Wood gets a steel makeover

India’s first rocket stove from Zila brings the concept of viragu adupu  to the cities especially for those who love the organic way of life.

Published: 11th June 2017 10:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th June 2017 05:03 AM   |  A+A-

At the stall in National Seed Festival 2017

Express News Service

India’s first rocket stove from Zila brings the concept of viragu adupu  to the cities especially for those who love the organic way of life. Saravanan Arumugam, who invented this model, wants to bring together farming and engineering to create modern day usable products.

CHENNAI: From gas stoves to induction stoves, the kitchen has seen endless improvisations and developments. It began with the traditional viragu aduppu, a stove that was invented by our forefathers. Pushing and shifting logs of wood, leaves, charcoal and twigs into a small three-stone cooking stove and blowing through a funnel or an iron pipe to control the flame was how food was prepared.

But with technology, things changed to the variety we see today in the modern day kitchens. Would you like to have a viragu aduppu set up within the comforts of your lawn, backyard or kitchen? Saravanan Arumugam, an IT professional-turned-entrepreneur and founder of Zila, an eight-month old startup, was recently part of the National Seed Festival 2017 and launched India’s first commercial rocket stove.

“I quit my IT job and switched to teaching children technology-oriented hobbies. But parents don’t take these hobbies seriously...they just enrol them in classes for kids to kill time and not to learn something new,” recalls Saravanan, who later decided to venture into creating automation tools involving sustainable and renewable energy.

“We have several farmers and engineering groups that deal with a lot of topics. But what if the two got together and ideated new tools? That’s how the whole concept came about,” says the entrepreneur who is a part of Farmzilla, an open hardware community for agriculture mechanisation. “We derive knowledge for one idea from elsewhere — books, internet, people and so on. So why put a copyright on it?” he asks.
With changing lifestyle, culture and practices not only in the city but also in the villages, he opines that people in rural settlements lacked a proper stove. “When it rains, it gets difficult for them to ignite the wood stove. Then there’s smoke which cannot be controlled and a lot of ash is
left behind in the process,”
he explains.

Saravanan, through Zila, worked on creating a sustainable rocket gas stove, based on the concept of viragu aduppu for several months. “I took suggestions from people who use it and improvised the stove. A product matures only by doing so,” he says pointing to the shiny-black painted rocket stove. “You see this inclined space in the stove? You fill it with wood briquettes and pellets, ignite it with cotton in the vault under and cook food,” he explains.

What are the advantages? “Inclined fuel feeding, efficient fuel consumption and a controllable air inlet. The flame can be controlled by letting in the needed amount of air,” he says.
With seven of the stoves working on a trial basis in farms, some hotels and an apartment, Saravanan is open to suggestions. “This is a very basic model using raw iron and a simple concept. Anyone can use it. I designed three sizes — one for a small family, trekkers and campers; another for a larger family and the largest for hotels,” he explains.

But who will buy a ‘modern viragu aduppu’? “I know what I have done is not for mass production. It is targeted at people who believe in organic living and people who like cooking this way. If people liked how their grandmother cooked in this aduppu, they will know the value!” he adds.

For details, call Saravanan at 9840880558 or visit

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