Ecosystem Services

Spiral Pine Needle Cookstove

Spiral Pine Needle Cookstove


In Uttrakand, India, wood fuel is a scarce commodity, as it is illegal to cut branches from the government-owned pine trees. The large volume of needles fallen from these trees present environmental hazards and increase the risk of forest fires; however, these pine needles have great potential as a highly combustible alternative fuel.


caption cook stove

caption irrigation system


How does it work: This cook stove uses unprocessed pine needles as an alternative fuel. The design incorporates a slow feed of compressed pine needles that burn and gasify in an insulated chamber. The resulting fire is directed along an innovative spiral geometry to increase the burn path of the fuel, thus allowing for a clean, efficient burn that spreads heat across the bottom of the pot.       

caption irrigation system Our Story: This project and team originated out of the Spring 2010 D-Lab Design class at MIT, taught by international development guru Amy Smith. The class focuses on designing appropriate technologies for developing countries, and works with community partners around the world. India’s Avani NGO presented D-Lab with the challenge of designing a practical stove that uses pine needles as its fuel source. A team of four mechanical engineering students and two mentors started working on a solution, and what began as a class project has now grown into a thrilling adventure in design and international development.

The spiral stove has found many strong supporters and has been awarded over $10,000 in grant and prize money this summer alone. The current prototype is mainly a proof-of-concept model, and much refinement is still needed; however, this stove is on the right track and has the potential to successfully utilize an untapped, bountiful, and renewable energy resource. Moving forward, the team goal is to turn this spiral stove into a sustainable and scalable product that increases people’s access to energy and improves quality of life.



Liane Fang, Caroline Hane-Weijman, Alyssa Roque, Danielle Whited, Jic Davis


Liane Fang, Caroline Hane-Weijman, Alyssa Roque, Danielle Whited, Jic Davis


Amy Smith, Victor Grau-Serrat

USAID Sector:



February 2010 - present


Uttrakand, India


$20-$25 USD


Currently in design stage




(2012). Spiral Pine Needle Cookstove. Retrieved from


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