BioLite has a mission to create a clean and safe cookstove for the third world. Dozens of designs exist - mostly focused on simple improvements to combustion. A few stoves use electric fans. The BioLite turns a bit of heat from the fire into electricity to run a small fan. Their hope is to sell a camp stove to hikers in wealthy countries and finance a larger home stove for third world use. We've mentioned them before, but the small stove is now in production. A recent piece on their project appears in TriplePundit.
The potential upsides for good stoves are enormous - there are benefits ranging from less wood being burned, cleaner indoor and village air, lower overall fuel costs to the family, more time for women and children, and so on, but many of the designs have failed for one reason or another.
Change is hard. There is sometimes an issue with repair, often with cost and often cultural and social issues (cooking is "women's work" and doesn't matter to the person with the money as long as it is done). It may not support traditional methods of cooking and the list goes on and on. To really get this right you probably need to spend time with an anthropologist and study several groups to understand where the friction is and dream up schemes to bring a bit of change. Western ideas often fail and even when good stoves have been given to families they often fall out of use a few months later.
BioLite hopes to make a dent by solving another problem - a source of DC electricity for charging radios and cellphones. These devices *are* important to men, so perhaps that can crack the door a bit.
For those who are interested in the CampStove, here is a YouTube review: