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Scaling bioethanol cooking in emerging markets

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Deriving cooking energy from anything other than reticulated gas networks or reliable electricity grids seems alien to many in the West. But infrastructure, capital and technology deficits in many emerging markets mean millions are forced to rely on traditional, inefficient and polluting cooking fuel sources.

In the largest African cities alone, cooking fuel is a $20 billion (almost €18 billion) annual market, yet consumers are poorly-served by available options, including deforestation-based charcoal and toxic kerosene, which devastates the environment and public health (every year indoor air pollution from dirty cooking fuels kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined). Importantly, urban low-middle income customers want to upgrade to a modern cooking fuel that keeps pace with other common quality of life improvements, like electricity, televisions and smartphones.

Of cleaner-burning alternatives, only liquid petroleum gas (LPG) has achieved commercial scale. However, the high infrastructure costs required for distributing a compressed gas mean it is relatively expensive, only accessible to upper-income segments, and requires...

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