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National Runner Up

BioCell - Clean Energy Harvesting by SEMINA

We belive everyone can have access to Clean Energy! With our BioCell, a smart portable cookstove, we harness energy from agricultural-waste and make Clean Energy harvesting possible for everyone.

  • Ressource - Cycle

  • Introduction Video (German)

    Introduction Video (German)

  • The SEMINA Ecosystem, App + BioCell

  • Prototype in Action

  • Full assembly, with a big pot and heavy pot rest

  • BioCell with DIY-Pot Rest

What it does

BioCell is a smart, portable cookstove that transforms biomass into heat, electricity, and valuable secondary resources. It reduces harmful indoor-air-pollution and carbon monoxide emissions of solid-fuels to levels of clean gas cookers.


Your inspiration

During our work for “Ingenieure ohne Grenzen Austria” in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, we had to face the daily struggles of preparing food over polluting open fires. The smoke immediately takes your breath, burns in your eyes, and lets you gasp for clean air. While we could leave the fireplace, the women who prepared the food cannot. Millions of people are affected by this indoor-air-pollution because affordable solutions for everyone do not exist. That’s why we combined our know-how with the expertise of our users and developed our smart cookstove as well as a financing-model designed to also reach people living in absolute poverty.


How it works

BioCell is based on our impact measurement technology, combined with a pyrolysis burning chamber, which enables us to reward positive climate action. Through our technology and the smart-control-unit our users can generate charcoal from agricultural waste and dry biomass while cooking. Simultaneously the control unit monitors the carbon emissions. The fuel information is collected through sensors in the control-unit and transmitted via Bluetooth to Smartphones. The user can visualize the personal climate impact through our App, which captures the information, and stores it on our secure servers, which can be used to generate 100% transparent CO2-Certificates and allowing each user to make positive decisions for climate action, which rewards them periodically with mobile money directly to their phones.


Design process

In 2019 we started to develop easy-to-build cookstoves and realized that most of our potential users who need our solution, could not afford clean technologies. So, we redesigned our stove and created a product, which implements a financing model to reach even people living in absolute poverty. Firstly, the top-load burning chamber was designed to match the thermal-load with the available materials. Several CFD Simulations of different versions of the burning chambers iteratively improved the design. After one year of development, we managed to design a prototype that generates charcoal, while saving up to 60% of fuel. The smart control unit automatically measures the climate impact of every use, making it possible to reward each user for positive climate action while also producing enough electricity to charge smartphones. There is a functional prototype of the stove and the App, which can read the data from the stove and tell the users their savings. Simultaneously we created our smart-control-unit and tested the sensors and the communication modules. Through the entire product development, we focused on the social and environmental impact of our core product the BioCell.


How it is different

BioCell is the first cookstove with smart impact measurement, which allows each of our users to be rewarded for positive climate action. It is designed to generate secondary-resources from agricultural-waste while cooking and enables everyone, also people in poverty, to get access to clean and affordable energy. Through our intelligent energy management and a Thermoelectric-Generator, our users generate surplus electricity, enough to charge a smartphone or light up entire rooms with LED-Lights. We designed our BioCell to ensure, that everyone who needs a clean cookstove, can afford it. We also constructed a mobile container workspace to empower our partners to build the burningchambers localy, create new job opporunities, carefully set up our supply chain and fuel origin, to maximize our local impact.


Future plans

Currently, we are working on the first small scale series. We are searching for manufacturing partners, partners with expertise in industrial product design and hope to leverage our impact and improve the lives of our customers. The next big steps are testing the whole ecosystem with our local partner the Social Innovation Academy in Uganda and expand to the Kyaka II refugee settlement.


Awards

Our Start-Up SEMINA, was awarded with, the Social Impact Award 2018 in Austria, the ClimateLaunchpad Austria 2019 1st Place, the TUN-Award 2020 2nd Price and WKO Africa-Innovation Challenge 2020 1st Place


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