  • The menu and quantity of food to be cooked

  • The cooking practices

  • The indirectly important factors for the cooking energy system are:

  • Kitchen architecture

  • Process in place for organic waste disposal (to explore the possibility of biogas)

Holistic approach in mdm
Holistic Approach in MDM

  • MDM cooking is a unique and specialised cooking energy service – a holistic service-focused approach is possible.

  • In household cooking, the performance criteria focus on heat source alone, as everything else is variable.

  • In commercial or institutional cooking, the performance criteria can focus on fuel + stove+ a limited number of cooking utensils, but other things are variable.

  • In MDM cooking,

    • menu and quantity of food are specified,

    • kitchen architecture can be specified,

    • cooks can be trained.

Possibilities emerging from holistic approach
Possibilities Emerging from Holistic Approach

Use of more efficient cooking energy devices (improved cook stove, LPG, solar, etc.) will reduce energy requirement by at least 50%.

Cooks trained on energy efficient cooking practices will reduce energy consumption by a further 5-10%.

Use of cooking utensils designed for maximum heat transfer efficiency and for specific food items and quantities can further improve fuel use efficiency by about 10-15%.

Uniquely designed systems comprising of fuel + stove + utensils best suited to the needs of a school, operated by properly trained cooks can collectively reduce energy requirement by about 75% from the current status.

Example of holistic approach samuchit sarai system
Example of Holistic Approach: Samuchit Sarai System

Steam cooker consisting of a charcoal brazier, cooker pot, a set of three utensils, and a tailor made pot skirt.

Available in four sizes to suit different food quantity requirements.

70% more efficient than cooking the same quantity of food on a traditional charcoal brazier.

We promote ‘renewable’ charcoal made from locally available biomass waste through local livelihood generation.


Efficient options suited for mdm
Efficient Options suited for MDM

Improved stove (different designs) + firewood

Improved stove (different designs) + biomass briquettes

LPG stove + LPG

Biogas stove + biogas produced from cowdung and/or kitchen and market waste

Solar cooking (different designs)

Combinations of all or several of the above

Combining any of these with specially designed cooking utensils

Advantages of proposed approach
Advantages of Proposed Approach

A menu of energy options suited to the MDM programme in each state can be developed through collaboration of experts, local R&D establishments, and local manufacturers and fuel suppliers.

A school can use a simple decision making tool to select the best option from the menu to meet its unique needs.

High performance as well as safety and hygiene standards can be achieved through totally tailor made solutions, backed by suitable training.

Reduction in energy requirement  Reduction in energy cost + Reduction in occupational health and environmental impact

National level policy enabling local solutions
National Level Policy Enabling Local Solutions

  • A basic set of performance guidelines can be developed, and decision making tool can be designed that will allow any school anywhere in the country to make the best choice for its MDM requirement.

  • The solutions that fit in the performance criteria may vary from state to state.

  • Essential step in this process:

    • Field level data collection

    • R&D

    • Linkage with local manufacturers and fuel suppliers

    • Piloting in different agro-climatic and socio-economic zones of the country

Example of decision making approach
Example of Decision Making Approach

Energy required for boiling water = 72 kcal/kg

Service required: Boiling 100 lit of water

Running cost for a fuel + stove system under consideration

= [(72 kcal x 100 kg x 100/efficiency in percentage)/calorific value in kcal/kg] x price of fuel in Rs./kg

Example of decision making approach2
Example of Decision Making Approach

  • Innovative hybrid approaches may also be considered:

    • Ordinary solar water heater (capital cost about Rs.10,000) to first heat the water to about 50 deg C, and then use any stove for further heating.

    • Use an insulated utensil specially designed as water boiler, with any of the fuel + stove combinations, to further reduce fuel consumption and therefore running cost.

    • Any other….?

  • Final decision will be based on both financial considerations and analysis of relative pros and cons.

Example of possible redesigning green and clean kitchen
Example of Possible Redesigning: Green and Clean Kitchen

Kitchen energy system can be redesigned to reduce dependence on commercial LPG for any community or commercial kitchen.

Estimated 8-10 kg LPG eq/day

2 commercial stoves run

for 4-5 hrs each per day

= Rs.600-800 saved/day

Estimated 50-60 kg

kitchen waste

Estimated 20-25 kg biogas from

two large biogas plants

60 kg biomass briquettes

@ Rs.10/kg = Rs.600

Daily 6 hr use of two

Sushmanth Stoves

20 kg LPG equivalent/day

= Rs.1000 saved/day


1000 meals/day consisting of roti, vegetable, dal, rice, sweet are cooked in the community kitchen.

Original energy usage: 1.5 commercial cylinder/day

Commercial cylinder as back up

New and renewable energy systems for cooking in mdm


Biogas Plant

Capacity: 10 m3 Digester (plastic or masonry tank )

7.5 m3 gas holder (plastic tank)

Unit Cost: Approx Rs.300,000

Pay back period: 3-4 years, for commercial LPG replacement

Operating cost: Electricity for Food Pulper, 1 hp

Labour 2 hr/day (at actual)

Gas production: 3-5 kg LPG eq/day


Area open to sunlight throughout the day 3 m x 3 m

Water ~ 100 lit/day (spent slurry can be recycled)

Feedstock: Food waste, any green plant matter, pulped, up to 30 kg

Sushmanth biomass stove
Sushmanth Biomass Stove

Clean and smokeless burning of biomass

Reducing toxic emissions

For bulk cooking in establishment likeMess, Canteen, Restaurant, Caterers, Dining halls, Roadside eateries

Fuels used: firewood, biomass briquettes, coconut shells, etc.

Fuel cost saving: 60-85%

Electric blower achieves forced draft gasification.

Nonelectric forced draft option also available.

Funds for energy system
Funds for Energy System?

Funding from the Ministry will be required initially for data collection, and development of performance criteria and decision making tool at national level, and a ‘menu’ of possible solutions for each state.

Potential donors and funders for the actual equipment: Petroleum companies, local business houses (under CSR activity), local government bodies, etc.

Seed finance for purchase of equipment/creation of required infrastructure: Local banks, SHG federations, etc.

Carbon/Climate finance: Monetisation of the carbon emission reduction accrued through reducing use of unsustainably harvested firewood and substitution of LPG.

Summing up
Summing Up…

The most optimum cooking energy system, based on local, renewable fuels/energy sources can be tailor made to suit the requirement of each school.

This approach will involve initial cost to put the systems in place, but is justified in terms of health, environmental and economic gains in the long run.

The approach provides a long lasting solution to the energy aspect of the MDM programme, minimising the running cost as well as hassle related to the energy aspect of the MDM kitchen at the school level.

There are various possibilities to obtain sponsorship for the actual equipment or infrastructure.

Thank you

Thank You!

Priyadarshini Karve

SamuchitEnviro Tech

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