Inventor Jon Bohmer won $75,000 with his invention of a $5 solar-powered oven that can boil water and bake bread. This is great news for some three billion people who rely on cutting down trees for firewood. “In the West, we cook with electricity, so it’s easy to ignore this problem,” he said. “But half the world’s population is still living in a stone age. The only way for them to cook is to make a fire.”
In addition to saving trees and human bodies (“I don’t want to see another 80-year-old woman carrying 20 kilos of firewood on her back,” Bohmer said), the cardboard oven, dubbed the Kyoto Box, costs little to make. It requires just two cardboard boxes and a sheet of acrylic. Since cardboard factories already exist, production is imminent. A factory in Nairobi, Kenya can produce about 2.5 million boxes a month.
The design is cheap, simple, and ingenious. One cardboard box is painted black and fits inside the second cardboard box covered in silver foil. A sheet of acrylic is placed over the boxes, letting in sunrays and trapping them. The rays generate enough heat to cook, bake, and boil.
Being able to boil water reliably is especially important in those areas of the world without access to clean water sources. Millions of children die from drinking unsanitary water and millions more are sickened.
The Norwegian-born, Kenya-based Bohmer won despite some 300 other entries that included a machine that turns organic material into charcoal, wheel covers that reduce a truck’s drag, and a livestock feed supplement that reduces livestock’s methane emission by 15 percent.
The FT Climate Change Challenge was organized by the Forum for the Future and the Financial Times newspaper. Judges included environmentalist Rajendra Pachauri and British business magnate Richard Branson.