Jon Bøhmer’s Kyoto Box started out as a science project with his two young daughters, but it soon turned out to be a major benefit to 3 billion people who struggle to cook their food with clean, renewable energy.
The original Kyoto Box was made with Plexiglas and two cardboard boxes. One box was covered with foil and the other was painted black inside. It is capable of boiling water and baking food without the need for firewood. This solar cooker uses the sun, which is a clean and accessible energy source. The Kyoto Box is a major advance in safe, healthy cooking for those who lack access to clean water or firewood.
The use of wood fires for cooking has led to extensive deforestation in many parts of the world — and deforestation is thought to be a major contributor to climate change. In addition, the fumes from primitive home ovens are a major cause of respiratory disease in the developing world. The Kyoto Box, on the other hand, produces no carbon emissions.
Bøhmer is a Norwegian who lives and runs his company in Kenya. He had been researching solar-cooking solutions for a decade, but the first Kyoto cooker came together much more quickly. “This took me about a weekend, and it worked on the first try,” Bøhmer told CNN. “It’s mind-boggling how simple it is.”
The Kyoto Box won $75,000 in the 2009 FT Climate Change Challenge award, which is run by Forum for the Future and the Financial Times newspaper.
The simplicity of the Kyoto Box’s design (which has been refined and is now made from recycled plastic) makes it possible to produce each box for just $5.
“We’re saving lives and saving trees,” Bøhmer told London’s The Telegraph newspaper. “I doubt if there is any other technology that can make so much impact for so little money.”