ISO standard cookstoves

From October 13th to 16th, 2014 cookstove experts from around the world met in Guatemala to implement new ISO standards for cookstoves. StovePlus experts were part of the event.

When two experts from the cookstove sector meet and begin to talk about stove technologies, you would expect them to understand each other quite well. However, there are numerous tests, metrics and indicators used in stove language which makes it hard to directly compare stoves.

By implementing standards for cookstoves, those working in the sector will be able to understand, compare and share their experiences, technologies and knowledge to help the sector to move forward.

Bye bye inefficient and dirty stoves!

The second reason why standards are so important is to provide standardized devices, which means that their design respects norms and recognized protocols. The working groups for cookstove standardization are thus formulating the basic criteria required to make stoves cleaner and more efficient than traditional ones.

A long process…

Developing cookstove standards that conform to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) take a very long time. Experts are gathered from all over the world, meeting at least 5 times over a period of 6 to 7 years.

Three years ago in February of 2012, a group of individuals decided to start the discussion about standards in a meeting during which resulted an IWA document (Internal Workshop Agreement 11: 2012) with several resolutions. In July 2013, guided by ISO, the Technical Committee 285 (TC 285) - Clean cookstoves and clean cooking solutions - was established. The secretariat of this TC is hosted by ANSI (American National Standard Institute). Later, on February 2014, the ISO/TC 285 Clean cookstoves and clean cooking solutions held a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, attended by National Standard Bodies representing 20 countries.

And the ISO adventure begins.

In the Nairobi meeting, the group discussed the content of the IWA document. This discussion resulted in 11 resolutions. Amongst them are Resolution 7 (regarding New Work Item Proposal on Existing Lab Protocol), Resolution 8 (regarding a New Work Item Proposal on Conceptual Testing Framework), Resolution 9 (regarding a New Work Item Proposal for Suitable Field Testing Methods) and Resolution 10 (regarding a New Work Item Proposal on Guidelines for Social Impact Assessment).

A Working Group for each resolution

For each resolution that needs follow-up, volunteers have been selected to develop a New Work Item Proposal (NWIP). A commenting period allows the fellows to improve resolutions and a convener nominated by the whole group is in charge of gathering and moderating the comments.

Four working groups were then established for the cookstoves. Two StovePlus experts are involved in the laboratory testing group and in the social impact group. In addition to the working groups, there are also technical groups for fuel and communication. These groups are interconnected through subjects that implement a frame not to overlap. Thus, when the field testing group is talking about fuel saving characteristics, the group will not talk about the social impacts of fuel savings, but will let the social impact people think about all the consequences affecting livelihoods, health, etc.

What’s next?

These working groups are now in charge of writing the standards which they will then send at the very end of the process to the ISO Secretariat to be validated.

On the field, the challenges will be for ISO to be adopted by countries promoting clean cookstoves and then to be sure that adhere to the standards. Also, it is essential to make it understood to the end-users that choosing a standardized stove can improve their livelihoods, reduce the risk of disease and protect their local environment compared to buying a traditional stove.

Moving towards 2017

The standards are expected to be implemented in 2017. Until that date, cookstove experts have a lot of work to do – refining the standards and going beyond their different ways of thinking about stoves to create flexible yet rigorous stove standards that can be used around the world.