Researcher helps create sun-powered solution to toxic air in many lands
August 21, 2013 | Editor’s Pick
While studying climate change in the rural Himalayas, Catlin Powers was asked an eye-opening question by one local family: Why are all of these scientists coming here to study outdoor air pollution when indoor air pollution is so much worse?
A Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) graduate and current Ph.D. candidate in environmental health, Powers is the co-founder of One Earth Designs, a company that creates products that enable people to improve the quality of their lives by wisely using energy resources. She is one of the creative forces behind SolSource, a revolutionary, sun-powered grill designed specifically to answer that family’s question.
Powers began her journey by measuring the indoor air quality inside the Himalayan home where the question was posed, and found that it was 10 times more polluted than the outdoor air in Beijing. Subsequently, she found that more than half a million people each year die in China from the toxic smoke coming from household stoves used for cooking and heating.
Spurred by these revelations, Powers began working directly with rural communities to explore energy solutions and alternate fuel sources for cooking in their homes.
The result was SolSource, a high-performance, low-maintenance, portable, durable, safe, and fuel- and emission-free solar cooker. SolSource harnesses energy from the sun, which is ample on the Himalayan plateau, and uses it to grill, steam, bake, boil, or fry. Cooking with SolSource saves families time and money, reduces their exposure to harmful stove pollution, and helps conserve precious resources.
Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120