a smokeless solution

His first invention of a smokeless wood fired stove in Pyuthan introduced him to a lot of enthusiasts. Most of them were senior government officials, members of reputed bureaus, INGOs and the media. As of now, Madhukar KC has literally lost his count of the individuals who know him or use his patented airflow supplier for stoves (chulos) in their everyday lives.

Ten years ago, Madhukar KC had a brainstorm that led him to a life changing decision. While working as a technician for solar powered products in his village in Pyuthan, KC discovered that a fire burning with high intensity-up to a certain force-was responsible for reducing the smoke it would have otherwise produced. “I realized this when I saw goldsmiths melt gold with solar powered burners,” confesses Madhukar. This was the moment when he decided to develop and patent smokeless wood fired stoves.

KC, who has marked his unique identity in the alternative energy development sector, has a story of his own that reminds him that:“the more you fail, the more you learn.” This was what he had to say when he confessed that it cost him almost thirty-two unsuccessful burners to make the final one. Number thirty-three became his trademark. Since then, his life seemed to have taken a winding turn. But it all began with what he decided to do next.

The first door that he was able to walk into was winning the annual Mohan Dhoj Pragya Puraskar awards in 2009, hosted by the National Association of Science and Technology (NAST). Two years before this, he had been covered in “Sagharsha”, a regular broadcast production of Nepal television. In the television program, Madhukar showcased his burner to ignite coals made with lump charcoal. “The program really encouraged me to do justice to my invention,” says KC.“At this time, I was at Nepal Dhalot Udhyog in Patan after coming to Kathmandu with my sixth burner that I designed at the workshop of Nabin Piya of Laxmi Engineering Karyashalain Chitwan,” he recalls. KC had spent all his time doing the only thing that he had prescribed himself to do: refining his burner. The same year, he got the chance to be part of a Business Incubation Program conducted by the Federation of Nepal Cottage and Small Industries (FNCSI). With the help of Bishwo Kumar KC of the FNCSI, he finally succeeded in getting his burner patented with an approval by the Government of Nepal. “This opened a lot of doors for me and my invention,” says Madhukar.

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Although winning the certificate yielded him a good reputation, KC was having a hard time commercializing his burner. Hence he decided to give up on lump charcoal and started to experiment with wood. In the process to develop this as a trademark, he got involved in development programs that were hosted by the UNDP in different rural regions of districts like Mahendranagar. The stoves used during the UNDP’s smokeless stove campaigns were based upon the South Indian technique of putting seventy bricks. But then again, KC saw the need for his burner to be glowing inside something more effective. “I developed a system of using only eight bricks then, but it too seemed ineffective in some regions where they could not dry easily due to the weather, “he adds.

For its mass production, he has tied up with CB Energy Pvt. Ltd. This was right after he won the “Surya Nepal Social Entrepreneurship Award” for 2013. “At the moment we are producing a lot of varieties of stoves that even includes portable ones,” says Bijaya Raj Ghimire of C.B. Energy. The all new stoves removes the hassle of making a mud-and-brick setup and would not require more than a bit of soil and stones for their adjustment (i.e. if required). To add up to the air pressure, a solar powered fan, the ones used in a desktop computer, is also used in some setups. These stoves have been officially named as “Matribhumi Chulo”.

The stoves that are being currently produced are of three types: single-mud stoves, full metal-bodied stoves and double-mud stoves. Manufactured in Kathmandu, the stoves have travelled to most of the regions inside the nation.

As its popularity grows, Madhukar has plans to move onto other projects. Alongside the promotion of these unique stoves, his stakeholders are ready for yet another innovative journey that KC promises to yield in the days to come. Only this time, his new trials will have a tough act to follow.

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