BURN Design Lab launches its newest undertaking

This month BURN Design Lab launches its newest undertaking in its mission to reduce deforestation and indoor air pollution in the developing world.

The US Department of Energy has awarded a $900,000 grant to a partnership consisting of BURN, the University of Washington, Berkeley Air Monitoring and PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health), who will work together for the next three years to produce the most efficient and safest, low-cost wood-burning improved cookstove to date in the world.

Building on years of experience with every aspect of cookstove engineering, regional adaptation and in-country mass production, the team at BDL is uniquely well qualified for such a project.

The project is led by the University of Washington’s department of mechanical engineering, which will conduct sophisticated combustion and particulate emissions testing, as well as develop an advanced computer model for stove design.

Berkeley Air will conduct extensive in-country emissions testing to verify the reduction in indoor air pollution that women are exposed to while cooking.

PATH will conduct market research and user interviews in Kenya.

BURN will develop and construct the stove prototypes which it will extensively test for burn efficiencies, emissions, energy output, and durability.

BURN will be ready with a working model as early as spring of 2015 for field testing in Kenya and production by BURN Design Lab’s sister organization, BURN Manufacturing.

Peter Scott, CEO of BURN, has worked on countless designs in his 17 year career developing stoves. His Jiko Poa stove was one of the best performing natural-draft stoves developed for East Africa and reduced household emissions by 50-60% compared to a traditional three-stone fire. It was widely adopted by partner organizations on the ground.

Like the Jiko Poa, BURN’s new stove design will burn wood and will be designed with East African cooking techniques in mind. The goal for the new stove is to meet the ISO/IWA Tier 4 standards for efficiency, safety, and emissions, including a 90% emissions reduction compared to an open fire.

An additional product of the collaboration will be a computer model built by BURN’s partners at UW. The model will assist future designers of cookstoves by allowing them to predict combustion efficiencies and stove emissions before constructing prototypes.

BURN will provide stoves to test and validate the accuracy of UW’s models over the course of the three year project.

Peter Scott calls the collaboration a “match made in heaven” because it pairs UW’s world-class testing and modeling capabilities with BURN’s experience and expertise in design, production, and marketing.

Paul Means, BURN Design Lab’s Research and Testing Manager, will lead the research at the BURN’s Vashon Island, Washington facility. He will be assisted by Steven Diesburg (MS Mechanical Engineering) and Dirk de Groot (BS Material Engineering), both new positions funded by this grant. They will benefit from insight and collaboration with members of BURN Manufacturing’s engineering team, also housed at BURN’s headquarters on Vashon Island.

Paul says of working on stoves, “For me it’s really exciting because in a way it’s so wide open. I tell people that stove development is very young actually. The current state of the art is analogous to the Model-T or Model-A. There’s so much that can be done in terms of pushing the envelope. There’s a lot of research and development work that needs to go into it, but there’s a huge opportunity for improvement, so that’s very exciting.”

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