Wednesday, May 8, 2019

DOE offers funding for “state-of-the-art” residential wood and pellet heater R&D

Jonathan Male, Director of the Bioenergy
Technology Office at DOE, speaking at
the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge

Updated on Feb. 18, 2020 - The US Department of Energy has another $5 million set aside to fund development and testing of "low-emission, high efficiency residential wood heaters."

The announcement is part of a larger funding opportunity from the DOE’s Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO), which includes wood heaters because of a Congressional earmark. The DOE will provide up to $5 million in grants from $300,000 to $1,000,000. They expect to issue between 5 – 7 grants.

The timeline for applying is short and requires a concept paper to be submitted by March 5 as a precondition of submitting the full application on April 30, 2020. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in July and funds will be disbursed in September. To get started, interested applicants should register with the EERE Exchange.

"The Alliance for Green Heat applauds the DOE bioenergy program for supporting innovation in the wood and pellet heater sector for a second year," said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat. "This funding will help kickstart a new wave of American innovation and ingenuity in wood heater design which is vital to keep wood and pellet heaters competitive with solar and other renewable technologies."

In response to last years funding announcement, the DOE selected only two companies – MF Fire and ISB Marketing – to receive $3 million for research and development. Both companies are focusing their efforts on how to make stoves cleaner in the hands of consumers – not just in the test lab – which has become widely recognized as the Achilles heel for the millions of Americans who heat with cord wood.

The DOE appears to be trying to fund more than just tweaks and adjustments to traditionally-designed cat and non-cat stoves. Applications that can demonstrate genuine advancements toward state-of-the-art technology that ensure heaters burn well during start-up and reduce the opportunity for human error may have an edge.

Beyond merely preparing for traditional EPA testing, “applicants are encouraged to expand the testing regimen to evaluate performance over the full cycle of residential wood heater operating conditions (representative of how homeowners actually use their residential wood heaters with representative wood feedstocks).”

Areas of R&D interest

DOE listed four specific areas of interest, though other innovations are not excluded.

  • Novel and innovative residential wood heater designs
  • Improvements in automation of stoves
  • Wood heater power generation via thermoelectric module integration, and
  • Improvements in catalyst technologies
The second area, improvements in automation of stoves, includes robust sensing technologies and remote control and real-time performance monitoring. Wood and pellet stoves, boilers, and furnaces could all integrate sensors that monitor and control combustion conditions better. The DOE was a core funder of the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge that focused on automation and gave them insight into the potential of this area.

Eligibility

DOE has relatively broad eligibility requirements. Individuals, for-profit companies, non-profits, universities, and state, local, and tribal governments can all apply. Foreign entities and companies can also apply as long as they have a US office. Federal agencies and DOE labs, such as Brookhaven National Lab, are not eligible to be prime recipients but could be a sub-recipient of a grant. All work must be performed on US soil.

Cost Share

Applicants must provide 20% of the total project costs. The 20% can include in-kind services or cash from non-federal sources. Cost share may be provided by the prime recipient, subrecipients, or third parties.

Questions

All questions about the FOA must be submitted to: EERE-ExchangeSupport@hq.doe.gov. DOE personnel are prohibited from communicating directly with applicants. All questions and answers related to this FOA will be posted on EERE Exchange: https://eere-exchange.energy.gov.

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