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Scot Frank calls it a paradigm shift: The solar stove his team created with the help of Himalayan villagers is ready for its product launch into the busy malls of U.S. cities and suburbia.
"The nomads and the farmers we worked with to create the SolSource" stove, he said in a telephone interview this week from Hong Kong, "are very proud that what they've created is able to go back and to help people in other parts of the world."
The SolSource team will be at Salt Lake City's Pioneer Park this week to show off the stove and to raise interest in a Kickstarter campaign that will help scale up production and thus drive down the cost for the people who need it most. During the campaign the stove will be priced at about $250. The stove is expected to retail for $399.
By the month's end, the team will be back in Utah's biggest city for the Outdoor Retailers Summer Market, a flashy convention for the $646 billion industry. And, at the summer's end, they'll stop at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.
In addition, Frank's One Earth Designs is wrapping up a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign this month aimed at generating enough orders for the affordable, portable stoves to create economies of scale. The effort has already exceeded its initial fundraising goal with more than $67,000 from more than 250 people.
Ultimately, the hope is to bring down the stove's cost to those in the undeveloped world who need it so badly, said Frank, who grew up in Holladay and went through West High School's International Baccalaureate program.
The stove was designed to save lives. More than a million people a year many of them children are sickened by "the killer in the kitchen," smoke from combustion stoves used indoors. In addition, it lowers carbon emissions that have put people in so much of the undeveloped world in peril.
"For a long time," said Frank, "we've been seeing interest worldwide for the SolSource product, in particular in the U.S."
The reason? The stove also can have a positive impact in the developed world. For instance, American barbecues generated more carbon dioxide on a single day last July Fourth than many African nations produce in an entire year, according to Frank and One Earth cofounder and COO Catlin Powers.
That boosts the stove's appeal for people eager to lower their carbon footprints, for people who like to camp and for people who like to barbecue without the pollution and carcinogenic risk that's been linked to charcoal.
"With SolSource," said the graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's engineering program, "you don't have that problem."