Forty teams to compete for spots in wood stove decathlon

More than 40 teams have registered for the Next Generation Wood Stove Design Challenge.

“We are thrilled by the amount of interest we received and are pleased that the judges will have a diverse pool from which to select finalists,” said Melissa Bollman, Program Manager for the Design Challenge. In January, the judges will convene at the Brookhaven National Laboratory to select up to 16 finalists to be tested and judged at the Wood Stove Decathlon in November 2013. Finalists will be announced on January 31, 2013.

The 40 registered teams come from 14 countries, representing all continents except Antarctica. Most are based in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, but several are from less-developed countries like Mexico, Columbia, India and the Philippines. The five student teams include the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Purdue University and University of Maryland, winner of the 2011 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

The Wood Stove Design Challenge pits well-known American stove brands with garage inventors and college students for the $25,000 prize and title of best next generation wood stove. Finalists will be tested next November by EPA accredited labs onsite at the National Mall in DC. A panel of recognized wood stove experts serving as judges will select the finalists, oversee testing and choose the winners.

Competitors represent a range of wood stove technologies

The competition is designed to be as inclusive as possible, giving all cordwood stove developers the chance to demonstrate why their particular technology is the cleanest and most efficient in the world. Although teams are not required to disclose technical details at this early stage, it appears that several will be using oxygen sensors to regulate combustion, 4 are masonry heaters, 2 are catalytic hybrids, 5 use high-tech European technology, and 8 are smaller, less high-tech designs for use in smaller homes or in the developing world.

“We are excited to see some of the new R&D from the international cook stove movement being applied to heating stoves,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance. “One of our goals is simply to bring together innovators, manufacturers, regulators, testers and funders to learn from each other and see what innovation works the best in different applications.”

Earlier this month, the Alliance decided to remove one of its minimum eligibility criteria that barred stoves with less than 1.5 cubic foot fireboxes from entering. “We hoped that dropping the minimum firebox size would open the competition to more teams from colder regions of the developing world who need very affordable heaters,” explained Ackerly. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership that focuses on the universal adoption of clean cookstoves and fuels, is a partner of the competition. Other partners include Popular Mechanics, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Sponsorship opportunities are available to help underwrite the competition, contact Melissa Bollman (melissa@forgreenheat.org) to learn more.

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