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Finalists selected for DOE’s Wood Heater Design Challenge

Finalists selected for DOE’s Wood Heater Design Challenge
First launched in 2013, the US Department of Energy's Wood Heater Design Challenge spurs the development of new efficient, low-emission wood heater technology (image courtesy BNL).

Three teams have been selected as finalists from the US Department of Energy's 2022 Wood Heater Technology Slam to advance to the 5th Wood Heater Design Challenge. The Technology Slam was held in September 2022 and allowed teams to pitch innovative wood stove ideas to retailers, the public, and panels of experts, who assessed which stove was the most innovative with market potential.

For decades, wood heater technology has enabled the United States (US) to reduce fossil fuel dependence.

According to the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) there are an estimated 12.5 million homes in the United States that use wood or pellets for space heating, and it remains a vital way for middle- and low-income households to affordably heat with a low-carbon, renewable fuel.

The Wood Heater Design Challenge spurs the development of new wood heater technology that is efficient, low emission, and fits into America’s renewable energy future.

The Wood Heater Design Challenge is a collaboration between the US Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and the Alliance for Green Heat.

The Challenge was created to engage and expand the wood heater community; foster relationships between academia, industry, and other stakeholders to develop innovative wood heaters that are cleaner and more efficient; and build strong teams to create and design new wood stove technologies.

The teams selected are:

  • Aprovecho Research Center from Cottage Grove, Oregon (OR): Aprovecho partnered with United States Stove Company and took one of their proven, popular pellet heaters and retrofitted it with a novel burn pot, airflow configuration, and sensor package. Testing showed that the modified stove achieved 0.15 g/hr particulates, 0.01 g/hr black carbon, and 79 percent thermal efficiency, a drastic improvement with respect to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification test results.
  • Davidon Industries from Warwick, Rhode Island (RI): The Davidon team created a mechanical automatic combustion air control that could help average consumers to achieve low emissions. The device is unique, compact, inexpensive, and easily adaptable to all sorts of wood heaters. The air control acts on the primary, secondary, and tertiary air flow to tune the appliance to burn efficiently and cleanly with no need for electricity or user input. The stove design itself is simple and can be maintained without screws or clips.
  • Kleiss Engineering from Cloverdale, Indiana (IN): The OmniBurn heater from the Kleiss team uses smart computer algorithms to optimize the combustion process. It also adapts the optimization to include the effects of the flue and the type, shape, and moisture content of the fuel. The computer code used is the result of more than 10 years of development and testing. This heater has also been “designed for manufacture” from the very beginning.

The three finalist teams will compete in the Wood Heater Design Challenge in the spring of 2023, and the winning team will be selected by summer.

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