Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finalists Announced for International Stove Competition

Finalists Announced for International Competition to Build Cleaner Wood Stove

Pool of inventors, universities and manufacturers will compete in first-ever Wood Stove Design Challenge

Judges announced today the 14 finalists for the Wood Stove Design Challenge, the first international competition to build an affordable, cleaner-burning wood stove for residential heating. The finalists' stoves will be tested and judged on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in November 2013. The winner will receive $25,000 cash.

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.

[quote from Nathan Russel]

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.

Judges examining testing equipment last week at Brookhaven National Lab 
The nine judges
met last week at DOE's
Brookhaven National Laboratory and include leading experts fromPopular Mechanics, the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), the US Forest Service, Washington State Department of Ecology, DOE BrookhavenNational 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 winning teams are: Dragon Heat, The Firemaster, Helbro Stoves, Hwam, Intercontinental, Kimberly, Ofenbau & Feuerstein, SmartStove, Travis Industries, Tulukivi, University of Maryland, Walker Stoves, Wittus and Woodstock Soapstone. 

"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 ofPopular Mechanics.          

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.

For more information,

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Austrian Kachelofen Stove Builders to Visit the U.S. in April

The Masonry Heater Association of North America is hosting a masonry heater and brick oven workshop April 15-21, 2013 with featured guest instructors from Austria. Participants will learn techniques and priciples of contemporary Grundofen/Kachelofen design and construction in this hands-on workshop held at Wildacres Retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains north of Asheville, North Carolina.

Anyone who wishes to learn more about masonry heater and masonry bake oven technology and building techniques is encouraged to join the MHA and attend this workshop. Masonry heaters are site-built wood-burning appliances that radiantly heat a home with wood. They are very efficient and clean burning, and use relatively small amounts of wood to heat without the use of electricity, gas, fans, or ducts.

Austrian Master Stove Builders Paul Polatschek and Luis Wegscheider and stove designer/project consultant and coordinator Stefan Polatschek are presenting the Austrian stove program. Paul Polatschek and Luis Wegscheider, both 28, are Master Stove Fitters who apprenticed in Lower Austria and Tirol respectively.  Paul founded his company Die Hafnerei at Krems at the age of 21 and has a successful career with 6 employees assisting him in his current operations. Luis Wegscheider is the leader of a stove producer's technical development department, having created his own Austrian UZ37 combustion chamber used in his small Grundofen series. Stefan Polatschek, age 58, runs a consulting, planning and design office, doing work mostly for wood-fire related projects in cooperation with industry players. Stefan grew up in Tirol, where he got first-hand experience with ceramics in his younger days. This is a unique opportunity for builders to see the experts at work.

The annual meeting and workshop will include classroom and hands-on training in masonry heater basics, bricklaying, bake ovens and smokers, the Austrian heater, and other masonry heater designs.

The media is invited to attend and take photos of the event.
For more information or media scheduling contact Richard Smith, MHA Executive Director, at
520-883-0191 or e-mail or visit