Inventor Brings International Attention to $5 Eco-Oven

From on October 16, 2009 in Green Remodeling

Solar OvenWhat began as a father/daughter project ended up the $75,000 winner of the Financial Times Climate Change Challenge. Inventor John Bohmer assembled the Kyoto Box, a $5 eco-oven designed to help combat global warming and world hunger. This small solar-powered oven is made from two cardboard boxes, an acrylic cover that allows in and traps the sun’s rays, and black paint and tin foil that help concentrate the heat. The oven cooks casseroles, bakes bread and boils water.

Mass production of the Kyoto Box could drastically improve life for rural Africa, where food is often cooked exclusively over log fire. It’s estimated that about 3 billion people worldwide still cut down trees for firewood. That decrease in deforestation is essential to combat global warming. “This took me about a weekend, and it worked on the first try,” Bohmer said. “It’s mind-boggling how simple it is.”

The idea is not a new one, however. Designs date back to the 18th century. In the 1970s and 80s, Barbara Kerr and Sherry Cole promoted a solar box cooker through a nonprofit called Solar Cookers International. And the Peace Corps went before them, printing its design in the 1960s. Jon Bohmer just took it a step further and entered a contest that drew international attention to the box. Bohmer named the box after the treaty to combat global warming that was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan.

Solar Oven

The green contest was sponsored by Hewlett Packard and organized by the Financial Times and Forum for the Future, the latter of which raises charity funds for sustainable development. The contest was judged by a panel and open to public votes. Plans are in motion for the production of about 2.5 million boxes per month in one of Kenya’s existing cardboard factories.

Bohmer’s prize money has already funded research and implementation of other products available from his own organization, Kyoto Energy. The list includes the Kyoto Turbo, a cooker to go along with the Kyoto Box, Kyoto Flash to replace kerosene lights, and the Kyoto Bag for carrying and storing water. The bag also heats and cleans the water by the sun and can be used for showering.