Working Papers

Functions, Features and Performance of the 1.5 Litre Vektra Vacuum Insulated Kettle

The Vektra vacuum-insulated kettle uses electricity to boil water. The water then retains heat for up to four hours, according to the manufacturer, by virtue of its vacuum-insulated sides and multiwalled lid. When hot water is required often or regularly, this ability to retain heat reduces the number of times that the kettle has to be boiled, and reduces the electricity required each time the kettle is re-boiled. When heating, the kettle consumes 1.5 to 1.8kW of power when supplied with AC electrical power at between 220V and 240V.

24V DC Electric Pressure Cooker Performance and Safety Assessment

A previous example of the BES branded DC electric pressure cooker range, the 5 litre 12 VDC model, was assessed during 2019 and was discovered to suffer fundamental safety flaws such that attempting to incorporate the cooker in the MECS programme would breach Loughborough University Ethical Policy Framework requirements. Recent examination of two examples of a different BES branded DC EPC (3 litre 24 VDC model) discovered essentially the same set of safety flaws. The ex-factory cooker (for either model) would not be legal to be sold within the UK or EU

The potential for bottled biogas for clean cooking in Africa.

This paper is the outcome of an initial scoping study on the potential for bottled biogas as a clean cooking option for Ghana and Uganda. The study seeks to understand the opportunities for bottled biogas for cooking in Africa, and asks why it has not already taken off, and the key issues to be addressed to enable this.

The political economy of Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS).

Relative cost of cooking with common fuels.

The ‘Modern Energy Cooking Services’ programme is a new approach that will intentionally seek to assist economies to transition to modern energy cooking services. In so doing it may touch the lives of many stakeholders, across several government agencies and private sector, and may change the shape of the how energy for cooking is delivered and accessed. In this paper we try to lay a foundation for addressing that gap in our understanding through a limited political economy analysis.

National scaling up of LPG to achieve SDG 7: implications for policy, implementation, public health and environment.

While around 1 billion people still lack access to electricity, progress on promoting access to electricity has moved at a fast pace. However, close to 3 billion people continue to rely on a variety of traditional solid fuel (e.g. wood, charcoal, dung) and kerosene/paraffin, burned in inefficient and polluting stoves, to meet their everyday household cooking and heating needs. The resulting household air pollution (HAP) is the single largest environmental cause of global disease burden, responsible for between 1.6 and 3.8 million premature deaths annually. In addition, inefficient household cooking also impacts women and harms productivity, climate and the environment at regional and global scale. Through guidelines published on Indoor Air Quality from household fuel combustion (WHO 2014), the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a rapid transition to clean fuels such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and electricity to protect the health of adults and children in resource-poor settings while also offering gender, climate and environmental co-benefits. Indeed, the health and climate impacts of HAP are also compounded through significant contributions to ambient air pollution. Tackling HAP emissions from cooking is, therefore, essential in development of national and regional air pollution control strategies as well as combating climate warming. This policy brief focuses on understanding the important role that LPG (bottled gas) has to play in the short to medium-term to address this urgent crisis.

A comparison of functions and safety features on the Thermo Pot Water Boiler.

The Addis Thermo Pot uses electricity to boil, and then maintain, the temperature of hot water for instant availability in drinks and in cooking. The user selects the maintenance temperature of 40°C, 50°C, 60°C, 85°C or 98°C. When boiling, the power demand is 680W. When keeping warm, the Thermo Pot cycles between 2W and 100W. Its power demand is therefore substantially lower than a conventional kettle. The Thermo Pot is double walled to reduce heat loss rate and reduce the energy demand when maintaining a temperature.
In the context of the MECS project, the Thermo Pot may provide a means of slowly pre-heating hot water during the day, thereby storing energy as heat, and relieving the energy demanded from a battery. In the cooking diaries, a substantial number of heating events are only for hot water, and pre-heated hot water would be beneficial to reduce the cooking times of many foods. The Addis Thermo Pot is available in sizes of 3.5 litres or 5 litres and is sold in the UK for between £60 and £100. Similar products include the Perma-Therm sold by Neostar Electronics, and the Bredeco Thermo Pot.

A comparison of batteries for the MECS project.

