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Johns Hopkins: Faculty-Led Initiative Aimed at Indoor Cooking Alternatives in Peru Receives Grant from the Osprey Foundation

A thermal cooker project in Peru, led by Dr. Steven A. Harvey, an associate professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of International Health, has received a $52,000 grant from the Osprey Foundation to investigate indoor cooking alternatives in Peru.

The initiative is part of the Johns Hopkins Alliance for a Healthier World, which brings together multidisciplinary researchers from across Johns Hopkins to work on problems related to global health equity.

Dr. Harvey’s project is investigating the feasibility and effectiveness of moving families in highland Puno away from cooking with biomass fuel (wood, crop waste, charcoal, and dung) to liquified petroleum gas (LPG). Cooking in homes with biomass fuel emits carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other toxins, and the resulting air pollution is linked to pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Burning these materials also contributes to deforestation, soil erosion, and climate change.

The project team is testing whether a thermal cooker — a heavily insulated bag made from locally sourced material — can make LPG an affordable option by heating food to a high temperature on an LPG stove, then enclosing in the thermal cooker that cooks the food at a high temperature for several hours without burning additional gas. This cooking method could greatly reduce the amount of LPG required for cooking, and make it an affordable option for people in low- and middle-income countries.

The thermal cooker team also includes researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Whiting School of Engineering.

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