Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center

Low cost wood chipper to facilitate use of TLUD stoves

Servals Group and Janaseva Foundation, Nasik district, Maharashtra,India


About Servals : Servals Automation Private Limited (Servals) is a social enterprise with a mission “To bring appropriate technology to the ‘bottom of pyramid’ to enhance the quality of their life”. Aiming to “usher in an age of energy independence to the poor”, Servals focuses on providing clean, green, affordable and sustainable energy for cooking and lighting purposes. Servals seeks to achieve its mission with a strong focus on the following environmental practices at the grass-roots level - Conservation of Fossil-Fuels, Reduction of Carbon Emission, Reduction of Indoor Air Pollution, Reduction of De-Forestation. Their products are designed with a view to (a) conserve fossil fuels (energy efficient kerosene burners and stoves) (b) use truly renewable energy sources (Stoves and Lamps that run on straight vegetable oil) (c) use of under-tapped sources of energy (TLUD gasifier wood stoves)

Servals seeks to work towards its mission with a business model that is based on social entrepreneurship. In the effort to harness the productive power of the rural poor, Servals partners with NGOs and SHGs for production and marketing. The company also hopes to create a stream of economic activity around its new energy inventions at the grassroot level (esp TLUD wood stoves and Plant oil stoves) so that the inventions are self sustaining, self reliant and provide energy independence to the rural poor.

Servals product Portfolio : The products of Servals represent a complete basket of products suited for every fuel use – Kerosene (Burners and Stoves), Biomass (TLUD Gasifier Wood Stove and Plant Oil/Straight Vegetable Oil (Plant Oil Stove and Lamp).

With a product range that has been identified by Infodev (a special program of the World Bank) as a “cleantech innovator success story”, being identified as a Technology Pioneer Candidate 2011 by the World Economic Forum and having won one of India’s most prestigious awards in the Clean Energy Category and consequently being recognized as one of India’s top 10 most investment worthy organizations in the social enterprise space, Servals is gearing up to move up the sustainable and renewable energy chain through its newer energy inventions – particularly the TLUD gasifier wood stove and the plant oil stoves and lamps. (


Top lit up draft (TLUD) stoves are an excellent alternative to traditional stoves used for household cooking in developing countries worldwide, because of their high fuel use efficiency, low emissions and production of charcoal as a byproduct of combustion. One of the biggest limitations of TLUD stoves is that they need small size wood (<6” length), whereas the firewood collected by the rural people is much larger (>3’). The ideal solution for this problem is to encourage people to use twigs and waste biomass that does not need tree felling or downsizing, but leading people in that direction is a slow process and it is essential to offer an easy way to utilize the conventional firewood collected by rural people in the beginning.

Currently, wood chippers powered by electricity are available at a cost of $2500. Investment of this much in every village is neither advisable, nor possible and the electricity in rural areas is not reliable. Therefore, we are hoping to develop a low cost wood chipper powered by human or bullock power or small amount of solar power.


Qualifications, Preferences, and Assets

No language skills are needed for the project. We believe that students from mechanical or electrical engineering would have the technical skills necessary for the project, but we welcome ideas and proposal from anyone who is interested.

Time Constraints

This is a general need that we would welcome help at any time.


Sujatha Srinivasan
Director, Exports and Communication

PKG Center Support

MIT students who develop projects around these ideas may apply for support from the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center's Internships, Fellowships or Grants programs. Please check the program descriptions and deadlines and talk to program staff to determine which is most appropriate for your needs and project.

If you want to volunteer or you have funding from outside the PKG Center that enables you to work on this project, that's great! However, please do let us know if you work on a project you saw advertised here, even if you don't use our funds. And remember, the PKG Center staff are happy to advise on service projects even if we are not funding them ourselves.

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