Three different batteries of different chemistries and different design have been purchased and tested for use with efficient electric cooking appliances. These are:

  1. Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4, also known as LFP).
  2. Valve-Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA). These units were manufactured by Yuasa.
  3. Lead-Carbon, which is like lead-acid but with reported higher tolerance to deep cycling. These units were manufactured by Leoch.

In the context of the MECS project, the batteries are required to operate cooking appliances. In off-grid applications they are needed to store solar PV electricity. In weak-grid or mini-grid applications, batteries are needed to store electricity for later use, when grid electricity is more expensive, insufficiently powerful, or unavailable.
All the batteries tested have a nominal capacity of 100Ah and a nominal voltage of 12V. In the case of lead-carbon, a single 100Ah battery was used. In the case of VRLA and LiFePO4, two 50Ah batteries of each were used to make a total of 100Ah when connected in parallel.

An Investigation into the Functionality and Efficiency of an Electric Pressure Cooker Bought in Kenya Intended for the Domestic Market.

The ‘Sayona PPS 6 litre’ EPC was bought in Kenya, is also available in Nigeria, Pakistan and possibly elsewhere, but is not available in the UK via Amazon or elsewhere. It is a conventional EPC having a mechanical, clockwork timer switch plus thermostatic control switches and a range of safety features similar to those found in other cookers. In the context of the MECS programme, the Sayona EPC is known to be available in-country in the global south and offers a simple control interface which is not dominated by pre-programmed menus oriented towards western foods. It is similar in the latter respect to the Tower TI6004. This report examines and describes the cooker in detail for functionality, safety assurance, operational and thermodynamic behaviour, temperatures achieved and energy consumption. The tests comprise water boiling tests (WBT) of minimum, maximum and interleaving cooking loads. Water is used as a highly accurate and repeatable cooking load and, simply, many foods contain a high proportion of water. The tests are repeated at lower supply voltages to emulate lower power appliances, to determine whether cooking is feasible at lower power, measure any delay or lengthening of cooking duration and assess any effect on energy consumption. Lower power appliances are likely to be a necessity to protect the prototype system battery both for cycle life and delivered energy per cycle at the present state of battery technology.

Discrete Choice Modelling – Uganda

The primary purpose of the Discrete Choice Modelling surveys was to explore people’s preferences regarding various aspects of the design and functionality of cooking devices. The survey has also been used to gather valuable data on cooking practices (e.g. the mix of fuels used and the timing of meals), and the quality of electricity supplies. Data on expenditure on cooking fuels is especially useful as this represents disposable income that can be substituted for modern fuel devices. The surveys were carried out by the Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC), Makerere University. A team of enumerators conducted face to face interviews and responses were recorded using the Kobo Collect Android application on a tablet.

Cooking Diaries 3.0 Protocols

The purpose of this document is to capture some of the learning gathered during implementation of the “Cooking Diaries” methodology. It is hoped that this will enable other researchers to replicate this form of data collection, processing and analysis to build a much broader evidence base on how people cook, with the aim of facilitating the global transitions toward modern energy for cooking. This document presents an updated methodology (version 3.0), with the aim of working towards a global standard protocol.

Environmental Life Cycle Assessment Framework

To ensure that any MECS solution proposed delivers economic, social and environmental benefits to the target audience, careful assessment of options is required. For environmental concerns, a life cycle approach that considers the entire value chain (from suppliers through the disposal systems) is necessary. The environmental assessment programme for MECS will provide data that can be utilized in a number of ways: to provide feedback on detailed cooking/power design to minimize environmental impact, to identify particular design features that may be necessary to support the integration of MECS into evolving infrastructure provision and to provide insights into policy and regulatory frameworks for infrastructure provision, tailored to the differing conditions found in the regions where MECS will be applied. 

A comparison of functions and safety features on Electric Pressure Cookers – September 2019

There are dozens of different electric pressure cookers (EPCs) on the market for domestic and small commercial use. They range in price from about £50 to well over £100. Seven EPCs are compared here. One, the BES model is designed for use with a 12V DC electricity, whereas the others are all designed for 230V AC electricity. Section 1 describes the functions and features. Section 2 describes the safety features.
This document does not make recommendations as to one type over another, but sets out a factual comparison of functions, external and internal features.

Innovation case studies

In developing countries – particularly low-income countries – it is often the case that relevant innovation systems do not exist to support the uptake of new sustainable energy technologies. These 3 case studies seek to apply lessons from the field of innovation studies to the context of low carbon development and the role that clean energy technologies might play, via international policy interventions, in underpinning sustainable development trajectories. The 3 case studies cover off-grid solar PV in Kenya, Solar Home Systems in Tanzania and LPG in Ghana. A briefing note on ‘Transformative Innovations’ is available here and the full working paper is available here.

eCook Modelling

This paper describes the eCook model, developed through a series of projects since 2015, together with the key assumptions and parameter values used in recent application studies. Summaries of the findings of those studies are provided here, along with links to papers with further detail. There has been a widespread perception that electricity is too expensive for cooking in developing regions. Through detailed analysis of five diverse contexts, application of the eCook model shows that this is no longer true. With appropriate support, electric cooking will gain increasing commercial and political interest. Enabling the transition to eCooking will bring about environmental, gender and health benefits to some of the world’s most disadvantaged people. The model is one of the tools deployed within the MECS programme, supporting analysis of technologies and clean cooking applications. In parallel, a series of model developments are planned, allowing finer time resolution in the modelling, improved handling of uncertainties, and linkage to environmental and multi-criteria analysis frameworks being developed within MECS. The ongoing applications of the model, using data from pilot projects and other activities within MECS, will also strengthen the modelling.

Exploring MECS User Personas

At the heart of MECS is the idea that we will be addressing the real needs of the 3 billion who are still cooking with biomass with all the associated problems of health, environment, climate change and livelihood burdens. Headline figures are being used to suggest that 2 billion people have access to electricity and yet continue to cook with polluting fuels. These are very big numbers! Working with ‘2 billion’ is not going to be very nuanced. So how can we sub divide the 2 billion in a way that meaningfully affects user design?

Introduction to Discrete Choice Modelling and MECS

Researching the transition from business as usual biomass cooking to modern energy cooking services in the MECS programme requires innovation and design of technology to facilitate that transition. To date very few consumers in DFID priority countries have adopted modern energy cooking services, and so it is not always easy to determine what parameters, designs, products, services are key to enabling the transition. Designers are faced with a range of decisions they need to make when designing technology or thinking about consumer value propositions and it is important that consumer opinions inform such decisions.


There are a number of approaches to design and product development. In order to help inform thinking within MECS, we propose a particular survey methodology that has worked well for Gamos. The survey technique is based on a discrete choice modelling approach as a means of exploring consumer preferences relating to cooking devices. Discrete choice modelling reports for six countries (Ghana, Kenya, Myanmar, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia) are already available on the MECS website. This working paper lays out the reasoning behind using Discrete Choice Modelling.

Discrete choice modelling – Ghana

The primary purpose of the Discrete Choice Modelling surveys was to explore people’s preferences regarding various aspects of the design and functionality of cooking devices. The survey has also been used to gather valuable data on cooking practices (e.g. the mix of fuels used and the timing of meals), and the quality of electricity supplies. Data on expenditure on cooking fuels is especially useful as this represents disposable income that can be substituted for modern fuel devices. The surveys were carried out by a team of enumerators as face to face interviews and responses were recorded using the Kobo Collect Android application on a tablet.

Activities in Kenya (LCT)

The foundation for MECS activities in Kenya was laid by the Low Cost Energy-Efficient Products for the Bottom of the Pyramid (LCT) project funded by DfID/UK Aid, EPSRC, RCUK & DECC (now BEIS) through the USES programme. A much deeper analysis of the data collected during this project was subsequently carried out during the MECS programme. The working papers and final reports from this re-analysis will be available here:

Activities in Tanzania, Zambia & Myanmar (Innovate)

The foundation for MECS activities in Tanzania, Myanmar and Zambia was laid by an Innovate UK, Gamos and UK Aid funded project designed to assess the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for eCook (battery-supported cooking) in high impact potential markets. A much deeper analysis of the data collected during this project was subsequently carried out during the MECS programme. The working papers and final reports from this re-analysis will be available here:

Tanzania

Zambia

Myanmar

Mini-grid developers’ toolkit

This toolkit has been designed to support mini-grid developers to explore the opportunities for their customers to transition to cooking with electricity.