Chulha innovator can’t stop from innovations
The adage “when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” is very much applicable to the life of V Jayaprakash, an innovator par excellence from Kerala.
For, the innovator of the improvised portable smokeless chulha (stove) that provides better fuel efficiency found each hurdle in life as insurmountable as the next but faced them with courage and overcame every crisis.
Jayaprakash came up in life the hard way, but today is a happy man
Possessing a flair for innovation right from childhood, Jayaprakash had acquired skills to make smokeless chulhas from ANERT (Agency for Non- Conventional Energy and Rural Technology), a Kerala government organization.
He began by making the chulhas and selling them in the market. But the innovator in him could not remain idle for long and soon he developed ‘three-burner’ chulhas, which he started selling at Rs.6500 per piece.
Later, he developed the community chulha, which could cook about 70 kg of rice at one go. He sold about sixty such units to hospitals and hotels.
But his biggest innovation came after his curiosity was aroused seeing a sudden flash of flame at the chimney of a hospital kitchen, where they had installed a community chulha.
He sought explanation for this phenomenon from ANERT. He was told that un-burnt carbon particles when exposed to oxygen at the top of the chimney had burnt, completing the combustion process.
It set him thinking. “I thought of a two-tier burning process where there would be complete combustion of fuel,” said Jayaprakash. After several trials he made a two-chamber stove that enabled complete combustion without any smoke.
Fuel like wood or coconut shell is burnt in the lower chamber, while the resulting smoke and unburned hydrocarbons reach the second chamber, where the combustion process is completed.
The Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad tested the stove and found it to be more efficient than the other smokeless chulhas.
The National Innovation Foundation (NIF) states that Jayaprakash “has improvised the portable stove by incorporating a secondary combustion chamber for burning the un-burnt bio mass and hydrocarbons. As a result, the thermal efficiency of the stove has improved while the pollution has reduced.”
These fuel efficient chulhas are mostly used in community cooking and sold in hospitals, hostels and hotels, which are saving on fuel expenses.
A study by ANERT found that a hotel in Kozhikode using the stove spends Rs.30 to purchase 75 coconut shells to cook 40 kg rice, whereas it required 10 kg of fuel at Rs.400 in a LPG operated system to cook the same amount of rice.
Jayaprakash’s chulhas are mostly used in community cooking and sold in hospitals, hostels and hotels
Around 500 improvised portable smokeless chulhas priced at Rs 1500 have already been sold. NIF has supported the innovator for the commercialization of the chulha.
Recipient of the Kerala State Energy conservation award (2008) and an NIF award (2012), Jayaprakash says that if the portable chulhas are mass produced then its cost can come down to Rs 800 per unit.
Indeed, Jayaprakash has come a long way since his poverty stricken childhood days. He was initially drawn to school for the mid-day meal they provided but later developed a penchant for science. His interest in the stream furthered as he started representing his school in various science competitions.
His childhood innovations include a pulley to lift load to specific height and a toy motor boat that automatically returned to the starting point after traversing a certain distance.
But he had to discontinue studies after higher secondary and worked as a daily wage labourer in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu). In 1989, he returned to his village Koyilandi (near Kozhikode) to start a small fruit business, where destiny took him to making chulhas.
Now, the innovator has plans to develop chulhas to burn used sanitary napkins and other waste.