ACE 1 stove cooks and charges with solar-assisted biomass heat

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The ACE 1 can use all types of biomass fuels, giving it versatility that other stoves lack

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The ACE 1 stove from African Clean Energy combines elements of solar and biomass power to offer an eco-friendly cooking solution that also charges electronic devices. The stove is a cooking/charging solution for connected campers, developing nations and remote, off-grid dwellers.

We've seen fan-assisted biomass stoves like the VitalGrill, and we've seen gadget-charging stoves from BioLite and Point Source Power. We've also covered solar cookers like the GoSun Stove and Solar Kettle. The ACE 1 combines elements of all those devices into a unique set-up.

The ACE 1 is essentially a solar-backed, fan-assisted biomass stove. In place of the replaceable batteries required for the VitalGrill, the ACE 1 uses a rechargeable 5 Ah lithium-iron phosphate battery. It can be charged via the grid, but more useful to campers and other off-grid users is charging via the 5 W solar panel, which offers an estimated three hours of cook time per one hour of charging. When full, the battery provides up to around 20 hours of cooking.

The stove starts off with fire created by any type of biomass – sticks, corn cobs, even cow dung – and uses the fan to quite literally fan the flames, accelerating heat generation to a whopping 1,832° F (1,000° C) in about two minutes. It provides up to 5 kW of output and burns fuel efficiently and cleanly, offering smokeless cooking that requires much less fuel than other stoves, according to African Clean Energy. The company claims that it offers close to 100 percent combustion, leaving just a spoonful of ash behind. The cook controls the output via a knob.

Since it already had the battery sitting there, African Clean Energy added charging/power capabilities by way of USB and DC outlets. You can charge your phone and power compatible accessories, such as ACE's 100-lumen LED light panel.

The ACE 1's 10.1-lb (4.6-kg) weight will make it much too cumbersome for backpackers and those that prefer to travel light, but it should appeal to car campers, tailgaters, picnickers and others looking for a clean outdoor cooking alternative. The main demographic the company hopes to reach, however, is people that rely on open-fire cooking for daily living. The ACE 1's efficient, smokeless design is aimed at cutting the health risks associated with indoor solid-fuel cooking, a problem the World Health Organization estimates kills more than 4 million people per year. The ability to provide small amounts of electricity for things like mobile phones and lighting is an added plus.

African Clean Energy set up shop in 2011 and currently manufactures the stoves in Lesotho, a landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa. After producing 35,000 units of its original stove, it's working to finish development and begin production of the improved model described above. It's just past 20 percent of the way to its €50,000 (US$64,300) Kickstarter goal with about a month left to go. Stoves can be secured starting at a €159 pledge level, with deliveries estimated to begin in January 2015 if all goes to plan.

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