Photo: Ken Lou Castillo
Ken Lou Castillo was 9 years old when he became the youngest inventor in Guatemala by patenting Mr. Fuego, a kind of ecological firewood made of recycled materials that when burned, harms neither the environment nor people’s health.
Mr. Fuego (Mr. Fire) won Lou Castillo membership in the Guatemala Inventors Commission as well as the Erick Barrondo Order, awarded by the Guatemalan government to outstanding youths.
“I don’t consider myself an inventor,” Ken, now 19, said during an interview with Efe.
“I had an idea and I carried it out. Later it turned into something that would help other people, not just me,” he recalled.
Lou Castillo discovered as a child that he was allergic to smoke, which kept him from sharing with his family the many different occasions that involved the use of fire.
So after many weeks of testing he created, with the help of his father, an ecological firewood made of recycled materials including sawdust and paraffin, which when burned produces white smoke that is not harmful to health and is less damaging to the ozone layer than the smoke of an ordinary wood fire.
A Mr. Fuego log burns for approximately two hours, while in the same period of time six ordinary wooden logs of the same size would be needed to maintain the same heat intensity, the young inventor said.
Acceptance of the product has continued to increase over the years.
“In Guatemala you can find it in all the supermarkets. And it’s also exported to Costa Rica,” the youth, currently studying communicatons at a private university in Guatemala, said.
The inventor does not hide his concern about Guatemala’s environmental situation, which according to official studies lost almost 4 percent of its forests in 2006-2010.
Consumption of firewood in 2012 was equivalent to almost 70,000 barrels of oil, or the source of almost 60 percent of the energy used in the country in that year.