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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa

versión On-line ISSN 2413-3051
versión impresa ISSN 1021-447X


LLOYD, Philip. A pilot test of ethanol gel as a paraffin replacement in a low-income urban environment. J. energy South. Afr. [online]. 2014, vol.25, n.3, pp.68-74. ISSN 2413-3051.

This paper describes the results of a pilot programme to introduce ethanol gel as a replacement for paraffin for cooking in a low-income informal settlement, Samora Machel, in the Philippi district of Cape Town. A baseline study had shown that paraffin was the dominant source of energy in this community, and that the community knew that its use was both hazardous and unhealthy, but they had no apparent alternative. A gel fuel meeting the requirements of SANS 448 was identified and supplies ordered. A burner system meeting the requirements of SANS 666 was not available on the market; instead it was necessary to use all that could be found. The Agrifood Technology Station at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) was tasked with finding ways to cook using ethanol gel, with accent being placed on cooking safely and using the least possible quantity of gel for a standard menu. After several fruitless attempts to launch a programme, a successful meeting was held at the creche in Samora Machel at which a number of residents agreed to take part in the pilot programme. Soon thereafter, there was a fire in which many residents lost all their possessions, and when stoves were distributed free of charge, and five litres of gel sold at a subsidised price, all stoves were eagerly taken. The demonstration of how to cook using the gel was held at the point of distribution, and people taking stoves were shown how they worked and how to keep them clean. Every week for four weeks, a sample of the participants was contacted to determine their response to cooking on gel. Virtually every response was most positive, and at the end of that period the participants in the pilot programme requested that the supply of gel should continue as long as possible.

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