Pool of inventors, universities and manufacturers will compete in first-ever Wood Stove Design Challenge.
The Wood Stove Design Challenge was launched by the Alliance for Green Heat, an independent non-profit, to bring more innovation to a popular, widely used renewable energy device. In selecting finalists, judges looked for designs that could produce ultra-low emissions, high efficiency, in addition to innovation, affordability, and marketability.
"The competition brings together innovators - whether established manufacturers or backyard inventors - to improve America's most widespread residential renewable energy device, the wood stove. We've seen how technologies like oxygen sensors and catalysts have made today's automobiles far less polluting. We're excited to help encourage a similar technological revolution in wood stoves," said Jim Meigs, judge and Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics.
Among the 14 designs are stoves controlled by microprocessors and connected to smartphones, as well as ultra-efficient stoves based on 17th century Scandinavian designs and several state-of-the-art hybrid stoves that are already on the market. Six are from Europe.
The nine judges met last week at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory and include leading experts from Popular Mechanics, the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), the US Forest Service, Washington State Department of Ecology, DOE Brookhaven National Laboratory, The Biomass Thermal Energy Council, the Osprey Foundation, the Masonry Heater Association and UC Berkeley.
The EPA requires most new wood stoves to be far cleaner than the unregulated stoves of the 1970s and 80s, which were notoriously polluting. Even so, the wood stove has not been embraced as a clean energy technology by most policy makers or the public, in part because low emissions are only achieved if consumers operate the stove correctly. Many don't.
"We need stoves that incorporate best practices in combustion engineering to maximize efficiency and drastically reduce particulates and carbon monoxide. Then, wood stoves will be able to meet even more of our residential heating needs," said Mark Knaebe, one of the judges and a Natural Resource Specialist at the USDA Forest Service.
The 14 chosen teams are: Dragon Heat, The Firemaster, Helbro Stoves, Hwam, Intercontinental, Kimberly, Ofenbau & Feuerstein, SmartStove, Travis Industries, Tulikivi, University of Maryland, Walker Stoves, Wittus and Woodstock Soapstone.
Most of the teams represent established wood stove companies, but five are independent inventors and engineering students who have never brought a stove to market. Some are looking to sell their inventions to manufacturers and others are looking for recognition so they can ramp up production.
The Grand Prize and second and third place winners will be selected during the Wood Stove Decathlon, held on the Washington National Mall and open to the public in November 2013.
We thank our Design Challenge sponsors for their support: