Professor Volckens Researches Cookstove Pollution with $2.8M Grant

Since this story was published in the spring of 2015, strides have been made on the research front and Dr. Volckens’ lab was featured on 9News in Denver. Click on the image to view the news clip.

Mechanical engineering professor, John Volckens, was recently awarded a $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the emissions and health effects of air pollution from cookstoves. The research team led by Professor Volckens and co-PI, Professor Jennifer Peel, will examine the hypothesis that cleaner-burning stoves will improve the health of people who use them.

The first phase of this five-year study will take place at CSU’s Powerhouse and will shed light on the type of toxic compounds that are released from the combustion of wood, charcoal, and other biomass fuels. Understanding what these emissions are composed of is crucial, as this aspect of the study is poorly understood. This information will not only assist in developing improved stove design but is critical in understanding how human health is affected.

The second phase includes recruiting volunteers to inhale wood smoke and measuring short-term markers of cardiorespiratory health just hours after exposure. For study volunteers, this controlled exposure study will be equivalent to spending a couple hours around a campfire – an activity that is very similar to those who use cookstoves on a daily basis around the globe.

This research will take place in a human exposure facility (as seen in the photo above) that was built by a mechanical engineering senior design team over the course of two semesters. The construction of the facility, which is basically a walk-in cooler, has a variety of safeguards in place.