- The health and environmental impacts associated with traditional methods of household cooking and heating have driven the development and dissemination of many types of improved cookstoves and fuels. However, adoption rates, household cooking practices, and even household ventilation can directly influence the magnitude of real-world impacts. Given the highly contextual nature of a technological intervention's impact, monitoring multiple household metrics over an extended period of time is necessary to fully understand performance in a given context.
Sensor-based monitoring can provide a means of capturing long-term, relatively objective data regarding a stove's performance within context of use. Evaluation of several metrics are needed, including adoption rates, fuel usage, and emission production. While each of these metrics have been monitored previously using individual sensors in combination with more traditional monitoring methods, such as surveys and household visits, monitoring of all three metrics simultaneously with sensors has not yet been possible.
A new integrated sensor suite has recently become available allowing for the autonomous monitoring of household air pollution, stove usage, and fuel usage. The purpose of this research was to evaluate this sensor suite as a tool for increasing accessibility and capacity for stove monitoring and evaluation by in-country projects. Training materials, data processing algorithms, and cross-sensor analysis methods were developed. The hardware used in this study were manufactured by Climate Solutions Consulting and included a wireless handheld launcher and a sensor suite consisting of an EXACT (temperature) sensor, HAPEx (particulate matter) sensor, and FUEL (fuel use) sensor. Data regarding household stove use, air quality, and fuel use was collected in Nepal between February 2021 and April 2021 by partners with the Red Panda Network. Data analysis included individual household level comparisons between monitoring periods to determine the impact of the interventions on fuel consumption and household air pollution, household fuel use verification via increases in stove temperature and particulate matter concentration, and identification of cooking initiation given particulate matter (PM) concentrations.
Through cross-sensor analysis household PM data was used to verify cooking duration and flag rises in PM concentration without the increase in stove temperature. Furthermore, measured household fuel consumption using the FUEL system was verified using both household PM and stove temperature data with FUEL system compliance quantified with stove temperature data. Results suggest that the use of cross-sensor data analysis allows for single sensor validation, a more comprehensive view of household context, and an ability to develop insights on household stove performance despite data loss and/or corruption. This new, comprehensive method of household stove monitoring shows potential to increase transparency regarding real-world stove performance evaluation, allow for faster stove design and iteration, increase access to results-based financing such as carbon credits, and develop more robust metrics regarding stove impacts on both user health and the environment. Further development of the sensor suite system may increase the capacity of local projects to perform stove monitoring by providing a more accessible and effective means of data collection.