Nexleaf’s Legacy and the Future of IoT for Cookstoves

Closing a Chapter

The CCDI pilot will be the final chapter in Nexleaf’s clean cooking story. As Nexleaf matures as an organization and establishes its niche within the vaccine cold chain, it’s become clear that we cannot achieve a high level of impact within both the healthcare and energy sectors. After more than a decade of experimenting, learning, and building novel ways to bring better data to clean cooking, we are closing this formative chapter of Nexleaf’s journey.

Clean cooking was one of Nexleaf’s first initiatives as an organization. Founders Nithya Ramanathan and Martin Lukac piloted our first remote monitoring system for cookstoves using a simple temperature sensor and, literally, a phone in a box to transmit temperature readings to a remote dashboard. StoveTrace co-evolved alongside our early iterations of ColdTrace, from a phone in a box to a multi-sensor SIM card-based device and finally to the Bluetooth and mobile app-based technology—we call Trek used today in our Vaccine Transport initiative. StoveTrace was used to pilot innovative alternatives to conventional carbon offset projects, evaluate stove adoption and viability in new cultural contexts, and inform the design of contemporary stoves. Over the years, we monitored thousands of stoves across India, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria. Our tech adapting to cookstoves ranging from traditional threestone fires and mud chulhas to simple improved biomass, gasified pellet, ethanol, biogas, liquefied petroleum gas, and even a brief foray into monitoring small electric appliances with an adapted Trek measuring current.

We are incredibly proud of our early pioneering work to raise the bar for data collection in clean cooking projects and are encouraged by the way the sector prioritizes data and the end-user experience. Nexleaf was once a lonely voice conducting very out-there ideas about remote monitoring: now, IoT is a common topic among clean cooking advocates. Many companies are integrating IoT into stoves and enabling direct monitoring to be automated—something Nexleaf has long thought of as the ultimate dream. The most prominent players are calling for a higher quality of data and a closer look at how we measure impact. It’s an exciting time in clean cooking, and we’re proud to have been a part of the journey.