Amount Awarded:
Funding Received:
Project Status:
 Active: Planning phase

Executive Summary

Local cleantech start-up SafeFlame aims to tackle a glut of high profile issues effecting people in developing nations. First among these is the potent issue of indoor pollutants. Globally, more than 3 billion people cook using biomass (wood, animal dung, crop waste, or charcoal). The indoor pollution created by burning these fuels results in over 4.3 million deaths annually with deaths particularly high among women and young children, who spend the most time within the home. Additionally, many of these solid fuels are gathered in an unsustainable manner by local communities causing severe deforestation.

SafeFlame’s service – which they call an untethered utility – is provided through biodigesters which SafeFlame technicians install directly into customers’ households. These digesters, which are serviced regularly by the team, break down organic content to produce biogas which customers can use to prepare meals on a standard gas cookstove. “Think of it like your water heater at home”, says CEO and current Foster MBA student Kevin Cussen, “Someone installs it somewhere in your house and as long as you pay your electricity bill you reap the benefits of hot water. Once we install a digester, all our customers need to do is pay their bill and they have access to clean burning gas at the turn of a knob.”

However, the start-up is currently working a little closer to home on a project sponsored by the University of Washington Campus Sustainability Fund. The small team has been tasked with building a biogas powered food cart “experience” for use at campus events and high foot traffic areas on the UW campus. The cart will cook food items and serve as a concrete educational aid on the applications of biogas as an alternative energy. Those interested in learning more or getting involved are encouraged to check out SafeFlame’s Facebook page or reach out directly to Kevin Cussen at For all others, keep your eyes peeled for this interesting contraption coming to an event near you this Spring!

Primary Contact: