In a five-year project that started in 2007 the revolutionary device SCORE (Stove for COoking, Refrigeration and Electricity supply) is being developed. It is an all-in-one solution that is based on biomass and thermoacoustic techniques that is used for heating, for cooling and for generating electricity. The hope is that it will improve environment, health and quality of life on the world’s poorest communities.
The SCORE project also represents many aspects of intersectional innovation: Interdisciplinary research, new applications of existing techniques and innovative combinations. And it all results in a product that has the potential of making a big difference. Technically the concept is revolutionary since thermoacoustic technology has never been used to heat as well as cool in one device using biomass fuel. The electricity generating and refrigerator parts will be based on a new application of thermoacoustic processes; heat from the burning wood goes into a specially shaped pipe that generates sound waves through variations in gas pressure. The sound energy is then turned into electricity.
Does it sound easy? Well - it isn't. This technology has been developed for much more advanced applications like cooling of satellites, radars and military systems. Part of the challenge at this intersection is therefore to make the device easy to handle and cheap to mass produce. The advantages are that thermoacoustic technology requires few moving parts, it is an efficient way of using the energy in wood, and it is less polluting than open fires.
The SCORE consortium is funded by grants from the EPSRC and is an interdisciplinary project where universities in England the USA, Africa and Asia are involved along with a goods manufacturer and an international charity organization.