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Computational design and optimization of low-cost cookstoves for low-resource settings




2: Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Supervisor:

Sili Deng

Faculty email:


Apply by:

28 February 2020


Dan Sweeney, dsweeney@mit.edu, 9704202671

Project Description

Nearly half of the global population relies on wood and other biomass to prepare their daily meals mostly using open fires or traditional cookstoves. Women and children who gather fuel, prepare meals and endure high levels of harmful pollutants are the most affected. During the past 40+ years entrepreneurs, engineers and students from around the world, including some at MIT, have developed improved cookstoves, however many designs lack in either performance, affordability or usability. This project aims to address shortcomings of past technologies by using state-of-the-art computational techniques to develop a tool for designing and evaluating combustion cooking and heating appliances. With supervision from researchers in the Deng Energy and Nanotechnology Group (DENG) and MIT D-Lab, the UROP students will start to build this tool and apply it to stove designs with D-Lab community partners. The UROPs are expected to work with members of the DENG Lab and D-Lab to familiarize with relevant background literature and software, build and test individual simulation modules (e.g. combustion, fluid flow, heat transfer), integrate the individual modules into an open-source design tool, run several test cases, and contribute to documentation of tool. The DENG Lab has expertise in multi-physics simulation, and D-Lab has expertise in cookstove product design and testing. The UROPs will also have the opportunity to accompany D-Lab researchers and students during summer and/or IAP field visits. We plan to take on 2 UROP students who can work together during the Spring 2020 semester. Students who are applying for a paid UROP should apply by 7 February 2020.


Applicants should have an interest in scientific research that addresses underserved populations, but no previous experience in this area is required. Preference for applicants who have taken course in thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluids.